Recently, I was fortunate enough to return to speak at my second MEDITECH Nurse Forum. But this one was a bit different, because when I say “return” I actually didn’t go anywhere, unless you count the walk down the hall to my guest room. I missed seeing you all as I am sure you all missed spending time together in person. But things look a little different lately don’t they?
Many of us who are used to in-person work may find that we are spending more time on video conference calls. I’m sure we all have new and funny stories about meetings where people forgot to mute themselves or had their camera on when they shouldn’t have. So things aren’t “normal”. Then again, nurses aren’t used to things being normal.
We were designed for this. It’s like a four-wheel drive Jeep that’s been on the highway then one day has to ride down a bumpy road. It was built for that. Nurses are the four-wheel drive, all road, all terrain vehicles of healthcare. Throw us a rocky road and we’re likely to reply, “Here, hold my coffee…watch this!”
No nurse ever goes home at the end of a shift from the bedside, office, classroom or boardroom and says, “Well, that day was ‘normal.’” So, while certainly our world has changed, and our work is different in many ways, this “new normal” is another rocky road that we will race down and bounce back from, and we’ll not even spill our coffee in the cup holder.
We got this.
That said, we all have to be mindful of a few things, some of which I shared at MEDITECH’s 2020 Virtual Nurse Forum.
First: Go easy on yourself. While we certainly can weather this and any other storm that comes our way, storms still blow your hair into a mess, cause roof leaks occasionally, and might knock the electricity off. So take a minute. Take a breath, look in the mirror and understand that right now you might have to do the best with what you have and maybe improvise. It’s ok. You will still be amazing.
If your roof leaks in the storm, don’t panic. Minimize the damage the best you can, call in reinforcements and take a few actions in the meantime until a fix can be applied. For all of you high-tech nurses, it’s like when you tell someone, “For now, just reboot your system, and we can apply the fix later, but this should get you up and running for the short term!”
But, all of us have moments when our energy feels drained. In those moments, when the lights go out, you need to make your own light and also make the best of the situation. Find ways to replenish yourself. Watch an uplifting documentary, listen to a thought-provoking podcast, go for a walk in nature or re-read a book. Call that friend who makes you laugh, throw the ball with your dog or play board games with a kid you love.
When nurses are handed “a new normal” it might take us a minute (sometimes that’s all the time we have), but we are resilient creatures. We might be thrown, but we won’t be for long. We will pull back on to that rocky road, grab that wheel with both hands and fearlessly make our way to where we need to be.
But please remember, even the most high performance off-road vehicle still needs some fuel, an occasional oil change, and some air in the tires. No matter how tough or resilient you are (and you are both of those things), you still need to find some moments to refuel, refocus, refresh, and reboot.
Take care of YOU, nurses. Your loved ones need you at your best, your patients and colleagues need you at your best, the world needs you at your best. But most of all, YOU need you at your best.
Pull off that rocky road for a minute, gulp in some fresh air, lift your travel mug in a toast to yourself and take a minute. Maybe blast the radio and dance on the side of the road for a second. Will that look normal? No, but we’re nurses…that doesn’t scare us.
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