Career advice

Small changes can make a big difference

When organisations are stretched to the limit, it may seem as if nothing you do could possibly make a difference. But focusing on the areas that you are able to influence can be empowering

When organisations are stretched to the limit, it may seem as if nothing you do could possibly make a difference. But focusing on the areas that you are able to influence can be empowering


Picture: iStock

Often use of the term ‘practice’ can be limited to clinical situations. However, as there are so many dimensions to your role (organiser, leader, mentor, to name but a few) it can be useful to reflect on what you can do, in line with the Nursing and Midwifery Council code, to improve the wider aspects of your practice.

For example, you have a duty to promote professionalism and trust, as well as to work in a cooperative way. No doubt you are familiar with these values in your immediate area of work, but how can you extend them throughout your organisation?

Change starts somewhere

When you are overworked it can be easy to adopt an ‘us and them’ attitude towards senior management and decision makers, as if nothing you do could possibly make a difference. While understandable, this view will only drag your morale and motivation down even further and, ultimately, make your job harder. 

If you can somehow focus on everyday things that you could change or improve, it may help the wider organisation. In turn, you may feel more motivated and empowered. 

Making it happen

Here are some examples of things you might be able to do:

  • Work efficiently Though it is important to follow evidence-based protocols, this doesn’t mean that current procedures are set in stone. Be assertive; if you think there are safer, more efficient ways of doing things, speak up. But do this in a constructive manner and provide robust evidence to back up your suggestions.
  • Prevent waste A recent RCN investigation found that nurses are the largest producers of waste in the NHS, so try to only use the minimum resources necessary. You don’t need to cut corners, just be mindful of every time you throw out opened but unused gloves, dressings, and so on, as it all adds up. As the old saying goes, ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’.
  • Promote self-management Encouraging patients to take an active part in their health can help to reduce the burden on GPs and other healthcare professionals. Similarly, it’s important that you take responsibility by looking after yourself.  
  • Spread the word Aim to lead by example. While you may not have the power to save the NHS single-handedly, as a member of the largest staff group, your small changes could perhaps create a domino effect.

Mandy Day-Calder is a freelance writer and life/health coach

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs