Which kind of nurse are you?

There are two kinds of nurses…those who do the least amount possible and those who do as much as they can for their patients. You’ll recognize the two types pretty quickly.

The former spend most of their shift at the nurse’s station, complain when they have to get up and do actual patient care, leave their rooms a mess, leave their patients a mess and have piles of unorganized paperwork cluttering up their work area. When they give report, you’ll hear a lot of excuses about how busy they were and notice that several of  your patient’s needs were not addressed (because that would entail more work.)

The latter spend most of their time in their patient’s rooms, leave their patients clean, ensure their rooms are tidy and keep their paperwork organized. When they give report, they’ll talk about what actually GOT done and make solid recommendations for what the patient’s ongoing needs are. The choice you have is which kind of nurse you want to be…and if you’re reading this it’s because you want to be the best nurse you possibly can…good for you!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into my patient’s room in the morning and found a mess. Discarded alcohol swabs and end caps on the floor, a cluttered bedside table, overflowing garbage bins, filthy suction tubing, crusty Yankauers, dinner trays that have been sitting there all night, half empty water cups, empty juice containers, full sharps containers, lines a tangled (and unlabeled) mess, linens on every available surface and a plethora of supplies stacked here and there. Not to mention the paperwork that’s just piled haphazardly in the nurse’s work area, rather than filed away neatly in the bedside binder. Sound like any rooms you’ve seen lately?

Leaving your work space an absolute disaster conveys a message, and probably not the one you want to convey. It says that you don’t take pride in your work, don’t care about the comfort or dignity of  your patient and basically that you’re lazy. Granted, there are busy shifts where the shilolah does hit the fan…but that should be the exception and not the rule.

By keeping things tidy, you’re showing respect for your work and respect for your patient who deserves a room free of clutter and overflowing, odorous garbage bins. Granted, a lot of times the clutter is brought in by the family. When this occurs, I always try to designated a “family stuff” area and a “nursing stuff” area….and yes, I will throw out half empty soda bottles that have been sitting there for more than 12 hours, because that’s just gross. If family questions why I am rearranging things, I always say that “an organized room is a safe room” and no one can argue with wanting their family member to be safe! Imagine a room full of clutter and a room organized with the essentials…which nurse do you think is more prepared to react quickly and efficiently?

So how do you fit all this tidying-up into your already busy day? I always try to do a little first thing in the morning, before things get intense. At the very least I’ll label my lines when I’m doing my initial assessment (since verifying lines is part of your assessment, ya’ll). Then, throughout the morning I’ll do a little each time I go in…and if I have time to commit 15 minutes to it, I’ll just take care of it all at once. After that, it’s easy to keep your room clean…you just CYAG (clean as  you go) and voila…the end of your shift arrives and your patient and room like as fresh and tidy as a new admit! Next thing you know, nurses look forward to following you from shift to shift 🙂

Oliver says, "I can't bear to see the mess!"

Oliver says, “I can’t bear to see the mess!”

So what about when things DO hit the fan? A code or emergent bedside procedure can leave things in your room an absolute horrific disaster. Take care of the patient first, but if you work in a supportive unit, someone will come by and ask how they can help. If you’ve got patient care handled then don’t be shy asking someone to tidy up the room. When I offer help and the room is a mess, I’ll often go in and tidy things up, label lines, change bloody gowns, file paperwork….you’d be amazed at how much these little things help  your coworkers, so be helpful and don’t be too shy to ask for help when you need it. By doing so,  you promote a culture of organization and helpfulness…I always say, “be the change you want to see in the world!”

So, which kind of nurse are you going to be today?

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Which kind of nurse are you?

  1. Shawna

    Love your site!! Will be perusing it while I am on break (I’m still in school) 😀 But I did want to say that nothing bugs me like walking into a patient’s room and there are full trash cans, dirty washcloths/towels all over, alcohol wipes wrappers/IV caps/etc on the floor…ugh! Seriously, who wants to be sick, lying in a room with stuff all over the place…Oh, an urinals on tray table (don’t get me started!) Takes literally probably 1 minute to clean up, empty the trash, etc and makes the room much nicer for pt to be in.

    Reply
  2. Shawna

    Love your site!! Will be perusing it while I am on break (I’m still in school) 😀 But I did want to say that nothing bugs me like walking into a patient’s room and there are full trash cans, dirty washcloths/towels all over, alcohol wipes wrappers/IV caps/etc on the floor…ugh! Seriously, who wants to be sick, lying in a room with stuff all over the place…Oh, an urinals on tray table (don’t get me started!) Takes literally probably 1 minute to clean up, empty the trash, etc and makes the room much nicer for pt to be in.

    Reply
  3. Eileen Spillane

    Great advice to nursing students. I am a fan of order in a room particularly when an unexpected emergency arises, you can be efficient and optimize patient care rather than move clutter.
    That being said, over the years I have grown to accept that there is more than one way to care for patients and if it gets a little “creative” and “not so tidy”, I can let it go if I know that nurse is taking good care of his/her patient.

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth Scala

    What an interesting post to bring to the mindfulness discussion. You know, they do say that the state of your physical space is an indication of your mind. If the physical space is cluttered, disorganized and chaotic- it is likely the mind is that way too. Thanks for reminding me of this great point via this blog post! Loved the examples and helpful suggestions.

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  5. Greg Mercer, MSN

    Often in my work and teaching, I push the idea that doing right is often the best thing to do even from a completely selfish basis, if you look beyond the moment. Politeness sand civility arose when people were more apt to kill each other without it: it still acts a s a social lubricant that avoids time and energy sapping misunderstandings, distrust, and conflict.Doing good work for patients up front, clear eagerness to help and serve, reduces patient demands and builds trust and cooperation; it also gives you more control over your time. You add a great example of this proactive doing right: you plan ahead, think of the patient and the next nurse, AND make it workable and efficient in the way you pull it off. Good work, thanks!

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  6. Carrie Sue Halsey

    Thanks for calling it like it is. Nursing is more than meds and monitoring. Nightingale had it right all those years ago when she advocated for clean, open patient quarters and a clean patient! I am the worst dropper of items in an emergency, but when the crisis is over it is time to clean up!

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    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      It always makes me sad to walk into a patient room and see a mess…surely the patient notices. I tend to think people deserve to live in a pleasing environment. Not to mention reduced risk of infection, a clear path in case of an emergency, etc… Thanks for visiting, Carrie!

      Reply

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