Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New, Old, Indifferent…

Over the Christmas holidays I watched several football games and as I watched the different teams, it was easy to spot the teams that had been together a while, the teams that had some seasoned players and some rookies and sadly the teams that were thrown together.

One team I watched had a proven quarterback, however, the receivers and line men were new. The quarterback was getting sacked right and left because the linemen were unable to hold the line. If the quarterback did get a throw off, the receivers were having trouble holding onto the ball. I saw another team that the receivers were in place and open, but the quarterback hesitated too long.

As I watched the different teams play, my thoughts drifted and I began to think how much work teams are like sport teams. Each player/worker has a position and that position comes with duties and responsibilities. If just one player/worker is not functioning well or not being responsible, that player/worker can affect the out come for the entire team.

I watched a team that in the past has been a contender for the Super Bowl several times, but this year their fumbling and frequent missed throws were going to keep them on the sideline. It appeared as if this Team was not communicating. The owner was interviewed and he was behind his players 100%. However, his enthusiasm and support were not enough to carry the team forward to victory.

Another team I watched had lost for years and years, but this year they are headed to the playoffs. I found myself cheering for them even though they are not my home team. I admired their tenacity. The owner did not give up on them and the team did not give up on themselves. For years players on this team came and went but finally the mix became right and the team moved forward.

Companies like sport teams have good years and bad years, however, if the players/workers stay together long enough and they all keep their eyes on the objective, victory will be tasted.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A real sharing and a choice!

The shift began with the news we had a nurse call off and each of us would be carrying extra patients. The nurse before me left 8 infiltrated IV’s and an open wound that had not been repacked since 11:30 am, plus three other treatments that were not done at all. It was going to be a long night.

A few hours into the shift, I found myself sitting in a pool of urine with my left shoe hardly on and my right knee smeared with feces. I was on a hospital floor with my 82 year old patient, Molly*; my arms were curled around her and I was rocking her back and forth. Molly was crying and I had tears running down my cheeks. I had frightened her when I pulled her off of the bedside commode as I entered the room responding to a code that had been called on her. When I lifted her up her arrhythmic heart beat converted to a normal rhythm. It was a false alarm triggered by her excessive straining. In the rush of everyone entering the room, the bedside commode got knock over and thus the reason Molly and I were sitting in urine. Molly’s tears were from fear, but mine were from exhaustion. This was the third “code” called on my unit and my patients this evening and it was only 8:03pm.

After I got Molly back in bed, I took a minute to change my clothes and as I was in the lounge I thought, "is this what it is going to be like all the time?" Will I ever get comfortable at what I do?" I sat down, cried for a minute, then got back up and went to the unit.

This was my first job as an RN and I was in my eighth (8) week. My orientation was five (5) days long. On the first day, I did paperwork and watched safety videos. The next three (3) days I shadowed another RN. On the last day, I observed activities in the ER. After my orientation, I was assigned to the Med/Surg Unit and given a full load of patients on the first day.

All I ever wanted to be was a nurse but tonight I was wondering if I had chosen the wrong field. I doubted if I had what it took to make it as an RN. At home that evening, I played the shift over and over in my mind. I needed to assess my actions. Why did I respond the way I did? Why did I cry? I tried not to be too hard on myself, but the bottom line was if I did not want a repeat of tonight then I had to make a change. As I reviewed, it came down to one major issue: I doubted my clinical abilities. I was uptight because I was afraid I would not know what to do in an emergency. I had to find away to increase my faith in myself.

I had read a story written by Walter Cronkite where he shared that he learned early on that in order to be a success you needed to be prepared. He said for every story he expected to cover, he thoroughly researched all the available material regarding the event, the background, and the major persons involved. He went on to say he did not design plans or labor-saving machinery that might permit him to skip this essential step to doing his job to the absolute limit of his ability. His motto was: There are no shortcuts to perfection.

“Reading a book is never enough to make a difference in your life. What has the potential to make you better is your response.” John Maxwell

I figured if Walter Cronkite had to keep studying and preparing for his commentaries all of his career, perhaps that is what I was missing. I quit preparing when I finished my nursing boards. The next day I arrived at work a half hour early. I did not clock in because I was there to prepare! I brought with me several index cards and a small notepad, both of which could fit into my uniform pocket. I picked up my assignment and went to the patient kardexes. I searched each kardex for treatments, medications, procedures and unusual occurrences. If I found something I did not know or understand, I went wherever I needed to go to learn what I needed to know to do it right. I wrote procedures step by step on the index cards and then I attached them to the kardexes. If there was a medication that could cause a certain reaction I was not familiar with I wrote that on an index card and attached it to the med sheet. I was getting prepared.

For the next few weeks on my breaks, I wrote signs and symptoms and complications that could occur on the type of patients that were admitted on our unit. On one side of the index cards, I wrote the diagnoses and on the other side I wrote the signs and symptoms and complications. It was a great learning tool. I brought in a recipe box and stored my index cards by diagnoses in the box and put it at the nurse’s station. I started making care plans for the typical diagnosis we admitted, this way when a patient was admitted I could pull one of my pre-made care plans and tweak it to fit the current patient’s condition.

I found by taking these preparatory steps I was reeducating myself and building my belief in my clinical abilities. I was no longer frightened of what a shift might bring; I was now looking forward to each shift as a growth opportunity. What really took me by surprise was in a short period of time, I noticed the other nurses on the unit referring to my index cards and using my pre-made care plans. I was no longer just helping myself; I was now helping my team mates.

Lesson learned:

1. Make a decision - stay or go
2. Look around and take a hard look at what is happening.
3. Ask yourself, what part of this situation do I own? What part can be changed? What part do I have to let go because I do
not have the power to change it?
4. Do something

I had two choices:

I could blame others for my issues – after all the “other” nurses did not do their jobs completely – the “other” nurses did not run to help me and ease my burden – I did not get “enough” of an orientation – it was the hospital’s “fault” etc, etc, etc. - they, they, they, --- in other words I could take the “victim” route


I could come up with solutions and climb over my stumbling blocks to victory. Take ownership and make a difference in my life.

To no surprise, I stayed in Nursing. Did I have other nights that were worst than this one, absolutely. Did I cry again, yes I did! However, my behavior changed and again and again I found solutions and moved on.

* Molly is a fictitious name to protect the true patient
** the year is 1985 prior to package care plans and computers at the nurse’s station

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What foundaton is your company built on?

Individuals that build their company on dishonest practices and justify their actions by saying they are "entitled" will bear fruit that is rotten.

As Abraham Lincoln said:

"You can fool all the people some of the time and you can fool some of the people all of the time. But you cannot fool all the people all of the time."

The foolish think the truth will never come out. The wise know better and they know lies beget lies.

Build your foundation on truth and honest practices and you will bear fruit that is sweet and that fruit will become a legacy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good happening or bad?

I spoke with an individual the other day, she is an RN and has worked hard to get where she is today. She has had multiple successes and has earned an outstanding reputation by/of improving facilities and regions. However, she was hurt and wanted to share a situation with me. As she spoke it brought back memories of my own similar experience. This Executive Nurse was brought in to help turn a facility around. During her time at the facility a grave incident occurred. This Executive Nurse got busy developing a QA program to rectify the situation; however, the company she was working for had other plans. They brought someone in with “white-out”! This Executive Nurse refused to use the white out and guess what happened to her?

Does any of this story sound familiar? Does the thought go through your mind, “Really, this stuff still happens?” Do you sit and scratch your head and wonder why the one with the ethics is out looking for a job?

Would you say that things ended badly for this Executive Nurse or good? If we accept this scenario at face value we might say it does not look like it ended well for her. Long hours of hard work and still she was out!

However, had she stayed would she be available to walk through the next open door of opportunity.

It is interesting how things play out in one’s life. It is my belief that your attitude will be the barometer to your altitude. You can either look at the glass half full or half empty. If you believe in yourself, others will believe in you. Present yourself well and let your abilities shine and other organizations will want you.

It states in the scripture that if you are not received well in a town, to shake the dust from your feet and move on. If you are put in a position that does not line up with your ethics then be thankful and move on. Why would you want to work for a company that you cannot support enthusiastically? A grave incident is bad, but what is worst is for the issue not to be fixed and there be another grave incident.

There are lots of great organizations left and I am honored to have the privilege to represent them.

For all of you professionals that have been put in a position to say no, pat yourselves on the back and take pride you got fired. Rejoice! You have been released to take your positive energy to a company where white out does not exist.

By the way, I have read the end of the book and the good do win!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


It was a bright sunny autumn day and I was just getting to work, standing at the Nurse’s Station to greet me was Zena, one of our facility residents. She had a big smile on her face and was dressed for the day. As I approached her she said, “Hi, Peggy.” I said hi back and as I did I noticed Zena’s shoes were on the wrong feet. I told Zena she looked really nice and we exchanged some pleasantries about the weather. However, before I walked away, I told Zena she may want to check her shoes because they appear to be on the wrong feet.

Zena looked at me with puzzlement in her eyes. Then she looked at her feet, then back at me, then at her feet again, then finally back at me and stated clearly,

“No those are my feet.”

(the real person's name was changed to protect her privacy)