For Christmas I was given a brilliant little book of facts (2,024 QI Facts To Stop You In Your Tracks) and for most of Christmas Day I stunned (ok – bored) my family with snippets of information and all was going well until I came across this on page 478:
Of course this is just one fact in one book, so being the diligent nurse that I am I went looking for the evidence … and here it is > 1 in 4 nurses in England are overweight and Obesity prevalence among healthcare professionals in England
It’s a pretty shocking figure for a nurse to read. And, sadly, I have to count myself in that number as I too am overweight, I have spent most of last year and this trying to put that right and have managed to move from obese to overweight … but nevertheless I remain overweight. So why is that? Here on my reflections on my own weight:
- It’s really hard to eat right when working shifts, mealtimes are never at the right time and sometimes all you can manage is a quick pit stop
- Calories don’t count on nightshifts (unfortunately they do)
- Nursing is exhausting at times and the thought of exercise after a 12 hour shift is just .. well … more exhausting
- I exercise enough at work answering all those call bells (unfortunately I do not)
- Cooking a healthy meal after a busy shift is really hard when all you want to do is grab a take-a-way on the way home
- I see the effects of obesity every day … but that won’t happen to me (unfortunately it could and probably will unlessI can loose the weight)
Perhaps my most revelational (not sure of that’s a real word) reflection though is that all of these are just excuses!! Yes it’s hard, there is no easy solution to being obese but loosing weight is doable for us as nurses.
Being fit to practice is so important that the NMC put it into our Code:
We are bound by our code to maintain a level of health that will not put the people we care for at risk. As a nurse I need to be physically fit so that I can run to emergencies, keep going at the end of my 12 our shift, kneel down to dress Mrs Jones leg ulcers, attend to people who have fallen on the floor, be a role model to the people I care for and much much more. Which begs the question of how many of us realise that section 20.9 is there ?? Or do we know it’s there and are we just quietly ignoring it?? I am sure that smarter people than I will be able to ascertain the answer to this…. but I am more concerned with how we can start to make nurses more aware of section 20.9 and how we can support one another and reduce the 1 in 4 nurses being overweight statistic.
Over the past two years I have I gone from being obese to now overweight … I still have a little way to go but essentially I no longer make excuses. I make time to run 3 times a week and try to walk everyday, I eat well and count my calories – eating right when on shifts is still tough but I am getting there. And I can see the benefits – when I run to an emergency I have enough breath to talk when I get there, when I kneel down to do Mrs Jones dressings I can get up again easily, and when I reach the end of a long day I have energy to spare.
As 2018 draws to a close and 2019 starts I am left thinking about how nursing can help itself and be fit to practice in the year to come. What can we do to raise awareness of section 20.9? What can we all do to support and encourage each other? What can we do to reduce the collective weight of nursing? What can we do to help nurses to be healthy and happy? What can we do to ensure nurses are fit enough to practice?
So it’s over to you …… 2019 is literally around the corner …. what we can do?