Many of us have worked with one—a nurse who we feel shouldn’t be kept on staff. She’s the one causing problems on the unit with her attitude or her work—or lack of it.
But it’s not always “the other nurse.” Sometimes…(wait for it)…sometimes it’s us, but we don’t always see it.
Are you guilty of any of the following bad work habits?
1. Coming to work late, shift after shift after shift…
Unless you work on call, you know when you’re supposed to be at work. That’s when your boss expects you to be there and that’s when your colleagues and patients need you to be there. While there may be some professions that have leeway for punctuality, nursing isn’t one of them.
While everybody understands that things happen—cars break down, alarms don’t go off—this should only be occasional, if at all. Nurses who consistently get to work late disrupt the routine of the unit and, after a while, your manager may decide it’s no longer acceptable.
The cure for chronic lateness? Identify what it is that makes you late. Are you constantly oversleeping? Try to develop routines to wake up earlier and get out of bed. Is transportation an issue (bus too late, traffic)? Then you’ll have to leave your home earlier. Is daycare an issue? If that can’t be resolved, maybe you can speak with your nurse manager to make arrangements about when you come in. Whatever it takes, if you value your job, this needs to be nipped in the bud.
2. Always being the contrarian or the voice of dissention
Every unit seems to have one of these: the nurse who will argue if you say the sky is blue, or will say that left is right and that up is really down. Some people revel in this and enjoy the “debates” they cause. This person is often also the one who will disagree with any new ideas or programs, or even worse, will agree to them but then drag his feet, causing problems with implementation.
Not sure if this could be you? Are you respectful when you disagree with someone? Do you hold grudges? Ask yourself how you react to new ideas. Are you receptive? Are you eager to try and learn new things? How do you feel when you have to try something that you’re not 100 percent on board with? If this could be you, try focusing on having a more positive approach to issues rather than just shrugging them off right off the bat.
3. “I meant to get to that!”
Are you organized or do spend more time trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do, when you’re supposed to do it and how? Being disorganized does more than set you behind in your work. It can affect patient care and it can affect your colleagues, who may not be able to do their work effectively. For example, nursing requires teamwork, which means you have to help each other. If you’re disorganized, then you can’t help the other nurses and they may spend more time than they can afford trying to help you. As for the patients, their care may be compromised because you may forget to do something, delay a treatment or neglect to notice something important.
It’s easy enough for organized people to tell the disorganized ones to just manage their time better, but hints and help are much more appropriate, such as:
Identify and prioritize your tasks.
Write down all you need to do.
Organize all the supplies you need for each task before starting.
If you keep forgetting one supply or tool, make a list of your tasks and the supplies and tools you need for each one. Keep them in a notebook with you when you’re at work.
Ask for help from a more organized nurse.
Nursing is a field where precision is of the utmost importance. There’s no room for error, let alone sloppiness. Sloppiness in charting could mean points against you in a lawsuit down the road or a misunderstanding when someone goes back in the nurses’ notes to check the patient’s progress. Sloppiness in report may mean that the oncoming nurse may not get the full picture of the patient, missing something vital. Sloppiness in doing procedures, such as changing dressings, could result in infections, which can lead to much more serious outcomes. You see, sloppiness can’t be tolerated.
If you believe you fall into the sloppy spectrum, you have to straighten out. Sloppiness is usually due to one of two things: laziness or disorganization. Both can be fixed, but you have to want to work on them.
5. Constantly checking yr email & phn messages @ work
Work is work and your social life shouldn’t be part of it. In facilities where cell phones are banned, don’t hide one in your pocket and check your messages while in a patient’s room or in a supply room. And when using the facility’s computer, use it for work, not personal stuff unless you have explicit permission to do so.
If you absolutely must check messages and emails during your workday, you’ll have to do so during your break. If you can’t take a break, maybe you can speak with your nurse manager to find some mutually agreeable times to do this.
If you only check your messages out of habit, leave your phone in your locker or in your bag. If you don’t have it with you, you won’t be tempted.
Learning how to get to work on time isn’t like searching for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It really is possible to arrange your life so you aren’t always rushing to be on time—something that’s particularly important in nursing because of the team aspect of the job.
So, whether your shift begins early in the morning, mid-afternoon or late at night, here are five tips that may help you gather yourself—and your