14 Things Every Nurse Should Have in Her Pocket

14 Things Every Nurse Should Have in Her Pocket

If you ask any nurse what their favorite thing is about wearing scrubs (besides the fact that they are basically PJs), they will most likely say “pockets!” Scrub pockets hold all of the essential tools that a nurse needs to survive a shift. If you’re a student or a new nurse, you might not know yet exactly what you should keep in your pockets. So here is a list of 14 pocket nursing essentials:

1. Pens and highlighters

You can never have enough pens! Highlighters are also a great tool to use if you want to mark important information about a patient on his or her chart.

2. Gum

Nurses get up close and personal with lots of people, so fresh breath is a must.

3. A snack

Maintain your blood sugar and be prepared for those busy days when you may not be able to get a break!

4. Notepad

While a paper towel or scrub pants will work for jotting down vital signs, sometimes it is nice to have paper.

5. Stethoscope

Whether you choose to keep your stethoscope around your neck or in your pocket, a stethoscope is an absolute must for a nurse.

6. Lip balm

Hospitals are cold and dry. Coat your lips in lip balm to prevent the inevitable chapping.

7. Tape

Between taping up IVs and blood draw sites, you’ll certainly use a lot of tape throughout the day.

8. Alcohol swabs

Chances are, regardless of your nursing field, you will deliver at least one IV push med each shift. Make patient safety easy by keeping alcohol swabs handy.

9. Watch

There may not always be a clock in your patient’s room. A watch is essential for taking vital signs as well as knowing how many hours before your shift ends.

10. Scissors

Be the hero on your unit by having scissors. Put your name on them to prevent other nurses from holding onto them.

11. Pen light

Pen lights are not only good for neuro assessments; they also make great lights for charting at night in a patient room or finding a pill you dropped on the floor.

12. IV flushes

Save yourself time when giving medications or maintaining a line by having your IV flushes always at your side.

13. Hair ties or bobby pins

Avoid getting your hair in body fluids by having a hair tie or bobby pins in your pocket.

14. Hand lotion

After the 100th time washing your hands, your hands will be screaming for moisture. Keep your hands soft and happy with a small tube of lotion.

What do you like to keep in your scrub pockets? Comment below!

5 Unique Ways to Practice Self-Care

5 Unique Ways to Practice Self-Care

We all know how important it is to practice self-care when you have a stressful job like nursing. Meditation and exercise are wonderful ways to refresh your mind and body, but maybe you’ve found yourself getting bored with these activities. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new with these five unique ways to practice self-care.

1. Hydrotherapy Floating

During a hydrotherapy float session, you will float effortlessly in a 94-degree tub thanks to 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts. Floating can help reduce stress, ease chronic pain, and enhance mindfulness. While floating you can either let your mind wander or have a blissful meditation session. Either way, at the end of your float, you will feel relaxed and ready to take on anything that comes your way.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that uses tiny needles to stimulate different points on the body. It may not sound very relaxing to be poked with needles, but if you’re brave enough to give it a try, you won’t regret it. Your acupuncturist will begin by placing several needles on your body based on your concerns, such as headache or stress relief. Once the needles have been placed, you will be left alone to relax and listen to soothing music. After the needles have had time to work their magic, they will be removed and you will be amazed by how much better you feel.

3. Massage

Nursing is a very physically demanding job that can leave you with tight, achy muscles. Massage is a great way to relax and relieve any built-up tension. There are several different types of massage you can try, like hot stone, deep tissue or Swedish. Each massage appointment is customized to the client’s specific need in terms of pressure, intensity and location. Let your massage therapist know if you have any areas that you would like them to focus on, like your shoulders, calves or lower back after a long day at work.

4. Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is exactly what it sounds like—the practice of yoga in room heated to 95-105 degrees. During your yoga practice, you are encouraged to focus on your breathing and let each inhale and exhale guide you to a new pose. Your stress will begin to drip away as your mind is cleared of any lingering thoughts about your day at work. If you’re worried about hot yoga being too intense, many studios offer warm yoga, which will provide the same benefits but in a cooler room.

5. Chiropractic Alignment

Being on your feet for long hours or hunching over a computer screen doing charting can cause some serious spinal misalignment. Spinal misalignment can lead to back pain, knots, sore muscles and even headaches. A chiropractor can straighten out any pains you are having (literally), and advise you on how to protect your spine and prevent further injury. After a few cracks here and a few pops there, you’ll feel like a completely new person.

5 Habits That Will Help You Become a Great Nurse

5 Habits That Will Help You Become a Great Nurse

We all know a great nurse—someone whom we look up to and wish we could be like one day. These nurses didn’t start out as role models. They had to work hard to become who they are today. The good news: You, too, can become a great nurse! Here are five habits to incorporate into your nursing practice that will help you along the way.

1. Review your charting.

Take a few minutes at the end of your shift to review your charting for the day. You may find a mistake or remember something you forgot to chart. It’s important to remember that everything you type could be reviewed in a court of law. If something wasn’t charted, then it didn’t happen. By reviewing your charting, you are protecting your nursing license and ensuring an accurate medical record for your patient.

2. Remember your safety basics.

Don’t forget the safety basics you learned in nursing school, like wearing gloves or scrubbing the hub. These practices will protect you from occupational hazards and protect your patients from harm. Over time, your safety basics will become habits that you will be able to maintain even when you are busy or stressed.

3. Keep up with the latest information.

Every day a plethora of new information is released into the nursing world. It is crucial that you stay up to date on everything in your field of nursing so you continue to grow and evolve. Nurses who are behind the times and unwilling to change their practices could endanger themselves and their patients. Join your local professional association and read your hospital and unit newsletters to stay abreast of new information specific to your field of nursing.

4. Stay organized.

It is easy to become overwhelmed and disorganized when you are taking care of several patients. A great nurse is always thinking three steps ahead of what she is doing. Find an organizational system that works for you to help plan your day, or use a checklist to ensure that you get everything done. Having a system in place will help you stay on track when an emergency happens in the middle of your shift.

5. Don’t cut corners.

It may be tempting to cut corners to save time, but safety measures were put in place for a reason. By skipping a step, you could be risking your patient’s life. Maintaining sterility or performing the five rights of medication administration may be time consuming but could be disastrous if skipped. Infection, sepsis, overdose, or allergic reaction are all possible outcomes. Protect your patients, yourself, and your license and don’t cut corners.

How to Survive a 12-Hour Nursing Shift

How to Survive a 12-Hour Nursing Shift

Most adults work 8-hour days, but because nurses are superhuman we work 12-hour shifts. Working this long can seem daunting, but with a few tricks, you’ll be able power through your shift and be ready for another one the next day. Here are some suggestions to help you survive the long hours.

1. Put a snack in your pocket.

You may not always be able to take a break when you want to during your 12-hour shift. Emergencies or high patient censuses can cause you to have inconsistent break times. Instead of letting your energy plummet because you haven’t eaten in hours, try putting a snack in your pocket to munch on when you need to refuel. A small fruit and nut granola bar is the perfect size for your scrub pockets and easy to eat when you have a moment to spare.

2. Protect your body.

Being a nurse is extremely physically taxing. Protect your body, especially your back, when turning or getting a patient out of bed. Use good body mechanics or a mechanical lift if needed. Try taking some time before every shift to stretch and loosen any tight muscles to prepare your body for the long day ahead. If you do hurt yourself while at work, be sure to report it and get the help you need before the injury gets even worse.

3. Wear compression socks.

That’s right, compression socks aren’t just for your post-operative patients. Being on your feet for long periods of time puts you at a high risk for varicose veins, and wearing compression socks can help reduce that risk. Compression socks can also help reduce fatigue by improving blood flow and reducing lactic acid build up. If you find that your calves are sore and your ankles are swollen after working, you may want to try slipping on a pair of compression socks before your next shift. Your legs will thank you later!

4. Get off the unit during your breaks.

When you have a chance to take a break, really take advantage of it. Don’t eat your food at the nurses station. Getting away from your unit will help you relax more fully and enjoy your break. Give your work phone to another nurse. If you are answering phone calls and helping patients on your break, you will not be refreshed and ready to go when your break is over. Take your mind off of your patients by doing something during your break that you find relaxing, like reading a book or listening to music.

5. Invest in shoes that are right for your feet.

Some days you will be so busy that you could be on your feet for 12 hours straight. If you are wearing shoes that don’t fit properly, by the end of your shift your feet will ache and you could even have blisters. Go to an athletic shoe store to have your feet and stride analyzed by a professional who can advise on the best shoes for your feet. Don’t forget to replace your shoes every 6-9 months or when the tread wears down.

How to Make the Most of Your Nursing Preceptor Experience

How to Make the Most of Your Nursing Preceptor Experience

When you start your first nursing job, you will be paired with an experienced nurse, also known as a preceptor. Your preceptor will help you learn your unit’s policies and procedures as well as your nursing responsibilities. Here are a few ways to make the most of your nursing preceptor training experience:

1. Get to know your preceptor.

You will be spending many hours with your preceptor, so it is important to build a relationship with them. Ask them questions about their life, why they became a nurse, and what they enjoy most about their job. Communicate with them about what your learning style is and how they can help you succeed. Be honest about any areas where you tend to struggle or might need additional assistance with.

2. Be willing to learn.

Every minute you are on the unit with your preceptor is an opportunity to learn. Watch the way your preceptor interacts with patients and listen to the way they phrase questions. If you don’t understand something, don’t be afraid to ask about it. Knowing the “why” behind your unit’s practices will help you remember them.

3. Strive to overcome differences.

You may find that you have a different personality than your preceptor. Your preceptor might be outgoing, while you might tend to be reserved and shy. This can cause a strain on your relationship, but it doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed for failure. Try observing the way that your preceptor’s personality influences the way that they interact with patients and see if you can incorporate their positive qualities into your nursing care.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask your preceptor for help.

It’s okay to admit that you don’t know something. Remember that you are in training and you are not expected to know everything. It is far better to admit that you don’t know something than to endanger your patient’s life to maintain your pride. If you are not 100% sure about what you’re doing, ask your preceptor for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, let your preceptor know that you need assistance.

5. Debrief with your preceptor after each shift.

It is helpful to sit down with your preceptor after each shift to discuss what went well and what you need to work on. Taking time to reflect on your strengths will build confidence and reflecting on your weaknesses will help you grow. If your preceptor does not have time to sit down and have a discussion, try writing down a reflection of your day and have your preceptor give feedback on what you wrote.

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