Being Your Best Self As a Nurse

The following exert was taken from the AACN website.  It was written with nurses new to the ICU in mind, but I think it pertains to all nurses/all areas.

“…When helping your new nurses define their best self at work, share the “most loved person” exercise, being sure to ask your nurses these two questions:

  • Who is your most loved person?

  • If each of your patients was your most loved person, how would you care for them?

The exercise is simple but powerful. When nurses consider taking shortcuts because they’re tired or pressed for time, they must remember: if they wouldn’t take the shortcut with their most loved person then they shouldn’t do it with their patients. When I shared my story and these questions in that speech for graduating students, I could see from the look in their eyes that it touched their hearts. It reminded them why they wanted to be nurses in the first place — I’m guessing it will do the same for you and your nurses.

Afterward, please feel free to provide novice nurses with these additional strategies for bringing their best self to work every day.

Healthy Work Strategies

  • 1Put Compassion First

    • Think of someone you love at the start of every shift, and treat every patient the way you want that person treated
    • If someone shares a negative opinion of a patient, request that they hold their opinion and share just the necessary clinical information
  • 2Build a Support System

    • Seek support from nursing colleagues
    • Ask for feedback on how to improve your patient care
    • Join a professional nursing organization
  • 3Practice Self-Care

    • Implement healthy self-care habits such as getting enough sleep and taking time for fulfilling hobbies
    • Breath!
    • Have coping mechanisms for dealing with a bad day
    • Celebrate everyday wins. Understand that nursing is a marathon, not a sprint; patient care is a 24/7 job, so you’re not expected to be able to perfect everything before you head home
  • 4Create a Healthy Work Environment

    • Promote healthy work environment standards
    • Don’t gossip about peers
    • If you hear gossip about yourself, reach out directly to the source or your manager

I don’t have to tell you that new nurses often feel overwhelmed about all they must learn and do. In an ICU, it usually takes at least 12 to 18 months to internalize the most essential clinical knowledge. On top of that, they have to learn how to deal with sometimes unpleasant patients or families who are frustrated, in pain and vulnerable.

It’s ok to experience frustration and express negative feelings. In fact, working through tough emotions is healthy and should be encouraged. Still, there’s a time and a place to vent, and it’s not at the bedside.

Helping your novice nurses stay centered by remembering their purpose — bringing their best self to work and treating patients with compassion — can ensure that they stay engaged during these challenging months. And it starts with asking two simple questions.”

 (Julie Miller, BSN, RN, CCRN-K, 2019)

New to PACU education resources

For those of you who are seeking knowledge related to the perianesthesia realm….

CE direct has modules for certification review for perianesthesia and critical care.  Also, I stumbled upon some learning modules pertinent to PACU under the CNOR review courses:

  • Anesthesia Techniques and Surgical Pharmacology
  • Perioperative Emergencies and Complications
  • Immediate Post Operative Care



Welcome to DUH PACU!

On behalf of the Perianesthesia staff and leadership, I would like to welcome all nurses new to PACU.  I am so glad you have chosen to work with us!  Whether you are new to nursing, or changing work environments, the first few months can be daunting.  This is why we have implemented a Perianesthesia Nurse Mentor Program.  The mentor group is comprised of PACU nurses who have volunteered to donate their time and experience to help with your transition to practice.  Together you will have the opportunity to identify goals and develop action plans in support of your professional development.  I will download Mentor/Mentee assignments plus relevant forms and articles on the media page.  I will be posting information, educational tidbits, and questions for thought for both Mentors and Mentees on this blog.  Please feel free to post questions or comments on this site.  You may also email me directly at


Again, I’m so happy you’ve chosen Duke Peri Op!

Dana Cuda  MSN, BSN, RN, CCRN