July 6th, 2012
By Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN
If you lived in Houston in the 1980s and 90s and listened to the radio, at all, you at least knew of Dayna Steele. Called “The First Lady of Rock and Roll”, Steele was a DJ extraordinaire in the time before boring, canned, corporate radio. Her midday slot captured interviews with all the big names in rock and roll and her legions of fans, known as “Steelworkers,” kept her at the top of the charts.
I had the pleasure of working with Steele during one of her stints in local television and have maintained that acquaintance over the years. Steele has branched out as a retail entrepreneur, launched an online website dedicated to encouraging girls toward careers in technology, science and math, and has turned her talent for talk into a successful public speaking and writing career.
What does all this have to do with nursing? Well, good advice is often hard to come by and as nurses we are often asked to dish it out ourselves. Steele has recently released a new book titled “101 Ways To Rock Your World: Everyday Activities For Success Every Day,” and I think it includes some great tips we could all use to be more successful, both as nurses and in our personal lives.
Let’s start with number 13:
Pick one thing you want to accomplish each day.
”Things happen, events change, people cancel. Realize your plan for the day will be fluid and you will have to make changes. Pick the one thing that—no matter what happens—you will get done today. Then git’er done!”
Now this may sound like crazy advice in the nursing world where multi-tasking is always the order of the day. However, step back a minute and look at a few facts.
So how can you pick one thing? Every day? Maybe the answer is pick one thing not to do. You don’t have to work overtime or an extra shift. You don’t have to join every committee. You don’t have to take part in every public service event. Pick one. Nurse burnout is a known quantity and research says overextended nurses are dangerous to their patients. Maybe that one thing Steele suggests you accomplish each day is devoting your day strictly to your patients. Learn to say no to everything else and you and your patients will go home healthier and happier.
Verbalize what you want or need to another person
”Only your mother can read your mind. Always ask for what you need. Speak up. Most people are happy to help. If they are not, move on. No drama. Move forward. Then ask someone else.”
This may be the one hardest tasks for a nurse to embrace. We all think we can do it all ourselves. But, lets face it, sometimes patient care (which includes doctor care, unit care, facility care) is too much for one nurse.
Learn to ask for help. Nurses need not be martyrs and it is safer for your career and your patient to ask your coworkers, even your managers to step in and lend a hand. It’s called teamwork.
I remember my first fatal trauma in a Level 1 hospital operating room. The call we took from the emergency department said set up for an orthopaedic case. We did, I was ready, my tech was ready, and the room was quietly awaiting the patient’s arrival. But when my patient came off the elevator with a general surgeon sitting atop him with his bare hand inside the patient’s chest cavity I knew this wasn’t a bone case. I yelled for help, my tech scrambled, calling out demands for new instruments, more sponges, and to get that ortho stuff out of the way.
It was a piece of teamwork I will always treasure despite the sad outcome. Our manager put her phone on forward, grabbed the defibrillator from the hall and was in the room in seconds, free nurses, techs and aides came from God knows where dragging equipment (in and out of the room), stepping up to find gloves, help anesthesia, and moving furniture out of the way. Teamwork at its finest.
Not every case is so extreme but, if you have five or six or seven patients on the floor, they all need meds, two need to leave for procedures, one is trying to climb out of bed over the rails and a family wants to talk—ask for help.
Talk to a mentor
”Even Bill Gates talks to Warren Buffet. Having someone around who has succeeded in his or her field and will share that knowledge is invaluable. Everyone should have a mentor. There is always someone smarter than you, and if you can get him or her to share that knowledge, how great is that? Just a thought: who is Warren Buffet’s mentor?”
With the multiple generations represented in nursing today, there is someone who knows more than you, has experienced more than you, and would like to share that knowledge. Find them. Whether it is a little trick for getting a child to take medicine or how to successfully insert a line in a moving patient there’s a mentor for that. If you want to move up in the organization or move to another department, there’s a mentor for that. Find them. People like to share what they know.
These are just three of Steele’s 101 tips. Take advantage. And, if you want to read more, the book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iUniverse—online only for now. “101 Ways to Rock Your World: Everyday Activities for Success Every Day” has great illustration, no tip is too long (you can read several during your 15 minute break) and if you like it let the author know. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.