Sometimes, going to work feels like a crazy obstacle course or a Hunger Games-like scenario where it’s a battle for survival. So what does an overworked, fatigued, and sleep-deprived nurse need in her bag to make sure that she gets to the Finish line — that much-anticipated end of shift?
Here are a couple of things you should never leave home without.
Whether you are looking for an afternoon pick-me-up or you’re scheduled for another night shift for the nth time this week, having a pack of instant coffee in your bag or pocket is a must. It’s easy to store and you can conveniently take it out just when you need your daily dose of caffeine.
With the long hours at work and the need to deal with difficult patients, keeping your cool and focus can be a tough job. A cup of your favorite coffee can help set your mood back on track.
Doing a suture on a wound or having to I&D an abscess is no fun, especially if your hair happens to get in touch with the nasty fluids. Aside from the smell, bacteria can easily get transferred to your mane.
To make sure your hair doesn’t get in the way, pack a couple of hair ties in your survival kit. Make sure it’s in a separate small pouch so you wouldn’t have to throw your bag upside down during an emergency. If your hair is short or you’re sporting thick bangs, pack some hair pins, too.
When you’re caring for a dozen patients in one shift, having enough time for a decent meal might not sound possible. Having time to properly brush your teeth is even harder.
To avoid embarrassing yourself from having stinky breath, grab a piece of gum after meals. It will give you some confidence and your breath a hint of freshness.
As a health care provider, you’d know how important it is to do frequent hand washing. You’d also know why wearing gloves is necessary. Unfortunately, although important, these things can put a toll on your hands. They can leave your hands dry, cracked and chapped.
Having a quality hand cream in your kit is one good way to prevent these things.
The best hand cream for nurses should contain extra nourishing ingredients, like Shea butter, cupuacu butter and grape seed oil. A hand lotion that contains vitamin E is great, too.
In addition to the ingredients, you should also consider how fast a hand cream gets absorbed. The last thing you want to happen is to have sticky and greasy hands throughout your shift.
Nurses are used to looking after their patients that they’d often forget to attend to their own needs. If you have been missing meals frequently, it’s a good idea to include a couple of protein bars or few pieces of candy in your kit.
Although they won’t keep you full for a long period of time, they can give you that burst of energy you’ll need to tackle an emergency. Plus, they can keep you from going “hangry” by the middle of your shift.
Take note that protein bars and candies aren’t substitutes for meals. As much as possible, you should still grab a proper meal during your free time.
Headphones and Sunglasses
When you’re working on a night shift, keeping your internal clock in sync can be a tough job. Being exposed to direct sunlight after your shift can make it hard for you to sleep when you get home. Add to that are the noises from your commute. Wearing sunglasses and headphones can save you from all these troubles.
You can also consider wearing headphones at work, especially if you’re sitting down to complete your charts. This can give your co-workers the impression that you’re too busy and shouldn’t be bothered with trivial chit-chat.
You should, however, check against your hospital’s policy first. Not all institutions allow headphones at work, especially if they can slow down their employees’ response to emergency situations.
Headaches, while you are at work, can happen for a lot of reasons. You can experience it due to stress, dehydration or fatigue. No matter what the cause is, keeping a few pieces of Tylenol is essential. Take it before your headache turns into a full-blown migraine.
Keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer in your kit while you’re at work might not sound like a convenient idea, especially since there are hand washing stations around. But, when you find yourself at a restaurant or on a bus going home, you’ll find this tiny bottle handy.
Having a hand sanitizer in your purse is also a great help when you need to attend to a new patient for an emergency and there’s no time to do proper hand washing.
If you’ve ever experienced losing your pen during your shift, you’d know how frustrating it can be. This is particularly true when it’s time to complete your chart or one of your doctor calls in for a telephone order.
Since documentation is an essential part of your job, you need to make sure you have a pen you can write your interventions and actions with. As they say, “If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”
You can write your name on your extra pen or use it with a clip so you won’t misplace it. Another tip is to have a set of pens that you can lend out to your co-workers but keep your favorite for yourself.
What other things are in your survival kit?