Patient Care Starts Here: 3 Tips For Every Nurse

by: Elizabeth Scala

There is a major push to focus on patient-centered care. Organizations have begun to cast a broader net, including the families in this delivery model. Focusing on patient and family centered care has become a strategic priority in many institutions.patient-care-600-x-853-Pinterest

Well- that’s great news, right? The patient should be the most important person in the care delivery model. Focus on the patient and we get quality outcomes, satisfied reviews, and safe and productive care. I’m all for focusing on the patient, but to me, this is not the very best way to take care of patients.

In fact, the most effective way to take care of patients is to turn our attention away from them. What?!?! Turn our focus away from the patient! How can we do that as nurses? How can that improve our outcomes and ensure safety in the workplace?

Well, it’s simple really. Take care of yourself to best take care of patients.

In fact, the most effective way to take care of patients is to turn our attention away from them. [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Those airline companies have been telling us over and over (and over) again. In fact, they do it thousands (if not millions) of times a day. As we sit on the airplane, awaiting take off, many of us ignore it. The safety procedures where the flight attendant quickly says:

“Attend to your own oxygen mask before securing the mask of those around you.”

They do. They tell us. Ignore your children. Don’t worry about your elderly travel companions. Focus on yourself first. Then, and only then, is it time to check out their oxygen masks.

And it’s not that the airlines aren’t compassionate or caring people. Actually, quite the opposite. Being a service industry themselves, they tend to our needs as we travel through the air. They just have it all figured out…

When you make sure your oxygen is flowing in a time of emergency, then you can turn to another person who needs your help. If you’re passed out with no mask on- how can you help the person sitting next to you? How can you help the baby or toddler who doesn’t even know what is happening or how to support themselves? They need you! They need you to take care of your own air flow first… so that you can be alive to help them out next.

Now I know I am taking a concept that we all have heard before. Unless you’ve never been on a plane, or never heard another self-care lecture (or read a self-help book) – then you’ve heard these words before. But have you ever really sat down and reflected on them? Have you realized why they are so important? Have you really internalized the power of this message and how it relates to us as busy nurses?

We go to work day in and day out. We take care of the sickest, most acute patients. We think critically through emergent situations, support surgical procedures, and are present in life and death situations. Really. In life and death situations. Our roles are critical!

How can you show up to work if you’re too tired to think? How can you do a good job if you haven’t eaten all day and feel light-headed or groggy? How can you help someone feel better if you feel irritable, tired, or empty yourself?

What works for one nurse may not work for you. [icon name=”twitter” class=”” unprefixed_class=””]

Taking care of us first, even before we care for the patient, is the only way we are going to succeed. So how can we do this? Or let me rephrase- how can we take care of ourselves in a way that is practical and meaningful for us? How can we ensure that the self-care happens so that the patient care is at its best?

##Here are 3 Savvy Suggestions for Self-Care:

1. Do the unconventional self-care thing.

So when you think of self-care your brain might go immediately to things like diet, exercise, and getting proper rest. What do many people do when they hear these words? Boring! They tune out; think of past failures; or avoid these things like the plague. Why is that? Well, self-care has historically been presented as a one-size-fits-all type of thing. You know, you have to eat this way to lose weight. You have to exercise to burn calories. Guess what? No two individuals are exactly the same. What works for one nurse may not work for you. So think about your self-care in a creative way. It can be a hobby you enjoyed during high school or spending time crafting with children. Self-care needs to be fun if it’s going to get done. So think about what you enjoy, where your passions are, and who you are outside of nursing. Some ideas may include taking a hike in nature, relaxing in a bubble bath with soothing music, reading a juicy novel, taking a dance class, or even simply going out to lunch with friends. Self-care doesn’t have to be regimented and it should not feel like another chore!

2. Say ‘no’ from time-to-time.

What’s a great way to take care of you? Easy- say YES to yourself. In saying ‘no’ to other people and their wants/needs, you are saying ‘yes’ to you. What I like to recommend, especially as it relates to work, is keeping track. So think about work- what usually happens? They call you to come in early, stay late, or do overtime- right? Well, take out a piece of paper and across the top write ‘Going into Work Extra’. Then, draw a line down the middle of the blank paper. One column is your ‘yes’ responses and the other your ‘no’s’. Start to track because I’m not saying don’t be a team player. You can certainly go in for that overtime once in a while to help your colleagues out. But you don’t have to do it EVERY time the phone rings. Track your responses and start to say ‘yes’ to yourself more often.

3.Avoid the bright shiny object syndrome.

This could come in the form of overtime money. Ooh, I’ll work more so I can have that money. Or it may come in the form of going back to school, joining another work committee, or feeling obligated to get certified in your specialty. Again, I’m not saying don’t educate yourself or advance professionally. But what I am saying is think about each decision. Make sure that you’re doing it because you really want to. Not because you’re feeling some pressure from a colleague or supervisor. If you start to do something that you don’t enjoy, it’s going to suck the energy out of you. Then when you do have to go to work, you’ll resent it even more because you’re exhausted from all of the ‘extras’. This tip can also apply to the self-care modalities, themselves. Just because your friend signed up to take the boot camp or is going on some detox diet, doesn’t mean that you need to. Make sure you make self-care choices based on the goals you have set and the things you like to do. You’ll have much more success when you aim for targets that you really desire.

How are things going with self-care? What actions do you take to focus on your own well-being? Be sure to tweet me @ElizabethScala on Twitter to tell me how you’re balancing taking care of yourself as you take care of others.

Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.

 

Author

 Elizabeth Scala

Elizabeth Scala

StaffGarden Contributor

Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.

Elizabeth Scala

StaffGarden Contributor

Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.

 

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