Lessons Learned From A Decade Of Nursing

North Carolina Water Fall

North Carolina Water Fall

I have learned a lot from nursing over the past decade. Today, I want to share with you the lessons I have learned along the way on this journey over the last ten years. If you have been nursing for a couple of years, then you will probably have experienced a few of these yourself. I hope there will be one or two you can take away today to help make you the best nurse possible.

Help others– This may not mean what you think it means. I know a big part of nursing is about caring for your patients, but that is not what I am talking about here.  I am mainly talking about helping other healthcare professionals. Zig Ziglar has a famous saying that goes something like this “You can achieve everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. If you have a coworker who is struggling to keep up with their assignment offer to help that nurse get caught up. Many nurses will say, “No, I am fine”, but be persistent in a friendly manner. Many people do not want to admit they need help, and you need to be able to recognize when they are struggling and help them get what they want which is to be caught up. By the way, this is the best way to make friends in your work environment. I have found that if there is a nurse or another person I am having trouble connecting with the best way to make that person like you is to help them when they are struggling. I know it is hard sometimes because we don’t want the extra burden, but it is the best way to show leadership in your place of work.

Slow Down – Working in a health care setting can automatically put you in a hurried mindset. It is a fast paced environment, and people want answers NOW. When I have ten tasks, or people, demanding my attention at one time I go back to my training and think about what needs to be done first. Not which task or person is making the most noise. This helped me to reduce my stress and put things in the right priority. It also helps me to maintain more control. When I am in a rush, I tend to make mistakes and appear stressed to the people around me. No matter how crazy it gets you are only able to do one thing at a time, and this will help you not get anxious and appear stressed to others. I know this is a tough one, but try to be aware and intentional about working on it when you feel this coming on.

Smile and be approachable – There are so many benefits to smiling. Of course, you want to do it when it is appropriate. I feel a lot more health care workers should be smiling and not have a somewhat uninviting look on their face. Personally, I try to make eye contact and smile at people when they look at me. This makes for a much better work environment and makes other health care workers, patients, and family feel comfortable asking you questions and opening up to you about issues they are having.

Do not take things personally – In health care a lot of people are in a hurry or they may be worried about something. They are not themselves and may respond in a not so friendly manner in certain cases. You may have done everything you can to be friendly and accommodating to another health care professional, patient, or family member and they are still responding inappropriately towards you. Sometimes this will be inappropriate, and you will have to call them out on it. In other cases, I invite you to think about what does that person want and help them to get that. For example, a physician may be stressed internally about his schedule and may ask you as a floor nurse to look up some information on your patient for him. I will do my best to try to help him, or her, get what they want and I usually notice this person’s attitude change for the better. Many times I have made a friend because I did not treat them like they treated me but treated them like I would have wanted to be treated. Now if they are persistently rude, then you have to call them out in a professional manner. I do not put up with any rudness, but I do realize people are dealing with things I may not understand, and they may need a little kindness to turn around their day.

Keep your standard of care high – For the most part our standard of care coming out of nursing school is very high. Our instructors do that because they know once we get out in the real work environment we will get around others with a possible lower standard of care. They are hoping you will not fall below a certain minimum standard. I want to invite you to have standards for your practice and never compromise on those no matter how much you have to do. This ties into taking your time as mentioned earlier. Don’t take short cuts to save time.

Take care of yourself – I see so many health care workers not taking care of themselves. Whether it is through food, sleep, stress or their environment. This is one of the reasons I started this website.  We must first take care of ourselves in order to effectively take care of others. I have so many stories of nurses who started working tons of overtime to save up for a new item they wanted and within a short period they are burned out and/or calling out sick.  As a healthcare worker I feel it is my responsibility to live what I preach and to feel my best so I can effectively care for my patients. Remember, if you do not eat right and hydrate yourself well during your shift you may end up taking the place of your patient. Do not overload yourself and keep your life in balance.

Know where you are going as a nurse – Have you answered the question of what makes you passionate about the job you do every day? Some of you may not like the current work you are doing or where you are doing it, and that is ok. Let me ask you this, what are you doing to change that? It is important to know what you want to do in this life and go after it. If you are getting an advanced degree know why you are doing that. Don’t just do it because it will give you another credential behind your name, know the problem in the world you want to be a part of solving and how it will help you to achieve that.

Don’t be afraid to admit you need help – As a male, this has always been a tough one for me. My wife tells me that I am getting better at it. If I feel I am getting that overwhelmed feeling I will ask one of my coworkers for help. In life, if you do not ask, the answer will always be NO. I do this to keep me from getting to a place of overwhelm, which once again, may make me prone to making mistakes, being late on time sensitive tasks or appearing stressed and unapproachable to others. I find in ninety-nine percent of cases if that person you asked for help has time the answer will always be an enthusiastic YES. I know I would do my best to try to help others especially if they asked me.

I believe a lot of these lessons come down to not being so focused on self. I know for me it has made me love my work more. Every day I go to work there are opportunities to help a coworker, smile at someone or just take the time to talk with a patient. I have found my stress level go way down and my work satisfaction skyrocket over the years from realizing these lessons.

So now I turn it over to you. What are some lessons you have learned along the way as a nurse? Share what you have learned in the comment section and if you have found this post useful share it with your friends.

To Your Health