Stress and Nursing Practice


Nursing as a career can be defined as a profession in the healthcare industry where it focuses on the care families, individuals, and society as a whole to help them maintain, attain, or recover their health and improve their quality of life (Judd, Sitzman, & Davis, 2010). Nursing is different from other healthcare professions in that it has a different approach in how services are offered their patients, their training that emphasizes compassion and empathy, and their scope of operation. Nurses practice their services in many specialties in the healthcare industry with different levels of prescription authority. However, many of them offer their services within the ordering scope of doctors, and this traditional role has shaped the opinion that nurses are care providers. I am a nurse by profession working in the medical-surgical floor of a significant hospital in my town. I take pride in what I do because it has allowed me to do what I love the most, which is helping people suffering in society. I have been present in many surgical operations where I render my services to patients and support the surgeons in performing their surgery successfully.

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Personal Experience

As a nurse who works in the surgical department of a busy hospital, I have experienced many incidences that have helped me improve as an individual as well as helped me gain experiences that have helped advance my career. However, one incident happened during my first days in the department that shaped and defined the person I am. This incident was so surreal that it made me realize that, nursing as a profession is not for the faint-hearted and it should be considered more as a calling than a career where one goes to work and make a living. On this day as we were about to end our shift in the evening, five severely injured people were brought to our surgical room for emergency surgical operations to help save their lives. We were quickly informed that the five people who were supposed to operate on were all members of the same family who had been involved in a horrible accident in one of the freeways in the area. The victims were two adults and three young children. We later came to learn that this was a family of five, composed of father and mother and their three children, two boys and one girl.

Once we received them in the theater, the surgeons decided that they should start operating on the least injured patients, as they were the ones who were more likely to survive. This happened to be the three children, we worked, and fortunately, the team was able to save their lives. Unfortunately, their parents did not make it, and the three children were rendered orphans. I was a young nurse, and I could not get my head around the fact that an excellent and beautiful family could be shattered in one incident and that we as the medical team were supposed to act fast to save this family. This incident bothered me for a long time, and I can state that I was stressed and depressed to a point where I was contemplating leaving the nursing profession altogether. In the weeks that followed, I found it hard to concentrate on my work. I started making mistakes such as providing wrong medicines or operation tools. After a few weeks, one of the surgeons noticed I was distracted and he asked me to go and speak him in his office after our shift ended. At first, I thought I would block the incident from my mind and it would soon pass away after some time. This did not happen, and it seemed to worsen as I started being stressed and depressed even more to a point, I could not perform my duties as a nurse efficiently.  I took the bold step and went to see the surgeon who had asked me to go to his office earlier. I opened up to him about the incident involving the five family members. The fact that the parents died and left three young children was so heavy for me to carry. I went on to tell him of the event that we could not save the parents’ lives has been hounding me ever since, and I always think of it as an act where we failed the three young children.

The surgeon listened to me without any interruption. He then told me that when people are young in the profession, what they see may disturb their conscious bringing about emotions of guilt and self-blame. In most cases, these feeling are unwarranted. He went on to explain that the injuries of both parents, in that case, were so severe that their chances of survival were almost zero. He then advised me to enroll in counseling programs offered by the hospital for its doctors and nurses. I did as advised and the program helped me a great deal. Today, I understand that as long as I perform my duties efficiently and according to the dictates of the nursing profession, I should not feel guilty if a patient dies (Murphy,1996). Patients’ losing their lives is part of the nursing profession, and nurses have to be strong enough to raise themselves from these incidents because other patients need their services. 

The Importance of Debriefing in the Nursing Profession

Catalano, (2015) defines debriefing as an honest dialogue and discussion between two or more people. Its main objective is to analyze a process that has been completed, determine the weaknesses of the process, and then come up with ways of improving the process for better outcomes for the patients. Debriefing is done using a simple tool known as debriefing. This tool enables a nursing team to self-correct, enhance team members’ performances, and encourage teamwork as team members can get well when performing their duties (Catalano, 2015). During these debriefing sessions, members of a team can reflect upon a process they conducted, analyze, and discuss all the aspects of the process and after that, identify opportunities that can be implemented to improve the whole system or method.

In my place of work, debriefings are not available. On part of the employees, debriefings can improve the processes and systems and aid in offering high-quality medical services to our patients. If a debriefing happened in my department at the hospital, I would be involved in the process. I believe that this tool can help us work as a team hence enabling us to offer better medical services to our patients (Catalano, 2015). Through reflection, I believe that we will be in a position to air our views after each operation and discuss the weaknesses of the procedures we have undertaken and this would help in improving all the procedures we conduct as a team.

At my department, the ideal person to lead the debriefing session would be the lead surgeon. The lead surgeon leads each procedure we undertake, and I believe his experience and skills place him in a position where he understands all the facets of the operations that we conduct. Consistently, each debriefing session should be held in one of the conference rooms in the hospital. The people who should be present should be the lead surgeon and his assistants, the aestheticians, and all nurses (Judd, Sitzman, & Davis, 2010). In these meetings, each individual would be required to give their opinions on any procedure they were involved in and the measures that can be taken to help improve the procedures. 

Another primary reason why debriefing is critical in the workplace is that they can help nurses deal with work-related stress. Debriefing provides a platform where nurses can speak their mind and good communication can lead to less stress.


In conclusion, one can state that stress in the nursing profession is very prevalent. When a nurse is stressed, they cannot perform their duties efficiently, and this is a significant cause of concern (Judd, Sitzman, & Davis, 2010). For this reason, all stakeholders in the healthcare industry need to come up with measures that can help nurse deal and cope with stress issues at their workplace.


Catalano, J. T. (2015). Nursing now!: Today’s issues, tomorrow’s trends. Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.

Judd, D. M., Sitzman, K., & Davis, M. (2010). A history of American nursing: Trends and eras. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Murphy L (1996). Stress management in work settings: A critical review of the healtheffects. American Journal of Health Promotion. 1996;11:112–135. 

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