5 Steps to Get Ready for Your Next Assignment

Posted on: January 07, 2021

written by

Gail Clifford, MD

Times are tough. The Covid-19 pandemic continues and we’re working harder than ever. It’s even strange to see non-Covid patients, but not enough of a relief. So, time off is, perhaps, more important than ever. Getting to the point where you don’t dread your “Sunday,” whatever physical day of the week that is for you, is important.

How do you get yourself ready for your next assignment or next shift in the hospital? Start with the 5 basics: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial aspects to be in the best possible shape before you head back into the fray.

Physical

It’s trite because it’s true. Stay as physically healthy as possible. Eat right. Sleep sufficiently. Exercise regularly. If your body is in better shape, you will be able to handle things better and fight off Covid-19 exposure more effectively. During the time away from work, continue to take care of yourself. 

Whilst at work, if you need that comfort coca-cola or burger or whatever, don’t fret about it, but try to make sure you do something healthy to combat it. Don’t fall into the “If I die from Covid, I’m not going to care that I’m 20 pounds overweight” mindset. You’re going to be using your PPE and preventing exposure outside work, so you’re doing everything possible to not get Covid. 

When the pandemic is controlled, you will care that you’re out of shape, so try not to get too far behind now. Most of us have better opportunities during our off time to take care of our physical needs, so schedule it into your day – just like you do the dentist or your car maintenance.

Mental

As much as possible, get out in nature. It’s the simplest way to reset your brain and get some physical activity as well. Whether it’s a hike or stargazing or sitting in a park or at the beach, getting out in the fresh air makes a big difference to your mental health. You’ll feel your capacity both calming and expanding. 

Also, try something new. Remember that to do list or bucket list you have either in writing or rolling around the back of your head? Bring it to the fore and choose something from it. Staying engaged and doing new things reminds you of why we continue to go into the hospital and save lives. Protecting your mental state helps us save ourselves.

Emotional 

Connect with your loved ones. If you’re fortunate enough to be married with children, love your spouse and children actively. Do things with them that they love, learn their love languages, and fulfill them. And make sure they know yours – give them easy examples of ways you like to be nurtured. 

All of us needs words of affirmation. Use them liberally in your home. Reduce the negativity and you’ll reduce the avoidance you may feel. Don’t ever let the habit of staying at work to avoid a fight at home become your norm. 

Address the issues that arise with open, honest, kind communication, so that when you start your next series of shifts in the hospital, the family’s emotional bank is full, so they can help yours as it’s drained over the week + you’ll be working. You’ll be so glad you did. 

I go into this topic a little more in this article: https://www.bartonassociates.com/blog/filling-the-tank 

Spiritual 

If you believe in God, pray daily (or more). For the wisdom to help your patients, the protection of yourself and your family, for our country and world to make better choices and finally overcome this pandemic. 

If you don’t pray, spend time contemplating those things that you find valuable and fulfilling. 

And, again, get out in nature. Connecting with something outside yourself helps keep things in perspective.

Financial

Let’s be real. The risk to our personal bodies during this time is significant. You have to have your financial life in order for the “just in case” possibilities. 

Make sure your financial POA (you have one, right?) knows where all the banking info is and when all the bills need to be done. Have everything possible set up on auto-pay – and make sure at least one other person knows where all that info is. 

It’s not going to be rainbows and unicorns during the pandemic, but we have the right, the need, to take better care of ourselves than ever before. If you focus on these 5 aspects of self-care, you’ll be well positioned to walk into the hospital fray on your next shift, knowing you and your family are as protected as you can possibly allow.

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About Gail Clifford, MD

Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid adventurer, she works hard and plays hard. She enjoys travel that immerse her in local culture, just like locum tenens work.

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