I saw a post on Facebook recently on how to survive nursing. Survival means that nurse is hanging onto the edge every day she or he works in an environment that takes every bit of energy to get through the day. To me, if that was how I felt about a job, I would be looking for another quickly. Instead of focusing on surviving, I felt that I needed to give information on how to thrive as a nurse. However, it needs to start before someone begins one of the most awesome professions in the world. I came up with this list and others may want to add more but this is my list.
How to thrive as a nurse:
1. Know you want to be a nurse before seeking education/licensure.
2. Know who you are, what your stress triggers are, and how your buttons get pushed.
3. Know the patient population you want to work with and that there is other employment opportunities beside hospitals.
4. Know how to care for yourself – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. No one else will.
5. Know you are NOT perfect. You cannot save everyone or control any other person except yourself. And, we all work to the best of our knowledge, skills, and abilities. We are nurses who care.
6. Know that your professional life is intertwined with your personal life and a balance needs to be maintained in order to be your best.
7. Know that nursing is a lifetime of learning, hard physical labor, and the most rewarding career a man or woman can live through but…
8. Know when to ask for help for yourself, your patient, your unit, or your family. Knowing your limits and boundaries are a good thing. If you try to be all for everyone in your life, you will become a crispy critter and no longer enjoy your job or your life.
9. Know when to quit a toxic organization that blames the individual, adversely disciplines them rather than acknowledge system failure by not providing the time, tools, and support to do the job.
10. Know you do make a difference and your care has meaning to yourself, your patient, or the community where you provide service. You deserve a physically and psychologically SAFE workplace.
There is one more thing I would say to those individuals aspiring to be the best nurse possible for their patients. Don’t silence yourself but learn to talk confidently about the changes needed to evolve your work environment into a place you want to go to every day, where you see your patients survive and begin to thrive because your care had meaning to them and you have the time, tools, and social support to provide it. Violence, unpaid labor, injuries are not part of the job of healthcare. Let’s work to create the change we want to see in our organizations and community.
Peggy Berry is a master’s prepared nurse with over 25 years of healthcare experience. Currently, she is a PhD candidate with the University of Cincinnati and consultant in occupational health and environmental health. She is studying workplace bullying in healthcare with her dissertation focus on what nurses do to work through, cope, and support each other when bullying occurs. She is certified as a Senior Human Resource Professional and a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist. She has presented programs on benchmarking in occupational health, migraines in the workplace, on pandemic preparedness, communicable diseases, and workplace violence. Peggy has volunteered her time as an examiner with the Baldrige National Quality Program and Ohio Partnership for Excellence and as a volunteer with the Dayton Chapter of the American
Red Cross as a Disaster Health Services and Emergency Services. Peggy is the current president of the Ohio Association of Occupational Health Nurses and a national director with AAOHN.
Peggy Ann Berry, RN, MSN, COHN-S, SPHR