Top 5 items I use to help simplify my life on the unit
I think starting your first job as a nurse closely resembles the first day of school. Uniform laid out the day before. All the cool and latest work gadgets that you later realize may not be all that necessary.
Getting to work super early so you can find the best parking spot.
Finding where the break room is located.
Picking up your nursing assignment hopefully 30 minutes or so prior to the start of shift so you can look up your patients before getting report.
I can still remember my first day of work as a nurse like it was yesterday.
This year will mark 5 whole years at the bedside.
It has gone by so quickly and looking back—I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. The people that you meet. The trust and rapport that’s established in such a short period of time between yourself and your patients. In retrospect, when I look at all of my overall life experiences—my experiences at the bedside is unmatched.
Like anything else in life, there are a few things I wish I would have known that could have made my life at the bedside just a teeny bit less complicated. Like how unnecessary it is to wear fancy nurse shoes in order to feel legit. Or that having a good system in place when you’re getting report is key to starting your shift off to a good start.
Or when working night shift, how crucial it is to sleep during the day just as you would if you were sleeping at night before starting a day shift. All simple yet key elements to making life as a nurse just that much simpler.
So here it goes—the top 5 essential items I use that has helped me tremendously over the years.
Yes. The system you have in place when you’re getting report really does make a difference. How you list your patients and the information about them that matters will often determine just how smoothly of a shift you really have. Taking that extra time to create a report sheet to your liking or nowadays—downloading one online is so worth it. There will be those days when you’ll be receiving report, discharging a patient, and admitting a patient– all at the same time. Having quick access to my patients’ list has kept me afloat when work is non-stop. Which was most of the time.
As much as we try to move away from paper within the hospital setting. I still find that we use paper even if it’s to take quick notes. Here are free downloadable report sheets that I’ve used. I would switch it up based on which unit I was working on.
Download your free report sheet here:
Refusing to be confined to a fancy set of nursing shoes changed my life
I mentioned this before, but this is worth mentioning once again. Finding the right pair of shoes for a very long 12-hour shift at the beside is huge. Nurses unfortunately are at risk for all sorts of injuries including lower back pain and strains. And switching up your shoes alone can help to minimize—but not necessarily eliminate these injuries.
You spend so much energy ensuring your patients are well. Shouldn’t you invest into at least getting the right kicks on your feet? Spending a little more on comfortable shoes and shoe inserts will absolutely make or break your shift. I have also used compression stockings to alleviate some of the pressure since we spend a long span of time on our feet.
If you’re worried about over-spending, never hesitate to ask for a discount from the store you’re purchasing from. I was able to get the full amount reimbursed for my shoes by my travel nursing agency. So speak to your recruiter to see if work apparel that you purchase while you’re on assignment can be reimbursed to you.
Related Article: Successful Shift for Nurses
The Nurse Pro Pack is a game-changer
So the ability to use this will depend on your hospital policy. Because there are hospitals that may not allow you to carry supplies in fanny packs BUT listen. This fanny pack for nurses also known as the nurse pro pack honestly changed the game for me.
I used to keep things in my pocket but would then waste time looking for them when I needed them. But having the nurse pro pack with my everyday usage items such as a pins, tape, and some extra gauze prevented me from needing to go back and forth to our supply room in the midst of patient care.
It comes in a variety of colors and sizes—it is made for us by us. Created by nurses, the nurse pro pack offers a perfect solution for all of those little knick knacks that you need to keep on you during your shift.
The more compact an item is the better
We’re literally a walking toolbox with all of the supplies that we carry on us. So having compact items just makes it… better. I can’t say enough about this neat clipboard that I use every single shift. It folds in half. Fits in my pockets. And has full reference charts on the back for those moments when you’re away from the computer.
Losing folded papers with patient information all over it is the pits. By the end of shift, at times, you’re just hanging on for dear life. According to the online platform, Healthline, the average nurse takes over 16,000 steps per day. So I can assure you the chances of you losing your papers is a strong possibility. Do yourself a favor and invest in getting this clipboard. You’ll thank me later.
You don’t need the most expensive stethoscope to do your work
I spent over $300 on a stethoscope and I barely used it. My first nursing job encompassed me working mostly with cardiac patients. But having an expensive stethoscope will not make you a more effective nurse. Sure, some of the more expensive brands will allow you to hear better. To overspend on equipment just because? I wouldn’t recommend it.
My assessment skills as a nurse improved with time. With volume. The more I did anything, naturally, the better I got. So as I assessed more patients, I felt myself get more comfortable. Slowly shaking off that “new nurse” feeling that often gives us anxiety. So naturally, my keen sense of awareness followed in the same direction. What’s funny is that I ended up going back to my light-weight nursing school stethoscope and kept my expensive cardiology-specific stethoscope in my bag as back up- go figure.
Finding your footing on the unit when you become a nurse takes time. There really isn’t a magic formula. Once you develop your foundational skills, the rest will come to you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. With repetition comes mastery.
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