Regardless of the nursing field that you specialise in, you are bound to be faced with your fair share of both highs and lows. Although during your education, you would have been taught the theory behind your role, any experienced nurse will know that the real challenge doesn’t begin until you enter the medical world. It is for this reason that finding ways to adapt your responsibilities to your preferences is essential in not only ensuring you complete your job to the highest standard, but that you also thoroughly enjoy even what feels as if the toughest of days.
With this in mind, having worked in the medical recruitment industry for many years, we have been lucky enough to watch the journies of hundreds of locum nurses. During this time, we have also picked up a whole host of handy nursing tips and tricks, promised to make your life just that little more straightforward!
Our Top 8 Nursing Tips & Tricks
Once you have overcome your first few years in the healthcare field, your experience will mean that you feel far more comfortable beginning to tailor your tasks to the processes that you find most convenient. You will also begin to pick up useful hacks, which will allow you to complete jobs quicker without compromising on the quality of your care. Uncovering your own unique quirks is the beauty of being a nurse, helping you to strive in your role, making the most out of every day on the ward.
Although you may be manoeuvring yourself through the medical field, finding personal hacks, even the most experienced nurses will agree that there is no such thing as too much learning. Knowledge is power, which means that the more tips that you can keep in mind, the more composed you can stay when dealing with trickier situations. To top up your treasure chest of nursing hacks, we have put together a handful of our own:
- Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
- Practice Dealing With Difficult Patients
- Make Home Your Safe Place
- Use Quick Hacks To Stay Clean
- Invest In Comfort
- Perfect Your IV Process
- Keep On Top Of Your Documentation
- Staying Positive Is Always Key
As a nurse, it is your job to ensure that patients are getting the care and treatments that they require, which as you will be aware, is a lot of information to retain. This means that, even if you have decades of experience, there is absolutely no harm in asking questions when you are a little unsure. Particularly if you work in a high-paced environment such as an A&E ward, you will be dealing with your fair share of life or death situations, in which you will need to structure your plan of action as quickly as possible. In working as a team with your fellow medical professionals, asking questions and sharing the information that each of you have, overcoming complicated situations will become considerably less stressful.
Along with asking questions to tackle hurdles, it will also be essential to familiarise yourself with what has been happening over the past few hours at the beginning of your shift. Consider arriving at your shift a little earlier than your scheduled start as this will allow you plenty of time to read through any handovers, then ask questions on areas that are unclear before your colleagues leave for the day. A good start to the day sets you up for success, so allocating just that little extra time to get organised will make a world of difference.
While it may be rare, every nurse will experience a difficult patient at some point in their career, so it is vital to be equipped with the knowledge you need to deal with these trickier situations and ensure that the patient leaves happy.
The key to tackling difficult patients is to keep in mind that the reason behind their reaction is most likely because they are incredibly stressed and anxious, so staying composed will be crucial. Always avoid arguments or using a harsher tone of voice, as while you are of course entitled to share your opinion, this should be done in a calm, respectful manner. Be empathetic towards your patients, allow them to express why they are feeling agitated, then propose a way that you plan to resolve the situation. Ultimately, difficult patients need the reassurance that you have listened to their worries and are working towards finding a solution, so communication and engaging in conversion will be imperative.
For those who are treating a young child or an individual with a condition, you may find that they become much more restless when administering medication, for example. In this instance, the best route would be to create distractions for the patient while you complete your responsibilities. This could involve asking questions, telling stories or physical distractions such as games. You would also benefit from ensuring that for the duration of their stay, if you have been the first nurse that they have spoken with, you continue to treat them. Interacting with only familiar faces most definitely helps towards keeping patients calm, helping to build trust and therefore, make your job much more straightforward.
For more helpful tips on how to deal with difficult patients, take a look at The Doctor Weighs In.
While your role may be based on caring for others, you should never overlook the importance of self-care. You should always try to create a safe haven which will encourage you to unwind after even the most stressful days on the ward, and your home is the ideal place. The moment that you arrive home from a shift, there should be an instant weight off your shoulders, but how can you say goodbye to a troubled day and begin to relax? Although it may sound strange, the journey starts with the appearance of your home. There is nothing worse than opening the front door after a busy day to see the space filled with clutter; it will not only make you feel stressed but also gives you a list of tasks to complete before you can truly relax. With this in mind, we suggest considering leaving even as little as 15 minutes to spare before you set off for your shift to give your home a tidy. Put away any clothes that are lying on the bed and do those last bits of washing up, so you can arrive back to a tidy home, ready to put your feet up. Freshome has put together a great guide with a host of tips on how you can make your home feel more relaxing, from the living room and kitchen to the bedroom.
In some cases, you may arrive home and struggle to switch off after a day on the ward, which means that finding ways to clear your head will be essential. There are a number of different ways that you can do this, and it’s likely to take time to uncover which method works best for you. While some find that writing down their thoughts in a journal is beneficial, others prefer to take time to practice yoga and meditation. Find out more about the most popular self-care activities for nurses in our previous article.
Working in the medical industry means that you can never quite anticipate what you may be faced with throughout your shift. One common downside to being a nurse is that this may involve getting a little messy and let’s be honest, it’s never going to be the most pleasant of things. However, there are many super handy hacks which will help you to stay clean; these include the following:
- Prepare For Emergency Changes – Keeping an extra set of your uniform either in your car or inside your locker will mean that you are prepared should you ever need to get changed.
- Cover Up During Lunch Breaks – Many nurses opt for popping on an isolation gown while they eat their lunch to prevent any spillages from ruining their uniform.
- Stock Up On Hydrogen Peroxide – In some cases, there may be no choice but to stain your uniform, whether this may be blood or other bodily fluids. This is where hydrogen peroxide will be your best friend as it acts as an instant, easy stain remover.
- Punch A Hole In Gowns – If you are wearing a gown that is not designed with holes, then you may find that it slides down, meaning that your wrists and arms are no longer covered. To resolve this, simply use your thumb to punch a hole in the sleeve then put on gloves over the top.
When you are non-stop throughout your shift, you will always be thankful for opting to dress comfortably. It is for this reason that our next nursing hack is to invest in comfort, including not only cushioned, supported shoes but also quality uniform.
When it comes to tracking down your perfect nursing shoes, there are a number of factors that you should consider. The first is how much support the shoe provides not only your feet but also your ankles, knees, hips and back. Many nurses find that later in their career, by the end of their shift, they are experiencing immense pain and discomfort, which can have a significant impact on your health, along with how much you enjoy your role. The key to preventing this is a quality pair of shoes, which offer reliable arch support, as well as plenty of cushioning. You should also keep an eye out for those that are lightweight and breathable, keeping your feet cool and comfortable. Head over to our article on LinkedIn for a guide on the best shoes for nurses.
If you do not work in a facility which provides you with a uniform, then you will need to invest in your own. In this instance, we recommend paying a little extra for those that are soft and breathable. Cheaper alternatives are often designed with a stiff, itchy material which will cause a lot of discomfort throughout your shift.
One of the most common responsibilities for a nurse is to handle IV’s, which for many, can be incredibly daunting, even after many years in the role. It isn’t uncommon for some patients to require several attempts to insert an IV line, which means that perfecting the process that you use is essential in making the task as straightforward and fuss-free as possible.
An excellent tip that will help towards inserting an IV line with ease is to place a warm cloth over the area of insertion before going ahead. This will encourage the veins to become plump, making it far easier for them to be located, increasing your likelihood of success on your first attempt. We recommend holding a cloth on the area for no less than five minutes and remember, if the cloth is too hot, you may need to place something between the fabric and the skin to prevent burning the patient.
When you eventually need to remove the IV, we recommend using an alcohol wipe to ensure that pulling away the tape does not hurt the patient. For patients with more hair on their skin, you may also want to consider placing a small piece of gauze between the skin and tourniquet so that it doesn’t pull out the hair when removed.
When your passion is caring for patients, the last thing on your mind will be completing tedious paperwork; however, this is an essential task as a nurse. Documentations are vital in making sure that all team members are equipped with the knowledge they need to care for patients, allowing optimum care to continue even once you have finished your shift. It is for this reason that we advise all nurses to stay on top of their paperwork throughout the day, rather than leaving it all until the end of their shift. Complete your charting on each patient as you go while the information is still fresh in your mind; not only will this save you from having to stay after your shift fill in all documentation, but it also ensures that all notes taken are accurate.
Our last nursing hack may sound like a phrase that you have heard time after time again, but one of the most important secrets to striving in your role is to stay positive. Although this may seem almost impossible when dealing with tired or angry patients, it really can make a significant impact on your mindset towards your role. If you have managed to stay positive throughout your shift, then you will leave feeling far more accomplished than if you were to let negative thoughts take over. There are many ways in which you can maintain positivity, not just for yourself, but also for your team and patients. Some tips for staying positive include:
- Take A Moment To Breath – Take a few minutes to stand outside in the fresh air and breath; it can quickly refresh your mind. Very Well Mind has a range of breathing techniques to help with anxiety, feelings of stress and much more.
- Remember To Smile – According to NBC News, smiling can actually trick your brain into thinking that you’re happy, making it a simple and easy way to boost your spirits.
- Spend Your Breaks Wisely – There is no reason why you cannot spend your breaks enjoying something that you love. Whether you take the time to read a few extra chapters in your book, video call a loved one or listen to a podcast, taking a little ‘me time’ is guaranteed to keep you positive.
Making Every Day Count!
Working in the medical industry is, by far, one of the most rewarding roles; however, this doesn’t mean that you will not be faced with your fair share of challenges. The key to success is to keep an open mind and continually adapt your processes to meet the demands of the role. Our years spent as healthcare recruiters has meant that we have worked with a host of professionals at different stages in their career; all of which utilise their own hacks. Take time to uncover these and we promise that you will be thankful for it!
If you are a locum nurse and hoping to take on new positions, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. With extensive experience as a reputable nursing recruitment agency, our team will work hard to pair you with your perfect role.