The Unhealthy Culture of "Above and Beyond"

Is the work of a nurse supposed to be "above and beyond?" COVID has certainly shifted our expectations. There is more work to do as risk and critical care accommodates the massive influx and changes COVID-19 has brought. It means a lot more attention on frontline healthcare providers. Some of the narrative celebrating these workers include acknowledging the work--those who go "above and beyond" the normal work repsonsibilities to serve. But is that what we're after? In times of crisis above and beyond may be normal. Comes with the territory. But the expectation nurses go ABOVE and BEYOND all the time is NOT sustainable. It leads to rapid burnout at best. It makes performing critical care harder as management expectations go up. And you know who are the chief proponents of this unhealthy culture? NURSES! There is a peculiar assumption that nurses should overachieve by nature. That creates an internal culture where doing more than what's required in your job, seeing more patients, working through lunch, staying late, is normal. But it's not. What does it look like to cultivate healthy balance in the ER and beyond? Because at the current rate, as COVID-19 has shown us, there will be a lot fewer nurses around when this is all said and done. There is a real toll to pay and most? are at the breaking point. Something needs to change and in your workplace, perhaps you and your team are the ones to bring it forward. Stay safe out there.

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