High Fives in Healthcare: Taking Time to Celebrate Your Victories

One of the projects I am working on in my informatics role involved overcoming an interface obstacle between EMRs. We wanted to accomplish something that had not been done, but it theory we knew should work. We were told to not get our hopes up, but the software vendor agreed to make the changes we needed in order to facilitate our desire. And we did it! We were able to document on patients we were previously unable to. We had a small victory and no one seemed to notice.

I noticed.

I cheerily said “yay” and went around to various cubicles informing others what we were able to accomplish. I joked I wanted to give high fives, and truly I did, but everyone else seemed to think I was a little to excited about this accomplishment. But it was an accomplishment. We had a victory and I felt we needed to celebrate it.

Overwhelmed With Projects

Not too long ago the topic of feeling overwhelmed with projects was discussed. We talked about how we don’t have time to enjoy our success because another project is looming. But I think we are at least partially to blame for this as well. Although in the world of healthcare informatics, we are constantly going to have a mountain of projects and we will constantly be putting out fires, that is no excuse to ignore our accomplishments.

Today’s success, which was only slightly noticed by most, was an opportunity to take a minute and celebrate our victories. Most chose to acknowledge with a smile and a “good job.” I was appreciative of that, but it really made me realize that we don’t get as excited about our success as we need to.

Blood Return is a Natural High

When I was working on the floor I noticed this trend as well. Every successful IV stick I got was a victory to me. I have done plenty, but each time I see that flush of read and  I thread that canula, a burst of endorphins floods my brain and I feel the rush of success and the natural high of accomplishment. I wanted to share  with others my victory. I wanted others to feel as good as I felt at that moment. But often I was met with eye rolls or giggles. Nurses were often annoyed by my enthusiasm or found it comical.

There were a few nurses who found my victory celebrations to be charming. Secretly they would come to me and celebrate their own victories of successful IV sticks, efficient dressing changes, or efficient and finished charting, but they never did this in front of all the other nurses. It was almost as if they were embarrassed to talk about their accomplished. Perhaps they felt it silly to be proud of the work they did. After all it is “our jobs” to do these things, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate a job well done.

Now I guess it is a little funny to have a nurse get excited about successfully applying an ostomy pouch on the 1st attempt, that stayed on all night, but I call that a victory. Everyday as nurses we have victories that we don’t celebrate.

Why Don’t Nurses Celebrate Our Victories?

Why don’t we enjoy our success? Why don’t we share it with each other? Why don’t we get excited about the success of our care and the improvements our patients enough to share it? Why do we think these victories are just “part of our job”?

It is part of our job to complete these tasks and provide care for our patients. But there is no shame in taking pride in a job well done. A good nurse has many successes on any given shift and a happy nurse will stop a moment and celebrate those victories.

Enjoy Being a Nurse and Share That Enjoyment with Others

I sincerely hope you still feel the rush of endorphins when you get a successful IV stick. I encourage you to smile, be proud, and ask your co-worker for a high five (after a good hand washing of course) the next time you change a particularly challenging dressing. Turn to the side and tell the nurse beside you how excited you are that your patient made the transfer from the bed to the chair successfully. Heck, share with your patient how excited you are that their kidneys produced an adequate amount of volume of the shift. I can’t tell you how happy I’ve had patients get when I complement their kidneys and acknowledge their bodies success and our collective success of a productive and healing shift.

You choose nursing likely because you felt called to it. You care for your patients because of the feeling you get when you help them in their time of need. There is absolutely not shame in celebrating the successes you have with them. It won’t take away from the care and compassion you delivery your care with. I promise.

Responsible For Your Own Happiness

Whether you work at the bedside, IT, or administration in healthcare, we have all got to be more mindful of making sure that we take time to celebrate our victories. We are responsible for our own happiness in our careers, and we’ve all heard the phrase “All work and no play makes jack a dull boy.”

Don’t be a dull boy.

Celebrate your Victories and Give High Fives in Healthcare.


IV image: Digital Ball Pen

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6 thoughts on “High Fives in Healthcare: Taking Time to Celebrate Your Victories”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. After 30 years in the nursing profession I’ve learned to celebrate even when no one is around. Since I work in oncology home healthcare my patients are excited that I ‘m excited something has gone right and I never leave their house without validating their accomplishments as well, no matter how small. Isn’t it great to be a nurse!

  2. People don’t seem to realize how much simple things can affect our work or even our lives! I totally would have high fived ya if I was there. 🙂

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