At some point in every nurse’s career, they will experience a traumatic situation such as a hemorrhage, code blue, or even the death of a patient. It is important to know how to deal with the aftermath of this type of event so you can begin the healing process. Failing to take care of yourself or pushing away emotions could lead to burnout and potentially end your nursing career. Here are a few tips on how to process and recover after a traumatic situation at work.
1. Debrief with your coworkers.
During an emergent situation, your perception of the events that took place may be skewed due to adrenaline and anxiety. It is important to take time to debrief with others who were involved in the situation with you, so you can begin to process the situation. As you discuss how everything unfolded and begin to understand everyone’s role in the event, you will be able to process what happened. Be sure to address any questions or concerns you have about how or why things occurred the way they did.
2. Take time off from work.
After experiencing a stressful situation at work, ask yourself how you are feeling about returning to work for your next shift. If you are feeling anxiety or dread, it might be a good idea to take some time off. Talk to your managers about these emotions and see if they can help you to arrange some time off. Having time to process your emotions and refresh yourself will help prevent burnout.
3. Spend time with loved ones.
It is important to spend time with the people you love most after a traumatic event. You may not be able to discuss the details of what happened due to HIPAA, but you can express how you feel emotionally. Your loved ones will be able to comfort you and provide you with the support and space you need to begin healing.
4. Practice self-care.
It is always important to practice self-care, but it becomes absolutely necessary to do so after the emotional and physical stress of a traumatic event. Check in with yourself about the emotions you are feeling and what could help you to process and relieve them. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, try going on a walk or doing a workout you enjoy. If you are feeling physically or mentally exhausted, try getting a massage or taking a nice, warm bath.
5. Seek professional help.
In some cases you may not be able to work through the aftermath of a traumatic event on your own. It is perfectly normal to need additional help from a therapist. Ask your employer if they have reduced cost or even free therapy sessions for employees needing assistance.
It is important to remember that you are not alone and that at some point, every nurse has struggled in the aftermath of a traumatic event. Every day it will get easier and one day you will wake up and feel completely healed.
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.
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!
While a paper towel or scrub pants will work for jotting down vital signs, sometimes it is nice to have paper.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.