Not long ago AJN editorial director Shawn Kennedy blogged here about a new report in Nursing Outlook on the “reality shock” that new nurses experience. The nurses surveyed spoke about the strain of excessive workloads, the stress they felt around “the need for speed,” and mistreatment by colleagues and management, among other things. Even many seasoned nurses continue to struggle with these issues. How do they carry on? I wondered. In my traipsing round the blogosphere recently I found some refreshingly upbeat voices, speaking to what works.
Over at Head Nurse, it’s clear that Jo speaks from experience in the aptly titled “It’s a Weird Job.” She doesn’t shy away from detailing what’s difficult, but she also writes about deflecting stress through humor, friendly competition, and appreciation for big and little rewards. She says she and her coworkers “joke about everything” and take time to savor the good:
It’s marvelous beyond expression when the patient we helped heal from something awful remembers us every year on the anniversary of his discharge and sends us flowers . . . It’s equally amazing when a former patient sends us the birth announcement of the child we all doubted would ever be born . . . In ten million lifetimes, I could not have wished for a better work environment. Even with the cliquish, crappy behavior of some of my coworkers, even with Manglement screwing up our best-laid plans, it is still the best. place. ever. to work.
The new nurse who blogs at Brain Scramble, RN, writes about covering patients on her own for the first time in “New Grad on the Loose” with trepidation and gratitude. The “absolute very second that the reporting nurse was out of sight,” one of her patients had what appears to be “a lengthy run of v-tach.” Somehow she stayed reasonably calm, communicated like mad, and prioritized as best she could. And for the record:
Everything turned out fine. Everyone lived. No one had to call a code on my patient, or me. All the meds got passed. I replaced potassium using a sliding scale, bathed a guy, walked a guy, did all that crap I just mentioned, charted my ass off, and still managed to laugh
It made me happy to find plain, no-frills tips from Wendy Jones at Nurses PTO in “How to Survive the First Days as a New Nurse.” Although intended for new nurses, these tips could be applied to a range of endeavors. In tip 6, she advises accepting reality: “You will realize that nursing school didn’t teach you anything that would actually help you take care of a patient. You will learn how things are done in the real world right away.” Tip 4 says, “Follow instructions and learn. . . . No questions are stupid when other people’s lives are at stake.” My favorite, though, is the terrifically practical tip 3: “Don’t use all your energy before 9 am.”