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Murphy’s Laws of Nursing Leadership & Management

Oye VeyHeard the phrase “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”? Yep, Murphy’s Law is prevalent in nursing leadership and management just as it is in other areas of nursing and health care. Here are a few gold-standard Murphy’s Laws for nurse managers and leaders.

1. The day you’ve set aside and diligently blocked from meetings will be the day a stomach virus sweeps through the unit, causing severe short-staffing to the point of needing your clinical assistance for direct patient care. Good job blocking that calendar, and best wishes for “catching up!”

2. Your boss is guaranteed to call you on the one day you leave the office early. And he’ll need some numbers for a report within the hour.

3. The “Can-I-Have-5-Minutes?” conversation will take over your next scheduled meeting – that you lead – and end up with at least three action items to complete.

4. A patient will request to speak with you right as you realize you have yet to empty your bladder during the day.

5. The moment you are fully staffed, at least two team members indicate they need leaves of absence.

6. The probability of Joint Commission showing up for your organization’s unannounced survey increases with the number of days remaining until you leave for your long-awaited vacation.

7. The week after you ask team members to purge storage closets will be the one week of the decade in which something from that storage closet will be requested.

8. Minutes before your budget is due you will remember an ancillary expense that could potentially lead to a major variance.

9. The copy machine will jam and run out of toner as you try to print your presentation for the multidisciplinary board.

10. The candidate you love for the open position will be screened out of the HR system via a glitch, leading to weeks of attempted correction.

Creating these just makes me laugh. Leadership is a trip. In so many great ways.

What other Murphy’s Laws do you have in nursing leadership and management?


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Check Out This One Nursing Site That Will Brighten Any Shift

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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Haunted Healthcare

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?

Copyright Doug88888 via
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Urine/Stool Collection Containers: Why Do You Call It A ‘Hat?’

I’m currently doing some additional work to educate nurses on colorectal cancer. It’s a topic I’m passionate about not only in work but also in my personal life as my family has felt the effects of colon cancer. I’ve even blogged about my own experiences with fecal occult blood test, or FOBT, stool collection. Maybe a little TMI, but hey…nurses have these issues, too, and that’s important for people to know!

My mind keeps drifting back to a conversation I had with a sweet friend not too long ago…about why in the world is the urine/stool collection container called a “hat.” I can’t help but laugh each time I think of the conversation because it is a bit ludicrous. Yes, it kind of resembles a hat – maybe one that has been chopped in half? Nurses and other healthcare providers nonchalantly tell patients about “the hat,” but I’ve never had anyone mention that verbiage aversion to me until my friend brought it up.

I’ve tried – unsuccessfully – looking for the origin of this jargon. Does anyone know or have a guess? Are there any other created terms you think we use in healthcare that we use in “normal” conversations that might be a wee bit odd to non-healthcare providers?

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I’m Sorry Your Day Sucked [Free, Printable Card]

My day today didn’t necessarily deserve this card, but trust me, I have had pah-lenty days where this card would have been more than appropriate. I hope you never have to give it to someone, but chances are, there’s someone you work alongside that really needs a good laugh – or at least needs to know someone is thinking of her or him.


You can download and this card for free.

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Nurses Week 2013 Printable Card Roundup

Want to send a resounding (and stylish!) thank you to the nurses in your life this week? Here’s a list of freebies and low-cost ideas just for you. Enjoy!

They’re free. Give, give, give this week. Spread some love. The nurses in your life need it.

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Triple-‘Threat’ Nurse [Free, Printable Card]

Download, print, handwrite your message on the back, and give this card to your favorite triple-‘threat’ nurse – perhaps during Nurses Week, which is May 6 – 12.

Triple-Threat Nurse

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Humbled by a Liebster Award Nomination

A sweet friend at The Girl in the Blue Apron nominated me for a Liebster Award. I am incredibly humbled by Elisa’s kind words of me. Thank you, Elisa! I am so glad the Oncology Nursing Society brought us together, and I can promise you this – I would not be blogging now had you not reached out to me as a tweeting oncology nurse nearly four years ago. Blogging has brought me such joy, and that joy is rooted in your influence on my nursing care and writing style.
The premise of the Liebster Award is simple; it is a meme-ish way, a chain-letter so-to-speak, for bloggers with reading audiences of 200 to 2,000 to honor one another. As I’ve followed previous blog nominations from post to post, I’ve picked up several great blogs for my own reading pleasure, so surely the Liebster Award is functioning as intended.
For the nomination, I must tell readers 11 things about myself, answer my nominator’s 11 prepared questions, nominate up to 11 other bloggers for the Award, and prepare 11 questions for them to answer in their subsequent posts. I’m not sure what the fascination is with the number 11, but hey, let’s roll with it!
Eleven Things ‘About Me’
1. My family is my number one priority. Friday nights are spent playing board games or cuddled up on our pull-out sofa with every blanket and pillow we owned piled for maximal comfort. My kiddos hate it went Fridays get overrun with something else. I must admit, I do, too. Those moments nourish my soul and wipe away the week faster than you can say, Fridaaaaay!”
2. I’ve struggled with the serious idea of going back to school for my PhD (in nursing) for the last two years now. I only recently decided this is not the year for me to apply simply for various reasons. Next year is my year, though. I’m not looking forward to taking my GRE again.
3. After 13 years of marriage and many, many moves, my husband and I recently purchased our very first home. And for the first time ever, my family’s Thanksgiving celebration will be at our home. Fortunately, I cook turkey frequently, and I’ve become more enthused about cooking over the last year, so it should be fine. I am really looking forward to hosting my parents and my three siblings’ families.
4. I hate shopping. No, really. I only shop when it’s a necessity. My husband can out-shop me any day of the week, and that’s absolutely okay with me.
5. I am currently training for my first marathon. I’ve completed several half-marathons, but doubling that mileage is scary. My race is in early November, and my training is right on track. It’s quite exciting learning that I can, indeed, run farther than 13.1 miles. I ran 17 miles this morning!
6. I really enjoy fine-point, colored Sharpie markers. I use them, rather than pens, to write, and it makes me happy to see notes in purple or green.
7. I love sending hand-written thank you notes to people. Even though I do hate shopping, I spend a fair amount of time looking at cards and stocking up. I smile every time I need to send a card and I get to peruse through my blank card collection.
8. My calendar/organization is a hybrid of paper and electronic formats. I put all of my appointments and to-do’s in Outlook, and then I print my calendar in one-week increments at the end of the day each Friday. It works for me. I need both the old-school and the technology to keep me on track.
9. I’ve seen Toy Story 1, 2, and 3 about 200 times each. That’s thanks to my 2 year-old son. Yes, I can recite all the words.
10. My family is planning a trip to Disney World next summer. Neither my husband nor I have been, so it should be a special time for all of us.
11. I am a home-body. As an introvert (yes, I really am), I find my renewal away from others, and I’d rather order-in and rent a movie than go out to dinner and a movie any time.
Eleven Q&A’s with My Nominator, Elisa
1. Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging three years ago for the Oncology Nursing Society, and I’ve never looked back. It seemed like happenstance at the time, but the opportunity came at just the right time because I needed to write and connect with other writers. Blogging is a huge part of who I am now, and I love it as a creative outlet and professional forum.
2. When you’re not blogging, what else do you do for fun?
I spend time with my family, and I run.
3. What inspires or motivates you?
I am motivated to make a difference no matter if that is for patients, the people I manage, my family, or my friends. I want to help. I want to make others feel valued.
4. What is the one food that you could never give up eating?
Chocolate. Hands down.
5. Do you have a motto, life quote, or “words to live by”?
I have several, and the Bible is a constant guide for my work. I especially love Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
6. What’s the most interesting or unusual food or meal you’ve ever eaten?
Definitely the most unusual meal I’ve eaten is escamole, or ant eggs, while I studied nursing in Mexico one summer. It’s considered a delicacy, and it wasn’t bad at all. Well, enough guacamole and salsa makes anything better.
7. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
I actually have several. In fact, at my prior place of employment, we had an ongoing list of pet-peeves just for fun. Professionally, it really bothers me when employees are held responsible and accountable for things without any given power to change them. Personally, it bugs me when Facebook statuses have grammatical errors and even more so if those errors are on a created e-card.
8. What’s the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?
I just finished Condoleezza Rice’s Extraordinary Ordinary People. It’s a book about her parents and the sacrifices they made for her as well as the lessons they taught her. I actually listened to the audio book, read by the author, and it was fabulous. I enjoy non-fiction much better than fiction.
9. What are three things you always have in your refrigerator or pantry?
Milk, Greek yogurt, several varieties of cheese…okay, so we like dairy!
10. What’s your favorite thing to cook or bake?
Anything in a slow cooker. Toss in the ingredients, turn it on for hours, and it always turns out delicious. I’ve also recently come across a fabulous peach pie recipe. It’s definitely a favorite thing to make for others right now.
11. Who do you admire?
That’s a tough one; I admire so many people, really. I greatly admire my parents. They’re still married, have four successful children and now 12 grandchildren. My mom worked as an LVN. I still have no clue how she worked those night shifts and got any sleep during the day when we were home. My dad served in the Vietnam War and worked in construction most of his life. He was paralyzed at one point during an occupational accident, and he had to fight his way back to walking, which he did. They are two amazing people, and I am who I am because of them.
My Nominations
1. JParadisi, RN. I love Julianna’s perspective on life. She’s an oncology nurse with rich experiences and lovely art. I will own one of her original pieces one day. I look forward to her posts both on her own blog and at TheONC, a gated community for oncology nurses. In short, she makes me smile, and I like having those kind of people in my life and in my inbox.
2. Jody Schoger. Jody was one of the first people I connected with on Twitter when I first joined that social network. She is an amazing breast cancer advocate and writer. I admire her for so many reasons. We’ve met in person once, but she’s a dear friend, for sure.
3. TorontoEmerg. Jane Doe blogs anonymously at Those Emergency Blues. She tells it like it is. She’s been off the grid for a while, so I sure hope everything is okay with her.
4. Dr. Dean Burke. Dr. Dean helps people, nurses in particular, reach financial stability. He has real-world, practical wisdom, and he is a passionate advocate for other bloggers succeeding. I’ve had the privilege of talking with him via telephone, and he’s just as wonderful “in-person” as he is on his blog.
5. The Nerdy Nurse. Brittney blogs about all things high-tech and high-care. She is a mom and patient, which give her a unique perspective on healthcare, as well. She has great ideas, and I love that she works to bring high-quality posts to healthcare professionals as well as serves as a connector for other nurse bloggers.
6. Nursing Ideas. Robert is the main reason I post briefs of current nursing research studies. He caused a paradigm shift in my blogging, and I love that he is a forward thinker.
7. My Strong Medicine. Sean is a critical care nurse, Certified Athletic Trainer, and Crossfit fanatic. Like many of the previously nominated nurse bloggers, Sean blogs on his personal blog and elsewhere. You can also find him at Scrubs Magazine.
There are so many other great nurse bloggers I could nominate, but I’m hopeful that those I nominated will pay-it-forward to others with their nominations. The nurse blogosphere has no shortage of fabulous writers!
Eleven Questions for my Nominees
1. What is your most favorite blog post you’ve ever written?
2. When you’re not blogging, what do you do for fun?
3. What’s your favorite book of all time?
4. Pets or no pets?
5. How many healthcare professionals do you have in your family?
6. What’s your ideal weekend?
7. What’s your best organization tip for work or life in general?
8. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
9. What or who made you laugh today?
10. If you could be friends with one literary character, who would it be?
11. What joke makes you laugh every time you hear it?
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Running is Fun. I Can’t Feel My Legs. You Should Try It.

I couldn’t help but laugh as I remembered this video. I woke up at dark o’thirty, put on my already laid out workout clothes, and went for a quick six-mile run. Yep. This video is so true. Runners, you will particularly enjoy it. If you’re not a runner, don’t let the video scare you away…it really is fun.

Have a great day!