Devices & Technology

By the Numbers: The Steps in a Nurse’s Work Day

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Nurses Followed in Research Studies

An abundance of research points to the health benefits of regular walking. In fact, significant findings have come out of the landmark Nurses’ Health Study, a decades-long look into data from more than 100,000 female registered nurses from the 1970s on.

Among the findings include a 30 to 40 percent reduction in risk of heart disease from three hours a week of brisk walking, as well as a reduced risk of diabetes.

For more information about the benefits of walking, visit the Web site of America on the Move.

By Christina Orlovsky, contributor

A recent study recommended that Americans take at least 10,000 steps in the course of a day for overall wellness. NurseZone was curious to find out if busy nurses meet this standard during the course of a workday?

To this end, three nurses were asked to don a pedometer to see how they compare to the average American who takes just 5,310 steps a day, according to America on the Move, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the nation’s health and fitness, who surveyed the walking habits of the U.S. population.

As a nurse, you are on your feet all day, but does this mean you walk more steps than your friend in another career?

An ER Nurse's Trek

First, NurseZone asked Kimberly Schweifler, an emergency department nurse at Saddleback Memorial Hospital, in Laguna Hills, California.

“I have always been interested in learning how many steps I walk each day,” said Schweifler, who is a travel nurse on assignment with travel staffing company American Mobile Healthcare. “Although this ER is smaller than some of the other ERs I have worked in, I still think I walk a lot.”

Schweifler’s assumptions proved correct: In a recent 12-hour shift, Schweifler clocked 7,961 steps. The total would have been more, she said, but her last hour was spent sitting down catching up on paperwork. Other days, however, Schweifler noted that her step count could be significantly lower, depending on how much time she spends at the bedside.

“When I’m busy at the bedside, I take much shorter strides,” she said.

All in a Day's Stride for OR Nurse

Next, NurseZone headed to the operating room at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego to put the feet of OR nurse Jay Griffin to the test.

“I walk my entire shift,” Griffin said, adding that the size of the OR at Sharp Memorial is similar in size to others in which he’s worked.

Still, Griffin’s pedometer told a somewhat different tale that Schweifler’s, clocking 6,385 in roughly 11 hours. “It was a normal day,” Griffin added, “but I didn’t wear it for the first 45 minute of my shift. I don’t know how accurate it really was.”

An ICU Nurse Breaks the 8,000-Step Mark

By far, the highest number of steps was recorded by ICU nurse Maricela Gerig at Scripps Green Hospital, in La Jolla, California.

“It was a slow day,” Gerig said. “I only had one patient because I was open for admit but I didn’t get a second patient. It wasn’t one of my busiest days.”

While Gerig may not have been busy, her feet certainly were. Gerig’s pedometer recorded 8,904 steps in her 12-hour night shift.

The Results...

Although none of the nurses reached the 10,000-step mark during one day on the job, each of them reached a much higher count than the average American. The conclusion: Spend a day in a nurse’s shoes and you’re more than 6,000 steps closer to achieving overall fitness.

© 2007. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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