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Posted: 9/29/2017 6:48:06 PM

Calmness Within, Amidst Chaos: A Nurse’s True Strength

Have you ever had a day when a patient with several tubes attached to them becomes cranky and uncooperative? Or have you experienced cruising through the morning only to find out that as your shift is nearing its end, you have to change an IV set? Any nurse would say that if they have only these challenges in a day, then they are definitely having a good day at work.

What’s a not-so-good day at work for a nurse look like? Here’s a scenario:

The unit is short-staffed, and several call lights are flashing at the same time. Everyone seemed to be at their wit's end, and their negative vibes fill in the air. You see that patients are waiting to be admitted and discharged. At the back of your mind, you know that something's about to give in, and someone is about to lose it. You think patients are lucky enough to have catheters attached to their bladders because you have been wanting to take a bathroom break for hours now but never had the chance to have one. Lunch? You almost forget what lunch means and what it is for. Missing or broken equipment? That's for dessert.

If there is one word to describe this kind of a day for nurses, it is C-H-A-O-S. When there is a great deal of pressure, and the nurse is still expected to perform safely, that is the ultimate challenge. How can a nurse survive a time like this? Here are some helpful tips for you to reach the end of your shift in one piece:

1. ALWAYS ANTICIPATE NEEDS
You never know when a day is set out to be chaotic so anticipate needs. Ensure that you have supplies readily available at the beginning of your shift every day. Think of it as a kit for not-so-good days.

2. KNOW YOUR PHYSICIANS
Doctors have developed a way of doing things, and each one is uniquely different in their problem-solving skills. Knowing them in this regard will help you work faster and more effectively with them.

3. DON’T LOSE YOUR FOCUS
Focus is what separates excellent nurses from the stressed out ones. Getting overwhelmed is a big no-no because it opens all avenues to errors that lead to all sorts of tensions and lawsuits.

4. PRACTICE CRITICAL THINKING AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS EVERY DAY
When you do safety checks at all times, it becomes a habit. During chaotic times, good habits will enable you to run on autopilot when it comes to safety protocols and keep you focused on more important matters during a hectic day. Critical thinking, on the other hand, keeps you rooted in evidence-based practice even if the going gets tough.

5. MULTI-TASK
Developing a system of doing things allows you to perform several tasks at the same time. If you are pressed for time, for example, as you count the pulse, you must be making an assessment and evaluation at the same time.

6. JOT DOWN IMPORTANT DETAILS
Unless you have a computer for a brain that automatically saves data during accidental shutdown, your best pals at work should be that small notebook and pen that you keep in your pocket. Stress can affect your memory. Having too much going on in a day will make you forget details about the patient, making it necessary to repeat assessments and losing more precious time in the process.

7. IN EXTREMELY HIGH PRESSURE SITUATIONS, SUCH AS A DISASTER, LEARN TO TRIAGE
Emergency nurses usually receive training on how to follow triage protocols. If you are an ER nurse, triaging will save more patient lives and will give you a distinct path to follow so that you are still efficient amidst the chaos.

8. AFTER WORK, THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS AND GO TO A HAPPY PLACE
Calmness has to come, one way or the other. Even if reaching the end of your shift seems like an eternity, it will eventually be time to clock-out. It is important to ‘reset’ and replenish, for you know that tomorrow will be another day, another story.

Being a nurse makes you some sort of a superhero with superhuman abilities to remain calm, practice safely, and still be triumphant after a day of chaos. So chin up, embrace the challenge, and be proud of yourself today.