Nursing News

Why It’s Important to Keep Challenging Yourself

If you’ve read any of my posts about the goals I set this year, you know how much of a challenge and struggle picking up extra shifts, blogging and still being intentional at home and work have been. My goal with my blog is to inspire and encourage others through their struggles with this balance as well and try to support my family with a little extra income. If you feel encouraged or enjoy what you read here, sign up today and continue to get email updates! Clicking links and making purchases through the posts also help support this blog. For more information see my disclosure page.

Make me Intentional!

This year I burned myself out. I’ve only been a nurse for four years and I didn’t think it was possible to get burned out early in your career, but I have news for you. It’s totally possible. When we set the goal this year to pay off half ($19000) of our student loan debt, I thought picking up extra shifts would be a breeze. It’s fine to pick up an extra shift or two a week. The extra money will totally be worth the time away from my family and flip-flopping between days and nights is no problem because Henry’s home to watch the boys while I sleep. Easy. No problems. I’ll work and that will be it.

Yeah…

It’s not that easy.

I missed my kids.

I became short-tempered with patients who just wouldn’t stop calling out or wouldn’t sleep or didn’t care about changing behaviors to improve their health.

And then my job was no longer about caring for people. Nope. It became a paycheck. Punch the clock, do the assessment, give the meds, complain about work and patients and all the stress of life and be miserable. I yelled at my husband and kids. I stopped exercising. I made expletives a main staple of my vernacular…it definitely makes me look really smart and awesome. Eh…probably not. Oh…and I lost my temper at work repeatedly. No one wants that nurse for their nurse!

Then I realized that I needed some real perspective on work/life balance. And I needed a healthy challenge.

My first step was to actually take some time off (which did provide other challenges financially leading to some fights between me and my husband). So…maybe I couldn’t take too much time off, but I refigured our budget and set an appropriate level of work hours per week to allow us to meet our budget and provide a little extra for our goals.

Run because you can by absnutrition licensed by CC BY 2.0

I began to do things that I enjoyed again like walking (I would have liked to run, but the ever expanding belly keeps reminding me that I’ll get to do that again after baby is out) and cooking. I didn’t realize how therapeutic it is for me to provide healthy, delicious food for my family. My oldest son has food allergies so I love finding recipes (usually on Pinterest) that I enjoy and that he will also be able to eat. This year showed me how important that is. I love my family through food (Thank you, Oma, Grandma and Mom for this).

Then I started expanding where I picked up my extra shifts at work. While there is so much to learn in Progressive Care and this year we have been so short staffed, the difficulty of staffing and patient demands in the unit can be anything but life-giving. So I began asking myself what I really enjoyed in my work and where could I find that joy and express it to my patients. Then I thought…hearts. I love cardiac. It is so challenging to my mind and when I actually understand what and why something is happening I can do my best for my patients.

Then I began picking up in the cardiac telemetry unit.

My first day I was so nervous. I was three months pregnant and still burned out and scared that the other nurses would hate me, no one would help me, and I would be lost and overwhelmed. I showed up on the unit and received a warm welcome, a sheet of paper with all the numbers I’d need, and a reasonable assignment. I was so thankful. And I met another gal who was also three months pregnant! I enjoyed my patients. Since I’ve never worked med/surg before, having four or five patients was challenging. But it was new and good and I was comfortable in my abilities. Even though I didn’t know all the “traditions” of the unit, I realized I knew how to be a good nurse. A nurse with a brain that works and the ability to critically think, ask good questions, and realize that I did actually like serving people (and hearts!).

Then I tried another challenge…

I started shadowing in other units to see what I liked and what I could do. I shadowed in MICU and in Labor and Delivery. I was so proud in L&D that I knew a patient was going to need a wound vac after their procedure before anyone even mentioned it. I KNEW THINGS!

But I also saw how much I needed to learn.

After that, I picked up in the neuro ICU. And yes, I was very nervous the first day. Would I get patients that I just couldn’t handle? And yes, I almost did. But I knew I couldn’t handle what was before me and I also knew I had better tell the charge nurse that I was going to need help or the train wreck would be worse. And I learned by doing that. Even though I didn’t know all the answers, I asked someone who did. And I made some new friends and encouraged my co-workers and patients because I understood my abilities better.

Inspire by Courtney Dirks licensed by CC BY 2.0

In the last few weeks, I have heard from a number of my co-workers, that they are scared to try something new or dissatisfied with the monotonous routine. And my challenge to you and to them is to make a change. Challenge the monotony! Be scared and maybe even fail. You will learn and become better. You will find that you can inspire others because you are being you!

Maybe you need to step back from all you are doing and juggling and really drop the things that are not life-giving. Wrap up the commitments (keep your integrity…don’t just quit) you are not actually suited to do and accept a new challenge. Find your support, understand that you and your career and life are what you have. Invest your time wisely. Lastly, thank the situation you are in for the lesson it just taught you about becoming complacent and break free.

You are worth it.

Keep challenging yourself.

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