Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Nurses' Value to Society

A Nurses' Value to Society

As I was leaving the hospital recently after a late day of meetings, crossing the parking deck coming in my direction was an elderly man with a very tired look on his face. Under his right arm was a long cardboard box with the words 1-800-flowers on the side. In that moment, I was struck by the humanity and personal challenges that all of our patients and their loved ones face when in our organizations across the country. This gentleman was visiting someone he loved, perhaps a wife, perhaps an older child, perhaps a sibling, but regardless, the look on his face was one of concern and sorrow. As I passed him, I said hello and wished him a good day, and he gave me a little smile which quickly dissolved as he headed toward the front entrance of the hospital.

I realized at that point how much of our work becomes just our routine work, how much of the pain and sorrow becomes routine. I felt somewhat guilty that I was leaving the hospital to teach an aerobic class and then spend the rest of my evening with my family, while others suffered so much. I also realized that nurses are the human component in the healthcare delivery system, uniquely prepared to reach out to those in need and fill the void of human caring created by clinical environments. We, as nurses, can never let go of that awesome responsibility that we share. As the most trusted profession in the world, it is our calling to be there for those in pain and suffering, those in fear and those that are moving on to worlds beyond us. It struck me that it is also critically important that we, as nurses, never allow ourselves to become hardened to those who need us so much, for what a waste it would be to miss an opportunity to emotionally be in the moment and reach out and help those we serve.
Take a moment to reflect on your role as a nurse and the importance you play in the lives of others. Relive those special moments when you realized a difference and the satisfaction that you felt knowing you were able to help. It is an honor and a privilege to serve in the capacity that we do and to possess the skills that are so uniquely nursing. We may have times that we are tired, drained, frustrated and disillusioned with our profession, but the greater good of what we do and who we serve far outweighs the episodic challenges. I am grateful every day that I am a nurse and, despite the challenges, I would never want to go through life as anything else.
About the Author:  Dr. Val Gokenbach has a true passion for leadership and has been in administrative healthcare positions for over thirty years. As a professional dancer and fitness instructor for over 40 years, Val has led a dual life as a fitness presenter, consultant and dance instructor. She has been featured as a health consultant and guest host on multiple TV shows and QVC. As an international speaker and author, her goal is to share her life's philosophy with all nurses and help them realize their value to the world.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

10 Ways to Rekindle Your Nursing Passion

10 Ways to Rekindle Your Nursing Passion

Have the fires of your nursing passion fizzled out? Has your work become a job –someplace you exchange a certain set of skills for a paycheck?
What happened to your inner caregiver (maybe even your outer one)?

Did the changes do it in – you know, computerized charting, the pyxis, whatever else is new this week?

Do you feel alone at the bedside doing things administration can’t understand or imagine? Are you stretched thinner and thinner but doing more?

Or was it the personal cost – the emotional investment, the endless giving – that made you pull back?

You may have a hard time remembering the nurse you started out to be, but it’s not too late. You can get your nursing passion back.

Try these ten suggestions to rekindle the flame.

·         Try not to think of your patients as their diseases, procedures or room numbers. Make the extra effort to learn (and use) their names. Hospitals can be dehumanizing enough without our adding to the problem.

·         Remember your roots. Last week I heard a nursing student say, “I had the best day! I gave a shot and I cleaned up the same gentleman eight times.” When asked how this made for a great day, she said, “Well, he was pretty embarrassed about his medicine giving him diarrhea but I told him that happens to lots of people and convinced him not to feel bad about it.” She’s got the makings of a great nurse.

·         Offer grace. Nurses see people at their worst during very difficult circumstances. Overlooking grumpiness, showing patience with the confused – in general, cutting our patients a little slack – helps them enter the healing state and saves us aggravation too.

·         Don’t mouth empty words. It’s unfair to your patients and bad for your conscience. Yes, I know it’s hard to say the same things to different patients day after day. Be inventive – practice finding new ways to get information across.

·         Treat everyone with respect. And, yes, I mean everyone. You may be the only one who does and it may make all the difference. The Bible says, “Dignify those who are down on their luck; you'll feel good—that's what GOD does” (Psalm 41:1, MSG).

·         Nurses do have the best stories, but don’t use your patients as fodder for gossip or entertainment, even among yourselves. First, it’s illegal, what with HIPAA and all; second, it’s disrespectful to tell stories that show them at a disadvantage. Even though it’s hard, keep your lips sealed as a secret gift to the people you care for.

·         See – really see – your patients. Look at their faces; notice their expressions and their demeanor. That slightly confused elderly gentleman giving the call button a workout may be a World War II veteran, once handsome and brave; while the well-dressed but jumpy Junior Leaguer may be fighting battles at home that you can’t imagine. You may never know their stories, but you can be sure they have one.

·         Be present to your patients. Don’t hurry into their rooms on autopilot with a mental to-do list. Pay attention. Forget yourself. Take time to get “in the zone.”

·         Listen. To what your patients are and aren’t saying. Imagine yourself with “antennae quivering.” It’s rare for people to feel heard. Think of it as another gift you can give them.

·         Support life in your patients. Work to put them in a place where healing happens. Be sensitive to their emotional state and try to match it, offering hope, kindness and, above all, truthfulness. When physical life wanes, offer comfort and support their spiritual life and loved ones.

We, as nurses, are privileged to be instruments of healing. But, like in doing the “Hokey-Pokey,” we have to put our whole selves in.

That’s what it’s all about.

About the Author: Suzanne Davenport Tietjen, RN, NNP-BC is a Nurse Practitioner, writer and shepherd. She takes care of tiny sick babies in the Neonatal ICU and a flock of natural-colored sheep at her family's century-old farm. Suzanne has written for nursing journals and Christian magazines, and has published two books, 40 Days to your Best Life for Nurses and The Sheep of His Hand. 

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