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Words of Wisdom from Nurses, Physicians, Unit Clerks, Security, & Other Members of the Healthcare Team

Working in healthcare is no easy task and regardless of your education, you’ll have days that are a struggle. Don’t worry, we have all been there, but where do you find the relatable stories? 

When looking for advice, I found minimal information about how to survive the difficult environment and decided I would ask my colleagues for the best advice they would give. Now, this is an inclusive list of many career backgrounds! Most of the advice is universal and would resonate with anyone working in healthcare.

Take a peek on ways to attend to your mental wellness, gain support and learn the tricks to make it through the though shifts…

Posted: April 23rd, 2021

Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, all information and reflections are meant for educational purposes only. If you plan to make changes in your life, it may be worth consulting with loved ones and/or your wellness team. Also, this post may contain affiliate links that will connect you with some pretty cool products and when making a purchase through those links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How to Maintain Your Mental Wellness

“Be patient and kind to yourself.”

“Clear and current orientation, kindness, and patience.”

“Make sure you take your breaks!”

“When feeling overwhelmed take a step back, take a deep breath and count to ten.”

“It’s okay to ask for help. Whether it is for work or your mental health, you are not alone.”

“Write down the reasons you love the work you do and keep the list somewhere you can easily refer to it.”

“Self-care. Self-care. Self-care.”

“Take care of your mental health. Healthcare is not an easy career path, so don’t lose your love for the work by not taking care of yourself.”

“Mental health days are a real thing.”


“Do self-care on breaks. Close your eyes, read, listen to music, go for a walk, enjoy your tea quietly… whatever works for you, have at least one break you do it.”

“If an incident happens at work and you don’t feel alright afterward, call your WorkSafe number. You deserve access to services if you were mentally or physically harmed in your workplace.”

“Save some energy for yourself.”

“Surround yourself with friends who understand that you love them even if you can’t make their events because of work.”

Lessons to Learn

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ever!! If people make you feel bad or dumb for asking questions it shows their lack of leadership/compassion and ability to teach. A conducive learning environment is one in which we are ALL always learning and when questions aren’t asked mistakes are made. Always ask! Or find a nurse, technician, doctor, etc. you do feel comfortable asking questions to.

“Ask for help! When you are new you may feel like you have to be able to handle everything, but some days are just really busy, or a patient is more acute. Ask for help.

“Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over them. Learn from them and those that others make.

“Be humble, ask questions.

“Be kind to yourself and remember that everyone has had to be a new staff member at some point.”

“Ask questions.”

“Be prepared to embrace change and be willing to change again after you just adapted to the change.”

“Ask questions.” (Notice the common theme?)

“Realize that most of the people you’re called to deal with are behaving in a certain way because of whatever condition they’re experiencing.”

“It takes practice, that’s why it’s called your practice.”

“Know that you will make mistakes. Take responsibility for those errors and do your best to fix what you can.”

“Mistakes happen, but at least own them and learn from them.

 “Health care workers should maintain a sense of curiosity and passion for ongoing learning, even seasoned staff.”

 “Flexibility and adaptability go hand in hand with this as things are always changing- the one thing we can always count on.”

 “Have patience with yourself! Remember that everyone has been new and has started from the beginning. It’s not always smooth sailing, but it’ll get easier!”

“Find your specialized way of dealing with and responding to the less than kind patients.”

“You’ll hear that nurses eat their young. It can be true, but it’s usually because they hold high standards. Find someone who you connect with if you are struggling with your preceptor or superior.”

“Maintain your competencies. You’ll be thankful for the information and appreciate the moments you are audited.”

“You aren’t the first and won’t be the last person to do a note in the wrong chart.”

“Medication errors happen. We are all human, but learn from it and hope that when it happens, no one gets hurt.”

Team Building

“Be kind to one another.”

“Find your person. Look for a seasoned person who you feel safe with and can trust. Someone you can speak honestly to about your insecurities and who you can rely on for honest, safe guidance and feedback.”

“The team is here for you!

“Be selective about who you use as a mentor.”

“Be kind to students. Teach them what you know and don’t make them feel bad for not knowing all the answers. They may not have the experience, yet, but they have the most recent knowledge which deserves equal respect. They are the future of nursing.”

“Introduce yourself to your coworkers.”

“Be kind.”

“Try to realize that most times of people aren’t being nice is because they are stressed as well. So instead of burning the bridge, build it with them.”“Be firm when needed but also be fair when needed.”

“Be firm when needed but also be fair when needed.”

“Take constructive criticism.”

“Observe your senior officers (security), generally they approach situations in ways that work for them and gets to the best outcome.”

“Security, talk to your nursing and other hospital staff. Say hi and be friendly and show them respect and in turn they will show respect towards you.”

“Be fair, both to yourself and everyone else.”

“Be kind always!” (Also a common theme…)

 “Give thanks when it is deserved. Feeling appreciated is one of the best parts of our job and builds your team.”

“The rumours are true; they become your work family.”

“You may be charge nurse, but you’re still part of the team. Collaborate, especially on the busiest days.”

“If you like someone as a work friend, see if they will meet up on your day off! Finding fellow shift workers makes it possible to have weekday fun!”

Words of Wisdom

“You have the abilities to do a lot, but you can’t do everything. Do the best you can in your environment, be a part of trying to improve, but do not beat yourself up when you cannot attain those impossible standards that our education and licensing bodies expect.

“It’s a 24hr job. You can’t do everything. It’s impossible. You need to trust your team to carry on after your shift, so you can leave work at work. As much as we love our jobs, and it’s a huge part of our identities, it’s important to take time to rest and recharge so you can continue to give it your all with your patients.”

“Allow yourself to be free to learn and adjust.”

“Stay true to why you came to the field to help others.”

“Offering a listening ear and taking time to instill hope is at times more healing and powerful than sanitized delivery of care.”

“In general, if you work in hospital you are meeting someone on one of the most stressful days of their lives.”

“If you are grumpy—the whole unit will know it, sick patients feed off negative responses, so best to just be firm with positive energy.”

“KNOW what you don’t KNOW. And ask for help.”

“Don’t mind the bullies.” (Do no tolerate bullying either. Find a resolution whenever you can.)

“Remember: you’re here for the best outcome for your patient, and ALWAYS advocate!”

“Show compassion whenever you can.”

“When patients are scared, comfort them the best you can.”

“You’ll eventually get used to asking if someone plans to suicide, especially in the emergency department or psychiatry. When they say yes, you’ll be there for them.”

“You will witness some people’s most vulnerable moments of their lives.”

“Change can be good! That is why you’ve learned so many skills.”

Support Your Support Staff

“Be nice to security and always respect security and always never not be nice to security.

“Security is your friend. A simple thank you when security helps or takes a punch for you is very much appreciated. Made my day when it happened each time.”

“Please help at (the nursing station) if you have a lighter load and have the energy, unit clerks often don’t get a “down time” to catch our breath during the day.”

 “It’s nice when unit clerks/housekeeping feel included. Sometimes they get overlooked for coffee runs and the little extras.”

“Doctors, be nice to your nurses, unit clerks, aids, security… well, all of your support staff!”

“Make your writing legible. This should be common sense, but somehow I’m still reading chicken scratch!”

“The physician isn’t always right. Your knowledge is just as valuable.”

“Label your samples properly and make sure the lid is tight. Lab appreciates avoiding spilled body fluids.”

Random & Helpful

“Here is my advice for new casual nurses. Be super available for shifts. Don’t make plans and bid on everything especially if someone else is hired around the same time as you. It will help boost your seniority faster and make it easier for you to get pre booked shifts.”

“Bring health care services back into rural areas and not to be afraid of losing the centralized way of thinking that technology is the end all be all.”

“Instill the art of nursing into care. This means more time to deliver nursing care without a plethora of paperwork and forms. Keep it simple. These documents go to support the administrative accountability and who ignore how long it actually takes to care for a person and their family.”

“Wherever you work, know your coworkers. Everyone from the doctors to the unit clerks, the nurses, the lab staff, the dietician, cleaning staff etc. Know their names and ALWAYS treat them with respect.”

“Simple healthy snacks, helps you feel decent about the snacking over a long shift.”

“Get yourself comfortable runners.”

“Doctors aren’t that scary. Well, some of them are, but most of them love their nursing team.”

“Some patients return to the hospital multiple times. Sometimes it’s because you are the only people, they can count on to care.”

“A sandwich and a ginger ale go a long way!”

“You will see things that no one else would ever believe.”

“Find shift trading buddies! It’s great if you have a unit that is flexible and willing to switch shifts around, especially when you don’t have seniority for holidays.”

“Travel is an extremely popular pass time for healthcare workers.”

“Switch to block of nights or blocks of day to avoid the dreadful turn around. See who else is interested and check who would like that trade option.”

“USE YOUR BENEFITS. So many people don’t look at the extra perks of your insurance coverage.”

“If you have the option to be casual between multiple units, give it a chance. Permanent lines are nice, but you have so much freedom!”

“Learn to calculate overtime based on the things you want to buy, such as 6 OT shifts over the next two months will pay for a trip.”

Laughter Is Great Medicine

“Run, run away as fast as you can.”

“Briiiing snacks homies.”

“Try and have fun. You spend a great percentage of your working hours there so enjoy it.”

“Laugh together. Laugh with patients, family, staff or whoever is willing. On the hardest shifts, laughter can be the best medicine.”

“Smile. You aren’t going to want to sometimes, but the patients tend to frown when you do.”

“Buy scrubs that are comfy AND you love the colors.”

“You are a superhero.”

 “You don’t get a medal for not using sick time when you retire.”

**Most Importantly**

“You truly are a healthcare hero. Never forget that.”

Please Note: None of the contributors asked to be named for this post. Anonymity has been respected. These are educational suggestions and not medical advice.

Sometimes I feel like relationships consist of telling your same life stories to different people until someone finally appreciates them."

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