I’ve been a registered nurse for over twenty-five years, and after all this time, I’ve come to a point in my career where I accept what I cannot change and don’t fret the rest.

But I also make sure I set myself up for the best possible success.

After all these years, I’ve concluded that there are 3 elements that can make or break a nurse’s 12-hour shift, and heck, even a career as a travel nurse. These are the way our patients act, how the friends and family of the patients behave, and of most importance is how well we take care of ourselves.

It’s not that I’m any better than any of my fellow nurses and travel nurses. 

Instead, it’s because I realize that I can control many things in my personal life, which leads me to a better, happier, more fulfilled career.

So in this article, I’ll share some legit travel nurse “life hacks” that you can and should, by all means, steal and implement into your very own career.

You’re going to have long days and long shifts, so be prepared

Here’s what I mean by that.

First, I get my grocery store shopping done before the week starts, and I’m selective about what I buy. As soon as I’m home, I’ll cook and prep enough food to last me through the oncoming shifts. I’ll follow a specific diet like Paleo or an Atkins style, simply so I’ll have enough energy and vigor for twelve hours.

It was crucial for a night shift nurse, so I wouldn’t hit that proverbial “wall” around 3-4 am.

Fill your water bottle or coffee mug up before you get the report. You know as well as I that sometimes report ends, and we’re off to the races. So fill it up beforehand.

Another hack for me is working my 3 nights straight. I realize it may be challenging for some, but having that continuity and knowing I’d likely be off 4 days in a row was a mental boost for me.

Your patient care and your self-care are intertwined, so strive to improve them both

Whether you work in an ER, ICU, Med-Surg, or an LTAC, these tips will either apply directly or with some slight modifications.

Look, the fact is that in some shifts, we’ll have crazy ill patients, and others may be a bit less unpredictable. But either way, establishing a routine for the shift will set you and your patients up for maximum ease.

On some days, taking care of individuals with specific diagnoses might be difficult. Creating a method to think about these patients can improve the quality of your life and the patients’ lives.

When I have patients who are in pain, I’ll set them up on a regular schedule to stay in front of it. I do my best to explain the plan of action and assure that they understand and are on board with it. This has a multi-prong effect.

One, it lets them know when and with what I will be back around. And two, it helps them help the family understand what our plan of “pain attack” is.

On the night shift, we nurses may fall into chill mode. In other words, patients sleep, lights dim, and we might be lulled into thinking all is well until the day shift arrives. Something I do is I’ll make very regular rounds. At least every 90 minutes, if not every hour.

Sometimes peeking into a patient’s room at odd hours helps me help them better, especially if they’re still awake or restless.

Finally, whether I’m floated to the floor or at my ER norm, I’ll firm things up with the tech or aide on duty. Maybe it’s my military background shining through, but I want to assure you that we will function as a team through the shift.

Take care of the family, and they’ll take care of you

We’ve all had family members where nothing we did was good enough.

While it may seem and feel over the top, on some levels, if it was our family never in that bed, we might be a little overzealous as well.

Regardless, the family is part of that plan of care, so make sure that they’re included.

Something I always did, and still do, is take time to introduce myself to the family. A quick and easy few minutes may go a long way as the next twelve hours of your shift unfolds. Plus, when they get to know you as they nurse, it may put them at ease enough to relax and maybe even head home early.

Don’t forget that the job we do as travel nurses is often second nature, but to the family, they may have tons of questions. So be open to answering their questions no matter how small they seem.

The final word

It can be difficult to juggle the demands of nursing and your personal life.

Fortunately, there are many hacks that you can use to improve both aspects of your life simultaneously. Whether it’s making sure you have food for all twelve hours or ensuring family members understand what care is being provided to their loved ones, these simple tricks will help keep you sane while fulfilling the demanding role of a travel nurse.

To learn more about the travel nursing opportunity and cities across the country, visit Bestica Healthcare and start planning your next assignment today.

>> www.BesticaHealthcare.com

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