Nurses can fall into the, “Caution, unbalances easily” camp. We are caretakers by nature. We often take on more than we can/should handle both professionally and personally. It is easy to become unbalanced and stressed in our profession. We can work as many hours as we want because of the shortage of nurses. We never know what kind of situation we are walking into at work. We take on more responsibility than sometimes humanly possible. Here are just a few tips for enjoying longevity in nursing.
Find Your Place
Some find their place right out of nursing school. They have a family, want to stay close to home, and have a clear plan to move up the ranks in their hospital. Some nurses are born to travel. While my home hospital remains forever close to my heart and I will always consider it home, I knew I wanted to travel. I have found my place in several units along the way.
Find Your Specialty
The beauty of nursing is that if you tire, get bored, or burn out of one area, there are endless possibilities for a change of venue. We are so lucky in this regard. We can specialize in Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Cardiology, Oncology- you name it. How often does a profession offer so many choices?
Find Your Tribe
It’s important to realize that we will not gel with everyone we meet. This is especially true in the workplace. It’s an important lesson in life. The thing is, focus less on the people you don’t connect with and more on those you do. They will lift you up, make working that extra shift bearable, and will become some of your dearest friends.
Take a Time Out
That moment when you feel a heavy weight or burden from working too much or have had one too many confrontations with that difficult coworker is the perfect time to plan a time out. Schedule yourself a week off or few days off between shifts and plan something fun and exciting. Get away. Take a mini vacation. Turn your nurse brain off. Go in standby and recharge. Whatever it is you enjoy doing outside of work, do it.
Reflect on something that you would like to learn more of in your field. Take a class once a year that does not include CEUs. Go on a conference. If you like starting IVs, consider joining a PICC line team or learn how to place peripheral arterial lines if your hospital offers such competency.
Share your knowledge. Share the workload. Ask for help when you are overwhelmed. Help someone that is overwhelmed. Share your snacks. Share your recipes. Share a compliment. Share a smile. Be the one that spreads cheer around the unit. Positivity is contagious.
Optimize Your Schedule for You
While it’s good to be flexible, if you know that night shift is not your thing and that your body just does not recover well from it, work days. If working overtime is too much for you, honor yourself by not working extra. Don’t sacrifice your well being for the sake of pleasing your manager. Try to plan your schedule to best benefit you so that when you are present and working you are giving one hundred percent. It’s a win win situation for both you and your manager.
Learn to Say No
This can be the hardest lesson in both nursing and life. We want to be all and do all, but at what cost? Ask yourself, are you exhausted all the time, feeling super stressed like you can’t fit everything in, can’t breathe? Say no. This takes a lot of practice, but is necessary to stay balanced. You will find it gets easier.