5 Mottos That Guide My Nursing Practice

There are tons of things that contribute to your experience as a nurse. Collectively, they are what makes you unique and provides the backbone to your success in the profession. The countless hours in nursing school, busting your butt on the unit each shift, and everything in between brought you to this point in your career. Hopefully, we’re able to refresh and think back to the key points and lessons that have brought us success time and time again and continue to reproduce these outcomes moving forward. A technique that I use is having short expressions that I say to myself or to others as encouragement, to recharge, and to maintain a positive frame of mind. Below are some of the sayings that I use the most because they resonate well with me.

1. “Nursing is Nursing Wherever You Go.”

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you might have seen this written before. As a traveler, this applies to just about everything that comes with the territory: arriving at a new hospital, floating to a different floor, using a charting system for the first time, etc. It all comes down to your skills and taking care of patients. You always have your experience and judgment to fall back on. Those are aspects of nursing that are universal. I refer back to this one to alleviate the stress that comes with “being a new kid in a new school.”

2. “Work to Be Ahead Now So That You’re Only a Little Behind Later.”

Some days, you can never seem to catch up. No matter how hard you try to fight the current, it seems to just pull you back under. You don’t have time to think or breathe or pee or anything. Your work gets done almost out of desperation and in an attempt to do 15 hours worth of work in only 12 hours. Other days, there can be a bit of a lull (don’t you dare say the Q-word) and it seems like you have to force yourself from the chair at the nursing station because it’s such a rare luxury. This phrase mostly applies to these types of days because, as you may know, if there’s a lull, it doesn’t last long. I try to work to be ahead of the impending rush where all of a sudden the ED admits patients on rapid fire or everyone is trying to be discharged at the same time or the call bells are lighting up more than a Christmas tree. It also serves as a reminder that if your work is done, then you can help others, and, in turn, they may be able to help you later on as well if you become swamped.

3. “This is Somebody’s (Mom/Dad/Brother/etc.).”

This is probably self-explanatory. However, this is my goal mentality when caring for patients. It’s a variant of the “Golden Rule” – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I try to care for everyone as I would care for my family members because they’re someone’s loved one. On days where I have needy, combative, and verbally abusive patients, I need to remind myself of this one a little bit more than I might like.

4. “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.”

I’m a little bit superstitious, and this motto follows me outside the nursing world as well. For whatever reason, it seems that I always find myself in a pickle when doing someone a favor or trying to do the right thing. Maybe it’s because I lower my guard or have different expectations or assume that karma will take over. Whatever the reason is, I say this in an effort to keep my guard up, lower my expectations, and stay vigilant. Examples of this include coming in on your day off to help but end up having a bad assignment and exhausting day or assisting another nurse and then one of your patients has an issue. It’s just an extra coat of mental armor that I use to keep me on point.

5. “All You Can Do is Your Best.”

There’s only so much you can do with the resources (e.g. time, staff, equipment) you are given. Hopefully, the resources that you’ve been given are enough to get the job done satisfactorily, but if not, you need to try your best to do what you can with what you have. We can stretch and bend and try to move mountains, but, at some point, something has to give. This saying works two-fold: 1) it holds me accountable to actually do my best and not just saying that I am and 2) it allows me to maintain my integrity because I know that I’ve done everything in my power and that I’ve left it all out there.


Do you have any mottos that you use in your nursing practice?

I’d love to hear about them. Please comment below so I can check them out.

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