Caring, doing small things, and stress/time management.
I have no doubt, having been reading many posts on AN, that many people might slam me, my post here, or complain about this, and that's fine. I figure, there's room here for all points of view. I wrote this a while ago, after reading some people posts in the past. If you are generally a grouchy person, or a misanthrope, you should just skip this post, stop right here.
I want to say, that I have deep empathy, for any nurse struggling with extreme and difficult patients, or their families, or is burnt out, and think it is great to come to AN to vent, etc. I think it might be an important part of coping now and then, for some ppl. Been there, it IS frustrating to deal with grouchy patients or grouchy coworkers when you yourself are already overworked and tired, etc.
I was just reading and admiring someone else's blog on how much, having some nurses do small things for her and her family, was such a comfort for her, and touched her so much, and made her feel cared for, and that made a big difference for her in being able to cope. And I thought, it's refreshing to see that idea, that doing small things is not something to feel umbrage over. (whether asked for by pt, a pt family, or just offered by nurse).
Wish more nurses were given enough time and support to see doing small things in this way too, whether the patient is there for stitches on a cut, or dying of cancer, my attitude is, "Whatever the patient wants, is fine by me (so long as it's not harmful)". This is a very free-ing attitude, maybe even just to try on mentally. (no doubt, some people's heads just exploded right there...)
MOST OFTEN, doing small things, takes only a minute or two, but, the payback, can last all shift. The patient, and their family, feel cared for. If a pt or the family does NOT feel cared for, oh my, sometimes, the whole shift can become kinda tension filled, and even the best nursing actions won't be as appreciated. Our attitude really does make a difference, in how patients FEEL about what we are doing for them.
Sadly, a nurse might be most awesome at catching a medical problem, and heading it off, through precise and marvelous medical interventions, but, if the patient or the patient's family, doesn't feel that the nurse 'cared' for them, there is still a chance that nurse can be complained about by that pt or pt family. Sad, but true. Might not be fair, but, it's often the case.
I am first one to defend a nurse for being criticized for not "seeming to care", BTW, I do NOT see that as "fair" at all, I very much dislike hearing nurses criticized for not having caring attitude!!! But, I'm just posting this, as something to consider, to avoid that whole thing. Lotsa people seem to see having a caring attitude, as one that takes time,(?) or is conditional, like only if their shift is going well, or only if that patient is likable/kinda person that they like, or that caring is somehow draining or taxing to the nurse to keep up, etc etc
But, sometimes, it is just the opposite, caring can ADD free'd up minutes to your shift, and REDUCE your own stress level. Pts who feel cared for and secure, are sometimes less likely to be demanding or stressful to care for, than those who don't feel that way.
I do know, after working ER and ICU for most of past 30 years, how hard it can be to use proper tones when you are jamming & dealing with life/death matters, and people who are stressed outa their minds, I do know. I am not trying to honk anyone off here, but, no doubt, I probably will. I pre-apologize.
Yes, yes, we are busy. Yes, yes, we are all dancing as fast as we can, and certainly, there's no argument, we do not have time to always do all the small things we asked for. I really really try to, though, I really do, and I don't feel grouchy about trying to, either. You can choose to feel grouchy about being asked to do small things---- feeling like that is a choice you can make, but you are the one whose shift will feel more stressful if that is your inner attitude, not me.
If you can't do the task, if you do not have time, you can still convey to person you would if you could, or answer politely. Responding like that, can become almost reflex, if done often enough.
Sure, we all have off days, now and then, but, having baseline attitude (even hostility!!??) of "that's not what i'm here for!" kinda thing, -----------could be draining to the nurse's own sense of inner peace, imo.
I know, I know, there might be some hostile posts below.
People will call me NancyNurse or whatever, or wonder if I am only a student,
but, I've been nursing for longer than some members here have been alive, over 30 years now. Hopefully, anyone who replies, will calmly, factually discuss my ideas, and not attack me as a person.
I hope I am not seen as attacking anyone here at all. I just used to be like that (felt annoyed at ppl putting extra demands on my time) and I was so surprised, at how much less stressful it is, after I copped a different attitude about the whole thing.
But, anyway, just wanted to suggest, there might be other options than to get honked off or righteous about people asking for small things. Getting honked off Is an option, but, you don't really have to get honked off.
One might be surprised, at how well doting on the occasional demanding patient, can reduce or even unplug their need for attention. Nope, not always, but, it can sometimes. Hard to exactly say why it works, but, getting that bell-ringer to relax, can be big plus for how your shift goes.
Some nurses occasionally mention, that to their way of thinking, they felt they were being asked to "kiss a$$" by doing small things that were extra. See, doing those small things, actually can take only minutes, is painless if you develop right attitude about it, and makes your shift easier, not harder. Choosing to see it that way, as 'kissing a$$"---- is a choice you make. When someone I love is suffering or in need, and wants most ANYYYYYTHING--------- I get it, and, somehow, I have also developed the ability to extrapolate that, over to strangers in need, too.
Guess not everyone can see it like that, but it helps if you can.
But, I used to have that "This isn't the hilton!" attitude. I did. I'm not too proud to admit it, I used to be one of them, long ago, anyway.
One of the things that helped reform me, was sitting at the bedside of dying or suffering loved ones, and realizing, how much comfort it brought, if I sensed the nurse actually did care, and was trying her/his best to comfort my loved one. The small things mattered.
I know, we should just be judged on our technical skills, cuz those are the ones that actually save the patients, but, from the bed, or from the bedside chair, small things can really bring comfort, maybe more than you know, til you are ever there yourself.
I can still recall the conversation I overheard once, decades ago, from a doctor I much admired, that got me to rethink my own attitude about being customer service oriented (loooonnnng before that was big part of today's nsg) and I began to strive to become more flexible about going along with whatever the pt wanted (again, so long as it's not harmful, etc) or treating them like they were all kings and queens or whatever word you want to put there, to indicate someone that should be waited upon.
I can picture many of you drooling to attack that line, "I don't have time!" or whatever, but, conveying one cares, really can make your shift easier. It really only takes minutes to convey that (fake it til you make it if you have to) and it can lube up rest of your shift, for real. Maybe management is slapping at their own staffs too often for 'customer service' reviews, is why I am seeing so many posts from some nurses who seem so disgruntled about pts or pt families asking for small things.
Shockingly, here's the thing----doing this, made my day EASIER, not harder. The patients sensed I cared, and sensed I was willing to do whatever I could to please them, to make them feel better or more comfortable, and treated ME better in return. Any whiffs of any nurse/patient power-struggle was eradicated, for real---snuffed right out. Very pleasant pt/nurse bond going on instead.
Think over those patients you truly cared about, wasn't it easier and painless, to bend over backwards for them, cuz you DID care? Right? For THAT patient, you did find time to do this or that, you went wayyyyyyyy above and beyond, and you did not even feel put out, in fact, you felt better. If you can find a way, to take that experience, and extrapolate it over more and more and more of your patients, your shifts can be LESS stressful, if you are able to find a way to do that.
The increase in my own inner peace, after realizing how much easier it is, to actually happily wait on my patients, and their families, (if I have time) is tremendous. Yes, it's a selfish thing for me------when I give 100%, for anyone, in any way I can, I really think *I* might benefit more than anyone else involved.
I didn't start out changing my ways, to benefit ME, but, turns out, that's a side effect, is = MY day goes better.
Not only do the patients, and their families, treat me much better, but, I myself feel better, feel more relaxed, and I feel kinder.
It really doesn't take "more time" to be kind, than it does to be grouchy. But, to each their own I guess.
Attitude is about 90% of anything, it really is. Attitude might be the one thing, if not the only thing, that we CAN control, and we are only ones who can control our attitudes. How we respond, really is OUR choice. Definitely, some times are far far more difficult, than other times, to find the inner strength and inner peace
to choose kindness, but, it is a choice just the same.
Caveat: In no way, do I mean to convey, our technical skills are not VIP, nope, not the point I am making, at all. It takes courage to post this, as no doubt, I might be mocked for this post, but, there you are.Last edit by Joe V on Oct 31, '17 : Reason: removed excessive formatting
Jan 13, '13I've mastered the very pleasing attitude on the outside, and I DO feel good when I feel like I helped somebody. But it does creep in my head while I'm chit chatting with a resident (which I love, favorite part of the job) because they are in need of attention at that moment that "my other 30 residents are waiting on me right this very moment, and need me just as much as this resident, and by the time I get to them they are going to be angry at me when I'm trying to help everybody. I feel good after helping my residents, especially when they smile and say thank you. What I hate is when I walk out of the room and my manager says to everyone "and get out on time tonight." And then the passive-aggressive written, taped up threats. People getting suspended left and right...Anyway, no flaming from me. Your post was well written and considered most everyones viewpoint. We could all use better coping skills, that's for sure.Jan 13, '13I totally get where you are coming from. There is a middle road, and that usually leads to a more satisfying career. I have been a good actress in my career for them and for myself. I have my moments that drive me up a wall, but get over them. What I try to keep in my mind are posts of venting nurses. Unless they relate specific words said to patients, I understand where they are coming from. What I don't understand is excuses for rude behavior. Rudeness is rudeness, regardless of excuses, whether it be to coworkers or family members. Yeah, there are times I want to wring a family members' neck, but it's my job and I need to keep my sanity. Honestly, the most frustration and angst comes from dictates of higher ups for yet another task or ass-kissing. Sometimes I think if all nurses would consistently show self control, the higher ups wouldn't have to treat us like babies when it comes to the satisfaction scores. There I said it. Some nurses are freaking rude or dismissive of patient concerns.Jan 15, '13Great points, thanks!
//"Honestly, the most frustration and angst comes from dictates of higher ups for yet another task or ass-kissing."//
see, one of my points is,
seeing a task as "ass-kissing" IS a choice to view the task that way.
Like i said in my post:
//"Some nurses occasionally mention, that to their way of thinking, they felt they were being asked to "kiss ass" by doing small things that were extra. See, doing those small things, actually can take only minutes,
is painless if you develop right attitude about it,
and makes your shift easier, not harder. Choosing to see it that way, as 'kissing ass"---- is a choice you make. When someone i love is suffering or in need, and wants most ANYYYYYTHING--------- i get it, and, somehow, i have also developed the ability to extrapolate that, over to strangers in need, too.
guess not everyone can see it like that, but it helps if you can."//
but, like i said, no doubt, we are all working so hard, and are very busy, and have no time leftover,
but, how WE view a task, IS our choice. Our attitudes don't really have to be mandated by our managers-----how we choose to view a task, IS really up to us, and us alone.Last edit by dianah on Jan 15, '13 : Reason: Terms of ServiceJan 15, '13I agree with you.... i kissed *** to a problematic patient and my shift went as smooth as butter.......Jan 15, '13Quote from ohiostudent'RNI agree with you.... i kissed *** to a problematic patient and my shift went as smooth as butter.......
well played, Ohiostudent, well played!!
yes, it's not so painful, IF we are able to adopt a different inner attitude about it. I find it less stressful, to adopt a "Whatever my patient wants!" attitude,
than allowing myself to feel put out about doing small things <----if i do THAT, if i allow myself to feel put out (or even hostile!!) about patients or families making requests,
then, *I* AM the one who carries the stress and inner disgruntlement about the situation.
How we view various activities, in our own hearts and minds, IS a choice,
and how we choose to see these things can impact our own stress level, and sometimes, the smoothness of our shift.
BUT, i am aware, that being super-busy, and being stressed out to start with, makes this a harder choice to accomplish. But, imo,
that is almost a bit of cycle there,
being stressed out = makes seeing doting on patients seem like something you do not want to do = being more stressed out with inner disgruntlement = even more chance you will feel resentment about doing small things,
on and on.
..........More chance the patient will become increasingly insecure and demanding,
less time you have to get your priorities done well, such cycles can occur now and then.
Most small things take only moments, and can enhance one's overall shift, and sometimes----- it can be a big payback peace-wise, imo.
it's worth a shot, anyway, to anyone reading along, to just even try it out, to see if working on our own inner attitude about doing small things for our patients,
could reduce our own stress levels. worth a try. (to say nothing of the comfort it can bring to the PATIENTS, ha ha)Last edit by somenurse on Jan 15, '13Jan 17, '13THIS post,
A Phone Call
kind of reminds me of what i am trying to explain. I probably should ask this post's author, for permission to link her MUCH BETTER WORDED post here on my post,
but, her article, so beautifully written,
kinda/sorta is an example of what i was uselessly struggling and trying to say,
that doing small things, caring,
can actually make the shift go better, for both the patient, AND the nurse herself!!
Must Read Topics