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Archive for July, 2007

I started working at my present job about three years ago.  The only work I could get at the time was casual, there were no positions available.  Those were hard times for myself and my son, trying to make my little paycheque stretch.  I couldn’t be done, in reality, but I’m making up for it now.  Most of the people I knew could not understand how I could not find a full time job in nursing.  There were a number of factors…

I came to this small town out of necessity and for personal reasons I’ll not get into.  I came with experience in psychiatry, not acute care.  I never worked a day as a graduated nurse in acute care.  There seemed to be so many other options – psychiatry, community health, etc – and such a so-called “RN shortage” I felt certain I would find full time work.  It didn’t seem logical to pay my dues in acute care.  Maybe it was arrogant of me, but truthfully, I didn’t see the point.  Acute care was not the direction I wanted to take in my nursing career.  It’s easy now to say maybe I should have done acute care then at least I would not have struggled with finding work when I arrived here.  There were valuable lessons learned in the struggling.  I would not trade those lessons for anything.

I worked at whatever I could.  I started in Extended Care.  Anyone who works casual knows the fat times come and go.  When a lean time came and I was not getting any calls to work, I took a job teaching the practicum portion of a residential care aide program.  This was temporary as well.  Eventually I got on casual in the Long Term Care facility where I presently work.  This led to a full-time position, which I nabbed at the first opportunity.  It was something I’d always wanted. 

Fast forward, I worked that full time position for about a year, eight hour shifts, days and nights.  I began to feel so beaten, so unhealthy, it wasn’t funny.  My quality of life suffered seriously, as did that of my kids’.  There was simply nothing left to give after giving at work.  Maybe most RNs manage full time okay, but it wasn’t working very well for us.

A part time position became available, albeit temporarily, at the beginning of June of this year.  I jumped on the chance.  It meant a decrease in hours (mostly less night shifts) which meant a decrease on the ol’ paycheque.  I am blessed (yes! really!) with 10 days off in each rotation.  I feel so much better.  My family life is so much better.  So taking this part time position has been a lesson in self-compassion.  The compassion we serve to others is less meaningful when we are unable to serve the same to ourselves.  I can give more to all aspects of my life now because I put my priorities into perspective.  My ducks are lined up in a row.

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I’ve been hearing since shortly after graduation, about the need for leadership in nursing.  It was just one of those concepts left on the back burner for a long time while I a) found a way to survive after ending a relationship and b) increased confidence in my nursing practice.  I’ve been at the same job for about 3 years now.  It’s been long enough to understand and see the real need for leadership in nursing. 

I have made various attempts to implement change in my workplace.  One thing I learned from my excellent nursing teachers was to question the hegemony.  Question the way things are done.  Question why we do what we do throughout our shifts.  Is there a better way to do this?  Is it even necessary?  Is there a way to use our precious time resource more efficiently?  Good philosophy not just for nursing, but for life.  To that I’d add, ask better questions.

After a number of frustrating attempts to implement change, I wondered if I was going about it wrong.  Was I even in a position to implement change in my workplace?  Strangely, I had been waiting for our new nurse leader to arrive on the scene to make things better.  I would discover, once again, the Universe will give you direction if you open your eyes to see. 

Leadership in nursing has been more intensely on my mind for a number of months now.  Before the position of Nurse Leader had been filled, I wondered if I would be capable of filling the roll.  What would it take to be an effective nurse leader?  As I continued with my day to day practice, I just kept observing where and when I may be in a position of leadership.  Where and when could I be influential in my practice, to effectively lead other staff members towards a greater vision than present practice?  What would I have to change about myself to be capable of truly leading in an effective manner?  

Ask and it is given, it is said.  I was ‘given’ a situation at work where I ran into conflict with an LPN.  I believer her opinion was that I was not doing my job right.  I chose to remain neutral rather than become defensive.  I knew enough to at least do that.  Do no harm, right?  I’m not even going to write about she said/I said.  That’s not the point.  We live in a benevolent Universe.  Along with this difficult-at-the-time situation, I was gifted with a solution as well.  The library called.  They had a book for me.   Lance Secretan’s book, One – The Art and Practice of Conscious Leadership

I’ll write more about what I’m learning, but suffice to say, I have already learned some very helpful principles to implement into my practice. 

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Welcome to this brand new blog!  Intentions seem to come and go in my life, but it’s important to make them nonetheless.  There will be others set along the way, as this blog will evolve like life…it’s all process, not something to achieve and say, “There, that’s done!”

 My intentions (thus far):

1) to combine two of my many passions – Nursing and Writing.  Doing what Joseph Campbell  said, to Follow Your Bliss.

2) to guide other nurses in their self development.  Not only do I believe personal growth is our main purpose in life, but improving yourself creates an improved caregiver.  Ultimately, our care of others improves.  We are One.

So I hope you’ll stick around, check back frequently, subscribe, comment, learn and grow. 

Be Well.

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