It's safe to say that most nurses feel some anxiety in settings that are outside their "comfort zone." Getting pulled to a different unit is a good example. But what if you're outside of your healthcare facility altogether, with no access to the usual resources?
Imagine hiking in the woods or practicing in an austere disaster environment and being confronted with a medical emergency. Those were the types of situations I learned about in an Advanced Wilderness Life Support course offered by the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine in West Virginia. Completing this course marked the end of a 5-year personal journey to accomplish all core, elective, and experience requirements needed for induction as a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) through the Wilderness Medical Society.
What prompted me to start this journey? Frankly, a basic survival instinct. My husband Larry and I love the outdoors and places off the beaten path where there's no easy access to medical care. The nurse in me wanted to know how best to manage an emergency in such a setting, but also realized that the best bet is to avoid an emergency in the first place. That entails being able to identify venomous biting and stinging creatures and understanding the impact of heat, cold, wet conditions, and lightning, among other factors.
Searching for knowledge, I attended a Wilderness Medical Society conference in New Mexico in 2005 and was hooked. In keeping with their motto, "combining your profession with your passion," I blended my love of the wilderness with emergency care, learning hands-on content that simply wasn't taught in typical continuing education courses. The program's interdisciplinary nature added diversity and depth. I share this accomplishment in hopes that you might be inspired to seek creative ways of combining nursing with other interests in your life. Whether it's sports, music, art, dance, cooking, or the outdoors, there's likely a way to integrate what you love to do with your profession—as a volunteer, as part of your job, or even as a new career path.
When you ponder your 2011 New Year's resolutions, dare to explore the possibilities! And in the spirit of adventure, check out Bryan and Deb Simon's article, "It All Started on Kilimanjaro" on page 44 of this issue.
Until next time—
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2010 Vice President, Emergency, Trauma, and Aeromedical Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.