Balancing Patient Care and Parenting

The healthcare sector is known for demanding a great deal from its workforce. Long shifts, hefty knowledge, and high-pressure scenarios are common.

In addition, many healthcare workers have families to care for on the homefront.

If you’re a healthcare worker that also has or is going to have a family to care for, it can be difficult balancing a life filled with both patient care and parenting responsibilities. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you reign in the busyness and put your best foot forward in both areas of your life.

Look for a Flexible, Convenient Healthcare Job

One of the best things about working in the healthcare sector is the fact that it has a huge variety of both horizontal and vertical professional opportunities. If your job at a hospital isn’t working out, you can try to pick up work at a private practice or you can even make a more dramatic pivot in your field by applying for a job in nursing informatics.

The point is, as a nurse, you have options — which is good if you’re also a parent. Finding a healthcare job that can adapt to your particular needs and parenting lifestyle is an important first step in establishing a stable schedule.

Fortunately, there are many different nursing careers you can choose from, such as:

Registered Nurses

An RN can apply for a job at a hospital, which typically is open 24/7 and gives you access to a slew of different shift options. This can help you adapt your work schedule around your parenting responsibilities, allowing you to work early in the morning, late in the evenings, overnight, or whatever else is required.

School Nurse

A school nurse specializes in promoting health and safety within the student body of a particular school. It can be an ideal job if you have school-aged children and are able to work during school hours. You may even be able to get a job at your child’s school, making the personal and professional logistics that much easier in the process.

Lab Tech Assistants

While medical assistant positions often pay less, they can also be lower pressure. By applying to play the support role to someone who is able to bring their full attention to a high-pressure role, you give yourself access to steady work that is often more flexible in nature.

These are just a handful of the options available, demonstrating how adaptable a nursing career can be, especially when it comes to fitting it in with family responsibilities.

Build a Good Support System

If you’re going to be committed to both a healthcare career and being a parent, it’s important that you develop a good support system. This doesn’t just mean you find someone who can watch your kids while you’re working.

It requires building a network of support that you can trust and who feel appreciated by you and invested in your children. This can include people such as grandparents, other family members, friends, and even neighbors. You can begin to build a good support system by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do you need in a trusted support person — i.e. dependability, trust, good morals?
  • How can you appropriately reciprocate and thank each person for the recurring help you hope to receive from them?
  • Will your children have opportunities to make new friends, learn new things, feel comfortable, and generally thrive within your support system?

As you identify individuals who meet these requirements, begin reaching out and developing each relationship. Remember to treat them as two-way interactions and not simply a chance to get some free babysitting.

Consider Working Night Shifts

One of the benefits of being a nurse is the flexibility that comes with the occupation. While it’s demanding when you’re on the job, a nursing career can often be molded to fit a personal lifestyle, such as being a parent.

With that said, one option that can help you balance your professional and personal responsibilities is taking on night shifts. This can allow you to be around during the day for your children and still cultivate your career at night.

If you want to take on night shifts, though, it’s essential that you find a schedule that you can stick to on a regular basis. Getting enough sleep can be challenging when you’re active during the night and the day. Identify how working night shifts will be sustainable before you commit to taking them on.

Try to Limit Time On-Call

There are many healthcare-related responsibilities that require an individual to be on-call, such as taking after-hour calls or being available to be called into work over certain times of the day.

While this unpredictable schedule works for some, it’s difficult to be on-call when you have children that depend on your presence for school, sports practices, and general life activities. Whenever possible, try to avoid or, at the least, limit the time that you spend on-call.

Don’t Work in Emergency Rooms

Emergency room nurses are heroes, and you may be attracted to the work professionally. However, if you’re a parent, it’s important to remember that your loyalties are divided between work and home.

If you work in an ER, you may find that you’re called in at unexpected hours or an emergency situation develops right before your shift ends, making it difficult to leave on time. In general, it’s best to avoid ER work when you have children who count on you to be there on a regular basis.

Remember to Take Some Time For Yourself

Finally, if you want to maintain a healthy balance between working and parenting, it’s important that you also occasionally carve out time for yourself.

With chronic healthcare staff shortages putting more demand on existing healthcare workers and children always requiring your attention, you must find ways to recharge in order to stay the course over time.

You can practice self-care and exercise your stress management skills by:

  • Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy food.
  • Trying to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
  • Exercising often.
  • Creating regular routines.
  • Meditating and praying to start each day.
  • Taking up healthy habits like reading and journaling.

If you can take small chunks of time to give yourself a little attention, it will go a long way in helping you come through for others in both your personal and professional lives.

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