In the spirit of gift-giving, let’s talk about a gift we can give others; by doing so, we also offer ourselves a gift. However, to truly offer this gift, you must be intentional and practice this gift-giving experience. Once it becomes a part of your practice, this gift keeps giving.
How often do you focus on the “tasks” that need to be completed in a checklist fashion?
|Assess patient #1||x|
|Assess patient #2 and administer meds||x|
|Hang new IV fluids on patient #3, administer medications, and reposition them||x|
|Call the family member of patient #4 to update them||x|
|Assess the pain level of patient #5 1 hour after Norco administered||x|
|Review morning vital signs and chart||x|
This list grows, and you only feel good if you complete one task and quickly move to the next with the sole purpose of having tasks checked off your list. As nurses, checklists are our security and maybe even our lifeline at times. The problem is not with the checklist; the problem is that our primary focus at times is the checklist and not necessarily our patients, patient’s family members, or our team.
What if we kept the checklist but changed the focus? What if our focus was being present? How can we incorporate being present not only during our busy work day but every day? Developing the skill of being present could be a priority, along with the tasks we need to complete.
|Tasks||Complete||Was I fully present in my interaction|
|Assess patient #1||x||The patient felt listened to and cared for. I learned they have a son coming to visit today|
|Assess patient #2 and administer meds||x||I asked the patient if they were comfortable, and they said yes. However, I noticed that their body language showed something different. We found a simple solution, and the patient was grateful and felt cared for|
|Hang new IV fluids on patient #3, administer medications, and reposition them||x||While repositioning the patient, I learned they have 2-year-old twin boys. It was fun to learn about them.|
|Call the family member of patient #4 to update them||x||While talking to the patient’s family member, I could listen to their concerns and ease their anxieties.|
|Assess the pain level of patient #5 1 hour after Norco administered||x||When I assessed the patient’s pain level one hour after Norco was administered, I learned his pain was a 7/10, but he was afraid to take more narcotics. I was able to get an order for scheduled non-narcotic medications. The patient appreciated that. We will continue to evaluate.|
|Review morning vital signs and chart||x||As I reviewed vital signs, I noticed a slight change in my patient’s blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. I assessed the patient further and was concerned about sepsis. I spoke with the provider and got the sepsis protocol initiated. It turns out the patient was in the early stages of sepsis, and we were able to intervene quickly.|
This is where the “gift” comes in. So how can we incorporate being fully present in our interactions?
1) Before going into a patient’s room, take two seconds and say to yourself, “What I’m about to do right now is the most important thing I can do right now.”
2) During all interactions with patients, families, MDs, your team, etc., train your brain to focus on that interaction rather than the next thing you need to do.
3) If you find yourself thinking about the other things you need to do, remind yourself, “What I’m doing right now is the most important thing I can do right now.”
This is important! We will be distracted if we are trying to focus on the task at hand, the individuals involved, and the other things we need to check off our list simultaneously.
The benefits of incorporating the gift of presence into our daily routine are numerous. We feel less stressed because we aren’t focusing on the next thing on our list; instead, we free ourselves up to focus on the people and tasks at hand. We are generally less distracted. We have more meaningful conversations. Who doesn’t need connections? We build trust with the people we are caring for and working with. We can learn so much more than when we are distracted. Being fully present helps us feel more fulfilled overall. The gift of presence is a gift for our patients, our co-workers, our friends, our families, and most importantly ourselves.
Happy Holidays from the TerraFirma Family!
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