Congratulations to Renay Purdy, RN, who was selected at random from all those contributing to the "Let's Celebrate Nurses Week" contest sponsored by Dansko.
Renay wins a pair of Dansko shoes for being one of the many who answered the question: How did you celebrate Nurses Week?
Renay has an associate's degree from Greenfield Community College and is attending Elms College RN-to-BSN program (class of 2014). She works in the emergency department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.
So how did Renay celebrate Nurses Week? "I am celebrating my first Nurse's Week as a new nurse this year!!! Working with great people and taking every opportunity to learn."
Thank you, Dansko, for making Renay's first Nurses Week special. And thanks to all the nurses who contributed to the blog.
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I've worked at three different hospitals over the past five years. Each one has had a different process of dealing with Medication Reconciliation, but I believe my current facility has created the best idea of all: A Medication Reconciliation Technician role. Her primary responsibility is to interview patients to obtain the most accurate medication history possible. They are expected to contact families, the pharmacy, even the patient's primary care, if ncecessary, to verify dosing and frequency the patient reports he is taking.
As a staff nurse, I remember this task to be burdensome and time consuming. I avoided it at all costs. Sometimes, I wanted to pull my hair out at the thought of asking about meds. But a recent story verified why this task is so important.
A 90 year old female presented to the ED after a sycnopal episode at home. She had been discharged the day before from a rehab facility, where she recovered from abdominal surgery. Her heart rate was 46 and her blood pressure 80/58. Upon receiving her medication list from the family, it was noted that she was on five different medications that affected her blood pressure and heart rate. Two of the meds were new to the family. Though they had questioned staff at the rehab facility, they were assured these were the meds she had always been on. But they weren't. Somehow, TWO new meds appeared almost out of nowhere andn no one knew how. How could this happen? Unfortunately, it's not all that uncommon. And that's why we as nurses need to be vigilant about medication histories, at admission, during the patient stay and discharge.
The woman ended up admitted to the hospital, worked up for non-existent cardiac issues and then spent four more weeks at another rehab facility, due to persistant weakness. It's quite possible accurate medication reconciliation could have prevented this.
I know in today's nursing world, time is precious. Hospital budgets are shrinking. But there has to be a way to keep patients safe. My current hosptial is trialing the "Med-Rec Tech" as our cost effective solution.I'll let you know how it goes.
What are other facilities out there doing to promote medication reconciliation? Is it working for you?
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I am posting this blog from Michigan where I celebrating my grandmother's 90th birthday. She's had a rough couple of months, experiencing the first real medical problems of her life. But true to her ways, she triumphed. We sprung her from rehab just in time to have a family gathering in her honor. But her precarious state leaves the nurse in me wondering exactly how the rest of her life might play out.
I know there's no definitive answer. I can't predict the future for my grandmother any more than I can for a patient in the ED. I know that anything is possible. She could thrive at home under the care of family and visiting nurses for years. She could decompensate and end up back in the hospital in only a matter of days.
What's the right thing to do?
There are many factors to consider, like who's caring for her and what financial resources she has, as well as her changing mental and emotional states. Unfortunately, there isn't one right answer. If there were, I'd guide my family the right way with every bit of knowledge I have. But, I have to remind myself, I am biased. She's my Nana. I only see the spry little lady I knew as a child. I can't bring myself to believe she is old and nearing the end of her life. It hurts too much to face that reality.
That's why I think every family should talk about end of life before it becomes an issue. The problem, though, is that not every situation unfolds as planned. Sure, it sounds great to avoid putting someone a nursing home, but there are many 'what if's' that complicate even the best laid plans.
And that's what is happening to my family. We want to do what is best for Nana. We want her to be healthy and happy. So what's the right choice for her? Only time will tell. I keep reminding my family to take this situation one day at a time and to have multiple back up plans. I also tell my aunts and uncle and mother to be kind to themselves--they are doing the best they can.
To all families in this situation, ask questions--a lot of them. Seek options. Speak up. Try things; if it doesn't work, try something else. But most of all, remember that at the center of this is a person who deserves only the best.
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When I was asked to write Nurse on the Run, I was thrilled to do it even before I saw the blog would be sponsored by Dansko. Writing, to me, is a privilege, much like nursing. And because I love them both, the combination is sheer magic in my world.Throw in the fact that I can also talk about my other love, running, and I am complete.
So, when my editor, Linda, approached me about holding a contest on this blog to give away a FREE pair of Dansko shoes, I thought I must be dreaming. Except it got better: Dansko wanted to send ME a pair. All I had to do was write about them.
When my Danskos arrived in the mail. I ran in the house, excited to slip my feet into them.
The sensation was heavenly. The bottoms of my feet curved over the arch support as if these shoes had been made for me. The top of the shoe, wrapped around and hugged my foot. And the "Flower Power" pattern added just the right amount of flash. I was in love, instantly. I own other pairs of clogs, but this was my first pair with the brand name every one knows. Now I know why so many nurses won't wear any other footwear to work.
Now I'm even happier that there's a contest on my blog. I can't wait to see who wins. Click HERE to access the contest and win.
So spread the word! There's still time. The contest ends MAY 14th.
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The following is a post from our blog sponsor, Dansko
The contest to win a pair of Dansko Professionals has ended. Dansko will be selecting a winner soon! Thanks for participating.
Dansko knows you work hard and wants to recognize you. Visit a Dansko retailer during Nurses Week (May 6 - May 12), try on Dansko footwear or healthcare apparel and enter to win a prize pack! Plus, with any Dansko purchase you'll receive a free cinched bag.
To find your nearest Dansko retailer, click here.
That's not all, though!
Dansko is also giving away a pair of Professionals in celebration of Nurses Week. A favorite of healthcare professionals for more than 20 years, the legendary Dansko Professional keeps you comfortable throughout your entire shift. One winner will select from the newest arrivals - Flower Power or Art Palette.
To enter*, simply leave a comment on this post between now and May 14 with the answer to: How do you celebrate Nurses Week?
Footwear provided by Dansko. This blog is sponsored by:
*Answers to the question will be accepted at any time between Wednesday May 1 and Tuesday May 14 at 11:59PM EST. The name and email address of anyone leaving a comment on this post during this time will be shared with Dansko. The contest to win a pair of Dansko Professionals has ended. Dansko will be selecting a winner soon! Thanks for participating.
- You may only submit one answer and it must be relevant to the question to be eligible.
- Answers must be submitted using the comment section below.
- Winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries and notified via email, using the email provided, on May 17.
- The prize is one (1) pair of Dansko Professionals (approximate retail value: $135).
- Open to U.S. residents only. No purchase necessary to win.
I attended another Emergency Nurse's Association conference last week. This one was the smaller, more intimate New England Regional Symposium held in Pymouth, Ma.
One of the speakers was Maureen McMahon, interviewed in an Advance Spotlight Article (http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Coming-Together-in-Boston.aspx) on the disaster. Even though she could have stolen the show with stories from the Boston Marathon Disaster, she didn't. She kept the focus on her original talk, because that's what she had submitted many months ago. I admired her determination and her steady presence. At the end, she did leave room for questions and comments, but her presentation on preparing for such disasters was out of this world. If you even get the chance to hear her speak, jump on it. She's amazing.
I also attended a multi-session presentation on End Tidal CO2 by Chuck Margarites. I have to say, he really did make it easy. I can't wait to bring the usefulness of if back to my department
The final speaker I heard was Suzanne O'Connor (http://www.suzanneoconnor.com). I knew I'd love whatever she had to say because I attended one of her sessions in Florida; but I didn't expect it to validate the thoughts I reveal in this blog. I about fell over when one of the strengths she spoke of was compartmentalization. I know the concept isn't new. And I know I am not the only one aware that nurses utilize this coping mechanism on a regular basis. But I was surprised when she presented it as the strength it is.
Over the course of two days, I learned a lot. I don't feel I met as many people as I did in Florida, but the value was still there. The setting was more for learning than networking, and I'm really glad I went. Next year can't come soon enough!
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Hello my name is Laura LaValley Morris from Massachusetts. I ran the 2013 Boston Marathon. And this is my story.
My motivation to run the Boston Marathon stemmed from my daughter Momo’s journey with childhood cancer that began when she was two and a half years old. Running a marathon is the most symbolic way for me to represent her battle and courage.
I’ve been a jogger for many years on and off but didn’t start racing until last year. I entered the 2012 Holyoke Saint Patrick’s Race with Griffin’s Friends, an amazing group of people who dedicate their time to bringing moments of joy to kids with cancer in Western Massachusetts. Then, I caught the racing bug. The vibe of a race is so inspiring. The spectators encouraging you is motivating. I decided that day I would train and run the marathon.
So, I entered a lot of local 5 and 10K races and kept upping my miles until I felt comfortable with an eight mile distance. I had an unfortunate hamstring injury in June 2012 that slowed me down, but didn’t stop me. I rehabilitated it with physical and home therapy and was back to baseline by November.
I dedicated myself to training for the Marathon on Dec 1st when I attended the first official group training run with Griffins Friends. I was able to do that first 6miles with no trouble, so I figured I would go with the flow and continue to follow a training program to see what happened. I signed up for the Oleksak Half Marathon in Westfield, Massachusetts in March. If I was able to run thirteen miles, I might as well go all the way in April!
I kept motivated by going on long runs with friends, like the Boston Twenty Mile Training Run, with all of the charity runners from multiple organizations pictured below.
Also a fellow “cancer mom”, Joanna was a great encouragement for me. When I felt like I couldn’t do anymore, I would try to chase her…and somehow got through. She is my beacon. I am drawn to her light and the sound of her feet hitting the ground. I thanked God for her often during our training runs and along the marathon route.
On race day, we donned our Thrift Shop Duds and headed to Hopkinton. At the start of the race, I wore my bathrobe for the first quarter mile. I handed it off to a man on the side of the road collecting clothes. I was all smiles and full of zest. I high-fived every kid who had their hand out the entire time and soaked in words of encouragement from onlookers. To hear people yell “GO MOMO’s MOM” was awesome.
I felt incredible until Mile Thirteen when my feet started to hurt. But I ran on.
At Mile Fifteen, we stopped and stretched. I did some praying because next on our journey was “Heart Break Hill”. I tackled the hill with pain in my feet that resembled labor, but made it to Mile Twenty. In retrospect, I am blessed that we stopped and stretched those few times. Those stops very well could have saved my life.
At Mile Twenty, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I had forty dollars with me in case I needed to take a cab, but my inner voice told me to truck on. My goal was to get to Mile Twenty-Four so I could see my son, Andrew, my sister, Martha, and all of our Griffin's Friends. I visualized the sea of blue and kept my eyes on the horizon with Joanna in front of me. I put one foot in front of the other and moved on.
As I came down the hill at Mile Twenty Four, all I could do was smile. All of my pain was GONE the second I saw the blue shirts hanging on the signs. I waved like a fool and grinned from ear to ear when I saw my son.
He leaped into my arms. I felt amazing, like all that I had just been through was worth it.
My daughter with cancer was unable to make the marathon, but we brought a life size cut out of her. I gave it a huge hug and kiss! This was my moment of joy!
At Mile Twenty-Four we heard about the explosion. At that point, we thought it was just a grill or something. The runners were being rerouted; so we carried on. It wasn’t until I got to Mile 25.13 that I found out. There were people runners and spectators in swarms walking toward us. We ran into two of my Griffin’s Friends teammates who updated us and told us where the team was meeting.
It felt like a dream, or like time had stopped. Our phones weren’t working except for texting but that was spotty. Thousands of people were just standing around, looking dazed and not sure where to go.
We stopped at 25 and regrouped. Griffin’s Friends organizers were watching out for us. They gathered all of the runners and did a head count. They found a safe route to our bus. I was able to text my husband at this point to tell him we were all ok and reach my sister again to confirm they were safe. This kept me calm.
We had to walk a mile to get to our bus. Anxiety built during that time about getting on a bus. I was very fortunate that another teammate’s husband was there with his truck to take us home; we did not have to wait to get home.
I was catatonic on the drive back. I was internally processing the day and trying to respond to all my emails, phone calls and text messages so that everyone knew I was alright. Martha and Andrew were at Mile Twenty-Four. I was very concerned about them, but thankful I was able to keep in touch with them the whole time. I was blessed that she was there. She supported him and focused on the helpers that day so he would remember the experience in a positive way.
The first day after the marathon was the hardest physically and emotionally. I found myself asking a lot of ‘what if’s’. And thanking God for everything in my life.
Today, I am returning to baseline. I am very reflective and I am thankful for everything in my life. Physically my feet are feeling better, after some serious icing. My body is moving more fluidly. I think all will be just fine.
I know now that I am blessed to have an intuitive inner voice. I believe ‘Positive Brain Power’ can get you through the worst moments and pain, both physically and emotionally. And the power of distraction is very important when your ready to give up.
Would I run the Boston Marathon again? I’m not sure. I think I will go as a Griffin's Friends spectator next year and then reassess my goals! I have never been more happy to NOT finish my first marathon! I will run another a marathon someday, but for now I’ll stick with smaller goals.
What is the one thing I would like to share with the world after The Boston Marathon of 2013? I believe gratitude and giving back in this world will help you to see your life from a different perspective. It will FILL up your glass and make everyday sparkling.
*Laura has been a Nurse Practioner since 2002. Prior to that, she worked in Emergency Department and Med/Surg Nursing as an RN.*
Griffin’s Friends is a group of volunteers dedicated to providing support to children with cancer. Founded in 1994 in Springfield, Massachusetts, Griffin’s Friends is named for Griffin D. Kelleher, who passed away at 14 months of age after a courageous battle with cancer. His legacy is this special group which supports, in a unique way, children in treatment for cancer and their families.
Griffin’s Friends established the “Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund” at Baystate Health Foundation, Inc., which is funded by donations from fund-raising activities organized by Griffin’s Friends volunteers.
Griffin’s Friends raises funds in the name of, and on behalf of, the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation, Inc., which is a tax-exempt, nonprofit entity that supports the nonprofit entities in the Baystate Health system, including, but not limited to, Baystate Medical Center, Inc. Charitable contributions to the Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation, Inc., are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Today's blog was going to be about persona and professionalism. But after the tragedy in Boston, I can't bring myself to think about anything else. I sit now trying to force out words I had in my head yesterday only to return again and again to thoughts and feelings of sadness.
I am an ER nurse, trained in disaster response. I am also a runner. And I'm from Massachusetts with an affection for Boston. It hits me on many levels.
As a nurse, I feel pride and awe at the first responders. They didn't even think twice about putting their lives on the line to help. What would I have done if I were there? Would I run away scared or would I help too? My first thought is that I'd probably scatter with everyone else, but my family will tell you otherwise. They often get mad at me for diving into tough situations, but I can't help it. It's instinct. My body responds before my brain and next thing I know, I'm in the thick of it. I also believe emergency training helps a lot too. If you KNOW what to do, you are more likely to assist.
My heart also goes out to the staff at every emergency department in Boston. I'm sure they were at the ready when the first ambulances rolled up to their doors. A lot of prep goes into disaster planning, but nothing can take away that building sense of dread as you wait for it all to begin. And, once it's all over, it hurts--physically, mentally and emotionally. A disaster response can never be forgotten. It changes you as nurse, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. All I can say is that I am holding each nurse involved in my heart tonight, hoping tomorrow is a better day for them.
The runner in me is mortified that the explosion had to happen at the finish line: the very pinnacle of the race. I have not run a marathon. I'm not sure I ever will. But I can say there is nothing like the feeling I get inside when I am in a race and the finish line is in sight. Suddenly, my body gets stronger. I get a surge of adrenalin, peace, happiness and pride. I run as if nothing can stop me. And when my name is called out, I feel like I'm flying.
I can not imagine what those people at or near the finish line felt when the explosion occurred. So many emotions are already coursing through a runner's veins, how would one make sense of the horrific?
And what about the thousands who didn't get to finish? Some people train for a lifetime to run this race. Some run it to memorialize friends and families. There are as many reasons as participants, as every runner runs for their own reasons. But to be cheated out of a triumph is unimaginable. Whoever planted the bombs knew how to victimize even more people than the ones directly affected. At least, that's what I think.
Finally, as a lover of Boston, it saddens me to think the city is now tainted with blood. No doubt, the citizens shall rise again and reclaim their own sense of peace, but it's BOSTON. And to me, that's close to home. I love walking the sidewalks and enjoying the sights. Now, it will look a little less innocent. I hope that feeling doesn't last too long.
The next run I go on will be in memory of those who lost something today, April 15, 2013 at the Boston Marathon. Though I run solo I know I'm not alone in my horror, sadness, frustration and anger. I hope tonight no one feels alone. I hope one day, maybe even next year, to be a spectator at the Boston Marathon. And no matter what, I am going to keep right on hoping, because no one can ever take that from me.
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Upon researching last week's topic of compartmentalization, I came across an amazing article that I wanted to share. It's titled Authenticity as Excellence, and can be found on Psychology Today's website.
I liked the way the author defined such an abstract term, as authenticity can be pretty confusing to understand.
She wrote: "Authenticity is the bottom-line essence of who we are."
I think for so many of us, nurses or not, authenticity is hard thing to achieve. In today's world, we are bombarded with many forms of media telling us how to think, what to feel and how we should act. It's hard to know which thought is ours and which one was given to us. As nurses we are faced with constantly changing our exterior to meet the needs of our patients. It's hard to stay true to your own essence when adaptation is key to survival. So, how do we integrate it all and stay authentic?
The author also elaborated on the meaning it would have self discovery in our lives: " We will learn to distinguish a desire from a should, an authentic desire from one which is related to fear, an intuition from a fear, a feeling from a thought, a thought from a belief, an original thought from an unoriginal one, and more."
Or in other words, we label or prioritize our own internal thoughts, wishes, dreams and desires-instead of letting others do it for us.
When I began to study my ideas and feelings in earnest, I realized first how compartmentalized they were and then how that separation prevented me from being whole. The process of putting all the pieces together, really stressed me out. I can see why many shy away from the work because it's quite terrifying. I had a feeling of a loss of control, accompanied with extreme emotion.
In a short time, I went from feeling nothing to feeling everything.
Part of me wanted to go back to the safety of the compartments during the struggle, but my curiosity won out.
My career suffered, though, as I grew. I found I could no longer complacently give subpar care.
I spoke up. I offered suggestions. I tried to make change. But I wasn't in the right role at the right time with the right resources. So, I spiraled through an angry abyss. To survive, I kept attempting integration and finding my authentic self. That process led me explore countless opportunities until I fit that was right for me came along.
But, now I'm left wondering. How many nurses know authenticity at work? Do you feel you can be yourself? Or do you have a work persona? If you change, can you keep your current job?
Join me next week as I explore persona versus professionalism.
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Laura LaValley Morris worked full time as an RN in the Emergency Department at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield Massachusetts until she returned to school to advance her degree. At that time, she moved to Mercy Hospital’s ED and Med/Surg units and worked per diem while studying to be a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has practiced as an NP since 2002 in OB/GYN and now specializes in Geriatrics.
Since high school, I have been fascinated with learning about child and human development. It confirms for me how all humans are alike and so very different at the same time. I love that there are patterns and rules, but ultimately variation is the norm. We are all born with a blank road map, and where we go in life is up to us. And when times get tough or confusing, I look to research for answers.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person's having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.
Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states."
And isn't this what nurses do every day? We code a patient in one room and then hand ice chips with a smile to another patient five minutes later? We cope by closing off what happened in one room so we can function effectively in another. We do this repeatedly, day after day. It's an incredible skill to have and makes us very successful.
But like every coping mechanism, there is a cost.
"Using indifference towards a better viewpoint is a normal and common example of this. It can be caused by someone having used multiple compartment ideals and having been uncomfortable with modifying them, at risk of being found incorrect. This often causes double-standards, and bias." (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Because we separate out our experiences in our mind, it becomes easier to label situations and, unfortunately patients. But, if we were to process and integrate every experience we had at work, we'd run away screaming in less than a month. Is it no wonder then, that we get compassion fatigue with all we do to survive a shift?
The concept of debriefing and defusing after a stressful event is not new. Yet, we rarely do it. When I have taken the time to approach staff, they look at me with horror in their eyes. The truth is, they don't WANT to relive it, even if they should. And I can't blame them.
So we function with our brains divided. For some, this means a lose of self, or at the least, a part of ourselves.
I think that's what happened to me. I lost a piece of me in the struggle to maintain control. It spilled over into my personal life; I found myself struggling to feel anything at all. I had essentially compartmentalized everything. My decisions became quick and without variation. Once I began studying compartmentalization, I came to understand myself a little better. I was then able to break down some walls to experience integration, little by little.
Do all nurses have to lose themselves? What do you think?
Next week, I'm going to look at authenticity and the value of it in success.
One year ago, I was ready to quit nursing. So, how is that I recently found myself at a national nursing conference?
My first answer is easy. It's in Fort Lauderdale, Florida-in the winter. Who was I to walk away from warm weather? At first, the idea of participating was wishful thinking. But then I verbalized the desire at work, and suddenly two of my coworkers planned to go with me.
When faced with this, I reached down deep inside and searched for other reasons to go. Mostly, I realized, it would help me develop this new chapter of my career.
The weeks leading up to the conference, I found my anxiety building. I tried to convince myself I was being silly. I'd been to a bunch of writer's conferences. How could this one be different?
Well....here's a painful secret. I had lost that crucial sense of belonging in my own profession. I felt I was with my "peeps" at writer's conferences. Was it possible for me to find a similar place in the nursing world as well?
There was only one way to find out: open my mind and try it.
So I did.
I couldn't be happier, or more grateful, or more satisfied with my choice.
Day One opened with a fabulous speaker Carmine Gallo.He spoke about his work as a writer (yeah, I know!), a lecturer, trainer, journalist, etc. And in that moment I realized, I am multi-faceted and do NOT have to identify with Nursing OR Writing. I can belong to both.
My anxiety deflated. And the rest of the weekend was amazing.
I heard about techniques other hospitals use to keep education interesting for their staff.
I learned about the dos and don'ts of social media.
I was inspired to lead with approaches such as story telling and sharing.
I connected with other nurses just like me.
As the weekend came to an end, my passion and drive improved ten-fold. My vision in which I saw myself became amazingly clear. I am so many things. I don't have to limit myself. With the right amount of balance and dedication, I can integrate all of my loves.
Next week, I'll discuss how the concept of 'compartmentalization' influences both my life and my career.
Over the course of my career, I've had many reviews and evaluations. Most of them were fairly accurate. By that, I mean, I agreed with my direct supervisor and her perception of my work. Every evaluation was also useful in that it helped me set goals for the upcoming year. But have you ever asked someone how they perceived you? Until recently, I would have said 'no.' But inquiring actually made all the difference in the world.
The concept of peer perception started to fester when I went on relief mission to Haiti in 2010, a month after the earthquake. On the day of my arrival, I was told, by the medical director, not to get too comfortable with my assignment, as it might change. I shrugged it off. Emergency nurses' assignments ALWAYS change. I didn't give it a second thought, until later that week when he apologized for keeping me in my role. His intention was to make me the nursing director, but more experienced staff was coming in.
I was speechless. Where did he get the idea to PUT ME IN CHARGE? I lost sleep pondering this question and after a few days, I drudged up the nerve to ask him. His answer surprised me even more. Apparently, someone told him I'd be good for the job--someone I knew and worked with. If I'd had more confidence, I probably would have asked more questions, but instead, I left it alone.
That trip to Haiti changed the way I saw myself and, most likely, triggered the avalanche of burnout symptoms. I was fully prepared for an onslaught of emotions upon return, but I never expected to find the leader in me. When the door opened to possibilities, I found myself lost and confused while also hopeful and intrigued.
I let the idea that someone believed in me simmer. I remembered all of the conversations with other people I'd had over the years. And suddenly, I realized that MANY people saw a leader in me.
When I am I going to see it?
To be honest, even three years later, I'm still not entirely convinced I'm a leader. However, after having multiple conversations with people I respect, reading books on leadership and attending a nursing leadership conference, I can say a small part of me believes the potential is there.
After all, I did accept an educator position seven months ago. And I am loving it.
Next week, I'll begin sharing my adventures from the leadership conference I mentioned above.
In my last blog, I reported I asked myself some difficult questions to confront my battle with burnout. All week, I debated whether or not I should share them. I decided I would. So, here they are in no particular order.
1-Why am I nurse?
My first response: because I went to school for it and it's all I know how to do. When I dug deeper, I realized that my job filled a deeper need, an immature desire that I'd had since I was a small child. I get to hear secrets, one after the other. These secrets, I am obligated by law to keep. But overall, it means my patients trusted me with their innermost needs. And to be honest, there is nothing else in the world like it.
2-Can I get the some fulfillment from another profession?
My first response: yes, but it wouldn't probably pay as much as a nurse's salary. Then I thought more about it, because for me, it's never been about the money. It's about the people. I'd really miss interacting with others on a regular basis. So, though I was burnt out, I knew I had to find a way to fix it.
3-What do I hate about nursing?
My first response: everything! I knew that wasn't true, but at the time, it felt true. I eventually realized it was the intrusion of technology that made me feel the MOST frustrated. Though I love computers and gadgets, in the emergency department, they created a barrier between me and my patient. I felt like a bank teller, clicking and typing while looking at my screen. Add to that the other constant changes that were happening (new meds, core measures, and more!), and I felt as if my head was going to explode.
4-What do I love about nursing?
My first response: giving good patient care. It wasn't until I sought to define what good patient care meant to me that I finally reached a moment of truth. Good patient care means, to me, proper communication. It means educating my patients so they can feel safe going home. It means teaching.
5-Where do I see myself in five years?
My first response: ANYWHERE BUT HERE. But then, where would I be? I can tell you, I'd be lost. I would probably be empty. Because the truth is, nursing is part of my core, my inner self. I can walk away from it even when all I thought I wanted to do was run. When I finally sat down and visualized what I wanted, it included building up the profession I love so deeply. It meant casting away my fears and becoming vocal about good nursing care. I didn't know what shape that would take, but I knew eventually it would come. I was ready to see it when it did.
I asked myself these questions repeatedly. The answers came in time, after a lot of introspection and observation. I watched myself and others at work. I listened to what people were saying--on the job and in the community and about me. I took deep breaths. I disconnected. Once I detangled myself from the negative emotions, my responses developed a more positive tone. A future in nursing began to take shape. I allowed myself to see a different me through others' eyes. Then, I considered the possibility of doing something bigger.
Next week I'll explain that phase in more depth.
I wish I could say I had a 'EUREKA' moment that saved me from the throes of burnout. I'd love also to report an A-ha moment of realization when figured out exactly what I needed to do to fix it.
But like I said in my previous post, my burnout experience was insidious. It crept up and consumed me without my knowledge or consent.
The truth: I contracted the flu. And then, I got bronchitis from the flu. During my months of intermittent illness and recovery, I was forced to rest. I took a good hard look at myself, my life and where I wanted my future to go. What I saw was not pretty. I was grumpy, overwhelmed, forgetful and generally unpleasant to be around. (At least that's what my family told me and thankfully, I listened.)
I opened my mind to potential opportunities and put my resume out there, seeking not to replace my primary job, but to supplement it.
What I found in that second job, was exactly what I'd hoped for--a different flavor of ice cream and a different smattering of toppings.
When one job felt too frustrating, I shifted focus to the other. It was a great time for me to explore what I loved and hated about the emergency department. And within a few months, I my internal pressure released.
During that time, I wrote a lot too. Through that outlet, I found a humbling opportunity to help share some stories from my local community. This project re-infused more enthusiasm for nursing than I could have dreamt.
And finally, I used exercise to blast away all of my frustrations.
Slowly, my burnout morphed into something else--a desire to change. As I let that feeling grow, I embraced my family in ways I'd neglected before. After all, my kids were growing and changing all the time. Who better to teach me how than the masters of development?
I would not be where I am now if I hadn't take some time to ask myself the difficult questions and make some tough choices. I am grateful for the support of my friends and family along the way; I may have gone bonkers without it.
I'd love to hear what others have done or are currently doing. So, if you have a story to share, please do. If you don't want to tell it publicly, please contact me via my contact information.
And if you see someone struggling, it may be helpful to reach out and say something. A few words can go a long way.
I haven't done any official research into the other nurses's experience with burnout, but I feel sharing mine may have some benefit, both for me and others. The powerful thing I noticed was the intense level of pervasiveness of these feelings. As the saying goes, we should leave our work at work, but I found this to be a huge challenge.
Emergency nursing has built a firm foundation on anxiety. We are trained to expect the worst case scenarios. There is no relaxing, in the truest sense of the word, even on the quietest of days. So, it shouldn't have surprised me when I began to worry incessantly about my friends and family. It was like always waiting for the next thunderstorm even on the sunniest of days. I think in response to that I developed a need to control everything. Then, to overcome that, I became apathetic. And that's when I knew ED nursing had gotten to me.
I would venture to guess that many people feel a sense of negativity when thinking about work. I think some some thoughts of not wanting to go in every day is pretty normal. But when that feeling is accompanied with nausea or a throbbing head, it's time to rethink the path you are on. This began happening for me about a year or two before I was ready to admit it. I tried to overcome it with hopeful thoughts, like maybe I could work with kids or someone I truly enjoyed. But eventually, even those thoughts didn't override the physical sensations. Clearly, my body was trying to tell me something and I wasn't listening.
Everyone gets tired, right? I mean we all have huge responsibilities these days. But by exhaustion, I mean, my brain literally quit working for me at times. I know emergency nursing by heart. I have years of experience. But when faced with certain events, I would draw a complete blank. I felt I had no skills at all. I worried I was going to cause patient harm because I couldn't think straight. It didn't make sense. Experience should make me smarter and at ten years in, I felt I knew less than the day I started. To overcome this, I tried to take naps before work. That did little but add to the fatigue and nausea. Exercise helped the most, but still, I found myself getting frustrated more often than not.
I'd hate to think I took some of this out on my coworkers, but it's likely I did. And since then, I have moved on and found my passion again. But for those nurses who think they are "stuck", I feel for you. In my next blog, I'll explain what I did to balance these emotions out with some positive things.