5 Nursing Goals for Your New Year’s Resolutions

January 3rd, 2012

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By , BSN, RN

New Year's resolutions are the amateur version of nursing goals. If we approached our annual plans the way we tackle our client's needs they might seem more achievable. Just like nursing goals are tied to our client's health and well being, New Year's resolutions should be met for our own health and well being. So, my nursing colleagues take heed. It is not too late to set those goals and make 2012 the best year yet.

To quote Perry and Potter in Fundamentals of Nursing,

"Regardless of the type of interventions, the nurse implements care to meet client goals and outcomes. Goals can be achieved by providing an environment conducive to meeting such goals; adjusting care in accordance with the client's expressed or implied needs; stimulating and motivating clients, thereby enabling them to achieve self-care and independence; and encouraging clients to accept care or adhere to the treatment regimen."

We all know nurses are their own worst enemy. Nursing is a profession chosen because we want to help/care for others and often at the expense of ourselves. It's time to stop that, make a nursing plan for our own lives and have our own resolutions met. Here are some tips for the ultimate self-serving nursing care plan.

  1. Set attainable goals. – You would never expect a 24-hour post-op knee replacement patient to run a marathon. You just want them to achieve up and out of bed and to the bathroom, then once around the hall. So, don't say you are going to lose 100 pounds this year, plan to lose a pound a week. Certainly not as daunting or as painful or as easy to give up as that marathon goal.
  2. Make your environment conducive to achieving your goal. – If the goal is weight loss, throw out the Christmas candy and cookies. If you are trying to quit smoking don't just get rid of the cigarettes, get rid of the matches and lighter too. Need to exercise more, get new shoes or a cute new exercise ensemble and lay it out the night before. One of the first thing home health care nurses do is assess their patients' homes for problem areas: are throw rugs causing a greater risk for falling, any bright lights or digital displays in the bedroom for those with sleep disturbances, are grocery delivery services available to meet the nutritional needs of the homebound? Your environment should help, not hinder your resolution achievement.
  3. Adjust your resolutions in accordance with your needs. – Your state or your hospital has set a minimum requirement for all nurses to have their bachelor of science in nursing by 2020. It may not be the most glamorous resolution, but returning to school may be your need. You've got time, set an attainable goal (see number one). You don't have to sign up at the local college today. Your goal may simply be to get academically organized. Find your transcripts, check out what schools are in the area, ask your colleagues about their online universities, set up an office or work area in your home.
  4. Stimulation and motivation are the keys to resolution success. – We offer new diabetes patients education; we suggest Lamaze classes for new parents to be, and we have an endless list of support groups at the ready to help patients with life, death, disease and disability issues. To meet your own goals or resolutions you need and stimulation and motivation. Resolve to get more exercise—join a class, a running group, make a pact with your lunch buddy to eat in 15 minutes and walk for 15 minutes. Is your goal to get certified in your nursing specialty area? Talk to others who have done it and get their input on the best study materials, attend your specialty's annual convention, or find coworkers with the same goal to start a study group.
  5. KISS-keep it specific and simple. – Resolutions, like patient goals, need to be specific. Patient will ambulate 10 minutes, twice a day without walker. Nurse will complete one continuing education unit (CEU) each month. I will clean out one drawer in my kitchen by June 1, 2012.

One more key to a great patient goal or a great New Year's resolution is a touch of flexibility. We all have the best intentions on day one but by the end of the week or the end of the month some of that resolve may have slipped away. You encourage your clients to achieve self-care and independence and if they struggle and it is only partially met, you regroup, rewrite and help them attack it again. Do the same for yourself. You have a month to complete that CEU.

Personally, I like to mix my goals. I like to scatter the easy among the difficult. The easy ones keep me happy and give me the motivation to attack the harder ones. And don't make too many, that is simply daunting and again, easier to give up. You are your own patient. Look out for yourself and your goals just like you would patient Smith in the bed down the hall. Have a great 2012.

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