The day-to-day life of a nurse, therapist, tech or other clinician is a demanding one. Long shifts, high-stress situations and even everyday messes and wear and tear add up fast. Too often, the result is that you’re left feeling burned out or under the weather when you can least afford it.
But with a few simple precautions — like making sure you’re wearing the right scrubs or practicing self-care exercises — you can prepare yourself to handle everything in stride. From finding the most comfortable shoes to getting rid of stinky smells ASAP, here are 5 tips for nurses and clinicians looking to make day-to-day life comfier while saving time, too.
5 Job-Hacking Tips for Nurses & Clinicians
#1: Get some sensible shoes.As a nursing professional, you almost certainly don’t need us to tell you about the importance of wearing the best possible shoes. You’re on your feet all day caring for patients, and you know the toll that can take on your tootsies.
But finding the right shoe for the job isn’t always as easy as it might seem. The most expensive choice isn’t always the best, and all the fancy orthopedic engineering in the world doesn’t make a difference if your feet still hurt at the end of your shift.
Because not every foot is created equal, not one type of shoe is going to work for everyone, either. That’s why we love this very nicely researched list of shoe recommendations for nurses and other medical professionals from Respiratory Therapy Zone.
Their top pick for 2020? The Dansko Professional Mule Clog, a leather-made shoe that features a polyurethane “rocker bottom” for comfort, shock absorption and added protection for your back and legs. Also on their list are the Brooks Ghost 11 Running Shoes, Crocs Mercy Work Slip Resistant Clog, Sloggers Waterproof Shoes and a few others.
#2: Update those scrubs, stat!. Sometimes an upgrade to your day-to-day scrubs can be a great way to refresh your attitude and build some excitement to go into work each day. And for those who love to shop, the many options available today is enticing, including a dizzying variety of shapes, colors and options like extra pockets and even yoga-style stretchability.
If you’re not caught up on the latest scrubs, but you’d like to be, a great place to start is this list of “8 Best Scrubs of 2020” from About Inc’s Verywell Fit. Offering their rankings based on color, value, accessories and more, the list includes categories for Best with Pockets, Best for Plus Size, Best During Pregnancy, Best for Men, and Best Yoga-Style, among others.
#3: Refresh your cleaning game. You don’t need us to tell you that cleaning is a huge part of a caregiver’s day-to-day duties. As such, you’ve probably already got a system in place that helps you get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible, using the materials at hand.
But there’s always room for improvement! We found a series of great cleaning tips for nurses from Incredible Health that includes a few eye-openers, like:
- Wearing double gloves or double masks in certain, extra-messy situations (and placing some toothpaste or peppermint oil between those double masks when dealing “with extra stinky smells”)
- Powdering bedpans before use for easier retrieval and cleanup
- Using hydrogen peroxide for cleaning dried blood and other sticky situations
- Keeping extra scrubs in your car or locker for emergency changes
#4: Take a stand against compassion fatigue. A term describing the effects of emotional strain on those who care for people suffering from traumatic injuries or serious illnesses, compassion fatigue is not a new concept. Indeed, it’s long been identified as a serious challenge for nurses and other front-line caregivers.
But in the time of the COVID-10 crisis, when shifts can extend longer than expected and stress levels are running particularly high, the risks of compassion fatigue are as great as they’ve ever been. And even those who may not realize they’re at risk might already be experiencing symptoms.
Research has shown that those symptoms can include everything from boredom, cynicism and anxiety to sleep disturbances, feelings of detachment and apathy, and even “a loss of compassion.” Physical symptoms can include weight gain, higher blood pressure, fatigue, and even immune dysfunction and an increase in cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
But how can you fight something that’s so hard to avoid? A great place to start is with some sensible self-care exercises. According to the University of Vermont Health Network, this means “checking in with yourself” frequently — and then making sure you’re being honest and non-judgmental about what you’re telling yourself.
“What can I give myself? How am I feeling? What’s bothering me? What can I do about it? All of those questions are check-ins,” the UVM report explains. “In order to care for ourselves, we have to be open to whatever the message is at any point in time and respond as we would if we were caring for another person.”
To that end, the authors offer up specific tips on how to replenish your personal reserves by accepting care from others, increasing your boundaries, and decreasing demands on your energy. It’s a great start for fending off the effects of compassion fatigue and stay at your very best — during COVID-19, and beyond.
#5: Better adapt to emergency situations. For your next shift in the emergency room, Will Kelly, MSN, FNP-C has a rundown of 10 handy tips that can make things easier, more efficient and less mentally and emotionally exhausting (for you and those around you).
From how to best hang multiple boluses to identifying a pseudoseizure without ammonia salt, Will runs down a few easy ways to save time and make for a smoother shift. And there’s plenty of advice here for non-ER situations, too, like tips for getting kids to take medication, dealing with powerful patient foot odor and making IV insertions go more smoothly.
But remember! As Will says in his introduction — and what certainly holds true for all of the tips for nurses and clinicians we’re offering here — these ideas are all based on anecdote and may vary depending on your specific environment and patients. You should always use them “within your own judgment and within your facility’s protocols,” he advises.
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