Achieving a Work-Life Balance in the Nursing Profession

Optimal physical and mental health is important for everyone, especially nurses who work in a demanding occupation. It is paramount that nurses keep patients safe and maintain good relationships with other healthcare professionals. Stress related to work and home life can lead to inadequate job performance and contribute to depression. For their overall well-being, nurses need to learn how to integrate their work and personal time. Healthcare institutions can help by promoting work-life balance for nurses.

The Challenging Nursing Profession

Many circumstances can cause nurses to become dissatisfied with their profession. At work, they may experience staff shortages, heavy workloads or changes in delivery of care. Home life can be filled with too many activities, marital discord, childcare worries and financial concerns. Added to the mix are rotating shifts and insufficient sleep. Nurses might also be thinking about pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or even a more advanced degree. These conditions make it hard to achieve a work-life balance for nurses.

It is great for nurses to take pride in their work, but they should not let perfectionism become a deterrent to completing their daily tasks. They need to let go of the idea that they can do everything and execute it perfectly. Two of nurses’ most crucial responsibilities are being attentive to their patients and eliminating any safety risks.

Nurses need to develop empathy for their patients and coworkers instead of judging them. When others do not meet their expectations, nurses should reevaluate the situation. They should gather more information by asking questions so they can see the whole picture and effectively collaborate.

Identify the Problem

Once nurses pinpoint the problems that are causing them distress, they can find ways to improve their outlook. Some obstacles nurses may encounter include the following:

  • Scheduling conflicts.
  • Poor time management skills.
  • Limited personal time.

Nurses must set priorities in their professional and personal lives. If their work schedule interferes with family obligations, they need to talk to their supervisors. They may also have to make adjustments for professional development, like pursuing an online degree.

Nurses do not have enough time to accomplish everything, so they must learn to say no. They may even need to set boundaries with patients regarding their time. They should always convey empathy to patients, make sure they are comfortable, inform them about their treatment and provide excellent care, but other accommodations may be outside the scope of their time constraints.

Nurses have little to no free time, so they should enlist the help of their spouses and children to ease pressure at home. They need to enjoy time away from work by having fun with family and friends. They should also be able to take a break to address any family issues, such as caring for elderly parents and children. Nurses must keep in mind that they do not have to participate in each school function or accept every social invitation.

Develop a Plan to Cope

The first step toward creating balance between professional and personal life is to identify the problems and then come up with a plan to make a change. If nurses become overwhelmed, they should take some time to rejuvenate. To calm down and regain their focus, they can breathe deeply, go for a walk or meditate. In addition, exercise and a good nutrition are helpful for relieving stress.

Other ways for nurses to learn coping skills include finding a mentor who can advise them. They can also contact their health organizations’ employee assistance program (EAP). Life couches, nurse peer coaches and counselors can also offer assistance concerning work-life balance for nurses.

Online Option for a BSN

Online RN to BSN programs are an option for working nurses

Working nurses are busy with their careers, families and other commitments, so they may choose an online RN to BSN program because of its convenience and flexibility. For nurses who live in rural areas, online learning is a great option since they do not have to travel a long distance to a campus.

Students receive instruction, complete homework and participate in virtual class discussions when it is most convenient to their schedules. Nurses can network with classmates and faculty all over the world. This gives nurses an opportunity to connect with professionals from different practice settings in different cultures.

Practicum or clinical experience is required in online RN to BSN programs, and students can choose a facility and preceptor to fill these requirements. The online program should carry accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Poor work-life balance for nurses can result in negative outcomes both professionally and personally. When nurses are content, rested and confident, they can provide the kind of care patients expect. This also allows them to relax at home. Nurses should stay mindful of their goals, find a solution to their problems and create a balance between their work and home lives.

Learn more about the CSUSM online RN to BSN program.


Boertje, J., MS, RN, LMFT, QMRP, & Ferron, L., MSW, LICSW. (2014, July). Achieving a Work-Life Balance. Retrieved May 25, 2016. American Nurse Today

Hanink, E., RN, BSN, PHN. (n.d.). Work & Life Balance: A Nurse’s Impossible Dream. Retrieved May 25, 2016. Working Nurse

How’s Your Work-Life Balance? (2011, May). Nursing Times

Online Versus Traditional Nursing Education: Which Program Meets Your Needs? (2015, December 3). Minority Nurse

Simmons, S., ARNP-BC. (2012, January). Striving for Work-Life Balance. American Journal of Nursing

Wood, D., RN. (n.d.). Study Finds Nurses Need More Work-Life Balance. 25, 2016, from Travel Nursing

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