Nurses, Healthcare Issues, and Our Greater Good in 2015

by Suzie Farthing on December 5, 2014

New Year 2015

Nurses can make a real difference in 2015

“Individual commitment to a group effort- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”  – Vince Lombardi

As we anticipate the arrival of 2015, professional nurses should consider taking a little undivided time to pause and reflect on the paths our careers are on and the ways in which we contributing to healthcare’s greater good. This personal and professional examination and reflection needs to occur from time to time.

We nurses need the kind of deep reflection that allows the “good, bad, and ugly” of ourselves to surface. When we allow this level of inner contemplation, a personal and professional awakening may occur. We may also realize we are perfectly comfortable with the people and professional nurses we have become. Either way, we have to have this type of soul-baring examination for ourselves before we can truly serve the common good, as nurses and humanitarians.

Questions to ask yourself

What type of person and professional nurse have I become?

Do I need to change or improve physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually?

What steps can I take today to improve personally and professionally?

What more can I do?

How can I expand on my strengths, skills, and passions for the greater good?

Every nurse can do something today to improve tomorrow for themselves and others. Our greatest personal and professional growth occurs when we challenges ourselves for the greater good. We are blessed when we bless others.

Understanding the nursing profession’s issues is also an important starting point.

Nurses must know the reality of the issues we face, especially here in America. The good news is that nurse can easily begin to remedy what is ailing healthcare in our country. Every nurse can do something to help.

I was recently reminded of Vince Lombardi’s quote (above), a favorite of mine, after reading an article from the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action director Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN titled The Top Five Issues for Nursing in 2015.

According to Dr. Hassmiller, here are the five ways in which a nurse can contribute to improving health care in the United States:

  1. Nurses can help us build a culture of health
  2. Nurses can increase access to health care
  3. Nurses can only change by getting on boards
  4. Nurses can engage in interprofessional collaboration
  5. Nurses can advance their education

Each of the five contributions nurses can make in 2015 can be relatively easily done.

As I read the article (and I encourage you to check it), I could not help but notice that all five of the areas of contribution that Dr. Hassmiller are completely doable for any nurse. It is evident that everyone can do something more to contribute for the good of our collective health. So, I wanted to briefly review a couple of the key points that stood out to me in this motivating article and offer my perspective as a twenty-year plus heath care sojourner and nurse.

Building on a couple of the key points Dr. Hassmiller made, this is how I see things for the nursing profession.

Nurses can help build a culture of health

  • Nurse must make personal and professional reflection the starting point
  • Nurses must practice what we preach
  • Nurses must use and teach good health and healthcare stewardship

Nurses need to be healthcare and community leaders

  • Nurses must pursue board positions and not wait to be asked
  • Nurse must dream and imagine about the possibilities
  • Nurses must not discount their contributions to a cause

Building a Culture of Health

Dr. Hassmiller opened her article with a review of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2013 report U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, in which the United States ranked last or near last in a nine key health indicator comparison with 16 other industrialized nations. Despite our nation’s history of leading health spending extravagance and unfounded boasts of a culture of collective healthcare excellence, we place last among countries of affluence in these areas: infant mortality and low birth weight; injuries and homicides; teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections; prevalence of HIV and AIDS; drug-related deaths; obesity and diabetes; heart disease; chronic lung disease; and disability (IOM, 2013). Taking these outcomes in all at once is overwhelming and discouraging. Sadly, this is our American healthcare reality. However, with each nurse doing what he or she can within his or her abilities, the miraculous can and will occur.

Promotion of Good Heath Stewardship

This is how I see it: every nurse has the power to help improve our country’s poor health indicator results by taking personal accountability of his or her own personal health. This means taking our personal health to the next level. Healthy eating, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking are logically great places to start. Doing this while also educating and encouraging others, whether patients, colleagues, or friends and loved ones, to do the same is really our professional responsibility. Nurses ideally should be role models of good health and personal accountability. A review of our Code of Ethics for Nurses (2001) is the standard for this measure.

Nurses can easily positively impact our country’s health culture by cultivating personal and collective health accountability and stewardship. When we become licensed to practice as nurses, we make ourselves accountable as role models for our patients and the public. Our social contract with the public calls for us to be people of honesty and integrity. Regretfully, when our personal health walk doesn’t match our professional talk, we potentially compromise our good standing with the public. In the end, our incongruent messages likely due much more harm than we can fathom.

Every nurse can also contribute to a culture of health through health care resource stewardship. Of course, being cognizant of how even seemingly insignificant patient medical issues and expenses impact overall costs for everyone involved is important. Helping to prevent health care waste where we can is imperative.

Nurses can also easily help promote a culture of health by educating patients and caregivers regarding how to be savvy healthcare consumers. Making them aware of their rights and responsibilities as patients and caregivers is a great place to start.

For instance, patients need to know that it is their right to receive effective communication from their physician or other care provider. In return, patients and caregivers should be informed or reminded that their responsibility is to provide accurate and complete health information during each medical encounter.

Health professionals are obligated to deliver information in ways that are meaningful and understandable. Nurses can help with this by promoting effective communication and teaching techniques like motivational interviewing and teach back methods. Nurse can additionally encourage patients and caregivers to speak up when information is not understandable to them.

Furthermore, in regard to communication of health information, nurses can also easily take advantage of opportunities to teach patients and families on their rights and opportunities to access and obtain copies of their health records from physician’s offices and other health organizations, including medical suppliers, pharmacies, and nursing homes. Nurses also need to have and make opportunities coach and support those interested in coming more informed health care consumers. This may include one-on-one coaching or group education formats.

The reality is that most nurses likely need to personally become informed of and utilize health information innovations, such as the Blue Button, before their patients can in turn glean from their experience. Meanwhile, nurses can easily help our nation make great strides in our pursuit of a culture of health by just beginning here.

Nurses Can Lead Change By Getting on Boards

The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action is leading a charge to garner “10,000 Nurses on Boards by 2020”, so that more nurses are involved in decisions and initiatives in health care organizations across the country. Nurses make up the majority of health care professionals, yet are vastly underrepresented in these integral leadership positions. Dr. Hassmiller is encouraging nurses to get involved in committees, professional organizations, and boards and to do “whatever it takes to ‘lead change to advance health.’”

Nurses should indeed allow their passions, interests, and experiences to guide them in their pursuit of leadership roles throughout their communities and beyond. Nurse can begin to lead by looking for opportunities for leadership and professional growth in the often over looked areas such as with local non-profit organizations and churches. Many organizations, especially those with health related missions, would value having the knowledge, experience, and influence that a nurse could bring to their board or program.

Getting invited to join a board may be as simple as sending a letter expressing your interest to the board’s chairman. I am speaking from personal experience with this, because I was recently invited to rejoin (I had previously participated on this board a few years back) the board of a free medical safety net clinic in my community, after I wrote such a letter.

I believe that my participation on the Board of the Health and Hope Clinic, of which I am the only nurse, is having a positive ripple in serving the needs of my community’s remaining uninsured post Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. This is not because I have superhuman nursing powers, or even much formal experience in health care leadership positions.

My positive influence on this board is first and foremost because of my contribution of 20 years of boots-on-the-ground health care experience, and secondly, due to the new knowledge and insights that I can share thanks to my continued nursing education (I am in the home stretch of my MSN in Education pursuit!).

However, in the past, I also served on this board with less professional tenure and only an Associate in Nursing (ADN) education. Despite my limited nursing education, previous experience on the Health and Hope Clinic Board allowed me significant service and influence opportunities. For instance, I contributed to a presentation that ultimately allowed the clinic to receive a very competitive $100,000 grant! This was a rewarding and fruitful experience for me, one that has help to improve my professional competence.

Currently, my board membership is also providing me with the unique opportunity of working with members and clinic leaders as we meet on an on going basis with all of our community’s health care and hospital systems jointly. Our collaborative goals are to find innovative ways in which our clinic can better support these organizations as we care for the uninsured, working poor in our County while preventing unnecessary ED visit and hospital readmissions.

My nursing experience and education is also enabling me to contribute to our Board’s efforts through the creation of a digital, online learning system that will support both clinic volunteers and eventually patients. My professional experience and foresight has shown me the importance of sound, evidence-based curriculums and eLearning are imperative to our future ability to train volunteer doctors, nurses, and other health and social service professionals on the health needs specific to our community. The digital learning resources and communication platform I am designing will support the clinic’s ability to effectively function as we head further into the 21st century.

I am happy to serve on the board of the Health and Hope Clinic of Escambia County, Florida. I am also excited to have the opportunity to utilize my advanced nursing education and creativity to my full potential. If I can do this through my community service with this free clinic, then rest assured other nurses certainly can, too.

Nurses matter

The public recognizes and honors us as evidence by the Gallup (2013) survey results naming nursing as the most esteemed profession for honesty and ethics every year for more than a decade. Nurses need to take advantage of this position of influence with the public to spear head and support progressive, sweeping changes in our circles of influence.

In the end, the truth is that a culture of health in America can only flourish in an atmosphere where health stewardship, transparency, participation, and innovation abound. All nurses must be ready and willing to take up the present and future challenges across health care’s landscape.

Each of us can do something more to positively influence American health outcomes. Don’t wait for the New Year to arrive, begin right away. Begin your personal and professional reflection now; and let’s close out this year and head into 2015 with a fresh resolve to be more actively and professionally engaged nurses!

Lastly, every nurse resolved to keep God first above all else is assured to great success in 2015!

Leave your comment below and share how you plan to contribute more to America’s common healthcare good in 2015.

Many best wishes for success for in 2015!

Suzie

 

References

Gallup. (2013, December 5-8). Honesty/ethics in professions. Retrieved on December 4, 2014 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx

Health and Hope Clinic. (2014). About us. Retrieved on December 4, 2014 from http://www.healthandhopeclinic.org

HealthIT.gov. (2014, November 30). Your health records: About blue button http://www.healthit.gov/patients-families/blue-button/about-blue-button

Institute of Medicine. (2013, January 3). U.S. health in international perspective: Shorter lives, poorer health. Retrieved on December 4, 2014 from http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/US-Health-in-International-Perspective-Shorter-Lives-Poorer-Health.aspx

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2013, August 6). The future of nursing: Campaign for action. Retrieved on December 4, 2014 from http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/human-capital-blog/2014/12/the_top_five_issues.html?cid=xrs_rss-pr

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2014, December 3). The top five issues for nursing in 2015. Retrieved on December 4, 2014 from http://www.rwjf.org/en/blogs/human-capital-blog/2014/12/the_top_five_issues.html

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So Sorry: Please Let Me Reintroduce Myself

by Suzie Farthing on November 20, 2014

Photo credit iStock Photo

Photo credit iStock Photo

Dear Friends,

First, I am so sorry for my seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards the One Love for Nurses blog and podcast. I have let it go on for far too long. Please forgive me!

Here is my scoop

As some of you may already know, this One Love for Nurses platform has been around for some time. The forerunner of this blog and podcast is the now retired organization One Love Nursing Ministries that I began back in 2006. The mission united nurses in spirit and purpose for many years. We had great success with this organization among nurses, other medical professionals, and healthcare organizations in the in the Pensacola, Florida area.

Then a new season

The beginning of my journey to receive my Masters in nursing education, led me in to a bittersweet season of my life. I knew it was time to step away from the OLNM service work. However, weirdly as it may seem to many, I simultaneously felt God’s nudging to begin an online business and ministry to serve nurses, communities, and healthcare organizations.

So I did. My heart and mind was leading me this way.

My efforts have always been to reach an audience of nurses far and wide with messages meant to unite nurses in spirit and purpose through the grace and encouragement of God in Christ. In my attempts to do this through the power of technology and good stewardship, I have pursued many of the Web 2.0 and social media innovations. And, I have found out that I genuinely appreciate the power and impact of the communication tools offer.

The focus of the One Love for Nurses blog and podcast shifted with my newfound passions even more as time went on. Not only did I want to use this platform as an expression of my faith, but also an encouragement for nurses to be united in spirit and purpose while using these new communication tools. I wanted to, and still do, help nurses feel empowered as individuals and professionals.

New opportunities for nurses stuck in ruts

I began to feel my calling shift from that of traditional nursing roles and service work to following my passion for new technologies and new ways of communicating. Because of this, new healthcare industries are sprouting up on a seemingly weekly basis. Organizations are discovering the power of social media and virtual health communities. I love these new and innovative frontiers; and I am moving my nursing education career in this direction.

This is not for everyone

These new technologies are not for everyone. This is understandable. However, we still need nurses to be actively engaged in these rapid-fire innovations that are occurring, or we will be irrelevant to what is going to be a common means of communication between health professionals, patients, and health systems in the months and years to come. Heck, they are occurring now!

Nurses have new opportunities abound these days through the wonder of Web 2.0! If we want to, we can get out of the career ruts that we may be in and express our wisdom, knowledge, compassion, and creativity, as we desire. All while maintaining the decorum our beloved profession needs and deserves!

I don’t expect everyone to understand or “get it”; but I will love them through it anyway. I also believe more and more eyes will be opened as we move into these virtual health and ministry frontiers. These are exciting times!

Again, I am sorry I have allowed myself to be distracted from my cause, everything has brought me to the point I am at now. I will share more about this leg of my journey soon.

 Now Fully Committed

From this point forward, I am dedicated to supporting nurses who feel the same way I do. I also want to support them in their walk with Christ. Honestly, I also need the companionship of like minded nurses!

 

Here’s my plan for One Love for Nurses

  • Post to the blog every Thursday
  • Hold off on the One Love for Nurses podcast for the time being
  • Connect with more like-minded nurses
  • Engage in conversation

Thank you for hanging in there with me! Please help me spread the word!

 

I would love to hear any comments or questions you may have regarding nursing, faith, or new media education and communication strategies in healthcare. I am looking forward to learning along with everyone!

 

Warmest regards,

 

Suzie Farthing, RN

Future Nurse Educator

 

Oh, and I almost forgot! I want to share the scripture that is encouraging me these days. It may bring the peace as well.

 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

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