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An encouraging word


Has a compliment ever made your day? Perhaps it was just what you needed to hear to raise your self-confidence a notch or to encourage you in your nursing.

So often we hear people say negative things about people or situations, while overlooking the good things. Every day, situations arise that force us to choose to be negative or positive. I want to encourage everyone to make an effort to be positive. Compliment your colleague for how she handled a difficult phone call or dealt with a patient who didn’t want to take his morning medications. Or tell a staff worker how vital he was in saving your patient’s life during a code.

Motivation is important to me. I’ve only been a nurse for 2½ years, so I’m still gaining knowledge and building my skills. How others perceive my efforts shapes my self-image, and I’ve noticed this is true for nearly everyone. As nurses, we all have a desire to please ourselves and our families and above all, to provide the best possible service to patients.

One day a doctor knelt beside me as I charted on my computer and said, “I just want to make sure you know
I think you’re a great nurse. Thanks for doing what you did for the patient in Room 2015 the other day.” I was taken aback that he went out of his way to say a positive word. I’m not quite sure what I did, other than act as the patient’s assigned nurse; another nurse led the team while I received orders and made urgent consults. To be part of a spectacular team of nurses who work together and show each other respect, hold one another accountable, and teach each other daily is the most fulfilling job imaginable. The doctor’s encouraging word made me start wondering how much of a difference we’d see if we all made an effort to compliment one another.

Be inclusive with your praise

An iota of encouragement goes a long way. Think about the last time someone praised your nursing skills. In her article “The other side of the bed,” Latrina Gibbs McClenton describes an incident in which a patient complimented a nurse. “Feedback and compliments can help that nurse through his/her shift, give him/her the momentum to continue, create an increased sense of inclusion, responsibility, and an affirmative attitude.” (See Arizona Nurse, Edition 22,

Let’s take this idea and run with it by complimenting coworkers—fellow nurses, the X-ray tech who’s extra careful with your ventilator patient, the lab tech who takes an extra moment to ensure he gets enough blood for the new orders you haven’t put in yet, the dietary worker who brings up an extra tray because you dropped one, the janitorial staff member who comes to the spill STAT with a smile on her face, and the doctor who’s more than willing to teach and never belittles your questions. All hospital departments and staff are vital.

Make sure to include your nurse manager on your compliment list. Remember—she deals with complaints, call-ins, and family disputes. Can you count all the incident reports you’ve slid under her door? A little note telling her how much you appreciate her services and her good work ethic would certainly be welcome.

I could go on and on with reasons to encourage and compliment others. But here’s my point: Everyone is important in his or her own way, and taking the time to point out even a little thing can make a collaborative team effort seem effortless.

Workplace mood affects staff stress levels, and a positive mood makes for the best day. When you leave work, focus on the positive and play down the negative. Complacency in your work, attitude, and nursing practice is dangerous. Hold yourself (and others) accountable for your (and their) attitude toward difficult patients. Address others with respect, no matter what their department. Above all, take pride in what you do. You’re a nurse—and someone’s encouraging words and gestures helped you get where you are today.

Ellanie Bessonette is an intensive care nurse at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb, Mississippi. Also a travel nurse, she is currently studying at Mississippi University for Women, with a focus on primary care.

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