Nurses' Health: The Disconnect Between Knowing and Doing


A recent article on offers an alarming statistic on the health of nurses: more than 50% of nurses are obese, and 10% are smokers. The article offers some interesting information and advice for working nurses on staying healthy. I have condensed some relevant points for readers of The College Network Nursing Blog below; the article in its entirety appears here.


Regarding behavior-change concepts used with patients: “We teach [these concepts] to students, but we don’t apply those same models when we want nurses to change,” said Bernadette Melnyk, RN, PhD, CPNP/PMHNP, FNAP, FAAN, associate vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean at the Ohio State University College of Nursing in Columbus.

-Building breaks into schedules

Nurses work notoriously long, stressful and irregular/shifting hours. As this will not change, nurses looking to make behavioral changes to achieve greater health often find success by working short breaks into their schedule for walking, stretching or engaging in other types of physical activity.

-Planning for change and also for barriers

Before making a wide-ranging change in behavior, it is useful to document daily habits including time management, diet and water consumption, and activity. This will allow for clearer ways to make changes. It is also a good idea to think of potential barriers and ways to counter them preemptively.

Karen Gabel Speroni, RN, BSN, PhD, MHSA, director of nursing research at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg, Va  and co-creator of  research program Nurses Living Fit. Her report, “Effect of ‘Nurses Living Fit’ Exercise and Nutrition Intervention on Body Mass Index in Nurses,” cites a recent study showing that patients have less confidence in wellness advice from nurses who do not appear to have followed their own advice. “Weight-appropriate nurses had more public confidence in their teaching,” according to the report.

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