Can Crying on the Job Hurt Your Travel Nursing Career?
By Nanette Wiser, contributor
The couple’s first baby isn’t going to survive. A beloved parent is taken off life support. For a nurse, life and death are everyday occurrences, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to handle emotionally, especially when you hear them cry from pain or loss.
If you’re a travel nurse in ICU, PICU, NICU or ER, you deal with these intense situations daily. As a temporary member of the staff, you may feel as though you have to put on a brave face all of the time, but the reality is, you feel every bit as much of the emotion that your colleagues feel--only you have more pressure to maintain your professionalism.
So is it ever OK for nurses to cry on the job? It depends on the situation. If it’s to share a genuine emotion with a patient and/or family/friends as a sincere way to provide emotional support, maybe. Crying may relieve stress but experts* say there are better ways to manage emotion:
Strengthen your emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
Getting tears in your eyes without bawling requires self-awareness and emotional strength/insights. You get attached, you feel things (because you’re only human), but you set boundaries.
Find Healthy Strategies for Coping in the Moment: Healthy strategies that won’t negatively impact patient care include talking with colleagues, exercising, deep breathing, yoga, or getting counseling if things get really tough.
Nurses who work in high-stress specialties often turn to their colleagues for support. They understand each other and never judge. When someone’s having a bad day, there’s always someone to lend a supportive ear. That’s the beauty of nurses, you care.
Laughter is also a good stress reliever, and many nurses say it’s important to keep the atmosphere light. Lightening the mood can help keep things in perspective and prevent emotional outbursts.
Is it bad for your career to cry at work? Only if it becomes an issue or if it’s a pattern of behavior that’s disruptive to the patient care environment and the workplace. For travel nurses, there may be extra pressure as they are new and their performance still being evaluated. If crying disrupts your patient care, ability to sleep or workplace safety, then you may need to seek counseling to help you with depression that’s affecting your performance.
Crying is good for the soul, there’s no doubt about that, but if you need to keep it together, try creating an emotional safety zone--be it prayer, a walk, meditation or even burning a scented candle. Make sure you always have some sort of outlet at the end of the day. Always remember, your colleagues and the team at NursesRx are always there to help when you’re having a rough day.