Recently I received an email from a nurse, struggling to balance being a nurse with… well, quite frankly… being a nurse. I’ll share it here (anonymously and with slight shifts to protect this nurse’s privacy) as through simply reading this email, you’ll understand the previous sentence immediately. Here it goes…
My biggest challenge in enjoying my nursing career today, without a doubt, is all the repetitive charting.
I work in the critical care setting, and have for 13 years. Throughout those years, I have worked primarily for 2 different companies. Both companies claim to utilize the “chart by exception” model, yet we as nurses are charting head to toe assessments every 4 hours, “safety” , hygiene, etc., every 2 hours, vitals at least hourly…..the list goes on. I often feel like I’m not caring for my patients, I’m tending to a computer.
I recently had the wife of one of my patients say, “I remember when nurses cared for their patients, not a computer.” I was quite embarrassed.
I realize charting is a necessity, but so much of what we do is repetitive and a waste of time. Time I could be spending at the bedside. Time I could be reading reports about my patient, getting to know my patient better. I often leave my 12 hour shift feeling like all I’ve accomplished is typing. This is NOT what I signed up for. Over the years, it’s gotten worse.
What do you think? Boy, a tough one. I would have to go back to my sent box archives to see what I really wrote back to this nurse, but let’s give it a stab again in the blog post that follows. And I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on this one in the comments below!
First off, the science of nursing is certainly speeding light years ahead. We have high technology and wonderful advancements that we can offer our patients and their families. And, as we know, every ‘good’ thing comes with unintended side effects. It’s like email and text messaging. While we love it and it is quick, we now hear complaints that people don’t just pick up the phone and call each other any more. Where does it end?
So if we have this science of nursing- which, by the way, is NOT going away- the next question must then become: how can we cope with it? How can we deal with the fact that we may have gone into the nursing profession to provide great care to people, not computers? How can we balance the art with the science of nursing?
- Do it When You Can. A fellow nurse who participates regularly in the Art of Nursing Facebook Community, shared a way that she brings more patient-focused care into her busy day. In fact, she shares how she does it and just how long it takes in this video here. This nurse talks about how she pauses to share time with the patient and uses non-pharmacological methods for pain reduction. Sure, this cannot take the place of fancy technology and may not be effective 100% of the time. But what is important here is for us each to remember that we have a choice with every patient encounter. We can decide to sit and stay focused with the patient in front of us, when we can.
- Reconnect to Your Why. I think often the stress and overwhelm felt by nurses who are constantly charting online is because this is not what we envisioned when we went into nursing. We wanted to take care of patients, not computers (as the nurse in the email above reminds us). So it can be extremely frustrating when we are not able to do the things we had wanted to do as nurses. Here I offer a longer term solution: reconnecting back to your nurse within. You need to remember why you went into nursing in the first place. When we can reconnect with our WHY, we are much more likely to feel connected to the art of nursing practice.
- Learn and Grow. The final tip is one we can do as individuals and one we can do with greater organizational support. Each year during National Nurse’s Week, I host an online conference called The Art of Nursing. I interview 12 top nurse experts on topics such as leadership, communication, technology, clinical issues, self-care and more. These nurse authors, speakers, and consultants share their views on how we can invite more art into the science of nursing. They educate us on how we can think global and flow with the current of healthcare change. I invite you and your nursing team to join us this year. Share this page with your nursing leadership so your staff can enjoy the art and science of nursing practice.
What do you already do to build these components of the art of nursing into your nursing career? Let’s hear from you; leave a comment or question below. Thanks for reading!
About the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. During the National Nurse’s Week online conference, ‘The Art of Nursing‘, Elizabeth supports nurses in achieving professional goals of continued learning and development. Click here to find out more about how The Art of Nursing appreciates and celebrates our profession in a meaningful way.