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Nursing: How trauma can be experienced in the workplace

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Nursing: How trauma can be experienced in the workplace


It's no secret that the nursing profession is stressful; even before the pandemic, nurses were overworked and underpaid.


A situation that has only been magnified since COVID-19. This situation has resulted in many nurses experiencing PTSD, depression, and anxiety.





What Types of Trauma do Nurses Face?


Nurses generally experience two types of trauma:


● Patient-focused trauma (PFT)- This can be experienced when a nurse becomes especially close to a patient or their family and experiences distress or anguish seeing that patient suffer or pass away.


● Nurse-focused trauma- Revolves around the role of nursing; not having enough resources, workplace violence, overworking, or feelings of guilt for not spending enough time with family or spending time with family when they feel like they should be working.



How can trauma happen in the workplace?


There are many ways that the workplace can result in trauma or lead to PTSD symptoms.


The effects of certain situations may take a long time to develop into PTSD, so it is important to trust yourself and speak up if you feel something is not right.


● Lack of effective PPE


● Being consistently short-staffed and being asked to work extra shifts


● Feeling like you aren't being listened to


● Being moved departments with no notice or little training.


● A toxic work environment, having managers who don't understand the effects the above is having on individuals.



How to cope with trauma in the workplace


Make sure you are looking after yourself by following the tips below.


1. Take time off if needed- Take time off to rest and recover after a traumatic incident; you need time to process your emotions and grieve if needed.


2. Identify Your Needs- Take time to identify your needs for recovery. This can look different for everyone; maybe you need to reduce your hours at work, seek professional help or talk to family to help you heal.


3. Seek Support- If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is essential to talk to a professional and find out if you need extra help to recover from your traumatic experience.


4. Don't ignore your feelings- If you ignore or suppress your feelings, you risk your symptoms becoming worse and recovery taking longer.




What can employers do to help?


Trauma in the workplace has grown since the pandemic, and it is employers; responsibility to ensure they are looking after their employees' well-being.


Although we are still at the start of the journey of changing employers; attitudes to mental health issues, there have been positive changes throughout the world as more awareness is being made of mental health

conditions in general.



Employers can:


● Help build a resilient culture- providing tools to help employees manage stress, develop coping skills, and train managers to recognise mental health issues in their staff.


● Reduce stigma- by creating a safe, supportive environment where employees feel able to discuss issues and raise concerns


● Develop empathic managers- who can recognise concerned employees and offer support



Reflection


1. Have you experienced trauma in the workplace?

2. Have you felt supported to recover from your trauma?

3. What steps have you taken to heal from your experience?



Sources:

1. https://www.independentnurse.co.uk/professional-article/vicarious-trauma-in-nursing/236400/

2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/onemind/2021/11/10/trauma-at-the-workplace--and-what-to-do-

about-it/?sh=8a8305e39e1c

3. https://fherehab.com/learning/nurse-psychological-trauma

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9098943/

5. https://nphub.com/blog/insufficient-resource-trauma-nurses-ptsd/



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