Bedside Burnout: Young Midwives With No Life Outside Work

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Ever wonder how some things don’t ever change despite obvious issues? Here’s one midwife who took a 20 year career break only to return to many of the same problems they worked through before:

I had a 20 year break from nursing while I worked in another profession and I have to say things haven’t improved at all.

The gap between the executive’s viewpoint and what actually takes place on the floor is immense.

Staff turnover
Recently returning from four months leave, I was back working my 10th shift on a postnatal ward at a public hospital. In that short space of time, there has been significant turnover, with new grads and many older staff retiring or moving to less hectic areas of work.  There’s also many “new innovative improvements”, which essentially translates to more work for admin staff.

High intensity shifts
Just recently, only two midwives and two RNs were available on night duty for 20 mums and 20 bubs. The midwives were almost in tears by the end of their shift. This went on for three nights in a row. Not only are they overworked with high intensity shifts, the volume of shifts midwives are required to work is unsustainable.

Lack of social life
For young midwives, it’s impossible for them to date or start a new relationship and very hard to maintain one. They often tell me they have no life outside work and are lucky if they see their partner once a fortnight. Most of the young midwives I work with are looking for other options or studying for more friendly careers such as early childhood nursing.

Burnout
I see new staff burnout at an alarming rate and a high attrition rate of Midwifery Educators who are constantly being pulled onto the floor due to staff shortages. Poor rostering leaves night duty high and dry when it comes to good coverage of staff.

Lack of leave
The doctors are more human these days but the consideration to staff with young families is not good enough. Leave requests for school holidays is still at the discretion of the MUM and is far from equitable.

How will we retain new staff when they are treated so poorly around rostering and lack of availability of preferred holidays?

It truly feels like I have travelled Back to the Future.

If you have an experience you’d like to share, please get in touch here: nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au. Whether it was something that occurred in a single shift or about your entire career so far, we want to know.

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