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3 Small Ways to Bring Mindfulness to the Bedside

Nurses multitask.  We are expected to be flexible.  We accomplish more than any one person should be capable of achieving in twelve hours. We do it all with a smile on our face, at least most of the time.  Behind the smile, our minds our often far from the bedside.  We are thinking about the patient in another room, when pharmacy will tube up the medication that is late, whether our lunch buddy is back from eating, and the charting that needs to be finished from morning assessments.  It is difficult to be truly present with the people that we provide care.  There are many distractions for our attention and energy.  Nursing is also an emotional career.  Supporting, caring and healing people exposes nurses to intense emotion from patients, family and friends of the patient and the nurses own emotion.  Stress, crazy workloads and intense emotions can be huge barriers to nurses having mindfulness at the bedside.

Three tips to put mindfulness in action at the bedside:meditation-clipart-meditation-clipart-animal

 

  1. It is what it is This is one of my go-to-mantra’s.  This is not a surrender to fate, it is an acceptance of the limits of my power as a nurse.  When I truly have done all the intervening and advocating possible, I accept the outcome.

 

  1. Being present Mindfulness requires us to pull up a stool, sit down and be with our patients.  It is letting go of everything else in the world for a small space of time in order to be present.  It is important to connect with each other human to human.  Being present also allows our attention to focus on this patient’s needs, fears, wants and hopes.  Not being present causes errors and decreases the trust from the patient

 

  1. Suspending judgement Being critical of our patient’s actions, feelings, choices or lifestyle prevents us from being present and having mindfulness. It is important to meet people where they are in life.

 

We will not always be able to be 100% mindful as a nurse.  These three tips can help us be more mindful with our patients for their benefit and ours.

 

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at The Balanced Nurse Blog. Find out how to participate.

 

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Nursing is Bigger on the Inside

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I love Doctor Who.  For anyone that is not familiar with this British television program, the basic premise is as follows.  There is a cool alien that looks human, but regenerates every few season to look like the next actor to play him.  This alien is called the ‘Doctor’ because no one can know his real name.  The Doctor is a time lord from a planet called Gallifrey and he travels in what looks like an old police call box, much like a telephone booth.  This police box, the TARDIS, takes the Doctor anywhere in time and space, but that is not the only amazing thing about the it.  The TARDIS is bigger on the inside.  We don’t know how big, but imagine the Star Trek Enterprise stuffed into a telephone booth and you get close. 

Nursing is like the TARDIS.  

People think they know about nursing.  The public only sees the outside. They see that nurses work 3 days a week and are paid well. They see that nursing is not a glamorous job. They see smiling faces and skilled hands.  

Nursing is bigger on the inside. 

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A lot of nurses look cute in scrubs, but even those scrubs lose their appeal when they are covered in various bodily fluids.  I am frequently told by family, friends and random strangers that they could never be a nurse.  I get it.  Nursing is not for everyone.  

Some of us do work 3 shifts a week.  Those 12 hour shifts stretch into 14 or 15 hour days when you add in lunch, report, extra charting and commute time.  The majority of nurses that I have known work much more than 36 hours a week.  

For the most part nurses can at least fake a good mood and do their best to smile.  Smiling and chatting with patients they perform the technical skills that keep patients safe and comfortable.  

Nurses need to be smart, caring, brave, strong willed, strong stomached and have a sense of humor.  We see the worst and best of humanity in our work.  We are happy when our patients do well and cry when they are not.  Nurses monitor, clean, feed, medicate, assess, educate, entertain, console, listen, advocate for and document about patients day and night.  After doctors, therapists, family, friends and even dietary leave for the night, nurses remain at the bedside.  

Caring for patients is rewarding, gratifying and exhausting.  To be trusted to such a degree by a stranger is an honor.  Helping people meet health goals or guiding them through milestones is an amazing feeling.  Even when our patients pass away, helping the patient and family through the process is fulfilling.  

Nursing is much bigger on the inside.  It is easy to get lost in charting, policy reviews and quality audits and forget the art of nursing.  Nurses need to be reminded of the amazing impact that we have on peoples lives.  Nurses not only impact health at the bedside, but have the power to transform healthcare practice.  

 

Take time to remember how big nursing is and why you do it. Energize and renew your yourself at the Art of Nursing 2.0 event from anywhere in the world.  

 

 

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This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at ElizabethScala.com. Find out how to participate.

Nurse Blog Carnival

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Carrie Halsey
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The Secret Awesomeness of Night Shift

The hospital feels different after 5 PM.  

The scheduled surgeries are finished for the day.  The short stays and clinics are emptied and closed.  Administrators, executives and their assistants all begin vanishing like the sun over the horizon.  The last few tired nurses clock out and the hectic cloud of day shift follows them into the elevator.  What is left behind is an alternate hospital universe that only true night shift staff discover and appreciate.

The bright lights are dimmed to signal to patients, visitors and staff that night has arrived.  The coffee and tea come out to greet the healthcare team to another night.  Some nursing units brew their own caffeinated delights,  others take turns making massive runs to Starbucks, Dutch Bros or another favorite coffee spot.  Patient assessments are completed and medications are passed.  Nurses and ancillary staff move quickly to check off all the tasks on their lists.  If they are lucky they will be able to tuck themselves in to the nursing station to chart and chat the hours away until dawn.

Everything is more a little more relaxed.  No topic is taboo by 4 AM.  Night shift staff know each other, the good, the bad and the unmentionables.  If a manager or administrator happens to come in on night shift, the news spreads quickly and the books, smart phones and uncovered cups disappear in an instant.  Those late night visits from administration are rare. Night-shifters learn to depend on each other like family.   

The calm can be misleading.

In the darkened corners of the nursing unit lurk the possibility of chaos.  Disaster can interrupt the laughter at the nursing station, despite the careful observation and care of patients.  When emergencies occur, the night shift team leaps into action.  The juicy conversations and cat videos are abandoned and the only priority is the patient.  An outsider may not see an emergency on a nursing unit as seriously as the team working in it.  It does not usually look like it does on television.  There are a lot of people.  Everyone is in motion.  It is often quiet with one or two people calling out times and actions.  Faces are focused.  Minds are alert and assessing, searching for causes and solutions within milliseconds of coming to the bedside.  They have done this before and settle into their comfortable roles.  The night shift team are a little more earnest and confident.  They know that reinforcements are not coming.  This is night shift.

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When the emergency has passed, for better or worse, the team returns to its tasks.  The work and night continue.  

Despite the craziness and sleep deprivation, night shift is awesome.  Most people dread working at night and do not understand why any sane person would choose to work the late shift.  It is not the frappicinos.  It is not the chance of watching cat videos for hours.  It comes down to the men and women sharing the nursing station with you.  They don’t always get along, but they are always in it together.  They create the secret awesomeness that is night shift.  

Shhhhhh don’t tell the boss! 

 

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Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Carrie Halsey