Education and training your nursing staff is an ongoing process. From the time your staff walk into your facility to the time they reach the units they are assigned. They are in a learning curve that has so many turns…at least in mental health.
By having the opportunity to speak to the new staff before they ever meet the first patient, the opportunity to influence their thinking and how they feel about their job. Warnings and understanding of the job is a given tool that is shared with anyone coming into a new facility. Listening to the questions and curiosity of what they have in mind of what they will be doing verse what they will be doing according policy.
As we all do, we get caught up in the policy and getting the documents out to be completed to go in a folder with someone new name on it when a knock comes softly on the office door. You can see someone's eye peeking in and the door squeaks open after a "come in" is called out.
A shy smile stepped in the office holding her hand inside the other – "Can I talk to you just a minute?" Of course… how can I help. "Can you take my Blood pressure, it feels really high and I am getting a headache." Seating her in a chair in the office – after checking her blood pressure I ask if she was upset, nervous or did she take blood pressure medication. She shyly smiled, "I have a lot going on in my life right now – but I will be ok." I stood in silence listening as she continued. "You see when I started working here I was living at the shelter downtown and I had to get out of there and took the first apartment that came open. The land lord left the utilities in my name for the first few weeks but I have really bad credit so the deposit for me is really high.
When I get home today – my lights will be off. I will be taking my son to stay at a friends and I will be ok until I get paid."
As I stood and watched this strong brave women process what her day would be like when she got home that day – her face begin to lighten and she smiled. I have been through worse – I have a roof over my head – it want be for long. I will just go to bed early. All of a sudden, cooking supper for my family that night did not sound like such a chore to me.
My heart hurt listening to her story – and I ask if I could add a drop of "stress away oil" to her wrist. She said, "YES!" She remained seated and we rechecked her blood pressure after 15 minutes of us chatting. It also gave me time to respond to her situation.
As I smiled and reported her blood pressure was coming down the oil was helping – she smiled back "it smells so good and I love how it is making me feel." I did not give her sympathy. This strong woman was not looking for sympathy she was making a plan to survive. I told her I see a strong person standing in front of me with a drive to survive. She said, "it is funny you say that – I feel so strong on the inside it scares me sometime -sometimes I feel to strong and know I should not be in some of the situations I have been in – but I am always ok – no matter how bad it is – I always come out ok."
Are you a survivor? If your lights went out – would it be ok for you?
The next morning at 4 AM when I drug myself out of the bed – with a strong desire to stay in the bed – I flipped the switch and the lights came on – I paused. Thank you God that I had lights and all of a sudden I did not want to crawl back in bed – I wanted to go check on the lady. Not only was she at work – on time. She was smiling. I smiled back and I knew she was going to be ok, at least for now.
As a leader, a teacher, educator, trainer – your job is not just to teach it is to listen. You do not have to have the answer – just a few minutes time to give to your staff. Let them be heard, valued.
Angela Brooks is a mental health nurse devoting over 25 years to the nursing field. Executive Director with young living , She is the author The Nurses Voice, and is a contributor to the nursing magazines "Scrubs Magazine" and "NurseTogether.com".
She is the founder of angelabrook.com, a company dedicated to helping empower nurses who works in the mental health field. Not just for nurses – but those that nurse others in life. She is the nurses voice, the voice for those unheard.
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