Helping Nurses "Live Smarter Not Harder" by Balancing the Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit

Own The Tone

Nursing CapMy first position as a Director of Nursing in a home care agency had me ill equipped to manage staff. As a new person, I heard a lot of, “I don’t do that!” “That’s her job!” Others would pull me to the side to say, “They did that for the last director” or “The last director did this.” I learned quickly that I needed to set the tone for my own position and how I would handle issues. I learned that it is the most important factor for effective leadership that a leader sets the tone. This is true of new managers and seasoned managers who may be taking on new staff, or may just realize that what they’re doing just isn’t working.

The way you dress, keep your office space, speak and handle yourself professionally are all involved in setting the atmosphere in which you work. You set the tone of how change is accepted by yourself and your staff. You set the tone of how you will be treated by your peers and co-workers. You set the tone on how your staff will treat each other.

Three tips to help you set the tone at your workplace:

  1. Learn your job description and your staff’s job descriptions (if you have staff). If you don’t have staff know the job descriptions of the people you will work closely with. You really need to know what everyone does so you can see how the different positions interact to see the big picture.
  2.  Survey – Speak with and observe your upper direct reports, other managers, staff and ancillary staff to understand the culture of the organization. Every organization has its own unique culture. Sometimes different units will have their own sub-cultures. This is to avoid being a “bull in a china shop” or be “run over” by some bulldozer type personalities.
  3. Lead – Lead with confidence. Once you understand processes and culture, don’t be afraid to implement new things. You are the fresh eyes and with due diligence most likely have very good ideas because you haven’t been totally incorporated into the culture. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks or make mistakes. As long as you learn from them, you will continue to grow.

Let’s talk about it. Join my Facebook Group The Leaders Journey Network.

About Naomi
Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. For more information about coaching with Naomi, visit http://www.LifeCoachRN.com

Nurse_Degree_iStock_000001078215Small (2)Presently, the push is to have entry-level nursing be the Baccalaureate degree in Nursing; however, we must be careful not to “throw the baby out with the bath water.”

As I fly back from Colorado, I thought of the men and women who paved the way to today’s aviation system. Where it used to take months in covered wagons to get from the east coast to the west coast, I can fly that route now in less than 6 hours. Each journey has its own challenges, risks and successes. Our nursing history is full of struggle and growth. The latest trends really come out of the past. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” just different circumstances and situations.

Some nurses today are going straight through school, obtaining advanced degrees without ever working in any entry-level healthcare positions. Many of the concepts being promoted in the baccalaureate programs today are built on the same concepts we learned years ago. With changes in technology the circumstances have changed but the patient needing disease management remains the same – for example – electronic medical records versus copying the medication Kardex every Monday by hand.

My journey reflects what some might call the “covered wagon” approach. Originally, I became a Home Health Aide. To my surprise, I enjoyed being able to play a role in my patients’ healing and care. My journey from HHA to LPN, to RN, to Master’s degree took almost 25 years (covered wagon). I learned along the way, working in hospitals, homecare, hospice, school health, managed care and other healthcare facilities how to have a balanced, practical view of my formal education. My history became an asset to my nursing practice.

When specialties became Queen, advanced degrees in Community Heath, Health Administration, and Health Management were encouraged and sought after. So many seasoned nurses are now being told that our advanced degrees don’t matter because it isn’t the “right one” in nursing specifically. This is a recipe for disaster in the nursing profession as a whole. Is the nurse who obtained her baccalaureate in nursing without ever working in the field more of an asset to the profession than someone who built upon their nursing degree with continuing education and practical experience?

I am an advocate for education and for nurses. We must be very careful as we are forcing many nurses out of the profession by requiring that they return to school – some just prior to retirement. Asking them to incur expenses that could affect their very ability to retire is a big problem. We may be actually hurting the very patients and profession we are trying to help.

The truth is both nurses are of value to our profession. What was old has become new again. Florence Nightingale formalized education of nurses and laid the foundation for ‘evidenced based practice.’ Mentorship is one of the big things missing in our profession especially concerning Nurse Leaders. We are at risk of repeating the failures of the past when we decrease the value of our history. The people who pioneered this land in covered wagons paved the way for those who are flying now. The wise ones in nursing will look back, grab the baby and then throw out the bath water. We are responsible for the safe transitioning of our profession. Strategic grandfathering is one way to create a practical transference of nursing knowledge.

Have the changing requirements for nursing education affected you positively or negatively? Is it really the type of degree that makes a nurse a better practitioner?

Let’s talk about it. Join my Facebook Group The Leaders Journey Network.

About Naomi
Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. For more information about coaching with Naomi, visit http://www.LifeCoachRN.com

????????????????????????????????????????It seems like only yesterday we were anticipating 2014 as a New Year. We made resolutions and desired new beginnings like we always do. Well, March is here and I am here to remind you that your goals are NOT unreachable, and there’s no better time than the present to start transforming your life! Forget Resolutions! Make your New Year’s start today.

2014 is the year of Transcendence. This is the year to take your life and career to the next level. To transcend is to rise above, outdo or exceed in excellence.

Before you can transcend you need to begin with transformation.  As you transform (undergo a change in form, appearance or character) and grow internally, you must value that change.  Allow it to motivate and inspire you to take your game to the next level. As we take this time to reflect on 2013 and plan for new things to come, let me share with you how to identify and reach your goals for 2014.

Mind, body, soul and spirit. The four aspects that direct every phase of our lives. Everything begins with a thought. Mindfulness is the place to begin your transformation. Think about your future.  I mean really THINK about it.  Take time to look at how, who, what and where you spend your time.  This will allow you to assess and understand how certain things fit into your life purpose and what doesn’t.  Taking an assessment of your life is the first step in developing the mindfulness necessary to begin the process of transformation.

As a life coach, I help many nursing leaders begin their transformation and begin to reach their goals by asking these few questions.

  • Where have I been?

Many times we don’t ask this question. Sometimes we want to forget our past. If you don’t know and understand your past, you will repeat it over and over again.  This may be okay for the good things you’ve done, although there is no benefit in repeating those choices that have a negative impact in our lives. Insanity is repeating things that have a proven negative outcome and expecting a positive result.

  • Where am I at in my life right now?

Are you growing in your career or as an individual? Are you experiencing satisfaction, fulfillment? Do you even think it is possible? Assessing your potential for fulfillment will help propel you toward your purpose.  Change isn’t easy; it may even be scary or painful and, believe me, it’s rarely comfortable. If you are very comfortable where you are, it may be an indication that it’s time to make a change.

  • Who is in my life right now?

We need to look at the people in our lives. Are they promoting or hindering our goals? When we are growing personally and/or professionally, everyone will not, or cannot, support you. In order to move forward you may have to leave some people behind. By letting go, you make room for new relationships and experiences. The saying goes: “if you are the smartest person in the room you need to change the room.”

  • Why am I doing what I’m doing?

What challenges you? What motivates you, inspires you or brings you joy (an inside job)? These are very deep questions and you really need some time to focus on them.

  • Do I have a specific goal?

This is actually a question that will begin to lead you on the path toward your purpose. Without specific goals we wander aimlessly. There are so many paths to choose in life and our careers.  Sometimes we don’t make a choice for fear of choosing the wrong thing.  Without purposeful decision-making, you open the door for others to decide for you.  Your children, spouses, parents, bosses and peers will choose for you according to their own agendas or else outside circumstances will dictate your path.  “A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” *

As nursing leaders we often feel we are last on the list of priorities.  I believe this leads to frustration, overwhelm and disappointment in our careers and personal lives. When will you begin to implement an assessment on your life?  Here are a few tips to get you started:

In order to transform your mind, you must make time to spend with yourself.  Put the children to bed early for a few evenings. Take yourself to dinner alone.

Have a spa day. For those who can’t see themselves doing this, you can think about it before work or after work on the bus or in your car before you go home.

If you really want something bad enough, you WILL make time for it.

Transcendence. 2014 is the year of transcendence. The year to take action and have your life and career exceed your expectations. Transform, then Transcend! Aligning your mind, body, soul and spirit to discover your purpose. It’s about your legacy.

What will you do to make 2014 your year of transformation into transcendence?

*― Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern

Gentleman, 1955-1967

About Naomi

Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. For more information about coaching with Naomi, visit http://www.LifeCoachRN.com

ImageRecently I went to a bank to make some changes to my accounts. My banker, Jonathan, set out to help me. It was such a pleasure to be able to explain my needs and have him translate the vision of what I wanted my money to do for me. What was really obvious to me was that Jonathan knew what he was doing. He was well versed in the products that the bank offered. He used some critical thinking to determine what products would work for me and he was adept in applying that knowledge. He helped me set up my phone so I could bank by phone. He even went the extra mile to test the apps to make sure they worked before I left the bank.

This experience had me think about healthcare and nursing today. Many nurses, especially the “boomer” nurses, don’t like it, but healthcare is changing to a customer satisfaction, cost containment driven business.

Hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and home cares are now going to have their patient satisfaction surveys published. Poor scores will no doubt lead to difficulty developing healthcare partner relationships and may lead to decreased reimbursement and loss of revenue.

As nursing leaders, today we have to accept that things are changing. As leaders within healthcare organizations, we are becoming responsible for those patient satisfaction surveys along with patient outcomes. First, we need to understand what’s happening in healthcare today and what the trends are. Secondly, we need to understand the products. Affordable Care Act, Medicare/Medicaid/ insurance regulations, evidence based practice and your Nurse Practice Act, to name a few.

Lastly, like my banker Jonathan, nursing leaders need to be adept in applying the knowledge they have. Some long for the days when “Nursing was Nursing” but those times had their challenges also. I remember medications had to be copied each week by hand onto a Kardex (dating myself), now we have electronic medical records that can be shared across the continuum.

Nostalgia has its place. Today we need to operate in the style of servant leadership, where you are the facilitator and translator of the vision.

Mastering balance between your mind, body, soul and spirit is the key to effective leadership. Get the tools, understand the mindset of the big picture, and apply the knowledge with confidence and finesse. This will allow you to do your job well. Your staff, patients and organizations will experience the best nursing has to offer, YOU, the nursing leader. To remain successful and find joy in your work you must secure resources, find a mentor and have a safe place where you can be renewed and find support. This is essential in mastering your legacy of leadership. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have!

How are you navigating the changing world of managing staff in the quickly changing healthcare scene?

About Naomi

Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. For more information about coaching with Naomi visit http://www.LifeCoachRN.com

The_End_iStock_000011280905Small (2)As parents, we can often become defined by our children and family life. Empty nest syndrome is when some parents go into depression after their kids leave home. At some point those parents identified the tasks associated with raising a family and related those tasks to who they were as individuals.

As nurse’s leaders, at times, we see our jobs as sets of tasks. We begin to believe we are not just judged by our tasks but feel we personally defined by the  outcomes of those tasks. Some even say they don’t want to retire because they feel they’ll die if they’re not working – mostly because they don’t have anything to look forward to (Empty nest working syndrome).

Nursing leaders are sometimes  fooled into thinking they are defined by the outcomes of certain tasks. In nursing management, we are expected to “produce” good patient outcomes, keep staff motivated and focused on the mission of the organization. What we often don’t remember, is that we are dealing with a variable product… People.

People come in all shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds cultures and issues. This is true of our patients, our staff and yes, even you. This is why you can’t be defined by the outcomes. I am not talking about accountability. For instance, Mr. A needs a certain medication. It’s your job to see that he takes that medication. If you are tied to that outcome, that he MUST take that medication, you may consider forcing him to take it (before you say “unbelievable”, look at the history before patient’s rights came into being). The belief becomes, “It will reflect badly on me if he doesn’t take the pill.” Whose decision and whose outcome is it really?

If as a nursing leader you are tasked with productivity of staff (and you are tied to the outcome), you may inadvertently put them in a position of working under dangerous conditions. The leader that needs to exert high levels of control and does not allow much input from anyone else is a leader who is trying to control the outcome. These leaders usually feel the need to penalize when errors are made instead of teaching because they feel defined by the outcome. They see problems and solutions as their own. These leaders perpetuate the mantra, “nurses eat their young.”

Your priority, as a nursing leader, needs to focus on the process not the outcome. As a leader, we are responsible to define the process. The process is what anyone with the basic skills could follow and keep them on the path to be successful. If you focus on the process, you won’t focus so much on the individual tasks at hand. You can help find the solution and embrace the outcome. It doesn’t become all about you.

An effective leader will strive for the expected positive outcome always keeping the variables in mind, “the people factor” and the process. Learning and growing is a process. Mistakes are inevitable. We can teach other how to minimize mistakes and learn from them through analyzing, implementing and adhering to processes. On the practical level, when things go wrong, following the process will help you identify gaps in learning and practice of your staff. It will eliminate the need for you to be right.

When nursing leaders remain personally detached from the outcome and focus on the process they become better able to help other nurses without being emotional or reactive. When we do this we will all be less judgmental and provide consistency for those we lead.

What situations have you dealt with where the means did or did not justify the end result?

About Naomi

Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. Her nursing practice includes bedside nursing, Hospital, SNF, Homecare and other areas of healthcare. Credentials include a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration, several certifications, military service and work with several community and professional organizations. For more information about coaching with Naomi visit http://www.LifeCoachRN.com

messy-office lady As much as I didn’t want to admit it, I was wasting time. How? By not keeping my work environment organized. If your office, cubicle or unit space is messy, your mind may become disorganized also. The result of a disorganized mind is your actions will be chaotic in nature. I used to tell myself “messy is OK” I had a certain level of messy I was comfortable with. Papers would be all over my desk and yet I thought it was no big deal. At times I would need a specific piece of paper or item on my desk. I knew it was there and I thought I was locating it quickly. The truth is, it might take me a minute or two to shuffle a few things around before I actually located it. What I later realized was that those extra few moments it took to look for that item was wasting a few minutes, here and there, several times a day. Those wasted minutes were adding up by the end of the day and even more by the end of the week. I was frustrated and wondered why I was working extra hours at the end of the day just to complete things that I didn’t get to. I was wasting time day after day.

I began to do what I call, “Pick it up and handle it sort of day.” This is where I do not allow myself to move things around. If I pick it up, I must handle it to its completion. It may not be what I wanted to do first but if I picked it up I must do it. By doing this I found that I really became more productive. For so many years we’ve been taught that multitasking was an essential skill. Now we know it may be more of a curse than a blessing sometimes. As managers we have so many things to do in a day. You have to prioritize and re- prioritize minute by minute. Organization is an important skill that will help you in you work life and your personal life. As you are organized, you will reflect a sense of confidence to those around you. When the chaos of our jobs is running rampant, being organized is the calm anchor in the middle of the storm.

Here are 4 tips to help you get organized:
• For the computer savvy, Outlook has a feature called “Tasks.” You can add items you need including appointments and things you may want others to do. Time limits can be scheduled along with reminders. At the end of the week, you can review what important things still need to be done.
• If you are connected to paper (like me sometimes), take inventory of your daily tasks. Organize them into no more than three categories. I.e., daily, weekly, monthly or something that works for you. Mentally divide your desk or work environment into three parts that coincide with your categories. When people hand you things throughout the day put them in the appropriate section so things aren’t in disarray.
• Still disorganized? Try my “pick it up and handle sort of day” at least once a week. It might not feel like you’re doing something important at the time but at the end of the day you will have a sense of accomplishment!
*Take 5 minutes at the end of each day to clean off your workspace. Clear your desk of junk mail, throw away papers or wipe down your area. Doing this will get you prepared to start the next day with a clean slate.

clean desk

What do you do to keep organized in the midst of your day to day operations? Share your successes or failures in the comments below!

Visit my website http://www.LifeCoachRN.com and get more great information. Contact me for a free “Personal Care Plan Assessment” ™. This is where we can find out what your needs are and whether you can benefit from my services.

About Naomi
Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. Her nursing practice includes bedside nursing, Hospital, SNF, Homecare and other areas of healthcare. Credentials include a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration, several certifications, military service and work with several community and professional organizations.

 

MIDDLE MANAGEMENT, THE FORGOTTEN HEROES!
Organizations must begin to look at their middle management teams as an integral part of their strategic visions. As healthcare becomes increasingly complex and organizations must transform themselves to compete in such things as patient satisfaction, patient outcomes and cost containment: middle managers hold the key to their success. As nursing leaders we must transform ourselves by becoming knowledgeable about who we are and how we can work “Smarter not Harder” and be effective. We must also empower ourselves to ask for what we want and need so we can take care of ourselves, our staff and our patients while implementing the visions of our companies and our profession.

The role of the front line nurse manager has become more stressful today due to the changing healthcare environment. Not only are some managers on call 24 hours and seven days a week, they are held responsible for improving quality care, and patient safety. In addition, they are responsible for their own clinical practice and the clinical practice of others even when they are not there.
Middle managers endure the increased need to multitask more and more each day. Yet many nursing managers are not treated as one who holds real power. Traditionally, nurses receive little credit for their contributions to the successful outcomes of their patients. Nursing leaders also receive little credit for getting the job ‘done’ from their leadership and endure lack of respect from staff. These contribute to job dissatisfaction among nurse leaders. Job dissatisfaction leads to apathy and decreased effectiveness as a leader. middlemanagerscropped1

Why are middle managers forgotten so easily? I believe it has a lot to do with how we are ‘raised’ in our leadership positions. Selection of nursing managers is often done haphazardly. Often, it’s the person who is
1. ‘In line’ for a promotion based on seniority.
2. Hand-picked by a friend in management.
3. Bullying their way in
4. ‘Pushed’ into the position.
However they are chosen, there is little initial or ongoing training for the new manager. They are expected to perform as a leader who understands how to manage budgets, staffing, discipline and people. Most learn by trial and error. Support is ‘hit and miss.’ The skills that the manager learns are sometimes enhanced if they further their education on their own. This education can come in the form of formalized degree programs, coaching and workshops but usually it’s on the job training. Experience is a great teacher but without guidance, mentoring and training it can become very dangerous. Nursing leaders must be carefully selected, developed in their roles, listened to and supported in their decision making.

Nursing management can positively influence the accomplishments of a healthcare organization. They translate the strategic goals and objectives of that organization and have them realized at the operational level. The core responsibilities of the nursing leader are to assure delivery of quality, cost effective nursing services and management of the environment in which nursing is practiced.
Nursing managers need to come out of the shadows. They need to ‘marry’ their clinical knowledge with business savvy. Whether you are seasoned or new to management, understand that leadership is a position of service. Our service is not only to our patients but it’s also to each other. We need to abolish the phrase “Nurses Eat Their Young” by taking care of ourselves and mentoring others.

The best way to gain something is to give something first. You became a leader because you believed you could make a difference. If you think that your leadership is all about you then you are operating with a closed mindset. It is about you but it’s not ALL about you! All is not lost. You can make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Begin by finding someone to mentor. Share your wisdom. (Yes, you have wisdom.) As you live your nursing legacy in real time, in real service and with real power, you will gain so much more. Ask for what you need. You deserve it. Giving all of you and leaving nothing for yourself is not the way to prosper in the long run. It’s about balance.

Middle managers will be forgotten only if they continue to allow themselves to be forgotten. I am calling on all nursing leaders from the charge nurse to the CEO to begin to change our motto from “Nurses Eat Their Young” to “Nurses: We Take Care of Our Own!” You need a renewed mindset and some new tools to do it. I can help! Many nurses I work with have regained their power base and enjoy leadership again. Middle_Manager_of_Justice_logo

Visit my website http://www.LifeCoachRN.com and get more great information. Contact me for a free “Personal Care Plan Assessment” ™. This is where we can find out what your needs are and whether you can benefit from my services.

About Naomi
Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. Her nursing practice includes bedside nursing, Hospital, SNF, Homecare and other areas of healthcare. Credentials include a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration, several certifications, military service and work with several community and professional organizations.

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