Surviving Your Shift 101

8-12 hours is a long time in patient care world. Even the strongest of nurses can have moments of overwhelming stress and frustration. Here’s my tips for surviving those shifts when you feel like doing everything but smiling!

  • Get organized! Tasks can pile up in a matter of minutes; so, organization is key to keep things from going haywire. Learn to best prioritize your care. Find out the best way you keep things prioritized and plow ahead during your shift. If it helps, ask a more experienced nurse about how to prioritize your to-do list.
  • Get help! No one person can do it all alone. Teamwork is a beautiful thing when put to good use! There will be times during your shift when good help will be the difference between you drowning in your workload or staying afloat. Never be ashamed to ask for help as even the best nurses need a hand sometimes. Asking for help can make you a better team player because you’ll be able to recognize when one or your teammates needs you to return the favor!
  • Get funny! Learn to laugh at yourself. A good sense of humor can help you keep things in perspective and know when to take deep breaths. Laugh at yourself and watch your stress level come down immediately!
  • Get real! Dealing with stress and frustration is no fun, especially during long patient care shifts. But sometimes, we need to get real about why the stress is presenting itself. Do we need to get better at prioritizing? Are we dealing with personal issues while at work? Are we afraid to ask for help during a busy shift? There are real ways we can minimize stress and frustration once we get to the sometimes underlying causes. If stress and frustration frequently occur during shifts, it could indicate some things about us that need room for improvement (i.e., prioritization, teamwork, etc.). Don’t be afraid to change certain behaviors if they impede good patient care.

Well, I hope you found these tips helpful. Stressful shifts are sure to happen, but thankfully, there are ways to manage them. The most important thing is that we take deep breaths and plunge in to being great nurses who manage to give great patient care despite the stress.