How to Maintain Work-Life Balance in Nursing?

Work-life balance? As a nurse? 

What exactly is that supposed to be?

Sadly, that’s the reaction most nurses have when you ask them about maintaining work-life balance. As practitioners of a profession where you are literally meant to take care of people and bring them back to health, nurses are almost always naturally self-sacrificing individuals. Add that to the demands of the job itself, and consequently maintaining work-life balance drops low on the list of priorities for most nurses. 

Unfortunately, this usually spells disasters. Though we often tend to forget this, nurses are indeed human. They might pull off Herculean tasks all day, but without taking time for themselves, they can burn out quickly and catastrophically.

Most nurses aren’t just handling anxious patients and worried patient families. They also have to deal with their own families, household chores, kids and, in the current global predicament, financial pressures resulting from the loss of their spouse or other family members’ jobs. 

Since, nurses are socialised into a caretaker role, they instinctively put others’ needs before their own. It is quite common to see nurses neglect themselves and ignore the negative consequences of the stress, fatigue and isolation of their jobs. This takes a serious toll on their health and eventually their ability to do their job. 

This article will run through a few steps nurses can take to ensure their physical and mental well-being even when working at their demanding and draining jobs. 

  • Create a Realistic Routine

With a job as demanding as nursing, self-care is not a natural part of day to day life. It is important to set aside a couple of hours each day to tend to oneself. This could include anything from cardio and protein shakes, tea and a good book to catching up with family or friends. Whatever the activity, it should help you recharge your mind and body. Consider practicing mindfulness for a psychological detox, and pair it with a few stretches to relax those cramped muscles. 

Most importantly, leave work at work. Once you have created a routine dedicated to achieving work-life balance, STICK TO IT. 

nurse is relaxing at work
“Nurse is relaxing at work.”
  • Make Health a Major Priority

Your patients need you in peak condition, as do your family and loved ones. But most importantly, you need yourself to be in peak condition. Remember, you cannot pour out from a cup that is empty. To take care of others, you must be taken care of as well.

Do not let your diet and exercise regimes suffer because of work hours. Obviously, we understand that making garden fresh salads for every meal is not possible, and neither is getting in an hour of cardio. 

Take weekends to work on meal preps, take a homemade lunch (and if possible, evening snacks) to work and try to stay away from processed junk, especially soda. Since the job demands that you stay on your feet, try to get in 10000 steps a day (or close.) Try to drink sufficient water. Consult a doctor (you should know plenty of them) and see if you can start taking supplements to make up for any nutritional deficiencies that may occur from irregular meals, mealtimes or other job-related pressures.  

Nurse praying at work
“Nurse is praying at work”
  • Delegate and Start Saying NO

You cannot do everything yourself, and despite what your job training tells you, you are not supposed to. Start delegating your duties. Ask your spouse or sibling or even an adult child to help with grocery shopping or laundry or household chores. Get things delivered once a week so that no one has to trudge to stores multiple times. You don’t have to cook everyday; either prep meals in the weekend or take turns cooking with other members of your family. 

At work or at home, learn to say no within reason. Don’t feel guilty for turning down extra shifts or projects because you need the rest. Openly communicate with your family about your need for time with them, as well as time by yourself. To rejuvenate yourself,  be honest with yourself about what you really need and consciously make attempts to include that into your life. 

  • Develop a Workplace Support System

Establish supportive relationships with your coworkers so that will cover for you, if needed. For example, once in a while you may need someone to cover your shifts so that you can take time off or attend to an emergency. Sustaining pleasant, professional relationships at work also help to maintain a peaceful and cooperative work environment, which in turn contributes to lower levels of stress and conflict. 

nurses supporting each other
“Nurse is supporting coworker.”
  • Take Moments of Rest at Work

When you’re a nurse, every day is a busy day. Despite that, remember that your physical and mental health won’t hold up too long if you do not take time to breathe, even if for a few minutes. Try to grab a coffee with a co-worker or maybe listen to a quick BTS song (if you’re a fan) when you’re done with some of your tasks. Essentially, give your mind the chance to unwind not just after, but during the workday. Work in these little breaks so that you do not crash and burn the minute you sign out of work.

Nurses at rest
“Nurses taking moment of rest at work.”
  • Deal with Conflict Immediately

Whether personal or professional, do not let conflicts magnify into creating long-lasting consequences. Engaging in the necessary conversation may seem awkward or difficult, but it will serve you in the future by resolving the conflict before it can breed resentment and ill-will. Be honest and forthcoming about your concerns. If you are indeed in the wrong, apologise. Try not to take conflicts home with you, if that is possible. Remember that a harmonious workplace is essential to maintaining work-life balance. 

Since Registered Nurses (RNs) are educated to be self-sufficient professionals, they often assume they can handle everything on their own. But it is impossible for one person to be everything to everyone all of the time; nurses can and should turn to family, friends and colleagues for support. No matter how pressured you feel to handle everything yourself, do not lose sight of the fact that you are more than your job. 

As a nurse, you are one of the most important contributors to a stable and healthy society. This grave responsibility has a way of overwhelming any individual concerns, but such an occurrence must be resisted. Without work-life balance, nurses cannot survive in a constantly demanding and draining profession. Invest in your health and sanity because your patients need you not just now, but for the long-term.

“Written by Shreya Bose”

How to Nail Your Nursing Resume and Interview?

In the last blog we covered how your online social media presence has become indispensable for your professional development. In this one, we will discuss how you can prepare for your dream job and leave a lasting impression on your interviewer with your resume and presentation skills. 

Your interviewer has piles of resumes to scan through and cannot devote more than two minutes per resume – so it is important that your application stands out and makes a good first impression.

Although there is no such thing as a perfect resume, the good news is that it is not very difficult to write a near-perfect resume if we follow some basic rules of maintaining clarity, brevity and formatting. 

This brings us to the things we should consider while preparing our CV. 

The basics of writing a CV
  • Contact Information: Ensure that the contact info you provide is up to date and completely accurate.‍
  • Format: Keep headlines large enough to draw attention, but not so large that it looks comical. Use a professional looking font, not anything cursive or containing a flourish. Be mindful of the space between words and sentences so that employers do not have to struggle with reading.
  • Education and Work History: Follow chronological order, and keep the details of your current or most recent employment at the top. Ensure that dates of employment and departure from jobs are accurate. Separate school and work experience for greater clarity. Start with education, and then move on to work timelines.
How to make your CV stand out
“Make sure your resume stands out, is visually appealing and concise.”
  • Start with an objective statement

Since a resume is meant to obtain an interview for the applicant, it must be able to offer a clear image of what the candidate has to offer and intends to accomplish. Communicate this with an object statement that  highlights your goals and your skills. 

Keep the statement concise, clear, use action words and quantifiable details. For example,

“Detail-oriented, highly-motivated nursing professional with 10+ years of experience treating critical care patients, leading staff training and counseling patients and their families seeks position with [insert organization] as a registered nurse manager.”

Remember to write a statement that you can strongly support with your educational qualifications and work history. 

  • Highlight experience and areas of expertise

Don’t just say that you have experience as a nurse. That is far too vague, and all your competitors have the exact same thing on their resumes. Instead, focus on providing specifics about the skills that you bring to the table. Don’t wait until the interview to talk about them. If necessary, create a separate document and list your abilities, which can range from blood draws, taking vitals, urgent care experience and more. 

“Be confident of your resume, and know what you’ve written in it at the back of your hand.”
  • Use keywords

Employers sometimes tend to scan resumes to look for certain terms. You might not know the exact terms they are looking for, but use the job description as a guide to gain an edge here. 

For example, if the job description includes specific requirements, let’s say, venipuncture, ACLS, chemotherapy, then include those keywords in your resume. 

Additionally, scour the employer’s website to understand their mission, vision, values and priorities. Try to use similar language in your resume and cover letter so that the employer can see that you are a great fit for both the position and the organization. 

  • Be brief

Think of your resume as an advertisement rather than a biography. In a world of increasingly lower attention spans, do not expect potential employers to scout through pages of extensive detail. Assume that employers have stacks of resumes to go through, and thus do not have the time to spare on any novel you might write in place of a CV. Create the resume with an elevator pitch mindset in place.

“In addition to a neat resume, you must present yourself professionally.”

Now that we know what a good CV entails, let’s look at what not to include in your resume:-

  • Ideally, the resume should not exceed two pages at most. If possible, confine it to a single page.
  • You should not repeat your activities, experiences, qualifications on your resume.
  • Don’t write your resume in paragraph formats, instead stick to bullet points.
  • Avoid using multiple fonts or font colors 
  • Do not write the date of the day you wrote the resume on.
  • Do not share any personal sensitive information other than your contact details.
  • Do not include your low grades, low GPAs, failures. Your resume is your place to shine!
  • Do not list physical characteristics (such as -height, weight, etc.)

Remember, a resume is only the first step to inching closer to your dream job. Let’s assume that the near-perfect resume you created has secured you an interview date with your employer. Now you must concentrate on meeting the expectations your interviewer has of you through your resume – and a good way to do that is by presenting yourself professionally. Dress well in an ironed formal attire, arrive on time, practice a firm handshake, and most importantly don’t forget to wear your smile. 

“Don’t forget to wear your smile – it can win you a great career!”
Preparing for nursing interviews
  • Shape your story: No matter the interview, its purpose is to understand your story. Employers try to get a sense of who you are, both as a prospective employee and a human being. Take the time to shape the image of yourself that you want to convey. This does not mean that you should make up stories about yourself. It means that you should have your thoughts in order so that you don’t stumble when answering basic questions like “What do you bring to the table in this organization?”
  • Do the research: Take the time to learn about the who, what and where of the organization you are applying to. If possible, reach out to people who work there or have worked there in the past. Ask them about their experiences, and get to know what your future employer wants in their employees.
  • Practice: Practice mock interviews with friends, family, peers. Use this list of interview questions nursing applicants are likely to be asked.
  • Prepare questions for your interviewer: Your interviewer wants someone with an inquisitive mind. The best way to depict this quality is to ask smart, relevant questions. Have these questions listed beforehand.
What questions can you ask your interviewer?

Let’s break this up into categories.

Company Culture

  • Can you define the work culture here?
  • What is the management style?
  • How do you like working here?
  • How do you provide feedback to your staff when they make a mistake or have an opportunity to improve? 

Work-related tasks

  • What qualities are you looking for in the nurses here?
  • What medical record systems and equipment will I be using?
  • What kind of orientation or training is provided?
  • Who will be my reporting manager?
  • Is there a mentorship program offered to nurses? Are there provisions for continued support?
  • What major challenges can I expect to face?
  • How are performance reviews structured here?
  • What are the shifts offered to nurses?
  • What is your overtime policy?
  • Do you have on-call requirements?
  • Do you have weekend rotation requirements?
  • Realistically, what are the hours I will be expected to work?

Professional Development:

  • Are there any opportunities for further education and learning?
  • Would I be supported in obtaining relevant certifications
  • Are there benefits available for professional certifications, tuition reimbursements, conference attendance, etc.?

The key to both a great resume and a captivating interview lies in forethought, preparation and clarity. Invest time and effort into research so that you can answer and ask questions with ease. Since it is important for a nurse to possess a sharp mind, an instinct towards taking quick action and the ability to take fast decisions, these qualities will have to be displayed in both the CV and the interview. Use the guidelines in this article to put your best professional food forward, and show employers the value you bring to the proverbial table.

“Written by Shreya Bost (Weloquent)”