If you’re a nurse reading this article, you’re probably already on the path to improving your career. Other than making friends with the administrators and playing political games, you can take a few small, but impactful steps to improve your knowledge and abilities. Here are some ideas.
- Take a Continuing Education Course
In some states, it’s required that you take continuing education courses to renew your license, but that’s not the case everywhere. Regardless, you should seek further education. Today, it’s never been easier to take a class with online, hybrid, and traditional courses available.
For your continuing education course of choice, choose something that will benefit yourself and the patients you work with. For example, if you’re a nurse who works in a physical therapy unit at the hospital, you might want to learn about nutrition science to help your patients with holistic recovery.
Find a course that works for you, gives you the convenience and flexibility that can benefit you in your career or future career path.
- Evaluate Your Bedside Manner
When working with patients day in and day out, it’s easy to become complacent. You might not realize that your bedside manner is waning until you receive a complaint. According to Kathleen Lattavo, a clinical nurse specialist in Austin, TX, nurses often become too task-oriented to deliver a good bedside manner.
“We run in to hang an IV piggyback and might ask the patient how they’re doing, but it can be obvious we just want to complete our task and get on our way,” she shared with TravelNursing.com. “We are constantly thinking about everything else we need to do when we should concentrate on the present encounter, give it our undivided attention and then move on from there.”
To prevent that from happening, do a regular evaluation of your bedside manner. Many hospitals already have programs in place to evaluate the bedside manner of their patients, but if yours doesn’t or you don’t feel it’s very effective, set your own plan in action. Ask another nurse on duty to secretly watch the way you interact with patients on a day of their choosing and give you a few pointers.
This is a great way to keep you constantly thinking about your bedside manner. You’ll likely maintain positive reviews simply because you’re constantly thinking about it.
- Improve Your Technological Skills
Nursing is a different beast today than it was a couple of decades ago, and it’s not because the standard of care has changed. Instead, it’s the focus on using technology. “Technology is changing the world at warp speed and nowhere is this more evident than in healthcare settings,” write the study authors of a report published in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.
The report identifies several emerging technologies in nursing that today’s healthcare professionals should understand including genetics and genomics, diagnostics tools, 3-D printing, robotics, biometrics, electronic healthcare records, computerized record-keeping, and clinical decision support.
If you’re unfamiliar with or falling behind in the technological advancements in your clinical setting, now is a good time to improve those skills. You could take a course on the latest technology being used in your hospital at the start. Your hospital’s tech department may also offer educational seminars or small group tutoring to help you improve your skills.
- Work on Self-Care
If you’re working in a hospital setting, you’ve probably worked a few 16-hour shifts, and your other shifts may be extended a couple of hours while you deal with an emergency or wait for relief to show up. Before long, this takes a huge toll, and it’s one of the biggest causes of nurse burnout.
Don’t wait for your mental and physical health to break down before you start taking care of yourself. Your job is one of the most important careers in the world, but you can’t do it well if you’re not focusing on you.
On the days and hours that you’re not working, dive into self-care. Eat right, exercise, make time for fun every day, meditate, and spend time with those you love. And use your days off! It’s much better to take a few days off here and there than it is to burnout and need a career change. Indulging in self-care now will set you up for years of happy nursing in the future.