Take a Stand for Your Health

Take a Stand for Your Health

As a nurse, the way you work is always evolving, whether that means changes in technology, workspace, or workflow. You’ve probably already experienced dizzying shifts, big and small, at your hospital or clinic.

For example, cube walls are being taken down and closed door offices are becoming a thing of the past. More than ever, the healthcare workplace is focused on open spaces, designed to encourage teamwork among nurses, doctors, aides and other staff members. Collaboration, it appears, is the new normal.

Also, due to the explosion of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, nurses aren’t tied to a nurses’ station anywhere. They’re increasingly working at the patient bedside, on the way to work, or from home, instead of at a standard workstation. This shift to a “work anywhere, work everywhere” mindset presents new challenges when it comes to nurse comfort, safety, and productivity.

As nurses become more mobile, every space needs to be an ergonomic space. Ergonomics, though, is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor — what optimizes one nurse’s well-being and efficiency may not work for another. So, the trick is to do what makes you feel most comfy and productive during the workday. That will always be the best kind of ergonomics.

On of the easiest and healthiest things you can do at work is to minimize the time you spend sitting. The American Medical Association and other health organizations recenlty came forth to advise that we sit less.


Standing enlivens our physiology and protects us from certain diseases, such as cancer. It also burns more calories than sitting, an average of 50 calories an hour. The exact number will vary based on your height, weight, and so forth, so check out this online Calorie Crunch app for a personalized estimate.

As a nurse, you many have thought you were impervenious to the dangers of sitting. After all, you spend plenty of time on your feet caring for patients. Many nurses, though, have been surprised to find after wearing a pedometer that they’re more sendentary at work than they suspected.

So, when doing paperwork or inputting patient data, say, try to shake things up by getting up off of that chair. Here are some guidelines, but it’s more important to do what makes you feel comfortable!

* When typing — whether sitting or standing — float your arms above the keyboard and keep your wrists straight.
* Relax your shoulders and keep everything you need close by to avoid pretzeling into awkward positions.
* When the phone rings, take that as a signal to stand up and talk.
* If you talk on the phone a lot, use a headset to avoid neck strain.
* When standing, a 4”-6” high footrest will arch your lower back and combat fatigue.
* Try taking walking meetings — or at least suggest them to your team.
* You don’t have to wait for administrators to buy standing desks or treadmill desks. Get your self an under-desk stairstepper or eliptical unit for $25 to $75. A small investment in your health.
* Try out various desktop or smart phone fitness apps to get you up and moving!

How about your workplace? Do you have standing desks or other ways to vary your posture throughout the day? Let us know!

Jebra Turner often writes about workplace health and safety. Visit her at www.jebra.com.


Comfy Computing for Nurses

Comfy Computing for Nurses

Nursing is an extremely demanding profession, both physically and mentally. Here are a few tips for making your time at the computer more comfortable and less likely to cause strain or injury. The risk of musculoskeletal disorders among computer users, which includes almost all nurses, can be considerable so look for these features in your workstation if you spend a lot of your shift there:

— A Perfect Fit.

Most desks are around 29 inches high, which is great for doing paperwork. But it’s too high for keyboarding  — the ideal for that is 23-28 inches. Your monitor should be higher than desk hight, at eye level is optimal.

If you’re standing and inputting data with a keyboard, 40″ is a comfortable keyboarding height for many people. A keyboard shelf that adjusts up or down and swivels or tilts makes it even easier to work for long periods without fatigue or discomfort.

What can happen when you don’t have an ideal-height worksurface? Reaching for a too-high keyboard will lead to pain in your wrists, and dropping your head forward to look at a too-low monitor will strain your neck muscles.

— The Tall and Short of it.

A perfect fit for one nurse may be a dangerous misfit for another. Computers and other hardware that is shared by employees of various heights should be supported on an adjustable-height keyboard and mouse tray.

Nurses can then easily raise or lower the keyboard into a comfortable position, and ideally they’d be able to alternate between sitting and standing while inputting information.

— Sitting Pretty.

Your chair should have at least a backrest, swivel base, and rolling castors. Better yet, it should also offer adjustment for the seat, back, and height. If raising the chair height lifts your feet off the floor, add a footrest. Learn where all the adjustment points are on your chairs and use them to get just the right fit for your unique anatomy.

— Let there be light!

Cut the glare on your monitor screen by relying on indirect light, which is kindest to your eyes. Turn off harsh overhead lights and close curtains or blinds, if you possibly can. The best position for your monitor is with windows to the side of or behind the screen. Finally, use a desk or clamp-on lamp to illuminate small areas.

What works for you in making your workspace comfortable as well efficient? Please let us know!

Jebra Turner lives in Portland, Oregon, and writes about ergonomics for www.anthro.com.