Tips for getting a good nights sleep prior to your next shift!

 

There is nothing worse than waking up and feeling like you didn’t get enough sleep prior to your busy day! Problem’s sleeping can be related to medical concerns, but what if it is just some of your habits that are robbing you of sleep.  Here are some tips and tricks I have when it comes to catching those precious Zs!

 

  • Prepare your work essentials the night before!

When getting ready for your shift think about the things you will need to get together the night before. This will give you more time to sleep and your morning will not be rushed. Lay out your clothes, and supplies you might need, and any work supplies you might need. Lay everything out in a central location so you will know where everything is. Now you won’t have the morning struggle of finding what to wear and it will be one less thing to think about the night before. Now you can add some time to that alarm clock!

  • Stay off electronics in the bedroom

This means no checking social media, YouTube, or whatever your preference. If checking your phone every 5 minutes is not your weakness like mine! Then maybe you need to turn off the television. The distractions can overstimulate your brain and confuse it. It should be getting ready for sleep, but lights on screens and information are sending it different signals. If your able switch of notifications on your phone or keep it in a completely different room. I sometimes charge mine in the kitchen so I won’t be tempted to pick it up if I am already having trouble sleeping. If television is the issue you might need to completely take it out of your bedroom!

  • Try to go to bed at the same time each night

Going to bed at the same time every night and trying to awaken at the same time, can help lead to a better nights sleep. Regular sleep patterns help your body to stay in sync with your circadian rhythm. This is basically your bodies 24-hour clock. By going to bed at the same time and awakening at the same time, your body will naturally fall into a rhythm it will recognize! This is something I struggle to do. Because on your days off. Who doesn’t want to sleep in? Or I have also worked night shift and staying awake all night at home while everyone else is sleeping is no fun. But it is a scientific fact that not being consistent with your sleep patterns can lead to a disrupted circadian rhythm and lost sleep.

  • Stop hitting that snooze!

If you have trouble getting up in the morning and find yourself hitting the snooze until you are running around like the house is on fire. Then you might need to set your alarm clock across the room and out of reach. This way you have to get out of bed to hit snooze or turn it off. It also helps to find an alarm that is loud but won’t put you in a bad mood to start the day. Or to quiet so you never hear it. I found waking up to music helped me to get up faster and be in a better mood. I also set my alarm for the last possible minute because then I know I have no snoozes to hit. This works for me. I wish I could get up super early and meditate or exercise. I just know myself. I will start calculating how much sleep I would get if I hit snooze and I end up oversleeping. Really you just have to be honest with yourself and find what works for you!

  • Watch what you eat and drink before bed

If you want to have a healthy snack before bed it should be okay. But if you decide to eat your leftover hot wings from your favorite restaurant before bed you might be in for a night of sleeplessness! Only you know what will irritate your system. If you have acid reflex then you really need to watch what you put on your belly at night. Picking what you drink is important also. If you down a gallon of water before bed then your most likely going to be making a few visits to the bathroom. Or if you’re really sensitive to caffeine you might not be able to have anything with caffeine for several hours before bed.

 

These are some tips for getting a good nights sleep prior to your next shift! It may help to keep a sleep journal and find out what works for you and what doesn’t. It is best when you find out a routine that works for you to try to stick to it. This way when you start preparing for your bedtime your brain recognizes the signal and starts preparing for rest!

 

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

My struggle with depression and anxiety. And how it changed me as a nurse.

My struggle with depression and anxiety                     

Depression is something I have struggled with since I was a teenager. At the time, I really didn’t understand that it was depression I was struggling with. It wasn’t until I was 20 years old, that I finally realized that there was something wrong. After the birth of my first son, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression. I remember when I heard the words leave my doctor’s mouth, “You’re struggling with depression.” I felt relief and ashamed. I was relieved because there was finally a name for what I knew was wrong. Unfortunately, at the time, I felt like I had caused the depression. I felt weak and worried about the stigma that would be associated with my new diagnosis. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time other than my husband and close family. I didn’t want anyone to know, which just added to my shame.

When I went to nursing school, I was worried when people found out I suffered from depression, they would think I couldn’t care for clients. Most people with depression care too much, and therefore they get so overwhelmed. Many put others before themselves, which causes them to lose themselves, and depression can sneak in. So, I never really spoke about it in nursing school either. I looked forward to my psychiatric rotation to learn more about the illness that had inflicted me. Attending nursing school made me realize that depression was not my fault. In fact, it runs in families and is considered a disease, illness, or condition, depending on who you talk to. It is not that your weak or caused it in some way. That was probably one of the biggest reliefs of my life. I finally understood that I have an illness that I need to manage.

Depression and its symptoms have been searched on Google so much, that Google has partnered with the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI), to make depression screening a part of your Google search. It is important that symptoms are recognized and reported to your doctor. When I finally wised up myself as my post-partum depression lingered. I was told I had clinical depression. This meant I was faced with a lifetime of symptom management. In the beginning, I didn’t really understand this. I would take my medication for a while. Then I would think to myself, “I am feeling so much better so I might not need these pills after all!” So, I would stop taking them. Then life would happen, and I would find myself struggling again with the symptoms of depression.

Eventually, through therapy, I found out I had terrible coping skills and learned some more appropriate ways of coping. Basically, I had no coping skills. I also learned how to spot my symptoms early. This helped me so much because my biggest fear was hospitalization or worse, death. I wanted to be able to understand my symptom’s and be able to manage them before they were out of control. I finally submitted to the idea that I was going to have to take medication for depression all my life. I swallowed my pride on this one and realized it was something my body needed.

I was doing pretty good at managing my symptoms. Like with any illness, there were relapses, but I was prepared for them. Then a perfect storm started to brew in my life. Looking back, I should have seen the storm sooner. I had just graduated nursing school with my Associates in nursing. I was finally a Registered Nurse (RN)! After I graduated from the Licensed Practical nursing (LPN) program, it was a goal of mine for many years. I also wanted to start working in an acute care setting because I wanted the experience. I received an acute care position and was on cloud nine for a while. I soon realized, at least for me, that the acute care environment was extremely stressful. I started to struggle with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep at night before my shifts. My days off were spent dreading going back, because of the stress and anxiety. I kept myself in this position for too long. My health started to decline. My blood pressure was high, and my doctor told me to either de-stress my life or start taking blood pressure medication. So, I finally decided to find another place of employment. I found another nursing job that wasn’t in a high-stress environment. It was more community health/public health nursing and it really worked for me. I went back to the doctor and my blood pressure normalized! I was in a new position and starting to learn a new specialty. For a short while, things were getting back to normal. Then my personal life fell apart, in a huge way.

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Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

My mother became very ill. She had pneumonia, that turned into septic shock. Her infection had worsened, and her blood pressure plummeted. Her organs started to fail as her body struggled with the infection. She went into respiratory distress and could no longer breathe on her own. She was placed on a ventilator, a machine that breathed for her. Her kidneys started to fail. They put her on medications that saved her organs from failing but had the potential side effects of her losing a limb. I watched helplessly as my mother and a best friend struggled for her life. She moved from facility to facility as they tried to wean her off her ventilator, so she could breathe on her own. She ended up with a feeding tube and a trache. Eventually, she had to learn to walk again.

Through all of this, I become the legal guardian of my disabled brother. My brother has down syndrome. He came to live with me. I always knew that this would eventually happen, but it just came a lot sooner than I expected. So, we were adjusting our lives to become a family of 5! Through all this, I continued to work. I tried to be strong and pretend everything was fine, but my body finally couldn’t take the stress. My anxiety intensified, and I started having panic attacks that woke me out of my sleep. I became really depressed and found it harder to get out of bed and complete the simplest task. I ended up having to take some time off work, to help heal. With this was more stress, because I am the main income of our family. So, it wasn’t an easy decision. I leaned on my faith and prayed to God that he would provide. I know I needed the time off, but how bills were going to be paid was frightening!

The time off was really what I needed. Currently, I haven’t had any more panic attacks! It has been almost a year since my mom became ill. We are now looking forward to her possibly coming home. Now we will be a family of 6! I have found my stride again. Rachel has got her groove back! I am playing catch up on bills. For some reason, they didn’t go away, ha! I am back to work and have a new-found passion for nursing!

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Photo by sydney zentz on Unsplash

How it changed me as a nurse

Depression comes with a stigma and many people are ashamed or frightened to say anything. This can cause a delay in treatment and host of other problems. It is important for me to get my story out there to hopefully inspire others to be more forthcoming, and bring down the stigma.  I feel that having depression myself, has made me a more compassionate nurse. I feel through my personal experience with depression, I am a better listener, and my patience is better. It has made me more open and approachable. Most of my patient’s sense this about me and tend to open up to me.

For me personally, as a nursing professional, it was harder for me to really be open about my struggles with depression. I didn’t want others to be judgmental or think it would hinder me from doing my job. It’s no secret among nursing friends and other medical professionals, that depression and anxiety are prevalent. I tell my patients not to be ashamed and to beat the stigma. Yet I never followed my own advice. So, it is time for me to not be ashamed and own who I am. It does not define me. It is only a small part of who I am.

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

To conclude, I hope anyone who suffers from depression and anxiety is to know your not alone. Our story isn’t over because of an illness. We must manage it and grow from it. I took my illness and found the positive. It has made me a better nurse, more understanding, compassionate, gave me patience, and I became a better listener. There have been dark times and suspect there will probably be a few more in my life. But now I understand more about my illness and have reached a point in my life, where I am more mindful and understand the importance of taking care of myself. This has helped me to be better equipped to care for others.

Book review: The Nurses Guide to Blogging- Authors Brittney Wilson, BSN RN & Kati Kleber, BSN RN CCRN

*This post contains affiliate links. I never recommend products that I haven’t used. It cost you nothing extra to purchase through links. It just helps me with maintaining my blog!*

I recently just started getting my feet wet in the blogging world. What really inspired me to write a blog was seeing nurses like, The Nerdy Nurse (Brittney) and FreshRN (Katie), putting themselves out there! They are both valuable resources for beginning nurses and seasoned nurses. Personally, I wanted to start a blog, because I was dealing with the stress and effects of nurse burnout. I wanted to blog because I find writing therapeutic and hoped that by me sharing my experience, I could help others. When I launched my blog I quickly realized, there was way more to blogging than I thought! It is time-consuming and actually cost some money, gulp! I had already been reading some nursing blogs, but I was really wanting something that could help me with starting my own blog. Not just any blog, but nursing related! I found the book, The Nurses Guide to Blogging Building a Brand and a Profitable Business as a Nurse Influencer. I bet you can’t say that title three times fast, ha! All kidding aside it was everything I was looking for! I spent a considerable amount of time researching how to start a blog and everything in between, but this book really is the blueprint you need! The authors do the research for you and lay it all out in an easy to read, and reasonable 10 chapters! Below I will highlight some of the chapters and some of the takeaways I got from the book!

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*above is the picture of the book being reviewed by Authors Wilson & Kleber*

 

The Nursing Guide to Blogging points

  • I really enjoy how each of the authors writes about how they started their blog, along with the things that worked and didn’t work! It was really refreshing to see their stories and to see how they grew their business, and the time it took to do so!
  • The authors explain how blogs can be a great place for readers to learn about you and your passions! The book really goes into how nurses can influence health care and that is really cool!
  • I really like the chapter about finding your blogging niche. Before I didn’t really think about writing about a certain problem or finding a niche in blogging. This chapter also discusses the importance of an accountability partner!
  • The book goes into really great detail about your brand. This is important with blogging because you’re really starting a business! That was something that I had not really wrapped my head around until reading this book.

Writing

 

  • Something else I really never gave thought to, before this book, was Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is something I still struggle with, but The Nurses Guide to Blogging really helps to explain the in’s and out’s, in a language you can understand!
  • Chapter 5 has some great ideas on how to create the best content for your blogs, including some mistakes you might not know your making! I know I took quite a few pointers from this chapter!
  • Eventually, if you’re going to blog for the long haul, then monetization needs to be considered. The book goes into explaining more in detail how to do this, but not only that, it helps you not feel so guilty about it! As nurses, we want to help people, and we tend to feel guilty about things we need!
  • In the beginning, I was just on Facebook. Then I read this book and realized how important social media is for spreading your message! I had no clue how each social media presence like Twitter and Instagram, are used. This book really breaks several social media platforms down and explains how to use each platform correctly to grow your blog and get your message across.
  • Lastly, for me, Chapter 9 “practical considerations”, was the most helpful. It goes into more depth about organizing your blog business and the legal aspect of it.

The Nurses Guide to Blogging is a great book if you already have a blog or considering starting one. It is easy to read and I will be reading it again! I will be using it as a check list to make sure I get off to a good start. I am thankful for these two authors who helped pave the way for a whole new platform for nurses to educate and influence others in healthcare! I suggest picking yourself up a copy if you are at all considering blogging as a nurse. I think you will be pleased with the book and the information given by the authors!

www.Crispyfriednurse.com

What should you know about non-compete clauses!

Oh, the things you wish you knew yesterday! This will fall into this category for me! The non-compete clause. I always thought this was for doctors or maybe nurse practitioners. Wrong! They are showing up for nurses and even certified nursing assistants.

 

What is a non-compete clause mean for nurses?

 

The non-compete clause is something as nurses we should be aware of. It is something now I will ask about, and read what I am signing. Employers will not always point out in the 30 pages your signing of new hire paperwork, that there is a non-compete clause included. They should tell you, but if you sign something saying they did, then you can see it will be a hard argument to make that you didn’t know. It is up to you to read, and decide if you want to sign it.

 

What is a non-compete clause?

 

If you haven’t ran into one yet then look out! They are becoming more frequent. When you sign a non-compete clause then you are basically agreeing to not compete with your former employer for a length of time, and within a certain geographic area. So, an example would be, you are working for a nursing agency, and they have a non-compete clause that states you cannot work for the facility itself, or any other agency that is staffed in the facility if you leave this agency. This is to protect the employer from their employees jumping around to different agencies and facilities, because they want to be paid also. They also have a business themselves they are trying to keep open. It is a contract for you the employee to follow. So please read it! It can specify all sorts of things, and you want to be sure you know exactly what your signing.

 

Should you sign one?

 

Well, that is a question only you can answer. If you don’t then odds are they are not going to hire you. So, if you’re really wanting to work at this particular place, or really need the job you might have to. It is still something you might be able to negotiate or not. You never know until you READ and ask. I signed one and knew I did, I just didn’t really take time to read all the details. Well, that was a mistake! The facility I was contracted, ended up being sold, and due to my non-compete contract, I will not have a job in a few weeks. At the time it didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but I really wish now I would have done my homework. There were other agencies in the same facility that did not have these non-compete clauses.  Learn from my mistake READ!

 

What happens if you break it?

 

There can be many things, the number one being they will sue you! That can mean a big pay day for the employer, and major damage to your wallet!  If you are stuck in one of these contracts, then you can talk to your agency to see if they will let you out of your contract. Be sure to get this in writing. The other option is getting legal representation. Depending on what you signed this might be an option, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble just reading, and knowing what your signing. For me, they won’t let me out of the contract, so I am on the search for a new job!

 

 

 

I am not a lawyer, I am a nurse. Of course, I can’t give you legal advice! I’m just merely suggesting read what you sign. That’s actually good advice in most areas of life. You live you learn I suppose! If in doubt then obtain legal advice. Good luck!

13 interview tips for your next nursing job!

I figured this was a good subject considering, I am about to find myself having to interview. My contract where I am ends November 3rd, and so I am on the look out! (Look for an article about non-compete clauses in employment contracts coming soon)! And of course it is Friday the 13th, so we have to do 13 tips! So here we go!

1. Relax!

I know this is easier said then done! But in an interview you really want to be confident. Being to nervous can come across as your not confident. It is okay to be a little nervous, but mostly you need to appear relaxed. Interview’s don’t have to be scary! Most interviewers know they are going to have nervous candidates. Just don’t get yourself so worked up you can’t answer  questions!

2. Do your homework!

If you are applying for an organization look up their mission statement. Does it align with your idea of a company you would want to work for? If not, then move on. If so, then work it into some of the questions they might ask. For instance, Why do you want to work at ____ &______? This would be a great time to tell them how your ideals match the companies. Bonus points if you look up the companies history, just to learn a little more about the company. You want to show them you did your research, but also don’t want to come off as stalking them  either!

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3. Dress the part!

Understand what your interviewing for. My advice is to not wear scrubs to an interview if you can help it. I have one time, but I let the interviewer know that I would be leaving work to come to the interview at the allotted time, and was it okay if I wore my scrubs. They said it was fine. I also ended up with the job. For the most part though, even though scrubs are what we spend most of our time in, you want to dress more for business. Probably not a good idea to wear flip flops. I only mention this because I have seen it done, on more than one occasion, and it cracks me up every-time! And yes these were nurses!

4. Be on time

Show up on time, if not a few minutes early. You don’t want to be so early that your putting pressure on the interviewer. They make these time slots, and most likely are working themselves, then fitting you in for an interview. 15 minutes early is probably max, unless they ask you to come in earlier, or you have another reason. Try your best not to be late! Things happen, but if your going to be late, due to traffic or some other unforeseen circumstance. Apologize, Call ahead, and let them know. It is courtesy, and will give them a better time-frame on when to expect you.

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5. Research interview questions

Research (Google search) commonly asked interview questions and commonly asked interview questions for nurses. This will give you good practice and you will have some answers ready if they come up. One I always struggle with if I am unprepared, is “name something about yourself professionally, that you need to improve” or ” what would you consider one of your weaknesses”.  These questions always trip me up. You spend most of the interview, telling them all the positives, and they flip the script. It is best if you can spin your negative into more of a positive.  Or another route would be how your improving  your weakness. What ever route your choose stay positive. This isn’t the time to confess you wake up at midnight, and eat ice cream, and watch the home shopping network!

6. Be prepared to ask questions.

They will ask you if you have any questions for them. Try to have a couple that are relevant to the position your applying for. See how the conversation goes when it comes to compensation. Most likely the person interviewing you has nothing to do with this. Negotiations will be apart of human resources. If you go in talking about what you will make an hour right away, it can be a little off putting. If the interviewer brings it up, it is a different story. If the interviewer sees your past salary and it is way more than this position is offering. It has been my experience before you even come in, or at the interview, this is one of the first things discussed. They don’t want waste your time or theirs if they can’t afford you.

7. Ask about follow up and time frame

This is something easily forgotten in an interview. You have answered the questions like a rock star, the interviewer and you hit it off. You are already imagining working for this company! Slow down, and be sure to ask when you will hear about the decision. If you don’t, then the suspense will eat you up. Some companies will send out letters to all candidates that state if you were chosen or not. Don’t expect this though, when it comes to not being chosen.  This is why a time line can help. If they say they have multiple candidates, and they say I plan on making a decision by the end of next week, and you don’t hear from them. It might be a sign you didn’t make the cut. It is also nice to know when and how you can contact them for a follow up!

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8. Be mindful of body language

Try to stay open and relaxed. If your arms are crossed then it puts out a message of being closed off. Or maybe the interviewer will think your not interested. Smile when appropriate and make eye contact. This is all important to help convey your confidence. When leaving, a firm handshake can help. Don’t crush their hands, but you don’t want to make your hand a limp noodle either. You may want to practice with family or a friend. Also, standing in front of a mirror and practicing interview questions can help. See what you look like when you answer questions.

9. Get their business card

If the offer a business card take it! This will have their contact in case you have follow up questions. Also, you will need an email or mailing address. Sometimes during the interview, nervousness can make you forget important questions, or maybe you need some clarification. If you have their business card, no problem!

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10. Send a thank you

Be sure to follow up with a thank you, but don’t expect a response. This is just to help put you in the mind of the interviewer again and show courtesy. I personally like to send thank you cards via the mail. I feel it is more personal, but it also can be a little old fashioned. An email is appropriate if that is all you have or if that is what you prefer. Really either one is good, because your just wanting to express your thanks. An email has the advantage of being delivered right away. If you send a thank you card by mail, you take the chance of it getting lost in the mail, or being read after the decision is made. So emails can be better, it really is just a matter of preference.

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11 . Keep going on interviews

Even if you have a good feeling about this position, keep any interviews you have scheduled, or keep the job search going. It can really feel like you got the job, but you just never know. It could have nothing to do with you personally. The interviewer could be told they are no longer hiring for the position, so now the position you interviewed for is no longer available. There are many variables and things going on behind the scenes that you have no control of. So it is best if you keep your options open until, you have an offer in writing.

12. Follow up when advised

If they do tell you a time when they expect to follow up with you, try not to initiate contact before. Or if they tell you to contact them on a certain date then follow through. It can be very tempting to contact them before the time they gave you. It can seem like an eternity when your waiting to find out if you got the job or not! If you have a follow up question then this should be okay, just don’t keep harassing them if they have made a decision. You want to make contact with them even if you are no longer interested in the position. You never know if in the future you might be interested in this position again, or in the small world of nursing run into them again.

13. Keep your head up

Depending on where you live the competition can be fierce! There are people with varying degrees and experience. So if you don’t get the job, keep your chin up. It can be even harder when your a new nurse. You really need to stand out! Sometimes employees would rather hire someone who is new, so don’t let that discourage you. Try to find employers who are friendly to new nurses. Above all stay the course and keep trying!

I hope you find these tips useful. I have 12 years under my belt with nursing and interviews. That’s not to mention the jobs prior to nursing! These are some tips I have used and have found helpful. There is always more to learn when it comes to interviews! There is no absolute when it comes to interviewing, but with these tips, and your own research, you can be better prepared! Good luck!

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7 signs your experiencing nurse burnout

Do you really need to know the signs of nurse burnout! I think so! Having experienced it myself, I have found that it can really sneak up on you! Then you’re left with confusion, exhaustion, and you don’t know what to do! So here are 7 signs your heading for nurse burnout! And of course, all of these or just some of these might apply. If anything it might raise a red flag that something is a miss and you need to take heed! Also, am I in no way suggesting you quit your job, or nursing for that matter. I just want you to know the signs of burn out, and how to recognize the symptoms. You can do this by taking a break from your job if you can like a vacation, talking with someone, or maybe a job change is in order. That is okay! If you’re like me, you cant afford to up and quit, I would think most people couldn’t do that. But it can help to look at different specialties and see if a change could help!

1) Are you calling in a lot from work? So have you called in so much your starting to run out of excuses, and you start using some really weird ones like ” My dog has the flu” ” I can’t come to work because I’m stuck in the house” or maybe ” I tried a new recipe from the Food Network, and it was a fail, now I have food poison”. Well, in theory, some of these could be valid excuses, but really if you see the increase in calling in and the dread of going to work, you could most likely be burned out.

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2) Your tired, not just the, I stayed up late and watched Game of Thrones tired. I am talking no amount of sleep can cure this tired. When I get stressed I can sleep for over 12 hours and still not feel like I got any rest. Especially on days after I work. This can also be a warning sign of nurse burnout. Of course, it can also be you can’t sleep! I have also been through this. It seems to be a cycle of no sleep, then excessive sleep. It is important that you get the rest you need, but if you feel like you just can’t get enough, then it is worth thinking about nurse burnout as the cause.

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3) Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression oh MY! This is a sign for sure something is not going right in your life. It could be nurse burnout. If you haven’t experienced a panic attack consider yourself lucky! They are horrible. Mine started this year, mostly in relation to things happening outside of work, but it didn’t help with my nurse burnout. It is important for you to slow down and really find out why the anxiety, panic attacks, and depression is happening. Especially if this is a huge change for you. Sometimes there can be no specific triggers, but you need to take care of yourself regardless. It just might mean taking a break, talking to a counselor, or medication. Whatever it takes to take care of you!

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4) Sickness, sickness everywhere! Are you getting sick more than usual? This is a big sign from your body telling you something is wrong. Stress over time can run down the immune system which will leave you getting sick all the time. I noticed I would get colds all the time. One would end and another would begin. It was miserable! If you start noticing you’re getting sick a lot see your doctor of course, but you might want to reassess the stress in your life also.

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5) Has your family used terms like mean and irritable to describe you? Maybe some other colorful language! Well, personality changes can be a direct result from nurse burnout. Sometimes your family and friends are the first ones to pick up there is something not quite right. I remember my son asking me if I had a good day or bad day at work, every-time I got home. I asked him why he does this, and he said he could tell my mood was changing, and if I had a bad day he didn’t even bother to ask me something. That was a wake-up call! Especially, when I started having more bad days than good!

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6) You absolutely dread going to work. We all have days where we don’t want to go to work. I am talking so much dread you can’t sleep, or you fantasize about running away. On my way to work one time I drove by an airport. I thought to myself, I could totally buy a one-way ticket to just about anywhere, and get out of work. Of course, I went to work, but it made me realize, wow! I need a change!

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7) Feeling under appreciated is also a common sign. Some of this is normal, but when it gets to a point were your feeling more underappreciated than happy, it could be nurse burn out. Nursing is a thankless job. When we do get a thank you it’s awesome. Or if someone tells you your a great nurse, wow! Maybe, even those compliments are going in one ear and out the other. Because you’re burned out, you focus more on the negative and the positive you miss! This could also be a red flag that you are in or heading for nurse burnout. Of course, it does take some examining, because it could just be the work environment your in. Either way, some assessing, and change could need to take place.

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I hope some information was learned about nurse burnout and how to recognize the symptoms. Nurse burnout should not be ignored because the symptoms and warning signs will just increase. It is my hope for you, that you catch it early and take care of yourself. We need good caregivers and in order to keep them, we need good caregivers taking care of themselves. That was a long hard lesson for me to learn!

The top 10 things I wish someone would have told me before I became a nurse… and you should know!

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be in the medical field. Later that shifted to nursing. Most of my information I obtained about what a nurse was or did was from observation in hospitals while visiting family, or TV/movies. Now that I am a nurse, I know TV/Movie nursing is a joke! It is nothing like this! And you really don’t get to see the behind the scenes of nursing when your on the family side! If I knew then, what I know now, I don’t think I would have changed my mind on my career choice, but I would have been better equipped to understand what was expected of me. So if I were talking to the pre-nursing me, what are the 10 things I wish I would have known going in. I hope this helps some future nurses or even current ones. It took me awhile to figure some of these out and I am still learning! Nursing is a career, where learning should never stop!

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10) It is okay to cry!

I’m not sure how this got into my head, but I felt it was not okay for me to cry, when I was overwhelmed, or emotional about a client. I felt like I had to be the strong one in the families time of need. It wasn’t until I got my associates degree, that a nursing instructor I had, who used to work trauma, told us she cried with families all the time! We are human! Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t cold with families experiencing heart ache. Matter of fact their were hugs, and I was a great listener, and most of the time even if they were not my clients I was sought to provide comfort. I just didn’t think it was appropriate for me to cry. I felt like it would add to their grief. So I held it in, and it balled up inside me until it couldn’t anymore. So now I cry, a lot ha! I have cried on the way home after a long shift. I have cried praying for a client I am taking care of. I have cried with family when their loved one passed away. I think I might have cried in an elevator. Never once has someone told me I am a weak, or a cry baby, at least to my face, Ha! So moral of the story, your going to feel all sorts of emotions as a nurse, as a new nurse or experienced. We are human! Sometimes we like to think we are super heroes, or can handle everything, but we need to allow ourselves to feel! Or else you end up like me crying over spilled milk! Ha!

9) You are going to make mistakes!

This was a hard lesson to learn. I think as nurses, or at least me, can tend to be perfectionist. So when a mistake is made, it is hard not to be triple hard on yourself. I have heard it said before that all nurses make at least one mistake, and they are either lying, or don’t realize they did! My first mistake was giving someone the wrong medication! It was actually someone else’s medication! Thank God it was a afternoon dose of medication, and it was mostly vitamins. The thought of what could have happened still stays with me! It was an older lady and she was not verbal. Her husband was with her. Later I found out he was either hard of hearing, or not cognitively there, or both. So I was a new nurse, and instead of asking them to tell me their name, I said “so this is Jane Doe?” and the husband said “Yes”. So I gave her the medicine. It wasn’t until I left the room and returned to my cart, that I realized I had the wrong client. I quickly glanced at what I gave her, and the supervisor called the doctor. He was in the building, and he looked over the medications, and said she would be fine. We monitored her per protocol, and she was fine. The doctor used it as a teaching moment, and was stern, but made me realize what I did wrong, and how to fix it. He did it in a way that was supportive. I am so thankful that it turned out okay. I never EVER get in a hurry anymore, and say someone’s name and have them verify. They tell me their name and information, and then I verify!

8) Burnout can happen, take care of yourself!

Of course this would be on the list! Burnout can happen, but you can bounce back from it! Like anything in life you can make something good out of it, or you can let it defeat you. I used my experience with burnout to try a new area in nursing, blogging, and start creating again! So if burnout happens to you, it is not the end all be all! Listen to everyone when they say take care of yourself! It is so important. We cannot care for others if we are in horrible shape, mentally or physically!

7) 12 hour shifts are not easy!

Yes, the 12 hour shift. Please, more like 14-15 hour shifts! Between travel, report, charting, and emergencies, it is really more than 12 hours! Sometime your off days are spent just recouping from the previous shift. Having more days off a week is nice, but it does come with a price. They are hard on the body and sometimes you feel your away from home more! I am always in a love/hate relationship with these longer shifts. There are times I miss the days of my 8 hours and done. Then I remember I get 3-4 days off a week!

6) The aches and pain, oh my!

Speaking of 12…15 hours shifts, your body will ache! I have limped from the car to my front door. I travel about 45 min to work everyday. There has been times I did not eat, take a break, or verily use the bathroom. So when I sit in my car I finally slow down. Then when I get out, all the pain of the day sinks in! I have had plantar faciitis in both feet, at the same time! Usually runners get this, I am no runner! The strain and work put on my feet from work caused it. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! It took almost a year to be completely healed! Also, take care of your back. Sometimes it is not that one patient lift that hurts your back. It can be years of improper bending and lifting that finally takes it toll! You have the time, remember your back! And take care of yourself! (recurrent theme anyone)

5) A social life is hard!

This was the hardest pill to swallow with nursing for me. As nurses you work holidays, weekends, nights, days, both! This means you will miss weddings, birthdays, reunions, and everything else in between. It can be really hard for friends and family to understand your schedule. Especially if your on night shift. I have worked both shifts and for me night shift has been the worse at adjusting and trying to spend time with family and friends! Also, don’t forget there can be times you will not go home. I have had to stay the night during a snow storm to care for the clients the next day. Or cover a partial shift because of short staffing.

4) Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

I wish I would have really paid attention to this more early on! Not only is it a must, because it helps jump start your metabolism. It might be the only real meal you get that day! If your night shift that could mean dinner. I have, on way to many occasions, went to the vending machine, and ate so unhealthy because I wasn’t prepared. I have also survived the day on peanut butter and saltines! Goes back to take care of yourself!

3) You will experience death and it never gets easier.

As health care providers, we really get into the mode of caring, curing, and saving. The reality is sometimes there is just nothing we can do, and there will be death. This was hard for me at first, and is still not easy! I wish someone would have told me just how up close and personal you get with death. I remember holding a mans hand that was my age, and his mother was at his side. It was known he was going to pass away, but that doesn’t make it any easier. His mother watched as he passed and so did I. I was comforting her, but also just witnessed this myself. I was glad I was with her because I got to answer a lot of her questions as things were happening. Also, this was not my patient, I just so happened to be called into this room by another nurse because they sensed that the client was declining. We all cried! I know this was an expected death, but it doesn’t make it easier!

2) Hope you have a good memory!

Doctors are lucky in a sense, because they can specialize! Go up to a neurologist and ask him about someones intestines, or anything other than their brain, and they will say go talk to the other doctor, I don’t know! Or care depending on who you talk to, Ha! They will also probably look at you like you have two heads! Because it is his/her job to know about a particular area only! With nursing these many specialties will come up to you, and expect you to know what is going on with their client in each area! The cheat sheet is a must. If I had just a nickle for every-time I was stopped in the hall way and asked questions like, “what was John Does blood results” Or “What medication are they taking for this or that” I would be rich! I get it! They are seeing multiple patients and more stuff is being thrown on them also. That is where a good brain sheet comes in handy. My memory is decent, but there are times I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. So in the morning prior to my shift, I spend time getting the details that I feel I might need to know, or a doctor might ask me!

1) You absolutely have to be passionate about nursing!

I once heard that if your hiring for a job you should try and talk them out of it first. If they still want it, then it is the job for them! So many times we spend time on the great things of nursing. Nursing is an awesome job that has completely changed my life for the better! As nurses, professionals, educators, I feel we should spend some more time on the negatives. If only so you understand exactly what your signing up for and it doesn’t take you years to understand! I am very passionate about nursing, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be in it!

 

I hope you enjoyed, or learned a little more about the nursing profession. There is no way we can learn it all! Nursing is a lifetime experience! I just think sometimes we do a disservice by not also highlighting some of the potential negatives. What could be a negative to one person, could be positive to others! I think if someone would have sit me down interview style, and tried to talk me out of becoming a nurse, and laid out some of these, I would have still took the jump! Most will, if there is a passion! Money can only take you so far. The feeling of caring for people when their not at their best, or the rare thank yous that you will receive, are priceless! Oh, and when someone tells you your a good nurse, it will make your heart get the feels! Best feeling!

 

How to stay motivated!

There are some days where my motivation is no where to be found. A whole day will go by and I look back and remember, there was a whole lot of things I wanted to accomplish. Instead I got lost in the abyss of Netflix or here lately crafting! So I have really had to try hard to find a happy medium between fun and adulting, ugh! Image result for adulting memes

So here are a couple of the things I do to remind myself that I have task to complete, and goals to accomplish. If I do not practice this, then my day is easily gone, but I got some really cool duct tape creations to show for it! Ha! Image may contain: text

So here are some things I do to keep me on track…

  • Remind myself of my goals. Currently this is to do my school work so I can graduate! Seems easy right, but it is so easy for me to get lost in other things that I put off my school work. So that leads us into the next one.
  • Reward yourself with what you really want to do when you complete your responsible goal, my example would be school work or housework.
  • Have a clear idea how you want to accomplish your goals, task list, or whatever the case may be, but also be flexible. Somethings just are out of our control, so that might mean prioritizing some things, and letting go of others.
  • Also tell other people what your goals are for the day, or even long term ones. Someone who is a good friend, family, or your significant other, because they can also hold you accountable. It can be very irritating, and I will be the first to admit this. My husband is notorious for saying “You said you were going to do A,B, and C today, and you only did A”. Besides from me imagining smacking him upside his head and stomping on his foot, Ha! I tell him these things because I know he will hold me accountable!
  • If I have really important things to do I make list. If you make a list you have a visible representation of what needs to be done that day. It almost turns into a race to see how fast I can get it done, so I can then do what ever it is I want. Which leads me into the next tip.
  • After a task is complete take a break. Give yourself 30-45 minutes to watch your favorite show. If it ends on a cliff hanger, better yet! Go knock out the next thing on you list so you can find out what happens next!
  • Also, don’t be to hard on yourself if you get off task a little. Just readjust and get back at it. Everyone gets off track, just dust yourself off and try again.
  • Eliminate distractions! This is by far the hardest for me. My cell phone is part of my body. Its like my mini mobile brain…and I love my precious! Image result for lord of the rings gollum my precious meme It is crazy the things I look up in the middle of the night. I will be thinking about a movie, and cant remember the name. So, I start googling quotes from it and figure it out. Then that leads me down another rabbit hole. Before you know it I am looking up all the girlfriends Elvis Presley ever had and what his favorite food was. Because all this is going to get me real far in life, Ha! I have gotten to a point where I charge my phone out of the bedroom at times. Because if I don’t I am messing with it a good part of the night!
  • Last tip is to break your goals and task into small manageable ones. If I have a list that says, clean the whole house today, I am probably going to look at the list and laugh! But if I break it down into, today I am going to do the living room, bathroom. and laundry. That is more manageable and as things are accomplished you can check it off, which is satisfying.

We all have good days and bad, or good weeks and bad weeks. It is okay, just don’t beat yourself up about it. As soon as you can just readjust and move on! No sense about getting hung up on failure of what was not accomplished. Just chalk it up to lesson learned! Another thing that is also helpful, is to look up inspirational quotes. I like reading inspirational blogs, books, or quotes. It can really help to give you the boost in motivation you need. Some of my favorite are:

“A little progress today adds up to big results”  [unknown]

 

Wake up with determination, go to bed with satisfaction {unknown}

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Nursing School (Drop-out) Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of my nursing career story, thus far! So, I decided after being in long-term care for awhile I needed to go back to nursing school, to get my Registered Nursing License (RN). Also, the drama of the ADON and her crazy ways, finally had taken it’s toll. The bad part was, now I was working full-time as a nurse (stress), had a new born at home (stress), and my oldest was starting school (pull hair out, stress) Looking back, it was the most horrible time I could have tried to go back to school. I was also working night-shift! So, I started nursing school, and finished the first two semesters, with lots of problems! Notice I said problems! It was harder to find people to watch 2 kids, while I tried to do home work. My kids were no longer the only grandchildren, so it was harder for grandparents to step up. So my family support was also at an all time low. Gee, I wonder why I ended up dropping out! So at the beginning of the 3rd semester, my very first day I was scheduled to start clinical. I started to drive to the site, and realized I just couldn’t keep going like that. So I turned around, came home, and become a nursing school dropout. That was a hard hit to my ego and finances. By the time I was ready to go back, which was little over a year, they told me I had to start all over. So it felt like I wasted my time and had a bill to show for it. I felt defeated and honestly just thought about not going back to school. After the sting wore off, I decided to wait until my youngest was school aged before I tried it again. I needed a change, so I started working for a doctor’s office. It was the change I needed! I worked with some great people and started to get my confidence back! I learned many different skills that I still use! The doctors office was a specialty in allergy and asthma. Allergy and asthma is a huge deal where I live. So to add that to my nursing tool belt was very benifical.  Before I got too complacent, I knew I had an ultimate  goal still hanging over my head. With encouragement of family, friends, and co-workers, I decided to give my RN another try! This time I found a school that was mostly online, and just a few days required in class. It worked so well for me. I honestly don’t think I could have continued with my education had this not been an option! I wanted my RN badly! By the last semester I was working 5 days a week and going to clinicals on the weekend from 6-6. Looking back I’m not so sure how I managed! I had great family support and my husband really stepped up. When I finally graduated it was such a relief! I actually had a job opportunity before I took the NCLEX. The NCLEX is the dreaded nursing boards. I passed, but I prayed a lot, and was horribly anxious about it! It was really hard to leave the doctors office I worked. For the most part, they hired LPN’s. The couple of RN’s that we’re there were more in supervisor roles. I really didn’t want to be a supervisor, nor was there an opportunity at the time. I really wanted to get some hospital experience, because I knew eventually, I would love to teach, and I felt this would help me to understand, and be a better educator. So I left my comfy 9-5, no holidays, or weekends, and jumped into the world of hospital nursing! Little did I know my nursing skills were going to pushed to their max! It was a great opportunity, but one of the hardest nursing jobs I have ever had. It was also, the one that provided me with a lot of growth personally, and in nursing. So the take away is never give up. Life is going to knock you down, and throw hurdles at you. Take time if you need to, but get back up, and try again! It took 4 years before I tried again, but I did, and I’m happy I didn’t give up. Until next time! Nurse on!

(Photo credit) https://www.nrsng.com/quit-nursing-school/

The Night Shift…

I have returned to work, and I am back on night shift. Aside from the crazy sleep schedule, I really do enjoy night shift. There is always a certain quirkiness among us night shifters, and we just seem to all get along so well. It really works better for my work life. My home life, it can be a bear at times. My family wishes I were on day shift. Sometimes I feel like a zombie when we are out doing family things, especially if I have given up sleep to be with them. At this point in time, it is the best for me. Trying to manage stress levels, and continue on with my career in nursing, it’s best I stay were I am comfortable for now. I know when I start my new journey in nursing education I will have more of a daytime schedule. Honestly, I will miss the nights! There are only certain things that other night shift workers can under stand. I will list a few of the ones I know I deal with on the regular!

  • Everyone thinks your lazy, because you sleep till 3 pm. If I had a quarter for every time I heard, “but you slept all day!” I wouldn’t have to work anymore. I hear from my children, spouse, people who randomly call me. The people that call me are my favorite, because they are genuinely shocked I am still asleep! I can feel them judging me through the phone. I have had many of thoughts of scribbling down names and numbers, to call them at 1 to 2 am in the morning to act surprised also!

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  • In the summer time I feel like a vampire. I bought black out curtains for my bedroom, and I also bought a sleep mask. If my kids come in and open the curtain, I do let out a weird growling sound, and retreat under the covers, which they find hysterical! When I go out in the afternoon I have to wear sunglasses, or at the least my transition glasses, because the sun hurts my eyes! When it comes to going to the pool side we can always spot fellow night shifters by our pasty complexion.

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Any type of caffeine has become my best friend. I have never gotten into the energy drinks, but some night shifters swear by those! If I don’t get my caffeine it is not pretty! I have to have that little pick me up, so I can get started with my day. That is at work and at home!

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The weird hours of the night I go shopping is hilarious. I have gone grocery shopping at 3 am. It is great and scary! There are no lines and all the employees look so bored. It kind of puts me in mind of a movie, like ZombieLand, where it is the apocalypse, and no one is around. So I might have acted like this a time or two while shopping, don’t judge me! I wonder what the workers would think if I brought in a banjo!

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Anyway, it is good to be back. Just taking one day, one step at a time. When I start looking at the big picture I start to get anxious and panic. So, I try to stay in the here and now, at the moment! Goodnight, everyone! Nurse on!