It is no secret that this country is facing a massive nursing shortage. In fact, it is a worldwide epidemic. Nurses are tasked with far more responsibility, sicker than ever patients, and an unsafe nurse to patient ratio. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1 million new nurses will be needed by 2022 in the U.S. alone. While we continue to strive to offer the best care, our minds and bodies are at the losing end. So how can we maintain while measures are being taken to improve our work environment?
Know Your Limit
If you are uncomfortable with the heaviness of your patient assignments, speak up right away. It is your right. Call your charge nurse and be sure that you either are assigned a safer load for you or that you enlist plenty of help when needed. Protect yourself, protect your patients. Do not try to just get through the shift.
Find a Buddy
Notice who is working the same shift as you when you arrive on the unit. Who can help you if you are in a pinch and vice versa? Who is your go to nurse, the nurse that you can ask any question and know you are getting the right answer?
Team work is essential in our line of work. Learn to delegate the less critical tasks to a coworker that is not busy. Be sure when you delegate that the task is within your coworker’s scope of practice. Try not to be super nurse and do everything yourself when you are flooded with too much at once.
Being overworked can lead to exhaustion, injuries, and error. Be sure to get enough sleep. Say no to overtime if you find that you are unable to think clearly on the job. In saying no, you are thinking not only of yourself but the safety of your patients as well.
How do you care for yourself on your days off? Make self-care a habit. If self-care means sleeping in on your day off, sleep in. If it means meeting friends, meet friends. If it means saying no or canceling once in a while, do it. Whatever it takes for you to maintain balance and calm, listen to your body.
As nurses continue to advocate for safer staffing laws, take the necessary steps you need to safely care for your patients. Be your own advocate. Don’t risk your license, but above all patient safety. Thanks for reading!!
Lori is a travel nurse that has made her way to Sweden. She is also a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.