1) Be Willing To Do The Work – Some shifts will be busier than others, and time management skills will always get tested. However, the work still needs to be done. You are likely to get more sympathy from coworkers, and perhaps even help, if you are actively trying to get your work done. Of course, some work environments are more supportive than others. Assess and prioritize the tasks you have left, then do your best.
2) Be Approachable – Show a willingness to help out, and make time to help coworkers when you can. This applies to other nurses, as well as support staff. If you are in the middle of some important task (med pass with a patient, for example), tell the coworker that as soon as you are finished that you will be right there. Even if you are held up or delayed, check in on them. You can offer to get supplies that may have been forgotten, which if the room is in isolation, that can be really helpful.
3) Admit when you are not sure – This is true, especially when you are a newer nurse. If you are to do a particular procedure or task, and you are not ABSOLUTELY clear on how to do it; ASK FOR HELP! Giving a new med? Use the research tools available, then ask another nurse if something isn’t clear (maybe, you noticed a conflict on the amount given, or the dose seems high, or it is incompatible with something the patient has, etc.) It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. Show some critical thinking skills and bounce your questions off an experienced nurse (or even the charge nurse). Ask for clarification if things don’t quite make sense. Boldly charging into situations where you are not critically thinking can generate some serious consequences. Read labels. Confirm your patient with two unique identifiers. Re-read Doctor Orders. Clarify vague orders. Be thorough.
4) Reach out to your coworkers – Everyone is part of the treatment team. You are all providing care for your patients to help them heal. One of the best ways to lighten anyone’s worries is knowing that help is available. However, this functions under the assumption that you are able to get your own work done. If you have a free moment, ask others if they need help. Being willing to roll up your sleeves to help with a complete bed strip, or even answer other nurses callbells…maybe even address a beeping IV or feeding pump will go a long way. Keep in mind that Rule #3 applies here, too. If you don’t know about a patient’s routine, just tell the nurse who is managing that patient about the beeping pump. You can even get clarification from them, and still take care of the issue – if that nurse is busy in another room.
5) Be grateful – Thank anyone and everyone who provides help, answers a question, shares a resource, gives you a helpful tip or otherwise makes your life easier. Give credit where it is due. Use words like : please, thank you, and you’re welcome.