When I was a brand new nurse (not too long ago!) I allways hated leaving anything at all to the oncoming nurse. And i still hate it. As a people pleaser, I hate "making" people unhappy. And so I spent every shift prioritizing, rushing around, stressing, never sitting down, never taking breaks, not eating or hydrating, and still, going home and dwelling on the complaints of small scale tasks that I hadn't gotten done. What more could I do? Everything was cleaned, restocked, ready to use. All patients were cared for. Every medication was given, every treatment was done. No IV bags had run dry. But it still wasn't good enough, because that last minute, non-urgent telephone order I received was flagged for the next nurse to carry out. "I'm sorry, MD called as you walked in, and I had to finish the report for you" but it still irked her.
I had to be faster, be better. Complete every task and make everyone happy. But then I found myself often being lectured by my higher ups about leaving on time and not working off the clock (which is not even legal)
Because after all of my work was done, I would FINALLY sit down AFTER giving report, and THEN start charting on patients. Every time I charted, I used my little notebook as a guide. It had all the info I needed to chart; all of the things I jotted down throughout the shift. And as time went on the list of things to chart got bigger, because I rarely charted during my shift anymore. I had run out of every minute I had.
Eventually I found myself breaking down, burnt out. And feeling that nothing I did was ever good enough.
To be honest, I find most oncoming nurses to be understanding and not bothered by left over tasks. But I focused on the ones who were always annoyed. I actually learned from my first nursing job, something about myself that affected my life for as long as I remember. And I began to change it. I know now that I cannot fix everything, I can not take everything on. I cannot make everyone happy. And I don't need to do those things to be a good nurse or a good friend or a good person in general. I know this now.
I also know that when I step into work, it is not about me feeling good about myself. It is not about making every coworker happy. Its not about killing myself to do these things!
ITS ABOUT THE PATIENTS. ENSURING THEIR SAFETY. HELPING THEM. CARING FOR THEM. LEARNING AND GROWING AS A NURSE, FOR PATIENTS EVERY DAY AND IN THE FUTURE.
Just thought I'd share. It's a valuable lesson I learned.
Last edit by whatdayisit11to7Nrse on Jan 9, '17
: Reason: Was not finished
Jan 9, '17
That's a good lesson to have learned. Nursing is a 24hr gig and you're only there for 12 (or whatever your shift pattern is). I never (rarely) feel bad leaving stuff for the oncoming shift. I do the time critical tasks immediately, the stuff that needs to be done after that and anything else whenever I can.
Not taking breaks benefits no one. Certainly not you and not the patient either. What kind of care can they expect if you're exhausted and frazzled.
That doesn't mean that I won't stay late and help when it's chaos and there are still outstanding tasks because I do. I just don't feel obligated to.
Jan 9, '17
Well said! Totally empathize with this even after 10 years of nursing.. It's so easy to fall into this viscious cycle, but PERSPECTIVE is key! Remembering why we are doing what we're doing and for whom we're doing it for and at the end of the shift knowing that we've done our very best for our patients is what matters most.
Jan 10, '17
It took me a while to learn we can't always please everyone too. Unfortunately, some people will never be satisfied with anything. I've worked with nurses that acted like I needed to have about half of their work already done by the time they got there. I once had an oncoming nurse tell me if I wanted her to be at report on time I needed to have her a cup of coffee and a report sheet ready to go when she got there, yeah right. She also liked to make the outgoing nurses do all kinds of mundane tasks before she'd take report. Now, I focus on my own work and taking care of my patients and I'm nice to everyone and stay over when needed but, I could care less if I make everyone happy.
Jan 10, '17
As the oncoming nurse, my thought is always that I HAVE to be here for the next 12 hours whereas the offgoing nurse doesn't have to be so I want to get them out of here as soon as possible, regardless of what still needs to be done. It is a courtesy that sometimes is extended to me and sometimes is not. The only time I ever feel like I need to say something is when the off-going nurse is a "repeat offender" who constantly leaves things.
Jan 13, '17
I have no choice but to stay late and finish things that the night shift could very well do especially on heavy admit/discharge days or when I have 8 patients who all have 10-15 medications each med pass and 3-5 wound care orders. If I don't get absolutely everything done then there are some night shift nurses who will manufacture med errors or other mistakes to try to get me in trouble. I've already been falsely accused (where I could prove that I did not do what they said I did) 3 times. Now I just resign myself to staying 1-2 hours late and doing my work and part of theirs just to get them to shut up. It isn't right or fair but hey guess what as an adult you learn life isn't fair and my job is pretty close to being one of the rings of hell.