R.N. Q&A #8: My hospital has crazy high turnover...

Nurse life coaching

Dear Robb,

The hospital that I work at has CRAZY high turnover. Literally we have flipped our entire critical care and step down units in the past year. The situation is so desperate that we even have brand new baby nurses right out of school "precepting" new grads now. It's so dangerous to say the least. I hate to say it but the nurses who are precepting haven't had nearly enough time to be able to take a step back and even fully get the big picture themselves.

I believe the management must be aware but are acting out of desperation. What can I do?? I have offered to be a resource person, to orient, etc. Even though step down is not my floor I am willing to cross over to help make the orientation process more effective. No one has listened. They never listen and I'm so worried about pt safety and not to mention these nurses' licenses that they probably aren't thinking about at this point.

How can I make them all understand how desperate this situation is? 

Thanks, Fran

Dear Fran,

I remember years ago watching a TV movie about a meteor hitting Houston (because I love disaster movies). In one scene a brand new nurse came to a hospital and there were injured patients everywhere, and she was totally overwhelmed and said "I can't help them all, I don't know what to do!" and her more experienced friend led her to a patient and said "But you can help this person. Just keep helping one more person."

It sounds like you are overwhelmed, as are, I assume, most of the other nurses you are working with. Wanna guess what one of the #1 emotions that leads to nurse burnout is? 

Wanting to help others is a great thing, it is why most of us became nurses in the first place. But I'd suggest that if you are feeling responsible for every other nurse and every other patient at your facility, you are going to burn yourself out and that isn't going to help anyone. 

This is going to sound funny at first, but stay with me here.

You are not responsible for the other nurses. You are not responsible for their education, or their licenses, or their patients. You are not responsible for what Administration understands or doesn't understand.

Your job, as I see it, is to take care of yourself so well that you can then take excellent care of the patients that you are assigned to.

Now, if you take care of yourself so well that you still have more to give, and I mean from a solid foundation of abundance not from a place of fear or worry or desperation, then by all means there are things you can do to help the hospital and patients and the other nurses. But do them because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. The difference there is so important. One will make you feel great, and the other will continue to wear you down. 

You can't make anyone understand anything. Whether they are blind to the situation or are purposely ignoring it, focusing on making someone else do something is the hardest task you can give yourself, because at the end of the day they are in control of the outcome, not you. 

You have to take care of yourself before you are going to be able to help others. Your battery has to be full before you can give your energy to others.

Instead of focusing on how bad things are and all the nightmares that could happen, try focusing on how you can be the most badass nurse you can be, leading a full, vibrant life, taking amazing care of your patients, helping your peers, and going home every day feeling confident and satisfied that you put in a good days work as someone who helps people. Be a leader by example. Show the other nurses what is possible. Because that is the path that will keep you loving your job, and the longer you love your job, the more patients and peers you can help. 

Hope this helps! :-)


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