Work stress among nurses ranks near the top of all professions. Nursing is easily one of the most stressful career choices among numerous other jobs out there. While there are several occupational risks in this profession, stress is believed to rank near the top. This stress can result in a multitude of problems and health concerns like depression, job burnout, and isolation from patients, etc.
What Causes Work Stress Among Nurses To Be So High?
In a study conducted in 2001, more than 70% of American nurses were reported to have said that overwork was one of the top health and safety concerns for them. This doesn’t come as a surprise because, in most hospitals, nurses work really long hours, including 12-hour shifts that end up being physically taxing.
Added to this, the job of a nurse requires extreme care, vigilance, and alertness in order to assure good health and safety of patients in an environment that is already so complex and demanding.
Dealing with medical emergencies can create extreme levels of work stress among nurses who have to deal with them on a daily basis. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, emergency situations in hospitals don’t only add great tension and worry in terms of the patients’ care, but also result in grief and despair when they lose a patient.
Dealing with work stress among nurses can be very expensive considering all the severe side effects that result from high-stress levels. Some of these side effects occur in the form of extreme anxiety, tiredness, lack of self-confidence, a decrease in performance and efficiency, harsh behavior, and so much more.
Importance of Social Networks and Support
The effect of social networking and friendships on a healthcare provider’s job, nurses, for instance, is a highly researched area among practitioners and researchers. Social support and networks are believed to be highly effective and impactful in alleviating work stress.
The concept of social support and friendships explains the importance of how social networks affect individuals and the different ways in which they function. These are basically linkages between people that tend to serve as a protective shield for health care providers who are prone to experiencing high levels of stress at work.
Impact of Friendship Bonds between Nurses on Stress Levels
In recent times, the pressure and work stress among nurses has been recognized as a serious social problem. The seriousness stems from the fact that continued exposure to increased stress levels not only puts the patient-care at risk but also takes a toll on the nurses’ mental health.
However, considering the phenomenon of social support and network, friendship and camaraderie between fellow nurses have shown to not only eliminate high-stress levels but also significantly improve working conditions.
Reduced Stress Levels
Numerous studies and researches have been conducted on the existence and influence of friendship networks between healthcare providers and how they impact work-related stress.
The results have shown that people with long-term friendships in hospitals experienced lower levels of stress, and particularly when these bonds of friendship were really strong. It was also found that having close friends at work with whom one can meet at least once a day really exerted positive effects on the overall stress levels experienced by nurses and other healthcare providers.
Furthermore, a few studies strongly emphasized on the fact that nurses who had high-density friendship networks experienced low-stress levels overall.
Needless to say, when there is less or no stress to get in the way, there will be utmost focus, attention, and enthusiasm to perform the work to the best of their abilities.
One of the most notable effects of friendship between fellow nurses and healthcare providers has to be an improvement in work performance and efficiency. Having someone in the same field as yours who have similar experiences and problems is a great way to mutually come up with solutions and strategies to deal with the daily work stressors.
Nurses can then implement these solutions to their work and job demands, which eventually increases motivation and performance.
Increased Social Cohesion
Another important effect of friendships between nurses is increased social cohesion in terms of network density. Social cohesion, in literal terms, refers to the willingness and readiness of members in a particular group to help and cooperate with another in order to survive and live with ease.
Nurses who have friends who have good relations with one another go through reduced levels of strain, tension and stress. Social cohesion also fosters a transfer of knowledge between these nurses which greatly helps strengthen the ties of friendship and closeness between them.
Information Support from Friendship Networks
As stated earlier, friendship networks that had strong ties were found to result in positive effects on the work stress among nurses. Studies also found that information support from fellow nurse-friends and workers further lowered individual job stress.
This greatly empathizes on how people from the same workplace together, bound by the strong bonds of friendship can help each other with information and also provide immense support along the way.
The American Nurses Association has also held webinars, written books, and published articles on combating stress.
Help-Seeking and Psychological Adjustment
Any kind of stress be it work-related or personal, can take a massive toll on a person’s mental health and psychological well-being. From decreased motivation and care to emotional turmoil, stress can ruin a person both emotionally and physically.
However, friendship networks and support groups at the workplace have been shown to be extremely beneficial for nurses and healthcare providers in terms of psychological adjustments and reaching out for help.
Having friends allows them to get all the help they need in urgent times and being a part of social support groups also paves the way for their mental, emotional and psychological well-being.
It can be safely concluded that friendship networks in hospitals can significantly help nurses improve their work performance, experience lower stress levels and live in positive working conditions. Having friends around you can really prevent all kinds of negativity and allows one to breathe in the positive air.