Is Nursing a Talent?

18 September, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Washington Post published “Is nursing a talent? You can bet your life on it.” The article is very well written and it confirms what many of us already know: it is a skill that we continually work to keep sharp and update.  In some ways, it is a lot like many of the other talents that were displayed in the Miss America pageant. We juggle a patient load, orders, varying degrees of patient acuity and needs.  We move so quickly up and down the unit that we often feel like we are on (and sometimes need) roller skates.  We have sung to our patients. We have read poetry to them. We tell them jokes. We often work magic.  Indeed, we have many of the same talents as pageant contestants, but we also have so many more talents and skills that are necessary to be a Nurse.

Since the jokes made by the hosts of the View, I have used my skills and talents as a nurse to perform CPR, stabilize a cervical spine with my hands until we were able to place a collar, managed the trach of patients so that they may continue to breath, placed an IV so that a patient could receive live saving medications, comforted and calmed scared and confused patients, decreased someone’s pain, increased someone’s hope, and gave families peace of mind that their loved ones were in good and caring hands. That is only a small fraction of what I and my 3 million colleagues have done.


The joys of being a Rehab Nurse

24 April, 2015 § Leave a comment

I am sure many of you have seen this video floating around the internet.  A girl that was inexplicably paralyzed for 11 days surprised her favorite nurse by walking from her wheelchair.

This is one of the reasons that I love working in a Rehab.  I often admit patients at one of their worst times, but there is not much that brings me a greatet joy than to see a patient regain use of their extremities, or regain their voice.  I love when our patients come back to visit and they walk down the hall with barely any noticeable deficits. 
This is certainly a joy of nursing.

Lateral Violence and Bullying in Nursing

24 January, 2014 § Leave a comment

JoAnne, RN has written an excellent article about lateral violence and bullying in nursing and how we can deal with mistakes in a way that builds the profession instead of tearing down our fellow nurses and ancillary staff.  Take the time to read the article here, it is worth it.

Sadly, I have seen lateral violence among nurses and bullying from nurses to ancillary staff, luckily this was mostly in nursing school and environments outside of work.  Sadly, I have also been on the receiving end of said lateral violence.  Nursing is not the only profession that this happens in and before I was a RN I was a clinician in the mental health field.  I imagine this exists in any place where there is a power dynamic at play.

In my own experience, I am pretty good at standing up for myself and when I have been the victim of lateral violence and/or bullying, I immediately called them out on the behavior and justified why I did something based on my professional opinion.  I am always open to constructive criticism, both when I worked in mental health and as a nurse, but outright ridicule or remarks said to others, in a loud manner, that is meant to demean or call into question my abilities, is never acceptable.  I admit, there have been times when I did not always do this, but at this point I try and I hope my fellow nurses do the same.

When we, as nurses, see bullying we must also make it our reaponsibility to stop the bullying immediately.  Just as it is not acceptable for it to happen to us, it is also not acceptable for it to happen to others and we must attempt to end it when we see it.

Now here is the hard part: fixing mistakes and stopping violence and bullying while not engaging in the same violence and bullying ourselves but by coming from a place of compassion, understanding, patience, and teaching.

Have you ever been the victim of lateral violence or bullying? Have you witnessed lateral violence or bullying? What did you do? How can we, as a profession, address this issue?


I AM A Nurse

19 June, 2013 § Leave a comment

I do not think I could have said it any better.  It is often that I am short on time, short on sleep, and short on patience (and high on patients to care for) but I remember that I am there for the people I care for and they deserve the best that I have to offer, that the profession has to offer. I am not alone.  There are millions of you, my fellow colleagues, that also short on time, sleep, and patience but we are high in compassion and we stand together for our patients.

A NICU Experience shows the Art and Heart of Nursing

7 June, 2013 § 2 Comments


Source: Forrest General Hospital

A few days ago I talked about being a smarter nurse and the science of nursing.  Today, as I read a story originally found on The Spohrs Are Multiplying I am reminded of the art and heart (heart?) of nursing in which empathy and compassion are at the center.  Heather and Mike Spohr recount the experience they had in the NICU with their daughter Maddie and the post beautifully illustrates some of what it means to be a nurse.

Sometimes throughout our shifts as nurses it is very easy to slip into sterile, clinical mode.  We speak in a coded language designed to allow us to give reports quickly and efficiently in order to maximize our time and all of this leads to that sterile, clinical nurse that we have all become at some point.  It is easy to do; we get busy, we have medications to give, treatments to administer, doctors to follow-up with, charting to do, and on the most hectic of days we believe that we barely have the time to stop for a few minutes to offer warmth to our patients to let them know that we care.  In my short time as a nurse I have learned how to incorporate and convey that compassion even amid the chaos and have been validated by the kind words of patients and their families.  It is not a big deal to us, it is simply what a nurse does, but those small gestures can be huge gestures to patients and their family members especially when they are scared and hurting.

Mike Spohr discovered just that during the five years that his daughter was in and out of the intensive care unit.  He says

It was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that I first saw how amazing nurses can be…Each morning I called the NICU at seven a.m. to get an update from Maddie’s night nurse about how she had done through the night, and the moments waiting for her to pick up the phone were horrible…she would always tell us about Maddie’s night in great detail despite having just finished a long, exhausting shift.

The simple gesture of taking the time to tell Mike about his daughter in great detail, at the very end of the shift, when there was still, no doubt, much to be done, put Mike at ease.  There are not very many professions where you will find people ready and willing to give you as much time as you need when they themselves have absolutely no time to spare.  I admit, sometimes talking to a family is the last thing that I want to do when there is so much more to be done, but it is something I do with great care because they often have no idea what happened the prior day with their loved one.  Family members can not be there all day, everyday, but we are there so I always make sure that I am careful to give families the time they need to know their loved one is being cared for.  For a family to know that their loved one is being loved in return is a monumental thing.

Mike goes on to discuss the love and humanity conveyed by these nurses

Like the NICU nurses, these nurses showed Maddie so much love, mooning over how cute she was and making faces at her to keep her entertained.

There, sitting on a chair with a single tear rolling down her cheek, was my nurse. Her tear told me that she cared.

His final thoughts in closing

To Nurses everywhere… You should know that you have made a difference to so many people in this world, my family included, and I cannot thank you enough.

Nurses do not get the opportunity to hear this very often.  Our patients come and go and we are not their first, or not even their last provider.  We are intermediaries, helping our patients find better health and comfort and once those goals are achieved they move on and we often move on as well, going to the next patient to provide the same care, compassion, empathy and love.  As a nurse I do not expect a “thank you” or get upset if someone does not say it, I do not even think about it because this is simply what I do, no thanks required.

I have said before, we typically offer something that no other member of the healthcare team offers.  We are with our patients for 8,12, or 16 hours a day so we owe it to ourselves and to our patients to practice not only with the science of nursing but with the heart of nursing as well.

Head over to The Spohrs Are Multiplying and read On the Wings of a Nightingale, you will be grateful that you did but be forewarned, it left a lump in my throat.


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