Confessions of a Nurse

Cure a Case of the Mondays with Gratitude

by Nursetopia on June 12, 2015

I had the case of the Mondays. You know the feeling; everything seemed to fall apart at work or be too busy for me to catch my breath.

Amazing, though, how gratitude washes away the Mondays – or fear – or anxiety – for me, at least. As I pulled away from work in my air conditioned vehicle, with tires in great shape and full gas tank, I drove on paved roads – passing an ambulance on its way to the exact place I was leaving for the day. I picked up my smartphone and called my family who was all safe and sound within our home, getting ready for an evening of rest. I had the luxury of silence on my way home, able to process the day, and I thought about the coding specialist who identified cost savings, the nurse who agreed to write an article for professional publication, the physician looking for ways to expand our integrative medicine capabilities, the manager diligently filling her team with the right candidates, the manager who secured emergency resources for a patient, the nurse who identified process improvements, the social worker who protected a patient from harm, the nurse who offered to come into work if needed, the pharmacist who spoke up about an environmental concern, the leaders who entrusted an issue to my hands and mind, the colleagues who helped me with an intensive, new process…and those are the examples I thought of in the first five minutes. I paused thinking of how blessed I am to work with such exceptional people.
And as I realized how blessed I am at work, making a prosperous wage, I pulled into my home driveway and entered my air-conditioned home, warmed by the love of a healthy family who needn’t even think about where the next meal will come from because the scent of supper, from a bubbling crockpot, was filling the rooms. I took a warm shower and put on clean clothes, only to be met by one of my children asking to spend time with me.
Rough day? What rough day? Gratitude is self-care for my soul.

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Looking Ahead: One Word for 2015

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2015

With much thought, my one word for 2015 is give.

Simply, I want to give more financially, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I want to give my time and energy to impactful efforts and meaningful moments. I want to give anonymously and without desire or want of return. I hope to give more thanks and donate more to my community.

Give. I’m really looking forward to 2015!

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In Retrospect: 2014’s One Word

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2014

One word has helped guide my life and work each and every year for the past decade or so. I’ve chronicled these one words ever since Nursetopia began, and it’s nice to look back and see how the single word, kept on the forefront of my mind throughout the year, really did shape my actions.

2014’s one word was relationships. After 2013’s change and newness of a different job and city, I wanted 2014 to focus on solidifying my community. And that all boils down to relationships.

I started 2014 with a race with my siblings that I ended up simply walking – and talking – with my sister; it was great. I also moved my family to a different rental property because we were going nuts in our other one; it turned out to be a really great thing for our family as a whole. I burned through handwritten notes for friends, coworkers, and clients. My birthday was an Austin Color Run team that friends and family members joined. I shared a beach vacation with 22 of my family members; took a cruise with my mom and older sisters; and worked hard to ensure date nights continued. I remembered my one word each evening as I read and sang my littles to sleep – as much as I felt pulled to clean the house or prepare for the next day, I remembered what was really important – daily relationships and moments that add up to much more. I gave more of me to the people I worked with and those who wanted to learn from me. Many times I stopped what I was doing (e.g. working, writing, playing on the computer or scrolling through social media) to spend more time with the people I love. I had the honor of caring for my grandfather, who passed away Friday from head and neck cancer; I spent a great amount of quality time with him, listening to his stories and enjoying his company. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend that time any other way.

Relationship. My one word worked exactly as I needed it.

I’m so thankful for 2014. And while it’s still the same year, I’ll put away my computer, and spend time with those that mean the most to me, welcoming 2015. Tomorrow I will share my one word for the New Year.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my “relationships.” I wish you and yours the best this evening and into 2015!

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Rain, Rain Go Away

by Nursetopia on November 4, 2014

It’s a Tuesday and raining in many parts of Central Texas. Those close to me know today is my favorite day of the week. And that it’s raining – well, that’s just icing on the Tuesday. Any other day like this I would spend checking on team members and patients, planning programs, or analyzing data for leaders and my healthcare system to show returns on investments in care.

But today is very different. Rather than caring for others or the business of oncology, I sit in a waiting room with my family, preparing to walk through an extensive cancer treatment journey alongside someone I love. I have cared for others in this exact position; I have presented and published on these emotions and this process; and today I live it and I cope by writing through my own grief. In the waiting room. As the rain falls on a Tuesday.

Rain, rain go away…

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Slowing the Nurse Pace

by Nursetopia on October 7, 2014

I learned the nurse pace from years of working on the unit. It’s about twice as fast as a regular stroll, and it will leave you behind without notice. It is a stride that says “calm” and “let’s go, go, go!” all at the same time. It typically doesn’t alarm others because, relatively, all the nurses are pacing one another; it’s ordinary.

Even after years of being off the floor, I can’t shake the nurse pace. Especially in the mornings, at the early beginnings of my day, if I’m moving, I’m moving; I try not to get frustrated with others, but I absolutely will walk in front of you – not alongside you – if you cannot keep up. Sometimes people even ask what’s the rush. It takes mental strength to slow my pace and try to act cool about it.

I’m not the only one.

Have you ever noticed this about much of our profession? Are we just accustomed to going non-stop that our entire life tempo changes?

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Oh my goodness. I am so glad one of my friends shared the Tumblr #WhatShouldWeCallNursing with me. I know Nurses Week is supposed to be all wonderful and full of appreciation – and believe me – it was, but I am pretty sure the universe conspired against me last week saying, “Yeah, I know you’ve been a nurse for a while and particularly love this week. Let’s see how you handle this; tell me now if you still love nursing. Mwuuuaaaaahhhhhaaaahaaaaaa!” At least that’s how it felt. Seriously…tough week.

So, when my friend shared #WhatShouldWeCallNursing, I cried from laughter (and thankfully not due to my week…although that would absolutely come later in the week, unfortunately). I’ve been back to the Tumblr I don’t know how many times, and I end up laughing out loud among people who just stare at me.

I don’t care. It’s that funny. Check it out. 

Thanks to the awesome, anonymous nurse who continues to take suggestions from the nursing community for ongoing posts. I love it so much, I included a few gif’s that pertain to my nursing world…

When a meeting gets cancelled just minutes before it starts:

When people ask me if I sit at a desk all day as a nurse director:

When my staffing works out:

When my new positions are approved for hiring:

When someone says they didn’t receive any information sent out multiple times over the course of six weeks regarding the mandatory training due in one day.

Have a great week!

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Thinking Through My Leadership Manifesto

by Nursetopia on April 16, 2014

I have the privilege of learning alongside some amazing nurses. Recently we briefly talked about how what we believe influences our leadership styles and, thus, everything we do. So, it’s important to really know what it is you believe in. It made me pause, and for the next several days I really thought about what I believe as an individual and leader – to be more aware.

I believe in the triune God and the God-breathed Word, which guides my life and work. My beliefs may be divergent from others’, which should not change the way I provide care. Yet, my work and actions should be different in many ways, reflecting foundational Christian principles that undergird my life.

I believe as a leader, I am the ultimate example for my team. I must role model the way.

I believe that in healthcare, everything comes down to and revolves around people. Every. Thing. I must remember that with each decision.

I believe frontline team members are the largest source of solutions to current problems.

I believe professionals are adults and should be treated as such.

I believe that while difficult to develop and maintain, diversity is vital to the health of a team, an organization, and the final service or product.

I believe failure is not final; it should be celebrated and learned from rather than feared and avoided.

I believe the majority of people want control over their work, clear expectations, and room to autonomously shake the world.

I believe I must give the same opportunities and lessons to those around me that others have graciously and generously given me.

I believe thank you’s never get old and cannot be said enough.

I believe curiosity and inquiry are welcome aspects to any organization.

I believe the work environment should be so amazing that people are banging down the doors and waiting on lists for the opportunity to join the team.

I believe continuous learning is a requirement, not an option.

I believe collaboration is worth the effort.

Beliefs can change over time, a member of the group pointed out. She’s right. What do you deeply believe that influences each aspect of your work?

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Think of your favorite song of the moment. How does it make you feel; does it change your mood? Maybe the way your feeling impacts your “favorite” song right now. Both, actually.

Music is powerful. It has the influence to change our emotions, but it also has the capability to help us express ever-changing feelings. Music therapy for cancer patients is an evidence-based care strategy to reduce anxiety and even help improve pain management. Yet, it is often missing from oncology services. In ten years of oncology nursing, I have never had the opportunity to work in a clinic setting with music therapy services. I haven’t had the chance to actually see the difference music therapy can make for patients; that means literally thousands of patients haven’t had that service offered to them alongside their clinical care. That’s incredibly disappointing.

I want the chance to change that for the patients I currently help serve.

Will you please take literally two minutes to vote for my cancer center to receive the Jeffrey Frank Wacks Music Therapy Program via funding from LIVESTRONG? Voting ends Friday, April 11th, at 5 PM Eastern. Vote once and then follow the corresponding links to share via Facebook as well as Twitter to garner a total of 3 votes to help bring this amazing program.

With three days remaining to vote, I’d love your help to improve lives.

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Since its formal inception in 2002, the Jeffrey Frank Wacks Music Therapy Program has become an essential component of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, a subsidiary of Morristown Medical Center’s integrative approach to caring for cancer patients. The Jeffrey Frank Wacks Music Therapy Program, one of the longest-running programs of its kind in the country, has demonstrated great success in serving the people of the communities where the program is currently offered. The program’s overarching goal is to facilitate relaxation, decrease anxiety and stress, enhance wellness, improve pain management and provide comfort and support for cancer patients and their caregivers.

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Give Grace to Grow

by Nursetopia on January 23, 2014

Grace. 

It’s a beautiful word. I use it a lot in health care – to talk about professionals in their work in addition to encouraging professionals as they learn. We live and work in an immediate culture. We have to have and do and be everything – all at once – now. It seems as though there is little to no time given to individuals to learn these days, and I mean this as an expectation from both the teacher/supervisor as well as the learner. We set unrealistic expectations of ourselves and demand that we know everything on day one.

I know because I am the same way.

I picked up a phrase, a philosophy, really, from my brother-in-law, a pastor, about a decade ago. He always used to say, “Give people grace to grow,” meaning we all make mistakes, and we all learn from our mistakes; allow people to have time to make mistakes and learn from them. This has deep spiritual meaning for me in the workplace – in health care – today, and I frequently tell this to team members as they are orienting or learning a new system or process. I whisper it to myself at times, as well.

Grace to grow. Grace to grow. Grace to grow. 

Growth takes time; growth takes patience; growth takes grace. Provide your life with some space – some grace…to grow.

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Looking Ahead: 2014’s ‘One Word’

by Nursetopia on January 1, 2014

2014 is no exception to my one word tradition. I started thinking about my one word for the year two weeks ago. It didn’t take me long at all to find the word because I have known for a while what I have missed for a few months now – likely because of my recent move to a new city.

2014Relationships. 

In 2014, “relationships” will be my focus – in every sense of the word. I want to focus on my children, my husband, my siblings, my parents, my extended family, my friends, my team, my coworkers, my Lord. I want people to be my priority in words and actions. I want to have more lunches with friends, more phone calls with family, more cuddles (without technology in front of me), more talks, more walks, more letters, more stolen moments, more frozen moments, just more moments.

I’m really looking forward to 2014. Happy New Year!

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