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NANNP Corner

How do We Keep Up with—Everything?

Bobby Bellflower, DNSc NNP-BC FAANP
NANNP Council Chair

Do you ever lie awake at night and wonder, “How am I going to keep up with everything?” That is common for many people, and it seems to have worsened over the past year. COVID-19 has changed life for most people, but now that we seem to be emerging from the worst of the pandemic, how do we handle life that is probably different from a year ago?

In neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), treatment, medications, and guidelines seem to change on an almost daily basis. While translating research to bedside care is imperative for best care, how do you keep up with all the changes? Keeping up is difficult, but amid a pandemic, it seems to be more challenging than ever. Over 1.4 million papers were indexed in PubMed in 2018 (Price, 2018). How long would it take to read all those papers?

Between working 40 or more hours per week, caring for their homes and families, and worrying about their parents or children, many nurses and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) think they do not have time to do the reading that is necessary to keep up. Using the free tools on the database websites can help you obtain essential articles and have input into the decisions made about the care of your patients and their families. Being aware of the latest literature allows you to advocate for the best care for your patients and their families.

In 2015, Barrington wrote an informative article with tips on keeping up with the literature in neonatology. Some great ideas included using technology to subscribe to electronic tables of contents (eTOCs) for the highest quality journals and subscribing to specific websites and databases that will do repeated weekly or monthly article searches for particular subjects such as treatment of chronic lung disease (Barrington, 2015). Barrington also provides a list of journals that offer quality peer reviews of articles and are most likely to print articles that may change practice.

To advocate for our tiny patients and their families, neonatal APRNs must learn to care for themselves as well as providing care for others. Self-care and wellness are so important personally and professionally. Many of us feel we do not have the time or resources for self-care and wellness.

However, there are many free resources available online to help. One is a blog from Dr. Eileen O’Grady, an adult nurse practitioner and certified wellness coach. Her blog is full of short wellness tips and pearls with practical advice we can all use. Most of the resources she recommends—blogs, videos, books, and tips—are free and readily available. Many are very practical. Being a nurse practitioner with years of experience, she understands how busy nurses and APRNs are in their professional and personal lives. Self-care and wellness are necessary. We have to find the time to do self-care or our professional and personal lives will suffer the consequences.

Another blog I follow is The Technium by Kevin Kelly. In one recent post, he offered 99 bits of unsolicited advice, and two of them were my favorites: “To succeed, get other people to pay you; to become wealthy, help other people to succeed” and “Bad things can happen fast, but almost all good things happen slowly.” It seems these two are so true. This blog was a fun read with some good advice.

Trying to keep up with everything can be exhausting. Although we must make sure we are updated on the current literature and best practices to provide the care our babies and their families deserve, we cannot do everything.  Use the tools discussed above to access information on best practices for your patients and practice self-care using some of the tools and blogs freely available. Find what works best for you, and just do it! 


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