RN.FM Radio 50th Episode Recap


Did you enjoy our 50th episode as much as we did? Wait, you haven’t heard it yet? Well, I would suggest that you put this on your short list of things to do. This episode was filled with inspiring words from some of our most compelling guests that we’ve had on our show in the past, and we welcomed them back here to celebrate. Here’s a brief recap from each of our guests:

Theresa Brown:  For people interested in writing, I always say just start. Sit down if you’re comfortable with pen and paper. Start by just writing, writing how your day was. Back in the old days it was called free writing. It’s a term that’s not as in vogue as it used to be, but it can actually work. You sit down. “My feet hurt. I’m tired. Today was really hard because….” Then you keep doing that, and you work through all those surface emotions. Eventually you’ll get to the nugget of what made that day stand out.

What was sort of the gem moment of that day that you want to process or pass on to the world? Start on pen and paper if you want. Start on the computer if you want. If you want to write a blog, write a blog. If only three people you know read it that’s three people you’ve educated about nursing who wouldn’t know about your experiences otherwise.

A lot of it is just having the will and the confidence to believe that you do really have something worthwhile to share with the world. I can tell people my very first article in the New York Times caused a big positive reaction that I did not expect. I got editors and agents calling me and saying, “Have you thought about writing a book?” And the question on my mind was wow do people want to read a book about a nurse? Yeah they did, but I had that question too. I’m lucky things have worked out very well for me as a writer. I was a writer, but I had that question too. It turns out there is an audience…

Keith Carlson: (question to Elizabeth Scala about how to implement self-care) How would you recommend nurses do that? What are some of the things you tell nurses? What do you feel is the message you really want to get across?

Elizabeth Scala: 

First I want to say, nurses the best thing to do for ourselves would be to really articulate how we’re feeling whether it be through words, speaking. Whether it be through writing it down in something someone’s not going to read but just noticing how you’re feeling. When you notice how you’re feeling then you connect it to what’s going on with your thoughts. I’m not going to speak much to this, because I’m sure Jerome will talk more about mindfulness and that sort of topic of awareness relating to your thoughts.

If you’re feeling frustrated and exhausted and tired and stressed, what’s going on with your thinking? Really to take a moment to pause and articulate that. Once you articulate that to take a break and really allow yourself time to just take some time to rest. The way I did that this week was really kind of unplugging from everything and resting and sitting in quiet. Even if I was just sitting and looking out the window or sitting with a good book or sitting with some music. It sounds kind of strange and maybe people might think it’s a waste of time. Just sitting and being with yourself in quiet is really, really healthy from time to time…

Kevin Ross: (Directed to Andrew Lopez)  I have noticed you Tweeting and posting to Facebook and sharing quite a bit of media in regard to flu vaccinations and the mandate that hospitals seem to be implementing. Are you finding that nurses have a support system out there? Are there a group of nurses that are pulling together? Is there a resource for them to direct their questions or concerns? It seems as if there’s a rights violation. Let’s take, for example, from last week’s show a cultural piece of it. What if somebody’s religious beliefs are against getting any type of vaccination? Are nurses finding some support out there?

Andrew Lopez: If they know where to look for it. According to the Equal Employment Opportunities Employment Commission, they’re the ones that say they cannot discriminate against persons based on race, sex, or religion. You see that every time you apply for a job. It’s right there on the job application. In there, religious beliefs and medical disabilities are also included. Meaning that if you have a religious reason for not getting a flu shot, it’s covered under the Equal Employment Opportunities Employment Commission. So if for a medical reason you decide not to get a flu shot that’s also protected.

Now a lot of people who were fired have been fired for medical and religious exemptions. Their employer said we’re not going to accept this. Now it’s being tested in court. When H1N1 came out in 2009, New York State tried to mandate it, and that did not go through. Rhode Island is trying it this year, and that’s going to be in court for quite some time. There’s other states around that are attempting to. I’m going to get back to the reasons why. The hospitals are saying that it’s a matter of public safety. That we will save lives if everyone gets vaccinated, but they have no data, no evidence, no studies to prove it. In a 20 year study, they found that in geriatric populations if they vaccinate everyone, it makes no difference in the death rate. That’s a 20 year study, and in the United States hundreds of thousands of millions of patients were the evidence…

Beth Boynton:  I would like to talk about how complicated assertiveness is. I’d like to talk about that, because I think sometimes, and there’s no pun intended by this, but I think sometimes we pay lip service to assertiveness. I think that it is underlying the root of many problems that we have in healthcare such as patient safety, nurse morale, nurse work life balance, and career satisfaction, so I think it’s really important that we understand how complicated it is. When we go to fix it, we can do a good job of it. I tend to get kind of obsessed about the topic, because I’m constantly thinking about it. I guess the name of my book Confident Voices and my website, my blog Confident Voices that word confidence must be really important to me. I think about it quite a bit.

I wrote down a few notes about why is it so complicated, and I’d like to share those with you guys and everybody else in the audience and my colleagues that are also speaking tonight. I came up with six reasons why it’s really complicated. The first one is that it involves personal growth. Stuff like self-respect and self-esteem, self-efficacy which is the belief that you can accomplish something. Self-awareness, all those things can be a lifelong process of learning. I’m still working on them.  I can’t just read a piece of paper that says increase your self-awareness or be confident. That’s not going to be enough to do it…

Renee Thompson: I did not want to miss out on the fun. It’s a great group you have on the call tonight, so I appreciate that thank you.

Keith Carlson: Sure. We know that you are a bullying specialist. You’re not a bully yourself, of course, but you’re a bullying specialist in talking about bullying in nursing. Your new book also talks very specifically about how to counteract bullying in nursing. What is on your mind? What feels like the most salient point that you’d like to really drive home tonight on the show?

Renee Thompson:  I do seminars and yes I wrote the book, so I could talk for days, probably weeks, about bullying. There’s a couple of key points I want to make and then I want to give some recommendations. It’s actually based on some other people’s work which I find very relative in today’s healthcare situations. I want to briefly talk about bullying, because we’re seeing it now everywhere. You can’t turn the television on or read a news article without something about somebody being bullied and the impact that that has not only on that person as an individual but in their profession. If there’s a school aged kid or even in sports right now, there’s been a lot of information right now about how bullying can have a negative impact.

I really want to put it out there that bullying exists in every industry. It’s a human thing. From way back when, we’ve been treating each other poorly. I think we can all agree that there’s just something more perverse, more distractive when we find out that there’s bullying in a profession that’s supposed to be dedicated to caring and compassion. It doesn’t make sense to me and we’ve gotten to the point where we almost accept it as the norm…

There are a couple of things that I think are really important that we often neglect. A lot of the speakers, Elizabeth and some of the others, are really talking about self-care. This is all about humanizing yourself, and it’s really time for us to stop allowing other people to make us feel badly about ourselves. When you do that you give power to these other people. Most often these people are not a part of your lives. They’re just a part of your work lives. I always recommend and try to get nurses to really understand and believe that they deserve to be treated with respect and believe what it takes to work in supportive and nurturing environment…

Annette Tersigni: Thank you. Something that’s been burning is the topic of please don’t burn out the nurse. I want to share a little bit about what’s been coming up on that topic. Let’s start with a definition. All nurses can relate to the concept of burnout and compassion fatigue, and in plain language it’s burnout. I found it interesting that the expression burnout, actually started in the 1940’s when flying jets, as in airplanes, engine stopped operating. At that point, it can no longer do the work. I’m going to repeat that “At that point, it can no longer do the work.”

That is what happens to nurses when they burnout. To add a little bit more to the definition, burnout is considered “a progressive loss of idealism, energy, purpose,” and it’s experienced by people that are in the helping profession. We’re talking about nurses. It’s a result of the condition of their work. This is the key point, burnout is a result of emotional exhaustion and unmanaged stressed. It’s not a syndrome of work stress that is happening in the workplace. It’s unmanaged stress as a result of tensions in the workplace.

I’d like to get into a true story. My work is treating nurses who are burning out and who are suffering. I go around the country. I’m teaching nurses how to manage that stress, and I asked a 50 something veteran nurse who dedicated more than 30 years. She’s still working at the bedside. I was asking her, “How do you feel?” She hung her head, and she said, “I feel like this job is killing me, and I’d kill to get off the floor.” Every time I share that it grabs me. It grabs my heart. This nurse is suffering from heart disease, migraines, hypertension, IBS, insomnia, feelings of inadequacy. All of these health issues are affecting her personal wellbeing and her dedication. Then the bottom line again is the quality of her patient care. Do you know any nurses like this?..

Carol Gino: I think first of all what we need to do is you know we’re a little mixed up because of the selfless nature like in the calling of nursing where we’re supposed to be selfless. Plus, we’re in the business, if you will, of nursing where we see so many people have more tragedies than we do, so we learn to suck it up. It’s at a time now where we’re going to become as extinct as unicorns, because what we’re being promised by going through nursing school, in the curriculum, is not being delivered. The people who go into nursing, go into nursing to do service. Not to be shields for insurance companies, paralegals chained to the desk to protect the insurance companies or whoever’s doing it.

I think the thing I want to say more instead of just stressing the problems Keith is that when we model, the same as you being a coach. I didn’t know the difference in coaching. I thought what could a nurse coach do and I think I maybe even had a negative prejudice when I first contacted you. I’d gone to two or three different business coaches for the past two or three years. When I got frustrated, because I couldn’t understand what the problems were in reaching a nursing audience.

When I finally called you and asked you if you would coach, and you said yes, part of it was the research. Part of it was also to find what I thought the difference was between a nurse coach and another kind of coach or a life coach or a therapist. In being what you are, in being effective in what you do, and Kevin I feel the same way with you being a nurse business coach. It takes away half the effort, so I can get to the real problems. Rather than being less than, you’re more than…both of you. I found that made my journey a lot easier…

Jerome Stone: When we reconnect and connect, we connect with the heart. We connect with the mind. We realize nurses are the heart or at least are at the heart of bedside care. If we can reaffirm that to really work with ourselves, then who we are is more powerful. I think it’s so important, all these discussions tonight, have been about power, about how we empower ourselves, we empower our patients, and even we empower the healthcare system. The healthcare system is sick just as sick as the patients, but we don’t want to work with them in that sick environment. It’s like think globally, act locally, but the most immediate locust that we can change is our mind, our heart. I think when we do that then change spreads out from that center that we hold and maintain.

It breaks my heart to see how poorly we as nurses really care for ourselves and how easily we give our power over to our employer or the circumstances or to burnout. I keep on hearing this term “compassion fatigue,” and I really don’t think it exists. I don’t think we fatigue from compassion. We fatigue from not knowing ourselves. We fatigue from not caring for ourselves. I think compassion is really endless, because I can change how I am at the bedside.  I can be really pissed off just ready to walk out of the hospital. I’ve had it with this crap, the pace and the patient turnover. I can just show up, and I can really energize compassion, really find that self-care for myself, and now I can bring that to how I show up at the bedside…