Have you ever wondered how to balance teamwork with individual boundaries? I spent the last two plus weeks working as a nurse at an overnight camp that my children used to attend. I’ve been doing this for close to 10 years. This year I was more aware of the balancing act that sometimes needs to occur when we are working as a team and also having respect for each others’ need and responsibility for self-care.
One time when I was working there were two of us present when a few children came in needing help. The other nurse was in the back and when I asked her to help with a child she had worked with recently, her response was “I’m on break.” She did not know that I was alone at the time so I explained and she soon got up and helped and then resumed her break.
So, why am I telling you this, I found myself falling into a couple nursing traps
- Not having boundaries
- Sense of urgency when patients raise concerns
I was struck by this, given my own philosophy, and a couple of questions arose for me.
What is helpful to balance teamwork with individual boundaries? Here’s some of what was helpful to me and may be for you too.
- Identify roles for the day, while being flexible in keeping the big picture in mind so that each nurse is not task focused only.
- Notice the strengths of each of the nurses and utilize these. For example at camp identifying who was most familiar and comfortable with various med passes, utilizing the knowledge of those who had experience with athletic injuries, or skills with splinter removal. Working in areas of competence and personal strength increases satisfaction too.
- Clear communication to let others know what the need is and why it is a need now; being clear about when not available, so others could respect that too.
- More Communication – be willing to ask for and to offer help; when offering or responding to a request letting colleagues know when we could help, what we could do and how much time we had available. This helped clarify expectations.
What is helpful for not getting caught up in the “Urgency” of the moment?
- Be aware of the big picture – What else needs to be handled? What would lead to a better experience for the camp, facility where you work, as a whole as well as for the individual patient?
- Triage – Evaluate the needs calmly
- Remembering my own expertise
- Waiting is often OK, it may be a matter of minutes rather than days
What helps you balance teamwork with individual boundaries?
For me, remembering that concerns may not be as urgent as they feel.
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