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How to regain the strength of your team after a quarantine

Cover Stories Letter from the Editor

How to regain the strength of your team after a quarantine


Today was my first day back at the surgical suite since mid-March when we entered the quarantine. I was a bit nervous about returning to work. Mostly, delivering health care in the operating room (OR) is more intricate than riding a bike. I would describe it as retraining an arm muscle that has been in a cast for a couple of months. The memory is there but the strength is not. And surgical procedures in my case is not a matter of life and death but a matter of vision or blindness. 

Some of you have or maybe returning to work and probably can’t wait to get back to normal. Here’s what to expect, you will be entering a new normal that will require patience until you learn your new routine. Similarly, it takes time and repetition for an arm coming out of a cast to function optimally.  

On a usual day, all is well but today was unusually aligned. We were happy to see each other and hesitant to hug each other at the same time. You could tell we were all ecstatic because the crow’s feet in our eyes were prominent. Our A-team, like Dr. Brown, one of our surgeons would put it, included the anesthetist, anesthesiologist, the scrub nurse, surgical and laser techs, nurse manager, nurse educator, and last but not least the OR controller. My first patient who was anxious the last time, was overwhelmed with calm. And for the rest of the day, this sense of calmness remained the same. This is the healthcare I have been waiting for. Today required a higher level of intention with movement and reassurance. Trust me, moving slower was not a sign of our weakness but assurance for our patients’ safety. Like a muscle, the speed in our routine was slower but the structure was alive and well. Today, egos were out of that way and empathy was at its best. 

“You could tell we were all ecstatic because the crow’s feet in our eyes were prominent.”

I was so overwhelmed with joy that I had to hold back the tears before anyone would misinterpret my joy with having a breakdown on my first day back. Things were going so well, I did not want to jinx us by talking about it so I held my thoughts until the end of the day. Maybe today was so great because I came in feeling great or maybe it was a combination of our energies. Either way, we started and ended the day as a team, and our patients felt this. 

What should you expect? Your first day has everything to do with the measures exercised by you, your administration, and your facility. 

  1. Expect to be screened which includes a temperature check depending on your facility. 
  2. Everyone including the patients will be issued the appropriate mask.
  3. There will be reinforcement of new protocols. 

Above all, expect to have a good day. Here are my recommendations for practices returning to the new normal:

  1. Express gratitude throughout the day and amongst each other. Even if it is something as little as providing a pen to document your notes or exercise EHR etiquette, just do it.
  2. Individually, be sure to get adequate rest the night prior because you need the energy to focus and move intentionally.
  3. Avoid approaching your first day like one of the usual days at work. 
  4. If it is in the budget, administration should provide breakfast or mid-day snack to set the tone. Also note that the energy required on day one may give you the munchies.
  5. Be quick to help another co-worker correct a mistake and slow to point it out. 
  6. At the end of the day, take a pic with each other celebrating your first win in the new normal. 
  7. Pro-tip: Don’t get caught up in trying to go at the same speed you did two months prior just do your best.

Always remember, patient care is a reflection of our care for each other. 

Are you anticipating your first day? or had a positive first day? Email us at info@npstudentmagazine.com we would love to share your story.

Patrice Little, DNP, FNP-BC

I am an author, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Founder/CEO of NP Student, — dedicated to keeping you "in the know" in every aspect of your life in and out of school. I am candid about my wins and regrets and share these stories so you can learn from my, always revealing something new life. Contact me at editor@npstudentmagazine.com

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