May you find the opportunity in every challenge.

The internet erupted on Saturday about something that Senator Walsh in Washington State said in a hearing about nurses. Her tone and underlying assumptions about our ability to play cards while at work were very disrespectful to the 4 million of us in the United States.

This is the second time in a few years where someone in the public eye made an uninformed statement about the most trusted profession in the United States for 17 years in a row.

I’ve learned over the years, through my own entrepreneurial endeavors, that assuming statements are often due to a lack of knowledge.

If we had to put a care plan together and form a nursing diagnosis for this situation, we’d likely use something similar to: “Knowledge deficit related to the reality of being a nurse.

 

Let me share some of my realities about being a nurse:

  • I never played cards while caring for patients. (I’ve never played cards in any of my nursing roles over the last 19 years).

Some things that I always did while caring for patients include:

  • I always felt as though despite all that I had done for my patients, there was more I could have done to care for them as I left each day over and above what was necessary. (Try carrying that around at the end of every shift and having it add up over time).
  • I always dreaded night shift because that first hour was the most anxiety provoking for me. Parents wanted to put their children to bed to get their rest (understandably so). I would be getting out of report around 7:30pm not even having prepared any of the 8 o’clock meds for my 4-5 patients all due at the same time.

 As nurses, we know we have to prioritize those patients that are in need first but try telling one parent that his or her child needs to wait while you care for another. That is REALLY hard to do. I often wouldn’t finish that first 8 o’clock med round until 11 o’clock at night.

(OF NOTE: Why do we expect nurses to deliver all of their patients’ meds in the same hour right after starting their shift and not having assessed any of them yet? Can someone find a new innovative solution to this system level problem?)

  • I always worried about whether or not one of my assigned patients would code on me during my shift. I often had palpitations before work each morning because of this concern.
  • I always wanted my patients to have a new clean bed or crib and bathed (if an infant) or have an opportunity to shower if possible. This wasn’t required but it was something I felt was important to do.
  • I always prioritized my patients and their families over my own personal needs for nourishment over 12 hours. Sometimes I wouldn’t eat anything until 8 or 9 hours into my 12-hour shift.

 

I say this about myself, but I know that I am not alone. Perhaps I had palpitations more than other nurses, but the other statements are likely transferable to most if not all other nurses.

Today, I spent a lot of time on my computer catching up on some things.  While working at my desk, I would occasionally open Twitter in seek of a distraction.  I could not open Twitter without a flurry of reactions to Senator Walsh’s remarks today.

Throughout the day, I continued to think of the Woodhull Report. In the most recent report, the results demonstrated that nurses are only cited in 2% of journalists’ stories.

If we are only in 2% of stories, how can we assume that the public knows the extent of our work? Well, one thing we can safely say going forward is that everyone will know we don’t play cards. :) 

Yet, this just scratches the surface. How do we use this unfortunate incident that set Twitter ablaze today as an indication that we can do more as a profession to educate others on what we do?

How do we proactively educate a nation on why we are the most trusted profession year after year at a level that abominates the possibility of such comments from happening in the future?

Honestly, it starts with us, the nursing professionals. If we each share our knowledgeable voices on a proactive and consistent basis in a consumable way, we can begin to make the positive change necessary to dispel misconceptions and assumptions.

Think about how you might be able to share something you know with others that might not know it.

We’re trained for this! We educate our patients every day about things they do not know but need to know for their own health and wellbeing.

How can you educate others through your spoken or written words in a way that can influence their perspective? How can you present the information in a way that opens the door for the reader or listener to want to know more and ask more questions?

If I can educate someone not in healthcare about the role of nurses in informatics, interoperability, and innovation, you can find your niche and do the same.

 

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The Heart of Nursing

The practice of nursing is both an art and a science. Yet, the individual nurse providing care is also acting from the heart.

 

The Heart of Nursing manifests itself in a variety of ways. As nurses, we develop relationships with patients and their families. We learn about our patients’ own interests and preferences. We develop relationships with our coworkers and fellow nursing colleagues. We step in to help our friends and families when they don’t know how to navigate the health care system. We also pour our energy into creating solutions to problems that are not receiving the appropriate attention. These are just a few of the many examples that occur each day.

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The Nursing Care Economy

“All I want is a blanket.” This was what I thought to myself while lying on a stretcher in pain at 3 am in an Emergency Room (ER) last year. I looked around at the nurses, doctors, and technicians with hopes one would make eye contact with me and say, “Do you need something?” After about an hour with no success, finally one nurse said to me, “Would you like a warm blanket?” My response, “Yes, please.” That small nursing intervention made a big difference in my patient experience.  

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Nurses are Intangible Gifts

Happy Holidays! We are in the heart of the holiday season. I thoroughly enjoy this time of year! I enjoy the act of gift giving to others. I know many of you who are reading this do as well. We tend to think of gifts as tangible. Tangible gifts are things that can be wrapped such as toys, clothes and coveted wish list items. Yet, gifts can also be intangible.  Intangible gifts are things that cannot be purchased. Intangible gifts are often invaluable to their receivers.

So, what is an example of an intangible gift? I’ve heard parents often describe the birth of their children as gifts. I’ve also had moments where I received some help that was unexpected but very necessary at the point in time. That help from someone else was a gift to me. I’m sure many of us have had moments like that in our lives and/or stepped in for others in those moments. While there are many intangible gifts around us, I’d like to describe my belief that nurses are intangible gifts.

intangible gift

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Time to be Thankful for Nurses

This Thursday we will celebrate another year of Thanksgiving in the U.S. It is often a time to reflect and be thankful for the blessings in our lives. I wanted to take a moment to write about how thankful I am to be a nurse.

happy thanksgiving

I spent a couple of days recently discussing the nursing profession with a small group of nurses from across the country. We discussed the common bond we all share for wanting to help others and the feelings of internal fulfillment when we can provide nursing care to patients and their families. Yet, what is often not discussed is our inherent superpower that holds the potential to benefit the lives of other human beings.

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Nursing workarounds and what they mean for the future of healthcare

Nursing workarounds and what they mean for the future of healthcare. 

Last evening, I spoke to a group of approximately 60 graduate nursing students at Northeastern University in Boston MA.  I spoke on the topic of nurse entrepreneurship and intrapraneurship. The faculty members, Dr. Laura Mylott and Dr. Janet Rico wanted to show their students the different opportunities there are for nurses in the health care arena. Nurse entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship are two career options that we often don’t discuss in our formalized nursing education classes. However, I will tell you that they are very real career options and in many ways will be the only way in which we solve some of the day-to-day problems nurses are faced with at the bedside. The reason why nurses are the only individuals set up to solve these problems is because no one else knows they exist. No one is going to come knocking on the door with a solution to solve problems they don’t know exist.

Workarounds.

 I asked the class, “What is a workaround?”. It could have been that no one wanted to speak up but I didn’t get a volunteer to answer the question. So, I turned it around. “Ok. What is a problem you deal with every day and how to you get around it?” I had one student volunteer to tell the group that he works nights. At night, STAT labs are entered at midnight however the system goes down for 30 minutes every night at this time. It affects the timing in which labels are printed and subsequently when they can be drawn, resulted, and acted upon. So, instead of waiting and wasting time, he figured out a way to manually force print the labels. This is the workaround.
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