I’m an experienced nurse, I’ve got this. How hard could this travel nursing assignment be? Yes it is in Detroit, an inner city hospital in my home state, but I have years of experience, this won’t be bad. I’m on time, my coffee cup is full and a bonus, I found a close parking spot. Here I go.
After living in Denver for nine years I felt a strong pull to move back home. My family was in Michigan and as much as I loved the mountains, my heart was in the Midwest. I packed my bags, road tripped across the country and decided that a travel assignment was the perfect fit for me. My assignment was on a fast paced neuro-surgery and endocrine unit. I was optimistic and excited to work back at home, the excitement was short lived, however, after walking onto my floor. Day one, I sweat through my scrubs, I got lost on my way home, was irritable as ever, and my head was spinning so fast that I truly felt like I couldn’t speak by 7pm. What had just happened to me?
I’ve been in stressful situations before but nothing like I would experience over the next months and years in that hospital. My ‘normal’ consisted of five patient assignments, sometimes admitting a sixth, more medications to give and tasks to chart than time allowed, occasional sixteen hour shifts, death, terminal diagnosis, gunshot wounds, abuse, self-harm, even having to call 9-1-1 and save a man seizing in the median as I walked into work an extra shift. You name it, I probably saw it.
How on earth could you expect someone to “raise the vibration” or change the energy in the face of so much despair and stress? It’s purely a choice. Sounds too simple, right? As I reflect on those first months of that assignment I now realize I was in a constant game of tug of war. Even with my strong, competitive nature, I almost always lost. I viewed these stressful shifts, patients and experiences as my enemy, sucking the life out of me and bringing me down day after day. All of the sudden I was a victim when I stepped off that elevator and swiped my badge. What next? How many patients will I have? Will I come out on top? Shift after shift, I was in misery.
Sad, upset, run down, frustrated, discouraged. Then one day something shifted. What if instead of being a victim to the daily grind of nursing, I decided to uplevel, to raise the vibration? To take charge of my attitude instead of playing the victim? How would my energy shift? And the energy of the nurse’s around me? What if when a nurse got another admit I offered to get vitals or do the intake for her? And in return, someone helped me next time? What if we started helping each other instead of complaining about the admission in the first place? What if instead of complaining that I didn’t get a break, I offer to break another nurse and then we swap? Yes, gone are the days of feeling like everything was happening to me and there was nothing that could be done. It’s time, my friend, to take back the power and watch the magic unfold.
Have you heard the expression, “How you do some things, is how you do most things”? I’m someone that lives a life by my own design and outside of work, I did most things with a big heart and a great attitude. I felt on top of the world when I was off work but the second I walked into the hospital, my life completely changed. We all have values in life and when we quiet the noise around us, those values shine through. I knew my ultimate value in life was freedom. Freedom to be myself, express myself and live a life I love and by my own design. I was definitely not exercising freedom when it came to my attitude at the hospital and I knew it was time to change.
The second we make a choice to be an inspiration and truly view ourselves in that light everything shifts. It is in being human that our greatest strength is found. We all have that voice at times that screams “I’m not good enough” or “Who am I to inspire?”. I am here to tell you today that you can inspire, mistakes, imperfections and all. I’ve made medication errors. One time I made one of my patients drink Potassium without diluting it first. Yes, it was printed right there on the label for me to read and I didn’t see it. I’ve discharged a patient and left their IV in. I’ve slept through my alarm. I’ve had bad days. I’ve gossiped about a co-worker, my patients and their families.
I’ve complained. I’ve had a bad attitude about getting an admission or being pulled to another unit. I’m not proud of these situations, but guess what? I’m human and to be an inspiration you don’t need to be perfect. It doesn’t cost anything. You don’t have to make an elaborate plan. It’s simply a choice. A choice to raise the vibration of the room, give a little more than you take, apologize when you need to and be honest about your faults.
How can you inspire? I thought you’d never ask.
Some simple ways you can raise the vibrations next shift:
When you walk into work expect greatness. Things I say to myself, “How can it get any better than this?” or “Today I expect it to be a great day.”
When everyone is sitting charting offer to fill up water cups.
Switch off covering lunch breaks with another nurse so you can both get off the unit. Go the extra mile for the next shift – do the admission intake, give the bed bath, give that 7pm med, leave a co-worker a note.
Make a charting playlist, this especially helps when you need to stay awake at night. Write three things you’re grateful for on your report sheet and focus on those.
I’m grateful every day for my experience as a travel nurse on that unit. Working there taught me what it truly meant to inspire. I was inspired daily by these beautiful humans I got to work alongside, who helped me, cried with me, got their hands dirty and motivated me to care more and give more. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that you can’t see in someone else what you don’t already have in yourself. If you are inspired by someone else that means you already have what it takes to inspire right back. It’s time for a shift and to make a BIG change. If after reading this you’re ready to inspire and make a change then it means you already have everything in you to do so. Make a choice and get to shinin’.
Cat Golden from Nine Lives Health
I help nurses find purpose, presence & balance