Mindset of a Nurse works on Autopilot

by Angela Brooks

Nurses minds are trained to know what is normal an react to abnormal

After attending a live event and getting the opportunity to meet PJ McClure author of "Flip the S.W.I.T.C.H ( I have a signed copy *smile*)  an hearing him speak about mindset, really turned my thinking to new nurses mindset.

In nursing school, they teach you the basics of daily living task that a patient faces when they become ill. How to assist them with these task until they are able to get back on their feet. Taking a bath, brushing their teeth, getting dressed much like breathing happens with a sub conscience  mindset until you are not able to do these on your own when the conscious mind begins focusing on them. Then simple daily living task can become stressful.

The stress of not being able to take care of your own life or personal care becomes your patients focus. You meet some patients whom  have a full clear view of 'when I get better' an focus on healing. These patients seem to require less extra help an are discharged much faster because of their mindset.

Then you have the patient who rolls around in their sickness, laps up every smidget of sympathy they can get – an complains if the water pitcher has no ice! This patients mindset allows them to stay in the moment with no vision of how soon they can get back out on their own.

My uncle who had open heart surgery came out of the operating room asking 'when can I go home?' An he did three days later.

In the book – "Flip the S.W.I.T.C.H PJ McClure says: That mindset determines how we operate in the world. Your mindset does not have a on-off switch. It is always ON. Which means, You have full control to program what goes in and the choices you make. Once you have programmed it to think, whether negative or positive, that is the subconscious response that will operate automatically.

Once you "flip the switch" you will see things differently. Your illness, your finances, the things that happen to you in your life. For this week, listen to what you say. How you respond to things that go on around you. A nurse does this with out thinking. When she hears someone coughing at meal time – she will pause to make sure they are not choking. When someone voice raises – she pauses to make sure they are cheering for the ball game on TV and not angry at the TV.

I can not wait to hear your responses. Your mindset is yours to sharpen or weaken like a sword. Nurses work under a sharp skill of listening, watching and observing her patients. You can do that to your own life.

Angela is a nurse that has worked for 21 years in the same state funded psychiatric hospital assisting some clients that others might refuse to treat. She works on the psychiatric ward.

She also runs her own company on the side and supports other nurses in how to bring passion into their role at work. Out of the box remedies for speaking to people and more. Connect with us here

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* Please note: I am not here to CURE, DIAGNOSE, Treat or suggest replacements
for what a doctor prescribes – I am sharing my nursing adventures with you.

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Angela Brooks is a retired nurse after 25 years in mental health. She used her lunch breaks to build her business part time on the night shift. Her car became a mobile university as she listened to business training, coaching calls on CD and phone webinars. She blogged while she was at her sons' baseball practices.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carla J Gardiner September 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

Hey Angela,

You made some great points about mindset and you are so right. Although as a nurse you look for different things than most others, the end result is the same…what are you going to do with the information?
In describing your patients and how they use their circumstance it reminded me of lots of people I know…some positive and use that to go forward no matter what and some negative…the whole world is against them and that's why they fail.
Thank goodness for people like you, Sandi and PJ who help us all face these demons straight on, deal with them, crush them and move forward to our dreams and goals.
I so appreciate you, your lessons and stories. I can relate and they help me get a clearer picture of life day to day. Thanks for sharing and for the reminder to make lemonade out of the lemons. 

2 PJ McClure September 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Great work Angela! I think I recognize some of the things you wrote about. ;o)

I have 5 nurses in my immediate family and can attest to the deep training of the nurses mindset. The keen awareness it brings for the needs of others and the unfortunate side-effect of sometimes not caring for themselves.
There is also the aspect (and this may not be popular among your readers) of how established nurses treat new nurses. You and I spoke about it being akin to "eating their young" and I wandered aloud why it happens. I've gained a little insight since our conversation and wanted to bounce it off of you.
Is it possible that the strength of the nursing mindset is responsible for the interactions between established and new nurses? Could the same instincts that cause a nurse to care for, protect, and look out for the interest of their patients be creating a territorial vibe? Can it be that an established nurse is so dedicated to her charge that they view a new nurse as a potential threat to those she is protecting?
There's a lot more to the theory, but send back some thoughts on it. I'm curious to have your perspective.
Be your best,

3 Angela Brooks September 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Good Question PJ – I think the territorial vibe is a very good point! I am sure after being in my position as long as I have – I have raised my lip and showed my teeth to new nurses in the past. If she/he comes on the unit not willing to learn how to work in the area. If someone comes to our unit too cocky they can get hurt or others hurt. Just as well as in medical – As a seasoned nurse we need to hold our tongues, educate and train harder with more patiences. At one time we were all new and remember so well how I had to learn. The change can start with me as a leader to the new and upcoming generation.

As caring as nurses are… they can and do inflict alot of pain.

4 Angela Brooks September 23, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Carla Thank you – for being such a faithful reader. Making lemonade taste a little sweeter comes with time and seasoning. Change doesn't doesn't happen over night but it can happen when it becomes the goal

5 Greg Mercer March 17, 2013 at 8:37 am

Mindset indeed is crucial in many ways, a heavilty evidence-based idea. Perceptual research shows we see what we look for to a surprising extent. Attitude shapes one’s energy, motivation, creativity, and the likelihood of future success in any endeavor. One’s underlying attitude to patients greatly affects your ability to build rapport, trust, and cooperation, rapidly influencing ghe amount of wasted time and resistance one encounters, the amount and severity of hostility, and the risk of behavioral crises. Over time, it has become clear to me that poor attitudes lead to poor work, poor results, leading to a downward spiral into the burnt-out misery and resentment we see in all too many experienced Nurses. With some small effort over time, we can very effectively retrain ourselves with a mindset more consistent with happiness and success. In the same clinical setting, it is nearly always possible to be miserable and ineffective, or happy and successful; the choice and responsibility is entirely up to each individual Nurse. A victim’s role may rely on some truth, but it offers nothing useful anf holds one back.

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