If you want it, YOU have to make it happen!

Jacqueline Vance, RN
Jacqueline Vance, RN

A recent article on Medline Nursing alleged that the average registered nurse (RN) wants more sleep, authority respect and work–life balance. (And I want to sing like Celine Dion instead of a frog being dipped in boiling water!)

OK, seriously RNs, while I can't sing like Celine Dion no matter how hard I work at it, we can get what we want. We just have to learn to “ask” in the right way. And who should we ask? Well, mostly ourselves.

Let's break this down, starting with authority. It doesn't matter what position you hold, whether unit nurse or manager, authority equates to experience and knowledge.

Authority doesn't necessarily mean ruling the roost, earing your young or bossing people around-making them do what you say. Anyone can be an authority on something. (Wikipedia definition: The word authority — Derived from the Latin word auctoritas — can be used to mean power given by the state — in the form of government, judges, police officers, etc. — or by academic knowledge of an area — someone can be an authority on a subject.) Knowledge is power. Study, learn, practice, become skilled in areas and you will have authority. Then speak with the confidence of expertise. That is how you earn authority. It is something you are in control of.

Respect is not an expectation, nor is it necessarily earned. There are some who will not respect you and what we do no matter how skilled, knowledgeable and professional you are.

To some, we will always be “just a nurse” or worse yet “just a nurse working in a nursing home,” Lord forbid! (We think it's awesome, though an unenlightened lesser human being might not).

You cannot change that mindset and will only frustrate and stress yourself trying. What we must do, however, is start respecting ourselves: peer-to-peer. No more eating the young or sacrificing the old, OK?

Respect each other's value, knowledge and skills and work interprofessionally to get the job done. Our respect of each other may have influence on another person's attitudes. But if we disrespect each other, we don't have a chance.

Next, we are the only ones that can achieve our own life-balance. No one can do that for us. We have to learn to say no. We are the one's who buy into the voiceless threat that we will lose our job if we don't work another 12-hour shift. Guess what? You won't be fired if you don't take extra shifts. You want an extra shift, fine, but you can't be forced.

Now I realize I'm a fine one to talk. This is a personal area I struggle with, as my family will tell you that I need an intervention. I am kind of a workaholic. But no one made me this way. I am the one who pushes myself.

And, taking their advice, I am trying to take time for family and for me. It just depends on how bad you want it. If you are a director of nursing services and are on call 24/7, you need to ensure your staff has the competencies to handle life's emergent issues so that eventually, you aren't being called for every little thing. But again, that is in your control.

Education = Knowledge = Power

Lastly, on sleep, well that is a tough one. If you are of a certain age and a female, sleep will be difficult no matter what. But practice good sleep hygiene; put away the computer, tablet, whatever and learn relaxation techniques.

Realize that we aren't omnipotent and we can't fix the world's problems, nor are we expected to. So try and shut down your mind and bedtime, count your blessings and get some sleep.

A biblical verse I like to remember is this: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” Or, as Scarlett O'Hara said in “Gone With the Wind,” “Tomorrow is another day.”

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

he Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who also is the director of clinical affairs for AMDA — The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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