DIY Gratitude Station FTW

by Nursetopia on February 17, 2017

I’m a stationery gal…notepads, pens, markers, sticky notes, blank notecards and postcards of all kinds…they make me happy. Words of Affirmation is my work love language…big surprise there, huh? Interestingly, the majority of my team highly values words of affirmation, as well, so one day I thought I’d share my love for all things bright and stationery with my team so everyone could easily write words of thanks and encouragement any time the thought crossed their minds.

And the “Gratitude Station” outside my office was born.

It’s an inexpensive foyer table that brings pops of colors and plenty of pens, markers, stickers, and notecards into arms-reach for any passerby. For added enjoyment, I added an essential oil diffuser, which is non-irritating and doesn’t leave any residue; whether it’s lavender or peppermint – or a mixture of the two – the light scent fills the area (and lingers into my office). I love it, and I love that my team can access the station any time for any reason as much as they’d like.

Here’s the breakdown of the Gratitude Station:

 

And here’s a closer view from the top:

 

I’m thinking of doing a mini-station at home, with stamps, return address labels, and more. What do you think?

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When Work Becomes Family

by Nursetopia on February 16, 2017

“Family” by Laurel Harvey via Flickr.com

 

I’m enamored with “healthy work environments,” or HWEs…what makes them, how they form, how they disintegrate, how they change people, and how they impact the ultimate service or good and the financial bottom line. A key definition of HWEs is that they feel like a family.

Pop culture often jokes about “work family” or a “work husband” or a “work wife.” It’s true, though; we spend more time with our work families during the week than our biological families, so work should feel like a family…a functional, healthy family.

Part of being a family is living and working through the “mess” of family. Yes, there are great times, but family is rooted in sticking together through the hard times, the grieving times, the penny-pinching time, the frustrating times, the exasperating times, the tired times, the mundane times. It’s in the vulnerable moments of life  – whether inside our outside of the work environment – that we learn to ask for help, to share the load, to uplift those who feel defeated, to be the listening ear when a vent is needed, to pray together when no other words seem to be enough…to be a family. And just like a family, a work team multiplies joys and divides grief.

As a leader, it is easy to run away from these hard times, to silo “work” and “life.” As I’ve grown in my leadership skills, though, I have learned to press into these moments rather than try to find a way out of them. Because it is in these very moments when trust grows and the beauty of living life – and working alongside others – is realized…and a family is strengthened.

Have you ever worked in a place that felt like family? If so, what moments do you think contributed to that growth?

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I can’t miss a holiday made to love on people without creating and sharing some cards! I’ve added 12 more healthcare Valentine’s Day cards to the mix. Simply download, print (on cardstock is best), and paper your friends and colleagues with some holiday cheer.  There’s a bit of something for everyone – even administrators. And if you need a few more options (that love on lab and OR techs to name a few), you can always use the 2016 V-Day cards, the 2015 “we go together” cards, or maybe the 2013 “For the Love of Nursing” image.

Happy Valentine’s Day, You Amazing Healthcare Professionals. Way to love on the world each and every day!

 

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Propelling Forward: 2017’s One Word

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2017

The one word I’ve chosen for 2017 is intentional. 

I want to be intentional with my time and energy and relationships and money. I want to strongly pursue my passions and have courage to say no to those things that are not my calling or purpose. I want to be a wise steward of the time I have with the people I love the most. I want to think through my hours, days, weeks, year before they simply happen and pass me by.

Are you using one word for 2017? If so, what is it?

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In Retrospect: Nursetopia’s 2016 One Word

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2016

Rather than resolutions, I pick one word each year to guide my thoughts and actions. I’ve done this for the better part of a decade, and I have chronicled each of these one words on Nursetopia since the blog began. You can find past one word summations for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and I’ll post my one word for 2017 tomorrow, but today I’ll review my one word for 2016 – “stretch.”

Boy, howdy! (That’s “southern” for holy cow or O.M.Gosh!) Stretch was an appropriate word as I kept it at the forefront of my mind on many occasions. I used it frequently to encourage myself to “lean in” rather than “push away” from uncomfortable or unplanned moments throughout the year or to rise to presented opportunities.

For example, I directed a second, different healthcare service line – cardiovascular services – which expanded my background and experience. An oncology nurse running the CV services? Yeah, it actually worked, and it helped me realize that my nursing specialty isn’t only oncology but, rather, nursing leadership; it was great experience to see that healthcare really does look and work very similarly behind the curtains of every service area. With that, though, I worked more this year than I ever have in years passed (even when I opened a new cancer center), and I almost pulled a heart-string in the process, feeling pummeled in every way and like a failure both at work and at home. For a self-proclaimed overachiever, it felt hopeless at times – like I didn’t have enough time or energy to cover everything that needed to happen to realize our service line strategies. I felt like I was doing a disservice to my team members, my organization, and my family.

What I didn’t anticipate is that my stretching throughout 2016 included actually saying I needed a change in my work and giving that work to another leader so I could have happiness in both my personal and professional lives. It was hard to say so, but I did it. It stretched me greatly, and it was humbling.

My stretching continued by working diligently to maintain margin in my life – margin for the priorities that matter most to me.

Earlier in the year I applied for a large role; I didn’t get it. That was stretching, for sure, and while I didn’t say so at the time of writing, I shared about it and how those similar moments have shaped – and stretched – me.

I submitted the largest writing piece of work I have done to-date in my career, editing a healthcare book for the general public. That was quite the stretch: working with the publisher, developing the table of contents, finding all the authors, and then editing the entire work. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am excited to see it publish around May 2017.

Personally speaking, I picked-up a forgotten hobby – theater – for my self-care, and I am so glad I stretched in that way; it fed my soul in so many ways.

In addition in 2016, my family and I decided to begin our long-dreamed-of foster-to-adoption process. What stretching moments that has encompassed!

How was your 2016? Did you have a one word or resolutions that guided you?

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Nurses: 15 Years as the #1 Most-Trusted Professionals

by Nursetopia on December 22, 2016

Gallup released their 2016 Honesty and Ethics survey December 21st, and Americans, once again, ranked nurses as the most trusted professionals. This is the 15th year nurses have claimed the top spot, and the margin of trust continues to grow.

 

Congratulations, Colleagues. Thank you for all the ways you build and maintain trust each and every day!

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You know I love any chance to celebrate the people around me. Halloween is just one more day to have a bit of fun and brighten the environment. Here are a few cards to help you love on the healthcare professionals around you – whether they’re clinical, administrative, or supportive. Simply print on card stock, add a hand-written note to the back, and give, give, give away!

Happy Halloween! 

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Download “You Are FaBOOlous” here.

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Download “Nightmare Walk Into A Hospital” here.

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Download “Healthcare Professionals Handle the Scary Stuff” here.

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Download “You’re Scary Amazing” here.

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Download “Scary Hand” here.

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Download “Haldol Spell” here.

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Download “Full Moon” here.

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[Free, Printable Card] B positive: Compatible with Monday

by Nursetopia on September 12, 2016

Have a great Monday!

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You can download this card here and share some Monday love.

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A BSN Pinning Speech: Reflecting on Sacred Work

by Nursetopia on September 5, 2016

In honor of Labor Day, I was reflecting on my work and callings. As tiring as work can be at times, I cannot ever escape the sacredness of my work. A few months ago I was honored to speak at a colleague’s BSN Pinning Ceremony – Texas A&M University – Central Texas’s first RN-BSN pinning. What a humbling moment! Full of tradition, even after more than a decade since my own pinning, these ceremonies still evoke strong feelings and often a few tears. So what did I muster up to say to these already-nurses who had just completed their baccalaureates in nursing? Much of what I continuously reflect upon as “work.”

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Thank you so much. It is my distinct privilege to join you today for this momentous occasion. What an accomplishment. I’ve held by baccalaureate in nursing for 13 years now, and I still remember my pinning like it was yesterday. I remember the joy of upcoming graduation, the relief of completed coursework, the hopefulness of the future of my nursing career, and the anticipation of sleep. Lots of sleep. I do know what you’re feeling right now.

There is a major difference in my pinning 13 years ago, though, and your pinning today. You see, I wasn’t a registered nurse yet when I received my baccalaureate nursing pin. Each of you already hold your nursing license. Unlike me at the time, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into – being a nurse and all. I had no idea, really. When theory and precepted clinical rotations turn into autonomous nursing care and work, well, it’s something our distinguished faculty try their very best to prepare us for, but to fully understand it all, you have to live it.

And you have lived it. And you continue to do so. Some of you likely worked in the last 24 hours or are planning to in the next 24 hours. Because you’re nurses; you’re amazing like that. Multiple times every day, one simple phrase rings among millions of strangers…”I’m your nurse.” It seems simple enough, but those words hold power. Enveloped in three syllables is a promise. Even when it means “I’m the only one who can take this assignment right now,” or “Only eight more hours between me and the weekend,” it’s still a promise. A promise to analyze, problem-solve, prioritize, advocate, listen, encourage, treat, empathize, support, facilitate, and educate. It’s the ultimate confidentiality agreement leading to the beginning of an immediately intimate relationship. Very few statements match its power, and you hold it.

But you have previously held and wielded that phrase, serving as part of the longest-running, most trusted profession – nursing. So what does today change? What does earning you baccalaureate of science in nursing, your BSN degree, mean? What does it mean to your patients, workplace, community, public health, your discipline, to yourself? What does it mean?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Baccalaureate nursing programs encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree and diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work enhances the student’s professional development, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice, and provides the nurse with a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence health care delivery. Throughout the last decade, policymakers and practice leaders have recognized that education makes a difference.” In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a landmark report, The Future of Nursing, in which they detailed the U.S’s need to exponentially increase the number of BSN nurses to rapidly transform healthcare. But why? Because BSN nurses see things differently thanks to our broadened education, and it takes a better view to transform the one we have now of healthcare. With over 3.4 million nurses – by far the largest healthcare workforce in the U.S. – we are everywhere, which is a great thing because everywhere needs you. Whether it’s your neighborhood, church, school, Capitol Hill, the bedside or chairside, the boardroom, Industry, community groups…the nursing process will not fail you. Transform your world. You were prepared for this. Tonight is an indication of that.

I’d like to encourage you in two ways:

First, never stop learning. Now is as good a time as any to add that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing report also indicates the need to double the number of masters- and doctorally-prepared nurses. Relish today, yes, but know this is not the end. This is the beginning of your education. Yes, you can catch up on your sleep a bit first. My favorite nursing theorist is Hildegard Peplau. Yes, I have a favorite nursing theorist; if you don’t have a favorite nursing theorist, you should find one. It will help you realize that you’re in some pretty amazing company within the nursing profession. Peplau was the first nursing theorist to publish after Florence Nightingale, almost 100 years after Nightingale. 100 years! That’s a long time. Peplau was a staunch advocate for mental health care…and for nursing as a profession, with formal education. Her conceptual framework, Interpersonal Relations in Nursing, was finished in 1948, but it wasn’t published until 1952 because it was considered too revolutionary at the time for a nurse to publish without a physician co-author. At the age of 78, she said the following evergreen words that continuously spur me on in my own career: “Somewhere, somehow, at some time in the past, courageous nurses determined these skills, learned them, fought for the right to use them and taught them to other nurses. All nurses have an obligation to remember that part of nursing’s past and to keep their own skills in pace with new opportunities for nursing into the next century.” Never stop learning.

Second, never stop loving people. Yes, I said love. We rarely use that word in healthcare or in leadership; rather, we use words like “compassion.” That’s all over nursing. “Compassion” in its Latin form literally means “to love together with.” It gives rise to other concepts – empathy and altruism – that we also tout throughout nursing. But love of people undergirds it all. Nursing is a service discipline; you will never find a nursing role that does not focus on people. It is the very fiber of who we are.

Now, being nurses already, you know that people-work is hard-work. People! They are the very worst and the very best part of our care and work. They will drive you crazy; challenge your patience; make you cry hot, angry tears; and wish you never went into nursing. They will also trust you implicitly; soften your heart; teach you how to live; thank you for preserving their dignity; make you cry sweet, humble tears; and make you thankful for the care you get to provide every day. And that’s just one day! In all seriousness, loving people is the essence of care, and you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of everyone around you. People always talk about the impact nurses make on them, but we rarely discuss the fingerprints our patients make on us. We’re all shaped by them…incredibly genuine, broken, angry, joyful, amazing people.

Never stop learning. Never stop loving people. The nursing pins you’re receiving tonight are symbols of both – education and people – in many ways. Wear it with pride, and remember your past, ongoing, and future education as well as the people who have and continue to shape you in addition to the people you daily touch.

Never stop learning. Never stop loving people. Congratulations on this momentous milestone. Relish these feelings at this very moment; take note of them; remember them often to spur you on in transformative work. You are the future the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report described. What a bright future you are! Thank you for this privilege; I am proud to call you colleagues!

4042125683_b7f25bbd67_o “Care” by Toshihiro Oimatsu, Flickr.com

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[Book Review] One in a Billion

by Nursetopia on August 18, 2016

OneInABillionOne in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine, authored by Mark Johnson and Kathleen Gallagher, is a true story of a boy with a never-before discovered disease after the finished Human Genome Project, leaving cardiac physiologists an opportunity to map the boy’s genome for sequence errors. In the writing vein of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksit reads more like fiction and will keep your attention through the end.

I devoured this book in about six hours. It is masterfully written, includes brilliant views of science and medicine and patient/family perspectives, displays a prime example of Moore’s Law (of economics and rapidly developing technology), and is thought-provoking regarding ethics surrounding entire genome sequencing. It is enthralling at times like a mystery and heart-tugging to read of a mother’s unwavering love and advocacy of her son with the only recorded instance of the disease. I particularly loved how the mom’s Caring Bridge journal entries were woven throughout the story to give patient/family perspective alongside medical discussions.

With the ever-increasing need for nurses and all healthcare professionals to understand genetics and genomics, this is a lovely educational book that is also easy to pack for a weekend beach vacation. It really is that good!

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