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Building Yourself Up in Challenging Times

Publish Date: June 24, 2020

What is our new normal? None of us really know. What is clear is that life has changed dramatically for nurses through the COVID-19 pandemic, whether you have been diverted to other areas to care for patients fighting the disease, remain working in the perioperative setting, or are at home until surgical volume picks up.

Disrupted schedules, changes in home life and fears about the future are leaving all of us to question our response; however, such disruption can be opportunity for the better, according to Renae Battié, MN, RN, CNOR, AORN vice president of Nursing.

Battié knows the resilience and self-care skills nurses were building (or trying to find time to build) before the pandemic are now the very skills nurses need to survive and even thrive today and in the coming months. “This disruption gives each of us opportunities to create new habits that build us up to be stronger, as individuals and as teams.”

Here are three areas she says nurses can focus on to improve in personal and professional life:

  1. Rejuvenate
    Perioperative nurses are creatures of habit by the nature of our practice, but this disruption in our schedule and day-to-day life can provide new opportunities to make time for healthy activities, she suggests. “Virtual exercise programs are readily available these days and outside activities such as cycling, walking and even gardening are giving me time to build more balance in my life—it’s about finding new habits that fit in your world.”

    Battié notes that self-care is not only an option we might now have time for, but also a necessity for many nurses working on the frontline to combat fatigue. “We can all be vigilant for anyone needing extra support and time to recharge.”
  1. Learn
    The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for many changes in life, including the need for new skills such as using social media and communication technologies. “We can use this opportunity to our advantage to build new professional skills,” she encourages.

    AORN’s Virtual Expo is offering a comprehensive source of CEUs to catch up on and prep for CNOR Live is being offered virtually. With so many virtual learning options now available, Battié says nurses can make time that is convenient for them to build their nursing skills and even consider new skills and knowledge they didn’t previously have time to pursue.
  1. Connect
    Social connections are more important than ever as we face uncertainty and separation. “When the unknown gets under my skin, it’s being able to connect with colleagues, friends and family through a team Zoom meeting or video chat that help me get through these tough days,” Battié admits.

She’s hearing from perioperative leaders across the country about surgical teams getting more intentional with staying connected on a regular basis, even among those not working. “Perioperative care is truly a team sport, every single day, and surgical team members are uniquely qualified to use these team skills in fostering interconnectedness in all aspects of life.”

Many nurses working beyond the OR through the pandemic are also finding time to collaborate with colleagues in different departments and areas of their hospital, “which is breaking down silos and giving us the chance to build new skills that will be important in our workforce going forward,” she adds.

The skills perioperative nurses have as part of daily practice can help in daily life today, such as wearing masks appropriately, Battié says, noting “Our knowledge can help friends and family be safer in this new world that now includes masks in public, not just in hospitals.”

“Despite the challenges and unknowns we face as we care for patients, family members and the broader community through this pandemic, there are some pretty exciting things shaping up to make us look at what’s important in life—be patient with yourself and with others and look for ways to build a stronger, healthier tomorrow.”

Additional Resources:

Catch up on CEU and learn about new OR technologies at Virtual Global Surgical Conference and Expo.

Prepare for your CNOR exam virtually.