February 20, 2011

Tips for Reducing Stress in the Workplace

Posted in Nursing Tips tagged , at 5:04 am by Nursing Tales Team

Stress is defined as a feeling experienced when a person receives demands that exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize. Every work environment has its own share of stress, but hospitals are especially stressful because patients’ health is an urgent matter and nurses handle situations daily that may result in death if not handled correctly. With higher populations and a rise in chronic conditions such as obesity, budget cuts, and a shortage of adequately trained health care professionals available to fill the need, more work is expected from nurses with fewer resources to fill that need. These tips may help you reduce the stress in your workplace.

1. Standardize. Your training and the hospital’s policies probably regulate most of the processes in your department, but look for areas of inconsistency. Where do you find gaps in information, communication, or follow up? Can you work with your fellow employees to determine the smoothest work flow and define best practices to be used by everyone in your department? Develop checklists for as many routine procedures as possible to make sure customer care is consistent, regardless of who is on shift. You might put the most basic items on badge cards and pass them out on beaded lanyards for the nurses to wear.

2. Do not rely on your memory. Your brain has so much to process; do not tax it more than necessary. Write everything down! Create a To Do list every morning as you come into work or at the end of the day in preparation for the following morning. Keep a notebook handy for any personal errands you need to run after your shift. Organize your workspace and implement useful techniques like wearing your ID badge on a lanyard around your neck at so you have it with you at all times. A lanyard can also carry Post-It note reminders of your To Do list.

3. Manage up. Get to know how your boss operates. Does she need to see things written down or does she prefer hearing the information spoken? Is he an internal or external processor? Assume that your boss is genuinely interested in become a better manager and extend empathy when you offer suggestions for improvement. Look for proactive ways to make her life easier and help her be more efficient. You might also remember her with a gift like beaded lanyards on Boss’ Day (October 16th).

4. Make the most of break time. Do not eat your lunch at your desk. Get away from your station for at least ten minutes. Go to the cafeteria or walk around the building. If there is a nearby park, find a bench to sit on. Do not let other people interrupt your rest. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths while you envision your favorite location – the beach, or your best friend’s sofa, or your husband’s embrace. Let your mind release its responsibilities for a short period of time and it will be more useful when you return to work.

5. Learn to establish and maintain boundaries. Know yourself and how you handle stress; often a person has external indicators of stress levels, like nail biting. Be aware of these clues and take steps to reorganize your workload so that it is more manageable. If you need more time, explain why the original deadline was un-doable and be precise when asking for a new one. If you need additional funding, get quotes and have a proposed budget ready to hand in. In the end, you need to determine what you can handle and set boundaries around your personal time that others know they cannot cross. Learn to politely say no when appropriate and do not allow yourself to be coerced or cajoled into changing your mind.

January 19, 2011

Make the Most of your Nursing Conference

Posted in Nursing Tips tagged , at 1:23 am by Nursing Tales Team

The American Nurses Association 2011 NDNQI® conference is coming up this month! Conferences can be valuable and enriching experiences, so follow these tips to make sure you make the most of the opportunity!

1. Double-check your travel arrangements. Before the conference, whether in your hometown over or across the country, make sure you’ve planned ahead and made arrangements for getting to your destination. If you are flying, look online for the flight number, terminal, and whether or not it is on time. Will someone drive you to the airport or will you pay for parking? Could you carpool? Once you get to your destination, make sure you have a place to stay – with a friend from school or at a nearby hotel. Will you need transportation or does the hotel provide a shuttle? If you need to rent a car, ask your place of work and see if they have any special deals with rental car agencies; ask the rental car agencies if they offer special deals for health care professionals. If you feel very efficient, write down all the information you will need – flight numbers, phone numbers, and confirmation numbers – and keep it all handy in a binder or briefcase for easy access throughout your trip. You might also consider carrying your most important documents with you on a beaded lanyards around your neck. Don’t forget spending cash for the gift shop and the restaurants you will likely visit.

2. Know your conference. Even if attending the conference is not the way you would prefer to spend your weekend, make the most of the experience by looking at the information provided to you and taking advantage of the opportunities offered. Check out the key speaker’s credentials and maybe read one of their books so that you are prepared to ask questions if allowed. Look at the list of breakout sessions or workshops and decide ahead of time which ones sound most interesting. To maximize the value you get from a conference, be proactive and decide in advance which sessions will be most beneficial. And don’t forget to go in with an open mind. It is surprising how much you can learn if you are willing to do so.

3. Get to know your colleagues. Most conferences hand out name badges and badge holders at the event, so you can easily see the names of fellow attendees. When you introduce yourself, make a note of their name and use it several times during the conversation: “Larry, was it?” “Nice to meet you, Diana.” “So, Robert, where are you from?” “It was a pleasure meeting you, Claire.” Not only will this make a favorable impression on your new acquaintances, but the repetition will make it easier for you to remember their name in the future. When you meet them the next day and can greet them by name without even looking at their badge you will set yourself apart from the average crowd. Also, since you know the badge holders are almost always required at these functions, do yourself a favor and buy a beaded lanyard that you like. This is a way to polish your look AND make you smile!