Being a doctor, nurse, or caregiver is much more than just a job. It’s a vocation. It drives every conversation you have, every smile you share, every treatment you give. You know just how hard you work — the long shifts, the constant learning, the demands of your patients, the policies, the processes, the procedures.
It’s easy to give too much, to end a hospital shift exhausted, driven by adrenaline and a love of what you do. That’s why, this year, it’s time to slow down, just a little. There’s a new treatment plan that’s needed, and this time the person who needs care and attention is you.
Here are our suggestions for the tiny things you can do to care for yourself just a little more.
Remember that You Need to Take Care of Yourself to Care for Others
You need to nourish yourself first of all. Before the start of your shift, remember that you deserve care as much as anyone else around you. That’s not selfish, it’s practical. You can’t give good care if you’re running on empty, so make a quiet commitment that you will practice a little self-care. Take your breaks, go for a walk, clear your mind, eat well, sleep enough.
It’s simple stuff, but it’s easy to forget. If you want to thrive, you need to remember.
Take a Moment to Breathe
In the whirl of policies, procedures, and treatments, things move fast. There’s never quite enough time to do everything, so it seems you’re forever moving onto the next task. Once an hour, just find a quiet few seconds. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, slowly count to ten, exhale. Remind yourself of why you’re here and what it is you’re doing. Reconnect with your love of your job, and recognize how important you are to your patients.
Build Relationships with Colleagues
Healthcare works because it’s delivered by teams. You rely on your peers and colleagues, and your support network helps to get you through the day. It’s important to recognize that — it humanizes the people around you and helps you to realize you’re all working toward a common cause — delivering the best care that you can. Take moments in the day to connect and build deeper relationships with your colleagues. To share a story or a joke, to ask how their day is, or just say hello. It’s these brief, interpersonal moments that can make your heart feel lighter, and help you work better with your team.
Focus on Patient Connections
With such a strong focus on electronic health records, exchanging information, computerization, and analytics, it’s easy to forget the people at the center of the healthcare system — your patients. Sharing data is vital, but so is sharing a kind look or friendly expression. Don’t just focus on cold, hard diagnosis and treatment plans. Take a moment to remember the patient, and build a connection with them.
Communicate Better Internally
Communication is at the heart of great healthcare outcomes. You need to share information and communicate in the most effective way, to empower yourself and your colleagues to deliver the best care possible. Clinical communication is an easy way to work smarter. Texting is faster than walking to find a doctor. Real time automated alerts are instant and save constant trips to workstations and the EHR. Tools like TigerText let you securely and effortlessly share important medical information, update your peers, and ensure you communicate well.
This is just the start. If you can subtly refocus your thinking, you will help to avoid burnout and love your work just a little bit more. And that’s just better for everyone. This year, remember, caring starts with you.