I was on cloud nine. A supervisor was behind my every move. I couldn’t make a mistake if I tried. I was confident and prepared. And to top it all off, I had all the skills I needed already sharpened from previous healthcare jobs.
After three days I was cleared to work with my own patients. My first night shift I worked with a nurse who had no patience for me and complained about me to the supervisor so that she could get another nurse to join our floor. Complaining about the new nurse is an easy way to get extra help. After that I was able to get around on my own with the routine skills minus a mistake here and there. What dragged me down was wasting my energy.
By wasting my energy I mean putting my efforts and concentration into pointless tasks. One pointless task which took up an exorbitant amount of energy was trying to anticipate every possible scenario that could happen before it happened. What if I make a med error, or do I have every conceivable piece of equipment necessary just in case. And no matter how many what-ifs I could create in my mind, there was always a new problem that turned up during my shifts which I had not considered. This caused me to dump even more time, focus, and energy into what might be. I remember staying up in bed after my shifts not being able to sleep until I figured out how to prevent any chance of the problems I ran into from repeating.
The solution in my life came after I adopted the one-day-at-a-time attitude. The concept of living in the moment, in the present, restored my sanity. I learned to put my trust in G-d. I know I sound like a preacher but I’m just relating what worked for me. I slowly began assuring myself that after I have taken REASONABLE precautions, I do not and should not over prepare myself. Besides, part of being a good clinician is problem solving in real time.
Before my shift I get some extra rest. I take some food and a few essentials. When I leave my shift, I do my best not to take my work home with me. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes vent off to my friends and family after a long hard shift but like I said, I try.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, I belong to Overeaters Anonymous. It was there that I was first introduced to the 12 steps. These steps are suggestions that are designed to create a constant spiritual awareness which hundreds of thousands of addicts from all around the world will testify takes the place of their compulsions. I originally joined the 12 step program for overeating but found that these steps can be applied to my work and life in general.
One very foundational aspect of the program is “let go and let G-d”. When I show up for my shift and all during the shift, I speak to and feel like I’m always with my supervisor, the Almighty. I don’t anticipate like I used to. And I always thank Him no matter what the outcome, just for being there. The idea of letting go means not worrying about what I can’t control. Nursing is by nature a very stressful job even for the very experienced, but with the right attitude it can be purposeful. I still work at that first job years later and although the experience has been helpful, it’s my perspective that keeps me from burning out.