The health and well-being implications of irregular work hours and shift work, common among nursing professionals, are quite significant. A study published in the BMJ demonstrates that such non-standard work schedules can lead to disturbances in circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, increased accident rates, mental health issues, and even an elevated risk of heart attacks.
Researchers from a recent French study concur, highlighting that “Non-standard shifts, nocturnal work, and occupational stress are believed to contribute to unhealthy work conditions.” Particularly relevant to nursing staff, the study revealed a higher stroke risk among younger employees. A study released on February 10, 2019, indicated that novice nurses overwhelmingly favor longer 12-hour shifts over the conventional 8-hour ones, with most new entrants assigned these extended shifts. Approximately half of these novice nurses accumulate overtime, and between 11% and 14% maintain more than one paying job.
“The link between a decade of long working hours and stroke appeared more pronounced in those under 50,” commented Alexis Descatha, M.D., Ph.D., the author of the French study. “This was surprising and warrants further investigation.
He added, “It’s worth noting that many healthcare professionals work substantially beyond the definition of long working hours, which may put them at an increased risk of stroke. As a medical practitioner, I would recommend my patients strive for greater work efficiency and plan to heed my own advice.”