Nurses Week: Give the Gift of Good Health

Jennifer Thew, RN, May 9, 2017

The Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation Grand Challenge offers nurses an opportunity to give themselves the gift of good health.

Keeping with my annual Nurses' Week column tradition, I'd like to talk about gifts—and not mugs and lunch bags. In the past, I've written about intangible gifts such as mentorship, compassion, and happiness.

Since the American Nurses Association has declared 2017 The Year of the Healthy Nurse, this Nurses Week I'd like to encourage RNs to give themselves the gift of good health by joining the ANA's Heathy Nurse Healthy Nation Grand Challenge.

We know it's challenging for nurses to engage in healthy behaviors. The ANA's 2016 Health Risk Appraisal found that RNs and nursing students:

  • On average, had a BMI of 27.6 (overweight)
  • 12% have nodded off while driving in the past month
  • Only 16% eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables
  • Less than half perform the recommended quantity and time of muscle-strengthening exercises

"We know that nurses on average are less healthy than the average American," says Jaime Murphy Dawson, MPH, director of program operations and nursing practice and innovation at the ANA.

"There's a lot of reasons for this, one being that the work environment can be very stressful. Of course healthcare services are needed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and nursing and healthcare pose some unique hazards to workers."

The Heathy Nurse Healthy Nation Grand Challenge is designed to give nurses the tools, motivation, resources, and social connections to improve their health.

"When nurses are healthy themselves, they are more credible role models, educators, and advocates for their patients," Dawson says. "They're more likely to counsel their patients about health behaviors when they themselves are healthy."

5 Areas of Good Health

Launched on May 1, The Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation Grand Challenge is a national movement to improve the health of the nation by improving the health of nurse by broadly connecting and engaging individual nurses and partner organizations to take action within five areas:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Rest
  3. Nutrition
  4. Quality of life
  5. Safety

The ANA has launched a web platform where individual nurses and employers of nurses, schools of nursing, nurses associations, can join the grand challenge. Once they register on the website, individual nurses take a brief health survey and get a "heat map" of their health risks.

Jennifer Thew, RN

Jennifer Thew, RN is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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