There has been a greater focus on creating healthy work environments in recent years, and nurses deserve kindness, too. Regardless of your nursing position, remember that kindness is still in style.
If you are a nursing student, new graduate nurse, educator, or chief nursing officer, remember that the foundation of nursing is rooted in caring. I don’t know what has happened to nursing over time, but we must return to caring basics as a nursing profession. Emotional intelligence and empathy can go a long way in nursing.
Research shows that kindness and helping others can decrease stress and benefit our mental health. Demonstrating kindness has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, increase self-esteem, compassion, and empathy and improve your mood.
Being kind to ourselves and caring for ourselves as nurses should be a priority.
Here are some self-care activities you can implement to be kind to yourself and others.
Sleep is truly underrated. It is crucial to get your rest and relaxation.
It’s not easy sometimes, but try to look for healthy eating options as much as possible. I know nurses love all things caffeine. However, reducing caffeine can be helpful.
Massage can be highly relaxing and stress-reducing. Some nursing positions can be physically demanding, so try a nice massage. Some insurance will cover this as well.
Even if you are not a big workout type, you can at least go for regular walks. Walking outside and being in nature is also relaxing.
Research shows that listening to 30 minutes of music a week can reduce stress and have physiological benefits such as reduced blood pressure.
Aromatherapy has also been proven to reduce stress. Even having different lotions, such as lavender, can instantly reduce stress.
These are easy to do and can only take a few minutes but have powerful positive effects.
Healthcare providers must prioritize putting their health first. Remember to take time off regularly. No job is worth your mental or physical health. It is time we start normalizing taking time off regularly in the healthcare industry. If you are in leadership, please encourage the staff to take time off. When the team feels happy and relaxed, they can be more productive.
Be kind to yourself so that you can have more kindness for others.
Many nurses feel stuck and need help figuring out why. Alright, no worries. I can reassure you that you are not the only nurse feeling this way. Here are some reasons you may feel stuck and how to get out of that rut.
Lack of Career Advancement and Growth
You may not be experiencing growth in your current position. Or you are not getting the opportunities you want due to different circumstances.
The Fix: Keep learning and growing from a personal and professional standpoint. Seek opportunities to learn, go to conferences, return to school, or get certified in your specialty area.
The bottom line:
Continue to increase your skills and knowledge.
Articulate your desire to be promoted and advance in your career.
Make sure you keep all your receipts and be ready to present why you deserve to be promoted.
Sitting in the corner and working hard will not automatically get you promoted. Instead, make yourself visible and highlight your accomplishments. Network with other nurses and other industries. Network in person and on social media and search for different opportunities. If all fails, then you can take your talents somewhere else.
Learn to say no in your personal and professional life.
Ask for help and support from colleagues.
Prioritize self-care activities such as sleep, exercise, rest, and eating healthy. If you take a break and return, still not feeling well, it may be time to find another position.
Seek medical attention for an assessment and speak to a licensed professional regarding mental health concerns.
Limited Scope of Practice and Not Feeling Challenged
The Fix: Nurses can feel stuck due to the limitations of their current practice. Recommend taking on a different assignment or project.
Precepting or mentoring can be a great way to reignite your passion and keep you on your toes. Seek out work that is fulfilling and aligned with your purpose and values. Consider going back to school to pursue advanced practice roles such as a nurse practitioner. You may be bored of the same thing day in and day out. Starting your own side business, such as writing, tutoring, or speaking, could add something new and exciting to your career.
You may not realize it, but perhaps you feel underpaid, undervalued, and unappreciated.
Join or start a recognition and appreciation committee within your organization.
Ask for feedback from colleagues, patients, families, and the leadership team.
Engage in nursing organizations that promote recognition and support for nurses.
You may not know exactly what you want, and that’s ok. However, this uncertainty may lead to you feeling stuck.
The Fix: Take the time to reflect and see what you want to do. Try to be strategic by looking at your end goal and working backward to how you will get there. Create career goals and a list of what is most important in your life this season. Determine what type of life you want to have and create your career around that lifestyle. Define what success means to you. Seek guidance from mentors and career coaches to gain clarity and develop a career advancement and success roadmap. Career coaches like me can help you get crystal clear about your priorities and your next moves.
Compare yourself to only yourself
Do what you want, and do you
Be patient with yourself
Invest in yourself
Ask for help
Stop overthinking, make a decision, and take action. Part of feeling stuck is all in our heads, and this indecisiveness can lead to anxiety and, obviously, inaction. Nursing is the greatest profession in the world, with so many opportunities. Be comfortable knowing you can always redirect yourself to another path in whatever direction you take. So go ahead and take action. Get unstuck.
Yes, I said it. It’s time that nurses put nurses first!
This is our week, our month, shoot, it’s even our year. Come on. Let’s go. Ask for what you want both in your professional life and personal life. The world knows that we deserve more, and we deserve the best. We work hard, so we need to take care of ourselves. We give, give, and give and it is time to receive. However, we must be open to receiving and accepting greatness and gratitude. Don’t block your blessings.
According to Eckhart Tolle, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” One easy way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal and write everything that you are grateful daily.
Do not be afraid to ask for more. You are worthy of more, and you deserve more.
You do not need validation from anyone. You are a highly skilled professional and an expert in your field. So go ahead, ask for that vacation! Ask for that raise you have been thinking about asking but have been too afraid. Negotiating that offer, yes, please negotiate. Go ahead and take a day to do whatever your heart desires. Whether it’s going to the spa or salon. Hair done, nails done, everything done. Go ahead and relax! Enjoy.
Back to gratitude and receiving. I will leave you with some positive affirmations. And yes, there are a lot of money affirmations because we need to normalize talking about money and getting paid. Nurses need to eat, too. Happy Nurses Week!
I am open and ready to receive abundance in my life.
I am worthy of having more wealth.
Money comes to me easily and harmoniously.
My life is full of prosperity and abundance.
Money is rooted in good and leads to peace.
I am full of confidence, and everyone around me can feel that.
Happiness is a choice, and today I choose to be happy.
“I feel scared” and “I feel like I am not good enough” are the words of a new graduate nurse whose nurse manager told her to resign. “I sat in my car and cried for 40 minutes,” she says.
Wow. This is not an isolated story of a new graduate nurse. There are many more stories out there like this. Our nursing leaders must ensure that nurses, particularly new nurses, are supported and given the mentorship they need to thrive. It is unfair not to train and support our novice nurses and nurses transitioning to different roles.
“I got in trouble for asking a concerning question.”
According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic that a person uses to gain more power and makes a victim question their reality. Gaslighting is the abuse of power and a form of bullying in the workplace.
“They didn’t give me enough orientation and expected me to know everything right off the bat, which is unrealistic.” Unfortunately, this is the harsh reality many new graduate nurses face today because many organizations make financial cuts in the education department.
This happened to me personally as I experienced a layoff as the director of education due to what they call “restructuring.” Most hospitals function with the minimum number of educators to cover various units, if not only one educator covering the whole hospital. As we know, assigned online learning is not the same quality as practicing hands-on skills and demonstrating competency through validation.
Creating psychological safety in a work environment is extremely important. New graduate nurses should feel comfortable asking questions and raising safety concerns. Nurses have the right to advocate for themselves and their patients without fearing retaliation.
Nurses should be aware of their rights and articulate them. The American Nurses Association has listed the Nurses Bill of Rights here.
Although it is easy to say you should advocate for yourself, it can be challenging because you are considering your job security and how to support yourself and your loved ones. Therefore, please know your rights and options to make an informed decision about the next steps.
Signs of a Toxic Work Environment
1. Lack of trust among colleagues and or leadership
8. People are disengaged, have low morale, and have high turnover
9. No support from leadership and no shared decision making
10. Physical symptoms of stress
If you are experiencing any of these, please document what is happening with dates and times. I recommend having a conversation with the person to discuss concerns. However, if you are uncomfortable and fear retaliation and losing your job, I recommend seeking expert advice. No one deserves to feel uncomfortable at work or psychologically, emotionally, or physically distressed by these toxic behaviors. Toxic work environments are simply unacceptable!
How to Plan Your Exit Strategy
Start looking for a new position ASAP
Getting a new position can take 2-6 months, so do not delay it.
Use Linkedin and job boards such as Indeed.
Network both in person and online for potential opportunities.
Do not apply for every job you see, be strategic
Look at positions that will bring you closer to your career goals.
Select organizations that are in alignment with your values/purpose
Read about the mission vision values and visit the place in person to understand the environment.
Do your research/Speak to people who are currently working there
Tailor your resume/cover letter to the job description
Use specific keywords in the job description to infuse in your resume.
Ask about the retention rate for employees
High turnover is a red flag that people do not stay.
Pay close attention to your “interview experience”
The experience from the application process, planning, and communication during the interview is very telling. Pay attention to body language and the overall vibe of the interview.
Wait until the official offer
Get the offer in writing before you hand in your resignation letter.
A standard resignation timeframe is about 2-4 weeks.
Get Out! RUN!
Regardless of experience, every nurse must be treated with respect and dignity.
As a nursing student, I loved watching the show “Trauma: Life in the ER.” This show was based on real-life medical stories in the ER of various cities such as New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Detroit. As I watched, I said to myself that is what I want to do! I am going to be a Trauma Nurse in the ER.
In my last semester of nursing school, I requested to be in the Emergency Department, and thankfully, I was placed there for my last rotation. Well, that’s where I fell in love with Nursing. The adrenaline, fast-paced environment, and uncertainty of what will happen next kept me on my toes.
One of my clinical instructors asked me what type of nurse I wanted to be, and I told her with excitement, “I want to be an ER nurse,” and she replied, “you will never be an ER nurse.” I was shocked! I thought, wow, how could an educator be so negative and deter me from following my dream? Well, you already know my stubborn head did not listen. Watch me, I thought to myself. I am going to be a badass ER Nurse. I’m going to save lives.
I developed such great relationships during my clinical rotation that they encouraged me to apply! As a result, I got offered the ER position as a new nurse before I graduated or took my nursing boards in Canada. Hey, hey, hey! I was jumping up and down for joy when I got the offer. I got two offers, but I selected the ER with the trauma center.
Moral of the story: “Follow Your Dreams!”
I have worked in various Emergency Departments in Canada and the U.S., including level 1 trauma centers. I worked in the ER at Detroit Receiving Hospital where the show Trauma: Life in the ER was filmed and at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell where NY ER was filmed. I also became a nurse educator and TNCC instructor and taught clinicals as an Adjunct Faculty. I hold the following three board certifications for Emergency Nursing: CEN-Certified Emergency Nurse, CPEN-Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse, and TCRN-Trauma Certified RN.
These certifications can be obtained from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) once you have at least two years of experience in the Emergency Department.
My mission is to empower all nurses, especially new nurses, to follow their passion and dreams. For this reason, I decided to open up my own nurse coaching business in June 2021. I provide 1-1 coaching and group coaching to nurses. I teach you how to confidently land your dream position and be Badass Nurses too.
You, too, can become an Emergency Nurse if you want! IT IS POSSIBLE!
Was I nervous to start? Yes, but you will get a proper orientation and a preceptor to guide you along the way! Think about it, there is always an attending physician there, 24/7, nurses, charge nurses, respiratory therapists, and the list goes on! You are not alone!
5 Tips to Help You on Your Journey to Becoming an Emergency Nurse
Request your last clinical rotation/placement to be in the Emergency Department
If you are a nursing student, get any job in the Emergency Department, such as a Patient Care Tech, EKG Tech, Patient transporter, etc.
Join the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) as a student or a Nurse. (discounted price for students, access to ENA Journal, conferences, and educational content)
Get a nursing mentor and or nursing coach who can guide you along your journey (hint: contact me)
Develop your skills, build your resume, and get any certification:
Good luck on your journey to becoming a badass ER Nurse.