Today I want to talk to you a little bit about where we find ourselves now as nurses as a global profession, and where we’re heading. As most nurses know, we are kind of an oppressed and marginalized occupational class historically speaking, and this is due to any number of social forces.

But also part of what is happening that is keeping nurses from self-empowering in a very collective and global way, is this trifecta of trauma that we talked about in an earlier episode. And what that trifecta is, is that we have the individual traumas that we’ve all been exposed to, and we’ve all recovered from either wholly or in part. And whatever is in part is still embodied within our body waiting for the right time to heal.

And then we have another layer of trauma exposure in the form of unavoidable nurse specific traumatization. That’s like second victim vicarious traumas. These are inherent with the profession of nursing. And again, we’re a high risk occupation for trauma exposure, just like many of the other combat veterans, firefighters, law enforcement officers, first responders, et cetera. And so we know that that comes with the job, and we do our best to navigate that.

So we have our individual traumas and we have the unavoidable trauma. And then here comes the trifecta, which is the avoidable trauma exposure, which is oftentimes secondary to healthcare system inadequacies. And that’s really, in my opinion and in my research, what is driving nurses from the profession now in unprecedented numbers. It’s that the system is broken. People are no longer willing to work in toxic work cultures, and nurses are really not wanting to be sacrificed on a corporate chess board.

So many of  them are leaving their roles of the profession, and it’s not just here in the United States. So what I want to do today is just talk a little bit about where we are and where we are heading. If nurses come together and heal together individually and as global nursing communities, that we really can shift the paradigm into Nursing 2.0, which is the Nurse Safety and Professional Wellbeing Edition.

I’ll show you what’s happening around the world. This is all part of my research, all what is in my book Nursing Our Healer’s Heart, and in my Break Up with Burnout for Nurses Academy

The UK, the US, Canada and Australia – we’re all in the same trauma nurse specific trauma burnout boat together: harsh working conditions for nurses across the globe. In the UK we have 75% of nurses who are undervalued, underpaid, more than one in four have experienced workplace violence.

There’s shortages throughout the care continuum. And 95% of providers in the UK struggle to hire nurses. 100% of nurses agree. This is the worst healthcare crisis in the UK history.

Here in the US, we’re not faring much better. 91% of nurses have one or more PTSD symptom. Just over 21% of nurses meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

And 83% or more are burned out, don’t feel supported at work. And then again, similar to the UK, we have high percentages of understaffing.

Nurses are not feeling safe at work because they are not safe at work in many times. And about two thirds of us are dissatisfied or indifferent about our role.

Now, let’s look at Canada, our neighbors to the north (at least from where I’m writing from Arizona USA).  They’re in a similar situation: chronically understaffed, under-resourced. They too are struggling with physical assault and violence in the workplace. They’re struggling with nurse vacancies. And about a fourth of those nurses plan to leave the profession altogether. And that’s worldwide. 

And the same thing is occurring in Australia.  They have some of the harshest working conditions, short staffing under resourced. About 20% of their nurses plan to be leaving in the next two to three years. And they have high degree of nurse violence as well. 

We are enduring a lot and have been throughout the history of nursing, right? If you look historically from the beginning of time until now, nurses have been marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed as an occupational class. And you can see evidence of this everywhere. Now, back in the day, in the, in the early 1980s when I was working at a teaching hospital at a med surg ward, this was the time when we wore all whites, if you can believe that. You don’t even want to know what those uniforms look like…😅

This was in a time when patients were still allowed to smoke in their hospital rooms. And this was also a time, believe it or not, when we would go to do our charting at the nurses’ station. That’s what it was called, because that’s what it was, the nurses’ station.  If a provider came on the unit (in that time, providers were predominantly male doctors), then we the nurses had to avail our seat at the nurses station.

If a nurse was in the middle of charting, it did not matter.  It was expected that we immediately jump up, tidy up the space and welcome the almighty doctor to the nurses’ station.  We’d have to do our work, which was highly devalued by paternalistic and oppressive policies, when the doctors were away from the nurses’ station.

Oh. Em. Gee. 

I shudder as I recall these memories.  🤯

And so that’s just a small example from my life of like, wow, we’re at the nurses’ station, I’m doing nurses’ duties, and I have to a, be in a smoke filled room, taking care of people, and also I have to give up my seat, at my workplace, and I can’t do my charting.

If you really start to open your eyes and look around, and you can see evidence of how nurses are minimized, marginalized, and disregarded everywhere 👀. I’m not looking to be a Negative Nel here, but it is important to be reflective and honest about the historical arc that most nurses have been thought of and treated as second class citizens.

This arc is the nurse-specific traumatization.  The historical marginalization of nurses, which has been transmitted from generation to generation.  It’s so prevalent that many nurses accept it as the status quo.  The historical and systematic oppression of nurses along with telling them to do more self-care in response to burnout is gaslighting.

And so it is time for that to change  💯. It’s long past time for that to change. But the challenge that we have as a global nursing community is that we are not thriving, and we are not well in terms of burnout, which is really when you get start digging down. It’s really that trifecta of the individual trauma, the nurse specific trauma that is unavoidable.

And then there’s the avoidable trauma of healthcare system and adequacy. So we have our individual trauma, we have unavoidable trauma exposure, and then there is avoidable trauma exposure. And it’s a big fat trauma sandwich that keeps nurses not in optimal professional safety or wellbeing. And so it’s really hard for us to come together as a global community and pave the way to better working conditions and for not only for ourselves, but also better quality of care, safer care with improved patient outcomes for those in our care.

So let me share with you where we have potential to go as a global nursing community. This is part of my work in my book, in my academy, the nonprofit work that I’m doing, is that we have the tremendous potential. Where there is huge challenge, there is also tremendous opportunities for growth. And this is what I call the road to nursing 2.0, The Nurse Safety and Professional Wellbeing edition.

So right now, what we have,  is that we have a lot of avoidable nurse traumatization happening at the clinical level, often secondary to healthcare system inadequacies, such as being under-resourced, understaffed, underpaid, undervalued, under-fill-in-the-blank. This is happening in our clinical settings.

This is also happening both for students and faculty members in nursing programs across, across the globe. We are not exempt from the same type of trauma exposure that clinicians are. And the same is happening for our nurses who are working in the community settings. So through my work, and all be introducing all of this, unpacking all of this in the episodes and all of my services through my nonprofit organization.

If we can come together in solidarity as professionals, the first step we must take is to stop the hemorrhaging of nurse attrition, presenteeism, burnout, and nurse-specific traumatization. 

It’s a time for us to all come together and really look at this trifecta of trauma that is so often misattributed to burnout.  But it’s not just burnout. 

A tiny part, like an appetizer size, of my framework is Micro Doses Matter practices. These are micro practices to nurture one’s nervous system and signal safety to the limbic system throughout the day. Then we have the broader framework and a five step process called Your Innate Care Plan (YICP). The YICP process leverages each nurse’s innate capacity for healing by partnering with the wisdom of the autonomic nervous system and vagus nerve.  These are two ways, as fundamental and necessary steps, that we as a global community, as individuals, can come together and like stop the hemorrhaging.  

And. Put. An. End. To. Nurse. Gaslighting.

This is the work that is before us and certainly the work that is before me as I write out the last decade of my career, I have devoted myself and all of my resources to doing what I can to help us as individuals and local and state, national and international communities shifting the paradigm so that we are well and safe in our professional roles.

I hope that you will join me.

If you’re curious about how what you’re feeling and experiencing lies on the nurse burnout indicator spectrum, take a quick moment to complete this self-survey:


Until next time, from my healer’s heart to yours, thank you for the important work that you’re doing.

Namaste. 💕

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