I am at the beginning of such an intense career, both physically and mentally. And so, to provide the best care possible it is essential for healthcare providers, like myself, to put themselves first. This will look different for everyone, but for me, and my program, the emphasis is on self-care and self-improvement.
In high school, there was so much time to be physically active and social that it did not need to be a priority, or even a focus. The same could be said for my studies, which came effortlessly. But now, halfway through my degree, there is an overwhelming number of tasks competing for my attention. A lot of my peers have found themselves pushing their sleep, exercise, hobbies and overall well-being to the sidelines to achieve near perfect grades, but realistically this cannot be a long-term solution. To be a great nurse, in my opinion, you need to put yourself first in order to provide the best client care when it comes down to the wire.
Looking to my mentors, they all preach the importance of mobility, endurance, and emotional strength, which as student nurses, myself and my peers have yet to master. Taking the time now to create routines, to prepare for the day, and to unwind are key. Because our families are often not in this field, it is hard to debrief with them to work through emotional situations. Being self-aware and able to seek comfort from our colleagues is a great strength, so that when we have these career altering moments, such as performing life-saving care, that will can come back to the floor stronger than before.
In my opinion, the best thing new nurses and other medical professionals can do to prepare themselves for lifesaving techniques is to first create healthy routines and form coping strategies, as well as preparing for the potential emotional outcomes before they happen.
As the BScN program becomes more demanding, the only way to keep up is to take time for yourself and create routines. Building in time for exercise, increasing the physical strength needed in client care. Waking up in time to eat a balanced meal. Going to bed at a reasonable hour so you can reset for the day ahead. It is these foundational moments in our day-to-day life that can help reduce our baseline stress, so that the stress that presents itself at work is not the end-all. These fundamentals are also coping strategies that when combined with mindfulness, among other stress-reduction techniques can allow us as medical professionals to increase career satisfaction and prevent burn-out , which is so common in our fields.
It is with this routine building that we can set goals and continuously improve our physical, mental and emotional health. A part of this concept should also include dedication, to become the best version of ourselves personally and professionally. We do this by attempting to learn as much as possible about not only ourselves but our clinical techniques and practices as well.
But it is also preparation that matters. In school we are prepped for various medical events, but no number of simulations can truly prepare us for the worst. Having to save a life is not something I have had to witness - let alone participate in - but I did witness a client’s passing the second day of my first clinical rotation. Despite not knowing the client, it was a profound and emotional experience, which left me in an isolated state of sorts. None of my peers knew exactly what I was going through, and so I looked to my mentors for guidance. It was thanks to them that I was able to process what was going on in an appropriate manner. Although not the same, I compare this and any other emotional or triggering event in our careers, such as saving or attempting to save a life. It is my belief that these mentorships should be built into both medical programs and medical careers.
These two pieces: building self-care into our routines, as well as taking the time to prepare for the worst that allow for success in client care and ultimately our careers as medical professionals. Taking the time to do this as early in our careers is my biggest advice so far as a “baby nurse” to even newer students. It is a huge jump to go from high school to university, but an even bigger jump from university to our careers, I am sure. We all want to give all of ourselves to our clients, but in growing personally and professionally we have even more to offer.