AACN News—June 2009—Opinions
Vol. 26, No. 6, JUNE 2009
Caryl Goodyear-Bruch RN, PhD, CCRN
Following are excerpts from the keynote address delivered by AACN President Caryl Goodyear-Bruch at the opening session of the 2009 National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition in New Orleans, La. The full text with references is available online at www.aacn.org > NTI.
“Treat yourself healthfully ... You must provide the best for yourself before it’s available to others.”– Mary Anne Radmacher
Driven by Passion
Why did I choose inspirational author and artist Mary Anne Radmacher’s quote to share with you? Because living our lives with passion isn’t possible if we don’t make room for it.
This year, I’ve traveled around the country visiting and talking to nurses. They tell me that they feel a passion for nursing that gives them great purpose. And when I ask how that passion plays out, there are many different answers. One nurse said she believes that she was meant to care for patients who are dying – to alleviate pain and suffering at the end of life and to create the dignity that patients deserve in their last hours on earth.
Another nurse told me about assuring that families are included in their unit rounds and that they are valued partners in caring for their loved ones.
Inspired by Purpose
With purpose comes all kinds of possibilities for taking confident actions that matter to our patients. CCRN Marie Lasater recently wrote a short article for the American Journal of Nursing describing a difficult day on her stepdown unit. She vividly described the patients, the realities of our healthcare system and her decision to prioritize being with a dying patient who was alone, without family.
Marie’s experience crystallized what was important to her, where her specific passion in nursing lay. To never allow any patient to die alone. Even when the care environment is chaotic.
Her passion for doing the right thing for her patients is palpable in her description of her actions that day. Wouldn’t we all love to work with Marie and the collaborative nurses who covered for her while she supported her dying patient?
How have you handled days like these? How would this situation play out in your unit? What level of collaboration can you rely on from your colleagues? And they, from you?
Healthy Relationships. Healthy Teams.
Having a team we can count on is essential to us being able to do our best for patients. Treating them with dignity. Working with them, their families and our colleagues to achieve their wishes is a privilege we honor and share with one another. These uniquely nursing stories I’ve told speak to me in many ways. But what seems to stand out most is that these stories are about relationships. Aren’t relationships at the heart of everything that we do as nurses?
As AACN’s president this year, I’ve studied and spoken a lot about creating the ideal team. If we are to improve the health of our work environments and provide quality, patient-centered care, we must have competent teams who value and demonstrate true collaboration. Our work relies on relationships – establishing, sustaining and building them. We need each other. And our patients need us to work together.
Confident people are positive people. There’s no question that maintaining a positive attitude is important to effective teamwork. But did you know it’s also good for our personal health? Did you know that the simple act of smiling releases endorphins? Laughter raises T and B cell levels, temporarily stimulates blood flow, and lowers blood pressure.
If our choice is to bring confident passion and positivity to our team, inspiring people to work together to improve the work environment, we will be more boldly living our purpose as nurses. We will produce quality experiences for our patients today and for patients in the future—as well as for the nurses who will care for them.
So, with confidence, I ask you to join me in soaking in every bit of knowledge, camaraderie and inspiration that NTI offers us. By harnessing the positive energy we gain here, we can take renewed passion, purpose and positivity back to our units. We can be those positive, confident, healthy beacons that light the way for our patients, our colleagues, and ourselves, even in the darkest of times. With confidence, we will return home ready to fulfill our promise to our patients and their families.
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