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Topics About 'Nurse Mentors'.

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  1. Many of us may have prior experience of someone close to us dealing with their own psychiatric issues. Many of us may have had psychiatric issues ourselves before walking into this field. As a result, this may often be our first contact with psychiatry, psychiatric nursing, or the issues concerning mental health. Regardless of the prior exposure, it is now time to tuck this away for a while. It is time for learning new things or restructuring the old things as you become now that effective deliverer of care. Yes, prior experience is something you can use, maybe to pull from later...emphasis later...in assisting a patient. However, your prior experience, in and of itself, is not enough to make you a psychiatric nurse...not even a good one. If that is all one has to fall back upon as a primary knowledge base, it may even hinder the new nurse from growing. In and of itself, it may possibly even render one ineffective. The issue of co-dependency comes to mind when I speak of this. So, at this time as a new nurse, it is time to set one's educational sights forward, not backward. Your learning is to become proactive, not reactive. The focus needs to be on you in the present, not your past exposure. So, what should a student nurse or a new nurse in the field focus on? There is no pat answer for this. The answers are as sweeping as the field of psychiatric nursing is broad. However, how one is coming to be introduced into the field as a professional may provide a starting point. Are you a student? If you are a student, is this a field that you simply have an interest in or is it something you plan to enter? Or, are you here just for getting the grade and hope to get thru it in one piece? Are you a new nurse now entering the field? If so, your needs are similar but different. It doesn't really matter much if you are a brand spanking new nurse or a nurse with 15 years under your belt transferring from ICU to psych...this field is a new world with different expectations. How am I entering this field? So, the first step is coming to realize for yourself: how am I entering this field, what are my personal and learning needs, what do I want or need to accomplish, and what is at my disposal to accomplish this? You are learning - Ask Questions After coming to realizing our starting point, the next step is to give yourself a break. You are learning. Many, if not most psychiatric nurses that you will come in contact with, realize this about you and are either very glad to assist you or very supportive of you in your growth. As a learner, ask questions...ask many questions. Believe me, for the most part, psychiatric nurses truly don't mind. In fact, they often want you to ask questions. Asking questions gets you answers. I truly cannot emphasize this enough. Beware of the student or new nurse who thinks that they know all the answers already, keeps silent, and asks little. If this is you, you need to change this. You don't know all the answers. You're not fooling anyone. Pick a mentor The next thing is to pick a mentor on your floor/unit where you will be having your training. This could be the person assigned to you as a preceptor and/or someone else. Developing an attitude of hunger for this mentor's knowledge is beneficial. Observe this mentor in action....how he/she carries oneself with other colleagues and with patients. Pay attention to body language, eye contact, distance, and the use of voice and choice of words. Sometimes, the best examples are played right out there in front of us. Observe interaction...relating. Truly, interaction is but a dance. As a learner, you are paying attention to the steps and to the tempo. This will serve you well as you begin starting to observe patients...their dance...their tempo. It will also provide you later insight into how the milieu is coming along on the unit as your perspective broadens. It will also cue you in (when on your own) that intervention on your part (or by someone else) may be needed before a patient escalates. Deescalations are much easier when they are but a spark. Resources The next thing is to absorb as much literature that you can handle. This field has been around for quite some time...there is good material out there for you to fill in these learning gaps. I call these gaps the technical things...like the psychiatric meds, the DSM nomenclature, policies, how to run a group, writing psychiatric nursing notes, et cetera. Again, while filling in these gaps, ask questions. Take notes. Explore the allnurses psychiatric nursing forum and ask questions there. The more concise the question, the better the answer. Have you noticed that I have said very little regarding patients and their issues at this point? There is a reason. When it comes to learning and starting off, you are only as good as your knowledge base. So, the focus needs to be on you. In psychiatric nursing, "not knowing" either will have you seeking further assistance or asking additional questions (the correct outcome) or will have you being detrimental to the patient (the incorrect outcome). When it comes to patients who may become violent or act out, "not knowing" can get you hurt (a very bad outcome). So, if you do not know...seek answers...ask...observe...get assistance... read... continue to learn as you grow into that professional psychiatric nurse. The process is never ending...even for the long term professional. At this point in time, you are at ground zero. Observation is your tool. Asking questions is your guide. Obtaining a mentor (or several) will provide you the support. Remember, all psychiatric nurses started at ground zero. You are not the first. Your job is to learn. And believe it or not, your patients that you come in contact with realizing this too. And if they can give you a break, so can you.
  2. jeastridge

    Being the Nurse Everyone Wants to Have

    I was visiting a very ill friend in the hospital where I work, and as I pulled up beside her bed, I leaned forward to hear her whispered words, "I hope I get that nice nurse again today." I smiled because I knew just who she meant. On my visit the previous day, I had encountered her: professional, kind, competent, cheerful without being silly or inappropriate and deeply compassionate. As I left that day, I wondered to myself, "So what makes us 'that nurse that everyone wants to have?'" Some people come by the necessary qualities quite naturally, being born with a sunny disposition and a penchant for perseverance through hard work. But most of us must cultivate the qualities that make that model nurse that we all long to be. We have to learn the balance between focusing on the patient and on their IV drip, numbers, labs; we have to learn to see the love in the family that interferes, knowing that they feel they are simply doing the right thing; we have to leave our home life at home and find ways to access professionalism from deep within our spirits when things outside work are not going well. In nursing school we learn the anatomy and physiology, the technology and some of the emotional resources needed. We observe our instructors and the nurses where we work and learn, always making mental notes about how we want to copy (or not!) their example. We can all look back and see the nurses that set the bar high-challenging us to be more than we are. I can think of a couple of nurse managers that stand out in my career: In one job, I had the same nurse-manager for twenty years-a true rarity in today's mobile society. She was an example of caring and of continuing to encourage learning and growth through the years. She knew how to prod us along and how to lift us up when we were down. She could also be a great defender when we needed an advocate. In a hospice job, I had a great nurse manager, too. She worked under all kinds of corporate pressures to carve out that place of excellent patient care right in the middle of reimbursement nightmares, changes galore, and an ever-shifting staff complexion. She expected a lot, but offered a deep well of compassion, helping us all get through hard times. What are some ways that we can cultivate the qualities that help make us that nurse that everyone wants to have? Be technically competent while maintaining a spirit of compassion Let's face it, when we are sick, we want a nurse that knows her stuff. Being comfortable with the mechanics of caring for patients lowers our stress levels and allows us to have more presence of mind about our words and attitudes. Give each other the benefit of the doubt Support one another. There is an expression that you may have heard, "Nursing eats their young." Ouch. That is not very nice. But it does speak to our tendency to withdraw support when we feel someone is not pulling their load or doing a good job. Yes, there are some nurses that need to find other work, that don't belong in direct patient care, but so many times there is much more to the story than is visible. Taking an attitude of listening, helping, encouraging, mentoring, not only contributes to their growth but it also makes our workplace more pleasant in general. So many times, I hear one side of the story from a patient or a visitor and then go to hear the nurse's version. It's surprising how often those two stories are widely divergent! I am always thankful when I withhold judgement and try to hear from all the parties involved. Work to cultivate a well-balanced life Have fun! Do things you enjoy. Don't let the passive activities (screen time) absorb all your leisure time. Push yourself to physical activity, to spiritual activity, to reading that fills you with wonder and learning. When we are able to find ways to renewal, then we are closer to being all we can be at work, too. Find a mentor, a confidant We don't need to process our work days every day, but there are times when a difficult day, left unattended in our souls, can lead to decay from within-troubling our sleep and haunting our days. Finding a person who can listen confidentially, or a journal where we can spill out our troubles, can get us through troubled times. We all make mistakes. We all have times when we don't handle things well. Being perfect is out of our grasp. So when we slip up, the sooner we deal with it, the better able we are to carry on. It's amazing how far a simple apology can carry us! Perhaps you can look back -or even at your current job- and find nurses that set a good example. If you were in the hospital would you want to have YOU for a nurse?