Nurses Work in Tight Spaces Under Intense Circumstances

I’m standing in the patient nutrition nook, eating a mid-morning snack of yogurt with a plastic fork, because I can’t find the plastic spoons. Twelve feet away, a patient can see me from her infusion chair. She smiles and waves at me.

At the same time, another nurse joins me in the nook, which is so tiny we stand nearly shoulder-to-shoulder as she responds to a text from her kids. This doesn’t bother me; she’s just looking for a private moment, same as me.

Under Oregon law, farmers selling eggs are required to make changes in how their chickens are raised by 2026.

watercolor painting by jparadisi

watercolor painting by jparadisi

According to the article, egg farmers must increase the personal space of each chicken from 67 square inches to 116.3 square inches. I’m trying to visualize what this would translate to proportionately in private space for nurses.

I don’t know very much about chickens, but I do know a little about nurses. We work in tight spaces under intense circumstances.

Finding a private spot from which to make a phone call or even to enjoy a quiet half hour during a lunch break is nearly impossible for nurses. A staff lounge for breaks provides respite from direct contact with patients, but since it’s a common area, not only nurses you work with, but people from ancillary departments, usually share it too.

Here’s the thing about people — we’re all different. For some, a break means eating a lunch brought from home, catching up with friends’ updates on Facebook, or reading a book or magazine. Other nurses, however, are re-energized by using their breaks for socializing. There’s not a right way or wrong way to take a break from patient care; it’s a matter of personal diversity.

Regardless of either style, it’s not likely that hospital units or clinics will increase private space for nurses. While it’s acceptable for hens to be less productive when privacy needs are not met, it is not acceptable for nurses to be less productive or deliver unsafe care because of a lack of personal space.

How can nurses support each other’s privacy needs?

  • Respect each other’s different break styles by moderating the volume of conversation in the break room.
  • Exercise patience with coworkers who re-energize through socialization.
  • Text rather than talk on the phone whenever possible.
  • Be sensitive to signals the person you’re on break with may not want to talk, such as reading a book or magazine.

What is your personal privacy style at work? Does your institution provide a quiet space for nurses? What are your tips for finding moments of private time at work?

This Week: EHRs & The Nurse’s Voice, Collusion & A Nurse Asks for Help

A physician, standing in a busy hospital unit, was overheard telling a resident,

“If you want to be certain something gets done for your patient, find the busiest nurse in the unit, and ask her to do it.”

It’s true, nurses thrive on getting the job done.

Here at JParadisiRN blog, things are hopping. Besides transitioning to a new employment opportunity, I’ve been busy writing, and making art.

In case you missed it, Do EHRs Rob Nurses of Voice and Oversimplify Descriptions of Patient Care? is the title of my latest post for Off the Charts, the blog of the American Journal of Nursing. While I mostly love EHRs, the voice of bedside nursing is lost by reducing the nurse’s note to check boxes and smart phrases. However, not everyone agrees. What’s your opinion? BTW, the I made the collage illustrating the post; the text is from Florence Nightingale’s Nursing Notes.

Weekly, I write and illustrate a post for TheONC, The Oncology Nurse Community website. This week’s post, Which Came First, The Chicken or the Nurse? ponders the lack of privacy and personal space for nurses.

Chapter 13 of The Adventures of Nurse Niki is posted. In  Collusion, Niki’s creative solution for managing her patient’s under medicated post-surgical pain last week yields an unexpected result, in which she coaches a father how to ask his daughter’s surgeon to treat her pain. How do you handle similar situations?

I receive comments from nurses, some asking questions. A recent comment submitted to an older post, Of Medication Errors and Brain Farts is a single line,

I made a med error and lost my job how do you go on

If the comment touches you, please reach out with support and advice for this nurse in replies to this comment. Let’s help out a fellow nurse, yes?

It’s That Time of the Month Again: JParadisiRN’s Post for Off the Charts

Yes, it’s that time of the month again. Before you go thinking JParadisiRN is giving out Too Much Information, let me say that I’m referring to my latest monthly post Who Will Watch the Watchers? Consider Nurses for Off the Charts, the blog of the American Journal of Nursing.

In this latest post I contrast nurses’ accountability to protect the privacy of our patients while maintaining their privacy under the oversight of HIPAA, against the current debate over personal privacy versus national security, and who should have oversight of the NSA and the information they collect.

Read the post at Off the Charts and leave a comment. We’d love to know your opinion!