Confessions of a Nurse

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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In Retrospect: 2013′s ‘One Word’

by Nursetopia on December 31, 2013

Each year I select one word to help focus me. Here’s my hindsight reflections of my 2011 one word and my 2012 one wordIt’s amazing how the one word threads throughout the months, frightening sometimes. I guess that’s the purpose and should be expected as I think of the word continuously, right?

NewMy one word for 2013 was “new.” I was extremely excited about the obvious word for the New Year. Indeed, “new” dominated my life in 2013. I read (or listened to) numerous new books, including completing a long-time favorite and honored book in a shortened timeframe, which was a goal of mine. I enjoyed several new recipes, including learning to bake bread. My husband and I instituted a new rule for our date nights; we had to go to a new restaurant each and every date night out. It made for some of our best dates, and now it is a permanent rule for us, which has been incredibly fun for our rut-prone, eat-the-same-thing-every-time selves. I wrote a lot of new poetry; some of my favorites this year are Greater ThanPainting CareWhen Leaders Cry, and MissingI made several new, free, printable cards for anyone to have and use; some of my most-loved ones are Seek-And-Find Customizable Nursing AppreciationDon’t StopTriple-Threat Nurse, and No Wonder Nursing Uniforms Had CapesI had two new bosses within the year, one expected and one unexpected. I was invited to join a #BCSM Twitter chat as an expert panelist, which was incredibly fun, and I also served as the Oncology Nursing Society’s 38th Annual Congress Chair, which was, without a doubt, an experience of a lifetime. And after living in our new home – our first-owned home – for only a year (yes, one year!!and just months after we newly painted and developed the space just for us, we sold our home, moved to a new city, and I started a new job – a great opportunity and tremendous responsibility to hire much of a new team and open a new cancer center.

Whew. 

New is great. What I didn’t really think through at the beginning of the year, though, was that new always – always - comes right after change. [gulp] Now, I’m not typically scared of change, which is a good thing, but a lot of change and a lot of new definitely make for stressful and scary times. 2013 has felt like a roller coaster in many, many ways.

I’m ready for 2014, complete with a new word and all, which I will share tomorrow! Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

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Hopes for the Future: A Letter to My 20-Year Nurse Self

by Nursetopia on December 15, 2013

A follow-up to yesterday’s letter

Hey, You!

I hope this finds you and yours well, getting ready to celebrate another holiday season. My heart cries a little when I think of ten years into the future – how long you and your Love have celebrated one another now as well as how old the littles are at the moment you’re reading this. Well, even if you are, actually, reading this. None of us are promised tomorrow, right? And if not, then none of this even matters. You’re exactly where your heart sings. And, if you are reading, then carry on…man, this letter took a weird turn, no? Haaa!

Really, I hope three things for you – continued health, happiness, and Salvation – because I think, even at this point, I’m certain that’s all that really matters. I hope you are holding fast to what matters. If you remember back, it’s the scary thought that remains with you each day at the time I write this – that you keep the priorities the actual priorities. Everything else…well, it’s gravy. 

And speaking of gravy, I fully expect a PhD by now. Oh, heavens, please tell me we actually get over the hump and obtain that elusive sucker! I bet you’re still writing, but I wonder if you’re still blogging. I hope so. I really do. And I hope it’s still happening right here at Nursetopia. 

I hope you’ve realized at least one of the several businesses you’ve been thinking about for so long now. I hope you’ve found the right business partner(s) and have had the chance to skip a lot of heartache in the process.

I hope you’ve been able to give back to the schools and organizations that have spurred you on and that your giving is more than monetary gifts.

I hope you’ve been able to stay true to yourself. In every single way. You might smile while reading this, thinking of some of the wild hopes and dreams that paper cannot contain at this moment – only hidden within my heart. No doubt, much will remain hidden, but I do hope for those secret hopes, too.

I know it’s unreasonable to hope for no heartache over time, so I won’t. I will, however, hope that those tough moments become stepping-stones – rather than roadblocks – for you and that you share those moments with others, to help lighten the load for yourself as well as to help others avoid the same mistakes and worries. I really hope those moments don’t make you cynical and calloused but rather, even more kind-hearted and determined to make the work of healthcare better.

I hope. I hope.

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Joni Watson, MSN, MBA, RN, OCN®

 

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Hey, You.

Congratulations on finishing your BSN! I completely know the excitement and pride you feel at this moment. It makes me smile when I think about it – about you – your hope to be a great nurse, your desire to work in women’s health, your pressing toward graduate school. It’s all so exciting. And that’s amazing.

Stay encouraged. You are, indeed, embarking on an incredible journey. In transparency, it’s going to be more than you ever imagined, but it’s also going to get bad – really bad – before it gets good. It may sound difficult to believe, but you’ll actually want to quit nursing, and you’ll think about it quite seriously. How? Why? Well, unfortunately, you have to live it and learn it for yourself. As painful as it may be, it will shape you for the better, and you will know when it happens. You will feel the paradigm shift. Remember when you thought saying “never” would come back to bite you? It does. Go with the flow. Things and areas of nursing work you thought you’d never do – well, they actually become your passions in many ways.

Stay focused. The thoughts of graduate school that are rolling in your head now…keep feeding them. Again – difficult times but incredible results. You’ll wonder how you’ll ever make it amidst everything else that life brings. But you’ll make it. And then some. Remember what’s important. Always.

Stay open. Remember why you went into nursing. That reason will keep you going long after everything else fades. What you think is permanent is just a flash, a temporary moment. Always be open to new experiences, new friends, new lessons, new opportunities. You’re going to do things and experience moments that, if I told you now, you really wouldn’t believe. It’s quite amazing, and you’ll have to experience it yourself to understand and fully appreciate it. Just. Wait!

Stay you. Above all, “to thine own self be true.” Some around you will want to conform you to the cookie-cutter expectations. Some will help you break the mold and continue to help you find and enhance who you really are. Let go of the conformist-generators and hold fast to the enhancers. Some people will naturally leave you, and others you will have to cut out and really work to stay away from. It’s worth every painful moment. I promise.

That pin…that piece of paper…those credentials – congratulations of everything they represent. You’ve earned it. Enjoy it. Now, go pack for your move to a new city, a new home, and a new job. And try to squeeze in some NCLEX studying as well as some rest. Yes, take a nap every single day. Considering you have yet to meet the amazing little people God gives you, sleep as much as you can. One day you will wonder what you did with all your free time.

I am so proud of you. Take care of you.

With Much Anticipation,

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Joni Watson, MBA, MSN, RN, OCN®

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When Something Has To Give – Give, Give Away

by Nursetopia on October 21, 2013

I have the current privilege of helping open a brand new cancer center. My family and I have relocated to a new city. Over the course of one weekend, I got a new job with new responsibilities and new colleagues, my husband’s business changed, our home physically changed, my children got a new school with new teachers and friends, and we started attending a different church. Whew! It has been really, really great. Even good stress – eustress – is still distressing and exhausting.

Writing has been my self-care literally since age 10. I haven’t been able to write recently like I’m accustomed to, like I’d really like to do so. There just hasn’t been enough time. And that’s okay. Something had to give, and that something was writing. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up writing or blogging by any means. I simply needed to focus on the most vital of life pieces, which for me, will always be my family.

Life in recent weeks has been full of work, yes. But, my restoration and renewal has come at the hands of tiny people, high-pitched squeals, lamp-lit nighttime childhood reading, cuddled television-watching sessions, spontaneous date nights with My Love, and quick trips to visit parents and siblings.

It has been divine. And exactly what I needed. At first I guilted myself into writing an article here and there, but then I forgave myself and gave up the masochistic emotions and self-inflicted stress.

My writing is starting to return as the everyday stress of learning a new role, new people, new roads, and new environments dissipates.

Daily stress seems to be increasing in every healthcare role. Something has to give. And when it does, give, give away, Friends.

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Happy First Day

by Nursetopia on September 13, 2013

FirstDayEach day is a new, first day. Some first days are more significant than others to each of us for very different reasons. Some people are beginning nursing school. Some people are starting their first nursing jobs. Some people are moving into new positions. Some people are pushing start again after a long pause.

Today is a first day for me, a turning of a page, the beginning of a new chapter within my life and career. It’s also the first day for many of my friends – new adventures, new learning opportunities.

Happy first day, All. I am thinking of you. Rock the newness. Celebrate this moment.

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Vacation Snooze Button

by Nursetopia on July 8, 2013

I hit the vacation snooze button today. My family was in late last week and over the holiday weekend. Everyone went home Sunday morning, and I previously elected to take today off, as well. As you may recall, I’m an introvert. Don’t get me wrong – I adore my family; they ground me and uplift me at the same time. Still, I need time to myself to recuperate. Today was just what I needed. I read with my kiddos, cooked, cleaned, ran (even in the 90-degree Texas heat at 9PM!), went to the library, did a little grocery shopping, played with toys alongside my toddler, and pinned my heart out on Pinterest.

Ahhhhhhh.

Amid all of that, I had time to think about the days ahead. I needed time to do so because I could feel the anticipation of the week building up each night as I laid down. Have you ever had one of those weeks? One that you can feel before it even occurs? Yeah…one of those.

Typically the snooze button is detrimental to sleep. This proverbial vacation snooze button was just what I needed to prepare for this short week of mine. I’m so glad I hit it.

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