The health and well-being of nurses throughout the wider UK has been a topic of discussion for a while now and despite pay parity in Northern Ireland being signed off on, staff shortages is a long-term issue.
Ultimately, we do need to start taking better care of ourselves.
We sat down with Sanda Mitroi, who is now into her 30th year of nursing, to discuss the well-being of our nurses, a topic which is close to her heart.
Here are the seven steps she takes each day to ensure she’s in the best frame of mind to care for her patients.
Honesty is key. Sit down and decide if you really want this career. It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle because it is a big commitment. I read a statement the other day from a retiring nurse and she said, “The nursing has retired me, but I’m not retired from nursing.”
It takes all your time and energy and if you have the passion for it, you need to do it. But if your mum and dad think it’s a good way to make money, then you need to think twice. If you’re caring, empathetic and kind then that’s a great start.
There’s a big difference between sympathy and empathy. Most of us have sympathy for sick people but the difference between a good nurse and a brilliant nurse is empathy. You need to be committed and you need to know what to expect from the rest of your career and the impact on your life.
Sitting down and writing down your goals can make a really big difference because it’s not something we often do. Sometimes we think about what we want but if you break it down into pros and cons, the advantages and the sacrifices into two separate columns, you’ll be better able to decide what you want and what your end goal is. Pretty quickly you’ll work out whether this is something that you’ll enjoy.
Most of us have goals for our family, our health, our marital status, and the same must be said for our career. It’s difficult to have a successful career if your family isn’t supporting you and doesn’t accept the things you’re doing. Nursing is a career that involves a lot of time away from home, so you need family support. You also need good health to be able to carry out your role effectively and if you have all of these pros and cons written down, it gives you a better understanding for what you can expect from your career.
In any goal-setting environment, you need to know where you are starting from. That allows you to look into the future. Ticking off the steps to meet your goal one at a time is a great way to achieve something that seems so far away at the very beginning.
Energy is crucial for nurses. Everybody wants to be energetic. Most people who start off in their healthcare career are full of energy because it’s an exciting time. It’s great when you start working as a nurse and you see how you can have a positive impact on people’s lives. It’s possible to lose this energy if you’re not careful, and we do see it a lot with our colleagues.
Good health is imperative. You need to consume a healthy diet, be properly hydrated and also you can keep in good shape by going to the gym, doing yoga or any physical exercise. The best physical condition helps to prepare you for work. Working and acting in positive environments is helpful, as is reading a good book and being surrounded by positive people.
When you pass by someone who is smiling and energetic, it has such a positive and uplifting impact on those around you.
A patient once said to me, “All we need from our nurses is a big smile and little bit of encouragement.”
There are plenty of books out there giving some great advice about steps to be more productive. It’s not just about working hard. We also need to be smart. If we better organise our day and remove some tasks which aren’t urgent, it can make a big difference to our levels of productivity.
Some tasks are important and urgent. Some tasks are important but not urgent. Some are not important but urgent. Some are not important and not urgent.
Sometimes we are lost in between these four and if we put our energy into the urgent but not important tasks, we’ll lose the focus on important and urgent tasks. Working through these few steps can have a positive impact on your day.
Most people are very hard workers but that’s not enough. What’s most important is that we’re organised and focused on what is essential and important regarding patient care.
If you’re an energetic person, the people around you will feel it. While we’re not energetic all the time, we can still make the effort to have a positive attitude and encourage our patients and colleagues. It’s counterproductive to the team to talk about others behind their backs and this tends to happen when people are tired and stressed and forget to include positivity in their lives.
Instead of spending our break being counterproductive to the team in this way, what about listening to relaxing music or really connecting with your fellow team members or read motivational or educational material?
Maybe you have a passion and you can dedicate your 30-minute break to learning something new. You’ll come back from your break energised!
The moment you know what you want from yourself and your career, you’re going to be committed to your job. You can’t expect others to keep pushing you forever. It needs to come from within.
If you’re aware of what you want, you will commit to it. If you can look at yourself in the mirror every day and know that this is a job that you really want, this is the person I want to be, this is the service I want to provide, this is the way I’d like to be treated if I was a patient or if my family were patients, you’ll be a lot more committed to the task and your role.
We each have our own fears. We should understand that courage is not the absence of fear but to live or act in spite of fear. It’s a step by step process.
New nurses for example might not be confident when trying a new medical manoeuvre but if they’re encouraged by someone with more experience, that can be really helpful.
If you say to yourself, ‘I will encourage one person a day’, it can have a positive impact on your environment, and it comes back to you. It’s like karma.
It’s easy and commonplace for us to expect to receive without giving first. If we try to just give first, we will definitely receive.
I’m a big believer in encouragement and the courage will come.