AACN News—December 2005—Opinions

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Vol. 22, No. 12, DECEMBER 2005

President's Note
Engage and Transform
How Can You Not Make Time for Renewal?

By Debbie Brinker, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS
AACN President

Moments of daily renewal are like seeds that sprout and burrow deep into the soil of our lives as a free and irrepressible melody of hope. Such moments are as close as a shaft of sunlight breaking through the morning mist, or a red-tailed hawk serenely catching an updraft and then allowing itself to be launched across the vast expanses of the sky. Such magic at only the price of our attention! No need to grasp greedily at such moments: They come upon us naturally—yes, repeatedly—in the utter simplicity and fullness of life. There is more than enough for us all.
—The Monks of New Skete

The winter holidays are upon us once again. Yet, isn’t it odd to couple a joyous word like holiday with a weighty one like upon?

The holiday season has become relentlessly fast-paced. On one hand, leftover Halloween candy has yet to harden as wreaths appear on lampposts and the background music in stores changes to carols. On the other hand, our daily lives are so hectic that we find ourselves struggling to engage in their renewing opportunity.

After all, critically ill patients don’t take holidays. Nor do their families. They require our care 24/7, no matter the season. Add the sometimes burdensome activities of the season—shopping, family commitment, social obligations, or perhaps individual loneliness and isolation—and we might wonder how we can also make time for renewal.

I ask how can we not. How can we care for others when we are drained of energy? When Ann Rogers and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania present compelling evidence that nurses’ fatigue poses a dangerous risk to their patients and themselves? When we find ourselves trying to shoehorn obligatory merriment into an already overcrowded life?

What Renewal Means
Perhaps the challenge lies in sorting out what renewal means to each of us. Perhaps it lies in how easily we see renewal as a burden. An easily skipped chore on that endless list we carry, whether in our pockets or in our mind.

I always thought of our Adventure Club as purely social. A fellow nurse started it. Once a month, a group of nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists from my unit shared an activity. Sometimes we played broomball at an ice rink just to show each other how inept we can be. We laughed a lot as bodies were bruised. Egos, too. I never thought of these as times of renewal. Not until I noticed that the more we played out of the unit, the better we collaborated with patient care in the unit.

But renewal can mean different things for each of us at different times. The thoughtful quote at the beginning of this column reminded me of that. It reminded me that renewal is about perspective. Make it a chore and our burden increases. Make it a gift and our load is transformed.

Knitting. Needlepoint. Photography. Sleeping for nine hours. Reading. Hiking. Dancing. Singing, even off key. Savoring freshly baked bread or the health-promoting qualities of dark chocolate. Jogging. Power walking. Strolling. With the dogs or without them. Talking with children. Or with elders. Time with loved ones. Time away from them. Listening to the rain. Delighting in the moon as it sparkles on the water or a fresh blanket of winter snow. I hope you find yourself subconsciously adding to the list.

Celebrate Yourself
Above all, renewal is about caring for yourself. Celebrating yourself in meaningful ways that leave you refreshed and mindful of everything that makes a difference in your life.

Such magic at only the price of our attention! No need to grasp greedily at such moments: They come upon us naturally—yes, repeatedly—in the utter simplicity and fullness of life. There is more than enough for us all.

When I make time to renew myself, through daily reflection or capturing the spirit of adventure, I find myself re-engaged in my nursing practice with vitality and a sense of peace.
Care for yourself so you’ll have the energy, renewed passion and commitment to optimally care for your patients and their families. Celebrate your relationships and accomplishments as an individual and as a team. Renew your passion for the difficult, rewarding work you do and recommit to engage and transform your personal practice and your work environment.

Maybe this year you won’t just make it through the holidays into another hectic year. Maybe you will find yourself renewed and celebrating that you are truly an extraordinary nurse.
Happy Holidays!

The cool air rushes in and the world is quieted by a blanket of dancing snowflakes, a warm fire, the scent of spruce and cinnamon is in the air. January is a time of new beginnings, promises, and crisp change. It’s a chance for resolution and tenacity. What will this new year bring for you, an extraordinary nurse?
—Sharon Hudacek


Practice Alerts Are Valuable

I wanted to tell you how valuable the Practice Alerts are to my practice.

Working in critical care nursing administration for more than 20 years, I have grown tired of reinventing the wheel. Even with the Internet, doing literature searches on topics as basic as these is very time consuming.

Publishing these Practice Alerts has saved me enormous time and energy and has provided my staff with assurance that they are doing the right thing for their patients, supported by the evidence. We need many more!

Mary Bylone, RN, BS, ASN, CCRN
Hammonton, N.J.

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