What’s in my work bag?

toteEvery  nurse has a bag they bring to work.  The majority of what I see are large totes.  I’ve seen blue, pink and brown.  There was a phase of back packs.  However, far and away most nurses carry something that looks like a bland diaper bag.

That being said, I am in favor of the large tote.  I envy those that only carry a few items.  In truth, I have tried and failed at the small purse.  Today I looked at what I and my favorite nurses carry.

Stethoscope

I think this one is obvious.  You have to have your own.  I never think I hear as well when I have to borrow one, not to mention the hassle of it.

Pens

I have about 10-15 pens.  That may seem like overkill.  I have my own pens, the one’s I like to write with.  The free ones we all pick up and the one’s I’ve managed to pick up on accident.  I have a terrible habit of walking away with pens.

Make-up Bag

Everyone has their own special items.  I personally have concealer, two kinds of lipstick, two lip glosses and matte powder.  I carry a small thing of hairspray, bobby pins, hair tie and a comb.  I have a nail file.  I do not like hang nails and my hands can get dry with hand hygiene and gloves.

Medical Necessities

This depends on your own medical history, naturally.  I never have met a nurse who didn’t have Tylenol or Ibuprofen.  I also have some of my regular medications, should I have to stay longer.  I also have eye drops and a spare pair of contacts.  (That does not include my glasses.)  The air is dry in medical facilities.

Lotion

There is probably lotion at the nurses station and where I work, the nurses have their own “special” lotion hidden.  I still have my favorite in a sample size.  I like Eucerin or Alveno.  Right now I am carry Hemp in Coconut.  I love the smell and the way it feels.

Schedule/Calendar

Always ready to know when I work next, other appointments or celebrations coming up.

Money

I have my wallet and check book.  I  make sure to keep it secure.  There are times I have to order food to be delivered and need a payment source.  I also carry one or two dollars in cash.

Phone Charger

I communicate with our doctors via my phone.  Some work places have phone chargers.  Mine doesn’t.  After ten to twelve hours at work, it sometimes needs charging.

Keys

I not only have my personal keys, but also my work keys.

Food/Beverage

This is where the girls meet the women in carrying items.  I have enough room for a protein shake or two and a protein bar.  Honestly, sometimes it’s a diet soda or water.  I come prepared to stay hydrated and awake.  It’s almost a treat to have my own flavor.

This list is not complete.  It is fluid.  It varies from day to day.  But for the nurse starting out, it’s a good guideline.  My nurse friends and I have over 40 years of experience together.  I am not ashamed of my big bag.  I carry it with pride.  I hope this helps some or maybe give you a laugh.  I do notice, as most nurses do, I carry more than one of several items.  It’s the same concept as the alcohol pad.  Why take one in your pocket if you may need twenty?

 

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Self-Care for Nurses

self care nurseAs health care professionals, we can often assess a patient and see what is needed.  They receive the information and hopefully implement health saving strategies.  The results are what encourage us to keep going and do our jobs.  It’s the simple effect of positive reinforcement.

But we often neglect to apply that in our own life, whether it be personal or professional.  Some of my favorite interventions with patients are ones that don’t require a prescription or a doctors order.  One example would be to drink fluids and rest.

In order to keep providing care, we have to care for ourselves.  Following are some things that can decrease the stress and keep us going stronger.

 Take breaks:

We encourage our CNA’s to take breaks.  They come back refreshed.  Our patients take breaks while completing therapy.

Behavioral studies have shown that a person comes back with increased attention and less stress.  A person’s blood pressure lowers.

Even if you feel like you don’t have a moment, that’s probably when you need to take one.  Have a nurse you can trust cover for you and do the same in return.  Your patients will thank you and so will your body.

Drink plenty of fluids:

Yes, we need to stay hydrated.  This does not mean fluids solely consisting of caffeine.  As a shift worker, you may feel you need coffee to survive.  The opposite is actually true.  When you are tired, you need water to hydrate your brain.  Your body uses water to lubricate those sore joints made tired by being on your feet all day long.  Help your knees and back out with some water.

If you cannot have a drink at your work station, place one within walking distance.  Take a drink every time you walk by that place.  If it’s in the break room?  More reason to take that so badly needed break.

Eat a balanced diet:

We literally preach about diet to our patients and then have a twelve hour shift that consists of a few bites of chocolate and a protein bar.  That doesn’t make us tough.  It’s makes us stupid.

Give your body the protein and nutrients to support cell growth and the fuel to keep your feet walking.  Choose foods low in chemicals.  After a few days of eating a balanced diet you will have more energy.

Can’t find the time to sit down?  Make your meals into bite size items.  Every time you go to the bathroom, take a few bites on the go.  Be creative about how you get your nutrition.

Sleep:

This cannot be underestimated.  Your body needs time to regenerate cells.  It needs time for the muscles to relax.  Your brain needs time to process what’s going on in your life.

I guard my sleep very carefully.  I know I am not my best self without at least eight hours.  Some people boast that they can come to work after three hours of sleep.  Yes, they can.  But are they giving their best to their patients or even themselves?  A habit of not sleeping leads to burn out, fatigue and illness.

Create that place in your house that is dark and quiet.  A place where you can relax and optimize your own personal biorhythm.  Take the time to find out for yourself what will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Exercise:

Yes, you feel like you walked five miles during your twelve hour shift.  Perhaps you did.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t count towards health as much as you’d like to think.  Granted, it’s better than not moving at all.

The benefits of walking/exercising without the work environment are exponential.  Your circulation increases.  The change in the environment mentally invigorates you.  It’s a time of processing.  Stretching your muscles that have done repetitive motions cannot be denied.

Sometimes, after a long day at work, a little exercise is what makes my tired feet and legs feel better.  My back doesn’t hurt as much.  Although I can’t exercise every day that I work, a lifestyle of consistent exercise helps me get through those long days.  I’m stronger and my heart works better.  The exercise also helps me rest better when I go to sleep.

Find a hobby:

The suggestions before are mostly physically beneficial.  But find some time where you are not concentrated on your job.  Find something that thrills your soul.

There is a point where all of us have or are married to our job.  We live for our job.  It is good to have devotion.  But don’t let your job own you.  Life is about more than a job.  Taking care of patients and health systems is noble.

We all need a break.  We need something that takes care of us, nourishes our soul.  Hobbies can range be anything from yoga, knitting, tennis, writing, music….

That break and enjoyment in life will bring us back mentally stronger.  Having a life outside of work give you the break you need to come back more alert and with more vitality.

Taking care of yourself is a lifestyle.  It’s not a check list done once.  The results may be seen immediately or it may take a little bit.  The long lasting effects are worth more than your hourly rate to be “busy and stressed” at work.  A life lived is worth more.  We have all seen patients suffer because of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Let’s be a living example of the words we tell them.  May our words not just be spoken, but seen as well.

For some additional tips on self care, see the following site:  http://www.nursetogether.com/nursing-self-care-your-most-important-patient-you

 

 

 

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I’m Here. I’m your nurse.

Sometimes I write little notes about good days at work.  I can look back and remember what happened.  There are days as a nurse where it doesn’t feel like you did anything right, even though you worked so very hard.  Even though I keep little notes, I rarely look back at them.

Today I looked back at one.  I barely remembered the moment, so I’m glad I actually wrote it down.

A patient had come back from the hospital.  She was elderly and confused.  Her family came asking for someone.  But we didn’t have anyone by that name.  They went back to their grandma.  She told them she will have either pink pants or a pink shirt on.  I always wore pink scrubs.  I was into bright colors that year.  I knew it was me.

I walked into the patients room and held her hand.  She looked at me and softly closed her eyes.  She told her family, “she’s here.”  I could see her relax.  Then family looked and me and smiled.  Tears in their eyes.

I had not done anything special.  I was simply there.  Most days I don’t think of myself as that kind of a nurse…the one that holds hands and makes people feel safe.  But in reality, it’s what I do every day.  It’s just some days that I see it play out before my eyes.

I’m a good nurse every day. I give more than %110 percent, because that’s the type of person I am.  Maybe it’s too much.   But I savor those moments where I can see the outcome.  I think I’ll wear pink tomorrow.

 

 

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The Beauty of Being Transparent

Transparency is a term I’m infatuated with right now.  It appears as a beautiful enigma.  The clarity reminds me of that ethereal moment right before someone passes from this life.  It’s when the veil is lifted.

The struggle for me with transparency is that I myself was afraid of what might be beneath.  Waiting, I watched people for a long time.  I realized that when people were themselves, with no filter, that was the strongest and most beautiful part of them.  It was the unique presentation that revealed their soul.  I saw that what they may have considered mistakes or a bad moment was really wonderful and full of magic.

Being intuitive and empathic, I know I have strong feelings.  I can know what others are feeling and it is also intense.  To lift the veil behind my own feelings was scary.  It made me think twice.  I tip toed in the water first.  I was ok.  I made it.  Living in the moment and dropping the veils was freeing.  As I learned to express my own feelings, I was better able to understand the feelings of others.

Transparency is not one sided.  To see it’s complexity requires a two way street.  The connection between two individual at that time is where the beauty starts to dance.  It is in that glimpse, that moment, that keeps me searching and working on myself for transparency.  It’s rewarding and magical at the same time.

 

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The Truth About Dating a Nurse

reasons-why-you-should-date-a-nurse1Being a nurse can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding careers there is.  It has moments of adventure, laughter, tears and challenge.  The person that can navigate all that while maintaining composure is a special and unique creature.  It places nurses on a pedestal.  They are surrounded by a cloud of glory and admiration, but also remain slightly mysterious.  Every nurse that I know has some very strong personality traits.  There are nurses that are funny, another that is smart, one that has stamina, a separate one that isn’t afraid to stand up for what is right.  There is a little bit of a fire cracker inside every nurse.  That’s what makes them survive in a demanding profession.  Among those different traits is one common theme, nurses have a heart that wants to see people get better.  They want to help people.  They can give and give until almost nothing is left, get a few hours sleep and start all over again.

While that is my unique perspective as a nurse for almost twenty years, it’s not always how the public sees nurses.  This is especially true when they are viewed at as dating material.  Being single for almost seven years, I have heard some things that people think about nurses.  I had never stopped to think about it.  I was honestly surprised.  My other single girlfriend nurses have heard some of the same things.  Female nurses can be viewed as a prize.  They are reputed to be sexy and a little adventurous.  They are given stereotypes of the bedside care giver and rescuer.  The are a prize in some peopole’s eyes.

Here are some things that are true about dating a nurse:

1.  We are sexy, because we are confident.

2.  We are really smart.  It’s not just what’s pretty on the outside.  We’ll challenge your mind.

3.  We’ve seen every body part a 100 times.  No need to feel insecure about yours.

4.  We’ve seen some crazy stuff, so you can’t surprise us.  But please be aware that we keep that in our back pocket for emergency situations.  Don’t be that emergency.

5.  We work a lot of long hours, different shifts and deal with people all day long.  Please don’t ask me to be your nurse.  I will, but let me volunteer.

6.  We are great listeners and love to make you feel better.

7.  We can provide you an instant diagnosis with holistic or simple measures for any ache or pain.

8.  Yes, scrubs do feel great.  Sorry, we don’t wear white anymore, but we do want to hear they still look sexy.

9.  We are germaphobes.  Don’t look at us crazy when we strip down and leave our clothes and shoes at the doors.  It’s for your own protection.

10.  We are going to tell you everything’s going to be fine.  It’s a practiced sentence and we truly believe it.  We’ve seen miracles and much worse than a ripped toenail.  We’ve helped people cry and walked with them through the dying process.

11.  Every day is a new adventure for us.  We have endless stories of doctors and other nurses.  Sometimes we need to vent, too.  However, we like to find the humor in it.

12.  We are fearless in the face of adversity.  We can stand by your side through almost anything.

13.  Be careful, we may never give up on you.  We can see hope where others cannot.

There are positives and negatives for every situation listed.  Finding that balance is what is key for dating a nurse.

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