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Video Clip Synopsis:
Nurses are frantic as they rush from patient to patient, working under increased patient-to-nurse ratios. Despite this increased pressure, they try not to compromise the quality of their nursing care.

1min 36sec

Is Squeezing Nursing Healthy? is an excerpt from the film Land of the Long Weekend (55 mins), produced in 1994.

Land of the Long Weekend: Australia was the first country in the world to institute a 40-hour working week. It was the first to say there was such a thing as a fair and reasonable wage. Conditions like these helped win Australia its reputation as the mythical land of the long weekend. Yet today, for those with work, overtime has increased and penalty rates are disappearing. The nation’s population is increasingly divided between the over-worked and the under-employed. Now that Australia is more the land of the level playing field than the land of the long weekend, have we abandoned the idea of the “fair go”?

Land of the Long Weekend is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: Health/PE
Year: 9-10
Strand: The health of individuals and the community
Theme: Health Work

Key Concepts

Working hours; Working conditions; Regulations; Economics

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Health and Physical Education: Health of individuals and populations
NSW:Personal Development, Health and Physical Education: Personal awareness, Personal choice, Promoting health.
NT:Health and Physical Education: Promoting Individual and Community Health HP 5.1, 5+.1
Qld:Health and Physical Education: Health of individuals and communities 6.1, 6.5, DB6.1
SA:Health and Physical Education: 5.4, 5.6
Tas:Personal Futures: Maintaining wellbeing
Vic:Health and Physical Education: The health of individuals and populations 6.1, 6.2, 6.4
WA:Health and Physical Education: self management skills, Interpersonal skills

Context / Background Information

Although nursing is a demanding job, many people become nurses because they gain great satisfaction from caring for others. For them, nursing is a vocation.

But, like all industries, hospitals are under pressure to run in a more economically efficient way and to reduce costs.

If nurses are put under too much stress or pressure, they can make mistakes, and these mistakes can be life threatening to the patients and devastating for the nurse.

When nurses are allocated little time for each patient they can also feel emotionally stressed. They want to feel the satisfaction of caring for others and it is often difficult to hurry ill people.

What happens when those who are caring for the sick are too tired or too sick themselves? Where does the responsibility for patient care lie – with the health care professionals or with hospital management?

Discussion Pointers

Discuss what is meant by the terms vocation, time is money, health care professional.

What sorts of things do nurses do? What sorts of pressures might they be under? Where can things go wrong?

Discuss unionism and what it means to the students.

Discuss workplace stress. Do students feel stress at work or at school? Do their parents feel stressed by work? What are some of the mechanisms for coping with stress?

Suggested Classroom Activities

Interview a nurse and/or use the library or internet to find out about:

  1. Training required to become a nurse
  2. Nurses’ working hours
  3. How many patients they have to deal with at a time
  4. Why they wanted to be a nurse
  5. Rewards in the job
  6. The most stressful parts of the job

Find out about Private and Public Hospitals.

  1. Who runs them?
  2. How are they funded?
  3. Can you get the same operations or treatments in both types of hospitals?
  4. Are nurses paid differently in public and private hospitals?
  5. Does having private health cover guarantee better treatment?

The article ‘How safe are our hospitals’ is published by the Australian Nursing Journal (ANJ) in April 2004. In the opening statement it reads: ‘The number of patient deaths caused by mistakes in hospitals annually is equivalent to 13 jumbo jets crashing each year.’

Discuss the following;

  1. Are all mistakes preventable? How are preventable and non-preventable mistakes measured?
  2. Do you think that increasing nurse numbers will reduce the number of accidents in hospitals?
  3. Do you think that the ANJ gives an unbiased viewpoint?

Write down all the things that cause stress (stressors) in your life. Is this stress caused by someone else who is also stressed and under pressure? Write down the symptoms you suffer when you are stressed. Write down your strategies for coping with stress and discuss them with your friends.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, Health/PE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10