By January 27, 2011 0 Comments

Per Diem Corner: Carrying the Load

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Girls holding heavy rockThe work life of a per diem/float pool nurse is often unpredictable. Assignments and environments change constantly, which is part of the reason we love what we do. However, per diem nurses have come to realize there is one thing that all too often remains the same – the assignment of a ‘heavy load.’

You know what I mean by ‘heavy load’ – it is the one assignment no other nurse on the unit wants anything to do with! This assignment may include the patient whose call light is on automatic standby. Or, the patient who requires total care – not to mention the 83-year-old with dementia determined to prove that climbing over side rails should be an Olympic sport!

We have all been there, after all, we are paid the “big bucks” to handle the stress no one else wants. The load may be heavy, but following these simple tips may lighten your stress:

Remain positive

A positive attitude goes a long way in reducing stress and keeping a level head. Find something to enjoy about your assignment, and you will find more reasons to smile.

Prioritize your to-do-list

Prioritizing your to-do list adds structure to the work assignment and a sense of accomplishment when tasks are completed. This sense of accomplishment will help you keep that positive attitude.

Learn the lay of the land

Be sure to locate items and resources necessary for a productive workday before the start of your shift. Knowing where to go to find routine items, such as clean linen, will lessen your workload tremendously.

Form allies

Familiarizing yourself with a support system is especially important in managing a stressful patient load. Introduce yourself to the charge nurse and unit secretary, and be sure you know exactly how to get in touch with both. Your allies are unit experts, and will guide you in adhering to unit policies.

Know your boundaries

Every nurse has a limit – a point in which we are “drowning,” and require extra support to get patient care done efficiently and safely. Recognize when you are approaching that limit, and call on your allies for a little back-up. Remember to keep patient safety priority by recognizing when you need help.

First time bonus!

About the Author:

Brandi London is a registered nurse with a wide variety of clinical experience in medical/surgical, progressive care, emergency, and telemetry environments. Her nine years of nursing experience includes seven years experience as a per diem/float nurse. Brandi currently works as a clinical coordinator for a local school of nursing while continuing her clinical experience as a per diem nurse for a local teaching hospital. She looks forward to completing her Masters of Science in Nursing degree with a concentration in nursing education by October 2011. In her spare time, Brandi enjoys dancing, spending time with her family, and supporting the visual arts.

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