This was really hard, but if I can make it through, so can you!! I had a mix of seasoned and new nurses who were mean or kind, knowledge sharers and non sharers. Initially this mattered a lot, but ultimately, as I changed and grew, it mattered less and less, because my knowledge base and confidence grew, and I could advocate for myself as well as my patients.
I was so focused on what people thought, and learning how to take good care of my patients, and time management, that I didnt stop to think about why I was full of anxiety and in tears at some point every day. I started having nausea and panic at the thought of coming in to work because of mean nurses who made fun of me, or made disparaging comments instead of helping me to become better. I just believed all the negatives. Dont do that! You can become a great nurse! All of us have different skillsets, and you will find yours, if you are persistent and patient with yourself and others. We all have gifts that the patients and other members of the healthcare team can benefit from.
I didnt realize that the fuzzy anxious feelings, nausea and tears were not all emotional. It was also sensory overload, and feeling overwhelmed. There are buzzers, bells, clicks, tons of people, and a whole bunch of stuff going on all the time. It doesn’t ever fully stop…but there is a rhythm to it. It ebbs and flows. Even in the bathroom, or in the breakroom, call lights go off, lab calls with critical, family members ask for updates at bedside, providers ask you to take orders. You will find the lulls in the rhythm eventually, and use those to catch up on charting, pee, eat something, and step back so you can regroup. Initially, a new nurse doesn’t see the rhythm, and it will feel chaotic.
Some things that help every new nurse: get to work early so you can look up your patients before getting report. Look up med times for each patient, so you can give them each on time. Organize your patients by med times and prioritize by needs. Create a simple sheet that lists basics for each patient- assessment, med pass, charting, chart or order checks, whiteboard, tasks, careplanning, fall precautions, in whatever order works best to keep you on track. Focus only on the patient you are taking care of when in the room with that patient. In simple terms, create some order in your seeming chaos.
Until you are comfortable dealing with patients, script your dialog. An example would be: Hi! My name is Alli, and I will be your nurse today/tonight. Are you having any pain or nausea? Can you point to where? On a scale of 1 to 10 what is your level…. While I am in here do you need to go to the bathroom or be changed ? No? Ok. I am getting report from the prior shift on all my patients, but after that I will start checking on all of you. If you need me just press your call light…yes that button.
Scripting is a great tool to improve patient satisfaction survey scores too. If you announce before you walk in to a patients room let me sanitize my hands for your safety, and they see you rubbing hand sanitizer on your hands, they will say yes you were.doing that on the survey.
The hardest hurdle as a newbie for me was sensory overload. I got better at recognizing when it was happening, and found that all I needed if I caught it in time was a few minutes in the med room or supply closet of quiet, and I could get rid of the impending tears, fuzziness, and anxiety. If I didnt do it, I would fall apart. I also needed to not talk for a few minutes when I was at that point. Talking would also bring on tears. Another trick is to stop thinking 10 steps ahead with all the what ifs…Instead, make yourself focus on only the current task. You have to.
I play soft classical at my computer very low while charting. It gives me a focal point other than the constant noise of the hospital. I can still hear my patients, but it helps me. I have a fidget toy in one pocket, and snacks. It also helps me to know that other members of my team have anxiety, depression, health problems, and various issues of their own, and we support each other. If someone needs a moment we pick up their work for a few minutes to give them that time. It’s part of being a team, and a work family.
As an aspie, it may take longer to build those bonds with your coworkers. You will, though. They need to know you to trust you, and that takes time. Do your best, stay positive,ask for help and advice, and offer to help when you can, and it will happen. My first year was rough, the second was better, and now in my third, I am ok floating to other units, and stepping up to new challenges. I am not going say its it’s easy- I still panicked the first time I floated to the emergency room, as I didnt have a log in, know their charting system, or game plan/rhythm. Our charge rn talked to that unit’s charge, as did I, and I got a quick overview of the charting, a log in and a plan. I did fine, and know I can do it! I still face some challenges being an aspie, but I have the tools to deal effectively with what comes my way. I know I can make a difference and do. Be kind to yourself. That is the first step. You cant be effective if you are being a bully to yourself. Face outward, not inward.