Diversity has many faces

How does your organization measure the success of the system’s diversity and inclusion efforts?  Do you look at the percentages of employees from ethnic groups?  Do you look at your patient base and the communities you serve?

Today, diversity has many faces!  The measure of success is determined by the health of the community the system serves. How prevalent are chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, asthma and more?  Are the morality and morbidity rates associated with those conditions greater within minority populations.

Diversity is about more than the color of one’s skin. According to Mike Supple, executive vice president of B.E. Smith, consider the following:

  • Racial/Ethnic including a plan to increase the ethnic, cultural and racial diversity of the senior leadership team
  • Gender – although 80% of the healthcare workforce is female, women remain underrepresented in the boardroom and C-suite
  • Generational – according to the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion, millennial see diversity in terms of demographics/equal opportunity; their older colleagues define diversity as a mix of experiences, identities and ideas
  • Experiential – a diverse workforce comprised of professionals with different skills sets, including those without healthcare backgrounds, could add great value to an organization
  • Cognitive – requires innovation and collaboration

As healthcare professionals, our goal is to make a difference. We entered the healthcare space to make a difference in the lives of others.  “Others” is a global term, encompassing everyone, everywhere.  Make diversity a part of your strategic plan; walk the talk and avoid symbolic team members. Be authentic in your approach!  Yes, diversity has many faces; it is time to diversify!


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!

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.


Negotiating for balance


Tired – overworked – emotionally and physically drained?  Are your aging parents challenged, or is your young child ill?  Is your partner out of work, or overworked? If any of these scenarios describe you, you may be in need of balance. If you know your skills, abilities, and performance record are strong and valued, you have a solid footing for negotiating flexible work arrangements.

What is negotiation? Practically, it’s making the other person an offer or proposal that he or she may find more attractive than the next best alternative. Some consider negotiation to be the art of making deals. It is certainly that, but it also involves educating the other party about merits of your offer or proposal or talents, skills, and actual and potential contributions. Negotiation is a key component of creating workplace balance and thus avoiding burnout. To negotiate successfully, you must do some advance planning. The process is simple, but each step is critical to the outcome.

  1. Be prepared. Follow the tips and understand the rationale; know what you want and understand what the other party wants.
  2. Open with your case; this demonstrates confidence. Then, listen actively.
  3. Support your case with facts.
  4. Explore areas of agreement and disagreement, and seek understanding and possibilities.
  5. Indicate your readiness to work together.
  6. Know your options.
  7. Advance to closure by confirming the details.
  8. Make it happen!
Tip Rationale
Know what you are willing to accept and be honest about your requirements You will be empowered in support of your interests.

Your listener will recognize your confidence level.

Do not disclose what you are willing to accept in terms of salary or conditions.  Have a deal-breaker in mind, i.e., lack of flexibility in hours. This will compromise your negotiating power.
Determine what the other party is willing to accept. It is better to know the alternatives up-front than to second-guess.
Be an active listener, like a student. Assume there are things about the situation that you don’t understand.

Let the other party know that you have heard and understood what has been said.

Make the art of negotiation your key to balance!

What’s your life purpose?

During the thirty-five plus years that I have devoted to being a nurse, I have interviewed many older adults (over the age of 65) about what has brought meaning and purpose to their lives. The specialty of home health nursing gave me the time and experience I needed to research this topic. Combining their wisdom with my studies in the fields of adult development and counseling psychology as a nurse practitioner, I offer my findings in this chapter. I would ask the question: “If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently?”

Recurrent themes were woven throughout all of the interviews. Many patients suggested that they would be more relaxed in order to avoid stress as well as take better holistic care of themselves, attending to their bodies, minds, and spirits. Self-reflection was another important theme as was their emphasis on building relationships and developing positive memories from their lives.

After asking my elderly patients these reflective questions over the years, I concluded that purpose naturally resides within each person’s soul. I observed that all people have a desire to contribute in life, but sometimes get lost along the way. Every one of us wants to leave footprints and feel that our lives have made an impact on the world.

I have found that life purpose is not simply our work lives, but a combination of all aspects of our lives that makes them fulfilling. Life purpose is what gives meaning to our lives and a reason why we are here on earth. Each individual life has a natural reason for being. From birth to death, each of us is on a quest to discover that reason. Many never do, yet our world is incomplete until each person discovers their own divine purpose.

Some questions you may ask yourself while getting in touch with your life purpose are: What gives your life meaning; what do you notice as the main themes in your life, and what is your contribution meant to be during your lifetime? In short, it is time to define and describe your life’s purpose!


Can a working woman maintain balance?


For years, society has tried to assure ambitious young women that if they worked hard enough, they could juggle both a high demanding career and a family.  Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, says otherwise.  Sandberg admitted that balancing both worlds is extremely difficult but a necessity if we wish to have more women leaders in the workforce.

What about other working women?  What about you?  Do you do everything for others before you do anything for yourself?  InTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), those who care for others first are known as ‘Earth’ personalities.  That’s right – we are givers!  We are nurturers and caregivers, and we always provide support for others – at home and at work!  But, we are also capable, creative, and resourceful; that is why we are so adept at multitasking and can outwork many of the men in our lives.

My suggestion is to get unstuck and then be unstoppable.  You, as working women, can accomplish balance by focusing on these 7 areas:

What’s Important to You?

Identify three areas of your life that are most important; for me, the three include (1) health and well-being, (2) family, and (3) my non-profit and professional work.  If health is a priority for you, take the time to achieve it.  Eat well, be well, do well – begin an exercise program, if you have not already done so.  My family is important to me, and when I am with family members, I give them my undivided attention.  One of my passions is a not-for-profit organization that I founded; we educate nurse leaders in developing countries, and the work is personally and professionally fulfilling.

Know your Purpose.

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after”

Henry David Thoreau

Life purpose is what gives meaning to our lives and a reason why we are here on earth. Each individual life has a natural reason for being.  Think about what brings you the greatest joy in your life, and pursue it. Some questions you may ask yourself while getting in touch with your life purpose are: What gives your life meaning; what do you notice as the main themes in your life, and what is your contribution meant to be during your lifetime?

Set your Goals.

To be successful in our lives, we must set goals. A goal is a next step after discovering our purpose and what we want to achieve in the course of our lives. In order to be a goal, it must first be specific and measurable. It is not a goal if we cannot define it fully nor determine whether or not we achieved it.

Know your Limitations

We just do not know how to say ‘no.’ In B is for Balance, I talk about ‘no’ being a complete sentence, and it is okay to learn how to use the word to bring balance to our lives. If something does not fall within your priorities, it is okay to say the magic word, ‘no.’ You must avoid taking on more than you can possibly handle. Negotiate for workplace balance by knowing yourself and your limitations. “No” can be the best time management tool that you have!

How to Seek Help

Successful, balanced professionals are not afraid to ask for help.  Everyone needs help from time to time, and reaching out is an admirable skill.  Be acutely aware of the stressors in your schedule and in your life.  Know thyself first!  Manage yourself, and take advantage of counseling, coaches, professional peers, mentors and more.

Have the Right People in the Right Seats on the Bus  

Having a lot of help is not enough if it isn’t the right help for the right job. Make a concerted effort to surround yourself with good people, and give them the latitude they need to do a good job.  Hold them accountable, but give them autonomy to make decisions that will benefit the company, the office, the professional practice.

Table it for ‘Tomorrow.’

It is okay to think about a request or potential responsibility prior to saying ‘yes.’  Why not say,

“I’ll need to get back to you on that.”   Then, consider the time, energy, and resources needed to fulfill the request, and if necessary, feel free to say, ‘Thanks so much for thinking of me; I am honored, but I must say no.”  I was recently asked to be the President of a membership society to which I belong.  As a new member, I was truly honored, and very surprised.  Because I knew that I could not commit 100%, I simply said, “I am so honored; thank you for thinking of me.  Please know that I will help in any way possible, but I cannot serve as your President at this time.”

Good employers recognize the value of good employees and are often willing to find or create ways to help employees deal with family situations by making short-term or permanent changes in work schedules. Options include flextime, job-sharing, telecommuting, and part-time employment. If you know your skills, abilities, and performance record are strong and valued, you have a solid footing for negotiating flexible work arrangements.

When your work life and personal life blend together under the guise of “multi-tasking,” both suffer. When you are at work, focus on the job to be done. When you are finished with work, don’t bring it home with you. Make time for your personal life and your personal health.  Take time for you.

If your work materials are dispersed throughout nearly every room of your house, you have no place for a real retreat. You’re not spending high-quality time with friends or family members if you’re talking on your cell phone or checking your email when you’re with them. Take time to focus exclusively on your friends and family members when you’re with them; then you won’t feel guilty when you have to concentrate on work. Create high-quality work and personal experiences for yourself by keeping them separate.  So, can YOU, as a working woman, maintain balance?  Of course – you can!  Follow these proven methods to attain and maintain the work/life balance that you, as a working woman, need and deserve.