By: Sue Heacock
Before jumping into the article, take a look in the mirror. See the human staring back at you? Nurses, like all other members of the human race, make mistakes. We are well aware that errors made by nurses can affect their career. It can impact the progression of healing and the life span of our patients. This article will not focus on those. Instead, we will concentrate on the 5 mistakes nurses make that impact their professional standing.
- Blame game. We have all worked with a “blame gamer”. He/she professes perfection in every way and any inconsistencies in practice are related to someone else. It was somehow Nurse Suzie’s fault that the blame gamer’s patient was administered the wrong dose of medicine even though Suzie works on the floor 2 stories up. Blame gamers quickly establish a reputation as complainers and a colleague not to be trusted. Don’t be that person and for that matter, don’t be personally associated with that person. Guilty by association will come into play with the blame gamer.
- Settling. Most of us get a position and like moss on an old oak tree, settle in for the long haul. Some nurses have no desire to elevate their career and further educate themselves. They become stagnant, losing both creativity and objectivity. I believe that you should never stop learning. Go for that higher degree you have been thinking about. This is not to say that if you are happy where you are it is not noble. But continue to educate yourself and excel in the position you are in. You don’t settle for the minimum in your personal life so you should not do so in your professional life.
- Not taking care of yourself. The combination of sleep deprivation, improper nutrition and lack of exercise lead to a highly ineffective nurse. Let’s be honest here. You are too tired to be “all that you can be” and you end up just going through the motions of patient care. Not taking care of yourself is a mistake that not only impacts your career but shortens your life. The irony of an unhealthy nurse is that he/she is educates patients on how to properly care for themselves and then runs out for the Big Mac or for a cigarette break.
- Cover-ups. Covering up a mistake simply compounds the error. There are HONEST mistakes, honestly! Remember the part about being human? If not, back to the mirror with you! Covering up mistakes demonstrates your lack of ethical fiber and forever tarnishes your trustworthiness. This is a career ender. If you make an error, fess up immediately so that any adverse impact to the patient can be quickly remedied. Early reporting also leads to quick root cause analysis and the elimination of similar nursing errors in the future.
- Burning bridges. Remember the “settling” part a few paragraphs back? If you burn your bridges, you can forget whatever you learned in that section as you will need to be settling in right where you are. You will never get that promotion or positive reference. Visualize what happens a bridge literally burns. That will be your nursing career going up in flames instead of the bridge and the ruble falling into the water is YOU! Treat your colleagues and supervisors with respect, follow the rules, and be the best nurse you can be for your patients. You can then step on that bridge at any time without having the fear of getting wet.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as a nurse? How did you correct it? Leave a comment below!