Working as a nurse is HARD. While TV shows and movies make it look very glamorous and fun, it may not always be that way. It’s often very physically and mentally demanding. Especially to those with chronic illness. You have to be running on all cylinders at all times in order to keep the patients safety and well-being above all else. So what can you do to make working as an RN and having a chronic illness a little easier?
The following are 6 tips to make working while chronically ill more of an option
1. Find alternative ways to deal with the pain- There are just going to be days when you have to work and your pain is unbearable, and when you are on shift taking narcotics is not an option. So you will need to learn alternative ways to deal with the pain. Like deep breathing, meditation, or stretching.
2. Dealing with “The Fog” – The Fog is real and can make your workday longer and more frustrating. So you will need to learn to write everything down, even the things you think you would never forget. The truth is when The Fog sets in, you don’t know what you will forget. So to cover yourself make it a habit to just write everything down.
3. Take periodic breaks- It is essential when you are working that you take moments throughout the day for you!! Even if you don’t feel like you have the time you will have to take some time to sit periodically! So try to schedule in breaks off your feet throughout the day. Even if that’s just to sit while you chart, or make a call to the physician. Those breaks will make your day much more doable!!
4. Make time to eat and hydrate!- It is imperative that even when it seems like there is absolutely no time in the day to eat or drink that you make time to do so. So take your snacks and bottle(s) of water with you to work. This will ensure that you at least have food and drink on hand in case you don’t have time to run to get anything.
5. Take time to rest on your days off- Even though it might not be the most ideal way to spend your time off, you need to rest. If you want to make it through your long shifts, you have to take time on your days off to rest and recoup!
6. Ask for help – You may not want to share your illness with your coworkers and that’s okay. But when you are struggling or getting behind, ask for help!! There is no reason you have to drown when others can help! This applies to work and home.
These tips will not guarantee that you will be able to keep working. However, they will make your days at work a little easier. Healthcare professionals are known for putting their own needs behind those who they are caring for. However, if you want to continue working you will need to take time and focus on you! Even if the things you do are small it will make your shifts easier in the long run. And your career longer lasting.
2 thoughts on “Working as an RN with a Chronic Illness”
First, I quit working steady night shift. After a break, I worked in an 8-5 outpatient cancer center. Eventually, I had to quit that as well.
I can relate. I went from full 12 hour days. To outpatient infusion clinic where i still worked some rotational weekends and holidays, to a true clinic with no weekends or holidays to preadmission for 6 months then I quit for 6 months when Mayo Clinic told me I had to. Then I went back and did 7 months of hospice and have been off totally since August after I had a seizure and totaled my car. Never had seizures before that day that I knew of. And am waiting on my disability hearing.