Give Grace to Grow

by Nursetopia on January 23, 2014


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.


Do You Care Enough to Know Their Names?

by Nursetopia on January 22, 2014



The Nursing Profession: Worth Advocating For

by Nursetopia on January 21, 2014

I have a nursing bias. I know that. I consider it a strength. Not everyone shares my thoughts, though. And that’s okay. Diversity of thought is a tremendous strength of any organization.

People I share numerous meetings with and those that know me best can pretty much guess what I’m going to say or ask…Where are the nurses on this committee?How does this impact the nurses doing the care?Have you asked any frontline nurses what they think of this?Let me get back to you; I need to talk to the nursesI see an administrative leader and a medical leader involved on this group; I strongly believe we need a nursing leader involved, too. 

Being the lone nurse in the room a lot of times is difficult, but it’s a tremendous honor and responsibility. I’ll never quit advocating for nurses, no matter how uncomfortable it is at times. And uncomfortable it can most certainly become; I remind myself frequently that if I don’t speak up now, I’ll have to answer for it later by looking into the eyes of nurses and patients asking the very same questions that are running through my head.

We’re the ones putting hands on patients; we’re the backbone of the healthcare system; we’re worth advocating for.

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MashupSundays are lovely days. They “refill my tank” in many ways – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I seem to “catch up” on a lot of things on Sundays, with reading being one of those. If you’re looking for some interesting bite-sized readings today, here’s a little bit of what I’ve been filling my head with lately:

What about you? What caught your attention this week?


It’s a silly mistake, but leaders make it everyday – overlooking people for a position simply because the applicant lacks experience. I know because I’ve been guilty of this. I’ve also experienced this mistake as an applicant, as well.

Sure, experience is important, especially for some roles. Experience brings wisdom and know-how and can develop a program or a business quickly. But many times, a role can offer experience to a candidate, a candidate with passion and potential.

Right after I finished graduate school for my MSN and MBA many years ago, I applied for an open nurse manager position in the hospital I had been working in for three years. The hospital had grown me as a new nurse, my unit leader had done everything in her power to make me a success, working with me and my grad-school, growing-family schedule to ensure patient care was covered and I had a full paycheck. The management role wasn’t a specialty stretch for me, but when I spoke with the assistant chief nursing officer about the position, in an informal interview, she told me I didn’t have enough experience to manage a nursing unit. She really did discourage me rather than validate my passion and work ethic to dive deep into the information and personally grow while developing the organization and people around me.

As it turned out, that was a shaping moment and likely one of the best things that could happen to me. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Shortly thereafter, I moved to a new city, and ended up leading a statewide program for the Texas Nurses Association that catapulted my career and developed me as a leader in many ways. I had absolutely no experience leading such a program. But, the executive director, the team, and the entire organization took a chance on me, looking at my past patterns of initiative and hearing my passion. Thankfully; I owe much of who I am as a nurse leader to them.

I think about both of these instances when I look at resumes/applications and interview people. Experience is great, but if I interview someone with experience and they don’t have passion or drive, I quickly turn my attention to other applicants.

Potential is often just as important as experience yet frequently overlooked. If you regularly hire people, how do you manage the experience-versus-potential balance?


The Most Formidable Teacher: Experience

by Nursetopia on December 30, 2013

She’s one tough teacher. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can learn from her substitute, which regularly teaches everyone else. At the board – exposed, in front of the class – you won’t ever forget her lessons, though. Oh no. Rarely does she have to re-explain herself, and when she does – lookout; her repeat exams are just downright brutal. There is no curve, and every question matters. If you don’t know the answer, you better find out, and yes, there are such things as “stupid questions.” You’re going to want to commit her suggested revisions to memory. There will be a pop quiz when you least expect it.


Can school please be over now? What? No winter vacation? Maybe if I just avoid eye contact she won’t call on me.

Oh. Crap.

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Extrovert, Introvert: Nurses Are People-People

by Nursetopia on December 27, 2013

Ask any nurse – extrovert or introvert – who is away from the frontline what she misses most; she’ll likely say “patient care.” “The people” will be a quick clarifying next statement, I assure you.

“Patient care” is a tenuous phrase. It’s complex, with hundreds of underlying systems. For many, “patient care” means task upon tiring task and continuous struggles to try to cobble together a broken and non-communicative healthcare system. It’s not what most people define as fulfilling. It’s actually incredibly frustrating. But I’m preaching to the choir here, no? I digress…

But when nurses reminisce and really talk about “patient care,” they’re not alluding to the broken pieces. They’re thinking of the high-touch, distilled moments of care. They’re talking about the magnetic pull towards healthcare – simply knowing you made a difference in someone’s life during a moment of intense need. It’s simultaneously the greatest sacrifice of self – to help a stranger who cannot help himself – as well as the greatest gift of acknowledgement – from someone who fully trusted in another.

There are lots of things nurses do not miss about “nursing.” People isn’t typically ever one of those.


Hooray for the holidays! And a little bit of downtime to lay back, spend time with loved ones, and peruse the news. Here’s some of what I’ve been checking out these days:

What have you been reading this holiday season?


Approaching the Holiday Treat Tipping Point

by Nursetopia on December 24, 2013

There’s food everywhere in the clinical setting these days. No, it’s ehhhv.ryyyy.wheeeere! There are tins of cookies at the nurses station 1 break area, cans of popcorn and toffee at the nurses station 2 break area, plates of fudge at the front desk side area, and don’t even get me started on the party leftovers and mounds of candy and salty snacks in the actual break room.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I have officially reached the holiday treat tipping point. Just in time. As odd as it may sound, this over-abundance of goodies at work is a strong holiday memory for me now. It’s part of me.

To all my healthcare professional friends who can relate as well as to those studying who eagerly want to know this healthcare holiday experience, I wish you and yours a beautiful and restful holiday!


Haunted Healthcare

by Nursetopia on October 25, 2013

Abandoned hospitals creep me out. Closed units are eerie. Historical medical photos, which I actually enjoy looking at, give me odd chills. Combine the two – such as photos of abandoned mental hospitals – and I’m officially creeped out.

I’ve had my fair share of patients who’ve seen dead family members in their rooms immediately preceding death, and I have to admit I’ve seen several deaths in which the patients did “not go gently into that good night,” leaving me with feelings of uneasiness. A lot of nurse have frightening stories. There’s the tale of the call light that keeps going off – randomly – in the one room of the closed unit despite everyone’s best efforts to make sure it’s not functional. Then there’s the occasional request to see the nurse dresses in pressed whites, complete with nursing hat, who doesn’t exist but people swear she has visited their rooms. Or the nursery rocking chair that seems to move without an attendant when the nursery is empty. Or countless ghost stories associated with patients who were in certain locations or dressed a specific way at death. Or the Old South Pittsburgh Hospital, in Tennessee, which now serves as a Paranormal Research Facility due to it being a “hotspot for Paranormal Activity on a daily basis,” and is recognized as “one of the most haunted locations in Tennessee.” Eeeek!

Seriously, just reading the stories from the Top 10 Abandoned Hospitals is enough to make me want to immediately Google kittens, rainbows, and adorable, laughing children to clear the scary tales from memory.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you have any creepy healthcare tales?

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