2 greatest survival tips every nurse should (and will eventually) know
Survival is in our nature. In fact, surviving is not an option, it’s an expectation. The difference between surviving and drowning is how well you ride the “wave.” Only my fellow nurses will understand what I mean by the “wave.” You know — it’s that feeling you got when you first decided to become a nurse. It was that feeling you got your first experiences as a student nurse. Then, it was that feeling you got after graduation as a new graduate nurse. And it’s still that feeling you get whenever something new crosses your path, when you start a new job, encounter a new patient challenge, or simply just show up for work.
At the end of the day we all figure this out in our own way, and in our own time, but I thought it would be nice to share the only two survival tips that will actually determine your wave-riding ability!
Here they are:
When You Want To Run – Stop and Stand Still
That wave of emotions you get when the vice-grip of stress is beating you down during your shift and all of a sudden you’re being pulled in more directions than you can count. You have responsibilities piling up, you’re striving to do the very best you can and make that difference, so what better way to solve all the problems than to pick up the pace and run to get them all done, right?!
The very millisecond you recognize you’ve picked up the pace, or when you realize you are sprinting from one task to another you need to find the courage and the strength to stop in your tracks immediately. I know, I know. It sounds absolutely crazy, and horrendously counterproductive, but it’s the solution you need. Running faster from task to task will only create more problems for yourself. When you hurry through a task you WILL miss something. When you rush through a responsibility something will be incomplete. When you whisk past another duty without giving it your full attention, someone or something will be neglected.
Remember, those details affect the safety of our patients and those we work with. When you want to run – stop and stand still. You’re missing something.
Cluster Your Care
I got this piece of advice from a former mentor and preceptor. I never really caught on to this concept until a couple of years into my career. This is a trait every nurse learns the hard way. We somehow always become so task-oriented that we forget the overall picture. I remember watching a young (less experienced) nurse walk in and out of her patient’s room so many times that I stopped counting after 15. She walked in to assess, then back out for some supplies. Walked back in to check vital signs and walked out to get more equipment. Then there was a dressing change, walked back for more supplies. Then linens for a bath, in and out, back and forth. This revolving door episode went on for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, she THEN started her assessment. Twenty minutes of her day just went *poof* — with nothing accomplished.
I was told later by a fellow co-worker that I had performed the same circus act when I first started! It was only after I’d had some experience under my belt that I caught on to “it” (by accident, on purpose or pure luck) — the concept of ‘thinking ahead’ or ‘planning ahead.’ Some call it “learning the art of anticipation.”
Cluster your care. Do as much as possible during one trip to minimize the number of trips. You’d be amazed what will happen with your time. (You know, that very thing you’re looking for in my first tip).
I still use and abuse these two concepts to this very day. In fact, I stopped in my tracks just this weekend to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.
Sean Dent is a second-degree nurse who has worked in telemetry, orthopedics, surgical services, oncology and at times as a travel nurse. He is a CCRN certified critical care nurse where he's worked in cardiac, surgical as well as trauma intensive care nursing.
After five years practicing as an RN, Sean pursued and attained his Masters of Science in Nursing. Sean currently practices as a Board Certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP-BC) in a Shock Trauma urban teaching hospital.
He has been in healthcare for almost 20 years. He originally received a bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sport Science where he worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
By Sean Dent