Advice for New Nurses? Try Kindness, Patience, and Lifelong Learning
Last year, we asked on Facebook, “If you could share one thing with the next generation of nurses, what would it be?”
The answers, in short: Be kind and careful, and keep learning in this, a field that is as much a beloved calling as a job.
And oh yes, embrace the technology …but the best nurses take their hands from the keyboards to place them on the patients.
Excerpts from the nearly 800 comments are below; here is one that summed up the sentiments:
“Recognize the honor in the profession. Appreciate the opportunities nursing offers from the birth of a newborn to caring for someone at the end of their life. You will care for the affluent, the poor, the clean, the dirty, the sane, the insane. Care for patients as you would want your loved one cared for. Welcome change that leads to better health for everyone. Never stop learning.”
The concept of being kind to yourself, patients, and co-workers came up repeatedly.
Be kind to yourself:
- “Take care of yourself first. You can’t take care of anyone else if you’re not ok.”
- “I had been nursing for a long time before we ever learned about body mechanics! It became a rule in our unit that we never lifted anyone without using the mechanical lift.”
- “Learn mindfulness and practice it daily to keep yourself centered and emotionally able to cope with the stressors that are in practicing nursing.”
Be kind to patients:
- “Hold your patients’ hand. Talk with love. I had a major back surgery. One nurse I remember forever. She showed me how to lie in bed so I wouldn’t hurt. I’m a nurse. But when you are the patient. You forget. Be a patient. And that helps you remember how your patient feels. Be kind. Even when they are screaming at you.”
- “Get to know your patients, treat them as you would want your family or yourself treated. Treat your co-workers with respect and, as others have said, laugh and have fun. It makes your patients feel so much more at ease.”
- “Remember when people are sick their life is out of their control, which influences their mood, behavior, responses. They can be lonely too…. Respect their privacy, give them choices within their medical capabilities. Listen to and hear their concerns/fears. don’t be afraid to hug them, laugh with them or cry with them. You will also be caring for their worried families.”
- “Don’t make snap judgments. Know they are all unique. You are probably seeing them under the worst conditions.”
- “Remember patients are people first before they became a patient—greet them, talk to them before diving in to your tasks. It only takes a few minutes to show you care about the person they are.”
- “Actively listen. You will learn more than any computer can tell you. …One extra minute can make all the difference. Be their advocate. Treat them with respect, they did not check their autonomy at the door.”
Keep learning—from patients, from those around you, from formal schooling.
- “Be true to yourself. Be honest about what you don’t know and then find out. Observe the more experienced nurses around you and pick out the ones who give the kind of care you want to give or are already giving. Ask them if they will be your mentor.”
- “Never quit learning…from your peers, from your patients, from your mentors. Always be ready to teach your patients, your peers and your mentors! Support your peers, support your patients and support your mentors. Learn, teach, support: we’re all in this together!! Retired PHN 24 years!”
- “Be open to learning, always read and identify mentors. Nurses can be leaders across multiple domains, hospitals, public health, school, ministries, community, research, and policy to name a few. The health care field is constantly evolving, patients (clients) need our help to navigate a very complex system, and nurses are in the forefront to help advocate and educate.”
- “You don’t ever know it all. Listen to others. Sometimes they have been through it and have valuable information that didn’t come out of a book.”
Computing the impact of computers
There were more than a few comments acknowledging the heightened use of computers:
- “Talk to your patients and get to know them. Look at them and not the computer. Actually place your hands on them as you do your beginning of shift assessment.”
- “Look at your patient when getting a history. Today it seems like all the RN does is stare at the computer. You learn so much from facial expressions and body movements.”
- “Don’t depend on technology alone, use the gifts God has given you to help your patients.”
- “Just remember no matter how hard it gets we are saving lives and doing our best to help people to get well and stay healthy!”