Then the Patient is a Nurse

Many of my nurse colleagues have been both patient and nurse at one time or another. Frankly, while you might think that it is nice to relax on the opposite site of the bed for once and have someone care for you, and perhaps for some it is, I find it an uncomfortable position in which to find myself. That is especially true if the hospitalization involves anything invasive like a blood draw, an IV line, or yes, a Foley.  I find myself wondering (almost aloud) about the technique. If I am lightly sedated prior to the procedure, I won’t be able to monitor technique and prevent a possible mishap.  If I am wide awake during the procedure, I may be horrified at what I see – like a simple alcohol swab for an infusion, following by fanning and blowing (recirculation of droplet bacteria), and then inserting the catheter while dragging the superfluous alcohol along the wall of the vein. When I am told that the professional inserting the line is an ‘expert,’ I wonder ‘according to whom or to what standards’?  When the tourniquet is placed so tightly that arterial blood is constricted, I frankly worry.

Are we all like me? Do my nurse peers also worry about the outcomes of care, the possible side effects of procedures gone awry, or a blood stream infection?  Is it possible to be relaxed when the nurse working a 12-hour shift is clearly unfamiliar with the electronic medical record, or tells you that the reason the infusion pump is beeping is because the infusion is complete (although from your pillow you can see 650 ml left in the bag)? Perhaps it is my desire to be in control that prevents me from enjoying the experience of being in the bed, rather than beside it. Perhaps it is my desire to avoid negative outcomes and to regain my health as quickly and uneventfully as possible that precludes me from relaxing.

If you have been both patient and nurse, I’d love to hear your spin on the situation.


What does your headshot say about you?

We’ve all been there; we look at those headshots and wonder if they were taken in high school. We see the LinkedIn or other social media post, and we know that the person in the photo does not resemble the person we know.

How do we make a great first impression knowing that a photo says a thousand words – about us, that is?

How do you want to look, and more importantly, how do you want to be perceived? Is your photo of you alone, or with family, friends, kids or a pet? What are you wearing; are you dressing the part?

Consider these tips for your headshot photo to attract interest and business connections:

  • Background- make it count, in an office, boardroom, classroom, or on stage
  • Attire- let your attire reflect your position, with a jacket/suit, dress, or whatever your industry demands
  • Color- black and white creates a dramatic tone, but it is not as flattering as color

In my coaching/consulting/speaking space, my face is my brand. As a brand, I commission new photos every 18 months; I want the photo that my clients see to look like the professional presenter delivering their keynote. I want my own photo to reflect the authenticity of a Certified Speaking Professional.

What about you? Is your photo up-to-date, and what does it say about you? Does it exude calm confidence, a business demeanor, and a sense of influence? It is really you, or a favorite holdover from years ago?

First impressions do count! Are you ready for that first, and ongoing, impression?

First things first!

First things first – do you agree? When it comes to time management, Stephen Covey recommends first anchoring the “big rocks” into your schedule, then filling in the remaining space with the less important pebbles, and then sand. He shares that you will then have room left for plenty of water, even when your container is full of rocks, pebbles and sand. The key, according to Covey, is to decide what your big rocks are and put those first things first.

For me, the big rocks always were, and will be, family.  I learned my lesson when I missed a family event, and I vowed to never let that happen again. Think about what comes first in your own life; what matters most?  What message are you sending – at work, at home, in relationships, and wherever it matters most? In the big picture we know as life, placement of our rocks does matter. My own rocks are in the form of work, family, relationships, and health. They all matter, but work will wait (yes, even with deadlines), and family will wait (but perhaps unhappily). Are you willing to re-organize your rocks, your priorities, to put first things first, and to do what it takes to balance your work and your life?  My missed event in life opened my eyes to the possibility of balance. Balance does require adjustment; consider the adjustments needed when you are riding a bike. We all experience a new mishaps or falls. We look back on those experiences and wonder, “What if…I had done it differently?”  Do you look back on how you spend your time, on your priorities with a smile or a frown? In the words of Lucille Ball, “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

Now is the time to put first things first!

Respite…for staff, yes! At work, of course!

Stress is overwhelming, and workplace stress has become a ‘given.’  We can overcome that stress by creating an internal respite center whose goal is to provide a safe, calm place in which nurses can regain momentum, renew the spirit and refresh themselves.  I’ve had the privilege of creating such centers in global locations; these are possible amenities:


  • Light
  • Air
  • Eye masks for dimming light
  • Healthy snacks
  • Healthy choices
  • Workout area including adjacent paths and exercise room on-site
  • Adjustable heating and ventilation
  • Noise levels controlled
  • Ergometrics
  • Room size approximately 30 x 30
  • 4 comfortable chairs with ottomans or recliners


  • Massage tables
  • Filtered water system
  • Control of lighting
  • Dark room as needed
  • Safe setting
  • Lockers
  • Showers nearby

Consistent recognition and rewards for success:

  • Attention, praise, and rewards are given for wellness achievements
  • Values placed on wellness
  • Values on lifestyle improvements/enhancements
  • PTO for achieving success
  • Wellness mentors/mentees
  • Peer modeling

Managers model healthy behaviors:

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk
  • Weight management
  • Weight watchers on-site
  • Solidarity
  • Flexibility

Ongoing health promotion:

  • Consistency
  • Orientation for new students/staff
  • Participation 100%
  • Health calendar emphasis (national health holidays, i.e., diabetes, vision, heart, cancer)
  • Benefits of good health
  • Ease of access
  • Lifestyle changes

The opportunity to create a workplace-based respite center is a privilege; it can have a long-term effect on productivity, health, and balance.

Life Balance…it is what we do and who we are!

Do you think, and act, globally?

Think globally in terms of our own country…today the nurse is a global nurse, and we are all global patient experience champions simply because the patient demographics are so diverse and so multicultural.

For over 12 years, I worked throughout Eastern Europe, creating the infrastructure for the health systems of the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union.  The infrastructure was complex and although nurses were recognized as nurses, they were not licensed in many areas, and they had no voice in the patient care experience.

As nurses, we define the patient experience.  And, as nurse leaders, we must reshape our goals to address the overall patient experience, rather than HCAHPS measures alone.  How do we accomplish this? We create a framework to govern staff behaviors including 1) cultivating an environment of caregiver empathy; overcoming common pitfalls, including unmet needs, unclear next steps for a patient and their families, and disruptions in care, and 3) identifying institution-specific needs through interaction with former staff and patients.

Healthcare is a business; the difference between healthcare and any other business is that the commodities with which we deal are human lives and human happiness – neither of which should ever be compromised.  Healthcare consumers are often thought of as ‘customers’ – yet they are so much more than customers because their access to goods and services is trust-dependent.  Unfortunately, each of us is a potential patient, and some of us have already experienced and survived the healthcare experience.

The topic of patient experience is not new; what is new is our perception. Consider what’s in and what’s out:

What’s In What’s Out
– transparency – hotel amenities alone will no longer drive experience
– teamwork – a commercial approach
– communication and the new script for nursing – the flavor of the month
– therapeutic relationships – customer service
– a global community of caregivers and patients – tunnel vision
– patient empowerment – enabling patients
– metrics – guesswork based on surveys

Can we care, literally, for the world, and make it a good experience?  Yes, we can!  Is it a “Yes, we can process” within your organization?  If yes, to what do you attribute your success? If not, what actions will you take to facilitate change?





Are you a dreamer?

Often, people dream big dreams and have great aspirations. These are waking dreams, planned-for dreams, the kind of dreams sometimes referred to as ambition. Are you one of those people? Are you a dreamer?

You might know the names of many successful dreamers, those whose actions made their dreams come true because you see them frequently in the media. Here are some examples:

  • Barack Obama was the first African-American elected to be president of the United States.
  • The Chicago Blackhawks hockey team led the season in 2013 and went on to win the prized Stanley Cup by scoring two goals within 17 seconds during the last minute and 37 seconds of the game.
  • Meryl Davis and Charlie White, 2014 ice dancing gold medalists at the Sochi Olympics, gave the United States its first ice dancing medal. Meryl was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade and struggled with reading until the eleventh grade. Her learning disability did not hold her back from pursuing her life’s purpose – skating.
  • Oprah Winfrey is an internationally syndicated talk-show host and media mogul who is ranked among the most powerful people in history.
  • The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016.

This list could go on and on. We all have heroes or heroines who inspire and motivate us, and not all of them make the evening news or even their local, weekly newspapers. These people are no less successful as dreamers because they haven’t become the president of the United States or won Olympic medals. What makes someone a dreamer is the ability to envision a possibility for the future and then make that vision a reality, one step at a time.

Are you dreaming your dream? Are you a dreamer?

 “He who robs us of our dreams robs us of our life,” – Virgina Woolf

I am a dreamer. With calm confidence, I encourage others, through my own story, to thrive and survive! Forget tragedy and setbacks. Forget the fact that you were told you would never amount to anything! Begin to dream again; begin to live an exquisite life, believe in yourself, embrace vulnerability, and live your dreams!

Career Coaching…for nurses

How’s your career?  How’s your job? Is it time for a change?

Career building is a life-long endeavor and having a nurse/coach is the first step toward creating your future.  Has your path led you to a forked road where “straight ahead” is no longer an option?   Perhaps this is a personal choice or because the organization has changed and your skills no longer fit the new business focus. Or, are you merely at a crossroads where you can continue on your present course, but want to consider the options those other directions offer?  Regardless of what brought you to your present place, it may be time to step back, take a deep breath, and reflect on a new vision of what a career might mean for you.

Going Forward or Stepping Back

Realizing you need change to get out of your rut is the first step. Once you’re there, spend some time thinking about which direction you want to go. Do you want to change into a new career? Stay in the same career but move forward into a promotion? Stay in the same career but move backward into a prior job that you enjoyed, was more meaningful, and that was less stressful? Segue into an “unjob” (contract, freelance, or self-employment work) or put your career on hold (sabbatical or leave of absence) while you explore those things you always wanted to do that offer zero or minimal financial compensation. Take the time to reflect on how your life purpose and your dreams should direct your career choices.  And yes, it could mean redefining yourself as a nursing professional.

What kind of work and work setting excite you?  What would give you great joy in the workplace?  Do you prefer to work alone, or as a part of a team?  What steps have you taken thus far to change your situation and what is your timeline for a change?  Put yourself in a position in which resignation is a good choice, rather than a desperate one.

Consider a nurse coach to help you reflect, and redirect!

Nursing is a wonderful career and an honorable profession; new opportunities offer alternatives for you as a nursing professional.




Flip a coin – or follow Phil?

The day was simply delightful; shorts seemed to be the norm as we appreciated yet another beautiful day in Bethesda, MD.  Later that day, the meteorologists predicted cold temperatures and a massive snowstorm that would shutter schools, government buildings, and more.

The meteorologist: the only job that permits you to be incorrect 50% of the time and still get paid 100% of your salary.  What would happen if you were wrong 50% of the time? How would that affect outcomes, safety, and productivity in your job?

Did today’s weather change because of Punxsutawney Phil?  As luck would have it, Phil has a 47% accuracy rate.  If you flip a coin, you’ll probably be right 50% of the time. What does that mean this winter?  You’d be better off flipping a coin than following Phil’s predictions or the meteorologist’s forecast.

Are you ready for six more weeks of winter?

Are you still standing in the queue…it is January 25th!

The queue, that is, for holiday returns.  The robust shopping has come to an end, and now, those who did not appreciate their gifts, or whose gifts did not fit, are waiting in the queue to return items, receive credit, or get a refund.

This is a ritual that has taken place for so many years…until the evolution of the gift card.  The gift card can generally be used for an extended period of time (check the restrictions carefully), and if you do not lose it, you can use it indefinitely.  You can purchase what you want when you want it…and enjoy the size, color, and selection that best meet your needs.

The other day at a holiday party, the two youngest family members received multiple gifts from their adoring aunts and uncles. The gifts were small – very small – not in value, but in size. The gifts were gift cards – from Barnes and Noble to Amazon, and Visa.  Happy shopping, young ones, as you avoid the queues and get what you want when you want it!  No more returns…the return queue has come to an end at last!  It’s now January 25th…hopefully, the end has come for you as well.

Networking 101: who’s your ideal referral?

I wish that you had been there. I mentioned at a networking meeting that I was in the market for a local insurance agent that handled two different life insurance companies, and that I did not want to ‘purchase’ insurance because I had good policies. As a newcomer to the area, I wanted someone to service my policies.  My networking buddies responded; I was referred to Margaret simply because she was the most informed agent on earth. I never called Margaret, but I did receive 18 calls in 2 days from insurance agents wanting to ‘sell’ me policies for life, health, auto, home and more. Each of these agents was referred to me as a ‘qualified’ referral from Susan, who was told that I was in the market for insurance.

Forget about the fact that I had never met Susan, and I had to look up her name on Google to find out who she was. Forget about the fact that I never said that I wanted to purchase insurance. Forget about the fact that Susan misrepresented herself as one able to offer qualified referrals.  She made me everyone’s ‘ideal referral.’  Have you experienced something similar in one of the groups to which you belong?

Networking…it is about the process of giving and receiving!  It is about asking for what you want and need to grow your business or improve your life. The ability to identify your needs, and then to communicate them is an art. I clearly communicated my need, or so I thought. Referrals are given when the person with whom you are communicating understands you, your target market, and your business. Are you a master of giving, and receiving referrals through your network?

Fill in the template by outlining your Ideal Referral’s story. This is your starting point. After you complete the template, write out a complete description.

Think about your own idea referral, and fill in the blanks:

  • He/she is passionate about __________________
  • He/she] has always toyed with the idea of (list goals/aspirations)
  • He/she enjoys ___________ , and _______ but does not like _____ , _____ , and _____
  • He/she is [personality:  outgoing, open-minded, likes trying new things, an introvert
  • He/she enjoys reading or listening to (names of authors, motivational speakers, celebrities)
  • He/she is at a place in his/her life where (name) is worried about ___________
  • Name is looking for [the solution] so that ________ [problem that would be fixed]
  • Name currently uses the following forms of social media: [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, You Tube] or does not use social media.
  • Name enjoys learning via _____ [videos, web classes, seminars, articles, checklists, coaching/consulting, other_         ]
  • He/she is involved in the following organizations/clubs, etc _________________

What’s your ideal referral, and what value do you bring to those to whom you offer ‘qualified’ referrals? Networking is the art of giving and receiving, not misinterpreting someone’s needs.  I was annoyed by Susan and her blatant use of my name and number as someone in need of a policy. Don’t be Susan!

Resolve – to make networking a mutually valuable experience and to make your referrals count!



What was so special about the ‘simpler’ life?

How simple was your life when you were growing up, and how complex is it now? Think back about the days when life was indeed simpler!

T. S. Eliot wrote, “Finding a way to live the simple life is one of life’s supreme complications.”

Each of us, at one time or another, has felt overwhelmed. We hesitate to take a holiday because when we return, the paperwork will be piled sky-high. We hesitate to attend a professional development program because when we return, our development will be stifled by the amount of work that has been generated during our absence.

Now that I no longer work 100 hours per week, my life seems simple. In reality, life is not that simple – is it because of the plethora of material things in our lives?

Think back to your childhood. My dad was a contractor, so we had lots of bathrooms in our home, and even with 5 kids sharing bedrooms, we did not have to share a bath. My best friend’s family consisted of mom and dad, plus two teenage girls. They had a 4 bedroom home with only one bathroom, and there were constant battles to see who got to use the bathroom first. If someone had a date, or required additional prep time, the coveted bathroom could in inaccessible.

In my home, we lacked closet space, and most hanging space seemed to come from freestanding dressers with closet rods. When I think of how our own kids have grown up, with private rooms most of the time, luxury kitchens, wonderful yards, a phone in every room and more…I wonder how we existed. When our daughters ask me how we managed without pantyhose, I smile and think back to the days of nursing school with garter belts and hose.

Fast forward and think of your own kids and how much ‘stuff’ they have! Think about how complex their lives are. Would they benefit from simplicity? Do they need T.S. Eliot to help them find the simple life?

How often do you bring your work home?

With a balance between work and home, comes greater control of where your focus remains. If you leave your work at the office, your full attention will be on your home life and your relationships, giving them the attention they deserve. When spending time with your partner, children or friends, your mind should be solely focused on the experience you are having, rather than thinking of work concurrently. Similarly, if you are in the office, greater focus should be paid on the tasks at hand. In turn, this makes you more efficient and demonstrates one of the many benefits of achieving a work-life balance.

How often do you bring work home from the office? How often do you ignore those most important to you to ‘just finish this project?”

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