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Who owns fatigue?

We are all stakeholders in the fatigue management process, and we all own it!

The employer can do much to shift the paradigm and create a culture of safety, wellness, and caring. Clear and compelling visions start us along a path of generating a future we deserve to have. In the healthcare setting, everyone assumes responsibility for patient safety and good outcomes.

Any employee is responsible for practicing healthy behaviors that reduce the risk for working while fatigued or sleepy, result in arriving to work alert and well rested, and promote a safe commute to and from work. This is true regardless of the industry in which one works! This responsibility might require that you reject a work assignment that compromises the availability of sufficient time for sleep and recovery from work – for example, when your shift ends at midnight, and you are expected to return to work, fully rested, by 7:00 a.m. We all have different recovery times. Our bodies and minds are unique, and this concept often involves scheduled shifts and mandatory or voluntary overtime. It is everyone’s responsibility to address one’s own, as well as co-worker, fatigue. Employees must be responsible and know their limits.

The system predicts the outcome, and the system must ensure positive outcomes for staff, clients, the public, and patients.

Attach a sense of urgency Partner with staff to ensure consistency of policy and procedures
Create a collaborative work environment Educate and empower staff
Identify the areas and practices that may result in staff fatigue Prioritize fatigue countermeasures and monitor effectiveness
Evaluate staffing and scheduling practices Offer opportunity for feedback and ideas for improvement
Engage staff in recruitment and retention activities and promote innovative strategies Follow the system

“I’m a workaholic, so I ignore the signs of fatigue and just keep going and going, and then conk out when I get home.

It can be pretty stressful.”  Keke Palmer

Who owns fatigue…we all do!

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Do you have happy feet?

Do you have happy feet?  Do they thank you at the end of a long day for taking care of them, or do they hate you for squeezing them into tight shoes, putting in too many steps, or wearing stilettos?

Summer is here, and it is high time to get off on the right foot – with your feet that is! 

There are so many things that you can do to keep your feet happy this summer and beyond.  Start with the following steps:

  • Soak your feet in warm water for at least 10 minutes. To enhance pampering, add Epsom salt, herbal soaks or oils.
  • Use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove calluses around heels, balls and sides of feet.
  • Eliminate dry, flaky skin using a gentle exfoliant on the soles, sides and tops of feet.
  • Hydrate skin and increase circulation by massaging a generous amount of emollient-enriched lotion all over your feet.
  • Consider using essential oils or aloe crème.
  • To minimize the risk of ingrown toenails, trim nails straight across to just above the top of each toe.
  • Lightly wrap feet in plastic wrap before bed to lock in moisture.
  • If circulation is an issue, consider a pair of magnetic insoles for sleeping (tucked into your socks).
  • Hydrate – the toxins need to be released from the body.
  • Allow regular intervals without nail polish to let the nail bed breathe.
  • Consider toxin-free nail polishes.
  • Wash your feet daily with soap and water and dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • See a healthcare professional (podiatrist) in the event of any change in the condition of skin or toenails.
  • Inspect your footwear from previous seasons and discard any shoes that show excessive wear.
  • Invest in a good pair of walking shoes.

Happy feet will last a lifetime…keep yours in good shape!

Beginnings…your time and mine

Have you ever thought that your life and your time were not your own? I have! And, it was true in so many ways. My life is simplified now, compared to the years between 1992 and 2004, when I worked about 100 hours per week and traveled monthly to countries in Eastern Europe. At that time, I directed the office of international affairs for a large hospital alliance, and 50% of my time was subcontracted to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). My role was to foster international partnerships between U.S. hospitals and their foreign counterparts. I loved the work, I loved the people with whom I interacted, and I loved my job. The hours were extreme, and I found myself in a constant state of catching up that left me always tired. Now, with a self-imposed work week of 40 hours, I feel I have dramatically simplified my life. I have time to work, write, teach, be with family, and give back to society. I have simplified my life by keeping up with less, not more.

I’ve taken lessons learned in less developed countries to heart as I have simplified my life. In my travels, I witnessed firsthand how simple life can be. Immediately following the earthquake in Yerevan, Armenia, on December 7, 1988, the only decent housing was in a former government hotel. Although the hotel offered neither heat nor hot water, I had a roof over my head and a clean bed. When there was no food in the hospital, our hosts offered bread. We ate it with an appreciation for what we had. With neither heat nor hot water, we made do. Our colleagues lacked so much, but their refinement of spirit and passion for their work were unsurpassed. They lived a simple life and yet a life of gratitude.

Now, as I visit that same part of the world and see the progress that has been made, I am sometimes saddened by the fact that my friends are now living more complex lives, just as I once did. They too are burning the candle at both ends; they too are dealing with carpools, school-aged kids, aging parents, and work/life balance. Call it progress…I do not!

Career Coaching for Nurses

Reinventing yourself…becoming more of YOU

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.

Forward or reverse…

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. This could mean honing an art like pottery or painting or even exploring missionary work.  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.

As a holistic nurse coach and one who has redefined myself, I look first at your employment history, your passions, and your purpose.  What would your optimal nursing career look and feel like?  How will you know that it is right for you?

How Do I Know When Enough is Enough

Take a moment to reflect on your own career.  If you were to lose your job today, how would that affect you?  If you needed a professional recommendation, who would you contact to provide it?  How would that recommendation look and feel?  Do others think of you as a resource, as a go-to person?  You may love your work, and dislike those with whom you work.  Work satisfaction studies reveal that job frustration is the #1 problem that people express.  We have all experienced the typical ‘bad day at the office’ – so when is enough just that – enough?  I recommend listening to your body; it is a great indicator.  If your job makes you ill, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Can you fix what is not working about your job?  Can you change units, or move your desk to another location?  Sometimes, even changing the position of your desk helps.  Is there an opportunity for professional growth and can you learn from this position and use that knowledge to advance your career?

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.

As your nurse coach, I will help you to:

  • Plan the trajectory of your nursing career and a SWOT analysis
  • Identify potentially useful resources
  • Explore your motivations and desires
  • Fine-tune your resume and CV
  • Improve your cover letters and thank you letters
  • Prepare you for interviews
  • Recover from difficult passages in your career that held you back
  • Explore new career alternatives, especially more non-traditional nursing roles
  • Brainstorm entrepreneurial and business ideas
  • Review and enhance your Linked In profile and coach you on how to best utilize this platform

Nursing is a wonderful career and an honorable profession; new opportunities offer a new alternative for you as a nursing professional.  Visit http://smwgroupllc.com to learn more.

 

Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow

It is no secret that nurses in many healthcare settings are working longer hours, and seeking more pay! They are also seeking well-being, or they should be!

As a young nurse, I, too, began my career with the option that would generate the highest salary, working nights, multiple shifts, and 7-10 day stretches at a time – for income, for excitement, and to fulfill my aspirations of what nursing was and could become.  Each of us has felt the same way at one time or another…idealistic, eager to offer service to mankind, eager to reach personal and professional fulfillment.

Along the way, we may have lost sight of our original reasons for entering the chosen profession.  Perhaps staffing patterns affected us.  Perhaps patient safety issues became an overpowering concern.  Perhaps family life interfered with our ability to be all things to all people! Perhaps, we forgot about our own needs.

As a nurse, educator, consultant, and author, I truly believed that the Western healthcare model had all of the answers.  As a seasoned professional, I have discovered that the blending of Eastern wisdom and Western technology can produce a system that meets the current and ongoing needs of the patient populations for whom we care, regardless of the setting in which care is provided.

In today’s healthcare environment, hospitals are downsizing, closing, partnering or merging with other institutions.  Many hospitals have developed departments of complementary and alternative medicine to capture the revenue stream from a group of services demanded by patient populations.  In North America today, an increasing number of people request alternatives to western care.  They are computer-literate, educated in online searches, and they seek the information they need and want before seeking options.  When they meet with their physicians, even within very limited timeframes, they can intelligently discuss the options available to them, and they make known their wishes.

At first, I was hesitant to embrace something that seemed foreign, that lacked scientific evidence that I could easily locate, and that might draw criticism from my peers.  My method of dealing with it was to create the Integrative Health Forum, an alliance of healthcare professionals who could learn from one another and help to create the evidence base for wellness practice.

What are you doing for your own well-being?  Are you a nurse wishing, and doing what is needed for a healthier tomorrow?

 

Caught in the middle…and finding a path!

We know that we can aspire to, and reach greatness, if only we could reinvent ourselves and find that path.  Is it time for you to reinvent yourself?  I have done it several times.  Growing up with parents who told me to learn to type because I would never amount to anything, I believed them.  As the middle of 5 kids, I did not have the ‘middle child syndrome’, but I did have the ‘caught in the middle syndrome.’  And, I did not allow fear to get in my way. So, I started at an early age to identify ways in which I could better myself, learn and do more, achieve great heights, and then start all over again.

So, I started at an early age to identify ways in which I could better myself, learn and do more, achieve great heights, and then start all over again. Are you caught in the middle? Perhaps it is not in a family, but it might be in your career. Are you are a crossroad, and are you considering your next steps? It is not a secret that nurses in many healthcare settings are somewhat disenchanted with their careers.  Yes, they love the profession and want to remain in nursing and in balance.

As a young nurse, I, too, began my career with the option that would generate the highest salary, working nights, multiple shifts, and 7-10 day stretches at a time – for income, for excitement, and to fulfill my aspirations of what nursing was and could become.  Each of us has felt the same way at one time or another…idealistic, eager to offer service to mankind, eager to reach personal and professional fulfillment. I never lost sight of my why – why nursing!

I did not re-enter that ‘caught in the middle’ phase. Instead, I reinvented myself using my nursing knowledge, skills, and abilities. I use my nursing platform to educate, engage and empower others to get out of the middle and to get a life.

As a nursing professional, I have been fortunate to have worked in many modalities within nursing…from acute care and infusion therapy, to home care, outpatient, practice plan management, clinic management, education, and international work.  I have been blessed to have touched the lives of many people in many ways…but at no time in my own nursing career has that been truer than now.  I am out of the middle, as a Certified Speaking Professional, author, facilitator, and coach and a path that will allow me to be more, do more, and yes, speak more! How about you?

 

 

 

Follow the “Road to Stress Management”

We all have one life to live!  We all have the same 24 hours in each day, and we need to make the most of those hours and our lives. Can we separate our personal and professional lives? Can we have balance?

In B is for Balance, 12 steps toward a more balanced life at home and at work, 2nd edition, we answered that question. We did it so well that the book was awarded 1st Place in Consumer Health by the American Journal of Nursing in 2015. Now, we offer a workbook to guide the reader to an awareness of what is needed to create, and sustain balance!  This is The Road to Stress Management. 

This is it…the ultimate workbook to accompany the award-winning book – with a Stress Management Thought at the end of each chapter. Available next week at http:/smwgroupllc.com and http:/sharonmweinstein.com