Maintaining Morale During High Census

Posted

Our ICU has been bursting at the seams for the past week, and I feel like it taking a toll on everyone. I want to hear some good strategies to keep our moral high during these high stress times when team work is more important than ever. We have been short staffed and beaten into the ground....I just wish that we could all feel like the team that we are on a "normal" day!

catshowlady

catshowlady

Specializes in ICU. 393 Posts

I know it sounds kind of silly, but when we are busy, our manager buys us a tray of cookies or lunch from the cafeteria & has it brought up to the unit. Or she buys pizza from the local joint for the night shift. I know it's not a b.i.g./expensie gesture, but it means more to me that she recognizes that we are stressed.

We also have a recognition program that we can recognize each other for going above and beyond. You get special awards for reaching milestones (10 awards = gift cert, 25 = gift basket w/ silver pin, etc.). It's not "in the moment," but it is a pleasant reminder that we all support each other in unpleasant times.

glasgow3

glasgow3

195 Posts

Here is a good strategy for high census: Staff appropriately!!! Works wonders for morale. In fact, it works for normal and low census too.

Pizza and cookies have short half-lives; And keep in mind, they might make YOU feel better temporarily but they do nothing to ensure good nursing care.

RN.

RN., MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Perianesthesia. Has 31 years experience. 995 Posts

our icu has been bursting at the seams for the past week, and i feel like it taking a toll on everyone. i want to hear some good strategies to keep our moral high during these high stress times when team work is more important than ever. we have been short staffed and beaten into the ground....i just wish that we could all feel like the team that we are on a "normal" day!

gee - do you work at the same icu as i do?! lol

suanna

suanna

Specializes in Post Anesthesia. Has 30 years experience. 1,549 Posts

I would love to be bursting at the seams! Our census has been hit or miss for a year now and our stress is where (or if) we are going to work tomorow. Be thankful in todays economy that your hospital is still holding a full census- that isn't the case a lot of places. I know that isn't much help, but I would LOVE to have your problem.

RN.

RN., MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Perianesthesia. Has 31 years experience. 995 Posts

What is the size of your ICU? Mine is relatively very small. Ahem....We're full staffed at three nurses...............

caddismt

caddismt

17 Posts

We are an eight bed ICU...usually staffed at three RN's. We've had six vents, with a balloon pump that lasted for two days...and we get RSV peds in and out. We are usually a tight knit group...there is just so much negativity and tension....I hate that vibe when I go to work..

PeaceonearthRN

PeaceonearthRN

Specializes in cardiac, psychiatric emergency, rehab. 126 Posts

Do you mean you are 'walking on eggshells'?

eriksoln, BSN, RN

Specializes in M/S, Travel Nursing, Pulmonary. Has 15 years experience. 2 Articles; 2,636 Posts

I would love to be bursting at the seams! Our census has been hit or miss for a year now and our stress is where (or if) we are going to work tomorow. Be thankful in todays economy that your hospital is still holding a full census- that isn't the case a lot of places. I know that isn't much help, but I would LOVE to have your problem.

I was going to comment on this with something of the same nature. Seems people used to get upset about being too bussy. Me, I dont care anymore. I see too many people in here talking about being called off every single week, not finding work, hiring feezes, being asked to take a pay cut.

I would be relieved to be "too bussy" right now.

UM Review RN, ASN, RN

Specializes in Utilization Management. 7 Articles; 5,163 Posts

When it's high census, it's almost impossible to take a break. Is everyone getting a break? If not, you might help out with that. I can't tell you the number of times there'd be a pot luck or special food but I couldn't enjoy because I never got my break.

Roy Fokker, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER/Trauma. 2 Articles; 2,010 Posts

I think OP has a very valid question/request.

While we all would like to be steadily employed, no one should be stressed out to the point of burn out. "What are you complaining about, be thankful that you have a job" is IMHO no different an attitude than saying "you're complaining about 8 pts. to a nurse? Be thankful you don't have 12. At least you have a job!"

OP:

I don't usually tolerate unnecessary whining (and no, I'm not accusing you as such). There's a difference between griping/blowing off some steam vs goldbricking vs pure laziness (as I learned in the Army some moons ago). In the 15 minutes some folks spend complaining about something, they could've gotten the job done. The constant whining doesn't make for a conducive work atmosphere either.

If I find that someone is consistently trying to avoid work, I usually buddy up with someone else and get the chore done and at the end of my shift, I let my boss know.#

Also, that thread in the Nursing News section about time wasted searching for equipment has got me thinking. Starting next week, I plan on making/documenting evidence of the amount of time I spend each shift hunting equipment or staff down to get the job done. Management can't dismiss your claims if you have evidence to back it up.

I also try my level best to be available to help my co-workers out - be they aides, fellow RNs or managers. A positive attitude helps ("can do!") You can approach me with anything and I promise to at least give you a patient ear than dismiss you outright.

Also OP, any chance you can switch assignments mid shift (or share a particularly difficult one?) I find that it tends to help during insanely busy shifts.

And last but not least, humor and comic relief. I had the entire ED, including the ED docs and some patients in the hallway chuckling when during a particularly busy stretch of the shift, I simply walked over to the Acute side intercom and paged myself overhead without disguising my voice ("Roy, can you identify yourself to the acute side please? Roy to the acute side thank you!" and "Will the real Dr. Smith please stand up? Will the real Dr. Smith ... please ... stand up, thank you" ... while she was standing there laughing away right beside me) :)

Hey, better to laugh over a situation than cry, right? :p

cheers,

#: I quit my old job because despite numerous complaints and notices to management, management still didn't seem to be making energetic efforts to rectify the situation. My health and sanity trump any paycheck.

suni

suni, BSN, RN

Specializes in med surg. Has 15 years experience. 477 Posts

We are back in forth either census is high or we are being called off.

You need to take your breaks and yes I know how hard that is but that is part of the reason why tempers flare and it is not good for you or your patient is you do not take a mental break even if it is only 10 minutes.

When you get hungry your concentration decreases, you need to fuel yourself, and if you need to callyour manager to cover your patients to do it, then call them. They should be as concerned about your well being as they are about the patients.

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