Ahh...the new year! We had some GREAT times in 2021, but let's dive into 2022! What are some things nurses should add to their resolution list? Here are 10 ideas!
1. Stay Active
Nursing is a physical job. Improving your basic fitness decreases the likelihood of workplace injury and also makes you a role model to your patients. Many employers offer workplace wellness programs or reimbursement for utilizing a gym or home workout equipment. Simply taking a walk outside decreases your blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and boosts endorphins to ultimately increase feelings of happiness.
2. Maintain a healthy diet.
Nursing schools teach students about the connection between a healthy diet and physical health, but you may not realize how food impacts mental health. According to Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia, eating certain foods can decrease brain inflammation, resulting in less brain fog and improving memory and mood. Foods with these benefits include B vitamins, iron, omega-3s, and zinc.
3. Work smarter, not harder.
Nursing involves multitasking, requiring time management strategies for smooth shifts in the new year. Plan what the perfect day would look like for your patients if everything went as expected. Group activities together. Consolidate tasks like checking blood sugars, giving medications, and helping with activities of daily living during one patient room visit to make the time with your patients more efficient.
4. Make at least one sacrifice for your own long-term career success.
It is easy to fall into a routine, becoming complacent once you land a good job. Nurses who have their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) might consider completing their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to further their education for themselves and their patients. . Sacrifices such as earning an advanced degree or studying for a specialty certification can pay off in increased salary and improved job satisfaction.
5. Find a mentor and mentor someone else.
A mentor will provide you with accountability, motivation, and inspiration. Having a trusted colleague to help you meet goals is important for professional growth. A good mentor will challenge you to improve your clinical skills, provide feedback for areas of opportunity, and give you a big-picture view of your career.
On the flip side, acting as a mentor builds confidence and allows for continued learning opportunities as you collaborate with your mentee. For those nurses feeling stuck or burnt out, becoming a mentor can provide a reignited sense of pride and fulfillment.
6. Expand your professional network.
Networking may sound more relevant for a career in sales than nursing, but there are proven benefits to growing a network of peers. Relationships with other nurses and physicians may help you advance your career or find a job in a new place. According to the American Nurses Association, having the support of fellow nurses decreases stress levels that contribute to burnout. You can expand your connections by being active in a professional organization, attending conferences, and carving out time to meet with colleagues outside of the hospital or office. Professional social networks such as LinkedIn can also serve to grow your network, as long as you actively participate and keep your profile up to date.
7. Be a continuous learner.
Lifelong learning ensures that you are up to date in new practices that improves practice standards for high quality patient outcomes. Read current journal articles while earning required continuing education credits. Attend a conference to network and stay up-to-date on research (even a virtual conference will inspire and educate). Finally, don’t be afraid to ask colleagues with more experience to teach you specific skills!
8. Build a healthy work environment by starting with yourself.
Nursing is a team sport! It can be easy to get wrapped up in workplace politics, but you are there to take amazing care of your patients. Focusing on patient care will help you push the drama to the side. Taking breaks (that’s right, not just grabbing food on the run—a real break) and ensuring your coworkers also get a turn, can go a long way to improving the culture of your unit.
9. Think of yourself as an investor.
The power of compounding interest makes it crucial to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Even if you can only save a small amount of money now, compound interest sets you up for success as an investor. Contribute to your company’s 401k or 403b, particularly enough to meet the company’s match compensation (which is the equivalent of free money!).
10. Hold space for your mental health.
2021 was difficult! There was much to learn as nurses navigated constantly changing research and policies regarding COVID. Staffing crunches were tricky to negotiate. We made it through and are going into 2022 knowing how important nurses are for providing safe patient care.
Nursing is a special job. Take time to reflect on the challenges and wins within your career this past year, and plan to take care of yourself. Whatever self care looks like to you, carve out time in the new year to prioritize it. Let’s head into 2022 with tenacity and pride. Cheers!
Erickson, R., Grove, W., (October 29, 2007). "Why Emotions Matter: Age, Agitation, and Burnout Among Registered Nurses" Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. 13, No. 1.
Ramsey, Drew.,(February 3, 2021). “What are the Best Foods to Fight Depression? The Antidepressant Food Scale.” https://drewrameseymd.com/depression-anxiety/heres-the-1-food-category-to-fight-depression/
Roizen, Michael., (December 21, 2020). “5 Excellent Reasons You Should Take a Walk Today.” https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-great-reasons-you-should-take-a-walk-today/
Kim Carson works as a registered nurse in the Family Birth Center at Vail Health Hospital in Vail, CO. With over 17 years of experience, she holds specialty certifications in inpatient obstetrics and maternal-newborn nursing and is a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC). When she is not caring for the moms and babies in her community, she is usually outside kayaking, snowboarding, or listening to music.
Connect with Kim on LinkedIn.