Thursday, September 17, 2015

Nurses Embracing Change

For those of you who've been wondering where Nurse Keith has been since mid-August, I have been in a state of change and flux. As John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans," and we nurses know all too well that our profession can frequently prepare us for being ready for anything that the Universe throws at us.

From a previously stable patient who begins to go south and code, to a fickle workplace manager who schedules us for a double on Christmas Day, nurses have to go with the flow or perish.

Have you been facing change in your life?

Nurses Embracing Change

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Just when my wife and I were getting ready to settle into yet another winter in our cozy little rented house in our tightly knit community here in Santa Fe, we were shocked to learn that our landlord had decided to move back into the house, giving us less than 60 days to find a new home. Needless to say, having the rug pulled out from under our feet was a challenge, but we realized that we had to face it with grace and aplomb, even as we grieved our imminent departure from our cohousing community of 80 people and the relationships therein.

To put your mind at ease, we are now squarely ensconced in an even more lovely rented home not four miles away; it's beautiful, completely different, and out on the mesa, surrounded by mountain views, desert landscape, and a feeling of expansiveness that we are only beginning to reap the benefits of.

Our new high desert adobe home
Our new high desert adobe home

You see, life happened while we were making other plans, and we're now living a more expansive life thanks to circumstances that felt beyond our control. Can you relate? 

Changes at Work

Sudden changes at work can also be disconcerting. Just this week, the incredible Operations Manager of the home health agency where I'm Director of Nursing and Chief Nursing Officer left us after five wonderful years, and we're diligently and doggedly continuing on without her daily presence. It has shaken up our team at a pivotal time, and we're reeling with the knowledge that we need to pick up where she left off, and learn to shine again.

At your workplace, there can be changes in management, firings and hirings, hostile takeovers, massive changes in scheduling, and the institution of new clinical protocols, policies and procedures, or any number of factors susceptible to change in a volatile healthcare ecosystem.

How do you deal with change? Do you resist? Do you kick and scream and go down fighting?

Changes at work and home are inevitable. How do you respond?

Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Embrace

Nurses Embracing Change

We can reject change. We can also fight, flee, or freeze. But we can also embrace, and this is where the gold may sometimes lie.

Sure, you can't simply embrace change when a bully is hired to manage the unit where you feel at home and happy in your work; you can't really be expected to accept the change without protest. You also can't necessarily embrace alterations in policies or procedures that you feel will endanger your patients.

However, when change presents no outward signs of actual harm or danger (other than fear of the unknown), embracing change with an open mind and heart may lead to the palace of wisdom, or some other metaphoric destination.

My wife and I were forced to accept that we needed to find a new place to live. While we grieved and kicked and screamed at first, we're now happier than we could ever have imagined. And even at my workplace, the departure of our beloved Operations Manager will no doubt lead to some deep learning for us all about many aspects of how we do what we do.

So, my friends, nursing and life can deliver change at every turn, and we must be prepared to roll with what comes along, even the most unexpected. You don't have to acquiesce to mediocrity, danger, or negativity, but change and growth are sometimes in packages that look very much the same, if not identical.

If you're facing change, let me know what it is, and let's support one another along the ever-shifting journey.

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