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Shiftwork while caring for children source of guilt for nurses

Nurses who have children and experience shiftwork may feel as though they’re not living up to society’s expectations of motherhood, a new study suggests.

RN Dr Annabel Matheson explored the implications of working shiftwork while caring for children to identify the implications of the two roles on women, their families and their nursing work.

Matheson interviewed 10 people with children who experienced shiftwork and found the conversations often centred on feelings of guilt and the idea of being a juggler.

“The theme of ‘Being Guilty’ centred on the women’s feeling of not being ‘enough’ in all the parts of their lives,” Matheson said. “That is, not being what they considered was the ‘the perfect mother’, as well as wife, and nursing shiftworker.

“Three sub-themes combined to constitute the major theme ‘Being Juggler’; these focused on the women’s management of the components of their lives, and the compromises they made to work and to care for their children and home.”

Matheson said the findings suggest nursing education and nursing services need to provide clear guidelines of self-care when doing shiftwork.

“This education should include the impact of shiftwork on physiological (including sleep) and psychological health, as well as strategies to mediate the effects of shiftwork.

“Pre-service education of nurses about working shiftwork would be of value initially. Nursing services should also include shiftwork guidance components in workplace orientation programs, as well as in new graduate programs.”

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