7 habits of highly successful nurses

Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

There's a thing or two new nurses can learn from us “veterans.” Those of us who make it to veteran status tend to share some common habits.

Let me break them down for you:

1.  Surviving on caffeine and sugar. Sure, we know we should have better eating habits, but a veteran nurse knows how to make it through a 10-hour day on coffee and an energy bar (or candy bar, or doughnut, or …).  Learn how to do this and you won't miss the breaks that you want to take but never seem to get to.

2.  Holding your bladder for 10 hours. Impossible, you say? You must be an amateur. Veteran nurses can go for up to 18 hours. You think that's belly fat? No way! We've maximized how to distend our bladder. It takes a few months of training, but you can do this!

3.  Reading labels. You'll find yourself reading labels on everything, though. From medications to cans of beans. It's a habit you can't break even years after retirement, some tell me.

4.  Patting your pockets down before leaving your unit. Of course, this translates to patting your pockets down before you leave anywhere — your home, movie theater, a friend's house.  People won't understand what the heck you are doing, but take the narcotics key home with you just once and it's a habit you'll quickly form!

5.  Answering the phone and saying your name and unit. This, unfortunately, will translate when you answer your personal mobile, even when your kids are calling you. They may laugh, tease you, think you've lost your mind and say, “Mom/Dad, I know it is you. I called YOU”, but it's a habit that's hard to break.

6.  Looking for the hand sanitizer.  We look for it when entering the building, throughout our units, in resident rooms, and we use it without even realizing. It just gets us confused when we are at a friend's house and want to automatically sanitize the minute we walk in the door. Tell them not to get insulted: It's just a “nurse” thing.

7.  Diagnosing/evaluating when looking at people. Sure, when being a nurse of many residents who have moderate to severe dementia, we tend to analyze them based on a lot of non-verbal signs and symptoms. And we unfortunately take it to the community. You'll find yourself thinking, “That waitress must have COPD the way she is pursed lip breathing!”  But, hey, if you're single, this habit can save you a lot of future trouble in diagnosing the jerks!

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. 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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The Real Nurse Jackie

The 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. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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