Getting ready for work is the same for everybody — brush your teeth and hair, put on a clean uniform, arrange your name-tag, and take a quick glance in the mirror on your way out to ensure your presence displays professionalism and expertise in your field. However, for nurses, regardless of the work environment, shift-prep requires a few extra steps. Before you can even step onto the floor to take report on your patients and get to work setting up your task list, you have to prepare yourself for what may come. Seasoned nurses will coach novice ones about how to prepare, based on experiences that taught them valuable lessons about preparation and reaction. Here, we would like to take a page from an experienced nurse’s guide to surviving each shift, in hopes that you can learn from other’s mistakes without having to make them yourself first.
What Every Good Nurse Carries
Of course, you are armed with a pen (or three), a highlighter, a sharpie, a dry-erase marker, your stethoscope, penlight, trauma shears, and any unit-specific tools that you use regularly, in addition to your chapstick and personal items.
Christmas Tree Oxygen Tubing Adaptor
As we said, lessons learned from seasoned nurses. If oxygen sets have been set up and proper room inspections completed, all the required pieces should be handy and ready to go. However, when your patient is experiencing new onset shortness of breath or respiratory arrest, the last thing you want is to find out the Christmas tree adaptor is missing and you have to run to the supply closet or send someone else running — you may as well call a Rapid Response at that point.
This one probably doesn’t require any explanation and most nurses keep this on their stethoscope or trauma shears. It is difficult to make it through a shift without needing tape and when you don’t have it readily available, it requires a few extra minutes and steps to grab some from the med cart.
Extra Alcohol Wipes
Even if you work somewhere that you don’t use them often or have ready access to alcohol wipes around every corner, it is a good practice to always have an extra couple in your pocket for the unexpected. Whether you dropped the one you grabbed need another, or you find a mysterious drop of something on your exposed arm, having an alcohol wipe at your immediate disposal will make all the difference.
Okay, so maybe don’t put this one in your pocket, and instead, tape it to the underside of your name badge or somewhere else that it won’t accidentally be crushed, but can be accessed in the event of a syncopal episode. You never know when you’ll need one or who you’ll be using it on! Visitors and even other staff members may fall victim to sights and smells they were not prepared for and before you know it, you have another potential patient! An ammonia inhalant can quickly save the day and prevent heads from hitting the floor.
A Packet of Surgilube®
I know what you are thinking, why on Earth would I need a packet of Surgilube® at all times? Trust me, the first time it happens, you will drop your head and grumble “they tried to prepare me.” Any procedure that requires lubricating jelly also requires preparation, set-up, and patient discomfort. The last thing you want to do is to have to leave the scene or call in backup if you run out of or drop the packet you were using. The sealed single-use foilpac® won’t leak in your pocket and will remain uncontaminated and ready for immediate patient use.
Things Every Good Nurse Refuses to Carry in Their Pockets
Being prepared to carry out the duties of your shift is always the best foot to start off on. However, there are some things that you cannot prepare in advance and should never be carried on your person. For instance, gloves. While many people have a false belief that the use of gloves is for the protection of the medical professional from contact with body fluids or topical disease that patients may carry, gloves are as much for the patient’s protection as your own. If you are carrying gloves in your pocket, they are exposed to everything you are, and when you pull them out to help your patient, you have now transferred everything to them — you may as well just stop washing your hands too! You should also never carry surgical masks in your pocket for the same reason, in addition to that fact that those go on your face! Additionally, never carry food, contaminated items, patient property or information, or lab tubes in your pocket. It is also a bad idea to carry needles of any kind anywhere on your person.
While you may go months or even years without touching one of these items (and, if that’s the case, bravo to you!), but the day that you need it and find yourself stranded without it will be the day you begin keeping one on you at all times. Start your shift off right and prepare yourself in advance! If your facility only carries the Surgilube® tubes, advocate for the more convenient and sterile option of single-use packets. Surgilube® is proud to own the mark of assurance, consistency, and convenience for more than 80 years. Let us help you arm yourself for whatever may come this shift!