President's Note: A Journey of
Rediscovery: Look Within to Find Yourself
By Michael L. Williams, RN, MSN, CCRN
I recently heard a speaker on legal issues in
nursing say, �You can�t sue people for being obnoxious. You would find it almost
impossible to find a lawyer to take your case.� Her comment made me realize that
I really don�t understand people who demonstrate inappropriate behavior.
I thought that if I could observe obnoxious
behavior, I could identify a motive for it. I didn�t have to look far to
encounter obnoxious behaviors. I concluded that many people don�t recognize when
they are being discourteous. They don�t realize that others may find their
behavior offensive. They simply lack the self-awareness to know how their
behavior affects and is perceived by others.
AACN�s Leadership Development Work Group defines
self-awareness as �personal wisdom�the understanding of one�s values, beliefs
and attitudes and how they impact one�s responses and behaviors.� It is one of
four skills the group has identified as necessary to influence our practice and
our work environment.
How can we help overcome inappropriate behavior?
How can we increase self-awareness in others as well as in ourselves?
Fortunately, there are strategies that can be used to accomplish this.
� Take time to reflect on your behaviors and
your motives. For example, ask yourself why you become frustrated with your
coworker in the first place.
� Seek feedback from others. Ask a friend to
observe you and share what they observe about your behaviors. Encourage them to
be honest and frank with you. This can be an excellent way for you to see
� Participate in self-evaluation exercises and
self-assessment programs. This will help you see yourself in new ways and may
help you see yourself the way others do. At AACN, we use the DISC tool. Many
others, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
and Neurolinguistic Communication tools, are available.
� Find a mentor. Seek out someone you admire and
ask them to provide you with feedback regarding your performance. Compare his or
her perceptions to your own.
� Recognize that you control your behavior. You
can change it or at least be more aware of how you perform in future contextual
� Visualize how you want to be perceived. If you
want to be perceived as kind and caring, visualizing that style can help you
How can you help others become more self-aware?
� Provide feedback to others about the way you
perceive their performance. Use assertive statements, such as, �I perceived you
as angry in that meeting ...� By doing so, you �own� the perception and are not
forcing your desired behavioral change on
� Always approach another individual with a
positive approach. Ask, �How can I help you grow?� This will help assure him or
her that your motive is well intended and not spiteful. Be genuine in your
to help them. Offer tangible strategies for
improving obnoxious behaviors.
� Recognize that feedback generally is more
effective if requested. Nevertheless, you still have an obligation to yourself
and to others to provide even unsolicited feedback to people whose behavior is
others. Sometimes, doing so can open the door
for discussion and dialogue in which the offending individual may want to share
personal tragedies and ask for help.
Self-awareness is a journey of constant
rediscovery. It is contextually bound. Factors such as your socialization and
life experiences influence how you perceive yourself. The bigger question is: Do
you want to discover and know the real you? Once you decide you do, you are
truly on your way to being in a position to influence others in a positive way.
Pay Is the Issue
I read with dismay the comments about our
critical nursing shortages (�President�s Note,� AACN News, October 2001). How
can you discount the fact that the main reason we cannot get new nurses into our
field or get our seasoned nurses to stay is money? You are right that it�s not
only money that will retain nurses, but money is a main factor in recruiting and
retaining and it has historically not been there.
Full-time nurses have never been paid as
professionals. They routinely get squashed the most in salary compression. For
example, engineers with four-year degrees and 15 years of work experience make
on average $50,000 to $75,000 per year. They do not have to work most holidays
or weekends, pay for liability insurance or have to worry about legal issues.
Nurses with BSNs and 15 years of experience make on average $30,000 to $40,000
per year. They must work weekends, holidays, keep current on competencies, keep
up certifications, pay for liability insurance and cover RN shortages. In
addition, it�s insulting when a seasoned RN makes $23 an hour and a new grad can
make $18 to $20 dollars per hour.
I have recently started a retention committee at
my place of employment and will not rest until nurses are paid as the
professionals we are. I would bet that if the salaries are there, the RNs will
come and stay.
I would like this issue to receive the proper
backing from AACN. AACN�s response to �Nurses Need Better Pay� (AACN News,
September 2001) was political. Come on, AACN, get your hands dirty! We have the
power to do something great for our careers.
Nursing staff is at a critical low, which gives
us even more power. AACN can recommend standards of pay for the nursing field
for hospitals and clinics to follow. Written standards of pay from AACN would
help retention committees throughout the U.S. and hopefully bring the pay for a
full-time professional nurse up to where it should be.
Susan Zimmermann, RN, BSN
Editor�s note: AACN agrees that nurses should be
recognized as providers of quality, cost-effective healthcare, compensated for
their value and supported through public policy. To ensure this vision can
become a reality, AACN joined more than 60 nursing organizations in September
2001 to identify ways that the profession can, together, address shortages of
nurses and resolve the myriad issues causing shortages, including compensation
of nurses. Each nursing organization will commit human and financial resources
to achieve objectives that everyone agrees are critical to nursing�s success. In
the domain of economic value of nurses, it is deemed essential that nursing
leaders capture and ensure evidence of the link between quality, value and costs
of nursing services; bring forward and evaluate innovative compensation packages
to recruit and retain nurses; design a model for reimbursement of nursing
services; advocate for tax relief; and create new educational reimbursement
programs for those pursuing nursing
By combining the power of our voice with these
other organizations, AACN believes we will create significant improvements not
only in salaries, but also in benefits and recognition for nurses and in
workplace conditions that are also impacting our ability to deliver care.
AACN applauds the efforts of critical care
nurses who have joined this effort in a variety of ways at their own hospitals.
Thank you, Susan, for using your voice to emphasize what a critical issue this