Nurses’ Week: A Narrative Poem of Light, 2013


She will come and be with you

Guiding you on that deep and personal journey

Shining a light ahead for you

A light that only comes from within

And creeps into your lonely places of suffering.

~

He will speak kind words in the dark of night

Opening your windows to fresh air

Holding your hand gently and bringing about peace

And acting as a guide for you on your path toward the unknown.

~

They will walk with you

On your personal healing journey

Supporting your capacity for healing, and ending suffering

All brought about by Love

And skills developed during the nurses’ own healing journey.

~

These nurses of healing and light

Inspired by Florence Nightingale and purveyors of human caring,

They are shining the light into the darkness of healthcare

They are healing the heart of the world.

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Dreaming in nursing


I woke up at 0430 this morning with my heart pounding. Occasionally this happens, I have a “nightmare” about nursing.

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In this particular dream, I was working a night shift and at the end of the shift I was chatting with the nurses. I was getting ready for report, and I couldn’t remember seeing any of my patients; no names, no faces, no recollection at all. I began to feel anxious and I asked one of my fellow nurses, “Gee I hope I finished my charting” and she replied, “No I don’t think you closed out your charts.”

In a panic I ran to the charts. Of course in the dream they were not electronic, they were huge paper charts, perhaps as big as they could be about 6 inches thick, with hand written notes. I was trying to decipher the handwriting and figure out what was going on with a particular patient. As I read through the chart I realized I had not assessed this patient. I must have slept through entire shift. How could that be? Clearly from the diagnosis this patient would have needed pain medication, turning, toileting, and so on. Who was caring for this patient? I had nothing to chart and I realized that I would, at this last hour, have to go and check on all of my patients, assess them, check their meds, and then chart. My 5-year-old daughter arrived in the dream and wanted to play and I had to tell her no.

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Somehow, I woke up and had to convince myself it was just a dream, nobody was harmed, I was safe in my bed. For the record, I haven’t work the floor since the late 1990’s, though I worked as a hospice nurse and taught clinical in the hospital until 2005. Around that time, I finished my PhD, and began to focus on just honing my skills as an educator while I had two babies and raised them into young children.

I have this type of dream several times a year. I suppose I could do a dream analysis, look for the Jungian archetypes, or focus on my own life-anxiety and how it is related to my work. But I am really wondering about here is the dreams that nurses have: the good, the bad, the sleep time dreams, and the awakened dreams.

What is it that our hearts desire in our practice? What are we “dreaming of” in nursing practice and education… and how do we get there? Do we find reward in a broken healthcare system and as the largest providers of healthcare in the nation, how do we take back our practices of caring and compassion? How do we partner with others to create change? How can we use the Nurse Manifesto created by Peggy Chinn, Richard Cowling, and Sue Hagedorn to our benefit?

I would love to hear nurses’ stories about what they desire. I myself wrote a story about what nurses experiencing versus what we desire and you can read about that here: https://nursemanifest.com/research_reports/2002_study/nurse65x89.htm

This story was recently published in Creative Nursing journal. I am also presenting this story and supporting nurses in creating a personal plan of action at the American Holistic Nurses Association Annual Conference in Virginia Beach, VA this June. I hope to see you there!

What Not to Say to a Nurse — Hooters Opens Nursing School


Male Nurses Make More Money” was published last week in the Wall Street Journal. As a registered nurse and a woman, I was angered and appalled at the comments that this article spawned, about the sexualized physicality of women nurses.

Here are just a few of the comments:

“Just another happy old guy” wrote: “I only accept female nurses at my bedside. The lovely smile, sweet perfume, and wonderful bosoms make my day, every day. A guy tending me is advised to wear a steel cup.”

“cdg” wrote: “Female nurses with large bosoms should earn more than their male (or flat-chested female) counterparts.”

“Steve” wrote: “I think female nurses should be paid on the basis of how hot they are.”

And finally, my personal favorite, which was posted by “MCP”: “Hooters is going to start a nursing school.”

I should say right now that I am not against Hooters. I’m not against women (and men) who work at Hooters. In fact, this post is not even about Hooters. I was just so struck by the phrase, that I just had to title this post with it.

I realize that I’m probably at fault here, because I thought that we as a society had gotten past sexy nurse costumes for Halloween. In fact, I now know that the “naughty nurse” is alive and well. An episode of the NBC sitcom “Whitney” is one recent example.

It’s not all bad news. There are others out there such as Sandy Summers of The Truth About Nursing, and those at National Nurses United who fight for nurses (male and female nurses) to promote the profession and to expose these stereotypes in the public domain.

Now, perhaps those who posted those comments to Male Nurses Make More Money were just joking. If so, I guess I just don’t think sexist nurse-talk is funny.

I’m a nurse. I’m a woman and I have a PhD. Don’t insult me with your talk of “boobs” and sweet-smelling perfume.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post on March 8, 2013.

Follow Mona Shattell on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@MonaShattell

Becoming the Transformed Nurse


“Nursing worldwide has been so confined and controlled by external material, physical reality, found within Westernized medicine and institutions, that it has almost lost it own heritage and purposive existence. It has been so consumed by the modern demand for technological competencies it now is faced with having to restore the under-developed ‘ontological competencies’ so essential to nursing’s maturity and survival as a distinct caring-healing profession” Jean Watson, 2002, p. 2.

How do we come back to the heart of nursing as healing, where so many of us wish to dwell and practice nursing? I ask myself this question frequently and I wonder about the challenges that we face as nurses and educators in supporting one another to create caring-healing spaces. Dr. Watson (2002) called for us to do this by healing our relationship(s) with self and others, creating meaning around our own concerns related to profound and compassionate caring and healing practices in nursing as service, gaining deeper understandings of and thereby transforming our own and other’s suffering, and accepting impermanence and the cycle of life.

This statement makes sense to me, but I also understand that nurses who have not been exposed to Watson’s theory, or who struggle to understand the deep implications of healing and personal evolution, may not grasp the call that Dr. Watson is making here. To simplify this statement a bit, I believe that she is calling for us to be each on our own healing and caring journey; walking into our own suffering, and continually working toward healing ourselves, helps create in each of us a greater capacity for caring for others and remaining compassionate at the bedside.

If we became nurses because we felt called to nursing, we can come back to that original calling and work toward Nightingale’s model of nursing as a spiritual-sacred healing practice. As Watson (2002) reminded us, when we are on the healing path ourselves, we can strive to be fully present with the patient through creating a caring-healing space. In this space, we reflect healing and enact transpersonal caring in such a way that our work as nurses becomes the most rewarding part of our lives, as we connect deeply with another human being and recognize our interconnection with all.

Part of my own healing process has included a journey into yoga practice and yoga teaching. Interestingly, even as I have encountered great healing for myself with yoga, I also find great healing for others and myself when I share the process of teaching yoga. This sort of mutual healing space that is created in a yoga class, is the same sort of space that many nurses are striving for in their caring work.  One of the challenges then becomes how to create the time and space within your practice to connect deeply with your patients, to hold with them a space for healing, and to bring true meaning to your healing work as a nurse?

Unfortunately, there is a perpetuated myth that transpersonal or deep caring- healing takes too much time and is usually left for last after all of the technical demands of the nurse are met, once the charting has been done, once the patient has been stabilized, and so on. I posit here that with practice and with work on one’s own personal caring- healing journey, the nurse can strive for learning to create a caring-healing sustainable practice with everything she does for patients.

Being present to patients and briefly breathing for a minute to set an intention for caring healing spaces does not take more time, though it may take practice, commitment, and reminders for the nurse to return to that healing space again and again and again throughout her busy day. Managing one’s stress and practicing healing for oneself are also the keys to learning to create caring at the bedside on a regular basis, and that may take more time out of one’s personal life, however if one is committed to nursing from a caring-healing space, then that time is an investment for oneself and a requisite to enacting a caring- healing practice.

And nurses may ask “why?”… why bother to create these spaces when it is not valued by the larger demands on the nurse, and takes a personal effort that is likely not always recognized or rewarded? My thoughts on this are:

  • If we are not supporting healing we are not nurses, we are technicians. If we lose our value of caring in nursing; we become heartless and our value to society at large diminishes or or is distinguished completely.
  • Patients, and their resultant expression of satisfaction, demand a healing presence.
  • One way to ensure the nurse has a long and fruitful nursing career, and does not burn out or become ill from stress of the job, is to for the nurse to enact a sustainable caring-healing bedside practice, that is deeply related to her own personal healing journey.
  • Because much much of what is going on in hospitals currently is ethically unsound, as damage is done to patients on a regular basis in the hospital environment and unfortunately nurses may also be subject to, or become an aspect of, said damaging environment.

I would like to expand a bit more on this last aspect. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, we now know that patients are leaving the hospital setting with what is being called post hospitalization syndrome, which is basically another term for PTSD related to hospitalization (Krumhloz, 2013). Indeed hospitalization for injury also increases one’s risk for depression and PTSD (Zatsik et al, 2008).

This sort of evidence should be generating questions for nurses, ranging from how they might be contributing to patients’ stress, to how they might be impacted by an environment known for stress induction, to how they are supporting the creation of caring-healing environments to counteract this stress.

Ethically, as purveyors of healing, we are obligated to examine our nursing practices with more depth and determine how we are going to create and be the change that our patients and the world are calling us toward.

“As nurses and nursing enter into this transpersonal aspect of our work, as we are re-patterned¬† so is our environment, our systems, and our culture. We then, individually and collectively, become the transformed nurse; we become the ethos and culture of caring and healing, living out our timeless heritage and most extant caring ethic, theories and philosophies in our lives, and our work” (Watson, 2002, p. 7).

References:

Krumholz, H.M. (2013). Post hospital syndrome: An acquired transient condition of generalized risk. New England Journal of Medicine, 368, 100-102.

Watson, J. (2002). Nursing: Seeking it’s source and survival (editorial). ICU and Nursing Web Journal,9, 2-7.

Zatsik, et al. (2008). A national US study of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and work and functional outcomes after hospitalization for traumatic injury. Annals of Surgery, 248, 429-37.

The (nursing) revolution will not be televised: Part II


“If we do not change direction, we are likely to end up exactly where we are headed”- Chinese Proverb.

In one of my previous postings, I mentioned that the nursing revolution would not be televised; in other words, our own revolution begins with an evolution of consciousness about nursing and our practices. I do believe, just as our esteemed nursing theorists Jean Watson has stated time and again, that caring is the essence of nursing practice, and yet we have continued as nurses to generally practice in institutions and organizations that do not know how to value and support the caring- healing capacities of nurses, despite the fact that our patients make clear time and again are of the utmost importance along their healing journey.

We are each, as individuals and nurses, in need of awakening to our own personal path of caring and healing. If we are to be able to share caring and healing with others on a meaningful basis, we have to be on a caring-healing journey for ourselves individually and collectively.

In order to create change in our profession and move toward greater acceptance of caring-healing nursing practices, the change needs to come from within each of us. I have some students who state things along the lines of, “What is the use? I can change myself and yet this will not effect the institution where I work”. And this is where they are wrong. I have seen time and again nurses who move toward changing their consciousness and engaging in their own self-care and healing endeavors, and they then go on to create meaningful changes in their lives and their practices. Others find the courage and strength through self-reflective practices¬† and increasing stress resilience to realize that they are serving a dysfunctional system and they opt to leave their place of employment. By increasing our personal stress resilience and creating new brain pathways, we can open up to creative solutions to workplace problems and we can walk into our own issues instead of running from them or remaining stagnant.

Stress resilience helps us to create a personal revolution toward peace, ease, and well being. The following is a video by Joan Boryenseko on transformational experiences of healing, awakening, and consciousness evolution. Here she walks into the process of witnessing our emotions and the process of witnessing, forgiveness, and grief.

As we undertake the revolutionary steps of transformation to change our personal and nursing consciousness toward peace, we will notice a reduction in aggression and an increase in compassion, caring, love, and tolerance- the qualities needed to support the creation of healing environments in our healthcare systems and facilities. As our personal and professional consciousness evolves and shifts, we begin to move toward a better understanding of the unity of all human beings and species and even to the larger cosmos.

So what prevents us from taking the steps toward personal and professional revolution through consciousness transformation? Below is a video by Eckhart Tolle that briefly described the movement toward consciousness transformation and moving beyond fear.

I am open to hearing your thoughts here and in the next installation, I will present ideas on the steps toward walking into peaceful revolution and transformation in part III.