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After spending 10 + years in hospice work and being a pastor for 25 years I have learned a few things about healthcare workers: they are usually exhausted, under-valued, and not paid well. You show me someone who works hard everyday work day and I will point you to a healthcare worker. Yep.
Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying that engineers or railroad technicians don’t put in a good days work. I am NOT saying that teachers are slackers and those who work in accounting have “posh” jobs. I am not even saying that pastors, clergy, and chaplains have it easy. What I AM SAYING is that caregivers, healthcare workers, hospice and palliative care workers have demanding jobs with the added stress of “life being in their hands”.
So if you are a healthcare worker, if you take care of the elderly, disabled, work in the hospital, hospice, palliative care, ER, Intensive Care, or with rehabilitation- this one is for you!
1. Embrace your vulnerabilities. Be human. Or in other words, don’t think for even a second that you are the savior; a hero. You are a human life given a set of skills and compassion that add value to those who are in jeopardy of losing theirs . When you find yourself at a loss with how to do something, admit it, get help, and stand by to learn. Grow in your…
2. Be your own patient (follow your own advice). I once knew a nurse who would have wonderful counsel for families who were going through the perils of watching their loved ones pass from this life. She had wonderful points to ponder, great advice on how to cope, spectacular self care discernment for others. What she didn’t have is the ability to put her own counsel into practice. Don’t be like this.
Try this little exercise to examine whether you “put your money where your mouth is”: take a piece of paper and write down the things you find yourself saying to patients to help them. Things such as get enough protein, get a check up, follow up with your physician, exercise, wean yourself off of the pain medicine as you feel you can. Once you have 10-15 items, go back and checkmark the ones you yourself follow. Be ready to find yourself surprised at what spoken values are in comparison to practiced values in your life.
3. Sleep. Yes, I said sleep. You wouldn’t believe how many healthcare workers do not get enough sleep and/or rest well. Blame all kinds of things but the bottom line is care-givers don’t get enough shut eye.
Imagine if you were well rested-each day. Imagine how much more comforting and patient you would be with yourself, others, and most importantly, your patients. Imagine how much strength you would have. Imagine your creative problem-solving skills if you were well rested. Sleep. More. Take a nap, Get a sleep study done if you believe there are sleep issues in your life, hereditary concerns, or if your spouse or family tell you that they get concerned when you sleep because you may be stopping to breath . Get some rest!
Hey you medical staff! Attention social workers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors! Calling all EMT and Community service officers. Shouting out to all the doctors… You do amazing work! You go for the gusto for your patients! Take yourself seriously and consider these words: Thank you for taking care of your patients. Please take care of yourself!