1. Ask your co-workers if they need help. It’s easy to get caught up in your own assignment, and of course there will be days when all you can do is keep your head above water. But if you’re not drowning, check in with your coworkers. And when you ask them if they need anything, they’ll respect you for it. They’ll appreciate you. And they’ll be that much more likely to offer their own help when you need it.
2. See things from the other shift’s perspective. How often do we assume the worst of the offgoing shift or the oncoming shift? But if we raise our expectations – both of them and of ourselves – everyone will be a little better off. Make sure supplies are stocked at the end of your shift. Do that little bit extra to make shift change and their first round easier. And when you come on and find that “they didn’t do this” and “they didn’t do that,” give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they spent the shift just trying not to drown.
3. Look beyond today. Yes, it might be easier to use a sketchy IV – it still works! – than it is to start a new one. But really, is that IV going to last? No? Replace it. Yes, a xanax might help keep your patient in bed for the last 2 hours of your shift, but does the next shift need to have that PRN available for their shift? And yes, it’s easier to keep that baby on her belly for your shift – she’s obviously comfortable that way. But is that position good for her long-term? Think down the road, and if something is ready to be done now, go ahead and do it, don’t wait on someone else to provide great care.
4. Does your nursing care pass the Gramma test? Imagine that patient is your very own Gramma (or your sister or your child…), and you’re just visiting her. Would you be pleased with the way Gramma is being treated? Is she being treated like the gem she is? Is she being appreciated as a person, not just somebody in a hospital gown?
5. Ask that question – the one that pops up and you don’t know if you should say it out loud. It might turn out to be a silly question, but then again, it might not. You’ll give better care if you understand why things are done a certain way. Learn why it’s important or why it’s done this way. Don’t be the nurse who has to answer questions with “I don’t know, the last nurse didn’t tell me that.” Why are we on corticosteroids? Why is the doc ordering a liver enzyme panel? What’s the best way to do this? When was the last PRN dose? You get it. Just ask.