I had my precious baby Patrick on November 20th of last year, and was on maternity leave until the beginning of February. That is a looooooooong time to go without practicing my new nursing skills. I was no longer changing central line dressings, inserting catheters, caring for wounds, maintaining G/J-tubes, and giving medications around the clock. I was, however, becoming rather proficient in swaddling, diaper changing, laundry doing, tip-toeing, and lullabying.
As the end of my maternity leave was approaching, the anxiety about going back and remembering how to do my job was increasing exponentially. I only had five months from the time I became a nurse until Patrick was born to perform the skills I learned in nursing school. Was it going to come back to me? Or was I going to embarrass myself in front of the patient by sticking the urinary catheter in the wrong hole? Believe me, I had plenty of nightmares where things went horribly wrong.
Whenever I experience anxiety about something that is under my control, I always make a plan. Once I have a plan, my anxiety seems to subside. Here’s what I did and what you can do if you are in need of a little skills refresher.
1. Make a list of all of the skills you need to freshen up on. My list included central line dressing change, PICC removal, TPN administration, urinary catheter insertion, G/J-tube management, and wound care. I work in a transitional care facility and see patients recovering from knee and hip fractures and surgeries, COPD exacerbations, strokes, and things of that nature. If you are in the hospital, nursing home, or working in home care, your list might look different from mine.
2. Gather all of your resources. I used YouTube A LOT! Click here for a playlist of nursing skills videos. Videos are not always 100% by the book, so check your nursing fundamentals book to make sure you’re following the proper procedure.
3. Practice like you did in nursing school…on your friends and family! I saved my lab kit from nursing school, so I took out my supplies and walked through each of the skills I needed to practice. I didn’t have central line dressing change kit anymore, so I just followed along with the YouTube video and put my hands through the motions so I could gain some muscle memory.
Alright my friends, tell me about the skill you are going to brush up on today! Trach care anyone?!