After years of coffee-fueled late nights and study sessions, you’ve succeeded in passing your board exam and now get to boast those well-deserved letters behind your name and join the ranks of nurses all over the world.
Here are 10 self-care tips you should know as you enter the world of nursing and keep with you as you advance in your career.
1. Understand Your Role and Take Ownership
While being a nurse comes with some amazing benefits, it is also the end of you having free reign of your wardrobe. You’ll have to trade in those stylish business shoes for something a little more sensible and supportive.
This is only one facet of what you signed up for when taking your oath at your pinning and capping ceremonies. Bathroom breaks whenever you please are a thing of the past along with other quirks that come along with the rewarding profession you’ve chosen.
Don’t worry though, you’ll get to experience numerous perks as well which will help you forget about the routine you had before entering the nursing profession.
2. Stay Healthy
There’s no telling the variety of tasks you’ll be doing to help your patients on a daily basis. You’ll be exposed to plenty of different ailments and will most likely take part in some heavy lifting and running now and then. This means keeping yourself healthy is a #1 priority. Take your vitamins, stick to that healthy diet and exercise regimen, and get plenty of sleep. This will help you combat germs and viruses you’ll come into contact with during your shifts.
3. Invest in Comfortable Shoes and Clothing
Be honest, you knew this day was coming. Consider it a right of passage. Say a quick goodbye to those fashion-forward pieces – save them for your off days – and invest in a good pair of scrubs and comfortable shoes (or customized nursing shoes) that you will feel comfortable moving and standing in for long periods.
4. Taking the Time to Care for Yourself
You’re constantly taking care of other people and attending to their needs, but you can’t do this properly if you let your own needs fall by the wayside. Your shifts won’t always be the same. Depending on the patients and duties needed, you could have a pretty smooth and easy shift. However, these will always be matched with times of higher stress especially when caring for critical patients. It’s important to make sure you take the time for bathroom and meal breaks. You can’t perform your best if you are distracted or feeling hungry. Some states have rules about missed meals/breaks and penalty fees in place because, as important as your job is, it’s just as important to take care of yourself.
5. Embrace Change and have the Motivation to do New Things
The medical field is constantly changing with improvements to process and systems and new cutting-edge technology. As a nurse, take advantage of all of the new learning opportunities like travel nursing, conferences, exploring new computer software, or best practices. Find your niche and always strive to learn more. Have the initiative to stay-up-to-date on everything happening within your workplace so you can perform your job as best and efficiently as possible.
6. Be Kind and Caring, There’s No Such Thing as an 8-5 Here
You’ll be working a lot of 12-hour shifts so make sure you’re prepared to give it your all. It’s important for you to have the energy to treat your patients with the attentive care they deserve and expect from their nurse. They are there for a reason, so treat them gently and kindly. After all, they’re trusting you to be on your game at all times. Leave your problems at the door and start each shift with positive intentions.
7. It’s Not the End of the World
Not all patients are going to be nice and agreeable. Remember, if you’re dealing with frustrating patients or colleagues and you can feel the stress piling on, take a moment to step away and compose yourself. Take a deep breath and smile. Tell yourself that every difficult shift has an end to it and tomorrow will be a better day.
8. Stay up to Date
There will inevitably be those old-school nurses who prefer the less complicated technology systems of the good old days. However, computers and other technology is an important staple in the medical world today. Change is inevitable so take any opportunity to take classes, get certified, and be mentored. You’ll always be ready for what’s to come when you have a full understanding of what is happening in your field.
9. Learn to Multitask
There are no set schedules or steps when it comes to your shifts. You may find yourself caught up in multiple tasks at once. Learn how to multitask while staying focused. This will help you get more done while still staying efficient and thorough.
10. Enjoy Your Work Environment
You’re going to be spending A LOT of time at work. Why not enjoy it? Greet everyone you come across with a friendly face whether that be fellow nurses, doctors, technicians, or administrative workers. Chances are, you’ll get the same response back. Be a team player and get used to your work family. You’ll probably feel like you see them more than your actual family sometimes. Your shifts will be much more pleasant if you’re able to get along with everyone and work together.