Don’t Forget to Remember
Nurses have been known to provide excellent care to others. However, caring for themselves is often forgotten. Many factors play roles in a nurse’s decision to procrastinate addressing his or her health and wellness. No matter the excuse, nurses should prioritize their health and wellness with the same importance as their patients. After all, we pride ourselves on providing the best care. How can we provide the best care, if we are not at our best physically, mentally, and emotionally?
Let me take a pause here to clarify my point. I am not saying that all nurses postpone attending to their health and wellness. I am saying that nurses have been known to delay addressing their health and wellness. There are many nurses who, generally speaking, take great care of themselves and make their health top priority. We know that you exist out there! We applaud you! Keep up the good work! However, many nurses don’t make their health and wellness top priority; unfortunately, nurses who make that mistake risk the possibility of suffering severe health consequences. Listen to your bodies nurses, and if you do have a health problem, seek appropriate medical attention and learn from your experience so that you may continue to improve your nursing practice.
I’ve been on both sides of the line. At times, I’m focused on my health and wellness, and other occasions, I’m not so focused on those issues. I always attempt to follow my healthcare carefully and remain compliant, because every time that I didn’t, I had a health scare. The health scares that I experienced were similar to “Near Misses” in the nursing world or “We caught it just in time…” situations. I call them scares because of the “If I hadn’t gotten this checked out…” thought that often haunts me for a while afterward. Of course, every complication and horrible end-scenario then follows. Finally, I would breathe a sigh of relief once the situation resolved, but the “what if” always remained. I don’t mind because it serves as a reminder of why I should take my health and wellness very seriously – because I want to live. For those who do not follow their health statuses, consider the examples that follow.
Once a nurse has to live as a patient for days, weeks, or months, an opportunity to better understand the patient presents itself for the nurse. Now the nurse knows, from a personal experience, why fall risk precautions are so important – because that nurse almost fell, a few times, while hospitalized. Now the nurse knows, from a personal experience, how difficult it can be to have a bowel movement when taking narcotics, or how much more problematic the same task can be when in a freshly postoperative state – because that nurse has experienced one or both situations while inpatient. The nurse may have a better understanding of medication reconciliation and communication between providers due to complications from drug interactions that he or she experienced. The nurse may have an increased understanding of the emotional turmoil that occurs when one is hospitalized. These examples help to facilitate growth in the nurse and hopefully an improvement in practice by analyzing and learning from those experiences.
We all will get sick at one time or another. Nurses, please continue to remember those encounters when taking care of others. Our profession is a great one and will continue to become better by remembering what it was like when you were a patient.