AACN News—January 2001—Opinions

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Vol. 18, No. 1, JANUARY 2001

President's Note: Make Waves: Be It Resolived That ...

By Denise Thornby, RN, MS
President, AACN

Elsie Nolan, chair-elect of the AACN Certification Corporation Board of Directors, sent me a quiz via e-mail the other day. I am glad I waded through the lengthy “forwarded” list to read it, because it illustrates an important lesson for us all. Here are the questions that were posed:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last six Academy Award winners for best actor or best actress.
6. Name the World Series champions for the last five years.

How did you do? If you are like me, probably pretty dismally. The point is that most of us do not remember yesterday’s headliners for long. Although they are the best in their fields, the applause eventually dies. Awards tarnish and achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with those who receive them.

Now, here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one.

1. Name three teachers who helped you on your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five nurses who taught you something worthwhile.
4. Name three people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Name five people you enjoy spending time with.
6. Name one nurse who made a positive difference in the way care is delivered to patients in your practice area.
7. Name three heroes whose stories have inspired you.
8. Name someone who came to your aid as a new nurse.
9. Think of two coworkers you are always glad to be working with.

Was this one easier? What did you learn? The lesson is that the people who make a difference in our lives are not necessarily the ones who have the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are simply the ones who care.

Reading Elsie’s e-mail made me realize how powerful a commitment by all of us to New Year’s resolutions of courage, influence and making a difference for others and ourselves would be.

Of course, I never do well at New Year’s resolutions. Although I always want to, I never quite follow through. By the time I have decided on my resolutions, it is spring, and then keeping them doesn’t seem quite worth it. Perhaps, the reason I haven’t been successful at making and keeping resolutions in the past is that I have never made ones that had much meaning to me.

This year, I think I have found some that are truly worthwhile, because they are caring focused. I would like to suggest them to you. After all, aren’t we all better at giving advice than taking it? So, as we prepare for the “true” beginning of the millennium, I ask that you consider these resolutions for your professional life.
1. Talk with at least one young person about why you became a nurse and the joys of our profession. Encourage him or her to consider a career as a critical care nurse. Follow up with a contribution to
    AACN’s Annual Fund to support scholarships for nursing education.
2. Reach out and invite and encourage at least one other critical care nurse to join AACN.
3. Attend a local AACN chapter meeting and invite a couple of colleagues to join you.
4. Become certified or encourage and support one of your colleagues to become certified.
5. Set aside five minutes every day to reflect on the positive impact you have had on a particular patient or family.
6. Talk to someone in your family about something you’ve done at work, something that truly illustrates the important things you do as a nurse.
7. “Pay it Forward” with one coworker by doing something helpful, something that you would not ordinarily do and something that takes extra effort.
8. Treat a nurse manager to lunch or drinks after work and offer him or her support and partnership to improve your care environment.
9. Inform one nurse and one physician about how to implement an AACN research-based practice protocol.
10. Commit to attending AACN’s National Teaching Institute™ and Critical Care Exposition in Southern California in May 2001—especially if you have never attended an NTI or have not attended one
    recently. Make this a gift to yourself, so you can be renewed and refreshed and bring back information to share with coworkers.
11. Recognize the contributions of your coworkers by nominating them for an AACN Circle of Excellence award or a hospital-based recognition program.
12. Tell your “heroes” about the role they have played in your career development and life in general.
13. Compliment the newest nurses on your unit when you see them do a good job. They will be surprised and will remember your kindness.
14. Call or write one legislator about an issue that you really feel strongly about.
15. Look for opportunities to share with others the kind of nursing you do and the rewards you feel. Use outlets such as local television, letters to the editor in the local paper, a church bulletin, nursing
    magazines and chapter newsletters.
16. Reach out to an inexperienced physician to help him or her understand how to better care for critically ill patients, talk with families and be a good team member with nurses, or help them gain an
    understanding of nursing’s contributions.
17. Tell the respiratory therapist, social worker or pharmacist with whom you work how much their efforts make a difference to you.
18. Practice random acts of kindness. Help the dietary aide deliver trays, help a physician find a needed supply, say “thanks” and smile frequently and answer call lights with enthusiasm.
19. Select one practice in your area that is not patient-centered, evidenced-based or in keeping with AACN’s vision and work to influence others to change this practice.
20. Commit to taking care of yourself, so that you will have the energy and spirit needed to be a positive influence on others.

Care to influence? Care to make waves? Care enough to act with courage and be influential? The choice is yours. Each of these resolutions speaks to reaching out and making waves, to using courage and influence to do something you might not ordinarily do. Each of these suggested acts presents you with the opportunity to become more influential, to have an impact on others in a significant way and to indeed make waves.

I realize that this lengthy list may seem overwhelming. Try selecting just one resolution to work on per month. Can you imagine how this would enhance your own effectiveness, your own capacity to influence and the lives of others by implementing just 12 of these resolutions? I am convinced that the wave of effect you would have on someone else or yourself would be significant and memorable.

You have the ability and opportunity to influence your daily life. You have the ability and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, which is the greatest achievement of all. Happy New Year!

Thanks to AACN CEO Wanda Johanson and the AACN Board of Directors, who helped and inspired me with this list!


Don’t Lose Sight of Patient Care
I was extremely disappointed in Cindy Vickery's “letter” in the November 2000 issue of AACN News, in which she complained about a lack of appreciation for nurses. Although this issue is valid, as are her remarks about administrative abuses from short-staffing and underpay, her remarks regarding patients were inappropriate.

Nurses are not the main victims of the current climate in heathcare politics; patients are. Patients are the ones who ultimately suffer the consequences of management decisions to cut nursing personnel. Those who are injured as a direct result of nursing, medical or corporate negligence are also well within their rights to initiate lawsuits to attain the damage awards they deserve. I am certain that these victims would rather receive quality healthcare services.

I certainly hope that nurses don’t lose sight of their overall mission to provide the best patient care possible. We should not take out our current frustrations on the very people whom we have trained so diligently to serve.

Personally, I'm glad to see patients taking an active role in their own healthcare, including bringing a bedside advocate to help ensure they receive quality services. We are  all there to deliver the care that each patient deserves. Nothing less is acceptable.
Harold Stearley, RN, BSN, JD, CCRN
Columbia, Mo.
Support Our Nurses
I have been enjoying the “President’s Note” columns in AACN News, especially the September 2000 one about supporting our nurses. Some nurses are notorious for making new nurses feel incompetent—almost putting them through an initiation.

I have recently taken the job of a nurse manager and plan to use your ideas to help promote teamwork and mentoring in our facility.
Lois Hamilton
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