Expressing Gratitude For Our Global and Local Nursing Leaders


I have been fortunate to have been supported and influenced by many of nurses’ contemporary leaders: I studied with Dr. Jean Watson prior to completing my dissertation by taking 6 units of doctoral level electives with her at UCHS. I had contacted Dr. Watson during my Masters studies, and I was amazed at how approachable she was via email. Watson’s Theory of Human Caring has influenced and directed my work in a way that is immeasurable on many levels; being with her and spending a week in sacred center, studying emerging sacred-caring science concepts brought me to a new vision of how nursing education can and should be practiced.

 

I also stumbled upon the work of Dr. Peggy Chinn and the nurse manifest project during my early doctoral studies, and soon found myself embraced by the NurseManifest community. I was blessed to have been part of the first Nurse Manifest research project team, and the experience of presenting our findings together was monumental in my life as an emerging nursing scholar.

 

While Dr. Watson and Dr. Chinn epitomize the amazing academic and scholarly accomplishments of Nurses’ Living Legends, they both also remain approachable, kind, caring, and generous. They reflect back to us a deep love for nursing, coupled with calls toward caring and a level of social justice activism that is highly needed in our process of supporting both local and global healing. There are many other nurses whom I might call “global nursing leaders” who share in this attitude, commitment, and consciousness toward change.

 

I am also frequently touched by the leadership capacity of my nursing students; the willingness to change their lives, spread their wings, and find ways to bring caring, holism, and healing to the “local” bedside in environments where these concepts often remain fringe in the face of allopathic approaches. The many global nursing leaders inspire nursing students, and the continuum to me is clear; students and nurses need these leaders to raise our consciousness, build our confidence, and lead us into our own leadership capacity at the local level. We need global leaders to shine a light on our professional paths and support our deepening understanding of both self as nurse and our profession’s capacity to create nursing qua nursing as the norm.

 

I am honored to be working with my RN-BSN students this fall in their leadership coursework. We will look at Chinn’s Peace and power work and also explore leadership through holistic concepts. We will examine burnout and how we can recover or support others in their recovery through self-care. In analyzing our workplaces, we will explore Sharon Salzberg’s (a registered nurse and globally known meditation teacher) Real happiness at work: Meditations for accomplishment, achievement, and peace as a supportive tool for self-exploration around workplace issues.

 

Many nursing students struggle to perceive themselves as “local nurse leaders”, and I strive to support them to tap into their own leadership capacities, to create the types of healthcare workplaces where they can thrive and support the healing of their patients through integrative modalities and caring consciousness. I do believe one way to provide this platform for students’ emerging leadership is to create a caring environment for students, to support their own healing processes, and to role model shared leadership processes and self-care-healing for, and with, students. In this way, I humbly express my deepest gratitude for those global nursing leaders who have shone their light on my own professional and healing path when it was often far from clear where I was headed.

The Power of Nursing


On January 24th in the early morning hours my husband Brian woke me up because he said his left arm was hurting and he was nauseated.  After I gave him two aspirin we rushed to the ED of our regional hospital….He had a myocardial infarction in process.  The cardiac cath team was called, and an amazing interventional cardiologist performed a balloon angioplasty to open up the blocked artery.  After Brian was stabilized in the CVICU he was transferred to the CV Step Down unit to wait for surgery.  On January 29th the cardiothoracic surgeon performed a CABG x 4 and Brian was discharged on February 3rd.  It was quite an ordeal.  There are always lessons we learn when we are the recipients of health care.

As you can imagine this has been a life-altering event for both of us. During this critical time every person that we encountered and every circumstance that occurred, big and small, mattered to us.  I can honestly say that Brian and I experienced the most excellent care that I could ever imagine, and this made a significant difference in his healing and my experience as a family member.

The nursing staff at this hospital were wonderful. We know that nurses are the heart and soul of any hospital. Every single nurse that we encountered was knowledgeable, skilled, attentive and compassionate.  They were truly person and family-centered.  Every one of them asked how she/he could be helpful to us.  Watching the nurse caring for Brian immediately after surgery in the CVICU was amazing to me.  It was like watching the conductor of a symphony.  Her technological competence was incredible…she monitored everything moment by moment, while continuing to focus on Brian as a person experiencing this critical event, and on me as a wife fearful of what was happening.  When I was waiting for news of Brian’s condition during surgery, several of the staff stopped in to encourage me and to give me updates if they could.  This was so meaningful to me.  When Brian was recovering, the CVICU staff pushed and encouraged him and did anything they could to make me comfortable.  All the staff on the step-down unit exquisitely cared for Brian, supported us and made us feel “at home”.  I’m so grateful to the nursing staff for creating the healing environment where this level of care happens.

We often hear about the horrors of poor nursing care, so I wanted to share this story of hope and encouragement with everyone.  I am so proud to be a nurse because of the profound difference we make in the lives of people in the most vulnerable moments of their lives.  Yes, our cardiologist and surgeon saved Brian’s life, but the nurses were equally biogenic (life-giving) to both of us.  They preserved our dignity, prevented complications, prepared us for discharge, facilitated a smooth transition, allayed our anxieties, relieved our pain, provided comfort, lifted our spirits with laughter, gave us critical information, challenged him to do more than he thought possible, instilled hope for the future, involved us in choices, and took the time to listen to our fears and rants.

P.S. Brian is in cardiac rehab now and is recovering.

Never ever ever underestimate the power of nursing. We transform lives by healing through caring.

Celebrating recovery with Brian!

Celebrating recovery with Brian!

Nurses as Healers: Good Work Environments


I remember when I became a new nurse 21 years ago, and a friend asked me what I did at the hospital when I worked those long 12 hour night shifts. His thoughts were that the patients were asleep, so it was probably a job where you hung out and drank coffee, occasionally checking in on a patient. I remember walking him through what I usually did on a 12 hour 7pm- 7 am night shift, including most of the tasks and requirements of the job from receiving report at the start of the shift to giving report at the end of the shift. I made sure to include that if- when I got a break,  it was usually around 2am or 3am when I was finally “caught up enough” to take some 20-30 minutes to nourish and hydrate myself.

As I thought of this telling of what nurses do some 20 years later,  I wondered if I included what nurses are really charged with doing, which is supporting the healing of those we care for. Did I focus on all of the tasks and duties I would complete during that 12 hour shift, or did I also include the time spent rubbing backs, holding hands, saying prayers, educating, and supporting patients and their loved ones? Did I include the story about the time I had to call a deaf woman and tell her husband had passed after she left for the evening? Or the time when the family asked me to increase the morphine drip rate because “the doctor said she would be dead before the morning and we are ready for her to be gone”? What about the man with ALS being kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube who lay lonely in his bed, unable to verbally communicate, and went for weeks at a time without a single visitor?

I believe that as nurses we need to educate the public not just on all of the technical skills we do each day to support patients’ receiving good medical care, but also on the healing aspects of our unique work as nurses: on how we were likely “called” to be a nurse because we want to make a difference, the skills we have developed that support us in creating caring-healing environments for patients, and the rewards of being able to support others through their healing process. I think we should be making it clear to the public as well that we are committed to our own health and healing, knowing that we can’t support others through health challenges if we are not also dealing with these challenges ourselves. And as nurses, we need to support one another in our own healing process, role-modeling what self-care and stress management look like in action.

A recent study research from www.mountainmiraclesmidwifery.com/, showed that supporting nursing and creating “good nursing environments”, with adequate nurse staffing, leads to better long term patient outcomes, with fewer deaths one-month post surgery (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0UZ2XL). It pays for hospitals to invest in having enough nurses, in treating those nurses well, and supporting nurses in what we have been called to do: create healing environments that support patients toward their greatest health potential. Healthcare facilities need to be moved to support nurses in managing their stress and enacting self-care in order to potentiate the healing of the patients these facilities serve. Good staffing is just the beginning of creating “good nursing environments”: nurses should be empowered to begin dialog with their employers regarding what a healthy and good work environment for nurses looks like in consideration of the healing work that nurses do.

 

 

Spiritual consciousness and healing


This is my first time posting a blog and the experience has been both exciting and a little uncomfortable. I am moving out of my comfort zone, writing from my heart and soul. I’m thankful for the experience and hope to get better with time.  Here it goes!

As a young child, growing up in a rural village in the Pines region of Mississippi, and spending time with my mother’s side of the family in my beloved Louisiana, I was in love with the beauty of the infinite universe. I was very connected to the earth that I loved to play in and smell, the flowers I loved to smell and pick, the tomatoes, okra, onion, squash, peas and butterbeans that I loved to eat and that I helped my grandfather nurture and pick when they were ripe, the love and care of my father and mother and older brother, my ancestors, grandparents – both maternal and paternal – and great grandparents, great aunts and uncles and cousins and the infinite universe of goodness, simplicity, love, and beauty. The freedom and love of being a child of the infinite universe allowed me to sense into the universal rhythms of light and dark, activity and rest, stability and change, being and becoming, even though I didn’t have an advanced vocabulary for these things at that time. All of these experiences represented a universe where healing, love, and nurturing occurred. In the past few years, I have come to see these experiences as reflecting spiritual consciousness. I cherish being in touch with spiritual consciousness, and, thus, carefully tend to it patiently as a potentiality for nursing’s healing mission. Can the nurse working within spiritual consciousnes help other human beings experience healing and their own spiritual consciousness in order to transcend suffering of psychic, physical, social, existential, and emotional pain? I believe so.

Within the nursing context, I view spiritual consciousness as the unfolding of loving energy and various modalities of integrating nature and meaning whereby nurses facilitate healing. The nurse’s spiritual consciousness soothes worries and brings healing to others when they are in fear, pain, or suffering. Spiritual consciousness illuminates the universal need for humanization in nursing situations whereby dehumanizing circumstances deny or strip human beings of their dignity and humanity. Spiritual consciousness is the loving consciousness and healing energy that human beings tap into to restore harmony in times of disharmony.

Spiritual consciousness is evolved consciousness for nursing. It can be cultivated by nurses worldwide to facilitate healing. The nurse, in spiritual consciousness, being loving toward another during moments of the other’s suffering, brings healing energy to the situation. Spiritual consciousness is characterized by spaciousness and lightness. It provides a glimpse into the goodness and beauty of the universe, and the freedom not to get bogged down or trapped in mere physical and limiting aspects of being. I believe it is central to nursing’s healing mission. Thus, the notion of spiritual consciousness challenges each of us in nursing to experience this loving energy and to discuss it for better understanding the usefulness and limits of spiritual consciousness for facilitating healing. images

The human mind’s binding capacity can be warded off by shifting into spiritual consciousness. Spiritual consciousness does not include limited and bounded views such as hatred, sense of division, greed and power over others, malice, or separation between us, other human beings, earth, plants, animals, rocks, trees, rivers, stars, and the moon. In spiritual consciousness, we are all universal one.

As nurses gain experience sensing into their own spiritual consciousness, nursing will be better poised to meet its social mandate. Working from within spiritual consciousness, nurses are provided with multiple pathways for healings to occur. As nursing and society evolve, ideas related to spiritual consciousness and healing need further development.

Virtual Caring Science


We have received notice from Kathleen Sitzman of a wonderful online opportunity for everyone who is interested in focusing more clearly on caring in online situations!  Here is the information that Kathleen sent:

Hi Everyone,

I am sending this message to you because you have (at some point) shown an interest in my work related to conveying and sustaining caring in online classrooms. I have completed 6 studies on the subject now, and I wanted to create something that would condense my findings and recommendations into something that people can quickly and easily use. To that end, I worked with the Office of Faculty Excellence at East Carolina University (where I am a professor in the college of nursing) to create and offer two FREE trainings. The flyer with sign-up information is attached. You will need to follow the directions for non-ECU participants.

The two trainings are:

  • Conveying and Sustaining Caring in Online Classrooms
  • Mindful Communication for Caring Online

These are self-paced, do-anytime, independent study trainings. I have placed them in a format that can be completed by anyone who has access to a computer. The first training takes about 90 minutes and the second training takes about 60 minutes. People who complete the trainings get certificates of completion for each one.

The trainings have just opened up and already 20 people (many of them outside of the nursing profession) have completed the trainings and found them to be very helpful. Here at ECU, people can complete them for their annual Distance Education (DE)  professional development requirement. Please let me know what you think and please share the flyer with others who might benefit.

 Sending love,
Kathleen Sitzman, PhD, RN, CNE
Professor
East Carolina University College of Nursing

Download the flyer here

Access the modules online here