2020 was a challenging year for healthcare professionals, including nurses. The pandemic struck global healthcare systems so bad that it took some time before they could recover.
In this chaotic time, nurses acted as a bulwark against the menace of the pandemic. They worked more than required to fulfill the needs of patients swamping the hospital floors.
Nurses neglected their families and compromised their health and wellbeing to ensure their patients received the best care.
But one thing they could not compromise on even during the pandemic was their performance at work. Therefore, besides dispensing hospital duties, more nurses are inclined to hone their professional skills to perform better at work.
Sensing the need for highly qualified expert nurses in the coming years, many nurses have enrolled in online degree programs such as Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwives, and Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
While it is a good sign for healthcare as it can expect more qualified nurses in the near future, ideally, nurses should strive to improve their work performance and health. Here is how they can do so.
Participate in continuous learning programs
In nursing, continuous education and upskilling are something that can never fail you.
The ever-changing healthcare needs, the use of complicated technology, and medical systems require nurses to enroll in new degrees and receive new training in their field. In this regard, the online mode of education can come handily.
Nurses aspiring to progress in their career and improve their performance can enroll in remote degree courses such as FNP or online AGACNP programs and specialize in the area of interest. By registering in distant learning programs, you can continue working and finish your education side by side.
This will help you improve your work performance, enhancing your overall wellness.
Continually update your knowledge base
Medical science is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Gone are the days when it took years for new research or medical technology to come forward. Today, new medical research and technologies are coming forward every day.
If you are unaware of these medical science breakthroughs, no one can spare you from lagging in your performance.
Moreover, patients have also become more educated and aware. They often get extensive knowledge from the internet before coming to the hospital. If you fail to answer your patients’ queries, you may also lose your patients’ trust. Therefore, make sure you are aware of what is happening in the medical science and healthcare systems.
Set short-term and long-term goals
Human brains are designed to respond to planned targets much more efficiently. As a nurse, having clear goals and targets to achieve can keep you on track and improves your performance. These goals and targets don’t need to be long-term in all instances.
You can have short-term targets spanning a day or a few weeks to long-term goals where you want to see yourself in a few years.
For instance, when leaving home for work, you may develop a mental map of what you will do during the day and how much time you have to complete your tasks.
Also, think about patients requiring your immediate help and what you need to communicate to the doctors immediately. When you prepare your mind for the subsequent work, your body and mind synchronize to achieve the goals.
Similar to how you set your short-term goals, have some long-term targets in your mind too.
Setting goals encourages you to strategize the achievement of those goals and makes you focused on your endeavors. For instance, you might decide to see yourself in a managerial post in a few years. You may start working in various departments on a rotation basis, knowing that intra-departmental experience counts when landing an administrative job.
Similarly, you may consider getting certifications such as Certified Nurse Manager and Leader or similar certifications to help with your transition.
Besides improving performance, nurses need to take care of their health too.
Exercise keeps you energetic and improves your muscle health. Regular physical activity also positively impacts your mood, memory, and other cognitive functions by activating your reward centers.
Nurses who exercise either by walking in the morning or hitting the gym feel less body pain due to the release of endorphin, a natural pain reliever.
Studies have also shown the link between physical activity and reduced depression. In addition, exercise improves your sleep cycles, relaxes your mind, and prepares your body for grueling work at the hospital.
Take mandatory intermittent breaks
Nurses can remain busy in their work and forget to take breaks. Research has proved that taking mandatory breaks during work improves your performance by increasing focus when you resume work.
Taking breaks also relieves stress and enhances mental health and wellbeing. So whenever you find some time, find an empty corner and sit there for a while.
You can go in the open on a beautiful sunny day and bask in sunlight to trigger endorphin and serotonin production. Sit under the sun for ten to 15 minutes, but don’t forget the sunscreen.
Engage in healthy eating
Taking care of your health and performance is incomplete without eating a healthy diet.
Nurses find more ways to skip meals or binge-eat fast and processed food. It is because munching a calorie-loaded sandwich is much easier and more convenient than sitting down to have a proper meal. But having healthy food is indispensable for nursing.
Over consumption of fatty food can trigger the vicious cycle of stress eating due to the release of cortisol, a hormone released when you are under stress. The more salty and fatty food you eat, the higher the cortisol level in your body.
Stress eating can cause obesity which invites many other diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, etc. All these conditions not only impact your health quality but performance too. Therefore, as much as possible, eat a healthy diet including fruits, veggies, meat, and poultry.
Improving your work performance and health is much easier if you have an action plan. There is also a connection between your health and work performance. An unhealthy body and mind do not let you focus on your work. Therefore, if you want to display better performance at work, ensure you are healthy mentally and physically.