In nursing school, all of us have learnt organizational basics, it's now time to go back to them. Regardless of working for 8 hour or 12 hour long shifts, there are a few things that can help you make your work hours joyous and hassle free.
Below are some suggestions that you may recall from your days in nursing school. Consider this article to be your refresher course. The real issue is that we often forgo the organizational basics while facing the challenges of nursing. If you practice these tips, you will be in control rather than others controlling you.
While this suggestion honestly sounds like a no brainer, but many nurses in today time in at the start of their shift. If you reach work early, you are likely to be less stressed as you will not be worried about beating the clock. You will also get more time to do all the preparations required to start your shift. For instance, you will be needed to wear your scrubs or gown up. So if you reach 15 minutes prior, you will get time to complete the task and report on time for the shift change. Moreover, this will also help you avoid resentment from the team that is likely to be relieve. Try to put yourself in the shoot of others. Imagine, how bad it feels when your peers are late to duty.
This is now way an insult, but all nurses should ponder and ask themselves if they are fit for the job before taking responsibility of patient care. You need to ensure that your training and skills are in line with the patient's medical needs. If you are not sure about your skills, the best way to handle the situation is to notify your shift manager/ head nurse. Try explaining your concerns and take her advice. If possible, ask her to assign another patient who you can treat better. You need to understand that you are the advocate of your patient, and it is your duty to ensure that they get the best care. It is not demeaning to understand your limitations, rather it shows your dedication and commitment.
During shift change, nurses tend to forget to check their orders carefully. Majority of the nurses will only give a cursory review which can cause adverse effects for patients. Try to go back to the basics and review everything carefully. Make sure you and your partner who is signing out signs the doctors' orders. This should be done before every change of shift. Some hospitals don't have it as part of the nursing practice. Therefore, if it is not in your routine, make it a part of it.
While working as a floor nurse, most nurses round me chuckled over my habit of keeping my work station organized. However, I have noticed that many nurses then take inspiration from me and start organizing their tables as well. When you organize your work, you are more in control. When nurses complain that they are overwhelmed with work, it's often because of the untidy work space rather than patient load. Moreover, you need to understand that this is part of your duty as a nurse since this keeps the environment pleasant and safe. Moreover, it also gives the impression that you have an authority and focus towards your work.
Keep a check on the inventory supplies you will require for the shift. When you have to withdraw sample for tests, check the number of tubes that will be required and keep them with you beforehand. Moreover, make sure that the paperwork you do is also organized. This might seem that you are putting in a lot of effort upfront but you feel the reward when you don't have to run around looking for supplies from bed to bed, ward to ward, floor to floor, etc.
You need to also make sure that you have enough medicines available for your shifts along with the medical supplies you need to get through the shift. Moreover, make mental notes regarding where your emergency equipment is, just in case.
Most nursing supervisors or head nurses are flexible when it comes to scheduling their break hours. Therefore, if your boss understands, use this leverage to your own advantage. Look at the things in retrospect and take leaves when you know that the work load will be the lightest. This way, you will leave when the stress levels are manageable giving you the chance of relaxing completely. If your nursing supervisor is the one planning your breaks, try to work around it accordingly. Make sure that the difficult tasks are dealt with before a substitute nurse takes your spot. This way, you will be free from all worries that the substitute nurse may not be familiar with the care your patients need.
Don't start preparing for the reports when the report is due. Organize all the information you have in advance. This is a good time to conduct a self-analysis pertaining to what went well and what went wrong throughout the shift.