Do you ever have those days where everyone around you swears the sky is falling? Maybe it’s you. I’m sure we all know similar people…Every. Thing. Is. A. Major. Issue. And the panic spreads.
There are these amazing people in the world – I have them in my life and I hope they’re in yours, too – that hold up the sky. They may not say it verbally, but they’re likely thinking…No, not today; the sky is not falling today.
They ease the tension. They calm the never-storm. They reset the pace and tone for everyone. It’s beautiful leadership in action. It happens everyday and gets little attention. Next time you see it, honor that sky holder! And yes, Chicken Littles of the world, you can learn this skill.
‘Tis the season for hiring graduate nurses. Staying connected to GNs prior to their start dates is vital for some work markets. Even if you’re not in a tight GN market, remaining connected with GNs after you extend an offer to them through the time they actually start, which could be months, really does start the relationship well. Let’s face it, everyone wants to be thought of, and GNs are stoked to be headed into work with newly-minted degrees and forthcoming licenses. Postcards are an easy and cost-effective way to ping GNs to increase anticipation in joining an organization, and you know how much I love postcards! So, here’s one for my GN series, for use by hiring organizations.
Simply download, print front-and-back on cardstock, label, and mail. Enjoy!
Rather than resolutions, I pick one word each year to guide my thoughts and actions. I’ve done this for the better part of a decade, and I have chronicled each of these one words on Nursetopia since the blog began. You can find past one word summationsfor 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, and I’ll post my one word for 2017 tomorrow, but today I’ll review my one word for 2016 – “stretch.”
Boy, howdy! (That’s “southern” for holy cow or O.M.Gosh!) Stretch was an appropriate word as I kept it at the forefront of my mind on many occasions. I used it frequently to encourage myself to “lean in” rather than “push away” from uncomfortable or unplanned moments throughout the year or to rise to presented opportunities.
For example, I directed a second, different healthcare service line – cardiovascular services – which expanded my background and experience. An oncology nurse running the CV services? Yeah, it actually worked, and it helped me realize that my nursing specialty isn’t only oncology but, rather, nursing leadership; it was great experience to see that healthcare really does look and work very similarly behind the curtains of every service area. With that, though, I worked more this year than I ever have in years passed (even when I opened a new cancer center), and I almost pulled a heart-string in the process, feeling pummeled in every way and like a failure both at work and at home. For a self-proclaimed overachiever, it felt hopeless at times – like I didn’t have enough time or energy to cover everything that needed to happen to realize our service line strategies. I felt like I was doing a disservice to my team members, my organization, and my family.
What I didn’t anticipate is that my stretching throughout 2016 included actually saying I needed a change in my work and giving that work to another leader so I could have happiness in both my personal and professional lives. It was hard to say so, but I did it. It stretched me greatly, and it was humbling.
My stretching continued by working diligently to maintain margin in my life – margin for the priorities that matter most to me.
Earlier in the year I applied for a large role; I didn’t get it. That was stretching, for sure, and while I didn’t say so at the time of writing, I shared about it and how those similar moments have shaped – and stretched – me.
I submitted the largest writing piece of work I have done to-date in my career, editing a healthcare book for the general public. That was quite the stretch: working with the publisher, developing the table of contents, finding all the authors, and then editing the entire work. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am excited to see it publish around May 2017.
Personally speaking, I picked-up a forgotten hobby – theater – for my self-care, and I am so glad I stretched in that way; it fed my soul in so many ways.
In addition in 2016, my family and I decided to begin our long-dreamed-of foster-to-adoption process. What stretching moments that has encompassed!
How was your 2016? Did you have a one word or resolutions that guided you?
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.”
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!
One 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 Lacks, it 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!
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!
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.
Take 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.