'Have patience with your patients' and more tips for overcoming nursing challenges

Nurses face new challenges every day. The question is, how do they manage them? Are they obstacles or opportunities?

Children's Hospital New Orleans nurse Rainbow Laurent, BSN, RN, said it's important to consider this question: "When faced with something you might consider difficult, are you resenting a burden or accepting an opportunity?"

A nurse should view every situation as a chance to learn, grow, care and to display grace, she said. "Know that you will face challenges. Healthcare will continue to face challenges in the years ahead. The human race will continue to face challenges in the years ahead," Ms. Laurent said. "But you are built for challenges. And you are not alone."

Becker's spoke with eight nurses who shared their advice for managing the challenges experienced by those in their profession.

Editor's note: These responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Janet Amirkhanian, DNP, RN. Director of Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive, Shriners Children's Southern California (Pasadena, Calif.): New nurse graduates should be prepared to adapt to rapidly evolving technologies such as telemedicine, artificial intelligence and robotics. Nurses will continue to face ethical challenges in their practice, and with healthcare technological advances, nurses will encounter dilemmas related to the ethical use of emerging technologies. 

Lisl Antee, BSN, RN. Clinical Leader in the NICU at Children's Hospital New Orleans: The learning with nursing never ends. Science is always discovering new diseases, medications, treatments and inventing technology to assist with patient care. This is one of the many things that makes the field of nursing so amazing. This will never be a stagnant job and there is always more to learn. Embrace the advancements and educate yourself on the most updated care practices. Change is not bad; it is what helps us improve so we can deliver better care to our patients. 

Rose Francke, RN. Northshore Clinic at Children's Hospital New Orleans: The challenges that any nurse faces should always be approached as a learning opportunity. When I worked on the floor, I would always look for opportunities to learn anything that would benefit the care I gave my patients. With any challenge comes growth, and never take any of that for granted.  

Saramma George, RN, CCRN. Ascension Saint Thomas West (Nashville, Tenn.): Each generation faces new and unknown challenges, and future nurses will face nursing shortages at a higher level. Patients and families come with new challenges, especially social media influences. Advanced technology, less human touch and interaction. For new nurses, learning and education, orientation all may present challenges, but in a different way. These won't be your mother's or grandmother's challenges; you have an entirely new set of challenges.

Michelle Salva, BSN, RN. Shriners Children’s New England (Springfield, Mass.): A nursing career will be one of the most rewarding aspects of your life, but it will not be without challenge. Change will be imminent. At times, it will come too quickly, and, at times, it will require more patience. 

Changes will be both positive and sometimes challenging and will not be limited in source. Sources of change may include patient challenges, colleagues that will come and go, organizational changes, resources that will at times be plentiful and at other times more scarce, experiences that will make you smile and cry and advancements in technology and treatments that will challenge you to obtain new knowledge and skills. 

Be a part of these changes by presenting your voice as a registered nurse and advocating for your patients, their families and the healthcare team.

Kara Sher, BSN, RN. Shriners Children’s Boston: Every job that is worth doing poses challenges. Looking at them from the perspective of opportunities for growth instead of insurmountable obstacles is instrumental. 

Always know you will face challenges that will shape your practice and sometimes those challenges are great. Figuring out how to conquer them will always lead to the greater joy of success with your patient. Learning (one of those challenges) is hard — always ask the question you are thinking. No nurse always knows all the answers because we are all always learning.

Karyn Treval, MSN, RN. Deputy Chief Nursing Officer of Patient Care Services at Staten Island University Hospital (New York City): Challenges are inevitable. They can be uncomfortable, anxiety producing and may make one question their abilities. 

Stacy Valley, BSN, RN. Nurse Navigator for Allergy/Immunology at Children’s Hospital New Orleans: To be successful in nursing is to always have patience with your patients. We all need to remember that the patients don't necessarily want to be in the hospital or at the clinic, but they are there for our help and to remember to always treat them with patience and respect. I have always found that a little patience makes the visit go much better and helps to build trust. 

Once you have that trust and relationship with your patient, it makes you a better advocate and caregiver for the patient. When faced with a challenge or you become overwhelmed try always to remember why you became a nurse to begin with. I promise it will all be worth it! 

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