Applying Resilience in the Face of a Global Crisis

Planet earth is wearing a mask. Its a worldwide epidemic and you’re in the frontline! What shall you do,  where shall you go?  It is time for applying resilience in the face of a global crisis.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back to a normal state after misfortune or change. It is said to be linked with one’s emotional strength. Healthcare workers are particularly faced with difficult times in the era of the COVID 19 epidemic. The rise in numbers of sick people who need attention,  with an already existing burden of disease, is actually increasing chances of healthcare workers getting stressed and barely coping. Sometimes shortage of resources and shortages in staffing also add to the pressure.

Ways to Find Resilence

When it’s all been said, we still need to find ways to apply resilience in the face of this worldwide epidemic. Every morning, we wake up and say, “Thank you God for another day “. The battle is raging. Sometimes the weapons are not enough. Other soldiers have fallen. We don’t know how much longer this situation will stay. We have learned to pick up our pieces, stand tall and get back in line.

We have accepted that change is part of life. We need to exercise continuous self care and do everything we can to keep mentally stable. Be aware of the strength within you, and also be realistic when you feel worn-out.  This is the time to build more meaningful and co-operative teams that care and build one another’s morale. Building stronger connections with family and friends will also help support us emotionally.

Team Support

When some team members are emotionally weak for a season, other members of the team should be able to support,  dress up the wounded soldiers wounds and march on. Most importantly, self-care and protecting ourselves throughout this time will help us bounce back to our normal state.

When it’s all over,  once again we will be able to see the world better through one another’s smiles, the smiles that are hidden under face masks right now. Nurses, let’s help one another build resilience in the face of this global crisis.

The Noble Character of the Nurse

Special moments of patient care give birth to fulfilment

One of the most admirable things we can be proud of is the noble character of a nurse. Nursing is a noble profession. Noble means having fine personal qualities that people admire; such as courage, honesty and care for others.

The nurse performs her daily work as a gift and service to the society. She has personal qualities such as good listening skills and the ability to understand the diverse communication strategies that people employ. She looks in the eyes of a young woman who came for a minor ailment consultation, and she sees the unspoken. She can read between the lines that she is experiencing abuse and is afraid to come forward and report. She has the skill to ask questions and still keep the patient comfortable. And talk about advice? She has it at the tip o of her tongue and at the base of her heart and mind. She is very courageous.

She is Courageous

Oh yes! She is courageous. She can walk as though nothing has happened, when indeed she has been labelled a thousand times. She has been called names. She has been labelled as “lazy”, she has been described as “walking to and fro”, she has been labelled as “not wanting to work “. But here she is, she walks tall. She has helped thousands, but she has in return gotten more insults than appreciation.

She has seen days when no lunch break was possible, she had to push queues and work with emergencies all night. Keeping a balance between meeting targets and maintaining quality, all the way. At all times she had to keep recording proper and honest information. She comes to work on time and leaves for home fulfilled, for the purpose of the day is done. She has her work at heart.

Special Moments

The nurse endures hard moments and keeps sane in the midst of mad schedules. And she’s still a nurse. There are special moments that make her experience fulfilment. She has nursed an unconscious ICU patient for many hours. And oh! What a joy when that patient regains consciousness. On her next shift she meets the patient walking casually outside a general ward, so stable he can be discharged anytime! What a special moment, what a fulfilment!

She nurses a full term expectant mother with complications, recording all progress, reassuring all the way. The delivery is successful and baby is fine. The mother recovers well, and when the nurse sees her coming for a baby immunization visit it feels so good. It makes her also think of that really heavy-built woman who had leg ulcer that just wouldn’t get better. How she had worked hard cleaning it. How she had excelled with her aseptic technique! And months later, the ulcer was defeated. What a joy, what a fulfilment!

Since the day she read the pledge and verbalised that she would keep up to the noble traditions of her profession, she hasn’t erred. The nurse has groomed herself to look after the needs of others. She nurtures the ones in need of care. Dedicated to her work and given to displaying a noble character, she remains professional in all her dealings. She talks and acts in a way that won’t harm others. That’s the nobility of her character. She is a nurse.

Nursing: A Multifaceted Career

Nursing is indeed a multifaceted career. And that’s one of  the reasons nursing is a beautiful and fulfilling career.

There are many ways in which one can practice nursing.   It all depends on what is your best interest,  and sometimes what opportunity is best available to you. I recall those days as a nursing student, we used to sit with my colleagues and discuss where each one of us felt they’d fit in better and be more effective. My elder sister who had encouraged me to get into nursing was working in a day hospital (or community health centre in usual terms); and she was happy. I recall seeing some very happy nurses in orthopaedic wards. And I was still wondering where I was going to settle and call it a job at the end of my training.

I’ve been to cardiology wards, and cardiology critical care units. I’ve been to paediatric wards. General wards. Outpatient departments. And I’ve learned one common lesson all the way: if you do what you love, you do it with all your heart. And you get the fulfillment and inspiration to go on.

Nursing Specialities

Among the many nursing specialities I will mention just a few that you can consider:

  • Primary health care
  • Psychiatric nursing
  • Critical care nursing
  • Operating theatre nursing
  • Occupational health
  • Orthopaedic nursing
  • Child care nursing
  • Flight/ Travel nursing
  • Case management
  • Aged care/ Geriatric nursing
  • Nursing education

Different Nursing Interests

Different nurses have different interests. Today I am a qualified Nurse Educator and Primary health care nurse practitioner. My close friend from our training days fell in love with psychiatric nursing and she is now a unit manager there.

Find what you love. Work towards it and it will work in your own favour in different ways. If you practice in the speciality closest to your heart:

  • Your attitude will always be positive
  • You will grow in the profession
  • Your career won’t be burdensome
  • You focus on that specific area and get to know it well.

And when one asks you after many years of nursing practice…” would you do it all over again? ”  Your answer will be YES!

Þ

The Financially Healthy Nurse

You may think and wonder what it takes to be a financially healthy nurse. Being healthy goes a long way.  It’s not only being disease free in the physical realm. Health, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO); is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

A good or bad financial health status of any person may directly or indirectly affect the social, mental emotional or even physical well being of such a person.

Isn’t it only fair that the ambassadors of the society’s well being, the nurses, be also found to be well? Now, I love nurses. Because they’re in the same shoes I’ve worn for the last nineteen years. That’s why I would like to advise every nurse to stay financially healthy.

This being said, I’m not blind to the fact that we have a lot of responsibilities, financially. Sometimes one finds her/himself having to go the extra mile for family reasons from the same ordinary amount of money earned monthly. But to stay on track with your finances, and staying in the right mind, I have a few points of advice on how to remain a financially healthy nurse:

  • Make a budget, it will help you know your limits.
  • Prioritise, do first things first to avoid last minute borrowing and untraceable funds.
  • Avoid impulsive buying
  • Use credit only when necessary
  • Save and invest. There’s always a tomorrow.
  • Live your own standard and do not compete. Know your plans and don’t compare with your neighbours.
  • Read the fine print if you have to take credit or change bank accounts. The finer details may surprise you in the long run.
  • Planning for your retirement. Not the year before. Or two years before. Long before retirement. You won’t regret it.
  • Read your bank statement monthly to see if any unknown monies are being paid to unknown parties.
  • Lastly, oh yes, do spoil yourself. You are working hard so be good to yourself.  And I think it should appear on the budget paper because it’s important too, so are the bills.

Being drowned in debt may cause problems like stress, poor work attendance and lack of attention to detail. The financially healthy nurse should take this as part of avoiding mistakes.

As you nurse others please remember to nurse your purse too..it will preserve your sanity and keep you well. Financially well. And being financially well, you will have an open mind for self improvement and be calm and stress-free

No matter how much you earn, remember we do not compete,  you know your needs and your neighbour knows hers. Be a financially healthy nurse!

Avoiding Negative Reports and Litigation.

As nurses, it is our responsibility to keep avoiding negative reports and litigation. Litigation means the process of taking legal action . When clients or their significant others are not satisfied or feel they have been harmed by nurses actions, they may resort to litigation.

It is therefore highly advisable that we keep ourselves far from such possibilities. The following tips are but a few of the many you can remember to protect yourself and your employer from legal action:

PRACTISE WITHIN YOUR SCOPE OF PRACTISE:

Always keep your limits. Know what you are allowed and not allowed to do according to your qualifications. In case of any damages mistakes or negative patient outcome, you may be in danger of losing your job should you be found to have crossed your professional boarders.

CONSULT WHENEVER IN DOUBT

Do not be a know it all type of person. None of us is. Confirm with a colleague or a senior should you doubt any nursing intervention. Second opinion is needed in some cases where you need to make a clinical decision.

NEVER MULTITASK UNNECESSARILY

Unless you have no option, avoid doing more than one task at once as this may interrupt you and end up with mistakes. Caring for human lives is a delicate task and needs your full attention. Do one task. Complete it. Record. Start the next task. It will save your image and give you measurable results at the end of the day.

STICK TO POLICIES AND PROCEDURES OF YOUR INSTITUTION

Standard operating procedures are available at every unit and for every procedure. Keep yourself abreast and ensure that you are using the latest guidelines. SOPs are a good way to guide you in your daily functioning as they are usually up to date and are signed by the management team of the institution. 

HAVE A QUALITY MINDSET

Do not carry out duties for the sake of ticking them off. Enjoy doing what is right. Tell yourself you will do it right the first time. Always remember to render the standard of care that you want rendered to you and your loved ones. Sometimes we get tempted by situation to focus on quantity rather than quality of work. Do your best. Balance your targets with good quality so that you don’t later on find yourself having to regret all the efforts you put in.

AVOID COUNTERSIGNING WHAT YOU DID NOT WITNESS

canva-black-ballpoint-pen-MADGxv1LTcA
Your signature can save or destroy your career

Did you really see that there are two pethidine ampoules left? Did you see that the patient was given the drug? If not, why put your signature as a witness? Remember whatever you signed for is binding, you cannot later claim you were not aware. Witness before agreeing to sign. 

RECORD, RECORD, RECORD

There is power in recording. As we all know, in Nursing, what is not written is not done. As we all know, in nursing, what is not written is not done. Always write what you have done for the patient, write the time, be specific about doses if you gave medication ,state whether the patient did give consent for the intervention. Recording saves the patient’s life and your career in many ways.

PROOF READ AND AUDIT YOUR OWN WORK

canva-person-wearing-grey-dress-shirt-holding-black-push-pen-MADGx_08ZFU
Read it before anyone reads it. Correct errors early

Write it. Read it. Add if you left out some details. You will not regret it. Discovering your own mistakes is better that being in trouble later on. Allow some time to correct your own recording errors and be professional in doing so, not altering information in a crooked way.

REPORT INCIDENTS WITHIN SPECIFIED TIMEFRAMES

Some incidents require report submission within an hour. Some within 24 hours. Familiarise yourself with what is required for which incidents and report accordingly. The earlier the report, the better.

BE DISINTERESTED WHEN MANAGING CONFLICTS

Conflict management requires professionalism. Do not be biased . Do not be hasty in deciding who is wrong and this especially applies to patient-patient conflicts. Listen and advise. Remain neutral and advise patients not to threaten one another. Do not say any words that may lead to physical fights. Adhere to the principles and refer further should conflicts seem to be above what you can control. 

 

 

A Word of Advice to Unemployed Nurses

Hello nurse. You’ve waited a  long time  for an employment opportunity. So when you see that advertisement, you hope it’s the beginning of the reality of being a nurse. You immediately visualise yourself doing the job. Now, there are few things standing between you and that job:

  • Do you meet all the stipulated requirements?
  • Is your CV ready and up to date?
  • Are you interview ready?
  • Is the closing date still coming or did you see it too late?

Now, let us talk about the requirements for the position. These usually specify the following:

  • Qualifications needed (professional nurse,  enrolled nurse,  enrolled nursing assistant)
  • Speciality ( general or a certain speciality)
  • Registration with the statutory body of that specific country e.g. SANC
  • Experience (number of years in a similar environment or newly qualified)
  • Additional certificates ( as specified in the advert e.g. phlebotomy, NIMART)
  • Licences
  • Travelling or no travelling involved

Make a self introspection. Kind of “scan yourself”against the requirements and see whether you fit in. Usually,  advertisers will state that correspondence will only be limited to candidates who meet the requirements/ shortlisted candidates.

NOW,THE CV

Needless to say, almost all jobseekers nowadays are aware that a CV should not be too long, but should contain all necessary information. Added to that, it should:

  • Have more than one contact number
  • Not necessary to mention hobbies and interests
  • Be accurately typed, avoiding spelling errors
  • Correct honest information so that you can be trusted
  • On the work experience section,  start with the last job you were in
  • Include a short section on personality profile
  • Always research the latest way of CV writing
  • Your references should preferably be professional people, avoid putting family as referees.

There is more to a professional looking CV than just words. It’s a statement about you. The accompanying documents (certificates, registration documents,  identity documents) should be copied and certified.

BEING INTERVIEW READY

Now you’ve been shortlisted. What an exciting time. It is better to start preparing for the interview as soon as you know you’ve been called. Consider the following tips:

  • Revisit your rules and regulations
  • Research and read on the speciality
  • Read the advertisement and look at the KEY RESPONSIBILITIES AREAS, familiarise yourself with these. Understand and be able to apply each one.
  • If you know a person work in a similar environment, ask them about a typical day in their job.

On the interview day, be early.  Do not budget time thinly. Be at the venue at least 30 minutes before the interview. Recap. Relax. Do not panic. If you are panicking, speak out to someone close by. You will be somehow a little better. Panicking may cause you to forget most of what you already know.

Lastly, in the interview room. While the panel asks the questions, listen carefully. If  a question has two parts, answer both parts. If you need to listen again, ask for a repeat. Keep eye contact. Sit upright. Avoid mannerisms e.g. pointing at people, biting fingers etc. Talk so that everyone in the room hears. If given chance to ask questions,  ask relevant questions.  For example you may want to ask how long should you wait for feedback before you consider yourself successful or unsuccessful.  Remember to thank the panel at the end.

Good luck on your new endeavour. And do apply for other positions while waiting.

 

 

 

 

Self Care and “Me Time” Important for Nurses.

 

Self care and me time is important for nurses,  as it is for everyone. I’ve noted how nurses get up, go to work and do all their work, and go back home and do home chores. The cycle repeats itself again and again. Demands on all sides. Stress and strain of working and inadequate sleep.

Have you ever stopped and thought about taking some time to rest and reflect, pamper yourself; and take a break from the endless busy cycle? Well it’s about time you gave it a serious look. You deserve it. Your patients also deserve to be nursed by a refreshed nurse with just the right mood to do the job.

Continue reading “Self Care and “Me Time” Important for Nurses.”

Avoiding Negative Reports and Litigation

As nurses, it is our responsibility to keep avoiding negative reports and litigation. Litigation means the process of taking legal action . When clients or their significant others are not satisfied or feel they have been harmed by nurses actions, they may resort to litigation.

It is therefore highly advisable that we keep ourselves far from such possibilities. The following tips are but a few of the many you can remember to protect yourself and your employer from legal action:

PRACTISE WITHIN YOUR SCOPE OF PRACTISE

Always keep your limits. Know what you are allowed and not allowed to do according to your qualifications. In case of any damages or mistakes or negative patient outcome, you may be in danger of losing your job should you be found to have crossed your professional boarders.

CONSULT WHENEVER IN DOUBT

Do not be a know it all type of person. None of us is. Confirm with a colleague or a senior should you doubt any nursing intervention.

NEVER MULTITASK UNNECESSARILY

Unless you have no option, avoid doing more than one task at once as this may interrupt you and end up with mistakes. Caring for human lives is a delicate task and needs your full attention. Do one task. Complete it. Record. Start the next task. It will save your image and give you measurable results at the end of the day.

STICK TO POLICIES AND PROCEDURES OF YOUR INSTITUTION

Standard operating procedures are available at every unit and for every procedure. Keep yourself abreast and ensure that you are using the latest guidelines. Departments usually keep a file/files full of updated policies and procedures. Read these up, either by yourself or with other staff members. This will minimise acting outside of expected standards.

HAVE A QUALITY MINDSET

Do not carry out duties for the sake of ticking them off. Enjoy doing what is right. Tell yourself you will do it right the first time. Always remember to render the standard of care that you want rendered to you and your loved ones.

AVOID COUNTERSIGNING WHAT YOU DID NOT WITNESS

canva-black-ballpoint-pen-MADGxv1LTcA
Your signature can save or destroy your career

Did you really see that there are two pethidine ampoules left? Did you see that the patient was given the drug? If not, why put your signature as a witness? Remember whatever you signed for is binding, you cannot later claim you were not aware. Witness before agreeing to sign.

RECORD, RECORD, RECORD

There is power in recording. As we all know, in Nursing, what is not written is not done. Always write what you have done for the patient, write the time, be specific about doses if you gave medication, state whether the patient did give consent for the intervention. Recording saves the patients life and your career in many ways.

PROOFREAD AND AUDIT YOUR OWN WORK

canva-person-wearing-grey-dress-shirt-holding-black-push-pen-MADGx_08ZFU
Read it before anyone reads it. Correct errors early

Write it. Read it. Add if you left out some details. You will not regret it. Discovering your own mistakes is better that being in trouble later on.

REPORT INCIDENTS WITHIN SPECIFIED TIME FRAMES

Some incidents require report submission within an hour. Some within 24 hours. Familiarise yourself with what is required for which incidents and report accordingly. The earlier the report, the better.

BE DISINTERESTED WHEN MANAGING CONFLICTS

Conflict management required professionalism. Do not be biased . Do not be hasty in deciding who is wrong and this especially applies to patient-patient conflicts. Listen and advise. Remain neutral and advise patients not to threaten one another. Do not say any words that may lead to physical fights.

 

 

I am a Nurse: Poem

I am a Nurse.

I care to listen and I care to look.

I care to touch with a healing touch.

Yes, I am a nurse. 

I have listened to the cry of a new born in the labour ward.

And I have listened to the groans and moans of a young man in the trauma unit.

I have seen the tears of a young student getting news of his hiv status.

And I have touched the wound that was dreadful.

And I have smelled awful smells from infected wounds.

Yes, I am a nurse. 

And beheld the sorrowful eyes of a woman standing next to her spouse’s icu bed.

I have heard the sound of a cardiac monitor giving up.

I have heard repeated thank you statements when the very ill left the units well and recovered.

I have seen and heard the beautiful playing of children with burn scars in their heads and faces.

I have smiled, I have cried, I have spoken, I have hugged.

My eyes and my ears and my nose can write a book.

I am a nurse when things are hard and when things are easy, I am a nurse.

But after all the ups and downs…here I am.

I am a Nurse.

 

Burnout Can be Beaten!

Burnout is a serious problem in nurses, but, when recognised and acted upon; burnout CAN BE BEATEN!

According to the Oxford dictionary burnout is” the state of being extremely tired or ill, either physically or mentally, because you have worked too hard.” This is a condition that occurs quite often in nurses. 

CAUSES OF BURNOUT

Poor work relationships: when all you ever experience at work is constant ill behaviour from colleagues, you get stressed and finally get burnout. Nursing requires a warm and positive environment among nurses,  because of the nature of work. 

Lack of teamwork: when teams work together towards specific goals, there are hardly any victims of overworking. Everyone fits into their spot perfectly ; helping one another should the workload be higher on another’s side. Lacking in teamwork causes some hardworking nurses to experience compassion fatigue. Sadly, very good nurses may even find themselves being inefficient and negatively affecting patient outcomes due to burnout. 

Multiple unattended stressors: Both at work and at home. And in personal relationships. Stressors that are ongoing can negatively affect work performance. 

High workload: Generally most public health settings have less nurses than the required nurse:patient ratios. This leads to nurses having to see way more patients than they should,  nurses having to multitask and being at risk of negative response from those waiting to be served.

Lack of change: Imagine working in a stressful busy unit for many years and all requests of being moved out have been turned down! Everyday when you think of the unit you feel stressed, you lose passion for the job. Change is very powerful, that’s why rotation is very vital for learning purposes and for relief purposes.   

 

The following are signs of burnout:

EXTREME TIREDNESS:

You may feel more tired than usual. Sometimes the tiredness doesn’t seem to go even after rest or sleep. You feel drained and hardly coping with waking up everyday to go to work. You feel fatigued mentally, physically and emotionally. 

CHANGES IN APPETTITE:

You may find that you are anorexic are have started binge eating, differing from individual to individual. Feedback mechanisms within the body respond  to extreme stress and the result is the extreme appetite 

BEHAVIORAL CHANGES:

Altered mood, irritability, separating oneself from acquaintances. Unfinished projects at work, repeatedly. Tearful for small reasons.Failure to meet deadlines.Forgetfulness due to mental exhaustion.

VAGUE ILLNESS:

You are sick but you don’t know what’s wrong.  Symptoms vary. You feel really unwell. AS a nurse you( in your mind) have already given yourself more than one diagnosis. You drag yourself to work because of the unknown “illness”.

INCREASED ABSENTEEISM:

Different excuses from time to time. Sometimes a pattern of absenting oneself from work, either before or after off-days. The pattern is usually recognisable and most of the time is reported as sickness.

ALTERED SLEEPING PATTERNS:

Insomnia is usually reported as a problem. Sometimes the person will feel sleepy during working hours. This interferes with overall work performance.  

These are few of the many signs and symptoms of burnout. As nurses we need to diagnose ourselves and take action promptly. If left untreated, burnout can cause more damage to family life, relationships and social life at large.

Should you recognise the early signs, arrange to refer yourself. Speak to a trusted person e.g. friend, spouse, parents or, if comfortable, your manager. Find time to rest and recollect yourself. If your schedule is still tight, seek help and delegate duties( both home and work). Some organisations make use of a Employee Assistance Programmes, so nurses can also use these.

Our diet as nurses also needs to be one that keeps us strong mentally and physically. Even at appearance of the first few signs of burnout, be willing to adjust your diet by letting go of all junk. Eat plenty fruits and vegetables, drink adequate water, do not skip your breakfast ( or any other meal). A well balanced diet goes a long way in keeping you healthy! 

Take care of yourself , exercise, go for a body massage. Me time is very important because you get to rediscover yourself and recollect yourself.

I’m nurse and I believe in teamwork. If teams work together and share the workload, keeping a good spirit among themselves, burnout can be beaten!

Another good thing is to read books on Nurse Burnout. They carry a lot of uplifting and advice on how to stay above the rush and still be calm. Always remember, burnout can be beaten.

HAPPY BURNOUT-FREE CAREER MY FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES,  AS LONG AS WE CARRY ONE ANOTHER EVERY STEP OF THE WAY!