So you’ve been fired by a patient. It’s not pleasant. But the good news is that you are not the only one who has had this experience. Getting fired is a natural part of patient care. Not everyone that you interact with will like you or the experience you provide for them. How you respond in the aftermath of being fired can make or break you as a nurse. Here are five steps to help you handle being fired by a patient gracefully.
1. Don’t fight back.
Chances are that when a patient fires you, they will be angry and maybe even shouting. If you fight back and try to defend yourself, things are likely to escalate further. The best thing to do in this situation is to walk away. Go visit or call your charge nurse and see what your next steps should be. While you are doing this, the patient may calm down and potentially be more reasonable. If not, then hopefully your charge nurse will be able to switch around the assignments.
2. Reflect on the situation.
After you have calmed down and had some distance from the event, try to reflect on the situation and learn from it. Consider the root cause of the event and then think back to see whether there was anything you might have said or done differently. If so, then use this unfortunate event as a learning experience for your future patient care.
3. Try not to take it personally.
You may not ever truly understand the reason a patient fired you. There may be a variety of circumstances beyond your control that are affecting your patient. Take a moment to put yourself in the patient’s shoes. Are they in a lot of pain? Have they recently gotten upsetting news? If this is the case, remember that this could have happened to any of your coworkers. The patient most likely isn’t lashing out at you personally, but rather, they are upset by their situation.
4. Grieve, be upset and vent.
It is completely okay and normal to be upset about being fired by a patient. Take some time to grieve and vent in a healthy way to your coworkers. Chances are, they have been there too and will be empathetic to your situation. If you don’t feel like talking to your coworkers, write down your thoughts, and after you are done, tear the paper into a million pieces! Not only will you get a mental release from the writing, but you will also be able to express your anger or sadness in a healthy way as you tear up the paper.
5. Accept it and move on!
The last step to dealing gracefully with being fired by a patient is very simple: Accept the things you cannot change and move on. If you obsess about and dwell on the event, it can wear you down and cause burnout. Take heart in knowing that this happens to every nurse at some point in their career, and that it most likely won’t happen to you again for a long time!
When preparing for an interview, it is important to not only focus on what questions you might be asked, but also questions to ask the employer. Your inquiries will help you determine whether the job will be a good fit for you and give you insight into what it is truly like to work there. Your questions should cover three main topics: unit basics and training, the working environment, and the employer’s management style.
Unit Basics and Training
A lot of employers will outline the basic job details in the job application or during the interview, but if they do not, then go ahead and ask! It is important to know the unit and training basics such as: patient-to-staff ratio; hours; call shifts; holiday work expectations, scheduling, and weekend requirements; training length; and probationary period. If you would like to go above and beyond to learn more about the unit try asking these questions:
- What is your unit’s retention rate for new graduates and employees?
- How would you support a new employee who was struggling after their training was over?
Most nurses will tell you that the biggest aspect of their job satisfaction is their work environment. Daily interactions with nurses, doctors, and techs has a huge impact on retention rate and overall happiness. Focus on asking questions that will help you understand if the unit uses teamwork and supports one another. Try asking these questions:
- What is the culture of your unit like?
- How do you help new nurses adapt to the unit? Do you have a mentorship program?
Your managers are there to support you and help you succeed as a nurse on your unit. Asking questions about the unit’s management style will help you gauge how well you will fit in and be supported. Try asking questions that reveal how the managers deal with conflict and struggles that the unit faces:
- What have been this unit’s most notable successes and failures over the year?
- What are the biggest challenges that your nurses face daily and how do you help them overcome them?
There are certain aspects of every job that are, well, mundane. You know them, the repetitive and seemingly boring tasks that we are required to do but might not necessarily enjoy. It’s easy to get bogged down by these tasks or to even dread them, but it doesn’t have to be that way! It is possible to find joy in your everyday nursing tasks, from scrubbing the hub to priming IV tubing. Here are five suggestions.
1. Focus on the task’s purpose.
You may find yourself going through the motions at work while doing certain tasks that require less brain power. It’s easy to get frustrated by these tasks or have the desire to skip them on a day you aren’t feeling motivated. The next time you find yourself feeling this way, try reminding yourself of the purpose of the task. Why is it important that you do this? Who would be affected if you were to skip the task? Finding an underlying purpose will help you feel motivated and give you a sense of pride when you are finished.
2. Find a buddy.
Everything is better with a friend around! Working through the same routine tasks with a coworker can make things much more tolerable. For instance, if you dislike your morning charting, find a friend and do it together. Time will fly by when you have someone who can distract you and help you have a good time.
3. Change your mindset.
Apply the saying, “change your mindset, change your life” to your mundane work responsibilities and you’ll find that your entire day can be transformed. For instance, if you know that you dread the set up required for a certain procedure, make a mental choice to be excited and positive about it. Forcing yourself to think this way will improve your attitude about the task. It will be hard at first, but gradually you will find yourself feeling more positive and happy while at work.
4. Make a game out of it.
If there are several tasks at work that you dread doing, like patient admission paperwork, try making a game out of it. See how quickly and efficiently you are able to finish it. Each time you do a new admission, try to beat your last one. This will not only help you save time, but also help you feel a sense of accomplishment. Try creating a physical checklist of items that you need to chart; you will feel rewarded as you are able to check off each item on your list.
5. Savor a job well done.
Remember to enjoy the completion of every task that you perform. It doesn’t matter how small, large, easy, or hard the task was. No matter what, you finished the task and you did it well. Take pride in your work. Feel a sense of accomplishment and don’t be afraid to compliment yourself on a job well done. Thinking to yourself, “Wow, that was the fastest IV start of my career!” or “Man, I just did the best dressing change!” will help you appreciate the importance of these everyday nursing tasks.
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!