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Incredibly Easy blog
The Incredibly Easy blog will expand on selected topics presented in the print journal.
Monday, January 26, 2015

I want to pose a question: Do you and your peers understand the difference between advocating for your patient and responding to an ethical dilemma? I sit on a nursing practice board that reads and decides on proficiencies for applicants. One dimension they must address is ethics by giving an example of how they responded to an ethical dilemma. The response should be relative to the level for which they’re applying; the higher the level, the more advanced the response. For the example, did the nurse have to engage the organization’s ethics board or panel? Did the dilemma in which the nurse became engaged change or alter practice in some way? Was the situation utilized to educate other nurses on the issue and the outcome?

The problem I see is that nurses often identify day-to-day interactions in which they find themselves advocating for their patients as ethical dilemmas. Fighting to have a patient’s voice be heard, getting pain under control, prevention of family squabbles at the bedside--these aren’t ethical dilemmas. It’s understandable why this can be confusing; the definition of ethics is a system of moral principles and/or judgments that define a culture, and the right to safe care is a moral and ethical aspect of our culture.

What discussions do you and your peers have regarding ethics in practice?

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Monday, January 19, 2015

As a nurse manager, I field complaints and concerns from staff every day. It’s what we do and hopefully we do it with an open mind and open ears. I was recently a patient again while on vacation and noted the processes that were in place. Every member of the team used two identifiers to identify me before starting a procedure or conversation. I had to be sedated for a closed reduction of my hip and a time out was performed in which the whole team participated. I felt safe and well cared for.

I often hear from staff (nurses and providers) that these processes are time-consuming, inconvenient, and not based on actual care needs. I’ve heard that they’re repetitive and redundant, bothering our patients and wasting time. I’ve also been told that these are processes made by individuals who don’t participate in actual patient care. To the naysayers, I tell you these processes are none of those things.

I knew that the team cared for my safety. And with patient education available everywhere these days, I believe that patients know what you “should” be doing, such as using two identifiers and rechecking that information before any encounter, procedure, or process; hand washing before and after contact; using gloves; physician participation; time out procedures; and ensuring that the patient knows what’s being done before it’s done. This is all part of patient-centered and safe care--it matters and your patients do notice.

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Do you know what compassion fatigue is? It’s common in people who care for others and is the result of chronic stress related to caregiving. This problem is perhaps more prevalent in nurses and physicians than we realize. Symptoms of compassion fatigue can range from depression and poor self-care to physical ailments and even substance abuse.

Entire organizations can experience compassion fatigue. Signs include a high absenteeism rate, increased turnover rates, negativism, aggressive staff/staff behaviors, anger at management, and even resistance to change. When you look at these signs and think about yourself, your coworkers, and your overall work environment, I feel certain that many of you can see the dangers of compassion fatigue.

It’s important to educate ourselves on this prevalent stress-related syndrome. As professional caregivers, we’re at the highest risk for compassion fatigue and the effects can be devastating both personally and professionally. Do you know how to recognize compassion fatigue? Do you have the tools you need to combat it?

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Heading into the New Year with professional goals in tow, don’t forget organizational goals that may need attention as well. Team building and moral boosting are high on the list. I took a look at a few blog sites on leadership and battling apathy this week. No surprise, the top focus was team building and instilling in your team a sense of community and well-being. We aren’t individuals roaming around blindly; we’re part of a bigger picture. As nurses, we know and understand this concept when we’re working a shift or running a code blue, but do you have a sense of “we” or “us” in your organization?

I believe a lack of that sense of “we” is why nurses are often accused of eating their young. There’s a missed connection that your success is our success. How do we instill this feeling in our team? It starts with leadership. Leaders must also feel like they’re part of the team, not just the individuals leading the way. They must be open to the needs of their team and listen to what team members have to say. Being a part of the whole is vital. Are your nurse leaders and executives part of your team?

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Here we are in the middle of the holiday season. The New Year is upon us and many of you are making resolutions for the coming year. However, research has shown that resolutions don’t generally work. The reason is that they’re often too broad, too long range, and too overwhelming. Researchers tell us that setting small, reasonable, attainable goals is the key to lasting success. We most often set our New Year’s resolutions for our personal lives--weight loss, healthy eating, smoking cessation, and the like often top the list. But what about your professional goals? How about that leadership class you’ve wanted to take? Maybe enrolling in an online program, joining a professional organization, or getting involved in the politics of nursing at the hospital level or even bigger. Spread your wings! It’s a shiny new year full of promise and possibilities…What will you take on next?

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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About the Author

NursingMadeIncrediblyEasy
The mission of the peer-reviewed journal Nursing made Incredibly Easy! is to meet the ongoing educational needs of nurses in a refreshingly original, easily understood format.