Be the nurse you want to be

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  • Presidents Message APRIL 2005, VOL 81, NO 4

    P R E S I D E N T S M E S S A G E

    Be the nurse vou want t o be

    - J

    olleagues, this is my last Presidents Message to you. I cannot believe the year has passed so quickly and that my C time as your President has

    come to an end. it has been my honor to serve you this year, but before I sign off, I have one more message to share with you. This message is a simple one that I hope you take to heart-be the nurse you want to be.

    sion is that we practice nursing in a manner that is satisfying to us. I sense that too many of our colleagues are practicing a brand of nursing that they believe is what someone else wants from them. To be the best you can be, you have to be true to yourself and practice our profession in a manner that is rewarding to you. All of us went into nursing with a vision of the nurse we wanted to be. We all dreamed of the effect we would have on our patients lives, and we knew deep in our hearts that we would make a difference. We should not abandon those dreams easily.

    I think the key to enjoying our profes-

    OVERCOMING BARRIERS One of the unfortunate things about

    dreams is that they sometimes get pushed aside by the realities of the world. I do not believe it has to be this way. Life should be about living your dreams. Somehow, we need to overcome the internal and external barriers that prevent us from living our dream of practicing perioperative nursing to the fullest. If we can overcome these barriers collectively, many of the challenges we complain about in nursing will ease.

    During my career, I have witnessed numerous examples of barriers we face in our efforts to achieve our vision for perioperative nursing, and I have discovered that it is internal barriers that limit us the most. For some rea-

    son, many of us look at external events happening in our hospitals and the health care profession and translate them into reasons for not celebrating our practice and the satisfaction we get from nursing.

    A prime example of this is the focus on cost containment and effi- ciency. It seems that whenever groups start talking about these topics, nurs- es start thinking that we have to give up time with our patients. Being effi- cient is not strictly about time. Being efficient is about the entire process. Some

    William J. Duf@, RN

    nursing leaders, consult-

    may focus strictly on the clock, however, because it is an easy symptom to focus on. Our history is filled with examples of leaders trying to reduce complex issues to sim- ple problems.

    It is during times like these that we need peo- ple of passion and reason to step forward and broaden the scope of inquiry. Instead of yield- ing to a mindset that cut- ting a few minutes here

    solution, we should engage these individuals in discussions about how our few minutes with the patient can help a surgical procedure go smoother, more quickly, and with less risk of injury. We need to take a chance and stay true to the practice we believe in as we help find solutions to the prob- lems our employers face. This may require that we reorganize a few things, but our core happiness should be the last thing we reorganize.

    ants, and physicians Be true to yourself, and

    practice perioperative nursing in a

    manner that is meaningful and

    rewarding to you, his is the key to

    and there is the best satisfaction. I

    AORN JOURNAL 7 7 3

  • APRIL 2005, VOL 81, NO 4 President's Message

    SHARING IDEAS We all have to remember

    that just because someone is talking does not mean he or she has the answers. Health care clinicians do not need lectures; we need dialogue. Nurses are the hands-on experts closest to the patient. We h o w what our patients need, and we know how to provide it for them. Somehow, we juggle providing perioper- ative care to patients who have varying medical condi- tions whle using a variety of equipment and working with surgeons from different spe- cialties. We understand what the patient is experiencing. We know details that can make a global plan succeed or fail, and we know how to manage those details.

    This type of expertise should be valuable, but it can only be valued if we share it with those around us. Unfor- tunately, it seems we often share our expertise as a reac- tion to a proposal instead of as an initiation of a proposal. When was the last time you knocked on your manager's door and said "I have an idea to make things better"? If it was just recently, good for you, but if it has been awhile, ask yourself if that is in the best interest of your patients.

    Life involves continuous improvement, and we cannot say the status quo is fine. New ideas will be tried. Will they be your ideas or some- one else's ideas?

    Health care institutions are in desperate need of your col- lective wisdom. An entity that

    is under stress wdl resort to drastic efforts that eventually result in long-term difficulties if the stress level is not reduced. Instead of helping reduce that stress, however, I see many nurses internalizing it, retreating inside them- selves, and focusing their efforts on getting through the day. Our hospitals and sur- gery centers need to hear your ideas on how to improve processes. They do not want to witness your withdrawal from the process.

    Your profession also needs to hear your ideas. When we react to challenges in nursing by pulling away, we create an environment that makes our practice unsatisfying. f i s may cause us to turn sour on the profession, which sends subliminal messages to those who are thinking of entering the nursing profession. A ter- rible cycle is established that will eventually lead to lower quality of care. Ths is an important point because we all may be the recipients of this care if we do not break the cycle.


    I encourage each of you to stop and reflect on the type of nurse you want to be, and then practice that style of nurs- ing. It will be scary at first, and it might even result in your deciding to practice elsewhere. That possibility is uncomfort- able, but I think of a scene from the movie Pay it Fomurd in which a character says that people seem to get used to the

    way things are even if things are bad. They give up, and when they do, everyone loses. Do you see that in people around you? Have you heard them say, "that is the way it is around here, and it will never change"? Do you see col- leagues ignoring breaks in technique or instances of inap- propriate behavior? Do you see patients rushed into rooms and then when an error occurs, hear people ask, "Why didn't you speak up"? Doesn't everyone seem to lose in those situations?

    It does not have to be that way. I used to walk into work every day with a small ache in my stomach as I tried to balance the financial needs of my institution and the hope that a few staff members would not act out that day with my need to practice in a way that was important to me. I was not enjoying my profession.

    Then something happened. I decided that I should not just try to keep my job and let things stay status quo. I decided I should just do my job, and if I did it well, thmgs would work out. Now, I go to work every day thinking my employers are going to fire me, so 1 do not worry about it anymore. What I concern myself with now is how I can nurse those around me.

    It has been several years since I made that decision; I am still with my same employers, and I have been promoted. I still thmk there may be a time when we might have to part ways, but


  • President's Message APRIL 2005, VOL 81, NO 4

    right now, they are support- ing my service to you and my vision for perioperative serv- ices without complaint. My employers believe my service to my profession is something that should be celebrated. They listened to my plan and said okay when everyone told me that a hospital would not support a working AORN President.

    There were times when it was tough, but every day when I left work I felt a sense of pride for staying true to the things in which I believe. If tlus can happen for me, it can happen for you too. You should be enjoying your time in practice and not counting the hours till the end of the shift or the days till the end of your career. Every day should be an adventure. Every day we should try to touch someone's life. Every day we should be able to say "I did something good today. I touched some- one's life. That is the nurse I want to be. How about you?"


    By the time most of you read this message, we will have a new AORN President. Sharon McNamara, RN, MS, CNOR, is my friend, and I am looking forward to serving under her leadership. This year, Sharon and I tried to practice being President and President-elect in as enjoyable and productive a way as pos- sible. We know you want your leaders to focus on your needs and not their o m . We

    You should be enjoying your time in practice and not counting the hours till the end of the

    shift or the days till the end of your

    careeK Every day should be an

    adventure. Every day we should touch someone's life.

    believe the Presidency is a temporary job designed to develop the future leaders of our Association, and we believe that, as volunteers, we needed to enjoy our service. I hope you witnessed some of our interactions as we did all those things and more.

    I tried to bring the philoso- phy of being the nurse I want to be into my Presidency and to your 2004-2005 Board of Directors. We decided early we did not want to come in and bide our time. We wanted to address issues in our pro- fession and in our work- places. We wanted to touch your lives and the lives of your patients. I believe we did just that.

    During Congress, we will debate seven practice issue position statements. We touched millions of lives with National "Time Out" Day and the Correct Site Surgery Toolkit. We introduced a proposal

    to increase member access to AORN. We convinced the Medicare Payment Advisory Com- mission that RN first assis- tants should be reimbursed like other qualified provi- ders of assisting services. We created a new profes- sional association of peri- operative nurses in Panama. Most of all, we reached individual members through chapter visits, the President and Board mes- sages in the Journal and AOXN Connections and our use of video technology to allow all members to par- ticipate in the debate on the issues coming to Congress. It has been a very busy

    year but a very enjoyable one for me. One of the things that I am most proud of is that I was able to practice my pro- fession while I served as your President. It was important to me that as I represented you, I was experiencing the same issues and challenges you were. Effective leaders have to know the issues with which their team members are deal- ing. I tried to do that. I hope I touched your practice, and I hope you are pleased with the work of your Association. It was a labor of love.

    Thank you for your sup- port this year. It has meant the world to me. Go get them, Sharon! *:*



    AORN JOURNAL 7 7 5



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