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If there were no lectures

For thousands of years, live, in-person lectures were the most cost-effective, efficient way of delivering information to large audiences. Until technology changed and the Internet showed up. Now, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to deliver the same information in thousands of different lectures to thousands of people who are on the same journey….

For thousands of years, live, in-person lectures were the most cost-effective, efficient way of delivering information to large audiences.

Until technology changed and the Internet showed up.

Now, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to deliver the same information in thousands of different lectures to thousands of people who are on the same journey.

What if we hired the best teachers to record speeches and share them with nursing students and nurses around the world?

What if we were allowed to repeat, rewind and fast forward what we’re learning?

What if we reduced the price of nursing education, made it free for people who can’t afford it in other parts of the world and turned nursing education into a right, not a privilege?

What if for homework, we listened to pre-recorded podcasts in the evening and prepared to engage in discussions with peers the next day?

What if we stopped asking teachers to reinvent the wheel and freed them up to help us learn how to solve important problems?

Imagine the possibilities, the quality of our education and the contributions of nursing if we pushed against the limits of ‘the way things used to be’ and embraced what’s possible today.

Of course, there’s a time and a place for live, in-person lectures. But when all lecturers do is ask us to be passive learners, they miss the point.

If the point of education is to promote thought, foster engaging discussions and develop emotional skills, then lectures aren’t the answer.

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“I forgot”

My IV machine was beeping for over twenty minutes before I called the nurse. I just didn’t have it in me to ring the bell. “I forgot to do one last step on the machine before I left. I’m so sorry”, the nurse said. That was the third time it happened that day, and no part of me…

My IV machine was beeping for over twenty minutes before I called the nurse. I just didn’t have it in me to ring the bell. “I forgot to do one last step on the machine before I left. I’m so sorry”, the nurse said. That was the third time it happened that day, and no part of me was upset. I forget things, too.

Cognitive load is real.

The mistakes we often make in nursing happen because we don’t make use of what we already know, or once knew. The information exists, but we don’t use it properly.

We err because information is infinite, but our memory, attention and skills are not.

So here’s our situation: Many of us have come to the conclusion that our minor mistakes and near misses don’t matter. We’ve talked ourselves into thinking that we don’t have permission to talk about our failures – and that when we do fail, we just need more education and experience. We’ve been taught to believe that it’s someone else’s job to take initiative and make change happen.

Here’s the truth:

  1. More training and experience isn’t enough to avoid failure. No matter how knowledgeable or experienced we are in our field, we inevitably mess up.
  2. We have permission and a responsibility to develop ways of avoiding failure that overcome our inadequacies.

Is there a common clinical scenario that you always struggle to remember how to approach? You can make a list of steps to follow.

Is there a procedure that no one at work gets right every time? You can write the steps down and work with your team to put them into practice.

Is there a better way of assessing and documenting typical problems you encounter in practice? You can work with your colleagues to create templates and try them out.

Is there a process that bothers everyone you work with? You can bring it to attention and help fix it.

If a person like Atul Gawande can help develop a simple checklist and save thousands of lives, you can too.

The challenge, then, is to develop the habit of seeing opportunities, taking initiative and being brave enough to contribute what others won’t.

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Where are you going?

Questioning whether we’re making the right decision for ourselves. It’s natural. We wonder what we’re supposed to be doing, we worry about what the future holds, and we’re surrounded by people who are also uncertain. The truth is, we have little control over the future. While we cannot accurately predict what will happen to us,…

Questioning whether we’re making the right decision for ourselves. It’s natural. We wonder what we’re supposed to be doing, we worry about what the future holds, and we’re surrounded by people who are also uncertain.

The truth is, we have little control over the future.

While we cannot accurately predict what will happen to us, we can figure out where we ought to be going by looking back, connecting the dots of our past and believing that what we’ve experienced will somehow shape our future the way it’s meant to be.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I looked back that I understood where I was going. Before then, I felt lost. My past made more sense and the future seemed less daunting when I asked myself hard questions:

  • When have I been at my best?
  • Who has impacted my life the most, and why?
  • What does a good day look like to me?
  • What do I like doing regardless of the outcome?
  • What’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done?
  • What accomplishment am I most proud of?
  • What are the greatest challenges I’ve had to overcome?

Some of us will connect the dots and figure out the right path, and some of us will stay in the same lane, day after day, year after year, because it feels safe.

It’s not easy to understand who we are or see the way things could be, or should be. It’s not easy trying new things and facing our fears, but it’s worth it.

This blog is for nurses who’ve caught glimpses of what’s hiding inside, and what’s possible.

It’s for nurses who have ideas and want to do great work but who struggle with obstacles getting in the way of where and who they want to be.

Nurses who believe they can make a difference.

Nurses who are tired of being stuck and afraid.

Nurses who want to do work that matters to them and the people they want to care for.

This blog isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you.

I don’t know where you’re coming from or where you’re going. I’m not sure of your aspirations, your values or your interests, but I suspect you have an idea. If and when you find yourself stuck, we’ll be here to help.

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The perfect job

Doesn’t exist… Every single job and every single pursuit, no matter how wonderful it seems at first, comes with its own set of problems. Even the job of your dreams, the job you hope for your entire life. Years ago I landed the perfect job, or so I thought. I had the privilege of working…

Doesn’t exist…

Every single job and every single pursuit, no matter how wonderful it seems at first, comes with its own set of problems. Even the job of your dreams, the job you hope for your entire life.

Years ago I landed the perfect job, or so I thought. I had the privilege of working autonomously. The hours were nice, the money was good and I was fortunate to work with some great people. It was the job I dreamed of for decades – but I was miserable.

In between moments of loving my work, things were terrible.

So, the question isn’t “What’s your dream job?” The question is, “What are you willing to put up with when things aren’t going well?”

The secret to finding the work you’re meant to do is more about figuring out what you’re willing to endure when things get hard, and less to do with knowing what you’re passionate about.

You can be really passionate about something, but if the work causes too much stress and angst then it’s not worth pursing.

When the frustration between good moments seems worth it, that’s when you’re on the right path. When you love what you do and you want it enough, you’ll be able to weather the storms that happen between times of joy and satisfaction.

It’s hard to walk away from a job, especially the job of your dreams.

It’s even harder to show up every day and do work that isn’t worth the frustrations that come with it.

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Do for, or do with

Two ways of nursing: We can take care of people, or we can help people care for themselves. We can exert power over, or we can give away power. We can speak on behalf, or we can listen. We can advocate for people, or we can help people take responsibility for themselves. We can make decisions…

Two ways of nursing: We can take care of people, or we can help people care for themselves.

We can exert power over, or we can give away power.

We can speak on behalf, or we can listen.

We can advocate for people, or we can help people take responsibility for themselves.

We can make decisions for people, or we can let people decide.

Doing for is easier in the short run. Doing with is what creates real, lasting change.

It’s up to us to choose.

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