Posted in Articles, Writing

Pressure, fatigue and burnout in the caring sector.

 It’s a tired health industry
 I love it when my human side sneaks out from behind the façade of


‘organiser extraordinaire’ or ‘multi-tasking I got it all together senior nurse’ or ‘mega capable whirlwind speedy gonzales who has 3 brains and ten arms’


who when the truth be told, is rarely able to achieve work satisfaction, who is always drowning in the demand and NEVER catching up, and who is so burnt out she can’t even remember when the flame was extinguished.

This crippling phenomenon is not exclusive to me-It is nursing, and medicine, and other health disciplines CONTINUOUSLY battling to provide a service with a dangerously low level of skilled staff.
Why are there so few skilled staff? Because they all leave. Because they are burnt out and over worked and under valued and disrespected by patients, by other equally stressed colleagues and by the health system as a whole.

There are those individuals who always make it work for themselves of course, but the large majority persevere through their battles not making them known in view of avoiding being a trouble maker, and are largely forgotten about. Those who have real issues with work/life/balance, with bullying, and with unfair treatment, but who have no voice.

Why? Because nobody has the time or the energy to help them.

What a tragedy it is to lose so many wonderfully experienced professionals. What a shame to those entering the health industry to have so few mentors from which to learn. Those that remain are often too tired and too stressed to give one more ounce of their being to a fresh new and excited student, and that’s the truth.

So what then is the problem and why can’t we fix it?

Economics? Poor communication between hospital big wigs and front line workers? Environmental factors? (Shift work and long physically demanding hours together with poor skill mix), or is it simply a case of working in a high pressure environment hour after hour, year after long year which in effect kicks longevity in the guts?

I guess it’s different for everyone… but something that’s true for us all, is that it ain’t easy.



Posted in Stories

Night duty nightmares~N.A.Martin


Night Duty Nightmares

“I can’t sleeeeeep. Please be quiet or I’ll flip out, and trust me, you don’t want to see that” she bellowed from underneath her pillow.

“Boys, don’t wake mum”

The memory was all too fresh. The desperate attempt for a couple of hours nod beforehand, the psychological heaviness that felt like it was crushing her spine at the mere thought, the overwhelming 4:00 O’clock nausea oozing from every cell of her body as it whaled for sleep.

‘Oh but there was no sleep. There was just the battle.’

The battle to make it to another sunrise where she was finally free to race to bed with a flying jump and snore like a brown bear in winter-for a couple of blissful hours-until the night duty hangover began.

She reflected on times gone, whilst relaxing on her soft cosy couch, toes tickling the glass of the coffee table.

She remembered the music on the TV at 3:00 am. Was it  Banamarama? She recalls the lyrics-

‘Come on baby can’t you see, coz I’m guilty….guilty as a girl could be…..I’ve been accused of love in the first degree’

Then ‘bang’!

“Wake up sleepy” the boss scolded as he wacked her with a ruler.

“Ouch. What the heck?”

She lifted her head off the desk, pen still in hand, eyes squint, horrified that he would accuse her of such a thing.

“Do you want some pegs?”


“To hold your eyelids open?”

“Do you like Banamarama?” she asked the grumpy nurse.

“Ay?” He was concerned she was worse than he originally thought.

The last thing she remembers was addition. It’s hard to add numbers in your head without a calculator at half past nought in the morning. Her focus was off, but as she stared at the paper below, she could see an incomplete number.


“What? 100? 100 what? 100 mls of urine? 100 ms of normal saline? BP 100 over something????”

The room was dark and quiet, the worst possible scenario. Except for the background noise of the ventilator….it was like a sleeping pill. A sweet lullaby trying to hypnotise.

She wondered if anyone else was stuck on the number 100. If anyone else liked that Banamarama song as much as she did. She wished she was one of those ladies dancing in broad daylight, where the sun warmed, lunch was on its way, and pegs were not needed to hold open eyelids.

Cup of tea now in hand, she thanked the light outside the window for pulling her back to today.

It’s windy, the trees are so many different shades of green, and it’s not 3:00 am.