Looking back – what advice would you give your first year self… hear are some of the things I would have liked to have known more about!
The contribution that our pockets make to the nursing profession is under-recognised! Nurses are adept at filling them – inside and out… Have you ever wondered what is inside a nurse’s pocket? Recently, some new nursing students, asked me what they would need for going on prac… and so, I turned out my pockets… this is what I found…
- Smart phone – and before that mobile phones… and before that fax machine print outs!
- Scissors: 29 years ago my enrolled nursing tutor said ‘a good nurse always carries scissors’, and since then, I have never been able to shake the habit, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the notion! I just wanted to be good! We used a short length of O2 tubing to stick on the pointy ends to avoid getting poked in the pocket!
- Pocket clip An important accessory at one point was the metal pocket clip that had 3 or 4 stretchy pen holders – you could clip it on your pocket, then fill it with pens, scissors, artery forceps – and you looked the part!
- Notebook with hand over notes. I used to have a very cute little pocket size ring binder… so stylish! It was my favourite.
- Black pen or two… someone will borrow one pen and forget to give it back! So carry two! Actually, when I started we had a blue pen for most things, green pen for recording respiration rate on charts, and red pen for noting allergies and heart rate… it was a complicated business… – and then we made pen holder contraptions our of O2 tubing and micropore tape to attach to our pockets. It was the fashion in my hospital anyway! Then we moved on the four-colour clicking bic pen… they were all the rage! Now-a-days – black pen should do the job…
- Stethoscope… Well … nearly, more likely swinging around your neck– but sometimes they will be stuffed in a pocket. Tip: Get your own… nobody want to share earwax!
- Name tag… actually it is displayed on the outside of your uniform! But – there was a time when the most fashionable place to wear your nametag, was clipped to your pocket, and embellished with stickers! Then came the horribly unhygienic lanyard… and now we prefer the plastic magnetic nametag to wear on your top shirt pocket. But whatever the style of the era… Remember to stick it inside your pocket when you go off duty, otherwise people will look at you funny in the real world outside of the hospital!
- Neuro torch there are the disposable ones… but my favourite was a very groovy little red aluminium torch that double as my night shift torch as well. It had a key ring on the end of it, so I could attach it to my scissors to keep them together.
- Chewing gum or mint tin or a box of jols help to ward of the experience of bad smells… say no more! Just chew.
- Tube of paw paw cream… or lanolin. Ever so useful in so many situations… a blog could be dedicated to the wonders of paw paw cream alone!
- Roll of micropore tape. The nurses answer to gaffer tape!
- Sachets of alcowipes. If the problem cant be solved with paw paw cream of micropore…then the alcowipe will do the job!
- $4 for a coffee just in case someone does a coffee run. Café Latte : Skim milk and no sugar thanks. But anything caffeine laden coffee style will do!
- Bungs Nothing worse than being caught bungless and with not enough hands to fix it!
- Pair of gloves…
- Torn off piece of paper hand towel probably with U/A results scribbled on it… or vital signs… of coffee order.
- Artery forceps – no cannula too tricky!
- Prompt cards for physical assessment, mental health assessment and pathology normal range values. These helped me heaps with my report writing – especially when I was starting out!
Now as an academic nurse these days, my pocket contents has been modified slightly…
- My iphone with my facebook, twitter, instragram and linkedin apps all fired up.
- Thumb drive with the lecture of the day.
- Coloured white board markers people complain about the orange and green ones… but I like them!
- Postit notes… multi-colours preferred.
- Class roll
- Groovy coloured pen – because I get sick of black… and I like nice stationary!
- A riveting journal article to read if students are late… scribbled on with a groovy pen.
- And …still have $4 for a coffee!
I asked around and here is what other nurses said on Rural Mental Health facebook page that they put in their pockets…
Dymphia said: Alcohol wipes, IV cap, scissors, clamp, 2 x black pens, whiteboard marker, neuro torch, roll of tape.
Crystal said: Alcohol wipes, IV Bungs, scissors, clamps, numerous black pens, sharper pen, white board marker , neuro torch, tape, notebook, candy or biscuits, phone, unsolve wipes, handover paper, lip gloss (LIP GLOSS!! Nice touch)
Josie said: Duress alarm
Cassie said: Stickers and bubbles….Oh… And a few nursing bits and pieces too. Lol. But mainly bubbles and stickers. #paedsnurse
Angela said: Pens, scissors, forceps, patient list, T-bag & gloves in my right pocket. 1 vial each of Suxamethonium, midazolam, a 1+3+5ml syringes & alcohol wipes in my left pocket #aneastheticnurse
SO – there you have – nurses pockets turned out… and the contents are revealed!
This year is my 29th anniversary of commencing nursing… I have nursed in a lot of different places… and I have seen a lot of human pain, and I have been privileged enough to be in a position as a nurse to alleviate some of that pain.
I love nursing – always have! There is always something happening… it is rarely dull, not if you are playing it right!
If I had to choose the one thing that is most important for a nurses pocket – here it is: the smart phone.
One of the survival strategies for striving in a nursing career is to Be Prepared! And…one way to do that is by filling our pockets with the stuff we need, or easy and convenient access! My pocket contents have changed a bit over the time… and there is one item that I prize most and I think should be in every nurses pocket all the time… that item is your Smart Phone! Times have changed… it is a tool that we will see used more and more over the coming years with more advances in smart technologies and E health.
My tip: If you don’t have a smartphone– get one! Get involved in the social media conversion amongst nurses around the globe! And, be prepared to adapt to the changes that are upon us all. Health care promotion and intervention is increasingly happening in the virtual world… for real people!