A man in Ohio is alleging his wife died in a car accident due to the fatigue and stress she had from her nursing job.
Shifts without breaks, getting called in for extra shifts, and working over sixteen hours, the husband feels, led to her fatigue and eventually her car accident.
If you feel like you’re on the edge, you may be at risk for being worked to death. Here are five signs to look for.
1. You dread going to work
Dread is a feeling of hatred, of an unwillingness to face what you’re going to encounter on your shift. Dread, essentially, is fear, and it can cause untold feelings of stress, unease, and depression.
If your job causes dread, you may suffer from sleeplessness, irritability, or anxiety.
With severe dread, you may enter a suicidal depression.
It isn’t that far a stretch, especially if you feel trapped and overworked by your job. Your mental health could suffer when you dread going to work, and this could lead to serious health problems.
2. You are exhausted
Every nurse feels fatigue. Part of the job is working hard, feeling tired, and making a difference.
Exhaustion is something different. It makes you feel like your tank is totally depleted and like you have nothing else left to give.
When operating heavy machinery or taking responsibility for the lives of patients, utter exhaustion can cause errors. Sometimes, these errors can end in tragedy for you or your patients.
3. You can’t rest
Rest is vital to every nurse’s well-being, and not just sleep. When you are being worked to death, you try to rest, but you simply can’t.
This is usually because your mind is spinning with questions from your shift, worrying over what mistakes you might have made. The very thing you need is what seems impossible for you to get.
You toss. You turn. You can’t seem to turn your mind off, and this can lead to dangerous situations when you’re driving or caring for patients. When you can’t rest, you lose effectiveness.
4. You don’t have fun
Closely related to being unable to rest is not being able to have fun. Again, this is a problem of disconnecting from the stress and allowing your mind a chance to rest.
If your life is nothing but work, attempts to sleep, and getting the kids from point A to point B, you’re going to suffer serious health problems. Stress is known to bring on heart disease, diabetes, and other problems that could impact your life.
The point is to try to find a way that you can have fun again by participating in hobbies. If your life is too busy and you are just too stressed, you may need to make some changes because you are at risk for working yourself to death.
5. You feel dangerous
Just about every nurse has had a time in their career when they felt like things were dangerous. Either staffing was insane, the patients high in acuity, or you were more tired than you should be, and you knew that you were banking on the angels for that shift.
If you feel dangerous – either physically or professionally – this is a sign that your job may be working you too hard. Understaffing happens, but if management doesn’t take steps to keep it from becoming a chronic thing, you could end up with serious safety issues.
Whether a job like nursing can actually work you to death is up for debate, but I know several nurses – myself included – who felt like they were worked far more than they could tolerate. When people are pushed to their limits repeatedly, is working to death really that far a stretch?