Tips For Nurses Managing Their Attention Deficit Disorder

GettyImages-86536462Being a Nurse is challenging, but being a Nurse with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can feel almost impossible some days.

According to the CDC, there are three different types of ADHD, depending on which types of symptoms are strongest in the individual:

  • Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is hard for the individual to organize or finish a task, to pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or conversations. The person is easily distracted or forgets details of daily routines.
  • Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: The person fidgets and talks a lot. It is hard to sit still for long (e.g., for a meal or while doing homework). The individual feels restless and has trouble with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive may interrupt others a lot, grab things from people, or speak at inappropriate times. It is hard for the person to wait their turn or listen to directions. A person with impulsiveness may have more accidents and injuries than others.
  • Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, but relate to these symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider about what you’re experiencing. You may benefit from some type of therapy or treatment.  

In addition to therapy techniques and/or medication, here are strategies to help manage your ADHD throughout your shift.

Arrive at work a little early. This gives you an opportunity to get the low down on your patients, take notes, and create some kind of schedule for your shift.

Lists are your best friend. Make lists of anything you need to do during your shift and check them off as you go.

If you are frequently losing or misplacing things like your stethoscope, try using tracker tagsTile Mate Bluetooth trackers are great tags to help you find lost items.

For smaller items like pens, try using retractable holders and attach to your badge or lanyard. Amazon has lots of options.

Sitting down to chart and feel overwhelmed trying to remember everything from your shift? It may not always be possible, but try to do as much of your charting in present time. Your documentation will be more accurate and you'll use less brain power remembering the details and times you did your assessments.

Find a quiet spot to chart. It can be hard to focus and not get distracted by noises and coworkers. Your charting will be more accurate and done faster if you can find a private nook, cubicle or spot behind the Nurse's station.

During Nurse-to-Nurse handoff, details can get lost in reporting. Using a brain sheet can help you stay organized and save time by efficiently sharing the patient's story. Check out these brain sheets by scrubsmag.com.

Finish working on one patient before moving on to the next. Avoid running back and forth between patients (unless it's an emergency). Instead of visiting one patient multiple times within an hour, cluster your care and get everything done at once. Do your assessments, administer medications, make necessary calls, and document while you're still in the room.

Set an alarm to help you move on to another task. Some people with ADHD tend to hyper focus on one task and end up losing track of time.

Remember your treatment plan. Schedule a routine time to take your medications so they last the duration of your shift or set an alarm to remind yourself to take your medications if you need to take another dose during your shift. 

Outside of work, support groups are a great outlet to connect with others who have similar experiences. These groups often meet regularly to share concerns and achievements, to exchange information and strategies, and to talk with experts.

The National Resource Center on ADHD, a program of Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD®), supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has information and many resources. You can reach this center online or by phone at 1-866-200-8098.


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