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Nobody is coming

Nursing teaches many lessons. For starters, it’s challenging. There’s dirty work. Physical labour. Long hours. Overtime. Short-staffing. Night shifts. Sadness. It can be gruelling and exhausting, especially in the beginning. I learned a valuable lesson in my early years as a nurse practitioner. A lesson that has shaped my career and changed how I approach…

Nursing teaches many lessons. For starters, it’s challenging. There’s dirty work. Physical labour. Long hours. Overtime. Short-staffing. Night shifts. Sadness. It can be gruelling and exhausting, especially in the beginning.

I learned a valuable lesson in my early years as a nurse practitioner. A lesson that has shaped my career and changed how I approach my work. Here it is:

Nobody is coming.

Nobody is coming to tell us to study.

To learning something new.

To write the book we want to write.

To create the business we dream of.

To start the project we’ve been thinking about.

To develop that idea.

To launch that event.

To call that meeting.

To join that committee.

To apply for a new job.

No one – not our parents, our colleagues, our friends, our children, our spouse or our partner wants what we want and needs what we need. People care about us, but they’re busy with their own lives. Once we’re beyond childhood, nobody can make us do things we don’t feel like doing.

Once we realize that nobody is coming to tell us to do the things we’re afraid of, that nobody is coming to pick us, and that nobody is coming to hold our hand and lead the way, we can get to work.

People who start things and chase their dreams know that nobody is going to tell them what to do or do it for them.

You’re on the right track when you know that no one is coming.

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Got power? Give it away.

The other day my almost 3 year old daughter woke up in the morning and started calling out for me. On the monitor I could see she was standing in her crib, but I couldn’t get to her right away as I was busy with her baby brother. For the first time ever, I spoke…

The other day my almost 3 year old daughter woke up in the morning and started calling out for me. On the monitor I could see she was standing in her crib, but I couldn’t get to her right away as I was busy with her baby brother.

For the first time ever, I spoke into the monitor and said “It’s okay if you want to get out of bed by yourself and come see me upstairs”. 

Until that day, she would have stayed in her crib for as long as it took me to get there. I knew she could safely climb out of her crib on her own, as I had seen her do it a handful of times. But she only ever climbed out when I was in the room. I’m fairly certain she believed she wasn’t allowed to do it on her own.

In that moment I realized that my job as a parent isn’t to teach her to always stay put and wait for instructions. Nor is it my job to teach her to always do what she’s told. That morning, I understood that my job as a parent is to let her be free – free to choose, to decide for herself and to teach her that she’s worthy of having power and rights.

While I’m dreading waking up in the middle of the night to my daughter standing beside my bed, I’m relieved to know that she’s learning to ask for what she needs and realize the power she has in life.

This moment reminded me of the work of nursing and the opportunity we have to redefine what we do. To make empowerment a greater part of our culture than it currently is.

We can all agree that as nurses part of our job is to take care of people, but that it’s not our job to take care of everyone, every day, all the time.

We’re brilliantly trained to do things for other people, but we often forget that our real job is to use the power we’ve got to empower others and let them be free. Free to feed themselves, even if it takes them longer to eat. Free to walk, even if it means they’re at higher risk for falling. Free to choose what to wear, even if we think it doesn’t match. Free to decide this or that, even if we disagree with their decision.

Our real job is to support people to do what they can to look after themselves, even if it’s inconvenient for us.

Our real job is to help people not need us.

I believe it’s true that how we treat people we care for is a greater predictor for how well people do in their lives than what we know about nursing.

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Choices that matter

Empathy, respect, honesty, boundaries, leadership, trustworthiness, confidentiality, accountability, privacy, listening, advocacy, vulnerability, self-awareness, patience and creativity. These are choices, often hard and difficult decisions we make every day. They are skills too, but choices first. Nursing is a collection of these choices. We make the choice of listening to people, the choice of including people…

Empathy, respect, honesty, boundaries, leadership, trustworthiness, confidentiality, accountability, privacy, listening, advocacy, vulnerability, self-awareness, patience and creativity.

These are choices, often hard and difficult decisions we make every day.

They are skills too, but choices first.

Nursing is a collection of these choices.

We make the choice of listening to people, the choice of including people in planning their care and setting goals, and the choice to support the decisions people make. We decide whether we seek to understand people’s problems and we decide whether we encourage people to speak up when things aren’t working for them.

We can know a lot about illness, but it’s these choices that make all the difference.

It takes tremendous practice to listen instead of talk, to do what’s right instead of what’s quick and easy and to do what feels vulnerable over what’s comfortable. Those of us who make these kinds of choices every day are sometimes in short supply.

Hard choices make for an easier life, a better career, a bigger impact and more opportunities.

Choose wisely.

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What do you think?

Not ‘what did it say on page 577’, or ‘what did you read in the guideline’. What are your thoughts? The messaging we hear these days is to speak up and use our voice. But what if we don’t know what to say, or worse, what if we don’t know what we think? It’s hard to…

Not ‘what did it say on page 577’, or ‘what did you read in the guideline’. What are your thoughts?

The messaging we hear these days is to speak up and use our voice. But what if we don’t know what to say, or worse, what if we don’t know what we think?

It’s hard to speak up when we don’t have opinions and ideas of our own. 

School does a great job of teaching us what to do and what not to do, what to say and what not to say – but who’s teaching us how to do the hard work of solving problems that can’t be looked up? 

Instead of focusing on learning only the right answers, what would happen if we learned to think on our own two feet and come up with creative, innovative, helpful, different answers?

Learning what we’ve always been learning only gets us what we’ve always been getting. Compliance isn’t the solution in a world that has important, unsolved problems with answers that aren’t found in a book. 

Truth is, if we don’t learn to think for ourselves or have our own thoughts and ideas, all the school in the world won’t help us make things better. 

Someone asked me what my vision was with NursEd. After explaining to them what I want to see and do with nursing and education, they responded that it was a far-flung idea. It might be, but it’s better to have an idea than having none at all. 

People who make a difference know what they think, and they’re far more likely to succeed at the change they’re trying to make than the people who have no thoughts of their own.

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Try it on

      It’s normal to feel tension in the face of change. Change means risk, and risk means (potential) danger.  But not all change is the same. Sometimes, it’s for the better. If we consider all change as a threat, we subject ourselves to unnecessary stress and limit what’s possible. Instead of getting defensive…

 

 

 

It’s normal to feel tension in the face of change. Change means risk, and risk means (potential) danger. 

But not all change is the same. Sometimes, it’s for the better. If we consider all change as a threat, we subject ourselves to unnecessary stress and limit what’s possible.

Instead of getting defensive and arguing why change is a bad idea, simply try it on. Pretend it’s already happened. What does it feel like? What does it look like? Who’s benefiting? Who’s really suffering?

When the government announced plans to move ahead with RN prescribing, I made the mistake of getting defensive and only thinking about reasons why it couldn’t work. I lost sight of the purpose of why we’re here and what we’re trying to do. I felt threatened, when I should have been feeling relieved that people are going to have better access to care. 

Change can bring destruction, but it can also bring opportunity. 

In times of change, try on what it might mean to you and the people you help, and what change might look and feel like. Chances are, it’s not the end of the world. 

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