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A positive attitude really makes a difference

Staying positive during difficult times can make a big difference in the lives of our patients, our coworkers and ourselves.

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Poet Laureate Maya Angelou is credited with saying, “I’ve learned that people won’t remember what you said, people won’t remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

We continue to be faced with a lot of challenges and stressors in health care that can be physically and emotionally draining. Staying positive during it all may seem impossible sometimes. But even in these trying times, it’s possible to keep a positive attitude, and it makes a big difference for our patients, our coworkers and ourselves.

Maintaining a positive attitude, in this context, isn’t just putting on a smile and acting cheerful. It’s being empathetic in our interactions with others, using active listening, remaining visibly calm in stressful moments and interacting compassionately. It’s taking a moment to be fully present with the person we’re with and not appearing distracted. Be mindful that the person you’re talking to may be struggling in their own way, so patience is a must in all of us. Your kindness and compassion can help their positive outlook improve.

You impact every person you meet. You leave “residue” behind after rounding on a patient, talking with a family member on the phone or giving a report to a colleague. How will each of them remember you and how you made them feel? If you could choose one word that you’d want people to describe you with, what would it be?

Here’s how some of our patients describe the way you make them feel:

“There were quite a few who were very wonderful, they were just extremely caring and they showed compassion. And they just seemed like they really loved what they were doing with their work and where they were working. It was very nice!” – AACH Med Surg patient

“My nurse made me feel special and cared about. And had just a terrific attitude. She made me feel like my health and happiness were really important to her. It was really comforting.” – ATRMC CCU patient

“Almost everyone was so good at what they did. They were kind and attentive. They were very upbeat and friendly. And that really makes a difference. They were really friendly and kind. Really encouraging and kind. I just want to thank them all.” – ARRMC Post Surgical patient

Attitude is a way of thinking or feeling about someone or something that is reflected in a person’s behavior. Your attitude, whether positive or negative, is contagious. It’s true that staying positive in the current environment isn’t always easy. You don’t need to ignore or avoid the challenges we’re facing, but you can choose to make the most of the situation, try to see the best in others and focus on the positive strengths you have to offer.

Three practices that can help develop a positive outlook:

  • Try the 3 Good Things exercise with your team. During each shift, pass a sheet of paper around and ask each member of the team to write down at least one good thing that happened that day. At the end of the shift the charge nurse can select three good things to share with the oncoming shift to help them start their day with positivity. Practice it for two weeks and see if it helps improve your team’s mood.
  • Increase your human connection with your patients and coworkers. Practice the 10/5 rule. Learn five new things about someone and share five things about yourself.
  • Practice gratitude. Thank at least one patient or family member. Submit a VIA for a coworker who’s always helpful.

Most importantly, don’t forget you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Be kind to yourself and never forget that you matter. Thank you for making a difference!

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