Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Best

Is there anything that feels as good as than getting off of a night shift and getting into your bed? This almost makes fighting off sleep deprivation while staying up all night worth it.

No matter how busy the night is, I love driving home knowing that soon I can sleep. And there is no better feeling then climbing into my soft sheets, snuggling underneath my warm duvet and quilt, and knowing that I have the whole day ahead of me to sleep the day away. I love the feeling even more when it's winter. Winter means I come in from the chilliness outside to bury myself down in my warm blankets. It also means my bedroom is nice and dark which makes it so easy to sleep. Bonus if my husband is still in the bed and he lets me warm up my cold feet on his warm ones.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Calm Down

Nursing is often stressful (see previous post). We often work long, busy twelve hour shifts. We are contantly on our feet, the work is at times back-breaking, and we often miss our breaks. When I go home to my husband at the end of the day I am exhausted and not the most awesome person to hang out with. Here's some ideas to reduce stress when you've had one of those days.

1. Take a bath
Baths are my thing. Showers, not so much. Being alone in a warm tub filled with bubbles and a good book forces you to relax and decompress. Also, taking a bath allows you to unplug, since bringing electrical devices near water isn't such a great idea. There isn't a better way to quiet your mind after a busy day. Even better you have a big glass of red wine to bring in the bath with you.

2. Sleep
Having a good nights sleep makes you feel like you can take on anything, even the most stressful of patient assignments. When your mind is clear and your body is rested, it is easier to adapt to stress. Sometimes, to regulate my internal clock, I take melatonin. This makes asjusting to switching from day shifts to night shifts less exhausting.

3. Learn how to prioritize
I admit, there's many shifts out there when everything is so chaotic being organized isn't a possibility. But most days I work, I always try to prioritize the tasks that need to be done the best I can. I have developed my own routine, and try to stick to it. When the shit is hitting the fan, I usually try to take a minute to figure out what needs to be done first. Nurses I work with love to chat with each other, even when there's a ton of things to do. I love socializing too, but try to get all my work done first. I also find it useful to come into work and start my shift a few minutes early. That way I am not immediately thrown into my work, and I can take my time getting organized. I am sure most of you do these things already, or have your own ways of dealing the chaos. After three and a half years of nursing, I am still learning.

Remember, this will pass
4. One aspect of nursing that I have a love/hate relationship with is that each new shift is a blank page. This can be frustrating. Every shift feels like I am slogging up a mountain with no outcome or achievement at the end. The next shift, I am knocked back down that mountain and forced to climb up it again. But on the flip side, the best result of working this way is that you can leave your work at work at the end of a shift. It is possible to have a really busy, sick patient but you always know when your shift is over, someone takes over to take over the nursing care. How stressful would it be to know that if you called in sick, there would be double the work to do when you returned to your job?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

One of Those Days

I've been having those kind of shifts lately...

It's been so physically heavy and mentally demanding on my unit recently. Christmastime is always tough. Some of our beds close, and surgeries slow down, so we are left with patients awaiting long-term care or rehab. For the most part, they are all hard to turn and non-ambulatory. My neck and shoulder are constantly burning, which is turning into some sort of chronic issue. A nursing resolution I should have included in the last post is to see my massage therapist more regularly! Us nurses are all non-stop, running from one crisis to the next until our shift is over. The more physically demanding it is, the staff sick calls seems to pile up. This makes us short-staffed and the unit even more physically demanding. 

But then, out of the blue, one of those good shifts happen that make me happy to be a nurse. I had one of those nightshifts last night where the stars seemed to align. All my patients were happy and comfortable. My patients were all well taken care of without me feeling drained at the end of the day. There was no major crises, I was able to take all my breaks, and I didn't have to spend an hour after my shift to make sure all the work was done. Wouldn't it be nice to work in a place where staffing supply could meet the patient care demands? I wonder if these hospitals exist out there somewhere.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Nursing Resolutions

This new years, I am working a night shift. I am actually pretty excited to watch the fireworks from the windows of our hospital. I have heard you get an awesome view. So, because I will be busy at work on the actual New Years Eve, and sleeping most of January the 1st, I'll post this a little early.

My Nursing New Years Resolutions

1. Have More Energy
-> Is this even possible? During the long, cold, wintery months when I go to work in the dark and come home from work in the dark, I really notice my inner clock malfunctioning. I eat everything in sight and I am still starving. I feel like a zombie on my days off and I am unable to peel myself from the couch. I am too exhausted to be productive, and my time away from work starts to really suffer.
One goal for this year is to have enough energy so I can give the most I can to my patients and also enjoy my days off. I am considering investing in good black out blinds so I can sleep soundly during the day. I am also going to try to exercise more often (how original for a new years resolution list!). Exercising increases your energy, or so they say. Even short walks in the sunshine will make me feel better.

2. Be more assertive at work
-> I am sure everyone knows a passive nurse that allows herself to be manipulated by needy or controlling patients. I am often that nurse. I find myself in situations where I should stick up for myself but don't. I am the nurse who answers the call-bell and willingly does things for patients that they are often able to do themselves. I have witnessed many nurses who respond angrily to patients in these types of situations, but that's not the approach I want to take either. I want to work on being the type of nurse that both respects and commands respects from her patient and coworkers.

3. Become Professionally Involved
-> Us nurses are great at complaining, but often not so great at effecting change. My health care system is designed so nurses feel like they are at the bottom of the food chain and powerless to make a difference. Even small changes at the workplace level can affect the quality of our work life and patient care. I am sure we've all noticed certain aspects of our daily nursing routine that could be improved but have never spoken up about it. However, recognizing the need for change and bringing about change are two very different things. This year, I would like to become more involved with my union and nursing association so I can try to start turning my complaints into action.

Hope everyone has a safe, happy and healthy new year!

Friday, 27 December 2013

What I Love

I love lots of things about being a nurse.
But my favourite thing about nursing, and what brings me the best job satisfaction, is being able to make people comfortable.
Specifically, I love washing people. I work under a hospital authority that does not have the budget for nursing aides to assist in offloading some of the physical and less technical aspects of nursing care. The bed making, feeding, bedpan emptying tasks all fall under the duties of us Registered Nurses. And the best of these duties is washing.
I love filling up the steely cold bedpans with hot, sudsy water. The smell of hospital soap is very comforting and familiar to me. I gather all the scratchy facecloths and towels (seriously, has anyone heard of fabric softener around here?) and bring them to the bedside. And then, for the next fifteen minutes or so, it's just me and the patient. And sometimes if the patient is physically heavy or hard to turn, another nurse helps too. When it's just me and a co-worker, the washing is like a choreographed rhythmic dance.

I try to make bed baths like miniature spa experiences. I use lotions and creams and powders. I brush dentures and wash hair and rub backs, hopefully restoring some pre-hospital feelings of cleanliness. And since I have never been in the hospital as an inpatient, I cannot confirm that having your back washed is the best feeling ever. But judging by the reactions I get from my patients, it must be.
There are a lot of RN's out there that think these less skilled aspects of nursing are beneath their university-level education. But I disagree. On the contrary, it's when I am best able to use my assessment skills. Washing gives me the opportunity to assess skin integrity, which is so often compromised in elderly, fragile patients. Turning someone over in the bed allows me to evaluate pain control. But most importantly, I am able to get to know my patient, which is often difficult to do in a hurried, impersonal environment that the hospital provides. I get to know my patient's hopes, fears, and what they care about.
So pour me some soapy water. There's lots of washing to do.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Beginning

Welcome to my attempt at writing a nursing blog! Although I will not post anything here that would break patient confidentiality, I will give myself a pseudonym. I will call myself Natalie because I have always liked that name.

Also, to protect my secret identity, I will not disclose my hometown to you readers. I will say though that I am Canadian, I live in a city, and work in a relatively large hospital. I am your run of the mill surgical bedside nurse. And despite the hardships that most nurses complain about (and I do my share of complaining!), I love my job and the work I do.

I am in my twenties. This is much younger than the average nurse in Canada, who is in his/her forties! I graduated in 2010, so I am still relatively new to this whole nursing thing. I am married, and have no children yet except for my two kitties. Also, I love to write, and I think nursing issues are often talked about on the front lines but not very well communicated to the public. And that's where this blog will hopefully come in.

Afterall, writers write what they know about. After four years of working, I know I am no expert, especially compared to that average Canadian nurse. But I have had my share of twelve hour shifts. I have taken care of people who are sick, scared, dying, angry and helpless. I have also been able to witness moments of generosity, kindness, wisdom and love. I have learned so much far, but I know this learning will never be finished.

Happy reading!