I recently had a friend whose colleague made a comment about how hard it can be to practice in the current healthcare environment: “ I’ve never worked so hard to feel so mediocre.” I immediately resonated with the statement – do you? That one simple statement seemed to express what I feel like at the end of too many days. Patients are extremely complex, health care resources are increasingly limited, and benchmarks for patient outcomes are increasingly harder to achieve.
So how do we get the energy to continue in our health care roles every day? There are several key things I believe we need to focus on to recognize that we ARE doing better than “mediocre” work:
1. Practice good self-care. We all know that we need to care for ourselves in order to be optimal care providers at work. Unfortunately, it is easy to feel too exhausted at the end of the day to even contemplate what we need to do for ourselves. But it is imperative that we don’t just know we need to practice good self-care, but that we actually prioritize doing it.
2. Make time to take a “thought pause” throughout the day. Are we so focused on getting tasks done during the day that we forget to pause to evaluate if we are actually making progress to meet the patient’s goals? Are we taking even a few minutes each day to be creative and innovative? These short breaks can ensure we maintain the focus to care safely for our critically ill patients or ensure we are making headway on complex projects.
3. Take time for reflection. Reflect on the good work you have accomplished over time- whether it’s over a 12-hour shift with a critically ill patient or over a 3-month project where you have made great improvements in patient outcomes such as decreasing CAUTI or BSI rates.
4. Provide meaningful recognition to a colleague. Recognizing the stellar work of your colleagues will help all of us know that we are doing so much better than “mediocre” work.
We all wish we could do more every day to optimize care for our patients. But don’t let those wishes cloud the reality of the great work you do every day!
Mary Fran Tracy, RN, PhD, CCNS