They hit the ceiling!
Oops, gonna have to replace that ceiling tile!
Then again, maybe the patient is “going to the light” via a bungie cord.
Hopefully they weren’t attempting laser eye surgery!
I’m excited about starting my BSN program next month. In fact I am so excited I started reading one of the textbooks for my “Leadership and Management” class.
Figured I have six weeks before it starts so I can have all my reading done before I sign in that first day.
This may be old hat to some of you who already have your BSN or MSN degrees, but if you are a nurse and you have never read this book, I suggest that you buy it immediately.
As in now.
The book is called From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public.
And gosh darn it, I might just go militant on y’all!
The book is by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon. They are not nurses. They are journalists. Journalists who wondered why the largest health profession in the world was silent on the most pressing issues facing health care.
The nursing profession has a huge problem.
We don’t communicate. We’re afraid to communicate. We don’t believe that we have anything worth communicating to the general health care debate.
I’m not talking nursing leaders here. I’m talking the rank-and-file staff nurse on-the-beat.
And when we do communicate we minimize ourselves and our importance. We communicate volumes by our appearance.
I’m three chapters in. Just three chapters.
I will never practice nursing the same way again.
So what will I do differently?
- No more teddy bears, Charlie Brown baseball or Spongebob Squarepants scrubs. (I do reserve the right to wear the rare Notre Dame scrub top.)
- I don’t work in a pediatric unit and I am not a walking infant. I am a (nearly) fifty-year-old professional woman. I need to dress like one.
- While solid color scrubs are certainly appropriate, I am going to buy some white scrubs and have my first and last name along with my title (RN) embroidered on the left side.
- Heck, I’ll put “Emergency” under it too.
- I’m not saying everybody should dress this way. I believe that I personally will present a more professional first impression in this particular uniform
- Fushia is a great color on me, by the way so this is a sacrifice.
- I know for a fact that a nursing cap commands automatic respect.
- Okay, go ahead and laugh if you want to, but I did this experiment chronicled in one of my first posts to Emergiblog.
- I dare you to repeat it; you will be blown over by the difference in how you are perceived and treated.
- Your colleagues, will tease you unmercifully; your patients will treat you with respect. I was truly surprised.
- I recognige the incongruence of the nursing cap and my new embracement of nursing empowerment, but what can I say? I’ve got one foot in a Cherry Ames book and one foot in a 21st century BSN text and I am comfortable in both.
- What’s in a name?
- I will introduce myself by both my first and last name and my full title. This makes me not “Kimmie, the nurse”, but “Kim McAllister, Registered Nurse”.
- Now I have no problem with patients using my first name, although I find myself calling patients by their last name and title, especially patients older than myself. And most of the doctors I work with use their first names with patients so we are on an equal playing field. However…
- No longer will I allow a doctor to use my first name only in front of a patient unless I am allowed to use theirs.
- So…for example, if Dr. Jane Smith requires that I will address her as Dr. Smith within a patient’s hearing, then she will address me as Nurse McAllister or Ms. McAllister.
- I know it sounds stiff and unnatural but I deserve the same professional respect that they demand. If first names are good for them, they are allowed to use mine. It is definitely a case of quid pro quo.
- I think I’m going to have some surprised physicians in the next few weeks. I wonder if I’ll have the guts to carry it out – it will be a big change
- No more starting off a communication with a doctor with, “Sorry to bother you, but…”
- First of all, I am not sorry I’m bothering anybody! So why do I say it? I’m requesting something for a patient or informing a doctor about a patient – both things are part of the doctor’s job. Why say you’re sorry and demote yourself to a groveling position?
- When calling a physician outside the emergency department, I will use my full name and title so they know who they are talking to and can respond accordingly. With all due respect to the housekeeper, that isn’t who the doctor is talking to and I expect professional courtesy. I can think of a few
surgeonsdoctors who need some “inservicing” in this department.
- I will accept thanks for what I do and express that it was a privilege to be able to assist the patient in learning more about their disease or explaining their discharge instructions or taking care of their pain issues.
- The point here is to take credit for what I do as a nurse.
- Never,ever, ever again will I say “Oh, it was nothing.” or “Hey, that’s what I’m here for.” That is bull****, if you will pardon the language. What I do is important and has a purpose. Every time you do not re-inforce what it is you do as a registered nurse, you lose an opportunity to educate a member of the general public. Which brings me to the next area of communication:
- Talk about what you do!
- Talk to your family, your friends, your children.
- Educate them on what exactly a nurse does.
- Yes, nurses change bedpans and give back rubs. Does anyone know the extent of the assessment that can be done during those two basic tasks?
- Unbelievably in this day and age, people still believe that nurses are there to do what the doctor orders and nothing else. So you have to:
- Inform the public through your everyday conversations that nursing is its own profession with its own body of knowledge.
- Don’t talk down the profession. Yes, it’s hard work and should be acknowledged as such, but negative information puts the entire profession in a bad light.
- Tell the world what you do.
- Write an editorial for the op-ed section of your local paper. Yes, you do know what you are talking about, trust me. A year ago I didn’t think I had anything to say about nursing. Now you can’t shut me up.
- Start a blog. Put what you do on the internet. Describe what your work is like and you will realize that you have a voice in the great health care debate. Stay silent and people will decide the trajectory of our profession for us. The more you talk about what you do the more you will realize what you know and how important we (nurses) are. Communicate this whenever possible.
- Everyone has a different style. I don’t carry picket signs in the middle of a Sacramento street or crash luncheons where the Governator is speaking but my nursing practice is better because there are nurses who do. Find your style. I like to think my contribution will be via writing and focusing on nursing recruitment (eventually).
Boy, how’s that for just three chapters?
I’m totally stoked by this book.
If you’ve read it, you’re already there. If you haven’t, it will re-ignite the passion and sense professionalism you thought had worn away over years of patient care.
It’s already changed my outlook.
For the better.