1. Putting ourselves last.
We all care immensely about our jobs. We care for our patients, clients and coworkers. But we often put ourselves last on the list. We must find ways to put ourselves first. Listen to your body. When you feel stressed, anxious or exhausted your body is telling you something is wrong.
Are you putting your physical, emotional and mental health first? Are you leaving work at work when you walk out the clinic door? Are you doing things that you enjoy? We care so much for others that we forget to care for ourselves. This isn’t sustainable. Make yourself a priority! You are worth it!
2. Resisting change.
Back in the old days, we boxed cats down for anesthesia. We used muscle to restrain with the intent of getting the job done. Then we began to see a shift in how we handled cases. We use chemical restraint and practice low-stress techniques to give our patients a better hospital experience.
Change happens. It helps us grow and push forward. It brings innovative ideas and maybe even better ways to do things. We cannot dig our heels into the ground and cling onto how we’ve “always done things”. We must come up with ideas and be willing to let our coworkers feel safe to bring up ideas. Without change there is no growth. We must always be willing to grow.
3. Not speaking up when something seems wrong.
I remember feeling off about a case one day. My gut feeling was this patient wasn’t safe to go under anesthesia. Blood work was normal. There was a heart murmur that had been addressed by the cardiologist. The patient was bright and alert. Something felt wrong and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked the doctor what they thought about doing radiographs before anesthesia. They let me go with it.
Turns out the patient had abdominal fluid and needed more than just the elective procedure they came in for that day. I thank my lucky stars that I was willing to say something and that my doctor was willing to listen. Our gut feelings and senses are a mystery on why they work the way they do. And sometimes they are wrong. But by speaking up when something doesn’t sit right, we can continue to be our patient’s advocate.
4. Tolerating bad behavior.
Talking to so many of my colleagues, I have found that many of them have been bullied, spoken down to or made miserable by someone in the clinic. Maybe it’s a boss, coworker or even a client. But many of those who were experiencing this nasty behavior didn’t say or do anything. They put up with it and felt utterly helpless.
I’ve always believed that to make your garden grow, you must remove the weeds. When people are aggressive, abusive or just plain jerks, we must stop putting up with it. By allowing this behavior to happen in clinics or thinking “It’s just part of the field,” we are condoning negative behavior. Make your garden beautiful and don’t put up with those who try and destroy it.
5. Getting lost in our mistakes.
We all want to be right. We are overachievers and a lot of our self-worth comes from being right. We are human beings. We will make mistakes. Those mistakes will haunt us forever. But what we do with those mistakes is crucial to our success. We cannot beat ourselves up over the past.
The best thing we can get from a mistake is to the ability to learn from it. We know that our mistakes can have a huge magnitude. It’s ok to feel guilty or think of what we could have done differently. But don’t live there and don’t let it immobilize you.
This is truly an amazing profession we get to be a part of. We have endless opportunities to learn, grow and evolve into the professional we were meant to be. The most important thing is not to just survive this field, but to be able to provide amazing care for your entire career. When we stop doing these five things, we increase our longevity in this field. I want to see you all do what you do best, for as long as you possibly can. I want to see you happy. You have the power to make it so.