The role of a nurse is varied and fascinating, but it’s also a lot of hard work: hard work that most nurses will tell you is highly rewarding. Yet, just because you are taking care of others when you’re a nurse, that doesn’t mean you can’t also take care of yourself and specifically, your career. It’s a good idea to strive for excellence in as many ways as possible to enable you to enhance and advance your career as much as you can in all the ways you want to.
Yet although this is indeed a good idea, it’s also a difficult one to contemplate sometimes. You are so busy as a nurse that trying to work out how to become better and strive for excellence can be lost at times. However, there are always steps you can take, and the more you know about them, the easier it will be to incorporate them into your daily life at work and elsewhere. With that in mind, here are some of the ways you can strive for excellence in your nursing career, helping you become a better overall nurse and also ensuring that you can move your career forward if that’s what you’re aiming to achieve.
The role of a nurse, no matter what kind or at what level, is underpinned by a great education. The more you know, the better a nurse you can be. You might think that once you graduate as a registered nurse (RN) you have done all the learning you need to do, but this is far from the truth if you want to strive for excellence. There is always more to learn, and the best nurses know and understand this and ensure that learning is part of their daily routine where possible.
Sometimes this education can be done on the job. You’ll increase your knowledge every day, either through carrying out your own work, through your colleagues, or through other personnel. Everyone has their own way of doing this, and it could be that, if you are highly observant or if you are happy to ask questions, you’ll learn everything you need to be a great nurse.
The only issue with this is that although you are learning and gaining a lot of experience, you’re not gaining any qualifications, and this can be highly useful if you want to move forward in your nursing career. This is why going back to school to learn specific details of nursing is often a wise choice. For example, you might want to move into gerontology, in which case, a post masters certificate in gerontology is the best qualification for you.
Because nursing is such a busy job and because it usually involves shifts, it isn’t always easy to pick a course and stick with it. However, thanks to updated technology, you can now choose an online course, meaning you can work at your own pace, or you can block out a certain amount of time in advance. Do what works for you, and speak to your manager about it too; they might be able to help you.
Education plays a very important role in the life of a nurse who wants to become the best and strive for excellence, but it’s not the only important factor. There are many other ways to become a great nurse, especially when you combine them with new certifications and qualifications.
One of these good ideas is to be as positive as you can be all the time. When you are positive, you can help everyone. You’ll help your patients as they will see that there is nothing to be worried about, and they will feel more at ease in your presence; you will help your colleagues because you’ll be able to boost them when they’re feeling down or overwhelmed, ensuring they can continue in their work (which will help everyone in the department, including the patients); and you can also help yourself, as being more positive will enable you to do more and see more opportunities, such as the learning options mentioned above.
It’s not always easy to be positive, of course. No one is going to have a 100 percent record of happiness, and when you work as a nurse, you’ll certainly have to deal with upsetting incidents from time to time; perhaps even every day, depending on what department you work in (some departments, such as the ER or an intensive care unit, will have a higher mortality rate than others, for example). Yet, if you can try to be as positive as possible for as much of the time as possible, and if you know how and when to ask for help when you feel that positivity slipping, that will be a very good quality indeed.
A nurse who strives for excellence has to understand why it’s so important they take care of themselves as well as everyone around them. They must understand why and how to nourish themselves. Nourishment can take many forms, but all are just as important as the rest.
To begin with, when you think of nourishment, you probably think of food, and this is certainly one of the ways in which a nurse striving for excellence must nourish themselves. Eating the right kinds of foods and not skipping meals is crucial. This could mean getting out of bed ten minutes earlier to ensure there is time for breakfast, for example. It could mean taking healthy snacks to work so that, in case you are too busy to stop for lunch (which is not ideal but entirely understandable when you’re a nurse), you still have food to eat. It could mean batch cooking when you have more time so there is always a healthy, tasty dinner ready for you. Think ahead so you know you can eat properly as this will have a hugely positive effect on your health and your ability to be an excellent nurse.
Nourishment can also mean nourishing your body physically through exercise. Again, a nursing career will be a busy one, and you might not feel as though there is time to exercise regularly, even if you do know how important it is. Yet the truth is that there will always be time to exercise; even ten minutes a day can be enough as long as you get your heart rate up during that time. Or why not walk to work if you can? Or park further away from the building and then jog to the front door? Use the stairs instead of the elevator? There are many options, and all of them will be worth it.
The more consistent you can be in your nursing career, the better. This means not just the work you’re doing and how well you treat each patient, but it also means the fact that you get to work on time (ahead of time, if possible), you always look smart, you focus on the right aspects of your job, and you maintain a positive attitude, as mentioned above. The more consistent you can be, the more helpful you can be to all those around you who need your help.
If people in your team (as well as your patients) know they can rely on you, you’ll become a crucial core member of the nursing staff, and that is a prospect that you should strive for if you want excellence. No one wants to be someone who, if they weren’t around, wouldn’t be missed. As well as this, if you can be consistent, you will be noticed by management. They will be able to rely on you just as much as everyone else can, and if you can demonstrate that you have leadership capabilities, you’re sure to be noticed even more; and when it comes time to applying for a promotion, or changing departments, or whatever it is you want to do to enhance your career, it will be easier.
Of course, you do need to be careful. You must be aware of what you can handle and how much you can do. It’s good to push yourself, and certainly when you’re striving for excellence this can be exactly what is needed, but there will come a point when, if you keep doing this, it will become detrimental rather than beneficial. When you feel you have reached your limit, take some time out to recover and regenerate your energy levels. If you don’t, you run the risk of burnout, which will be bad for both your health and your career.
Focus On The Task At Hand
When there is a lot to do, as there will be when you’re a nurse, it can be easy to become distracted. Rather than focusing on the one task you are doing right at this moment, you will be looking ahead and trying to see what else needs to be done. Although there is some merit to this, and it’s important to have a plan of action for the day as far as possible (and it isn’t always possible in nursing), you also need to be able to focus directly on the task at hand. If you don’t, you could do a half-hearted job and potentially cause pain and suffering to the patient you are helping.
The best approach is to work on one task at a time. Multitasking isn’t as positive as reports might make out, and although you’ll feel as though you’re getting a lot done, the fact is that you’re doing many tasks at a lower quality—you might even have to go back and do them again. Therefore, focus on one job and do it as well as you possibly can, then move onto the next. In this way, you truly can strive for excellence.
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