Two tips to help you reconnect with the “art” of nursing

iStockphoto | ThinkStock
iStockphoto | ThinkStock

In my part-time nursing role, I talk to and hear from nurses from every specialty and shift in my organization, from psychiatric to surgery to pediatrics. And through these relationships, I’ve stumbled across some common, serious professional themes:

  • Nursing practice is highly distracting.
  • We never have enough time to do what we need to do for our patients.
  • Nurse-to-patient ratios are just plain unsafe.
  • Some of our measurements and models of care are quite dated.
  • Technology is cumbersome, overwhelming and exhausting.
  • We’re the be-all, catch-all profession–helping everyone else do their jobs right.

This list could go on and on, but I want to touch on one specific point in it: technology.

We are in the age of the cyber world. We have the potential to be “on” all of the time, instantly and continuously connected via mobile devices and technological applications.

Don’t get me wrong–technology is a good thing. A great thing, in fact. It’s helping nurses from around the world find supportive networks like Scrubs, bringing people resources and building meaningful relationships.

But as a nurse, how much does technology impact your ability to provide nursing care?

  • A bell goes off and you have to get up and go see what’s alarming now.
  • You’re constantly tracked by a pager or locator.
  • When was the last time you were in the middle of a life-and-death discussion only to have your unit page you across the speaker system to come put out another fire across the unit?

In addition to the distraction, we have computerized charting and electronic medical records, which has us creating a new phrase: “click and pick” nursing.

With all of this information overload, you may feel completely drained and as if the nursing work that you felt called into the profession for has all but gone away. Here are two simple strategies to help you reconnect with the spirit of nursing, which I like to call “Nursing from Within”:

  • Watch Your Nonverbal Cues. A patient can feel your stress. So before you go into the next patient’s room, be sure to pause, exhale and breathe out anything that no longer serves you. Allow yourself that one second pause to bring a smile into your heart and onto your face. Make eye contact with that human being and share a gentle touch of the hand. Human-to-human relationships invite healing.
  • Focus the Energy. It may be hard to do at first, especially with all of the challenges we’ve discussed above, but the best thing you can do in any and all situations is to focus on the positive. Sure, you may have a lot of computerized work to do, but it’s so much more legible than those old handwritten notes we used to receive. OK, so maybe the staffing isn’t great for the day, but you’re helping people heal. As Carl Jung put it: “What we resist, persists.” Where you place your energy, effort and attention will only grow in strength. Focus on all of the good you do at work, the joy you bring to others and the love you have of your role–this will bring you more good to be grateful for.

Nursing is a beautiful blend of “art” and “science.” While the “science” aspect is obviously thriving, its growth may have created some unintended side-effects. The “art” of nursing has been lost in the shuffle.

16 nurse pioneers and I are on a collective journey, a mission really, to bring back the art of nursing as it was once envisioned by our nursing founders. Join us this Nurse’s Week for the Art of Nursing program. Reconnect with that nurse inside; rekindle the spirit of nursing within.

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