Nursing

A BSN Pinning Speech: Reflecting on Sacred Work

by Nursetopia on September 5, 2016

In honor of Labor Day, I was reflecting on my work and callings. As tiring as work can be at times, I cannot ever escape the sacredness of my work. A few months ago I was honored to speak at a colleague’s BSN Pinning Ceremony – Texas A&M University – Central Texas’s first RN-BSN pinning. What a humbling moment! Full of tradition, even after more than a decade since my own pinning, these ceremonies still evoke strong feelings and often a few tears. So what did I muster up to say to these already-nurses who had just completed their baccalaureates in nursing? Much of what I continuously reflect upon as “work.”

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Thank you so much. It is my distinct privilege to join you today for this momentous occasion. What an accomplishment. I’ve held by baccalaureate in nursing for 13 years now, and I still remember my pinning like it was yesterday. I remember the joy of upcoming graduation, the relief of completed coursework, the hopefulness of the future of my nursing career, and the anticipation of sleep. Lots of sleep. I do know what you’re feeling right now.

There is a major difference in my pinning 13 years ago, though, and your pinning today. You see, I wasn’t a registered nurse yet when I received my baccalaureate nursing pin. Each of you already hold your nursing license. Unlike me at the time, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into – being a nurse and all. I had no idea, really. When theory and precepted clinical rotations turn into autonomous nursing care and work, well, it’s something our distinguished faculty try their very best to prepare us for, but to fully understand it all, you have to live it.

And you have lived it. And you continue to do so. Some of you likely worked in the last 24 hours or are planning to in the next 24 hours. Because you’re nurses; you’re amazing like that. Multiple times every day, one simple phrase rings among millions of strangers…”I’m your nurse.” It seems simple enough, but those words hold power. Enveloped in three syllables is a promise. Even when it means “I’m the only one who can take this assignment right now,” or “Only eight more hours between me and the weekend,” it’s still a promise. A promise to analyze, problem-solve, prioritize, advocate, listen, encourage, treat, empathize, support, facilitate, and educate. It’s the ultimate confidentiality agreement leading to the beginning of an immediately intimate relationship. Very few statements match its power, and you hold it.

But you have previously held and wielded that phrase, serving as part of the longest-running, most trusted profession – nursing. So what does today change? What does earning you baccalaureate of science in nursing, your BSN degree, mean? What does it mean to your patients, workplace, community, public health, your discipline, to yourself? What does it mean?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Baccalaureate nursing programs encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree and diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work enhances the student’s professional development, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice, and provides the nurse with a better understanding of the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients and influence health care delivery. Throughout the last decade, policymakers and practice leaders have recognized that education makes a difference.” In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a landmark report, The Future of Nursing, in which they detailed the U.S’s need to exponentially increase the number of BSN nurses to rapidly transform healthcare. But why? Because BSN nurses see things differently thanks to our broadened education, and it takes a better view to transform the one we have now of healthcare. With over 3.4 million nurses – by far the largest healthcare workforce in the U.S. – we are everywhere, which is a great thing because everywhere needs you. Whether it’s your neighborhood, church, school, Capitol Hill, the bedside or chairside, the boardroom, Industry, community groups…the nursing process will not fail you. Transform your world. You were prepared for this. Tonight is an indication of that.

I’d like to encourage you in two ways:

First, never stop learning. Now is as good a time as any to add that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing report also indicates the need to double the number of masters- and doctorally-prepared nurses. Relish today, yes, but know this is not the end. This is the beginning of your education. Yes, you can catch up on your sleep a bit first. My favorite nursing theorist is Hildegard Peplau. Yes, I have a favorite nursing theorist; if you don’t have a favorite nursing theorist, you should find one. It will help you realize that you’re in some pretty amazing company within the nursing profession. Peplau was the first nursing theorist to publish after Florence Nightingale, almost 100 years after Nightingale. 100 years! That’s a long time. Peplau was a staunch advocate for mental health care…and for nursing as a profession, with formal education. Her conceptual framework, Interpersonal Relations in Nursing, was finished in 1948, but it wasn’t published until 1952 because it was considered too revolutionary at the time for a nurse to publish without a physician co-author. At the age of 78, she said the following evergreen words that continuously spur me on in my own career: “Somewhere, somehow, at some time in the past, courageous nurses determined these skills, learned them, fought for the right to use them and taught them to other nurses. All nurses have an obligation to remember that part of nursing’s past and to keep their own skills in pace with new opportunities for nursing into the next century.” Never stop learning.

Second, never stop loving people. Yes, I said love. We rarely use that word in healthcare or in leadership; rather, we use words like “compassion.” That’s all over nursing. “Compassion” in its Latin form literally means “to love together with.” It gives rise to other concepts – empathy and altruism – that we also tout throughout nursing. But love of people undergirds it all. Nursing is a service discipline; you will never find a nursing role that does not focus on people. It is the very fiber of who we are.

Now, being nurses already, you know that people-work is hard-work. People! They are the very worst and the very best part of our care and work. They will drive you crazy; challenge your patience; make you cry hot, angry tears; and wish you never went into nursing. They will also trust you implicitly; soften your heart; teach you how to live; thank you for preserving their dignity; make you cry sweet, humble tears; and make you thankful for the care you get to provide every day. And that’s just one day! In all seriousness, loving people is the essence of care, and you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of everyone around you. People always talk about the impact nurses make on them, but we rarely discuss the fingerprints our patients make on us. We’re all shaped by them…incredibly genuine, broken, angry, joyful, amazing people.

Never stop learning. Never stop loving people. The nursing pins you’re receiving tonight are symbols of both – education and people – in many ways. Wear it with pride, and remember your past, ongoing, and future education as well as the people who have and continue to shape you in addition to the people you daily touch.

Never stop learning. Never stop loving people. Congratulations on this momentous milestone. Relish these feelings at this very moment; take note of them; remember them often to spur you on in transformative work. You are the future the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report described. What a bright future you are! Thank you for this privilege; I am proud to call you colleagues!

4042125683_b7f25bbd67_o “Care” by Toshihiro Oimatsu, Flickr.com

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[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

2407819953_40e22d8d97_o via nghiem vo, Flickr.com

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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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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Nurse.com’s 2016 Gem Awards Open for Nominations

by Nursetopia on January 10, 2016

I bet you work with or live around some amazing nurses. I certainly do. Why not honor their great work and nominate them for an actual award like Nurse.com’s Gem Awards?

With six categories, there’s one to honor all of the amazing work nurses do both at work and in the community. Hurry and get your nomination in; nominations end April 15, 2016.

By Macroscopic Solutions, Flickr.com By Macroscopic Solutions, Flickr.com

 

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Leader, Leader quite legendary,

How do your nurses grow?

With sharing wells, and mentor swells,

And encouragements that overflow.

Grow, by Susy Morris, via Flickr.com Grow, by Susy Morris, via Flickr.com

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May is full of wonderfulness – graduations, the beginning of summer, Nurses Week, and yes…Oncology Nursing Month. Now, as an oncology nurse I realize my bias; that’s okay, it’s a good bias.

Seriously, I love oncology nurses. They give, give, give. They are brilliant healthcare professionals, and I am proud to belong to the specialty.

Shower the oncology nurses around you with appreciation all month long. There are oodles of free, printable cards here; just click the Freebies & Giveaways link above to start sharing the love.

Happy Oncology Nursing Month!

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Murphy’s Laws of Nursing Leadership & Management

by Nursetopia on October 16, 2014

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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Send Nina Pham, RN, A Note of Encouragement

by Nursetopia on October 15, 2014

Ebola is the word of the day, month, year. Honestly, before a few weeks ago, I knew very little about the disease. My, how that has changed.

As a Texas nurse, I’ve thought about healthcare professional colleagues throughout the state often over the last month. I have incredible statewide colleagues. Really. I’ve thought about the Dallas healthcare team as they took care of one of the most high-profile patients of the year. And, I’ve thought about them all as now two of their own – our own – Nina Pham, RN, and a second, yet to be identified nurse, have tested positive for Ebola.

Anyone and everyone who has ever been on the frontlines of care knows how difficult healthcare is under “normal” circumstances. It’s everyday, invisible heroics.

I keep placing myself in the other nurses’ shoes – contemplating potential thoughts and feelings during a shift. What an internal dichotomy. It’s mainly Nina Pham, RN, though, whom I have thought of lately. Reports have indicated she is spending time reading and resting; that sounds nice, for sure. But not in an isolation room that is in the proverbial spotlight of the developed world. What is she thinking? What is she reading? What will life be like after her discharge as she is on the road to recovery? How does it feel to have close colleagues care for her now? What do her day-to-day moments look like? Is she steering clear of the free-flowing media? Does she know so many people are thinking of her?

THR Facebook PostAfter a Facebook update from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital yesterday, I realized I don’t have to wonder about that last question. I can actually tell her I’m thinking of her via the hospital’s “send an email to a patient” feature. I love that. I absolutely sent her a quick note.

It’s no surprise to regular Nursetopia readers that I am an avid advocate for notes of encouragement. Because I believe there is more good in this world, this seems like a perfect opportunity for the healthcare profession to support Nina.

If you’re thinking of Nina and want to encourage her, stop what you’re doing, and send her a note now. Help brighten her day and her spirits. As soon as the second nurse is named, we can all do the same for her, as well.

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Slowing the Nurse Pace

by Nursetopia on October 7, 2014

I learned the nurse pace from years of working on the unit. It’s about twice as fast as a regular stroll, and it will leave you behind without notice. It is a stride that says “calm” and “let’s go, go, go!” all at the same time. It typically doesn’t alarm others because, relatively, all the nurses are pacing one another; it’s ordinary.

Even after years of being off the floor, I can’t shake the nurse pace. Especially in the mornings, at the early beginnings of my day, if I’m moving, I’m moving; I try not to get frustrated with others, but I absolutely will walk in front of you – not alongside you – if you cannot keep up. Sometimes people even ask what’s the rush. It takes mental strength to slow my pace and try to act cool about it.

I’m not the only one.

Have you ever noticed this about much of our profession? Are we just accustomed to going non-stop that our entire life tempo changes?

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