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Multiple Jobs Add to Nurse Fatigue

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, January 28, 2014

Hughes believes that it's in the best interest of patient care for there to be some sort of formal limits on how many hours a nurse can work per week, one that takes into account the fact that some nurses might work multiple jobs.

"Hospitals cannot govern what people do when they are off, but I would imagine the board of nursing can," she says. "I would like to see all 50 [state] boards of nursing band together and limit nurses working hours. I would like to see limits of x hours/24 hour period and x/hours per week. Nurses could keep logs of their time worked much like truckers log books of how many hours on the road."

But perhaps the real, underlying issue here is why nurses feel they need to work more than one job to begin with.

"[I]t is essential for health care organizations to pay adequate salaries to nurses," Sachs says, "so they don't feel compelled to get a second job to support themselves and/or a family, since nursing is very demanding work physically, mentally, and emotionally."

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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5 comments on "Multiple Jobs Add to Nurse Fatigue"

Jennifer Fox (2/18/2014 at 10:18 PM)
If a nurse cannot live on the meager income received with just one job while going to school and supporting a family, then perhaps that is the wrong field to pursue in the first place. Many nurses are trying to move out of the quagmire of all work no pay that nursing offers. There are plenty of well paying jobs with regular raises, advancement and educational assistance that would not require a second income in order to live a far better existence. Informed school counselors could curb a lot of the problem of students going into a field that looks much greener and friendlier than it is. Since there is no chance of increasing pay, improving working conditions or staffing appropriately for safe patient care, nipping the problem in the bud seems reasonable.

Andrea Sehmel (2/5/2014 at 2:08 PM)
I would say that nurses could benefit from financial counseling; it's definitely not part of our education - it's assumed that we absorb it somewhere, and that's not necessarily the case. It's like cutting out salt for a hypertensive patient, though, it's a hard habit to change - the long-term effects are not sufficiently tangible now. Further, pay for nursing educators has to change - I took on a teaching position after a back injury made direct patient care an impossibility... with a 60% pay cut. State nurse professional organizations could offer financial counseling for nurses. State legislatures need to significantly improve educator pay, or face dire shortages.

Judy Sheehan (2/3/2014 at 4:46 PM)
I have noticed many nurses who work part time because that is what is available at their place of employment. If employers hire nurses as part-time employees to reduce expense and avoid the cost of benefits then you would expect nurses to hold more than one job. Nurses should be held accountable for practicing in any impaired state. It is understanding that fatigue causes impairment that must be incorporated into the nursing profession.