It is an unprecedented time in the lives of nurses working in hospitals worldwide. Nurses face evolving obstacles on a daily basis. They must contend, as always, with complications that include last-minute shift cancellations, extended work hours, continuing education needs, and other established practical considerations. At the same time, COVID-19 illnesses have brought a host of historic challenges for those in the profession.

Consequentially, it is easy to lose sight of nursing’s essence: it stands as one of the most dynamic, stimulating, fulfilling, and important career-choices in 2020; nursing means taking part in a noble pursuit dedicated to healing the sick and providing a personal touch to the vulnerable. If you are considering joining the ranks of hospital nurses, you can hold on to that ethos even as you focus energy toward dealing with day-to-day working challenges. By taking the following actions you will thrive in the field.

Practice What You Preach

Projections show that nursing employment should increase at a faster rate than the combined average of other professions. If you are employed where supply does not yet meet demand, you may face long shifts with large patient loads. Combine this scenario with a job profile that includes your continually facing the unexpected, and you will see that you have to take care of yourself around the clock.

Practicing good sleep hygiene may be one of your greatest challenges, yet you need to make this a priority. Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of working errors and job burnout. Unfortunately, when you experience multiple nights of reduced slumber you build sleep debt, a condition that compounds mental and physical fatigue.

You must also pay attention to your nutritional needs. The job’s unpredictability means that finding the time to eat well can be unpredictable too. As a health professional, you are aware of what constitutes a good diet, particularly for you. While you may not be able to sit down to a relaxing lunch or dinner, you can prepare good snacks ahead of time that you grab throughout the day. Also, you may find you have gone a whole shift without drinking. Pack a water bottle, since hydration is important.

Dress the Part and Fit in the Fitness

Working in a hospital, you will find yourself on your feet far more than behind a desk, and some of your duties will involve moving and lifting patients and equipment. You must work to prevent injury and wear to your body.

While you may not be able to choose your uniform top and pants, you can wear the most comfortable shoes for your situation. They will need to fit well, of course, but they also must provide support, stability, and traction. They should be durable, too, so that they do not shed pieces in the middle of rounds, and you don’t have to waste valuable time looking for replacements several times a year.

You must be fit to handle the job’s physical demands. Developing a workout routine consisting of strength, flexibility, and aerobic conditioning will reduce your chances of spending off days in the hospital’s rehab department. Also, the better your conditioning, the better you will feel when you settle in at home at day’s end. As part of your healthy-lifestyle approach to the job, try to eliminate smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption, if either is a significant part of your day.

Be a Lifelong Learner

Your learning begins when you prepare to enroll in an accredited nursing program. It continues throughout your time taking classes, but knowledge acquisition does not end when you receive your certificate or diploma.

For example, the continual growth of advanced technologies for use in medicine is one of the bigger changes to nursing in recent years. If you are not comfortable using technology, you will become a liability. You need to be able to keep up with the revolution by continuing your education every year of your career.

Be the Part and Be in the Moment

Patients can create their own challenges. You may not be certain of a patient’s mood, mental state, or overall temperament as you enter the room. It can be difficult at those times to face upset or frustrated ones. However, it helps to be open to your patients’ points-of-view. Many are understandably anxious and uncertain, and in a bureaucratic hospital setting, they can feel particularly dehumanized.

Your own mood and behaviors go a long way toward easing a patient’s fears. To put on your optimistic game face, remind yourself of the importance of your role in the whole care of each person in every room on your floor. This is backed up by polls that show nurses rate highest in areas of honesty and ethics among professions. Your patients trust you and, they rely on you to be partners in their care.

Your ability to step back and take stock of your worth is an asset you should bolster throughout your career. By being proactive in facing and addressing the expected and unexpected challenges nurses face, you can be certain to enjoy a long, successful career.

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