According to a study published in Nursing Research and Practice, nearly all respondents (92 percent) had moderate, high or very high levels of work-related stress. Only about 8 percent reported low or very low stress levels.”

As a nurse, you are given long hours, a diverse community of patients to care for, and intense challenges on the job – all of which often leads to high stress levels and sometimes, burnout.

RELATED: How to Best Manage Your Emotions at Work

Impact of High On-The-Job Stress

High stress levels can be detrimental to your effectiveness and success as a nurse, and as a person. In order to maintain the heavyweight nurses often carry, it is essential to make self-care as well as the service to your patients a priority. The consequence of avoiding this priority often leads to overwhelming situations, and a lack of passion for your career. In order to become the best version as a care provider as well as a professional, you must be able to take note of your stress triggers, heavy workloads and self-reflection habits.

Stress Triggers

Causes of these stress levels are factors of work life and personal life. Along with the long hours nursing acquires, patient care and paperwork, it’s no wonder nurses are exhausted before and after work.

Finding new strategies to help with getting to the root of your stress triggers and create ways to make your self care a priority.

Before Work

The professional life of nurses is hectic enough, but with a professional life, comes the stress of personal as well. Before stepping into work, it is important to leave behind those personal stressors before your shift begins, as it can negatively affect your productivity or work day. Most people may feel personal stressors, and ICU nurses are not immune to this. Some people may have candid conversations before their shift and ask for family support, others may be able to put their feelings on-hold until after their shift. Some ways to manage stress before work are:

  • Analyze your self-care routine: First things first. Are you providing yourself with the proper care necessary to function with a clear mind? Are you spending your free time with loved ones or filling your time with beloved hobbies? Are you feeling well mentally and physically? If after your analysis, you realize there lays a big gap between work and consistent self-care, your first action is to note all the answers to those questions. Then, you can write down what it is you want to do and how you want to feel everyday.
  • Keep a journal: A journal is a great way to express your stress and organize your thoughts. This is an immediate step following step one. A journal can be on any platform accessible and preferable, from a hard copy to an app on your personal phone. This journal will function as a pre-vent for any emotions felt at the time, from writing down your goals for the day. A journal is also a great point of reference if throughout the day, you begin to feel stressed you can look to the journal and be reminded of the goals you want to accomplish to help you get through the day successfully.

During the Shift

  • Avoid distractions: Staying true to your set goals is crucial to success, but becoming distracted is common. It is very important as a nurse, to give patients and faculty your full attention, especially in the ICU unit. One way to combat disruption and distraction is to put your phone away for the time of your shift. This limits distracted time, as well as restricts social media from disrupting your productivity, in turn keeping your peace in tact.
  • Keep Calm: Maintaining your peace during your shift is a priority, but peace and sound isn’t realistic one hundred percent of the time as a nurse. When situations become hectic or demanding, it can impact your stress levels. It is important to take a brief pause, and lower sudden overwhelming stress with deep breaths. By taking long deep breaths, you are in control of relaxing your body’s tension and clearing your mind. Start with placing your hand on your chest, breathing through the nose and exhaling through the mouth after a few seconds. According to Harvard Health Publishing, saying a phrase as you exhale and inhale can bring you an instant sense of relief. When inhaling, say to yourself “Breathing in peace and calm.” As you exhale, say “Breathing out tension and anxiety.” This strategy can help you get through stressful events at work and feel at your best to complete the task at hand.
  • Self-reflect: A difficult work day is often common when unexpected situations arise or if you feeling overwhelmed by the day’s workload. With this, tension in the body builds, thoughts race and your well-being seems to be going downhill. This is where self-reflection is important, as it is a strategy to refresh yourself and provide you with the focus you need. One way to self-reflect is to ask yourself “what are the solutions?” or “what is the next step?” This way allows you to confront and calm the stress immediately. Keeping in mind the purpose and significance of your job as a nurse can also provide you the motivation to deal with a difficult patient or heavy workload. As a nurse you are determined to help those in need, and in order to do that efficiently you must know how to help yourself. These tactics are helpful realigning you with the situation at hand and provide you with resulting stability and a sound mind.

After work

  • Maintain your journal: A journal is a great tool for expression before and even after work, allowing you to let go of the day’s weight and enjoy the rest of your day. Unloading your emotions or writing down tomorrow’s goal will help keep you emotionally stable and free of the tension built up from the day. In addition, you are able to keep track of the ups and downs of your day to make adjustments to your goals.
  • Develop a Hobby: Through all the paperwork and busy schedules, seeking time to do something you enjoy positively impacts your stress levels. Developing a hobby is a way to express your other passions, and interests. Hobbies are effective in helping you cope with stress, and helping you unwind after a tiresome day. To develop a new hobby, begin figuring out what you love to do or spending time on, whether it is art, playing sports or reading, allow yourself to free from the day.
  • Exercise: Exercising regularly will boost your energy, release mental and physical tension and will impact your lifestyle. Different exercise activities can be fun and freeing, such as yoga, cycling, running or just walking through your neighborhood.

Make Managing Your Stress Part Of Your Daily Routine

A routine will help manage your stress levels and keep you fit. By adding new hobbies and activities such as exercise or meditation, you are reducing professional and personal related stress and making self-care a priority. By developing new routines and positive habits, you can become not only the best nurse, but your best self.

 

References and Resources:

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/human-capital-and-risk/study-92-of-nurses-report-moderate-to-very-high-stress-levels.html

https://nurse.org/articles/5-steps-to-nursing-wellness/

https://www.apna.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=6258

https://www.onwardhealthcare.com/nursing-resources/7-nurse-stress-management-techniques-that-work/

https://www.topnursing.org/10-easy-tips-to-deal-with-nursing-stress/

https://masmedicalstaffing.com/blog/nursing/nurse-stress/

 

Critical Care Nursing: How to Take Criticism

Critical Care Nursing: How to Take CriticismAt some point in your ICU career, you will probably look for a new opportunity or place to work.  Here is some advice to consider before taking the leap.  Taking the time to stop and take stock of where you are in your nursing career is an important exercise- everyone should do at least once a year. This allows you to be mindful of your motives to make a change or to stay where you are, below are a few things to consider while evaluating your current position:

Do You Have Enough Experience to Make a Move?

One vital element in having the leverage to entertain multiple opportunities outside of your current position is your level of experience. If you have been an ICU nurse for less than 5 years, you may need to stay put until this benchmark is reached. Once you have hit the 5-year mark, you’ll be considered seasoned, and will have the experience needed to be a competitive candidate for other positions.  In the meantime, consider building up other areas of your resume such as education and certifications, while you wait to hit your 5-year benchmark.

If you get hired at a company that isn’t the right fit, that’s ok too! Just try to make sure you show that you can stay at a place for a few years when you take the next opportunity. You don’t want to be viewed as a job hopper, but job hopping is becoming much more normal these days.

Education

Education is another critical factor when considering your options. In order to work at reputable hospitals or facilities, a BSN degree is commonly required. If you still only have your nursing associate’s degree, consider completing your BSN while continuing to add to your experience in order to put yourself in a position of maximum leverage. There are many BSN programs that you can complete online or schedule the classes around your work schedule. Adding another two to three years’ experience while earning your degree can be a great combination for your future.

Does Your Current Employer Have Advancement Opportunities?

Are there opportunities to advance into management or administration where you currently are working? It may take several years to move up the ladder. If not, this may be reason enough to move on.

Does your current employer offer personal development opportunities? These type of opportunities can be priceless, even if you don’t see yourself staying with this organization for the long-term.  If professional development courses or classes are offered through your organizations for free, try to take them!

Not ever organization offers professional development. When looking for the next place to work, evaluate their commitment to your professional development. Will they pay for your continuing education? Will they reimburse your college tuition or debt? Can you negotiate reimbursement with your hiring package?

Seeking Additional Specializations and Certifications

Do you want to pursue a nursing specialization?  What if your current employer doesn’t have a need for this specialization?  If it’s your passion, go for it anyway!  For example, you may want to become a certified wound care specialist, but your current organization doesn’t have CWCS opportunities. You may find by attaining the CWCS you actually created new opportunities for yourself and may want to explore other organizations looking for CWCS’.

Learn more about additional Nursing Certifications from what they make to what to expect. There are so many different specializations and certifications that can all help you become more marketable.

Network

Another important factor to consider is the size and strength of your network in your current organization. Having a strong network doesn’t necessarily mean having connections higher up in your organization. It can simply mean you have a tight-knit group of several peers and a supervisor or two whom you can trust. This is an excellent situation to be in, and not something to take for granted.

If you don’t see a long-term future with your organization, but do have a strong support network, take advantage of the opportunity to gain experience, solidify your network, continue pursuing your education to earn your BSN and/or MSN and earn additional nursing certifications to differentiate yourself. Then leave for the perfect opportunity- you have no reason to settle.

 

 

Not every ICU employer has the best training system set up, which can lead to issues for the ICU Nurse.  This can be frustrating and even lead to termination in some cases, where a better training system could have solved the issue instead of termination. If you feel you are not receiving the proper training or support from your Supervisor, here are some strategies that may help:

Journal Your Shifts

It’s important to document your experiences during each of your shifts. It’s far too easy to forget day-to-day instances where a lack of training or leadership comes into play. If you’re able to record these instances, it will give you the specific examples in order to show where something is lacking.

Having a clear argument with specific examples will establish a solid framework for your conversation with your Supervisor. This information can then also be verified by the medical records of the patients involved. On a side note, the others involved in your chain will not have the type of documentation you possess and therefore their arguments or justifications for their actions or lack thereof will naturally be much weaker.

It is important that you find the best way to present your point to your Supervisor. If your tone comes off accusatory or entitled then your message may be lost in your delivery. You may want to schedule a meeting to address your concerns on a day you know your Supervisor has an easier day, so he or she is not under additional pressure and may not be in the right mind to speak with you about your concerns.

Speak Up

One of the best things you can do in your career is to identify your areas that you may not be as strong and want to improve upon. Then speak to your Supervisor about your desire to work through a training plan to improve upon those areas. It is important to ask if they have a training program or if they can find a training program that works. You will never know if you don’t ask.

It is difficult to address issues of training if your facility does not have a good training process in place. If your Supervisor(s) are not providing the adequate feedback and training, speak with them first and let them know you want more feedback and training. If you are not able to get the issue resolved with him or her directly, speak to the Nursing Director for your unit about other options for additional training.

Something to note, when you ask for more feedback, be open to it! You may receive more criticism on how you are performing on the job and that is ok! This is an opportunity for growth. Take in what he or she is saying and be open to the feedback. Do not get defensive, which can be easy to do. If something he or she says upsets you, take the moment to say “thank you for the feedback and I will think about it more after my shift.” This will give you some time to calm down and really hear what the person was saying to you without the immediate sting of what was said. You may not agree with all the feedback and that is ok, but don’t be afraid to ask for feedback at each opportunity.

Build in Extra Time

Another important step is to build in some extra time before and after your shift for training purposes. This will be on your own time and that is ok! It is completely fine to spend your own time on self-improvement. Plus, this shows your employer your commitment to the profession and to your own personal growth. What a way to stand out!

One way to do this is by shadowing another coworker who is competent in the areas where you want to improve. Most people do not want to go in early or late, however, this extra time can have huge offer wonderful opportunities for growth. Act as if your job is on the line, and then plan accordingly.

Once you identify your areas of weakness- find online resources, books, blogs, YouTube videos, to read or watch that will help you improve your skills. Be committed to becoming a life-long learner!

Consider Your Options

If you feel that you are being put in a position where your success is going to be compromised, it’s important to be aware of your options.

Explore other positions in your organization. Look at other jobs. Companies always want to hire someone who is currently working, so if you think things are turning South, be proactive and start looking for another role. It will not t hurt to put out feelers ahead of time for other positions.

Make sure your resume is updated and professional, and that you have references already on hand. All of this gives you an upper hand.  Not every position is right for every person and that is ok! Be your own best advocate and don’t settle for less than you deserve. If your current employer is not putting the effort, time and money into training you appropriately, then go out there and find a place that will. Be your own advocate!

Burnout for ICU nurses can happen. Here are some tools and tips to hopefully avoid ICU burnout.

Defining Your Purpose and The Value Of Reviewing It Regularly

It is important to have a clearly defined purpose as a nurse. You may be passionate about helping people on the verge of death to make it back to health. It may be that your purpose as a nurse fits into your larger overall life purpose. Spend some time thinking about what drives you, what inspires you and what keeps you going.

Try writing it down or creating a vision board to help visualize your purpose and refer back to it when times get tough. If you have a locker at work, consider posting your personal purpose inside your locker. If not, perhaps saving it as a screensaver on your phone or even writing it out beautifully and taking a picture of it so you can pull it up anytime. This will allow you to refer back to it when things get tough with a doctor, an intern, when you’re shaken by a development with a patient or when things get stressful.

Visualizing your purpose may help you take a moment or two and re-center your thoughts and refocus your emotions. Check out other ways to better manage your stress at work.

Building a Network

When you notice someone new in your working environment, make a point to introduce yourself and spark a conversation with him or her.  This will allow you to get to know the people around you, and build a very stronger support network. Try to find out what your current coworker’s interests and passions are. There is a wonderful book called, How to Win Friends and Influence People, that speaks to ways to spark up conversations and grow your personal connections with people.  The book was written in the 30’s, but is still applicable today.

Building strong connections at work with your coworkers will help you better deal with tough situations as they come up. You may even be able to rely on your co-workers for emotional support, and possibly even have some additional support as far as your workload in a pinch. People are so much more willing to help people that they like. Try to be likable. We all have crabby days, and your co-workers will be more understanding if you’re having an off-day if you’ve built a strong connection with them.

Participating In Shared Experiences

If there are meetings for your department make sure you go. It is important to feel that your voice is heard and also that you hear the voices of those around you so that you will be able to achieve the best equilibrium you can with your working environment.

If there is a holiday party or an outing involving those in your department, go. Even if it’s inconvenient, it is important to nurture the relationships around you and participating in shared experiences is one of the very best ways to foster strong relationships.

If your department does not have any group activities planned, consider going to your management and suggesting some or even planning an unofficial event. It could even be as simple as having a department potluck. These types of activities allow people to connect on different levels, which helps to alleviate tension in the workplace, and facilitates the department becoming a cohesive unit.

Planning Your Time-Off

It is important that you have some great activities planned for a time when you’re not working. If you are a single person, look at some major events happening in your area over the next year, and plan sometimes with some friends. If you have a family, then plan some getaways and activities to ensure that you’re spending quality time together. At the end of the day, if all you do is go to work, and come home and go to sleep, eventually you’re going to find yourself burned out. Having outside activities you can enjoy and look forward to will refresh your internal strength and you maintain the proper balance.

ICU Nurse Certifications: What You Need to Know

ICU Nurse Certifications: What You Need to KnowICU Nurse Certifications

Now that you have finally become an ICU nurse, you may be wondering what other certifications you may want to consider adding to your resume. There are some basic certifications most ICU nurses acquire that are not ICU specific such as BLS, basic arrhythmia, EKG interpretation, and ACLS, but other certifications apply to ICU nurses?

Let’s take a look at a few ICU Nurse Certifications below.

CCRN:

The CCRN is the major certification for critical care nurses. It stands for critical care registered nurse and is offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Certification Corporation.  The CCRN offers three main specializations for adult, pediatric or neonatal. This ICU Nurse certification will give you not only a sense of accomplishment but certainly will help you to gain maintain the respect of your peers and coworkers and even patients and their families. The certification is good for 3 years and can be renewed by retaking the exam in your area is specialization.

To learn more about:

CCRN Certification for Adults

CCRN Certification for Neonatal

CCRN Certification for Kids

CCRN-E:

The CCRN-E is an option of the critical care registered nurse certification worth mentioning on its own. The CCRN-E Is for critical care nurses who provide care remotely. It is a subset of the adult specialization. The CCRN-E is a reflection of the world we live in today where healthcare professionals can have an impact on patients across the globe from right where they are. The possibilities in this realm are still being explored, however, this will likely be a greater part of critical care in the future and technology continues to advance.

To learn more about the CCRN Certification.

CWS:

The Certified Wound Specialist (CWS) certification is offered by the American Board of Wound Care Management.  The CWS is for nurses working at least three years with critical wounds. It is considered a Masters level certification and requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to be considered. This certification will allow your facility to market itself and perhaps you personally as a wound care expert.

To learn more about the CWS Certification.

CSC: ICU Nurse Certifications

The (Adult) CSC certification is the Cardiac Surgery Critical Care Nurse certification offered by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Certification Corporation

This ICU certification is for nurses who work with the critically ill immediately after heart surgery. It does require at least two years’ experience. If you don’t currently work with cardiac patients, inquire about internship opportunities within your organization or possibly within other organizations.

To learn more about the CSC Certification.

To learn more about additional nursing certifications.

Being an ICU nurse doesn’t happen by accident. Now that you are here it is important to have a clear plan for avoiding pitfalls and to ensure your continued development. Let’s explore several strategies top ICU nurses implore to keep themselves thriving in their careers.

Embrace Change

It’s no secret that nothing stays the same. The ICU is certainly not immune to this concept. There will be changes in leadership, changes in technology, and changes in procedures. Some of these you will see coming, however many you will not. The best approach is to expect change, and be willing to be on the forefront of implementing it if possible. If you maintain an attitude of being open to change and acclimation, you’ll go far in creating the most positive work environment possible for yourself. The ICU is not a place to be stuck in the past.

Be an Active Learner

If you are an ICU nurse, chances are you already have a high degree of initiative when it comes to education. It is important this does not subside now that you have gotten to this point. This means if you don’t yet have your BSN then pursue it, if you have your BSN consider your next steps towards pursuing an MSN or perhaps a Masters of public health. Have thought about becoming a certified critical care nurse (CCN) through? There are also any number of certifications that will help you specialize in areas to you and your patients. This type of continued initiative towards education will help you to be on the cutting edge of critical care nursing, and put you in the conversation for advancement.

Be Curious, Not Furious

It is important to be curious not furious in the face criticism in the ICU. The ICU is an environment where the smallest details can make all the difference. Therefore it is important you glean any bit of wisdom you can from each source presented. This means it may be from another nurse or an intern or doctor who may not present their feedback in the most positive fashion. At the end of the day if intention is to save lives and to improve care, feedback from all sources with a direct perspective is incredibly valuable.

Set Proper Expectations

It is important you set the proper expectations with those you work with. This can help avoid unnecessary turbulence in tense situations later. If you see yourself as a patient advocate first and foremost, then make it clear from the beginning to everyone. This means the doctors you work with you are going to be calling in the middle of the night at times should know you will unapologetically pick up that phone instead of waiting and hoping that what you’re seeing is not correct. It also means the interns and other nurses you work with should know you will not back down from questioning them if you do not feel that something is right about the care or the test results that your patient is receiving.

Respect the Results

Things do not always turn out the way we would like. This is an obvious fact of life, however in a critical care situation this often means you will lose a patient even though you have giving them the best possible care they could have received. It is important to respect the result of your best efforts. Otherwise the emotional investment and ongoing internal turmoil will take its toll on not only you, but your future performance which can put other patients at risk.

 

ICU Nursing Skills: Managing Your Emotions

As previously covered in the Key aptitudes, collecting data, anticipating changes, teamwork, and consistency are ideal ICU nursing skills. Even with advanced skill sets in these areas challenges still, arise from internal and external sources. Taking the initiative to simplify communication around a shift can help ensure focus and performance are optimal. Let’s review several techniques top ICU nurses employ.

Pre-shift Vent:

Most people may feel personal stressors, and ICU nurses are not immune to this. Outstanding ICU Nurses generally can compartmentalize their personal or professional stressors before a shift as to not bring their emotions and issues on their shift. Each person can compartmentalize their stressors differently. Some people may have candid conversations before their shift and ask for family support; others may be able to put their feelings on-hold until after their shift.

Candid Coworker:

ICU nurses must be candid when communicating with her coworkers. One strategy is to set the expectation with your coworkers that you will be very blunt and straightforward in your communication during your shift. If coworkers know this ahead of time, it helps to ease any tensions that may arise from your candid discussions. This tactic can help to keep the proper focus and energy flow towards the care of their patients and away from interpersonal squabbles.

Limit Distraction:

There are a number of ICU Nursing Skills

ICU Nurses should consider strategically limiting their distractions during a shift. This means keeping their personal cell phones and other devices in their lockers or other designated areas and then only check his or her device during breaks.
Steller ICU Nurses may also choose to limit social media even during their breaks to not get engaged in outside thought patterns. A nurse may become distracted regardless if it is good news or bad news showing up on social media. It is important to give patients and your co-workers your undivided attention.

Try Rationalizing Your Emotions:

If it’s a day where your emotions are getting the better of you, you may want to try this strategy to re-set your thought pattern. There are two strategies to try. You can try to rationalize your feeling

s away by getting to the heart of why you are so emotional. You can do this by asking yourself some self-actualizing questions like ‘what is really going on here?’ or ‘what would be the next appropriate step be?’ These logical questions help stop emotional progressions from snowballing and help realign you with the task at hand. This may allow your conscious mind to find out why you are so flustered or upset and help you deal with the immediate emotions or this will allow you some time to compartmentalize these emotions for a later time.

Activating Your Emotional Reset Button:

Have you tried using an “emotional reset switch”? Find a spot on your body that is appropriate to touch in front of others like the base of your thumb or the spot between your eyebrows. Then touch that spot with your index finger, while thinking of a relaxing memory, like when you were on the beach reading a book or laying out in the sun. Conjuring up this memory along with this pressure point will help you relax your body and take you to an emotional non-anxious state. It will help to reset your emotional state. The best way to make sure your emotional re-set button works when you need it most is to practice using it often. Think of this as muscle memory, the more your practice, the easier it becomes to use. When you push down and ultimately press your emotional reset button, you are allowing your brain to get distracted, and it allows you to pay attention to a new stimulus. Remember, this will only work, if you practice using it! Now, get practicing.

Intensive Care Nursing: Key Aptitudes

Intensive care nursing provides a crucial role in the care of patients who are vulnerable. ICU nurses show high aptitude in several vital areas include collecting data, anticipating changes, teamwork, and consistency.

Collecting Data:

Intensive care nursing requires its nurses to collect data in ways that are not always apparent or even documented. The more obvious way is by reviewing the reports from the previous shift. Verbal reports from nurses coming off their shift can be just as vital and data-rich. For example, a nurse may note that a given patient tends to exaggerate certain types of discomfort or another scenario is where a patient’s rest pattern correlates to a negative impact on a patient’s blood pressure.

Physical observation is also a key aspect of data collection. The nurse has the hard data from the medical reports. Then the nurse can observe the patient while making rounds which will help to establish a baseline by which subsequent interaction during a shift will be measured against. A nurse may note a patient’s energy level and cognitive ability; changes in either of these areas during a shift can lead a nurse to make decisions regarding the frequency of observation or perhaps to initiate additional testing to determine whether any type of intervention is necessary.

Anticipating Changes:

Those involved in Intensive Care Nursing utilize a high level of anticipation. They draw on their experience, training, and education to attempt to deduce familiar patterns or complications during a shift for a given patient. Based on their anticipation, the ICU nurse can decide the frequency and extent of their monitoring. The nurse might adjust the parameters of the various alarm systems connected to their patients, which will further notify them of any changes. ICU nurses often hypothesize about the connection between certain health factors and carefully monitor specific data points over their shift in anticipation of a possible connection.

Intensive Care Nursing Requires Teamwork:

ICU nurses value the input of their fellow health professionals and family members of their patients. They must work closely with those surrounding the patient to provide the best care possible. Other nurses and coworkers bring insights to their attention based on their observations and experience that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Family members play an essential role as they know the patient best. Family members can relay information about the state of a patient that a health professional might not be able to pick up on. This may include uncharacteristic behavior or embarrassing details that might be pertinent.

Consistency:

Those involved in Intensive Care Nursing display a very high level of consistency. This is an absolutely critical component of the surveillance of the patients under their care. Nurses must take vitals, administer medications, and observe data consistently to create accurate baselines. Consistency is part of what allows them to draw conclusions based on their Observations. Their observations are the catalyst for the split-second decisions that they make it any given moment.

Are you considering continuing your ICU Nursing Career by earning your MSN or DNP.

Making 2018 the Best

No one starts off a new year thinking they don’t want it to be great, however without a game plan many ICU nurses will find themselves in the same old patterns as before. In order to make 2018 the best it can be, consider some of the following strategies for make this coming year the best it can be.

Who Can You Help?

Start by helping others. Take the time to identify those around you who could benefit from your guidance and possibly mentorship. It is important to approach those you have identified as possible beneficiaries of your efforts with a kind tone. This will ensure they know you’re coming from a positive place and you are not trying to be critical. This will create a positive energy flow into your working environment and will spill into other areas of your life.

What Skill Do You Need to Learn?

What skill would you want to improve? Take the time to improve this skill in the coming year.

Start by identifying who an expert is around you in that skill, and have a conversation with them about guiding you as a possible mentor.

You will likely find a willing partner to help you bring up to par in an area that may otherwise be a weakness.  As you improve your skill sets the better overall quality of care you will be able to provide which can lead to an outstanding 2018.

Get a Mentor:

Another critical step towards making 2018 the best that I can possibly be, is to seek out a mentor.

Even if you feel like you are on the right track and have everything going the right direction, everyone can benefit from an outside perspective.  We all have areas we can improve upon, myself included.

Start with a simple conversation to investigate your prospective mentor’s availability and willingness. The only way to get a mentor is to ask someone to become your mentor. Put yourself out there in 2018!

Make sure your perspective mentor knows what type of commitment you are expecting, whether it is a short phone call once a month or maybe lunch every other week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that takes up a lot of time, but it’s important you both understand what will be involved.

It is important to communicate your expectations and have your prospective mentor agree to the time commitments. This will help to ensure a consistent level of feedback and support from your mentor without any resentment.

What Have You Been Neglecting?

What aspects of your life have you procrastinated on? Don’t put it off any longer.

Is it spending time with your family or maybe reaching out to a relative that you’ve had some negative interaction with?

Whatever it is, address the elephant in the room directly, and then move forward with a plan of action. You will find that by diving into the situation even if it requires some momentary discomfort will ultimately lead to a new level of internal peace.

Have you heard of writing a life plan? “The beauty of a life plan is that it can give a structure to your life while also changing and growing as you do.”

What’s Your Rest Plan?

The one aspect that people often neglect is getting the adequate amount of rest. This definitely can be tricky with nurse’s schedule.

Is important that you communicate your plan for getting the proper rest to your support network. Make a commitment to yourself to get a certain amount of sleep throughout the week. Think about when you may be able to take naps on your days off. If you make a game plan for rest, you’ll probably be more consistent with getting enough sleep.

A well-rested you- means that you can be the best you possible in 2018 and beyond.

Do You Have Continuing Education Goals?

Are you interested in pursuing additional nursing certifications? Or going back to school to earn your MSN or DNP?

Let 2018 be the year you reach for many of your hopes and dreams. We wish you only the best in 2018!

It’s About Personal Development, Not Criticism in Clinical Care Nursing

The ICU can be a very stressful place to work. With each patient, there’s a lot on the line. People’s lives are literally at stake, therefore it’s no surprise tensions can often run very high. Criticism in a high tension, high-stress environment can unnecessary escalation. A major key to success in critical care nursing is being able to take criticism. While difficult in the heat of the moment, criticism if approached strategically can help create an extremely positive working environment and lead to better patient outcomes. Let’s look at three basic strategies.

Curious, Not Furious in Clinical Care NursingCritical Care Nursing: How to Take Criticism

It is important in the face of criticism, especially in an environment with so much at stake, to be curious about criticism rather than furious. Typically, criticism in a professional environment contains well-intended positive substance.

It is important to be able to dig into the criticism to understand the substance behind it. If there is something you’re missing, it’s important to be able to assimilate it in order to continue to develop.

Any strengthening of your knowledge base or skill set can mean the difference between life and death in the future situations. If you can keep this in perspective, you’ll be in a great position to learn more from those around you, and ultimately be more effective in your position.

Identify Strengths

In order to be able to take criticism effectively in critical care nursing, one helpful exercise is to identify the strengths of those around you. This is even more important in regard to coworkers whom you may not particularly like or who may seem to be negative towards you. Identifying their strengths and what they bring to the table will help you to see the true value in criticism they may cast your way, rather than letting the tension in a given relationship color the criticism in a manner you’ll be unreceptive to.

It’s just as important to identify your own strengths. This will help you to criticism proper context. For example, if you have a coworker who has a strong skill set in intubation, and it happens to be an area of weakness for you, then when they have some criticism about your performance in this area, you should be able to then take a step back and open yourself up to learning from someone with a more developed skill set in an area where you can continue to develop. If you had not taken a step back to identify this strength and had the proper self-awareness of your own skill level, you may well have let fatigue and emotion take over, and been unreceptive to a great learning opportunity.

CommunicateCritical Care Nursing: How to Take Criticism

One major mistake many in critical care nursing can make is remaining silent about issues and concerns that arise within the department. There is a time and a place for communicating your concerns in a professional environment. So if there is a monthly staff meeting for ICU nurses, attend and voice your concerns.

This will put you in a position where you do not have a high-level of suppressed emotions and will help you to not be subject to ongoing tensions within your work environment. It also gives those in a position to help implement change to work on your behalf and for the betterment of the department.

If you are communicating about what’s going on and working for a better environment, at the end of the day, when situations arise and you find yourself criticized, you won’t feel as if have no voice, and will be able to take things in stride knowing you have a forum where you can express yourself.

Plan for Emotion

It is important to periodically stop and take stock of yourself and your emotional tendencies in your work environment.

If you find that you get worked up in situations involving certain employees, take the time to plan out a strategy for how you will react in the future.

For example, if there’s a certain intern who seems to be criticizing you regularly, which is causing negative sentiments, take some time after your shift or perhaps the next day after you’re rested, and think carefully about how to proceed. Think about some of the other strategies that we talked about.

What are some of the intern strengths? How do these line up with your strengths? What are the clear procedures surrounding your interaction? What is your own internal strategy for finding your center in the face of pressure and stress?

Can you put a specific twist on your internal strategy for your interactions with the intern? If you think clearly about the situation and plan based on the structure and precedents in place as well as based on your own internal wiring, you’ll find yourself in a position where you’re not overreacting, and you were able to perform at a high-level, and also able to take the appropriate steps without causing undue hardship on yourself or your patients.

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