Are you a nurse with a weak stomach? It’s not as uncommon as you might think. Below are some tips on how to handle that sick feeling when it comes to you on the ward.
Things You Smell
Of all the stimuli in the hospital, the things a nurse must smell are probably the most gag-inducing. Luckily, you can employ a few strategies to deal with the smells. You can suck on a strong mint when going into the patient’s room to overcome the nausea. The mint will also help to mask the scent. You can also rub some vapour rub under your nose, or any other strong-smelling ointment, before entering the room. Many nurses employ the use of masks (sometimes multiple masks) to help block the scent. This is easy enough to do because face masks are readily available in most facilities.
If none of these methods are available, you can use some breathing techniques. Try to breathe through your mouth, not your nose. Take in slow deep breaths. Try not to let the patient know you are feeling ill. They are likely to be embarrassed about it. If you just can’t take it anymore, step out of the room, take some deep breaths, and compose yourself. Use some of the other techniques or ask for some help to deal with the smell situation.
Things You See
Nurses can see a great deal of stomach-churning things in their career – from blood to open wounds – that a regular person may never have to encounter. One way to deal with things you see is to focus on taking slow, deep breaths. This helps to give your brain enough oxygen to prevent from passing out or from vomiting.
Breathing can also help you to relax and focus on the sight objectively, as a puzzle to solve or as something totally removed from a patient. For instance, if you have to pack a wound that doesn’t look so great, focus on it as a challenge or procedure – not a live patient. It is just a task to be done. It doesn’t mean anything more than that.
Work on shifting your focus, and take your time. It may take some acclimating and seeing the sights over and over again before you are entirely able to control your reactions.
Things You Touch and Hear
Sometimes, you just have to dive in and do it. Remember your breathing. The more you work with the sights, sounds, and smells of nursing, the better you will get at it.
There is no shame in asking someone to help you if you are feeling overwhelmed. It sometimes helps to step out of the room and take a breather in any situation to regain your composure. When in doubt, ask for help. Most nurses understand and can help you to overcome your feelings of nausea.
Lynda is a registered nurse with three years experience on a busy surgical floor in a city hospital. She graduated with an Associates degree in Nursing from Mercyhurst College Northeast in 2007 and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania in the United States. In her work, she took care of patients post operatively from open heart surgery, immediately post-operatively from gastric bypass, gastric banding surgery and post abdominal surgery. She also dealt with patient populations that experienced active chest pain, congestive heart failure, end stage renal disease, uncontrolled diabetes and a variety of other chronic, mental and surgical conditions. Her Website.