Wednesday, December 11, 2013
RN’s yoga practice helps her return to the nursing profession
I stood in front of the hospital in September 2007, shaking both from the cool fall evening and from the release of knowing it was over. Tears flowing down my cheeks, I began walking toward the parking garage.
I stopped to gain my composure, then called my parents. My mom answered, and I began to cry and talk: “I just left my job and I’m not going back. … I’m done. I’m done.”
My mom was silent. “I’m burned out,” I continued. “I can’t do this anymore. … I feel like I’m living a double life. … I’m done.”
I’d always enjoyed working in large teaching hospitals that serve diverse communities. Newborn intensive care III and pediatric ED were my specialties, so nothing really took me by surprise. I’d become immune, or so I thought, to losing patients, to family members who threatened to beat me up and to the minimal respect from some physicians.
Nursing had been my childhood dream; helping others seemed so honorable to me. As I grew in my career, I began to realize there was a mental, physical and emotional side of the profession I was not prepared for, and I didn’t feel as though I had any effective coping mechanisms or strategies. Sleepless nights, irritability and depression had become common for me. My burnout was long, scary and lonely.
All this flashed through my mind as I cried into the phone. My inner voice spoke up and said, “Stop, take a breath.” As my mom spoke, I placed the phone on my chest, inhaled and then exhaled the richest, fullest breath of my life. Instantly things became clearer. I was far from fine, but stopping to ground myself, connecting with my breath, left me confident all would be well.
Yoga, which I began while still a clinical nurse, led me from burnout to wellness. I’d begun practicing yoga without any real knowledge of what it was all about. After my first class, I laid on my mat, drenched in tears as puddles formed on either side of my ears. My inner voice screamed “get up,” but my body would not move. I closed my eyes to stop the flow of tears, took a breath, jumped up and hurried out of the class. I walked home in a daze. I was overwhelmed, feeling like I’d been exposed, though I’d spoken or barely looked at anyone.
Upon awakening the morning after that class, I felt light and at peace, as if a weight had been taken off my chest. This would begin a practice and study of yoga that eventually led to my certification as a yoga instructor. As I deepened my practice and knowledge, I was growing within, learning how to let go, becoming in sync with myself. I’d use my yoga asanas and breathing exercises at work in the nurses’ station, break room, bathroom, clean and dirty utility rooms, etc.
I’ve since become much healthier of mind, body and spirit, going from a pack-a-day smoker who tipped the scales at around 190 pounds to practicing yoga, running, biking and making healthier food choices, losing and keeping off 50 pounds along the way. Gaining self-awareness, learning to honor what my body needs, living a healthier lifestyle and letting go of self-imposed fears that have held me back are only a few of the benefits the study and practice of yoga have provided me.
Yoga also has led me back to the nursing profession, though in a new role. When I left bedside nursing in 2007, I began speaking and presenting at nursing career fairs, community centers, health fairs and guest radio segments as a yoga health and wellness expert.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Oncology RN finally gets patient to accept radiotherapy
From a distance in the waiting area I could see her restlessness, hands shaking and face twitching. It almost looked as if she was having a seizure but it was nervousness, anxiety building up as she waited for her radiation oncology consult. Her husband sat patiently next to her reading the newspaper. I called her name and she jumped out of the chair.
The initial nursing assessment took longer than usual. For every answer she gave me, she had a story to tell and a question for me in return. Will this hurt? Am I going to be radioactive? Am I going to get sick to my stomach? She was talking fast, constantly moving in the chair.
Three days later, having consented to the treatment the oncologist had recommended for her invasive ductal carcinoma, the patient, whom I’ll call Mrs. C.J., was back for her simulation. The simulation was a customized planning session involving a non-diagnostic CT to visualize structures and define fields. Treatment would start once all necessary calculations were determined and checked.
She was happy to see me and had taken anti-anxiety medication prescribed on the day of the consult. The radiation therapist directed her to the room where she could change but became concerned after seeing her trembling and twitching. He came to the nurses’ station and said, “Can one of you talk to Mrs. C.J. when she comes? She is so nervous.”
I was on a mission then. I knew the thought of getting radiation was very frightening for Mrs. C.J. We sat down in the exam room closest to the nurses’ station, the pediatric room. Mrs. C.J. kept holding her breast with her shaky hands every time we referred to it.
Once I had answered her questions, I felt relieved when she started talking about trivial things and not about radiation. She looked more relaxed, even had a few laughs. “Do children get radiation too?” she asked. Upon my confirmation, her eyes became watery. She held her husband’s hands and said, with determination, “If they can do this, I will do it.”
Later I heard her name being called to the treatment area. I saw her in the corridor escorted by the therapist and gave her a thumbs up. She smiled and signaled me back with crossed fingers, both hands.
Then, just a few minutes later, she was passing by the nurses’ station walking fast, head down, the therapist trying to catch up with her. “Couldn’t take the films,” he said. The next week, same thing. She became terrified when the linear accelerator machine came close to her.
When I spoke with her husband, he told me Mrs C.J. directed the Rosary Society, and her church was celebrating the patron festivities. “She is busy, and this is making her more nervous,” he said. “Too much stress.” Bingo! Spirituality and faith are her strengths, her comfort zone, I thought. We started talking about the activities her community was doing, her role and expectations. I felt our bond was growing stronger.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I met the little girl who would make a lasting impression on my life the night she was discharged from the hospital after a long stay in the NICU.
Kate was crying when I met her. She had been diagnosed with Pfeiffer syndrome and was experiencing tremendous pain because of orbital pressure. I could see the orbits bulging and knew that continuous crying could exacerbate the situation and result in a serious medical emergency. I prayed to God to give me a healing touch to help her avoid another long hospital stay so she could enjoy being at home with her family.
I’m originally from Cameroon, West Africa, and to help calm Kate that night I sang a lullaby in my dialect until she fell asleep. From that day forward this became our regular bedtime routine.
The first two years were very difficult. Kate was in and out of the hospital quite often for therapies, medical emergencies and other medical procedures. Her medical team was not sure she would survive, or whether she would be able to eat or walk if she did survive.
It was an indescribable experience as a mother and a nurse to watch Kate’s mother listen and digest all the information from the physicians, most of which was not positive. I offered her my unwavering support, encouragement and positive thoughts during these dark periods. Although I showed a brave face while working with Kate and her family, I cried in the car on my way home every day for the first two weeks.
Together, Kate’s mom and I spent many hours researching Kate’s rare genetic condition. We became better educated on treatments and discovered a number of support groups. Kate’s mother was determined that her daughter would beat the odds, and I promised myself that I would do everything I could to take care of Kate and help her reach her fullest potential. As a nurse, I felt this was my purpose and why I was sent to work with Kate and her family.
Despite Kate’s numerous complex medical needs, she is a hero who bounces back from every surgery like a fighting champion. I have seen her come out from a major cranial vault surgery, cut from ear to ear, and be discharged after only three days. With her eyes shut and her head swollen to twice its regular size, she attended all scheduled therapies, ate and walked, even when she was supposed to rest and remain relatively inactive.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Looking for a job in health care during the holidays can be a challenge. Hospitals usually ramp up recruiting in January—to coincide with graduation at nursing schools. But don’t despair: if you keep up the search during the holidays, you’ll have a leg up on everyone else competing for those attractive openings.
It can be tempting, though, to kick back a bit in order to celebrate the holidays. The truth is, you can’t afford to take a break from pounding the pavement, because in addition to losing momentum, you’ll miss out on December’s unique job search advantages.
1. Enjoy Less Competition. Many of the other candidates for the jobs you want are on vacation or otherwise out of sight, out of mind. Their absence makes it easy for you to stand above the crowd. (What crowd?)
2. Circulate at Holiday Parties. Many organizations host parties, open houses, or charity events. Accept every invitation (and give out a few of your own) so you can network with other attendees. Let every guest know about your target job and workplace, then request help getting in.
Ask: “Do you know anyone at Kaiser?” or “Do you know any school nurses?” Odds are that someone has inside information, or a lead, or a contact for you. And if they don’t, they may be able to refer you to someone who does.
3. Send Holiday Greetings. You have the perfect excuse for touching base with old friends or new ones that you’ve met only recently. Reach out with old-fashioned holiday greeting cards, or use newfangled social media, such as on LinkedIn or Facebook.
You can even connect online with people you haven’t met yet-- they’ll be in a warmer holiday frame of mind. Activity slows down the last two weeks in December at most workplaces, too, so they’re also likey to be available for a quick phone chat or cup of coffee.
4. Volunteer for Holiday Duty. Job hunting can make even people with tremendous self-esteem feel ineffectual. Serving the needy by ringing Salvation Army bells, delivering meals to shut-ins, or packing up groceries at a food pantry is a good way to feel like yourself again.
It’s also possible that you’ll meet new people you might not have met otherwise (like a big wig at a hospital you’ve got your heart set on) and you’ll be able to relate more easily because you’re equals on the volunteer site, and you both back this charity’s mission.
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Monday, December 02, 2013
You did it. You succeeded through rigorous rounds of interviews, proved your qualifications and earned yourself an offer for a good job with a good company.
In reality though, the battle is just beginning. Even with an impressive track record, new employees are often accompanied by a degree of uncertainty and thus need to be proactive in earning the respect of colleagues and superiors by proving themselves in the trenches.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few strategies that newly hired employees (at any level of the hierarchy) can deploy to do just that.
1. Quantify results. Odds are you were hired to solve a problem so naturally the most critical factor in earning respect is quantifying how you are systematically making that problem go away. This requires clarifying expectations with management early on, so your focus is directed at driving results that matter to the company. Once expectations are clear, being able to simply explain how you’re adding measurable value (whether through lead generation, sales, support, etc.) is fundamental to earning your stripes.
The problem though is that a lot of new hires stop here, assuming respect is a product of performance alone. It’s worthwhile noting that the most highly respected individuals at a firm don’t just drive results, but also supplement their own prodigious performance by adopting some of the principles listed below.
2. Make your colleagues’ lives easier. Sure, you may be a top-flight doer but you can amplify your reputation by simultaneously helping others elevate their performance. For example, perhaps you can recommend a new piece of technology that streamlines processes and vendor management, such as HubSpot in the marketing world. HubSpot provides all-inclusive software for analytics, content/client management, email and much more.
You could also pursue this strategy by tutoring colleagues in your area of expertise. For example, someone in the IT department might earn respect by giving non-technical colleagues a lesson in time-saving Excel hacks. Yet another way to make your colleagues’ lives easier is to proactively improve workplace conditions. “I learned this lesson when I was 13 years old,” says John Paul Engel, president of management consultancy firm Knowledge Capital Consulting. “I worked in a kitchen and there was grease an inch thick under the counters. It was disgusting. I stayed late and worked until the kitchen shined. Pretty soon I was promoted and winning company awards. Before I left that restaurant I had worked every job.”
3. Make others look good. Terrell Owens was an exceptionally talented NFL wide receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles. However, he garnered negative press coverage for bad-mouthing his teammates. Forbes placed him on its list of “America’s Most Disliked Athletes” in 2012. The lesson is that even if you’re the business world’s equivalent of a Pro Bowl player, you still might not earn respect if you’re a jerk.
By contrast, if you can not only perform at peak levels but generously share credit with your collaborators when it’s due, your reputation will likely advance beyond colleagues who have spectacular technical skills but who hoard praise for themselves.
4. Take a genuine interest in others. If top performing new hires show no interest or appreciation for those around them, there might be respect for their work but no respect for the person. Therefore, to earn respect in the workplace, you need to give it as well. This idea was quantified by Christine Porath, assistant professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Porath conducted extensive research on the topic with Christine Pearson, professor of global leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management, for the forthcoming book “Mastering Civility.” “In our research, one of the most important ways that we’ve learned people earn respect is by listening,” Porath says. “Listening is essential for creating, maintaining and deepening relationships: it signals caring and commitment.”
With that in mind, new hires can build respect by getting to know co-workers and what they care about without ulterior motives. This genuine interest can not only help establish a mutual rapport but also provide a better understanding of the issues facing your workplace. You can then potentially use your skills to lighten the burden of those challenges.
Monday, December 02, 2013
There are countless examples of the establishment criticizing the style or behavior of a new order on the up. In music, swing icon Louis Armstrong strongly disparaged bebop cats when the style was developing, much as classic turntablists currently criticize producers and disc jockeys who perform with advanced technology and software. Not surprisingly, this phenomenon has penetrated the modern workforce in the negative stereotypes many baby boomers and Gen-Xers associate with Gen-Y or millennial colleagues.
This idea was quantified in the recent “The Gen-Y Workplace Expectations Study” by Millennial Branding and American Express. The study found that while millennial employees generally think positively about their managers, those more mature managers have negative associations about millennial underlings and co-workers. The findings are included in “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success,” written by Millennial Branding’s founder Dan Schawbel.
Considering such, let’s take a closer look at two of the major negative stereotypes millennials are likely to face in the workforce, why those stereotypes exist and how they can be addressed.
1. Millennials aren’t loyal. The Future Workplace’s 2012 study “Multiple Generations @ Work” found that 91 percent of the millennials surveyed expected to stay in a job for less than three years. Consequently, pejorative associations have arisen that Gen-Y employees are loyal only to themselves and will jump ship for another opportunity the moment a job has become anything less than ideal.
Solution: Think inside the box. There are plenty of compelling reasons that might lead a professional to seek a new employer. However, Teddy Dziuba, a 29-year-old new business/underwriting manager who has stayed at his post at a Massachusetts-based wealth management firm for a half decade, points out that many of his peers are compelled to seek new opportunities not because they’re in a bad environment but because of their hyperactive wiring. “It is not enough for millennials to be sitting at a computer completing a spreadsheet,” he says. “They have to be checking Facebook, listening to iTunes, sending a text message and Snapchatting a photo of their cluttered desk WHILE working on that spreadsheet. This is not a slight on my peer group, it is just an unfortunate compulsion to have constant and varied stimuli, which also causes millennials to get tired of the status quo very easily and seek new challenges via new employment opportunities.”
To break this first negative stereotype, millennials might consider thinking inside the box, by exploring if those new challenges and stimuli can be attained at their current job, before deciding that hitting the job boards is the only effective solution. “Try to make the most out of your situation before moving on because maybe you’re able to transition to a different position in the same company or even create a new position,” Schawbel says.
Should any of these alternative tactics prove possible, then you’ll have the resources to show a meaningful tour and upward progression with a single employer. With that kind of track record it becomes much harder to suggest you can’t play it the company way.
2. Millennials don’t respect hierarchy. Millennials are arguably most notorious for being “the trophy generation;” a group rewarded consistently by helicopter parents for mediocre performance, as a way to shield damaged feelings. This perspective worries many more seasoned professionals who believe that because of their soft upbringing, millennials expect to be a part of executive discussions at work without a track record, disregarding the time and energy required to climb the ladder and earn prestigious distinction.
Solution: Win a race before asking for the trophy. Sources like TheLadders report the workforce may be evolving toward a less hierarchical structure, since the fastest growing jobs shy away from managerial responsibilities and instead call for detailed subject expertise. Still, millennials need to remember to prove themselves by engaging in all the behaviors that earn new hires respect before asking for anything bigger or better.
Monday, December 02, 2013
If you’ve been having trouble landing a job, there may be good news on the horizon. The Career Advisory Board’s 2013 Job Preparedness Indicator, an annual study designed to identify skill gaps between what candidates have and employers seek, found that U.S. hiring managers are more confident than ever. In fact, the study suggests 86 percent of hiring managers are at least somewhat confident the job market will improve in 2014, up nearly 20 percent from 2012’s study.
Just because the economy may be on the upswing doesn’t mean job seekers should get complacent. The survey also suggests that few hiring managers believe job seekers have the right skills to land the job. It notes that only 15 percent of hiring managers say nearly all or most job seekers have the skills and traits their companies are looking for in candidates.
Alexandra Levit (http://www.alexandralevit.com/), business and workplace author, consultant and Career Advisory Board member, suggests the following tips to help make yourself more marketable as a job seeker:
Showcase past results. Hiring managers want proven candidates. Most people would hesitate to take a risk on someone who claims he or she can do the job. As a result, many employers prefer to hire internally because they already know the candidate and can anticipate the person’s potential. It is up to you to demonstrate why you’re the best candidate. How can you prove yourself worthy and overcome this objection? Levit says: “Assuage their concerns by clearly demonstrating why your past employers were better off because of your efforts and how those efforts relate to what you’ll do at the new organization.”
Be sure your résumé and all job search marketing materials focus on your skills and accomplishments. List specific results you created for your employers and be clear about what impact you had at work. Another important tip: Be sure to highlight your role in any results, and don’t let it get lost in a description of how your team performed.
Train and retrain. If you’ve been in the workforce a long time, you’ll remember when employees used to rely on employers to suggest and provide training opportunities. “In increasing numbers, employers believe professional development is the individual’s responsibility,” Levit notes. Take charge of your own professional development: proactively sign up for coursework, volunteer assignments and other programs that will keep your skills fresh and relevant.
Roll with the punches. One thing you can count on in any workplace is that things will change. Employers want to hire people who can be flexible and adapt as needed. “Show potential employers that you are adaptable, can maintain a positive attitude and work effectively no matter what happens tomorrow,” Levit says. One way you can feature your positive, flexible approach is via your social media streams. Avoid complaining – even if the complaints have nothing to do with work. Include information in your updates to show that you can roll with the punches. For example, “Was surprised, but excited to learn we’re changing how we handle invoices. Can’t wait to learn a new system.” The alternative is unlikely to win favor: “Couldn’t believe they’re making another change. I wish accounting would get their act together.”
Monday, December 02, 2013
Can you define what professionalism looks like? Generations, cultures and backgrounds may define the behavior and actions associated with professionalism differently. And now that our world is truly global and multi-generational, do we need to set some standard expectations for professional behavior? Maybe now is a good time to start the discussion.
Outreach etiquette. The term “networking” is fairly common in the United States. It describes the act of a person proactively reaching out to meet with a person of influence or for the exchange of mutually beneficial information. In some circles, referrals or networking is the only way business gets accomplished. Yet, networking can literally be a foreign concept to some international students. In fact, even in this country, people’s opinions vary on how it should and shouldn’t be done.
Reaching out to someone you would like to meet requires respect and professionalism. What does that sound like? The answer lies in the eyes and ears of the receiver. To send the right message and one that will result in a networking connection, you’ll want to learn how to cater your message to the desired audience. The more you know about the person you want to meet, the more customized and meaningful your message will be. Test it and evaluate the change in responses.
Thank-you notes that show gratitude. Writing a good thank-you note or saying thank you is not only important, but an expected form of professionalism and courtesy, at least among certain generations and cultures. While everyone may not have received education on this, your thank-you skills prove your professionalism. Saying thank you shows your appreciation for someone’s time or effort. It also shows gratitude and respect. Those who go out of the way to show appreciation are more likely remembered or stand apart from the people who overlook this small detail. Saying thank you isn’t the only way to show professionalism, but it is a quick fix and easy to implement immediately.
Do what you say you’ll do. Have you ever committed to do something and then it slips your mind? It happens, but could it damage your professional reputation? It depends on the situation. And what if it happens too often? Think about the personal and professional colleagues you rely on most. You know you can count on these friends to help out in a bind. Dependability is a way to demonstrate professionalism. The actions and behaviors of someone dependable are not difficult to identify. Dependability means you follow through by doing what you say you’re going to do. This quality will help differentiate you from the masses. Being a person of your word is a valuable reputation to establish.
RSVP what? An RSVP is a request to respond. When you see this on an invitation, it means the person or organization hosting the event would like an accurate head count and your response allows them to confirm the appropriate details for the event. If you can’t make the event, decline formally. But if you’re uncertain if you’ll be available to attend, what do you do? Do you hold a spot or let it go to someone who absolutely can attend? And what if something comes up at the last minute and you are unable to attend? If we asked a room of people for responses, there would be multiple answers. Regardless of what answer you choose, the more relevant question to ask is, how will your response or lack thereof impact your reputation?
Thursday, November 21, 2013
It turns out powerful people really do think differently. New research shows that people in positions of high power and others in positions of low power take very different courses of action when presented with the same scenario.
Researchers found this out through a series of experiments that examined how people would respond to a hypothetical offer of $120 now or the ability to wait and gain more money in one year. Overall, most people will forgo the larger reward and simply take the $120 when it is offered, in what the researchers call temporal discounting.
However, after study participants were split into groups where they were randomly assigned different levels of power, new trends emerged. It was found that participants who were assigned to a low-power role such as a member of a team were willing to take the reward only if it was $88 higher than the immediate offer ($120) on the table. On the other hand, participants in a high-power role such as a manager were more likely to take an offer if it was $52 higher than the immediate offer.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
It’s the carrot, not the stick that keeps employees motivated in the workplace, new research shows.
A study by online career site Glassdoor revealed that more than 80 percent of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, compared to less than 40 percent who are inspired to work harder when their boss is demanding or because they fear losing their job.
Showing gratitude also helps keep workers from developing a wandering eye. More than half of those surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss.
While more money is the type of recognition employees would prefer most, employers can also keep their staff happy with a number of less-costly methods. The study found that 46 percent of employees would feel more appreciated if their boss gave them an unexpected treat, like snacks, lunches, dinners or thank you notes, while 24 percent would enjoy a company-sponsored social event, such as a holiday party or happy hour.
“There is a wide variety of ways to show employee appreciation that can go far towards keeping employees satisfied, engaged and retained,” said Allyson Willoughby, Glassdoor’s senior vice president of people and general counsel. “Even inexpensive forms of appreciation, like thank you cards and treats, or offering flexibility like telecommuting, show employees you value them.”
Other forms of no-cost appreciation that employees want from employers include:
Being involved in decision making processes
Recognition at a team meeting or in a company newsletter