Sunday, May 15, 2011

10 Ways to Rekindle Your Nursing Passion

10 Ways to Rekindle Your Nursing Passion

Have the fires of your nursing passion fizzled out? Has your work become a job –someplace you exchange a certain set of skills for a paycheck?
What happened to your inner caregiver (maybe even your outer one)?

Did the changes do it in – you know, computerized charting, the pyxis, whatever else is new this week?

Do you feel alone at the bedside doing things administration can’t understand or imagine? Are you stretched thinner and thinner but doing more?

Or was it the personal cost – the emotional investment, the endless giving – that made you pull back?

You may have a hard time remembering the nurse you started out to be, but it’s not too late. You can get your nursing passion back.

Try these ten suggestions to rekindle the flame.

·         Try not to think of your patients as their diseases, procedures or room numbers. Make the extra effort to learn (and use) their names. Hospitals can be dehumanizing enough without our adding to the problem.

·         Remember your roots. Last week I heard a nursing student say, “I had the best day! I gave a shot and I cleaned up the same gentleman eight times.” When asked how this made for a great day, she said, “Well, he was pretty embarrassed about his medicine giving him diarrhea but I told him that happens to lots of people and convinced him not to feel bad about it.” She’s got the makings of a great nurse.

·         Offer grace. Nurses see people at their worst during very difficult circumstances. Overlooking grumpiness, showing patience with the confused – in general, cutting our patients a little slack – helps them enter the healing state and saves us aggravation too.

·         Don’t mouth empty words. It’s unfair to your patients and bad for your conscience. Yes, I know it’s hard to say the same things to different patients day after day. Be inventive – practice finding new ways to get information across.

·         Treat everyone with respect. And, yes, I mean everyone. You may be the only one who does and it may make all the difference. The Bible says, “Dignify those who are down on their luck; you'll feel good—that's what GOD does” (Psalm 41:1, MSG).

·         Nurses do have the best stories, but don’t use your patients as fodder for gossip or entertainment, even among yourselves. First, it’s illegal, what with HIPAA and all; second, it’s disrespectful to tell stories that show them at a disadvantage. Even though it’s hard, keep your lips sealed as a secret gift to the people you care for.

·         See – really see – your patients. Look at their faces; notice their expressions and their demeanor. That slightly confused elderly gentleman giving the call button a workout may be a World War II veteran, once handsome and brave; while the well-dressed but jumpy Junior Leaguer may be fighting battles at home that you can’t imagine. You may never know their stories, but you can be sure they have one.

·         Be present to your patients. Don’t hurry into their rooms on autopilot with a mental to-do list. Pay attention. Forget yourself. Take time to get “in the zone.”

·         Listen. To what your patients are and aren’t saying. Imagine yourself with “antennae quivering.” It’s rare for people to feel heard. Think of it as another gift you can give them.

·         Support life in your patients. Work to put them in a place where healing happens. Be sensitive to their emotional state and try to match it, offering hope, kindness and, above all, truthfulness. When physical life wanes, offer comfort and support their spiritual life and loved ones.

We, as nurses, are privileged to be instruments of healing. But, like in doing the “Hokey-Pokey,” we have to put our whole selves in.

That’s what it’s all about.

About the Author: Suzanne Davenport Tietjen, RN, NNP-BC is a Nurse Practitioner, writer and shepherd. She takes care of tiny sick babies in the Neonatal ICU and a flock of natural-colored sheep at her family's century-old farm. Suzanne has written for nursing journals and Christian magazines, and has published two books, 40 Days to your Best Life for Nurses and The Sheep of His Hand. 

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