09/09/21 = RUOK Day. More about that here: www.ruok.org.au
Ask a nurse how they are and they’ll probably give a positive answer: “good thanks”, “ticketyboo” and “living the dream” are favourite reflex answers in the hospital where I work.
Scratch beneath the surface though, and the overwhelming answer to the question “Are you OK?” amongst health professionals – especially nurses – in September 2021 would be: “No. Not really.”
Nurses know we’ve been lucky to have secure employment at a time when many others have not. However – as a profession – we are tired and anxious. This is evidenced by articles in the mainstream press, posts on social media, and research published in academic, peer-reviewed, journals.
There is some stuff we can do by ourselves.
There is some stuff to manage stress that we can do by ourselves. Simple things like mindfully washing our hands, for instance. I first read about this idea via Ian Miller (aka @impactednurse and @thenursepath) in 2013. When Ian withdrew from the online space, I reprised the idea in a 2016 blog post:
Then refreshed the idea in March 2020 when the pandemic hit Australia:
And made a short video version to accompany the blog post:
The mindful handwashing idea for nurses, as I saw for myself for the first time yesterday, has now been published in a text book:
Being published in a text book makes an idea legit, right? 🙂
Anyway – if you haven’t already – try building-in something like mindful handwashing into everyday practice. Something that you can do for yourself, by yourself, while you’re at work.
On behalf of your boss, I can assure you that she/he/they does not want you to burnout – nurses have never been more valued than they are in September 2021. She/he/they needs you. If taking a couple of extra seconds to wash your hands helps you take care of yourself, your boss will be happy that you’re using that time productively.
There is some stuff that we need to do with others.
Nursing is a team sport. So is self-care.
Those familiar with meta4RN would know already that I’m likely to bang-on about clinical supervision. So as not to disappoint, here you go:
And the other thing that I want to remind readers about is Nurse & Midwife Support – a 24/7 national support service for Australian nurses and midwives providing access to confidential advice and referral.
I was chatting with one of the NMSupport staff members recently, and her only suggestion was to encourage colleagues to NOT leave it until they’re feeling overwhelmed before phoning. It seems as if many of us have the bad habit of not asking for support until we’re in crisis. Now that I think about it, phoning a week or two BEFORE the crisis is probably a better idea. 🙂
One last thing (an overt plug for a friend’s book chapter).
In case you missed the subtle plug above, please let me be more explicit about promoting the chapter by a Consultation Liaison Nurse peer and friend, Julie Sharrock. The chapter title and book title say it all:
Sharrock, J. (2021). Professional self-care. In Foster, K., Marks, P., O’Brien, A. & Raeburn, T. (Eds.). Mental health in nursing: Theory and practice for clinical settings (5th ed.). (pp. 86-105). Elsevier Australia. www.elsevierhealth.com.au/mental-health-in-nursing-9780729
I really like that this chapter in a text book by nurses for nurses acknowledges that we need to care for ourselves to care for others. Although it flies in the face of that ridiculous hero narrative, it is legitimate for nurses to seek a long-lasting, satisfying and meaningful career. Julie’s chapter speaks to that, and provides explicit information on strategies for nurses to use.
I recommend that you have a read of the evidence-based ideas for sustaining yourself and your career that the chapter contains. Perhaps your local hospital/university already has a copy of the book.
That’s it. I just wanted to make a point that not all of us are OK. Unlike the caravaner below, not all of us can “Just deal with it Trish.” Well, not ALL the time, anyway.
As always, you are very welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.
Paul McNamara, 9 September 2021
Short URL: meta4RN.com/RUOK