I Promote Self-Care to Healthcare Workers — Sometimes I Feel Like I Can't Even Take Care of Myself

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Adobe Stock / Fairygodboss Staff

Anonymous Employee
Anonymous Employee
July 24, 2024 at 3:39PM UTC
At Fairygodboss, we're sharing stories about how members of our community work and what a workday is like for them. 

Today, we follow a Program Manager in Patient and Customer Experience as she provides support to employees, patients and guests at her hospital.

Interested in sharing a day in your work life? Share your story here for a chance to be featured.


Job Title: Program Manager

Industry: Healthcare

Seniority: Mid-Level

Location: New York

Type of Workplace: In-person


Morning

6:15 a.m. — My husband’s alarm goes off because he is playing tennis at 7 a.m., the dogs begin to stir because he is up. So I roll out of bed and head to the coffee machine that I have set up to be ready for the morning. Thankfully, my husband has started it and it’s ready by the time I get downstairs. I let the dogs out and give them breakfast while I drink my first cup of coffee. 

7:00 a.m. — I scroll through my four email accounts, two personal and two work, while sipping my second cup. Check the calendar, NY Times for any interesting news updates, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

7:30 a.m. – I head upstairs to the shower to begin getting ready for work, checking the weather so I know how to dress. I iron a dress that I’ll wear, make the bed and by 7:45 I am in the shower.

7:50 a.m. — I am dressed and beginning to dry my hair while thinking of my schedule for the day and going through the meetings that I have. 

8:20 a.m.— Hair, makeup and jewelry done, I head downstairs to get my breakfast and lunch ready. I pour my third cup of coffee and prepare oatmeal to take with me, a smoothie, some cucumbers, strawberries, yogurt and seltzer.

8:40 a.m. — I pack my bag, put on my work ID, put my headphones in and dial in for the first Mircosoft teams call of the day, a morning brief with departments in the entire organization.

8:45 a.m. — I listen to the call while I get into my car to head to work at the hospital.  Luckily, my commute is a five-minute drive.  I park in the farthest lot, because I have to get my steps in and walk to the building, clocking in at 8:54.

9 a.m. — I am at my desk checking voicemail and email, while on a Teams call with the wellness committee, trying to find ways to promote self-care to employees. Then, I talk with my boss about the meetings for the day and the expectations of our department. 

9:20 a.m. — I called from the front desk to speak to a family member who wants to visit but visiting hours have not begun. I head to the lobby. 

9:25 a.m. — I spend time with the family member explaining visitation guidelines in light of the pandemic. At first, I get pushback at how ridiculous it is because he is vaccinated and wearing a mask. I remain calm and reinforce that guidelines are not put in place for no reason and reassure him this to protect him, the patients, our staff and other visitors. I empathize with him and his inability to see his family member right away and we call the floor and speak to his nurse who reassures him that the patient had a restful night, is eating her breakfast and sitting up in a chair. He is reassured and agrees to come back at 11 a.m., when we have our visiting hours.

9:45 a.m. — I get back on the Wellness Committee teams call, which is wrapping up.

10:00 a.m. —  I review the issues that are on the agenda to be discussed at a 10:30 meeting, making sure that I have all of the documents ready and information to be presented. 

10:15 a.m. — I get a call from the lobby asking for permission to send up a family member of a patient who is on comfort care. I call the Unit and speak to the nurse who is aware and permits the family member to visit. I call to the front to grant permission and enter it into the excel spreadsheet that is the "visitor exception log."

10:20 a.m. — I finally get to eat my oatmeal while finishing the third cup of coffee.

10:30 a.m. — First, a  meeting to discuss patient issues, get feedback from the committee on how to review cases and respond to the patients. Then, a meeting with a financial analyst to review the budget of the department, adding capital budget for two new chairs and a table, to our department budget. It is thankfully granted, as my chair is falling apart.

11:20 a.m. — The Nurse Manager calls to inform me that a young patient on hospice has died and the staff could use support from my team. I arrange to go to the unit at 2:30 p.m.

11:45 a.m. — I get a call from a distraught mother whose young son has been admitted. She is frustrated that she is not getting calls back in what she feels is a timely manner. Offer her support and validate her feelings, take her and her son’s information. 

11:55 a.m —I call the unit and speak to the social worker on the treatment team who informs me that she has spoken to the mother three times in 36 hours and the Psychiatrist is assessing the patient and will call after. 

Afternoon

12:05 p.m. —I return the call to the mother to inform her of this. I provide her with my direct line if she needs further assistance. 

12:15 p.m. —I get called from the lobby as a patient is upset that her husband can not accompany her up to the surgery center, due to COVID restrictions. I meet with them and immediately recognize them from a few months ago when I met them to address another concern. I am aware of the procedure that she has come for and I walk both of them up to the waiting area, and wait for the nurse to check the patient in. I ensure that the nurse has the husband's number for a post-procedure call and then escort him downstairs, making light conversation and attempting to reassure him that she is in good hands. I encourage him to take a drive, even go home, since it’s not too far, and he is not able to wait in the hospital.

12:35 p.m — I am five minutes late to a Teams meeting that I arranged, but the group is on and having a friendly social discussion, which is nice to hear. I apologize for being late and taking their time. We begin our discussion on the end-of-life project that we are working on to standardize the process when a patient transitions from acute care to comfort/end of life care. There are seasoned nurses and the palliative care team and they have ideas that I am quickly writing down. This group is efficient and we get all of it done in 20 minutes. I end feeling good about the commitment of this team to this project. 

1:00 p.m. — I have my lunch I packed at my desk, while reading through emails and responding where needed. 

1:15 p.m. — I get a call from the lobby because there are two visitors who want to see a patient, but the patient already had one visitor that day and we only allow two per day because of COVID-19 restrictions. I go to meet them and empathize, reinforce and inform them that we could do a virtual call. They agree and decide who will be visiting. I call the Unit and ask the RN to prepare for a virtual call with the patient and family. 

1:35 p.m. — Back to my desk to finish my lunch. 

1:45 p.m. —I head outside for a walk because I know that I have the support session at 2:30 p.m. and need to try and practice self-care (!). I am lucky to be able to walk along the Hudson River and enjoy nature. I sometimes call my mom while walking, but today I just walk.

2:20 p.m. — I am back in the building, but am stopped by security who asks me what to speak with a guest who is not happy. 

2:22 p.m. — I listen to a patient who is frustrated that she has been waiting in line to check-in and be screened for COVID-19 and is now late to her doctor’s appointment. I offer support and apologize to her, I call the doctor’s office and inform them that she is late due to the lobby line. 

2:28 p.m. — I run up to my office and gather the supplies for the support session for the patience who has died in hospice. I head over the to the Unit, meeting with my support team member to provide her with details before we head into the Unit. 

2:35 pm. — The Unit manager had gathered the staff and we arrange into a circle. I explain that we are there to offer a pause, a supportive space for them to reflect on the recent death on their unit. We take a few moments to do some 4-7-8 breathing to allow them to reflect and pause. My partner and I allow for silence. The hearse who cared for her starts talking about how it has triggered the loss of other patients throughout the pandemic. A tech speaks up about how it has triggered emotions from a loss she suffered last year of a young family member. We talk about cumulative grief and its effect on ourselves, emotionally, physically and mentally, how difficult the past 18 or so months have been for all of them and ask about their own coping skills. 

3:30 p.m. — my partner and I leave the Unit and find a space to debrief, as it affects us as well, sometimes more than we are aware and more than we want it to. My partner on this team, who has been working with me for ten years, recognizes when I look depleted even before I do. She tells me I look tired, I pause and tell her I am. I tell her that something needs to give and I need to delegate some tasks. I feel depleted on some days for giving so much of myself, and not enough to my own self-care. We spend 45 minutes having our own support session!

Evening

4:15 p.m. — I head back to my office, but not before I notice the recycling bin of visitor badges overflowing onto the floor in the lobby. I find a bag and place the ones from the floor and on top into the bag. The box is locked, so I call security and ask them to please empty the box. I grab a coffee, half-decaf, from the coffee stand chit chat with the owner.

4:35 p.m. —Back at my desk, I snack on my cucumbers while reading through emails, responding if needed and checking voicemails on the two lines I am responsible for.  Thankfully, there only one billing call, which I can forward to accounts and one to call tomorrow about a visit scheduled for the following week.

4:55 p.m. — I pack up my bags, debrief with my boss about the following day and head out at 5:05 p.m.

5:15 p.m.  — I pull into the driveway to hear the dogs barking and my husband saying, they are ready for a walk! Quick belly rubs for the dogs and I head upstairs to change.

5:30 p.m.  — I take both dogs for a walk, thinking about what I want to eat because I realize I haven't had that much today and my stomach is growling. 

6:15 pm. — I'm back at home and can finally relax.

Self Assessment

Productivity: 8/10

Stress: 9/10

Work Satisfaction: 9/10

Overall Day Rating: 8/10

I gave a lot of myself today, which I actually do most days, and finding time for a walk, to eat or have a moment of self-care is hard. Prompting self-care is easy — it’s practicing that’s a challenge for me.

What's your no. 1 way to practice self-care during stressful workdays? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

Interested in sharing a day in your work life? Share your story here for a chance to be featured.

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