A Deliberate Well-Being Plan Protects You From the Hazards of Your Work
Well-being is as much part of an oncology nurse’s personal protective equipment as gloves and gowns are, Lisa Blackburn, MS, APRN-CNS, PMGT-BC, AOCNS®, from The James at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a session during the ONS BridgeTM virtual conference on September 16, 2021. Just as a construction worker needs a hard hat, safety vest, and harness, oncology nurses need equipment to protect themselves from the hazards of their work, and “it’s more than manis, pedis, and massages,” Blackburn said.
Nursing Shortage Is a National Crisis, ANA Tells HHS
The nursing shortage has reached dire proportions and more needs to be done to ensure the United States has the nurses we need to care for the public, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Nurses Association (ANA) said in a September 2021 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the agency to declare the shortage a national crisis and to take action against it.
It’s Okay to Put Yourself First Sometimes
Are you at—or well over—the brink of burnout? Do you feel like you give, give, give and cannot find the time to refill? Those are common feelings for nurses, whose profession is a service to humanity. Although our work is rewarding, it’s also physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. Never feel guilty or judge yourself for stepping away and taking time for yourself—it’s essential to maintain the high level of care you provide every day.
The Seven Dimensions of Rest
Sleep and rest are two different concepts. Society focuses on sleep, but rest is just as important, and not just for the physical body. Rest allows us to nurture our physical, mental, emotional, sensory, creative, social, and spiritual self. Each of those dimensions needs to be consciously rested for a person to truly feel restored.
Strong Social Relationships Strengthen and Sustain You
Social distancing was never intended to be social isolation, but many of us have struggled to maintain relationships in today’s world. Human beings are built to be social, and science has shown that building strong, meaningful relationships can get us through tough times, provide physical and mental advantages, and make us happier. Perhaps a silver lining of the pandemic is a newfound appreciation for social connections with friends, colleagues, and community.
Conflict Engagement Helps Providers Focus on Care
Nurses have an innate drive to improve healthcare delivery. When I was a unit director, I focused on nursing unit turnarounds to improve quality of care. I used mediation as the model for resolving long-time conflicts and provided training to effectively engage and communicate. I started my mediation practice in 2003 to help physicians, nurses, and administrators resolve the complex issues that get in the way of patient care and create stressful work environments.
Multimethod Approach Supports Providers’ Mental Health During COVID-19
Providing variety of methods and approaches allows healthcare workers to choose the best options for them to mitigate and treat psychological distress from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, researchers said in a preliminary report published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
The COVID-19 Pandemic Fast-Tracked Our Growth as Nurses
For the past 15 months, healthcare providers across the country risked their lives to care for those who needed us most. After spending more than a year at the forefront of a global health crisis, many of us, naturally, harbor feelings of stress and anxiety. Now that the world is returning to something resembling normal, we can pause, reflect, and observe how much we’ve all grown throughout this experience.
Time in Nature Is Time Well Spent
“Nature alone cures,” Florence Nightingale instructed her fellow nurses in Notes on Nursing—and we’ve continued to follow that principle, creating a healing environment for our patients that involves fresh air and sunlight. That same environment can promote health in nurses as well.
The Key to Managing Moral Distress During a Pandemic? Resiliency
Oncology nursing has always been a challenging career with many stressors, but the moral distress brought on by a global pandemic has increased rates of depression, anxiety, and professional burnout among nurses, Patricia Jakel, RN, MSN, AOCN®, and Devin Ballentine, RN, BSN, both of UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, said during a session for the 46th Annual ONS Congress™ on April 22, 2021.
ANA: Nurses Should Remember the Importance of Self-Care
Nurses are selfless caregivers. However, compared to the average American, they are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress, and get less than the recommended hours of sleep. Long shifts and work hazards only exacerbate nurses’ propensity for those factors. In response, the American Nurses Association (ANA) is raising awareness for nurses to think about themselves.
Don’t Get Trapped in the Pitfalls of Perfectionism
Having high expectations can motivate you to achieve your very best. In the extreme, however, aiming for perfection can be dangerous to your mental health. In a 2015 TED Talk, self-proclaimed perfectionist Petra Kolber passionately revealed that despite being at the top in her field in the fitness industry, she felt her best was never good enough and she lived a joyless life.
Self-Care Is Essential When Working Remotely
Did you ever imagine that you could do your job remotely? I did not, but that’s what I’m doing right now. Working remotely has become the new normal for certain professional roles, including some in nursing. An estimated 31% of new hires since March 2020 work from home. In February 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released social distancing guidelines and recommended the use of telehealth for patient visits. In March 2020, telehealth visits increased 154% compared to March 2019. Working at home has affected both healthcare workers and patients.
COVID-19’s Implications for People With Cancer and Oncology Nurses
Since the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus—the greatest global public health emergency in a century—has disrupted or delayed many aspects of life, including cancer care. But it’s also opened new opportunities for nursing innovation and brought much-needed change to health care. Here’s where we are one year later.
Pandemics Have Serious Psychological Implications for Nurses
Watching patients—or even colleagues—suffer or die, not being able to protect yourself with the right personal protective equipment, worry about exposing loved ones, and the challenge of balancing it all contribute to an immeasurable psychological burden for nurses and other healthcare professionals during a pandemic. Studies show that the effects are serious, leading to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and, in some cases, suicide among providers.
How Enhancing Your Career Benefits Both Your Patients and Yourself
Caring for patients with cancer is a complex subspecialty of nursing. In most of their day-to-day work, oncology nurses function independently and require time management, communication, and prioritization skills in addition to extensive clinical knowledge and expertise.
How to Establish a More Compassionate Workplace
A career of more than 40 years provides experiences and insight that can help nurses prioritize self-care, be more resilient, and stay positive during stressful times. During an on-demand session for the inaugural ONS BridgeTM virtual conference in October 2020, Susan Childress, MN, RN, former director of nursing at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) in Salt Lake City, UT, and recipient of the 2020 Mara Mogensen Flaherty Memorial Lectureship, offered advice for oncology nurses in maintaining compassionate care and resiliency in practice.
Nurses Account for Largest Group of Healthcare Providers With COVID-19 Infections
Nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are at greater risk of infection than other clinicians, according to the COVID-19 Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Nurse-related occupations, including nurses and certified nursing assistants, represent the largest proportion (36%) of healthcare providers hospitalized with COVID-19. The national survey brought to light what many nurses may have already known: nursing as a profession bears the brunt of the pandemic.
Intuitive Eating Creates Healthy Food Rituals
Food connects us to other cultures, helps us celebrate life’s milestones, and nourishes our body. We spend hours of our day planning meals, cooking, and eating. With food at the center of our lives, a positive view of it promotes health and well-being, but many of us struggle with eating behaviors and weight management throughout our lifetime.
Use the Nursing Process to Create a Self-Care Plan
Current events have given us an opportunity, and sometimes even a necessity, to rethink our well-being approaches. But developing a self-care plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming when you use a familiar method like the American Nurses Association’s nursing process.
What It Feels Like to Be a Nurse of Color
I was born in India but came to the United States of America when I was 16 years old to be with the rest of my family. Having been an American citizen for 20 years, I have called this country home for most of my life. However, I still feel like an outsider and the workplace is no exception.
How Will You Define Your New Normal?
The phrase “a new normal” is used in the oncology setting to describe the changes a person faces as a result of cancer and its treatments. Physical and emotional scars plus activity limitations are examples of adjustments cancer survivors make as they define what will be their new normal. But in today’s media, the new normal is being used to label the changes the world’s population is facing as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
How to Establish a More Compassionate Workplace
Nurses have a well-documented history of experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout because of the demands of the profession. The problem may be more pronounced in oncology nurses, who may feel moral distress, grief, and loss related to futility of care or death of a long-term patient.
PTSD Is More Common Among Nurses Than You May Realize
Almost 96% of nurses report experiencing at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and nearly 21% meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD, according to findings from a literature review published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
If You’re Trying to Be Productive, Stop Multitasking
When it comes to the human brain, the ability to effectively multitask is a myth. Although computers can run two or more programs simultaneously, our brains must task-switch, and in the transfer of attention, time and productivity are lost. Monotasking, or single tasking, is now considered a way to increase productivity and actually maximize time.
How to Practice Self-Care During Times of Uncertainty
Uncertainty prevails in times of crisis. Patients with cancer are all too familiar with the initial uncertainty surrounding a cancer diagnosis, treatments, and adjusting to a new normal. Oncology nurses are seeing parallels with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic as people worldwide face the unknowns of a health threat and the economic aftermath of the outbreak. Medical caregivers are confronting it head on as they work together to protect and tend to the physical and psychosocial needs of others.
The Emotional Burden of COVID-19 Almost Made Me Leave Nursing
Life can steer you down a road that changes your impressions and view of the world. Without conscious awareness, it distorts comprehension and challenges you to change or be a byproduct of the times. Fighting to go back in time can destroy your life, livelihood, and career.
Be Honest: Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
A full night’s sleep is a necessity, not a luxury, yet many people place sleep at the end of their priority list. Rather than seeing it as restorative, they think it takes up precious time to be productive. Many proudly proclaim, “You can sleep when you’re dead,” but ignoring healthy sleep habits can actually bring people closer to that end. Insufficient sleep is so pervasive in the United States that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it a public health epidemic.
The Evidence for Herbal Supplements for Immunity and Stress During COVID-19
As the world embarks on unprecedented research efforts to prevent and treat the COVID-19 coronavirus, patients with cancer and healthcare providers alike may be interested in using herbal products to boost their immune system or relieve anxiety and stress. However, finding accurate information is challenging: no herbs have been scientifically proven to prevent or treat COVID-19, and some may even cause harm.
Palliative Care Resources Comfort Nurses Through COVID-19 Stress, Dilemmas, and Grief
The concept of providing comfort is at the core of my identity as a nurse, and I have always been drawn to the palliative care component of what we do as oncology nurses. Because it wasn’t part of my roles, I was less confident in my knowledge and understanding of chemotherapy administration, but I often thought, “Palliative care, yeah, I’ve got this!”
And then I learned how little I knew.
Cope With COVID-19 Through Mind-Body Therapies for Oncology Nurses
The COVID-19 coronavirus is causing dramatic increases in anxiety and stress around the world, disrupting daily life. Healthcare professionals, including oncology nurses, are confronting enormous challenges as they struggle to deliver optimal patient care.
Patient Communication Strategies for COVID-19 Conversations
We are oncology nurses. We don’t shy away from hard discussions. We have the skills and tools to help others. But this pandemic is different. The COVID-19 coronavirus has changed the rules. It’s ushered in social distancing, limited contact, and induced a new level of panic. COVID-19 doesn’t care if you are a nurse or a patient. It is an equalizer between us all.
Clear the Clutter With This Chinese Discipline
Physical and mental clutter can negatively affect your mood, productivity, and overall health. Think about how you feel when looking for a misplaced report on a disorderly desk covered with papers stacked atop magazines next to a conglomerate of used cups and scattered pens. Or observe your thoughts as they randomly shift from subject to object and back again. Being in a state of perceived chaos can stimulate feelings of anxiety and biologically increase cortisol levels.
Psychosocial Support for Patients With Cancer During COVID-19
When the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, in a matter of days clinicians were scrambling to find novel ways to screen, triage, and provide telehealth interventions to protect patients with chronic conditions who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. As nurses, we are accustomed to helping patients in crisis acclimate to a changing environment, process large amounts of information, and have their psychosocial needs met.
Emotional Coping Strategies for COVID-19
The COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic is turning the world, inside and outside of the hospital, upside down. Not only are oncology nurses seeing high demands at work, but changes and restrictions are being instated at home as well.
Why You Need to Use Your Vacation Benefits
Vacations can take many forms. Some are focused on pursuing thrill in far off places, whereas others are all about rest, whether at home or in an exotic locale. But all vacation takers are seeking the same outcome: better health and well-being when they return. This can translate into personal and professional benefits such as a better attitude, increased focus, and improved outlook on life. So why does the average American leave approximately four employer-paid vacation days on the table each year?
Prioritize Your Time Amid Today’s Attention Seekers
In a world where we are bombarded with too many attention seekers (e.g., activities, people, internet), we need to prioritize which stimuli are worth our immediate attention. Nurses are inundated with busy, fast-paced, and evolving roles, and 90% report that they do not have enough time to properly care for patients. The pressure to do so much in a limited amount of time increases stress levels and burnout and decreases our capacity for self-care. Prioritizing and devoting allotted time to our attention seekers may improve stress management, work-life balance, and overall self-care.
Cope With Moral Distress by Focusing on the Possibilities
Ethical dilemmas arise more often than we realize: consider the patient you have been taking care of for three days telling you he wants no further treatment, but later goes along with family members when they push for more treatment. Moral distress occurs when nurses believe they know the correct action to take but are prevented from doing so. It may lead to a decrease in the quality of patient care and can be a causative factor when nurses leave their current job and sometimes even the profession.
Take These Healthy Steps to Come Back From an Unexpected Event
Oncology nurses at every professional level may encounter a variety of unexpected experiences, ranging from unkind words uttered by a patient or coworker to a medication error or the traumatic or untimely death of a beloved patient. Although the events seem like isolated, separate experiences, they can have a compounding impact on a nurse’s well-being.
Leaders Need to Walk the Talk When It Comes to Self-Care, Too
How are you taking care of yourself? It’s a question I’ve asked many team members, including leaders I have had the privilege of serving, over the course of my career. I’ve even added this question into certain candidate interviews to assess resiliency in individuals. And of course I ask it of myself often. That’s because it is my professional responsibility to ensure I am caring for myself. Provision 5 of the Code of Ethics for Nurses says, “The nurse owes the same duties to self as to others, including the responsibility to promote health and safety.”
Use These Personal Development Strategies for Self-Improvement
Personal development is a lifelong process. It’s a way to assess our skills and qualities, consider our aims in life, and set goals to realize and maximize our potential. Part of personal development involves challenging ourselves to learn and master new skills. The more we put ourselves out there—away from our comfort zone to try new things—the more we learn about ourselves.
Protect Yourself and Your Colleagues From the Dark Side of Caring
Nursing requires emotional energy and hard work to provide care to those we serve. However, there’s a dark side to the profession: workplace violence, or the exchanges perceived to be offensive or intimidating that can progress as far as homicide.
Here’s How You Can Confront Workplace Violence in a Healthcare Setting
RNs encounter workplace violence and abuse at a far higher rate than in any other profession in the United States. Although the topic is uncomfortable, it’s a very real aspect of health care for many professionals. Most nurses have likely experienced an abusive, dangerous, or violent encounter in the healthcare setting at some point in their careers.
How Music Can Soothe Your Savage Beast—Stress
Where you put your attention matters more than you realize. For example, when you are thinking or talking about work-life stressors, your ability to take in other sensory input is challenged. One way to break out of the mental stress loop is to listen to music. Music can divert the brain’s attention, giving you a break from repetitive thoughts and judgments. The variety of music genres to choose from when looking for ways to shift your attention and enhance mood is ever increasing.
Practice These Five Self-Care Strategies in Less Than Five Minutes
Oncology nursing is a rewarding profession that offers nurses opportunities to build meaningful relationships with patients and families, manage complex patient situations, and provide compassionate care during a scary time in someone’s life. But what makes oncology nursing so special can also make nurses more vulnerable to occupational stress, which can lead to compassion fatigue or burnout.
Commit to Protect and Care for Yourself During Oncology Nursing Month
May is a month of celebration as we look forward to graduations, Mother’s Day, National Nurses’ Day, and Oncology Nursing Month. Many of us will celebrate with small gifts or trinkets, continuing education events, or treats like special breakfasts, donuts, or pizza parties from our employers. How will you celebrate your role in a profession that the public continues to describe as the most trusted year after year? How will you continue to nurture and protect yourself as one of nearly 4 million national treasures?
Patient Social Determinants; Trauma in Nursing; House Overturns Obamacare Move
Through a combination of expert clinical knowledge, relationship-building skills, and routine selection as the most trusted profession in the United States, nurses are one of the most impactful healthcare professionals when it comes to addressing patient issues. Challenges—like financial toxicity and limited access to care—are central to nursing advocacy efforts, and oncology nurses know firsthand the negative impacts they have on patients with cancer.
Self-Care for the Soles
The twenty-six bones in the foot are always being stepped on. Getting on one’s nerves takes on a whole new meaning when considering that each foot contains an estimated 200,000 nerve endings. With health enthusiasts recommending 10,000 steps per day, which translates to approximately five miles, is it any wonder that the often-abused soles deserve a little self-care?