How to Not be the Negative NurseHow to Not be the Negative Nurse

There are a lot of negative nurses working in the profession of nursing. And plenty of reasons why…

  1. Some nurses enter the profession for the wrong reasons.
  2. A large percentage of nurses are experiencing nurse burnout.
  3. Patient acuity impacts nurse stress levels and creates job dissatisfaction.
  4. Technologies such as the electronic medical record can make it hard to practice the “art” of nursing care.

This list is certainly not exhaustive and I could go and on and on with more reasons why there are negative nurses within the profession of nursing.

But what fun would that be? And how would that encourage us to feel inspired and excited about our nursing careers?

No more, my friend! Instead of focusing on the negatives, let us look to how we can NOT be that negative nurse in our workplace.

And even if you do not currently consider yourself a negative nurse (I hope that you do not), well continue on reading because as we talk about on The Your Next Shift podcast, we can always be learning, growing, and aspiring to something new and better.

Here we go…

Here Are 5 Things That You Can Do to Not Be That Negative Nurse! Click To Tweet

First off all, something I speak to a lot when I am interviewed or presenting on stage, awareness is everything. It really is. I would wager (if I was a betting gal, which I am not) that there are a handful of nurses who are reading this post who do not even realize that they are a negative nurse!

Awareness is key.

And to become aware a nurse has to have a routine practice of presence. What do I mean by that?

The world is a busy, bustling place. We are rushed. Hurrying from task to task and seeing multiple patients per day, a nurse may not have time to stop and reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

In order to create a more focused, less distracted nursing environment, I encourage nurses to get into the routine habit of practicing presence outside of the workplace. This could be as small as sitting on a park bench, watching the leaves of a tree blow in the breeze. Or focusing on and noticing your breath while driving to work. It does not have to take much time and you do not have to go to some far away place to practice presence.

Creating that practice of presence will increase your ability to be aware of your current situation. Having a routine mindfulness practice such as this will help you as a nurse realize if you are thinking or talking like a negative nurse.

Choose Something Different

Now that you have the awareness of if you are or are not a negative nurse, you can choose to do something about it. So either way- even if we are not the most negative person in our reality… guess what? We all falter at times and things do come out of our mouths that are negative in nature.

So we can all improve here!

With awareness, comes power. In that very moment when we open our mouths to say something like, “Yes, but we will never have the money for that…” We can pause. Reflect before we speak. And see if we can reword our statement to something more positive.

I view every situation, every experience, as an opportunity to learn. Even when I royally mess up… and yes, I still do.. I use those moments to grow and change. Using the current moment and other tools that I have at my disposal, I am more aware of what comes out of my mouth before I say it.

Which brings me to strategy number three.

Appreciative inquiry. Rather than viewing everything with an eye for the “glass is half empty”, use the techniques taught by David Cooperrider and colleagues in the AI framework.

Visualize what you want in your ideal. For the moment, suspend all disbelief and ask yourself, “What if?” Focus on strengths and use these assets to pull you towards solutions. Instead of “what’s not working” it becomes “what IS working”.

To me, following the steps outlined in this process has been one of the very best ways to avoid becoming a negative nurse.

Fourth, quit taking yourself and everything around you so seriously.

Now, I do realize that healthcare is a very serious profession. One that requires us to pay attention and avoid making mistakes. However, when we put our heads down, noses to work, without ever looking up to smell the proverbial roses… my goodness, we miss out on a world of beauty!

Patients will smile at you. They will say nice things, such as “Thank you.” Instead of rushing off to the next item on your check list, pause. Relish that. Feel what those words feel like in your body. Make eye contact with them. Shake a hand or give a smile back. Celebrate your successes, big and small, as a nurse.

Finally, take care of you.

And yes, I should have put this one at the very top! This is likely the most important thing you can do to avoid becoming a negative nurse.

Nurses who are negative are tired. They are beat down. Many of them have experienced enough and cannot take the profession of nursing anymore.

But this can be avoided, for the most part. We all have a personal responsibility to our nursing careers. It is up to us to take care of ourselves. To not tire out and avoid burnout.

When we put our own self-care first, we become resilient nurses. We are able to bounce back from hardships and even teach other nurses how to do the same.

Make your own well-being a priority and you will never be a negative nurse!

So what are some tips you can share with the other nurses who are reading? How do you ensure that you do not become a negative nurse? Share a comment below and thanks for reading! And if you would like a copy of this article to share with your nursing staff, you can print a downloadable PDF by clicking here.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.