[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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Healthcare Olympians: Experts Make it Look Easy

by Nursetopia on August 16, 2016

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The Olympics captivate me. I watch the screen in utter amazement as a pole vaulter launches 18+ feet in the air, people run 400 meters (once around the track) in under 50 seconds, seemingly-stationary rowers slice through the water at lightening speed, gymnasts tumble in dizzying patterns of flexibility and speed and power.

These athletes remind me a lot of healthcare professionals. Because they both make their work/care look easy. My specialty is leadership and clinical background is oncology, but I entered into the world of cardiovascular services administration this year. While I may not be a critical care expert, I am still a nurse and can understand some of what’s happening all around me as I keep budgets and processes and teams together. I never grow tired of watching these team members, though, because I am constantly thinking, “They make this look so easy.” It’s true. Watching a STEMI case from the control panel looks like a smooth, well-orchestrated, planned event. That’s because there are rock-star clinicians in the room who have worked their careers for the adrenaline-filled, life-saving moment. Similarly in the clinical area I am most familiar with, seeing nurses hang high-risk cytotoxic drugs all day long while providing unparalleled emotional support is astounding. It’s incredible to watch. Just like the Olympics.

How amazing that we get to call this our profession! We don’t wait four years to see this amazing work. We see it constantly each and every day, and it happens all throughout our nation and world. What heroes we have among us!

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A Taste of Excellence

by Nursetopia on August 14, 2016


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Does ‘Chance’ Favor You?

by Nursetopia on August 13, 2016


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Heroic Hearts and PopcornI had the great pleasure of attending the 41st Oncology Nursing Society Congress, in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, last week. I always walk away from that conference feeling refreshed and renewed in my love of my nursing specialty. This year a new event – a film premiere, actually – added to the special moments of the Congress, honoring the very nurses who make the specialty great. The film Heroic Hearts was developed by TESARO, an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company, to honor and recognize the critical role nurses play in oncology health care. Heroic Hearts featured three oncology nurses, highlighting moments of their work and care. One of the featured nurses, Sandy Black, RN, OCN, CNLC, was at the conference and film premiere; after the movie, I had a chance to talk more with her (after waiting a while because she had a clutch of viewers and colleagues gathered around her…yes, she is a very real celebrity now to oncology nurses!). Understandably, she said it was a little surreal seeing herself on the silver screen, and she was honored to be able to share insights into oncology nursing – something all viewers could easily relate to and celebrate.

The premiere was complete with Hollywood spotlights, popcorn, and of course – a massive movie screen. What was so great about Heroic Hearts is that in addition to the three featured nurses, participating conference attendees joined in on a red carpet activity days prior to the premiere, completing interviews that were edited and included in the film. Super cool. I laughed. I shed a few tears. I applauded with pride in my profession. I wasn’t the only one; everyone around me had a good time.

Heroic Hearts MovieWe do great work as oncology nurses, and it was refreshing to celebrate you…me…us in such a relaxing and inspirational way. This movie could easily be a fun way to celebrate Oncology Nursing Month all throughout May or Nurses Week May 6-12. Just don’t forget the popcorn. Or the tissues. Thank you, TESARO, for honoring us.

FTC Disclosure: I received remuneration for my post about Heroic Hearts. My opinions here and throughout my social media channels are my own.

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We all go through moments in life when we’re pretty sure we want the next step, the promotion, the additional responsibility, the praise. Whatever that thing is, we all experience it in some way over the course of a career. We think we know what’s next, and we run after it with everything within us.

And then we don’t get it.

We miss the mark, the promotion goes to a colleague, the praise is deferred, the next step is no longer in sight. It’s a rough spot when you’re living it; a crazy number of emotions flood into your life and work, and if you’re not careful, they can sweep you away into drowning, turbulent waters.

Sometimes, though, what we think we want isn’t actually what we want, and life does us a favor, or as I view it…God orders our steps along a much different path that perhaps shades us from the scorching sun we may not have even anticipated. It’s only in retrospect, however, that we can see the saving, the “oh my goodness…I’m so glad I missed all that” moment. I’m humming Garth Brooks’s Unanswered Prayers right now.

I think about this frequently as I move forward in my career because as I look back on my career, I can now easily see how my work and passions have shifted and how things would have or could have been dramatically different if I had chosen other paths or other work. For example, and I’ve written about this a few times, when I first became a nurse, I thought I was going to work in labor and delivery; it was only through a series of events that I became an oncology nurse, a nursing specialty that I now love deeply. I’m so thankful that what I thought was a tragedy at the time happened; I am who I am because of it.

And because of those past experiences, I am able to find the beauty in missing moments I thought I really wanted. And I move on, focusing on what is right around me…because there is always opportunity for improvement right in front of us if we look for it. It’s in those moments of working diligently to build the next steps for others around us that typically our next steps appear.

There’s an ironic beauty in it all.

Have you ever been through these unanswered prayers experiences? If so, how did you move forward when you were living those moments?

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I walk anywhere from three to four miles each day while at work. I normally have two pair of shoes for the day – heels and flats. I wear the heels to meetings and rounding in between meetings. The flats typically help me out later in the afternoon or when I know I’ll be criss-crossing the hospital campus all day. Trust me, four miles in high heels is an occupational hazard that initially left me looking like I was being tortured late in the day, barely able to walk.

Naturalizer @Work Venue Naturalizer @Work Venue

Shoe shopping is essential for me. I’m always on the lookout for versatile, professional, comfortable heels. They’re like unicorns. So, I was thrilled to learn about Naturalizer‘s @Work collection. The Venue caught my eye; it’s a 3″ heel high enough to go well with many of my work slacks, and it actually looks like a shoe I would wear with a Mary Jane-style strap. I went for the Venue in black, but it’s also available in a lovely navy blue. It’s great for healthcare walking as the luxe suede sock is antimicrobial, the bottom of the shoe is slip resistant, and cushioning and padding make the shoe all-day-wearable. It’s easy for these to become go-to shoes!

FTC Disclosure: I received complimentary @Work Venue shoes from Naturlizer. My opinions here and throughout my social media channels are my own.

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thanksSaying thank you to patients is fun. I love doing it. It’s a good thing I enjoy it – because it’s a necessity in healthcare today. Our patients are consumers; they have choices in their care, and they should be thanked for their business…yes, even if their business pays less or not at all – because one day it might or their word of mouth advertising may lead to one (or many) who might. In addition, saying thank you is considered a “must” in regards to patient satisfaction scores – HCAHPS and CGCAHPS. Perhaps your health system utilizes the AIDET principle? The “T” in that sweet-power-packed communication acronym is…you guessed it…thank you. And beyond the business and patient satisfaction score aspects, saying “please” and “thank you” is simply good manners, no matter if you’re blessed to live in a southern state or not.

When I thank patients or family members, more often than not, I express my gratitude with the following sentence: Thank you for allowing us to care for you. Somewhere the conversation may also include, It’s been our pleasure to serve you. 

Not only do theses comments express gratitude, but they also remind everyone around – including myself – of the service we’ve provided – our care. It’s a lovely note to end any conversation of thanks.

Do you tell patients and families thank you after caring for them? If so, how do you most often say it?

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WoooHoooI love any reason to celebrate people – especially healthcare workers. Every job in healthcare is difficult in some way. We all do sacred work in our disciplines, so when it’s an appreciation week or month, we should live it up and thank our colleagues.

And because I love to celebrate my coworkers, I like being prepared with cards, treats, or at the very least – an acknowledgement. I don’t like being caught off-guard, not knowing it’s a certain disciplines appreciation month, week, or day. That’s never fun. Thanks to NAS Recruitment, I won’t have to experience that again because they’ve developed a running list of healthcare professional celebration dates. If you use it, you’re sure to celebrate all year long!

Woohoooooo! Partaaaaaay!

Disclosure: In no way was I paid to mention NAS Recruitment. Their effort to celebrate healthcare professionals with this proactive calendar caught my attention and sparked my sharing.  

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The Snickers “you’re not you when you’re hungry” commercials crack me up. Because it’s true! We all tend to turn into different people when we reach that beyond-hungry point.

Maybe that’s partly why so many people working in healthcare are a little perturbed. We’re hungry, and the bag of chips stuffed in a pocket to inhale at any given moment just isn’t cutting it.

Nurse RatchedTake a break, People. You’re not you when you’re hungry. And while Snickers are great as an occasional treat, it may not be the best choice to fuel your life-saving skills throughout the 8 or 12-hour shift. Grab some protein and a complex carbohydrate.

What’s your go-to shift meal and snacks?

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