2 Tips for Connecting with the Heart of Nursing

Where I currently practice nursing, I would have to say that I am blessed. My research program coordinator role is one in which I interact with nurses from every different department in my organization -from psychiatry to surgery, medicine to pediatrics, emergency to surgery- I get to see and hear it all.

Yet in this space of gratitude, I am mindful of some very serious work. I talk to, hear from and interact with nurses from every role, specialty and shift. And through these relationships, I’ve stumbled across some common themes, like:

  • Nursing practice is highly distracting;
  • We never have enough time to do what we need to do for our patients;
  • Nurse-to-patient ratios are just plain unsafe;
  • Some of our measurements and models of care are quite dated;
  • Technology is cumbersome, overwhelming and exhausting;
  • We’re the be-all, catch-all profession- helping everyone else do their jobs right.

This list could go on and on. And so, I would like to touch on one specific point from those listed above, as it can be perceived as both a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ thing.

Technology.

We are in the age of the cyber world. We have the potential to be ‘on’ all of the time, instantly and continuously connected via mobile devices and technological applications.

Don’t get me wrong- technology is a good thing, a great thing in fact. Technology can help nurses from around the world find supportive networks, bringing people resources and building meaningful relationships.

But as a nurse, how much does technology impact your ability to provide nursing care?

  • A bell goes off and you have to get up and go see what’s alarming now;
  • You’re constantly tracked by a pager or locator;
  • When was the last time you were in the middle of a life-and-death discussion only to have your unit page you across the speaker system to come put out another fire across the unit?

In addition to the distraction, we have computerized charting and electronic medical records which has us creating a new phrase: ‘click and pick’ nursing. Have you heard of this?

Nursing is a beautiful blend of ‘art’ and ‘science’. While the ‘science’ aspect is obviously thriving, it’s growth may have created some unintended side-effects. The ‘art’ of nursing has been lost in the shuffle.

Here are two simple strategies to help you reconnect with the spirit of nursing, the art of caring practice:

  • Nonverbal Cues. A patient can feel your stress. So before you go into the next patient’s room, be sure to pause, exhale and breathe out anything that no longer serves you. Allow yourself that one second pause to bring a smile into your heart and onto your face. Make eye contact with that human being and share a gentle touch of the hand. Human-to-human relationship invites healing.
  • Focus the Energy. It may be hard to do at first, especially with all of the challenges we’ve discussed above, but the best thing you can do in any and all situations is to focus on the positive. Sure you may have a lot of computerized work to do, but it’s so much more legible than those old handwritten notes we used to receive. OK so maybe the staffing isn’t great for the day, but you’re helping people heal. As Carl Jung put it: “What we resist, persists.” Where you place your energy, effort and attention will only grow in strength. Focus on all of the good you do at work, the joy you bring to others and the love you have of your role- this will bring you more good to be grateful for.

We’d love to hear from you! Be sure to Tweet me @ElizabethScala and let me know what you think! Thanks for reading; enjoy the day.

Elizabeth Scala
 

Keynote speaker and bestselling author, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Nurse’s Week ‘Art of Nursing’ program, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver.Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and a playful pit bull.