December, 2006 Archive

December 12, 2006, 5:31 am

Grand Rounds: A Sure Cure For Tuesday Anxieties and Depressions!

luncheonAh, the original nursing pot luck!

Trust me, wherever there is nursing, there is food!

Looks like these ladies are just waiting for Grand Rounds!

This week, the venerable compilation first started by Dr. Nick Genes is being hosted at Anxiety, Addiction and Depression Treatments and it looks like a good one!

Some old faces, some new faces and some interesting topics await our perusal.

(PS – those nurses caps look like big ol’ white bedpans! 1/10 on the Emergiblog Cap Rating Scale!)



Don’t forget that Change of Shift is being hosted by Protect the Airway this Thursday! If you have not sent in your post, you still have time!

You can utilize the Blog Carnival service or email your submissions directly to Airway Control at “airway control at protect the airway dot com”


Did you know that the voting is going on for the 2006 Weblog Awards? You’ll see some familiar names in the ballot box: Flea, Respectful Insolence, The Cheerful Oncologist, and last but never, ever least, Dr. Steven Palter at DocintheMachine!

You can vote once every twenty four hours and voting ends on December 15th, so you really can vote early and often in this election!

These are all great guys and great blogs so show some support to our fellow medical blog colleagues!


And then, while I was looking over at Orac’s site (Respectful Insolence) to get the right url for the link, I discover that nominations are being made for the 2006 Medical Weblog Awards at Medgadget!

There is no nursing blog category specifically, so my old friend Coturnix nominated Emergiblog for “in whichever category you think fits the best”! LOL! I was not only surprised to see it, I was honored to be nominated, especially by Coturnix. A girl never forgets her first link, you know….

There are some totally cool prizes this year!

Well, I’m over to do some nominating myself!

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2:07 am

You Can’t Start A Fire Without A Spark


Okay, I remember these dresses.

How on earth did we ever bend over?

I had one gorgeous uniform with a full skirt; all it needed was a blazer and white pumps and I was ready for a night on the town.

Theoretically speaking. After eight hours in intensive care all I wanted was a hot bath and my sweats.

I loved that dress.

Had totally cool shoes, too.

Good lord, I haven’t shown that much leg in 20 years!


Well, I am losing the scrub color debate! Right now it is Kim: 1 vs. Anything But White: 19,557!

Lots of great email and comments so far! DK shared the “pink thong under the scrub” story, but my colleagues are safe – I don’t own any thongs.

Intentional wedgies have never been my thing.

I do remember a colleague who wore red undies under her white uniform, though. Remember the underwear that had the days of the week printed on them? Like you needed a reminder to change them regularly?

If my memory serves me correct, this particular nurse was wearing “Thursday”.

Another commenter (Randall) suggested unisex berets and twelve-inch RN embroidered on my chest. I immediately added his link to my blogroll. Anyone who can make me do a spit-take in a comment deserves a link! (Under the Mosquito Net)

So the trick here will be to take myself seriously without taking myself too seriously.

The experiment shall commence upon receipt of my white scrubs and lab coat (I’m not totally out of my mind – gotta cover the darn things so they don’t get dirty!)

I find it ironic that it’s the students who now wear the white and the nurses who wear the colors. Back in dem ‘ol days, it was the reverse!


The inspiration for this title came from Ian over at ImpactED Nurse after I put it through a Bruce Springsteen filter.

I’m tellin’ ya, if you are ever at a loss for what to write, start reading some other blogs and you will get an inspiration within 5 minutes.


None of my children went into nursing.

One is in law school, one works in public relations and it looks like my youngest wants a career as a counselor.

My sister has two kids who have decided on nursing. One is already an RN and now my nephew is taking the pre-requisites required for the nursing program.

I realized today why her kids followed in her footsteps and mine got as far away from nursing as they could.


I’m the reason none of my three children ever even considered nursing as a profession.


The resurgence of enthusiasm that I feel for my profession and that I reflect on this blog was not always in evidence throughout my entire career.

To put it bluntly, there were periods of time where I hated my job. When I was so far into burn-out I didn’t think there was any way out. I felt trapped, resentful. I knew I was meant to be a nurse but couldn’t pull myself through the mire of funk.

I was very verbal about my discontent. At home. Around my kids.

To them, being a nurse meant that mom had to leave them every night, every evening – at least five days a week, and go to a job she hated.

Now of course, Daddy was home so I never felt guilty about working – I was spared the child care troubles that so many of my colleagues had to deal with. Hubby worked days, and I worked evenings/nights.

But I had to work. I was the one with the benefits. And until relatively recently (early 1990s), there was no such thing as part-time with benefits.

I never knew how my working affected the kids until recently, when I found a cologne I used to wear in the ’80s. My oldest daughter noted it and said that particular scent made her sad.

She said it reminded her of my working and she was always sad when I left. It felt like I had been hit in the chest.

Here we have a situation where the kids see nursing as a not-so-fun job that takes mommy away on a regular basis.

I never encouraged them to think about nursing. In fact, for the majority of their formative years I bemoaned the fact that I had to work, that all I could do was nursing and that if I had my druthers I’d have been a stay-at-home mom.

Not exactly the type of environment that lights a spark.


In contrast, my sister’s kids watched first their dad and then my sister go through a nursing program. The entire time they were growing up, they had one parent or the other in nursing school.

They saw the enthusiasm that my sister and brother-in-law had for becoming nurses. Saw them study and work hard.

They saw how having nurses as parents made a difference in their life.

They saw how much my sister and her husband loved their jobs.

And two of the four kids thought, you know, that might be something I want to do. One already has. And one is on his way.

Their parents provided the spark that started them on the path to becoming a nurse.


I juxtaposed my experience with my sister’s story to make a point.

People are listening to how we talk about our profession. Kids are listening. Our kids are listening.

We need to be positive about the profession. Be aware of how we sound, what we say, how we portray what we do to the public and to our families.

Nursing is not a perfect profession but it is a good one and we need to give that message to anyone who will hear it.

We need to be the spark that lights the fire in the heart of the next generation of nurses.


Epilogue: I actually asked my kids about why they didn’t go into nursing.

My oldest daughter has an aversion to body fluids and “really doesn’t find the work all that appealing”.

My son has wanted to be President of the United States since he was six (seriously) and did not think nursing was the route to the White House. (Hmmm….he could have been the President and the National Nurse at the same time!)

My youngest believes she has a knack for listening and understanding other people’s problems and wants to parlay that into a career in psychology.

So, according to them, my periods through the “dark side” of nursing didn’t influence their career decisions in any way, other than they didn’t like the fact I had to work so much.

That made me feel better. But I’ll always wonder….

If I could have just gotten them to read Cherry Ames…….

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December 11, 2006, 1:17 am

I’ve Just Gotta Get A Message To You


Precision control?

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!

They missed!


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.

I’m amazed.

I’m energized.

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.

I can’t.


So what will I do differently?

  • Appearance
    • 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
  • Communication
    • 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
        surgeons doctors 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.

Read »

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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