Mantras and Affirmations for Nurses Amid COVID-19

Mantras and Affirmations for Nurses Amid COVID-19

Many people, including nurses, have daily mantras or affirmations they use to set their intentions and motivate themselves throughout the day. Mantras can help you get through a tough time, but the ones you’ve always used before might not be enough to get you through the pandemic. If you’re looking for new mantras or affirmations, or you want to get started with them, here are 10 phrases tailored to COVID-19:

1. I will care for my patients to the best of my ability.

Nursing is also about patient care, so leading with a patient-centered affirmation is very fitting. Notice that the words focus on what’s possible—“care for my patients to the best of my ability”—instead of focusing on unrealistic expectations (i.e., “I will cure all my patients”). All mantras and affirmations should be equally realistic and within your abilities; otherwise, they will put unneeded pressure on you and stress you out.

2. This will not break me.

Caring for patients during the pandemic, especially patients who are severely sick with COVID-19, can be absolutely overwhelming. Tell yourself that you may bend under the pressure, but you are strong enough not to break. You will get through this in one piece, and you will live to fight another day (or rather, live to help your patients fight another day).

3. I have survived hard times before.

This relates to the previous mantra, and the two work well in tandem. As proof that this experience will not break you, consider all the times you thought you couldn’t overcome a challenge—and then did it anyway. Look to the past for evidence of how strong you are and how your resiliency will enable you to persevere in the midst of these incredibly tough times. Even when the last thing you wanted to do was put on your cotton scrubs and go to work, you still did it, and you can do it again.

4. Stay in the present.

With no real end to the pandemic in sight, it’s easy to get caught in a spiral, wondering about all the disasters the future might hold. This is an understandable impulse, but try not to give in to it. Instead, focus on the present moment and helping the patients right in front of you (or making the most of your day off, when you’re not on shift). Concentrate on what you can do this week, this day, this hour, this minute.

5. I can make a difference.

Within the scheme of the pandemic, it may not seem like the actions of a single nurse can make a difference either way. However, your actions matter to your patients, which in turn impacts their loved ones and their entire network. Maybe you can’t make a difference to the whole world, but you can (and will) make a difference to your patients. Your work is not futile.

6. This is temporary, and it will pass.

As the pandemic drags on, the hypothetical end point seems further and further away. Some days it feels like there has always been a pandemic, and will always be a pandemic. But even the worst situations eventually come to an end. Even though it may feel endless, COVID-19 will end and vaccines will become available. We don’t know how far away the light at the end of the tunnel is, but there is a light.

7. I cannot control everything.

This can be a tough one for nurses, who often joined the profession partly because they like to be in charge and have a lot of autonomy. But many things are still out of your control, and this is especially true in the healthcare field where you can do your best and still not achieve the patient outcomes you so desperately wanted. Rather than blame yourself, remind yourself that you cannot control everything and sometimes things happen.

8. I will focus on things that I can change.

Another mantra duo, “I will focus on things that I can change” is a good follow-up to “I cannot control everything.” Thinking about how you can’t control everything can sometimes lead to feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. But just because not everything is in your control doesn’t mean that nothing is. Concentrate on what you can do, even if it’s just taking the time to listen closely to a patient.

9. I have things to be grateful for.

In hard situations like coronavirus, it’s very easy to fixate on the negatives because there are so many bad things happening at once. While it can be difficult, try to find some small things to be grateful for–even if it’s as simple as a call with your loved ones or a nice soothing cup of tea. It sounds silly, but looking for the small things will help you find tiny sparks of positivity.

10. I am allowed to have negative feelings…but they won’t overwhelm me.

You are probably having a lot of emotions right now, many of them negative. You might be scared, sad, angry, confused or all of the above at once. Tell yourself that it’s okay not to be okay and that you are allowed to feel all your feelings, however negative they may be. Avoid “toxic positivity” which insists on projecting happiness and productivity at all times. However, you should also remind yourself that these feelings will pass. You don’t want to wallow in them so much that you tip into despair.

The right mantras and affirmations can help you center yourself, clear your head and reaffirm your priorities. If you’re in need of some mantras during the pandemic, try reciting these 10 phrases to yourself before donning your scrubs and heading to work. Thank you for all that you do!

The New Nurse Guide: 11 Ways to Adjust to a New Practice

The New Nurse Guide: 11 Ways to Adjust to a New Practice

Starting a new nursing job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. You have to learn where everything is and get to know your new coworkers while trying to do your job. If you’re starting a new position and wondering how you can adjust, read these 11 tips before your first day of work.

1. Come prepared.

Be ready to hit the ground running at your new job. Read over the hospital’s policies and procedures ahead of time, so you’re not trying to learn on the fly. Clean your house, do your chores, wash your cotton scrubs, and cook all the food you’ll need so you can concentrate on your first week or two on the job. It takes a little work, but you’ll be grateful when that first week of work starts.

2. Get to know your facility.

Learning where your team stores various equipment is one of the most important and practical things to do when you first start your job. You’ll need to know what is kept in the supply room and where your team stores the Crash Cart. Being able to retrieve items quickly will make your job easier, and those precious extra seconds can make a difference in a true emergency. So take yourself on a tour of your floor and figure out where everything is!

3. Ask smart questions.

Some nurses hesitate to ask questions at a new job because they’re afraid that it will make them look ignorant. However, asking smart questions will show that you’ve been paying attention and are actively engaging with the team. If you need to, carry around a little notebook where you can jot down the various answers and refer back. This way, you don’t end up asking the same question a dozen times over.

4. Listen to the gossip (but don’t participate).

While it’s important to know the official policies and procedures, a lot of the important knowledge is passed along through word of mouth. If your coworkers start chit-chatting with you, pay attention to see if you can glean any information about how the unit works. You may learn by hearing about past events. However, it’s usually best not to participate in the gossip yourself, especially before you know your coworkers well. You don’t want to ruffle any feathers.

5. Stay positive.

There are bound to be some mishaps and miscommunications during your first weeks on the job. While you might be tempted to get down on yourself, try to look for the bright side and stay positive. You’ll likely be stressed from the new job, which makes you more vulnerable to small mistakes. So cut yourself some slack and try to stay upbeat.

6. Reach out to coworkers.

Having a friendly, open demeanor can go a long way toward helping you establish good relationships with your coworkers. Make an effort to participate when they engage you in conversation and say “yes” when they invite you to lunch. As you get to know people better, you can take the initiative in starting conversations or asking if they want to grab coffee together on your breaks.

7. Find a good mentor.

Having a good mentor is crucial to succeeding at your job. In a perfect world, this mentor will be your direct supervisor, but you won’t always end up with a great boss. If your nurse supervisor is less than ideal, seek out a mentor who you don’t report to but can trust. This person can be someone at the facility or someone else.

8. Be a team player.

Nurses do have a lot of autonomy and often work independently, but they also operate as a unit. The best nurses can work well on their own or with their team members. It’s also important to be able to work well with doctors and other health care providers. Make it a point to be a team player and work well with your new coworkers. If you prefer to be a lone wolf most of the time, see this as an area of growth and set a goal for yourself to improve your teamwork skills.

9. Give yourself time.

It’s normal to feel a bit unbalanced as you adjust to a new job. Not only are you in a new environment surrounded by new people, but you might also be taking on new duties. If you moved cities on top of getting a new job, you’re going to feel even more frazzled. Give yourself at least six months to get settled into your new role. It takes a while to feel comfortable at a new job. Be aware that it may take longer, especially if you’re dealing with other changes.

10. Stay confident.

As part of that adjustment period, you might feel like you don’t belong at your new job and wonder whether you’re truly qualified for the position. These feelings are totally normal and especially common if the new role is a promotion. Remind yourself that your employer wouldn’t have hired you for the role if you weren’t qualified. Everyone takes some time to get settled into a new job.

11. Advocate for your patients.

In the stress and confusion of a new job, don’t lose sight of why you go to work in the first place: your patients. Patient outcomes should always be the priority for both you as an individual nurse and your facility. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by all the new changes, focus on caring for your patients and providing the best care possible. You can’t go wrong with this attitude.

If you follow these 11 strategies, you’ll be able to don your scrubs and your nursing shoes with confidence on your first day. Good luck at your new job, and congrats on finding a new nursing position!

7 Precautions for Health Care Workers to Combat COVID-19

7 Precautions for Health Care Workers to Combat COVID-19

Doctors, nurses, and health care providers are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, providing care and saving lives. Given how little is known about the virus, and how contagious it appears to be, many health care workers are understandably nervous about contracting the disease or bringing it home to their loved ones. Whether you’re a nurse in the ICU or a home health care worker in a senior facility, here are seven precautions you can take to combat COVID-19 and protect yourself, your family, and your friends.

1. Make sure your facility is following CDC guidelines.

At this point in the coronavirus epidemic, your facility should already be following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This includes measures such as identifying airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIR) or negative pressure rooms for quarantine and screening. Another important measure is outlining staffing protocols to facilitate the care of patients with COVID-19. Since developments are changing so rapidly and new research is proceeding apace, you should double-check that your facility is staying up to date with the most current findings. You can find more guidance from the CDC’s centralized portal.

2. Observe proper PPE protocols.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages are a sad reality in some areas, even as companies and individuals race to make more masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. As much as possible, you should wear PPE and follow safety protocols, including proper hand sanitation. Sanitize your hands, step into your isolation gown, put on your N95 respirator, add your goggles or face shield, wash or sanitize your hands again and put on your gloves. Then, you may finally enter the patient room. Before exiting the room, remove the gloves and gown and dispose of them. After exiting the room, perform hand hygiene before and after removing the face shield and mask.

3. Watch yourself for symptoms.

Health care workers are unfortunately at a greater risk of catching coronavirus, especially if they are working directly with patients who are ill with COVID-19. Watch yourself carefully for symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath within 2-14 days of exposure. Symptoms present very differently from individual to individual, and you can also be asymptomatic while carrying the virus without knowing it. You can measure your temperature to make sure that you’re not sick if you think you might have been exposed. If you start exhibiting symptoms, it’s imperative to get tested immediately. You don’t want to infect otherwise healthy patients, so the safest action you can take is to self-isolate and wait for your test results.

4. Educate your patients.

Yes, health care providers can spread the coronavirus — and so can your patients. In fact, the vast majority of people have picked up the virus from other civilians in perfectly ordinary situations, like going to the grocery store. Talk to patients about the importance of self-isolation and following CDC guidelines, such as not touching their faces, washing their hands properly for at least 20 seconds, and limiting trips outside the house. Make sure that your patients are only coming in for an appointment if absolutely necessary. If there’s any chance they have coronavirus, even if their symptoms are mild, it could be best for them to ride it out at home rather than to come in and potentially infect other people. As always, make sure all patients consult with their health care providers about any such decisions.

5. Leave the germs at work.

Bring a set of clean clothes and shoes with you to work in a sealed plastic bag. At the end of your shift, perform hand hygiene and change into the new clothes and shoes. Place your scrubs in another sealed bag to bring home with you and don’t put the dirty clothes in the same bag as the clean clothes if you plan to reuse them. If you can, leave your slip-resistant shoes in your locker so you don’t have to take them home with you. Once you leave the hospital, wipe down your cell phone, pager, and other personal devices with disinfectant. You might also want to disinfectant the door handles, steering wheel, and other high touch areas in your car.

6. Clean your scrubs and shoes.

At home, leave your shoes outside the door. Take off your clothes and put them in the washer immediately alongside your nursing scrubs. Wash the clothes on the hottest setting possible with plenty of detergent. If you want, you can also add bleach to the wash cycle. Dry the clothes for at least 30 minutes on the hottest setting available. If your shoes are made of a hard material, wipe them down with disinfectant after each shift. If they’re not, wash them periodically in a separate load.

7. Protect your family.

Even if you’re not currently exhibiting symptoms, if you work in a role that exposes you to patients that likely have coronavirus, you might want to self-isolate from your family. You can isolate yourself in your own living space, but you’ll need to sleep in a different bedroom, use a different bathroom, and eat your meals separately from the rest of your family. If your current living arrangement doesn’t allow you to do that, some hotels and short-term rentals are offering accommodations to health care workers for drastically reduced rates so they can keep their families safe.

Following these guidelines and erring on the side of caution will cut down on your odds of spreading COVID-19 or catching it yourself. Stay abreast of the latest guidelines and do everything you can to leave the germs at the hospital.

How to Talk to Your Patients About Vaccinations

How to Talk to Your Patients About Vaccinations

It’s now officially flu season, which means more patients than ever need to get vaccines in addition to the usual shots. But given the rise in anti-vaccination sentiment over the past few years, some patients are suspicious of anyone in a white lab coat who tells them that they, or their children, need vaccinations. Even patients who aren’t “antivaxxers” will likely have more questions about vaccinations than they would have a few years ago, simply due to the uptick in news stories. Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you prepare to talk to your patients about vaccinations:

1. Start a conversation.

In past decades, you might have been able to run through the required vaccination spiel and administered an IM injection without getting a single question from patients. But now we live in a time where misinformation about vaccinations is rife and infectious disease rates are rising due to reduced vaccinations–and people have a lot to say about it. When you’re talking to patients about vaccinations, create a two-way conversation rather than a one-way dump of information that shuts out the patient.

2. Acknowledge their concern and listen to them.

Especially when it comes to their kids, many parents are very concerned about vaccinations and the potentially adverse effects they can have. In these situations, dismissing their concerns outright will often only confirm their perceptions that the medical establishment doesn’t care about their worries, further entrenching this position. Instead, empathize with them, listen to their concerns and communicate that you also want to keep their kids as healthy as possible.

3. Use plain language and specific examples.

Medical jargon means nothing to most patients, and definitely not to their kids. When talking to patients, use language that’s accurate yet easy to understand. It can also help to use specific individual examples to really illustrate the power of vaccines–for example, maybe you know a patient who refused to get the flu vaccine and ended up contracting the flu that season. While a single example isn’t statistical proof, it is easier for patients to grasp.

4. Communicate your credentials.

“Of course, patients should know I’m competent! I’ve been to medical school and have been practicing for years!” you may think. However, there’s a perception among certain groups of patients that so-called outside experts are more trustworthy than doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. If a patient seems reluctant to believe you, you may need to gently work your credentials into the conversation to show that you really do know what you’re talking about.

5. Emphasize the safety of vaccines.

Most patients’ concerns center on vaccine safety and whether or not it will have unintentional side effects. To help assuage their fear, focus on the safety of vaccines and how rare side effects are. Having some numbers about their safety, such as the tiny percentage of people who develop side effects, can also be helpful. (More on using statistics wisely below.)

6. Explain the consequences of diseases.

Over the past few decades, vaccination rates have risen and infectious disease rates have dropped, so many people have no firsthand experience of the illnesses they’re being vaccinated against. In fact, they might not even know what the symptoms are. While it’s great that we’re no longer afraid of so many killer epidemics, this does mean that patients have no idea just how serious these diseases can be. While you should never fear monger, you might need to factually explain exactly what the various vaccinations protect against.

7. Have some numbers handy.

While inundating patients with numbers will likely cause them to glaze over and check out, having one or two well-placed statistics ready can go a long way. For instance, if a patient says that their child doesn’t need the MMR vaccine because “no one gets the measles anymore,” you can point out that there have actually been 1,250 confirmed cases of the measles in the U.S. since the beginning of 2019, many of them linked to a lack of vaccines.

8. Know what the internet is telling them.

In order to successfully debate an opponent, you’d brainstorm all the advantages they’d point out and then find ways to refute them, right? In the same vein, you can’t successfully argue against the anti-vaccination movement without knowing their claims and evidence (or the lack thereof), and most patients are getting this information from the internet. If you’re seeing a lot of patients who are resistant to getting vaccines, it might be worthwhile to explore what the other side is telling them so you can argue against it more persuasively.

9. Make sure your staff presents a united front.

If patients are already predisposed to distrust the medical establishment, this suspicion will only be heightened if they hear one thing from a nurse and another thing from a doctor regarding vaccinations. Meet with your staff regularly to keep them up to date on the latest findings and to establish your talking points. Giving patients two different pieces of information will only confuse them further, so everyone needs to be on the same page.

10. Be prepared for counterarguments.

Despite all these preparations, some patients are still going to have questions and counterarguments for you. Instead of brushing them off or shutting them down, engage with them and show that you care. Try to see the concern and worry fueling these arguments instead of only dwelling on the surface claims. For some people, getting vaccines for their children is a very emotional decision–instead of just a rational one–and you’ll need to proceed accordingly.

As a medical professional, you’re almost always a patient’s most trustworthy source on vaccines, even if they don’t believe it quite yet. Keep these 10 tips in mind as you prepare to talk to your patients about vaccines.

6 Reasons Why 2020 Is the Year of the Nurse

6 Reasons Why 2020 Is the Year of the Nurse

Early in 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 2020 would be the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. WHO is planning lots of programming and reporting around the year to celebrate nurses and support the profession. Here are six reasons why 2020 is the perfect time for the Year of the Nurse.

1. It’s the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, making 2020 the 200th year anniversary of her birth. The “Lady with the Lamp” became the founder of modern nursing and the first woman to receive the Order of Merit. During the Crimean War, Nightingale was put in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey. Her time in the wards, especially her night rounds, earned her the nickname “Lady with the Lamp” and helped her begin to formalize nursing education. She went on to found the first scientifically based nursing school—the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London—in 1860. She also helped institute training for midwives and nurses working in workhouse infirmaries. Nightingale continues to inspire nurses all over the world with her legacy of dedication and innovation. While International Nurses Day commemorates her birthday every year on May 12, the 2020 celebrations will take place year-round and further champion nurses’ work.

2. It’s the release of the first State of the World’s Nursing Report.

In conjunction with the Year of the Nurse, WHO will be releasing its first-ever wh prior to the 73rd World Health Assembly in May 2020. According to WHO, “The report will describe the nursing workforce in WHO Member States, providing an assessment of ‘fitness for purpose’ relative to GPW13 targets.” GPW13 refers to the Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019−2023, which lays out WHO’s leadership priorities in five-year blocks. Some of WHO’s 2023 goals include reducing the global maternal mortality ratio by 30% and reducing malaria case incidences by 50%. WHO will also be a partner on the State of the World’s Midwifery 2020 Report, which will be launched around the same time as the State of the World’s Nursing Report.

3. It’s the culmination of the Nursing Now campaign.

The three-year Nursing Now global campaign launched in 2018 and will wrap up at the end of 2020. Nursing Now is a collaboration between the World Health Organization and the International Council of Nurses and is championed by Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. Nursing Now focuses on five core areas: ensuring that nurses and midwives have a more prominent voice in health policy-making; encouraging greater investment in the nursing workforce; recruiting more nurses into leadership positions; conducting research that helps determine where nurses can have the greatest impact; and sharing of best nursing practices. Nurses can support Nursing Now by signing its support pledge, sharing about the campaign on social media, hosting events, sharing their experiences with other nurses, and organizing to advocate for the nursing profession. You can also start or join a Nursing Now group in your local or regional area. There are currently groups in more than 100 countries worldwide.

4. Nurses make up a majority of the worldwide healthcare force.

While doctors get much of the attention, especially in Western nations, nurses and midwives make up more than 50% of the health workforce in many countries. Nurses armed with clinical supplies are usually the front line of care and, in some cases, may be the only provider in the area, especially in developing countries. They make a difference not just in individual patients’ lives but also in the community as a whole. Due to their sheer numbers and the locations where they often work, nurses are vital players in improving public health outcomes around the world.

5. Nurses are a huge part of the health care worker shortfall.

Due to the major role they play in the worldwide healthcare workforce, nurses and midwives also make up a significant part of the nursing shortage–more than 50% of the shortfall in the global health workforce to 2030. Looking at just the U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. BLS also predicts that the U.S. will need an additional 200,000+ nurses per year from now until 2026, adding up to more than one million additional nurses. And that’s just one country that already had a health care infrastructure that’s significantly more developed than some others.

6. Supporting nurses boosts economic growth and gender equality.

As part of Nursing Now and its other efforts to support nurses, WHO often speaks of the “Triple Impact” that comes from giving nurses what they need: better health, stronger economies, and greater gender equality. While the first outcome is more obvious, the second ones are equally important. While men can and do become nurses, worldwide the vast majority of nurses are women. Becoming a nurse opens up opportunities for women, giving them the chance to receive formal education, enroll in training programs, secure a license, and finally get a job and its accompanying income. This improves overall economic growth and also increases gender equality in the workforce.

Nurses should already be proud of themselves when they don their scrubs for a shift, but in 2020, they’ll do so with the extra confidence of knowing that it’s the Year of the Nurse and that organizations all over the world are supporting their profession.

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