By Latoya Smith

You Can't Pour From An Empty Cup

Your pour game is on Thanos, but that won’t stop you from feeling burned out at the most inopportune time. As nurses and healthcare workers we are in a perpetual state giving. And it doesn’t stop when we clock out. We have family, children, friends, churches, and causes that need us too. If you’re like me, you feel compelled to keep going even when the tank is 2 notches passed E.


I know you want to do everything for everyone and that’s what they teach us in nursing school, right? No Ma’am it’s not! Let’s go back to two of the core principles of nursing: Non-maleficence and Beneficence. Non-maleficence means to “do no harm’ and guess what? That extends to you as well. You have a duty to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. When we utilize beneficence to make sure that the well-being of our charges is at the fore front of our thoughts, our very own well being matters as well. These are simple concepts that we complicate so that we can justify our lack of self-care and self-love.  So how do we keep our cups filled to the brim?


So have a seat. Take a deep breath. Ready? You are going to have to learn to SAY NO. I know the unit is short staffed, that patient needs to be seen, and Marley needs to be dropped off and she lives close to your home. Yes the unit is short today, but you have already worked 48 hours this week. Let’s call on our other team members. I’m not saying not to be a team player, just don’t be the ONLY team player. Biting off more than you can chew often causes resentment, fatigue, and contributes to burnout. Yes the patient needs to be seen and we want to provide excellent care, but, is there an on call nurse available or can the patient be rescheduled? And yes Marley is 10 minutes from your house but those 10 minute drops add up and now it is 2 hours later and your TO DO list isn’t finished. Guys it is totally okay to say no. Communication is key. No one will know that you are struggling or overwhelmed if you don’t speak up. Also, nursing is about being a team. We all work to together to make sure that patient’s needs are met. You should have relief knowing that we (plural not singular) shoulder responsibility for the care of our patient’s.


When is the last time you took yourself on a date?  Schedule in some time for you to decompress, relax, and recharge. It doesn’t have to be a grand expensive spa day. You can do a walk in pedi, read that book you’ve been putting off 6 months, or grab a drink with your toddler. Whatever it is, make sure you spend time doing something that you love simply because it gives you pleasure to do so.


At work there is part of me that wants to know everything and a part of me that wants to know nothing! I have always walked this fine line. However, after 10 years of being a nurse, I have learned to AVOID WORKPLACE DRAMA. Be personable, be respectful, and be professional. Outside of that you should never feel pressured to pick sides and most certainly don’t allow yourself to be dragged into that wretched mess. Drama is inevitable, but you’re involvement is not. It is one of those things that is psychologically, emotionally, and physically draining. Evict drama from your life so that you can have room for things that are actually meaningful to you.


Every “war” isn’t worth fighting, so choose your battles wisely. I think we should always strive to do right and be earnest. However, you can’t change the entire world in a day. And some things, you simply will not be able to change. We have complete computer charting at my facility. However, some nurses still spend 30 minutes to an hour writing down meds. I don’t think this is efficient. Sometimes the time they take to write all of this down affects their ability to get things done on time, but it makes them feel comfortable and they are still providing great care. I could advocate for absolutely no writing down of things available in the system but it’s not a battle I’m going to win, nor a battle that actually needs to be fought. Make sure that you have all the facts and are willing to go the long haul when issues pop up.


Guys this is so completely simply. All you have to do is take care of yourself the way you take of others. I give you permission to love all up on yourself! By loving and caring for yourself you will be able to care for others. It is integral to healthcare that you keep your cup full. This way patient’s, your family, friends, and community can reap the full benefit of all of your awesomeness.




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