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.

{ 1 comment }

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?

3260203862_e97800c363 Copyright Doug88888 via


Live the Dream

by Nursetopia on October 24, 2013

Have you dreamed of being a nurse, a physician, a pharmacy tech, a chaplain, a social worker, a [insert invaluable healthcare team member here]? Have you worked and worked and worked to have your role in health care?

Are you on your way to that dream? Are you there right now? Are you living the dream – your dream? Make sure your face and attitude know it.


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.

{ 1 comment }

MashupHere’s a smattering of what I’ve been reading lately:

What are you reading these days?


Every Day Excellence

by Nursetopia on September 27, 2013

I have had the privilege of interacting with many, many, many disciplines and departments recently. Each time, I have walked away thinking, “Man, what a great team!” 

One person doesn’t make a team; numerous people do. Everyone has a skill, a part to contribute. And, excellence happens every single day – right in front of our eyes. Yet we choose not to see it because we aren’t really looking for it. Excellence has become the expectation, the norm; I assure you, it is not always the norm.

Point out the everyday excellence that is happening around you. Many people think they’re “just doing [their] jobs,” but recognize someone who does the excellent work every single day. And keep knocking your own work out of the park even if no one else sees it. It’ll come back around to you. It will.


How many times have I preached my sermon about the innovation of nurses and how we’re the best innovators in the world? Many, many times. Because. It’s. True.

Nurses are constantly working around broken, inefficient processes and systems. We come up with some ingenious ideas which sound a lot like, “You know what we need to fix this is…” and “Someone should really make this thing look like this [doodles on scrap paper]…” and “What if we had…”

MakerNurseNurses’ minds are incredible, and now MakerNurse wants to highlight that fabulous ingenuity by “uncovering and collecting stories from inventive nurses. By examining nurse innovation in U.S. hospitals, MakerNurse hopes to uncover the behaviors, circumstances and technological drivers that enhance resourcefulness and innovation among hospital nurses, and identify tools and resources that could help more nurses bring their ideas to fruition and lead improvements in patient care.” MIT’s Little Devices Lab is propelling MakerNurse forward with support by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

All nurses are invited to participate and share in the conversation. Help spur our profession’s creativity. Sign up for updates and future communications. Share your story of daily workarounds and your solutions to resolve those. MakerNurses unite!

{ 1 comment }