Nursing can be one of the most rewarding, and also one of the most challenging, professions in the world. A successful career in nursing requires saint-like patience, the endurance of a triathlete and a wealth of medical knowledge across a wide variety of fields and disciplines. Fortunately, thanks to the wisdom of seasoned super-nurses, we’ve got the 10 nursing lifehacks that can take your day from stressful and exhausting to rewarding and energizing.
Let the Nursehacking begin:
1) ICE: YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
Where do we begin with our love of Ice? Not only is it easy to get, but ice has so many useful applications in nursing it boggles the mind. Pediatric patients complaining about the unpleasant taste of medication? Let them chew on some ice chips prior to medicating to numb the tongue and tastebuds to reduce flavor sensitivity. A natural anesthetic, ice or an ice pack can also be used to numb the surface of the skin when removing splinters from a patient. Looking for easier silicon nasogastric tube insertion? Soak the apparatus in ice water making it more rigid and easier to insert into the nasopharynx. Want more? You can more rapidly cease bleeding by adding an ice pack to a bandaged bleeding area in 15 minute intervals and then use that same ice to loosen up blood stains on your clothes (rub ice over the stained area to make for more effective washing and removal of stains). Oh, we’ve heard it can also keep your drink cold.
2) STAY FUELED WITH WATER AND SNACKS
Nursing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. With shifts sometimes running 10-12 hours, it’s important to make sure you stay properly fueled and energized for the long haul. Staying hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout your shift, as well as keeping healthy snacks on hand at all times, will help to make sure that your energy levels won’t crash before it’s time to go home.
3) CREATE A PERSONALIZED SMELL-PROTECTING MASK
Let’s be honest, every nurse has wished they didn’t have a sense of smell at one point or another. While we don’t advocate the removal of your olfactory receptors, there is a simple hack that does the trick. Take two surgical masks, apply the scented oil or ointment of your choice (Vick’s VapoRub or peppermint oil works great) to the outside face of the first mask. Layer the second mask over the first and tie them both on one after the other, voila: a clean, neat odor barrier between you and the most offensive of smells.
4) TRY A LIGHT WORKOUT BEFORE YOUR SHIFT
Not only will a light cardio workout, such as a run or brisk walk, get your energy going before you start your shift, it will help to regulate your sleep once you are done and need to rest. Exercise can also help you to manage stress during your shift.
5) GIVE FAMILY MEMBERS A JOB TO DO
The worried, stressed-out family members of patients can be difficult to deal with. Create a go-to list of helpful tasks that you can have any family member focus on accomplishing while their loved one is being treated. This will make them feel like they are helping and decrease their (and your) stress by keeping them focused on a task.
6) KEEP WANDERING PATIENTS IN THEIR ROOM WITH A TASK
Ever had a confused geriatric patient who has trouble staying put in their room? By giving them a simple task to do (like helping out with folding towels or washcloths) you can keep them focused and prevent wandering throughout the halls.
7) COFFEE GROUNDS: THE ULTIMATE SMELL NEUTRALIZER
Another good solution to dealing with unpleasant odors is to keep an open can of rich coffee grounds at your nurse station or in a patient’s room. The pleasant and powerful odor helps to neutralize other, less pleasant odors that may arise quickly and unexpectedly.
8) RELIEVE NAUSEA WITH ALCOHOL SWABS OR ICE BEHIND THE EAR
As if ice hadn’t already done enough for us! A couple easy methods you can use to alleviate nausea (yours or a patients) include pressing ice behind the ears or applying an alcohol swab just above your upper lip and inhaling the fumes. Both of these tricks work wonders for short-term reduction of nausea.
9) USE HYDROGEN PEROXIDE AND KY JELLY TO REMOVE BLOOD STAINS
A few drops of Hydrogen Peroxide or a swab of KY Jelly are strong allies in the never-ending battle with stubborn blood stains. Apply either to the stained area and rub in to help dissolve more persistent stains.
10) USE A UNIQUE SCENT TO PRIME MEMORY FOR TEST TAKING
As a medical professional, the learning never ends. Staying abreast of new advances in the field of nursing, obtaining a new certification or taking your career to the next level by becoming a nurse practitioner all require study and testing. While smell-management is a big part of successful Nursehacking, a unique smell can also be used as a study and test-taking tool. Here’s how it works: before beginning your studies, spray a unique (and, we recommend, pleasant) scent in your immediate area and repeat as needed to keep it present throughout your study period. Then, before taking the test you were studying for, spray the exact same unique scent in your immediate area or apply to your person so only you can smell it. The smell will help you to more effectively trigger and access the memories you formed while studying in the presence of that same scent.