I’ll Do You A Favor

On my way to cruise out for the next 7 days. I, for one, am happy to not have to work for a week and for being in total sunshine while the temperature continues to drop at home. It snowed on my way out of the northeast and I was appalled.

Full disclosure, I’m a militant traveler. What I mean by that is I’m very much a stickler for time and organization when it comes to getting to, being at, and leaving the airport. If you ever travel with me I have rules. 1) we get to the airport two (2) hours early for domestic and three (3) for international. 2) pack your bags and take your stuff out at TSA in a timely manner. I will get grouchy if you’re with me and shoes/coats/stuff isn’t out of your pockets and/or your bag isn’t packed correctly, leading to the inevitable search of your belongings. 3) always go to the gate first before exploring. I can’t explain this rule. It’s just something I have to do. I travel alone so much my routine through the airport is pretty much set. I can get cranky when I’m with others who mess the travel scheme up.

Listen, I know my limitations and admit to them. No one’s perfect, certainly not me when it comes to cruising through the airport.

Enough about my travel behavior. Let’s talk about some things we should avoid as travelers (or new employees) when we get to a new place. Let’s call it Nurse C’s ways to not get lumps of coal when you’re a traveler. I’ll just do my top 3 today.

1. There’s a fine line between offering advice and “Well, this is how we did it where I worked before”.

I’ve made this mistake in the past so let me save you. Unless they’re asking for advice on how things are somewhere else (or practice isn’t safe), don’t make a comment about how you’ve done things else where. It makes people irritable because it comes off as a critique and not advice. Unsolicited, your criticism makes people uninterested in what could potentially be a good change. Tone and timing are everything, also.

2. People need to know about your experience, but be careful it doesn’t come across as bragging.

This one trips me up occasionally. Not because I’m bragging about how long I’ve done this, but because I do want to let people know I’m not a novice. Sometimes, too much of a good thing can come across as bad. Let actions speak for themselves. People will understand when you conduct yourself with best practice. Show your experience even as you tell it.

3. Getting all the information on your patient is important, but don’t ask about things you can look up yourself.

This is for anyone. You don’t need to know how long she was in labor if she’s 4 days post op. I have no idea, nor do I care frankly. It’s not important to the care she’s getting on discharge day. It also doesn’t matter what her antibody screen is as long her blood type isn’t one we have to watch for interventions. If you care, look it up. There are the big important things and there is the not so important things. Don’t make report the trial it already is after I’ve been awake far too long and my words no longer make sense. I’d like to add that there’s no need to scrutinize someone’s charting unless it’s a blatant absence of information from their shift (I want to write a whole post about this but I won’t. You’re welcome). Otherwise, worry bout yoself.

That’s it. Simple. I’m sure there’s more others could add but those are just a couple of things that are avoidable.

So cruise time for me. More updates to come after I’ve relaxed to the max. Until then

Travel on, road warrior.

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Team Player

Come one, come all. Settle in for your weekly bit of traveling nursing fluff to carry you into the next week. Frankly, and I’m surprised no one else realizes this, everything I post here are my general musings and things I think on or need to remember. I’m always trying to learn all I can to make navigating this travel life, life in general really, better. As you can tell, I manage it better some days and others I’m falling woefully short on the being a decent person bit.

In that same vein (and before I jump into my post), I try not to remark on the world at large because I’m all about sunshine and light here. Okay, I’m really about vacations and good food, same difference. It’s worth noting that being good to each other is an edict not taken very seriously. I find people are more interested in proving a point or being right as opposed to helping each other and building each other up. How far does being right get you in the end? Oh, you’ve succeeded in getting your point across, but have you lost the overall goal of drawing someone to your way of thinking? The writerly advice of showing and not telling (or beating someone to death with it) may offer a better approach.

But on to what you came here for…

My post itself is on the idea of being a team player, but maybe not quite in the way you’re imagining.

Recently, I was asked if I was free to come in to work. I said no at the time because I wasn’t. As many of you may realize, days off are a commodity to be hoarded with everything you have. Nurses are notorious for working their hours a week and then coming in because the floor has exploded and every pregnant woman in the area has decided to have their baby (or whatever your specialty equivalent is).

I was mentioning it to me mother, the saying no portion, and this is what she said.

“I guess you’re not a team player today.”

*record screech*

And then her head spun around on her shoulders and she exploded in a rage

Here’s why I don’t think the fair to use this phrase in conjunction with any nurse ever.

Nurses are carers and givers by nature. You can’t do this for any length of time unless your desire is to help people. Money won’t keep you because we don’t make enough for what we do.

We come in time and time again, at the expense of our wellbeing. If you work a night shift, you know that first day off isn’t really a day off. You’re a zombie. For instance yesterday, I had 2-3 hours of sleep post-work and woke up with zero desire to do anything. I don’t know how you people with kids manage. I literally laid in bed for hours after I opened my eyes debating what to have for dinner because cooking wasn’t an option. It’s hard to then think about coming in on your first full day off when you know it’s the only day you’re fully functioning before you have to go back to work again.

So we always come in when we’re asked, but it’s typically short on the floor. The nursing shortage is a known fact, and yet the expectation is that you’ve always worked short so if you’re a good unit you’ll pull together and find a way to make it work. It means working odd shifts, coming in on your day off for overtime, working unheard of hours of overtime to cover, and begging your coworkers to come in.

Why? Because you’re a team player. Be a team player

*rage*

When I’m at work, I give 100% of myself to my job. I’m here to help my coworkers, the providers, and care for my patients. Every travel assignment gets my all because I’m a nurse no matter where I am, and good care matters to me. But this be a team player bit has real consequences. People get burnt out, retire, or leave the bedside because they’re tired of always giving everything to the hospital without anything much to show for it. You’re not getting time off or away to revive yourself so you start to hate it.

Days off, distance, and balance matter. Don’t let anyone use the ‘be a team player’ gambit to shame you into giving up your days off. Its wrong and we need to stop it before we lose more good people. I will never be upset if you tell me you can’t come in extra. It’s your day off so enjoy it.

Self-preservation. Mental maintenance. Self-care. Call it what you’d like here, but honor it just the same.

So… there’s my rant for the week.

In other news, it’s NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. I’m trying to write a bit as I haven’t participated in a long while. I may even post a story here next week to give you something other than travel nursing anecdotes. Also on the docket is another comic con, this time in Rhode Island. I’m only going one day, but because I’m me, I’ve added a Rhode Island food tour in the mix. Exciting times here, folks.

Stay safe, stay warm, stay dry, and stay kind.

Travel on, road warrior.

Is it too late now to say sorry

First week in da bag. It was looking iffy as to whether or not I’d start on Monday in hospital orientation. They are part of a large hospital system, which is fine until I’m hassled right up until Friday about minuscule paperwork. You’d think a big system would be less complicated and difficult, but what have we learned when anything gets too big? No quick movements and you tend to make a mess of things you won’t bother to clean up.

Anywho, I was able to start and did get to sit through the ever repetitive and ever boring Hospital Orientation. The upside is there was plenty of coffee.

I worried what with the snags I had leading up to starting that the floor was going to be where I’d truly regret my decision to work at the facility. So far (and this is day shift!), no one has been mean and I haven’t had to call my best friend to beat anyone up or my mom to come get me. Hehe.

In the course of my first three 8 hour shifts on the floor, I noticed something. I say SORRY an awful lot.

Now, some of that apologizing stems from my need to project an aura of perfection. Not good, but I want to be and seem more than competent at what I do. I’m always concerned there will be doubt when I start someplace new and I strive (overly so) to squash that perception within minutes of interacting with me. It leads to a certain level of constant anxiety that I have to work through and is a constant struggle. I notice that when it may seem I missed something obvious even when I may not have truly known, I say sorry.

I thought I was just me though. No, everyone says sorry unnecessarily. We apologize for behavior that is natural and doesn’t require it. I caught myself telling others to stop saying sorry. It was something that just stuck me as wrong.

Not that apologizing isnt a good response when you’re truly wrong, but perhaps we should change that to something else.

I’ll work on alternative phrasing, but in the meantime I’ll try not to work so hard at being perfect. No one is capable of it outside of God and I’m afraid I’m only made in His image.

Back at it for week two and off day shift. Waking up at 5:30am ought to be illegal. Hopefully this hospital gives me good experience in all its busyness. I’m here to help and learn so let’s get to it, shall we?

Travel on, road warrior