Five Things Employers DON’T Want in a Nurse

Quick reminders for both new grads and seasoned staff

A man with a badge around his neck is holding a cup of coffee and closing his eyes while he sits on a chair

Both new and seasoned nurses should always be striving to be the type of employees people want to recruit and retain. There are many books, articles and entire seminars on what employers want in a nurse today. Here are five strategies for you based on what they DON’T want.

Don’t Skip Breaks.

Often, we are so busy taking care of others that we neglect to take care of ourselves. How often do you hear yourself or others boast, “I worked straight through lunch again today!” or, “I’ve worked here 20 years and I have never taken a break!”

Despite our demanding work schedules, our managers and leaders do not want us to neglect caring for our own bodies, minds and spirits.  So, two or three times a shift, take 15 minutes to get away, sit down, breathe deeply, relax a bit, read something inspirational or whisper a prayer.

I know your commitment to your patients makes this difficult, but it’s important to your survival. Ask a teammate to back you up while you take a break and then return the favor. You’ll find this time is a good investment — you will go back to work refreshed, reinvigorated, more compassionate and more productive.

Don’t Be a Party to “Stinkin’ Thinkin.’”

Mama used to say that one bad apple can spoil the whole bag, and that is also true with attitudes at work.  Negativity is contagious. So is positivity. We get what we expect, what we visualize; we become our most dominant thoughts.  So, think positively. Speak positively.

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When you witness negative talk or actions, refuse to be a part of it. Mama also said, “When you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” A simple smile is the best way to share comfort, hope and healing with your patients and your coworkers.

Smile, whether you feel like it or not.

Don’t Quit.

Your employer has invested a lot in you and hopes you will be a long-term employee. It is estimated to cost approximately $80,000 to recruit and hire a new nurse. Your facility hired you with the good-faith belief that you would be a good investment. Prove to them you are.

Take advantage of all the opportunities they offer: education, wellness programs, advancements and more. You deserve them. Commit to being the best employee possible so that you — and they — want you to stay.

Don’t Be High-Tech and Low-Touch.

Every year, there is more and more technology to help us care for patients. Yet, most of us admit that it also takes us away from them. One of the biggest frustrations I hear from nurses is that they aren’t allowed the time to care from their hearts as well as their hands.

Nursing Education

Remember, we can “touch” patients by simply looking them in the eyes for a few seconds, smiling, holding their hands or — get ready for this — by giving them a three-minute backrub.

My nursing instructor, a hundred years or so ago, was right: If you are a hospital nurse, giving a patient a short, tender backrub provides them such comfort and assurance that they often have fewer needs and requests the rest of the shift. Another good investment of time.

Don’t Neglect Your Intake and Output.

We teach our patients to eat healthily and drink lots of water, yet how often do we follow that advice? I still remember stuffing cold food in my mouth while frantically charting in a so-called break room on “good” days.

One reason we don’t drink more water is because we don’t want to take time to go to the bathroom! However, when you take 15-minute breaks, eat healthy foods, drink adequate liquids and empty your bladder when you need to, you are nourished, stronger and better equipped to give the best patient care.

LeANN THIEMAN, LPN, CSP, CPAE, is a nationally acclaimed speaker, author, nurse. She is the coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Soul for Nurses series and her transformational, yearlong SelfCare for HealthCare program. Visit SelfCareforHealthCare.com.

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