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5 Controversial Nursing Issues Nurses Face Today

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By Rozzette Cabrera, R.N.

No matter how big nurses’ roles are in the health care system, they still aren’t immune to problems. Some issues are brought about by the lack of universal legislation while others are direct results of how nurses interact with each other and with their patients. These things make nursing an even more challenging job to take.

To give you an idea of how demanding it is to be a nurse in today’s society, here are five of the biggest problems nurses are facing.

Short Staffing

Short staffing can bring not only professional issues but personal concerns, too. When your hospital is short-staffed, you’re left with no other option but to take on more shifts, cover for your co-nurses’ absences, and miss important family occasions. Your social life can suffer, too.

Burnout isn’t something to be taken lightly. It has both physical and psychological impact on nurses.

Short staffing is one of the most common reasons why nurses experience burnout. Nursing is already a stressful job and not having enough time to relax and care for yourself can make you feel more frustrated and unsatisfied with your job. In the end, you’ll be forced to leave your work and to take on another career path.

Long Shifts

Nurses are commonly required to work more extended hours. It can be due to the hospital being short-staffed or the management cutting cost. Whichever the reason is, nurses, working longer than we are supposed to, is detrimental. It can affect the quality of care they deliver, and it can also put their health at risk.

Working long hours can mean not having enough time to rest properly. This can also mean that your body won’t be able to recover fully. Take, for example, the tons of nurses who take extended shifts suffering from chronic back, leg and shoulder pain. Some of them even develop long-term medical conditions, like diabetes and cardiovascular issues.

By not being well-rested, you can suffer from daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and impaired mental function. It can affect your ability to make proper decisions, which can compromise your patients’ safety.

“We have very limited nurses here in our hospital. This left us with no other option but to have them take back-to-back shifts. From the time we implemented that type of shifting, we noticed more medication errors and nurses missing out important orders from their doctors. It is still an issue to this day,” a 4-year chief nurse shared.


The compensations nurses get vary depending on a lot of factors. Aside from specialty, their place of work tends to affect the salary they get, too. Having a higher degree counts as well.

Not all nurses get equal pay. This often results in nurses looking for a better paying job- or workplace.

“Salary is one of the most common reasons why our nurses leave the hospital. After getting enough working experience, they resign, and some take their chances abroad. We can’t really blame them as the compensation here isn’t that high- compared with what they’ll be getting when they work in another country,” a nurse supervisor shared.


Nurses eating their young isn’t an entirely new thing. In fact, this disgusting practice has been around for ages.

When you are a new nurse, there are so many things you have to adjust to. Apart from the skills you have to gain, you also have to learn how to cope with how the nursing system in your hospital works.

Unfortunately, not all veteran nurses are that welcoming. Some of them tend to be discriminating while others can be downright rude. These attitudes tend to dull the enthusiasm of new nurses enough to make them question themselves if they made the right career choice.

Job Hazards

Working in the hospital puts nurses in a lot of work hazards. Take, for example, being exposed to infected body fluids. Apart from that, lifting patients of all sizes can also put your safety at risk. Nurses also have to deal with sharps and needles and running on slippery floors during emergencies.

“Not all people are aware, but nurses face physical threats from patients, too. When they get frustrated and angry with not being seen right away or when they are told to wait because the doctor is still attending to a more serious case, nurses always get the bad end. Some patients can’t totally contain their emotions that they even hit nurses after attacking them verbally,” an Emergency Room nurse shared.

What problems do you face as a nurse? How do you deal with them?


Rozzette Cabrera is a registered nurse pursuing her childhood dream of becoming a professional writer. She spent a few years putting her profession into practice until she decided to take her chances with freelance writing over a year ago. Her life has never been the same since then.

3 thoughts on “5 Controversial Nursing Issues Nurses Face Today”

  1. Hi all!
    I am a cardiovascular recovery nurse also working in ICU. I have been a nurse since 1991 but had to leave nursing due to rheumatoid in 2004. It was tough but I’ve been back for 8 months now. I did go back to school.
    The main challenges I face are pulling and turning patients so much or wheeling a heavy specialty bed to CT.
    I recently had surgery on my dominant left hand due to overuse. My rheumatoid has come out of remission and I’m afraid for my career. I’m single and not only support myself but help take care of my elderly mom.
    I also struggle with the fact that NSN degrees are more and more required to be hired in a position. I do have mine but it took me forever to pay off my student loans and I don’t make near enough money for the amount of schooling I had to pay for.

  2. Hi Karla! I totally understand where your coming from!! I graduated with an ADN and am currently in school to get my BSN. Two years ago I injured my knee on the job and have been out of work for 2 1/2 years. I don’t feel safe going back to work. I’ve been out of it for too long a time. I’m not having to pay back my student loans yet but I dread the day that I do because I know that I won’t be making enough to pay anything else off because of student loans. I understand that a BSN is now being required, some are going an getting their masters at the same time. I’m thinking of going for a masters but not in nursing. I’ve been a nurse since 1991. I have arthritis in my hands, shoulder, hips, knees and low back. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Somedays I have a hard time getting out of bed and when I’m warmed up and finally moving it’s late afternoon and sitting at the computer doing my assignments. Then I have a hard time getting up and moving!! Something good will come up when it’s ready. Not sure when, but I do know that something will come up. I just need to be patient!!


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