Look After Yourself

Chapter 10 Look After Yourself

Taking on the role of a manager gives you greater power and authority. However, this power and authority comes at a price: your staff will have greater expectations. They will require you to:

When you were a staff nurse, you were safe in the knowledge that there was someone more knowledgeable and experienced around. When you become a ward manager, you are that more knowledgeable and experienced person. There is no one for you to turn to.

You have more pressure than many non-clinical managers. You are responsible for ensuring that sick and vulnerable people get appropriate care and treatment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everyone, including your team, the patients and their relatives, have very high expectations of you. It’s an incredibly responsible job and there are few who would not buckle under the pressure at times. The key is to look after yourself and set up your own support system.

Set up a peer support group or action learning set

The ward manager’s job is a lonely one but it needn’t be. For some reason, ward managers rarely get together apart from formal sisters’ meetings, yet often the best source of support is from others who do the same job and therefore have similar problems.

There is no reason why you cannot set up a small support group of like-minded individuals. It’s usually advisable to start off with a small number of around 6 people. Make sure you focus on solutions. Some nurse managers are adept at having lengthy discussions about a problem without ever considering what the solution could be. Action learning is a solution-orientated method of learning from each others’ problems.

Support and challenge

Action learning is a simple but very effective method of learning and supporting each other. Ideally, it is good to begin with the help of an experienced facilitator, but it is not essential. If there is no one available within your organisation with the right skills and you do not have the funding for an external facilitator, don’t let it stop you setting up some sort of ‘peer support group’ yourself. As long as you meet regularly, you will be able to help each other learn from your experiences and the actions you take.

The key to the success of your group depends on:

The group members need to be able to build up trust and confidence together to be able to challenge each other to think differently about things. Joint reflection with other ward managers is an ideal way of helping you become more effective in your role. It offers the chance to give and receive feedback, which you may not get in such an isolated position. The team you manage will give you a certain amount of feedback but they do not fully understand your issues, having never been in the role themselves. Your line manager’s feedback is also limited in that they are working at a distance and in an entirely different role.

Develop the role of your deputy

The deputy ward manager(s) can be among your greatest assets. Your aim should be to enable them to develop the skills and ability to do your job within 2 years of being in their current post.

Jun 15, 2016 | Posted by in NURSING | Comments Off on Look After Yourself

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