Monday, May 03, 2021

The Quixotic Nurse

As a nurse writer and blogger, I often use metaphor as a way to express deeper ideas about nursing and healthcare. In the past, I've explored the myths of Sisyphus and Hercules as they relate to nurses and the nursing profession, and my nature continues to point me towards metaphor as a tool for understanding.

I've recently been considering the figure of Don Quixote as another metaphor related to our often beleaguered profession; although much has been written about Quixote and the author Miguel Cervantes, I don't believe anything has been written about the potentially quixotic nature of nurses. So, my friends, I give you the notion of "The Quixotic Nurse".

(Note: this post is much longer than my usual 500-600 words. Please bear with me and consider this long-form post as a necessary means to my desired literary end.)


Monday, April 26, 2021

A Message to the Nurse's Future Self

So, my nurse friend, it's twenty years in the future, and you have two more decades of nursing under your belt. You've cared for thousands of patients, held thousands of hands, and looked into thousands of pairs of eyes. Or you've poured your heart and soul into research, healthcare IT, entrepreneurship, or other professional endeavors. What do you remember, and what do your patients and colleagues recall? What stands out for you? How does your career compare to your expectations, dreams, and aspirations? How would you like that 20 years to live on in your mind and heart? You can create it now.

The road to your nursing career future

Monday, April 19, 2021

Your Nursing Job: The Same Old Bed of Nails or a Comfortable Old Shoe?

Some of us have nursing jobs that are feel like a bed of nails, and some of us nurses have jobs that feel like comfortable old shoes. Have you ever fallen into either of these categories in terms of your work experience as a nurse? I posit that either one can be detrimental to your career in the long run.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Your Nursing Career and a Latte?

Just the other day, I was drinking a latte (decaf---I'm an unapologetic caffeine lightweight), and I realized that there's a very appropriate metaphor related to nurses, nursing, and a perfectly brewed latte. It may sound silly, but it may be more apt than you imagine at first.


Monday, April 05, 2021

Lions, Gazelles, and Nurses

Nursing has a hierarchy of power and experience just like any other profession; in fact, it also has a hierarchy that sometimes feels akin to the laws of survival on the savanna or in the jungle.

Have you ever observed that the less experienced and more vulnerable nurses frequently get left on the outside, often falling prey to bullies and "predators"? This is the herd mentality at its worst, and many novice nurses are taken down by bullies and power-hungry colleagues who eat them alive when they're demonstrating the slightest weakness.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

10 Steps to Nurse Entrepreneurship

As a nurse entrepreneur for more than a decade, I've been around the block a few times at this point and have seen so much of the ups and downs of this particular professional journey. While I'm not specifically a business coach, my career coaching practice and experience as a nurse business owner have taught me a thing or two about getting a business up and running — and keeping it going. Nurses come to me on a regular basis expressing a desire to work for themselves, and I have cause to believe that this growing wave has yet to crest. So what is a nurse to do if they feel the entrepreneurial itch? 


Monday, March 22, 2021

The 10,000-Foot View of Your Nursing Career

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a career coaching client, and we were discussing how scary it can be to make a big change. In talking about the minutiae as well as the big picture, I encouraged her to always come back to the 10,000-foot view. "However," I said, "while the 10,000-foot view is a great thing to keep in mind, it can also give you vertigo."
 
Clouds, thousands of feet over Santa Fe, NM by Keith Carlson

Monday, March 15, 2021

Nurses Leaning Into Uncertainty

Throughout history, nurses have provided care to those in need despite the cultural circumstances or political scenarios at hand. Nursing care, like medicine, is a necessary service that simply needs to be provided in a society at all times. No matter that bullets are flying, elections are being disputed, or a pandemic is raging, nurses are there with their patients even as uncertainty rules the day.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Can You Return to Nursing After a Hiatus?

Many nurses come to me for advice and career coaching when they're ready to return to the nursing workforce after a hiatus. For some, it's just been a year or two, and for others it might have been 15 or more years of staying home to do the noble work of raising children. The question is, how do you break back into the nursing and healthcare universe after being gone so long? It's indeed possible, and there's a lot to do to get there. On the other hand, I will also share ideas of how to keep your hand in the game even if you're not fully employed.

back to work

Monday, March 01, 2021

Genius is Relative, Nurses!

Are you a nurse who sometimes beats herself up because you've focused so much on your specialty practice area that you've lost touch with other aspects of nursing? Are you highly skilled at reading ECGs but couldn't interpret an ABG (arterial blood gas) if your life depended on it? Are you a nurse business owner completely removed from the clinical world? There are all kinds of nurses out there, and you really can't know everything, even if you're a real life nurse polymath. Genius is relative, and we all have our own unique brilliance and gifts to bring to the table.


Monday, February 22, 2021

Is Your Nursing Career on Autopilot?

Nurses, do you ever feel that your nursing career is on autopilot? Are you coasting, resting on your laurels, or otherwise sitting in the back seat of your career? This can work for a while, but it can eventually lead to boredom, ennui, and even burnout and an abandoned career. If you're on autopilot right now, would you like to get back in the pilot's seat?


Are you on autopilot in your career?

Monday, February 15, 2021

Your Nursing Career Report Card

Remember the days when you'd run home with your report card to show your parents how you did in school? Or were you the kid who hid it at the bottom of your bag so they wouldn't see it? Well, your nursing career deserves a report card, too. How've you been doing and what grade do you think you deserve?

report card A+

Monday, February 08, 2021

The "Shoulds" and "Coulds" of Your Nursing Career

In the world of nurses and nursing, it can feel like we are told what we “should” do with our careers much more often than what we “could” do. While the difference can seem subtle, it is actually something that can have a serious impact on the career path we choose and the subsequent satisfaction that we derive from our choices.


Monday, January 25, 2021

For Nurses, "Just" is a Four-Letter Word

If you're a nurse, when was the last time you said, "Oh, I'm just a nurse" or "I'm not really an expert--I'm just a nurse"? If you stop to think about it, what are you really saying when you deny your expertise? Words are powerful, and the words we use to describe ourselves can have far-reaching effects -- for others, and within our own psyches.


Monday, January 04, 2021

A Pandemic "Marshall Plan"​?

When World War II ended, a massive global recovery plan was initiated, and we enjoy the positive reverberations of that plan to this day. The dawning of 2021 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic call for nothing less than a similar worldwide initiative. Are we truly ready to collectively embrace this humanitarian call to arms?



Sunday, January 03, 2021

The Gallup Poll: Nurses Remain at the Top and Still Need Support

As 2020 comes to a close, nurses have done it again: they find themselves at the top of the Gallup Poll for the 19th consecutive year. With 89% of respondents rating them high or very high for honesty and ethical standards — a 4% gain from one year ago — nurses stand tall as the most trusted professionals in the country.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Hope, Fear, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

As I write these words, shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine based on breakthrough mRNA technology have been arriving to hospitals for several days, with the first shots already having been administered. Simultaneously, we've now surpassed an awful milestone of 300,000 Americans lost to the virus, which is akin to the entire population of Pittsburgh being wiped out. With frequently more than 3,000 dead on any given day (the comparison being that we lost approximately 3,000 people on September 11th, 2001), the expected post-Thanksgiving surge is upon us, just as experts forewarned (and the public ignored).

With Christmas and the New Year ahead of us, now is not the time for the doffing of masks and giving up on social distancing and other recommended measures. In fact, it's time for us to double down and work together in order to move us into 2021 with hope for seeing this pandemic in the rearview mirror.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Day Shift vs. Night Shift: A Consistent Nursing Dilemma

As a career coach for nurses, I receive a lot of questions and complaints about nursing careers, and one of the most contentious and confusing issues for many nurses is whether to work days or nights. Perhaps you, dear Reader, have experienced such confusion yourself.

Days vs. nights is an old nursing puzzle that so many nurses face: Do I work nights and get the differential while ruining my social life, or do I work days and run my tail off when the residents, surgeons, NPs, and doctors are on hand all day to send me running with new orders and admissions?

When I was decided to go to nursing school, my wife was very supportive but she issued one warning: I could never work nights, and I promised her I never would. So, 22 years later, I've fulfilled my promise to the letter.

In the end, days vs. nights is the nursing conundrum that never gets old.

day and night

Sunday, December 06, 2020

Feeding Your Nursing Career

Your nursing career is a lot like your body; it needs to be fed, watered, exercised, and well-rested in order to function optimally. What kinds of nutrition does your career need? What nutritional deficits does your nursing career demonstrate? Are you willing to feed your career as well as you feed your own body?


Monday, November 30, 2020

Hey Nurse; Got Resistance?

Have you ever found yourself resisting change? Has your nursing career stalled because you're afraid of taking a risk or doing something different? Change is indeed the only constant in the universe (aside from death and taxes), so it's something that we simply need to get comfortable with, over and over again.

What if we don't change at all...and something magical just happens?

Monday, November 16, 2020

COVID-19: Misaligned Priorities and Missed Opportunities

(Note: this blog post was originally published on LinkedIn.) 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, information and misinformation travel like wildfire. Meanwhile, as we individually and collectively struggle with aligning our priorities and making good choices, things get overlooked and left in the dust, including people.

Missteps have been the hallmark of the pandemic here in the United States, especially when it comes to the Trump administration's lackluster and criminally misguided response, denial of reality, rejection of science, and the consistent undermining of expertise.

No matter the administration in power, mistakes and missed opportunities will continue to be made, just not as purposefully and cynically as that of the Trump White House and its spineless Republican lackeys.

                                                                                                Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash.com

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Banishing the Organizational Shadow in Healthcare

Carl Jung once identified the shadow (or shadow archteype) as the unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious mind and ego don't especially care to recognize as an aspect of the self. Some may refer to the shadow as the entirety of the unconscious mind. In this light, can we also deduce that organizations themselves also have a shadow? 


Thursday, October 22, 2020

Nurses, Nursing, and the Nature of Suffering

In the course of many nurses' healthcare careers, witnessing the illness, suffering, and death of others is commonplace. From dialysis and med-surg to home health and the ICU, nurses create therapeutic relationships with patients and their families, providing spiritual and emotional comfort, compassion, and expert skilled care based on many decades of nursing science and evidence-based interventions.

Aside from witnessing the challenges faced by others, nurses are themselves human beings with their own life experiences, victories, and suffering. How a nurse navigates their own personal suffering plays a role in determining how they approach life, work, and the overlapping of the two.

the nature of suffering and nursing
Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

Monday, September 28, 2020

Nursing Career Change and the Soul

When a nurse needs a career change, the reasons can be myriad and multifaceted. However, when we only reach for the money or for career "advancement", we may miss a golden opportunity for a different kind of personal and professional blossoming to take place.

The road to your optimal career

Monday, September 21, 2020

Your Nursing Career Mitochondria

We all know that mitochondria are the energy-producing powerhouses within each cell of our bodies, synthesizing ATP (adenosine triphosphate) for us around the clock. In terms of your nursing career, what are the mitochondria that power your engine? What impetus, desires, goals, or motivations drive you forward? If you need to stoke the fire of your nursing career, the spark cannot be created in a vacuum.