Nurse By Heart's Strategies for Surviving Your Next Shift
1. Say YES in moderation. No one is going to give you a badge for taking on the most work. Set boundaries with your patients and your colleagues. You have (at least) 10 tasks to juggle at any given moment, and the more you take on the less focused you'll be. The result? Errors and misjudgments. Oh, and by the way! Multi-tasking is a myth. The human brain can't do it. Work with intention.
2. Listen to your patient. Don't forget that this is all about them, not you. If you're talking at them constantly, you're not listening enough. You will learn valuable information about your patient simply by starting a casual conversation. I usually start with "so tell me something about yourself?"
3. Chart in the room- This is HUGE. Take the extra 5 minutes to chart what you just did because the moment you step out of the room, you're going to get distracted, no doubt. It may take a few times before this sinks in. This is the best advice I learned from Kati Kleber's book, Becoming Nursey (if you haven't picked up a copy, do so here - BUY ME).
4. Debrief after every unpleasant scenario that requires orchestrated teamwork, such as rapid responses, falls, and code blues. Everyone who works in healthcare is learning, shifting, and growing in some form or another. Remind each other we are a team. Some of the stuff we see is heavy... and it's difficult to witness. We need each other. If you see a staff member in shock, acknowledge them. Try to avoid just jumping right back into work. Your entire team needs to process and learn from the moment. (side note: often times, medical errors occur during or immediately after a code blue because everyone is walking around in shock, each trying to process the event on their own).
5. Get the unpleasant tasks done and out of the way. That nagging colostomy bag change, or that shower you know is going to take forever in room 9. The natural inclination is to put it off. Get the unpleasant task out of the way so that you can leave space open for the next unexpected surprise, because there will always be an unexpected surprise! (side note: dressing changes should wait until the afternoon because doctors will come around and take them down, which means you'll have to do them twice).
6. Lose the bitchy tone. When the lab calls, don't be rude. When your meds haven't arrived from pharmacy, don't curse them out over the phone. When PT annoys you (even though I love them, they are priceless commodities), don't let them see it. Stay approachable and keep the communication channels open. It's good karma.
7. Avoid distractions whenever possible by not answering your phone while passing meds, speaking to the patient, or when you're in the middle of an important task. Distractions = Errors. Let your colleagues know why you're not answering your phone. Remember, when someone is calling you to tell you something, that is the MOST important thing to them in that moment, which may not be your biggest priority. Add it to your To Do List and politely tell them that you will get to it eventually.
8. Maintain balance. Don't pick up overtime if you're already exhausted or if you haven't seen your family or friends all week. Don't EVER EVER EVER skip out on breakfast or lunch or wait until 3pm to consider a break (I don't need to say anything more about this **PET PEEVE**). Listen to your body, sleep more, internet less. Breathe and relax when you're not at work. Stress from work can play out in strange ways in your personal life that may be difficult to identify. Because of this, so many nurses lose the ability to cope, resulting in unhealthy addictions, insomnia, mood swings, and PTSD. Try to stay focused on the most important things in your life outside of work, like family, creativity, faith, and wellness . Someone once told me "Don't follow along with anything that kills your spirit." How true that is.
9. For New Grads- delegate with grace. Try to avoid the phrase "will you do me a favor?" when delegating to a CNA. Instead, say "When you have a chance, will you...? Or explain the degree of urgency with the request. Always address your CNA at the beginning of the shift and introduce yourself if you don't know them. CNA's are the best and they got yo' back. Discuss miscommunications directly and promptly, so that the both of you can go about the rest of your day on the same page.
10. Learn to love controlled chaos. Mothers and fathers are excellent at this because that's just normal to them. Controlled chaos means ditching your to do list to run and help another nurse, or when your healthiest patient suddenly deteriorates unexpectedly. You're shiny to do list don't mean squash in those moments, and you're back to square one. This is your new normal and you have to learn to be ok with it.
Please share your tips! Comment below.