We Australians are a nation of workers, and proud of it. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, Aussies work an average of 38 hours per week but this figure pales into insignificance when compared to how many hours our health care staff put in. The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that GPs work an average of 42 hours per week, with specialists on the clock for 45 hours. Nurses weren't far behind, still working a fair few hours more per week than the national average.
The combination of pressing work commitments and uncertain shift patterns can mean that fatigue is a very real risk to health care workers.
It's a little secret that health care work is difficult, demanding work, no matter what the sector of employment. Many of the different strands of health care centres around shifts, which can often be irregular. The combination of pressing work commitments and uncertain shift patterns can mean that fatigue is a very real risk to healthcare workers - and in this profession, such a condition can be a deadly mix.
A tiring problem
Of course, whether you work in a burger joint to pay for your studies, drive a bus, or are chained to an office desk for eight hours a day, it's only natural that you feel tired when you finally clock off. Understandably, you can't wait to put your feet up, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're fatigued. Rather, fatigue is defined by the University of Western Australia (UWA) as mental or physical exhaustion that can prevent a person from being able to function normally.
Even after a rest, fatigue can still be present. The UWA goes on to state that the side effects of the condition include decreased performance and productivity, with the potential for errors of judgment and injuries markedly increased. It's plain to see, then, that fatigued people working in such difficult roles as health care pose a significant danger to themselves, and others. But what can be done about it?
It's easy to see why people employed in the health care sector can become fatigued. Marathon shifts, important work, and the stresses and strains of life in the industry can all take their toll. The condition can feasibly lead to rendering a person unable to work, become disillusioned with their profession, and even cause them to throw in the proverbial towel. How, then, can health care staff combat fatigue in an effective manner?
Fighting fatigue the right way
It's essential that those suffering from fatigue realize their condition, and don't shrug it off as simple tiredness. That's because it's only going to get worse if left unattended, and with the right mindset can be engaged in an effective manner.
For many of us, a cup of coffee is the first thing we reach for when we haul ourselves out of bed. According to figures released by Roy Morgan Research, the average Aussie adult slings back nine cups of the stuff each week, but caffeine is not a great weapon in the arsenal when fighting fatigue. Indeed, too much of it can have the opposite effect, and when the caffeine crash happens, coffee lovers will feel more tired than ever, so go easy.
It's important that health care staff eat a healthy, balanced diet and don't skip meals, as this can encourage fatigue.
To help keep energy levels up, it's important that health care staff eat a healthy, balanced diet and don't skip meals, as this can encourage fatigue. Additionally, the importance of good hydration cannot be overestimated - drinking water regularly will keep you more alert.
Of course, getting the right amount of sleep is essential to fending off fatigue. The Australian Centre for Education in Sleep states that an adult needs no less than seven to nine uninterrupted hours per night - difficult in today's era of ever-beeping smartphones and 24-hour television! Figuring out ways to bust stress can also help, as anxiety can wreak havoc with your energy levels.
Be sure to get in touch with the expert team at Australian Health Professionals to find out more about our health care recruitment options - we'll ensure that you get the right people with the perfect mindset, fully refreshed and focused on the task at hand!