My first travel nursing assignment was such a learning curve. I walked in, not really knowing what to expect. I knew I was expected to work with minimal training. Part of travel nursing is filling in the gaps needed on the specific unit that you’re assigned to. With the notion that you’ll be able to do it without several weeks of orientation. They really do expect you to hit the ground running.
So I walked on to the unit, and took a moment to take in what would be my home unit for the next 13 weeks. Pretending that I wasn’t the least bit worried. So week 1 goes by and I survive. I think to myself- I can do this. I quickly learned– how absolutely necessary it is to create a routine outside of work. How I spent my time outside of the four walls of the hospital was crucial to being effective during my 12.5+ hours at the bedside.
Pre-travel nursing, I worked as a night shift nurse. Sometimes stumbling in with 3-4 hours a sleep . I would get through the night with regular doses of coffee, caffeine-filled soda, and subway chocolate chip cookies. No real routine to successfully get me through the shift. I was so used to life with little to no sleep during my college days. I attempted to carry that over to my new life as a nurse. By the time travel nursing rolled around, it dawned on me that I was doing it all wrong. So I leave you with the top 5 things I do to ensure I have a successful shift.
I traded in my fancy nursing shoes for some regular sneakers. 5 pairs of shoes and hundreds of dollars later- I found the perfect pair! And it’s so worth it. Once I made the switch from nights to days, the cute nursing shoes didn’t cut it anymore. And it’s not that you’re not busy at night, the dynamic between days and nights are just different. I used to sit in my car for several minutes after work, in excruciating pain. Your hands and your feet are your livelihood. Spend a few extra dollars to ensure that you are feeling (and looking) your best.
I’ve also worn compression stockings from the moment I began at the bedside. Complete game-changer if you’re going to be on your feet all day. I wear the ones that go all the way up like tights.
My co-workers tend to rock the fun looking ones that go up to your knees.
Get Some Rest
It’s the most basic yet most important thing you can do. Your mind will be more clear. You’ll have more patience to work with your patients (see what I did there 😉). Lavender oil is a natural aid that can help you catch some zzzzz’s. It changed the game for me. I continue to use essential oils to help me relax.
Determine a Routine That Works For You
Whether you’re the nurse that shows up 30-45 minutes early to get ready for the day. Or the nurse that gets there right on time (that’s me- I’m that nurse 🙋🏾♀️). Do what works for you. My routine consists of morning prayer, a morning workout, and a wholesome breakfast to start the day. I get to the unit a few minutes early… or a few seconds before. What I do before I get there is most important A calm morning prior to starting the day is key for me to having a successful shift.
I Take Time Off When I Need To
I like making some extra cash on the side when I pick up extra shifts but I like my sanity even more. On my days off, I take time off to rest. Go see family. Get a massage. What ever I need to do to ensure I make time for self care. Detach yourself from work on your days off and get re-centered.
Take a Break
So even though it seems impossible with the piling patient load- Take. A. Break. Take the two minutes that you need to use the restroom. Take the 30 minutes that you need to get something to eat. Take the 30 seconds necessary to drink water. It helps. I assure you, you will still have work to do when you come back. Nursing is 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. Skipping your break does not at all eliminate the work that you need to do. The work will be there when you get back 🙃
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