One of the few constants in nursing is change. Nurses must be nimble and flexible as they navigate their careers.
Many types of change
During your career, changes can be both sudden and gradual. Some of us have witnessed major changes, like the transition from paper charting to EMRs. We’ve also witnessed seismic changes in the economics of healthcare and how they impact patient care.
In the 1980s, nurses were at the forefront as AIDS permanently altered the healthcare landscape. Some may remember when Diagnostic Related Groupings were introduced, much to our dismay. Recently, we see the repercussions of the Affordable Care Act.
Some changes can be far-reaching, (e.g.: the advent of AIDS), and others can be localized (e.g.: your hospital is downsized or your beloved supervisor is fired).
Change is inevitable, so how do you cope when it happens? Here are three important aspects of coping with change:
A major change in your work life can generate significant stress. As your body reacts to stress, your health may suffer.
Taking steps to reduce stress is prudent during times of transition, and how you reduce stress is individualized. Your chosen path might be meditation, massage, exercise, nutrition or time off. Your faith may be helpful, and some might turn to psychotherapy or coaching. If you turn to alcohol or drugs, be aware that maladaptive behaviors may not produce the desired results.
Self-care figures largely in stress reduction, and it can be different for each individual. Some may need to sweat and work out, while others may need more naps.
Embrace the change
Embracing change can help you to get out in front of stress. This process involves acceptance, and a willingness to dive in headfirst.
If a new EMR is introduced to your facility and everyone is panicking, volunteer for extra training to become a superuser. Rather than embracing resistance, choose instead to be a champion of change.
Embracing change can be key to overcoming the negative impacts of change.
Practice excellent communication
If a major change is occurring in your workplace, use communication skills to keep information flowing. If you’re a manager, allay others’ concerns by listening to their thoughts and feelings. If you have a sympathetic colleague or supervisor, openly share your anxieties and concerns.
Communication in the face of change is like a pressure valve that allows fears and concerns to be assuaged. This can avoid the manifestation of maladaptive employee behavior such as passive aggression or subtle, unconscious sabotage. Communication is key.
Change is inevitable
If change is inevitable, we must embrace it, champion positive change and acknowledge the feelings that arise during the process.
Communication, willing acceptance and stress reduction are just three of the many aspects of working with the energy of change within your nursing career.