January 7, 2013, 1:52 pm

The Voice

Oh! what I would give for a paper chart!

…for a clean, crisp empty sheet of nursing notes!

Oh! to see perfectly horizontal black lines, inviting me to hover my delicately-balanced pen above, poised to create a work of art.

Oh! to eloquently describe my nursing care in cursive so beautiful my great-grandmother would cry.

What would I give?

I’d give my (expletive) Cerner workstation a shove into the San Francisco Bay.

Yeah, we finally entered the 21st century at work.

Computerized charting. What a crock.

Boy, do I have a rant all ready to explode for this one.

But that’s the next post.


What do you do when you lose your voice?

Your blogging voice.

It used to be so easy.


When I started blogging in 2005 I just talked about what it was like to be a staff nurse. That was my “voice.” The stories flowed off the keyboard. Blogging was a creative outlet.

Blogging was fun.

Today, an old-school Catholic nun sits in my head, rapping my knuckles with her ruler if I even consider posting something that isn’t “prim and proper”.

The trouble is, “prim and proper” is not my style.

Now, I can write “prim and proper” with the best of them. But a blog is not the place for that. This blog is not the place for that.

And to be honest with you, I have not been all that enamored of health care in the last year or so, of watching my wonderful small community hospital become an appendage of a corporate behemoth. Or of reading about health care in terms of partisan politics every single day in the news.

I wanted to rant and blog. But I didn’t know what to say, or how to say it. Sister Super-ego wanted prim and proper, but I couldn’t produce prim and proper.

So when I went to “speak,” nothing came out.


I don’t know where Sister Super-ego came from, or where I got the idea that everything produced on this blog had to look like it was ready for a peer-reviewed journal.

This blog never was and never will be a “professional publication”.

It’s just the story of the life and times of an emergency department nurse.

Time to get back to my “roots.”

If anyone is still reading, thanks for hanging in there! Smile


  • Mama Mia

    January 7, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    still here and I understand. Welcome back

  • Candy

    January 7, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Glad to “hear” your voice again!!

  • Sean

    January 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    I think you and I have been channeling the same vibes. I took a nice long break from blogging (in a sense) and now I’m slowly picking things back up.

    Always good to take a step back and re-evaluate. So yes, I’m still reading ovah here!!

  • Susan

    January 7, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Still hangin’ in!

  • RehabRN

    January 7, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Good for you! I know the feeling.

  • Maggie

    January 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Sorry you’re having such ‘prim and proper’ internal censorship. I had some of the same thing when I first started hospital work this year.

    EMRs sound like such a great idea! How wonderful to be able to mine the data after the fact and see what trends have developed! How delightful to have the most frequent phrases reproduced in a single click!

    But why does it take me 11 clicks (honest) to say ‘I saw the patient and the patient declined my visit’?

    Why does the EMR list a dozen things I might have done in a visit, and then give me only 20 characters to say what ‘other’ thing I did?

    Why does the EMR protocol tell me not to include any observation that I cannot ‘prove’ is ‘accurate’ — and why can’t I read what my colleague on the preceding shift wrote?

    I never thought I would wish for paper charts. (sigh).

  • Sandi

    January 8, 2013 at 10:49 am

    love this.. I have learned in my fifites there is no alternative to authenticity. I can no longer go back into the time of people pleasing, writing for the mass, or even trying to conjure up whats the best way to express myself. I am excited to hear more about your journey friend. We can leave all the creative writing, strict english teachers, and mad critical thoughts behind. Write on!

  • UnsinkableMB

    January 9, 2013 at 5:08 pm


    Hi there! I’m still reading. 🙂 It’s easy to get caught up in what we “should” be doing. This includes the perceived expectation of others of we should write as nurse bloggers. You’re a great writer — I know you’ll find your voice again.



  • The Nerdy Nurse

    January 9, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Oh Kim, the EMR will get better! I promise. Implementation is always a disaster but slowly everyone learns their way around the system and things flow better.
    Also, I cannot even begin to describe all the awesome things they will do for your patients!
    As far as blogging, you don’t have to be all prime and proper. You know that’s not what blogging is for. Blog from the heart. Anything else will just cause you to burn out. 🙂

  • The Nerdy Nurse

    January 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Maggie – You’re a click counter! Us in the IT department feel your pain (and I’m pretty sure I can speak for clinical analysts everywhere when I say) and we’re working hard everyday to make it better!

  • Never A Shortage on Good Reading Material

    January 13, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    […] at Emergiblog, is heading back to her roots and finding her voice while simultaneously cursing the thorn in her […]

  • Annemiek

    January 16, 2013 at 8:25 am

    I still come and peek here every once in a while. It’s ok to be at a standstill for a while, and it’s your blog… whatever you want it to be.

    We went to a new EMR system in October. I don’t know whoever thought this was the solution to all problems. Just a new can of worms, that’s all.

  • NPs Save Lives

    January 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Oh how I feel your pain! I had high hopes that our EHR would make charting easy, fast and that I would have more time to do the things I love. (Cough, choke, snort!) But, alas, it’s not to be. I started blogging again but most are guest posts because I feel like I lost my voice too.

  • Trendy Tummy

    January 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Welcome back! We are still here and loving your voice xo

  • Medicoglia

    January 24, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Still reading when I get the chance to surf around the web.

    Somewhere around 18 months ago you answered my plea for help/advice regarding nursing school application essays. UPDATE: I graduated 12/20/12, passed NCLEX 1/15/13, and will be starting orientation for a full-time staff nurse position next month. Thank you for your suggestions!

  • […] bloggers) is Kim McCallister at Emergiblog. She popped back up several weeks ago with a post called “The Voice,” which is about exactly that—how a nurse blogger lost the sense of freedom she started with as […]

  • Heather

    February 8, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Just found this blog! So I hope you keep at it for a while yet^_^

  • Nina

    February 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    I know what you mean…….computerized charting is going to take some time to get used to.

    Yes, we are reading and looking forward to your thoughts on your experience with your new EMR System.

  • […] The Voice […]

  • Dan "emt training" Chambs

    February 26, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Good job with sticking to the writing. I know it can be tough to write sometimes, whether from writers block, being self-conscious, or just being tired of writing. thanks

  • Trish

    March 13, 2013 at 8:43 am

    UGH! Just found your blog for the first time, and it’s delightful. I couldn’t agree with the “(expletive) Cerner workstation” sentiment more. I was one of the “super-users” so everyone expects me to love it, but it is (after more than a year since implementation) still a total pain in the rear.

  • Sandra

    March 22, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Don’t worry about “prim and proper”!!
    This is why we read blogs, to get the opinion of normal people doing their normal day to day jobs.
    I understand censorship issues and all that but we all have a right to voice our opinions.
    You have said that you are a qualified nurse so I think your say does count.
    It’s up to people to realise what they want to get out of your comments. Don’t be pushed around
    Good luck, I’m on your side!!!!

  • V. Sandberg

    March 31, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Hey, welcome to the 21st century! I bet you will come to like computerized charting after you get used to it.

  • Fabbia

    April 23, 2013 at 3:24 am

    I miss pen and paper charts!! 🙂 and EHRs…I have yet to find one that I really like, they all seem so over the top

  • The Voice

    May 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    […] The Voice […]

  • mirco

    May 7, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Tornado in Emilia Romagna (Italy): a live testimony5/7/2013-Mirco Magri, nurse of the emergency room of Mirandola (Mo), sent us his reflections on experience as an operator of 118. The publish.”A year ago, who tried the earthquake of lower Modena has realized that it is possible to see everything destroyed, houses, churches, schools, hospitals, banks, shops and bars, without the ability to blame someone exactly and get angry with something tangible, if not with the nature of natural events.The May 3, 2013, who tried the experience of being in the midst of a tornado embodied again that everything can be destroyed by the force of nature, like a year ago, it became immediately aware of the severity of the damage. Another time, all the principals and Central and peripheral health establishments of the region Emilia Romagna, are now operating at 100 percent.The main landmarks are the usual: Civil protection, health, 118 firefighters, law enforcement officers and Carabinieri police, the Municipal Police, the volunteers of Blue Cross, Green Cross, and the Red Cross in the province of Modena.As you well know, nurses in these moments you need to everything and everyone and nurses, once again, you are pulled back.A maxiemergenza requires a rapid and accurate assessment of the availability of labour in adverse circumstances and changing: this time we gave our contribution, as nurses, for this purpose.Was immediately activated a coordination between operations center 118 (HUB) and first aid of Mirandola (SPOKE), quickly establishing ambulances on stand by with nurses and drivers hired in ready availability, in addition to the fleet contingent of emergency institutional means, to give relief to the people affected by the atmospheric environmental catastrophe, providing disaster relief and treatment, from House to House, throughout the night, along with the Civil Protection and firefighters. There were also Green Cross volunteers of Pavullo and Blue Cross of Mirandola.Ready the response of public service volunteers of Mirandola and in less than thirty minutes have set up a place for every emergency Physician health.The rescuers arrive presented a scenario “by war”.The triage nurses led by speakers at the scene of the disaster has made it possible to quickly assess a large number of people, with the intent to bring the most benefit to the may number of traumatized, using the minimum of resources. It is essential in these cases, the triage, because a tornado of this entity determines a disproportion between the emergency vehicles immediately available and the actual needs arising from the incident.In Maxi-emergencies extra-it is difficult to quantify the necessary human resources, beyond what we hear over and over on television: you may not know, you can only equip to foresee and do not grasp totally unprepared. In addition to first-aid treatment must guarantee the search, rescue, recovery and transportation to the hospitals. As always it was not easy, but nurses are accustomed to situations not easy. We met, firemen, Civil Protection, law enforcement (State police, Carabinieri) and in these cases, the different responsibilities and roles, we have together rather than stand out.We nurses were there and will always be with the people about the disaster and need. ” Mirco Magri

  • Susan

    June 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Your blog is on a couple of top twenty lists – don’t stop!

    As a 27 year nurse who has been writing for the last six years and blogging for the last six months, I connected so well with the way you express yourself.

    Our hospital’s recent “social media” policy hasn’t scared me. Your blog has motivated me !

  • Mia Taylor

    June 18, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Don’t stop blogging. It is a way for you to connect with people and share your experience.
    The comment section here itself depicts how well you express yourself and how much your audience needs you.

    Keep The Voice being heard!!!

  • Anthony Powers

    June 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Keep up the blogging and your voice will always rise to the top.

  • Peter

    July 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    I have some experience working with EMRs from the other side, where they are touted as the best thing to ever happen to medicine — and there is a solid argument for this “on paper.” But I definitely feel the pain of the nurses and doctors who have to shift their entire mental mode to use them… keep the voice going!

  • Michael

    August 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Don’t give up – like the other commenters have said, you’ll find your voice. I’ve seen it many times, where bloggers feel like giving up, or like they have nothing more to say. You will eventually ‘break through’, and even if you don’t, think about the work you’ve put in already. Sit down and actually spend some time hashing out a plan. The blog is worth it.

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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