Be a Better Nurse – Take a Vacation

Be a better nurse… Take a vacation!

While you’re on your vacation, put all things nursing and job out of your head and don’t think about it for a week, or maybe 2! I am pretty sure I just heard every one of you say, “Vacation, I wish.” under your breath. I hope after reading this you will find the time and priority.

Any nurse leader has heard of the term PTO. It’s typically a dreaded term used by employee’s coming to you in order to request time not to show up to work. When you use it, it’s more representative of Part Time Office then Paid Time Off. Why do we find it so difficult to take time off work?

Believe it or not, there have been many studies on the topic. Most studies conclude that fear of losing position, status, or place in line for the next promotion often keeps us from utilizing our time off to its full potential.

However, those same study’s also indicate that taking time off is much more important than one might realize. Interestingly, it is not only necessary for the employee but for the company as well.

“Underutilized time off is a monstrous missed opportunity, not only for American workers and their families but also for employers and the broader economy,” Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement- Forbes

What happens when you take a vacation? You give your brain some downtime and replenish your soul.

“To summarize, Americans and their brains are preoccupied with work much of the time. Throughout history people have intuited that such puritanical devotion to perpetual busyness does not in fact translate to greater productivity and is not particularly healthy. What if the brain requires substantial downtime to remain industrious and generate its most innovative ideas? “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets,” essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times. “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” – Scientific American

Having down time, however, is not just important for you. It’s also important for businesses. Vacation days give employee’s time to step back and refresh. This leads to more productivity and better focus. More productivity and better focus in the nursing world translates to better patient outcomes and safer patient care.

Not everywhere is equal when it comes to vacation days.

In a dataset of 2,310 respondents, we looked at data from the 20 countries with the most paid vacation days (247 respondents) and compared them to respondents in the United States (1,151). The 20 countries with the most vacation ranged from Australia, with 28 days allotted, to Sweden and Brazil, with 41 days. By contrast, the United States has no law requiring paid time off, and the average full-time worker with a year of service gets 10 paid vacation days (and only 25% of Americans take their full allotment, according to another survey). – HBR

Looking at the USA my own state made it on the top 10 list of best states.

Phoenix, workers, are much less likely to feel that skipping vacation makes them appear more dedicated than the average employee (14% to 26%) and they do not worry as much about losing consideration for a raise or promotion (11% to 21%). – Project Time Off

With Main in first place of most vacation days taken.

Maine holds the top spot when it comes to vacation usage, with just 38 percent of its workers leaving time on the table. Overall, Mainers are less affected than the average worker by the barriers to taking time off, particularly the fear that they would lose consideration for a raise or promotion (11% to 21%) and also report better vacation cultures at their companies.- Project Time Off

And the worst state to live in if you want to take a vacation day!

Washington, D.C. tops this year’s list[of worst states], despite being less challenged by many of the barriers to taking time off. – Project Time Off

How to vacation the right way.

Nurse Vacation Kids
Copyright: Prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo

If you are anything like me, this is tough. If you’re anything like my wife, this is all but impossible. Today is actually the last day of our week-long vacation, and I would say one of the most successful vacations we have had in some time.

You see most of our vacations are more a change of location that work gets done than an absence of work altogether. We have been known to sit in the hotel of our vacation destination with laptops open and working for hours. However, prioritizing our time and careful planning made this a success.

3 ways to vacation right


Before vacation this time we both identified someone who could handle the day to day operations of our jobs while we were gone.


Before leaving we both set our out of office replies. Before that, we had communicated with our staff weeks before so everyone knew what to do and who to call if anything was needed.

Trust you team

Sometimes taking a vacation is like sending your kid to their first day of school. It’s more about your control than about your need to be there. Trust your team to handle things while you’re gone. You may just be surprised how people do when forced to step up to the plate.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the article and may even have been inspired to take some time off. If you liked this article, please like us on Facebook and leave a comment below.

Is Being a Nurse Dangerous?

Is being a nurse dangerous? 2017 has been a tragic year for nurse’s country wide. Horrendous acts have catapulted a long standing issue into the limelight.

Nurse injured, suspect in custody after shooting inside Ocala emergency room

 2 nurses taken hostage during Geneva hospital standoff; suspect fatally shot

Officials: Gunman killed police chief before shooting 2 others at nursing home, self

Nurse Was Raped at Gunpoint During Hostage Standoff at Suburban Hospital: Suit

According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing, 76 percent of nurses at a private hospital system in Virginia said they had experienced physical or verbal abuse from patients in the previous year.

This epidemic is on the rise, often resulting in tragedy. To add insult to injury the attitude of the healthcare system today and to be honest many professional nurses is that a certain level of abuse and mistreatment of our nurses is tolerable and expected when entering the nursing profession. While no one questions how dangerous the police profession is, the assault on a police officer or his K9 partner could result in a felony charge. The everyday assault nurses experience is often considered “part of the job.”

What confuses this situation, however, is that in many cases these outburst towards nursing staff is a result of underlying conditions such as Dementia or confusion. I have been bitten, scratched, had things thrown at me as a nurse, in my case these were the result of very confused patients with memory impairment and in the first few years of my career often because of my own inexperience in approach and redirection. There is a distinct learning curve here that takes time and experience to overcome. My question then becomes what are we doing on a global scale to ensure the safety of our nurses while they are overcoming this learning curve?

Part of the problem is cultural, Ross says: “It’s long been looked at, when you get spat on or verbally abused, pinched, hit over that head with something … not just by the nurses and health care workers themselves, but by people in positions of authority, that this was just part of the job, and it’s something you know you accept when you decide to go, for example, into nursing.”

The issue of assault by patients is complicated by the recognition that, in most instances, it’s not deliberate, Ross says: “Most of these people are not trying to harm you.” Patients whose thinking is clouded by drugs or dementia may believe they’re protecting themselves, Ross says, when staff members attempt to start an IV line or prevent patients from putting themselves at risk by yanking out a urinary catheter.

It’s a unique issue with unique problems, but problems that need to be solved nonetheless.

In preparing this article, I began my research looking for what systems are in place today on a global scale to protect nurses. I found nothing. If procedures are in place, it is due to specific hospital protocols with minimal requirements from a state or federal level. In fact according to only CA, CT, IL, MD, MN, NJ, OR has anything in place to that requires employers to run workplace violence programs. NY has such policies but only for public employers.

What also struck me when doing research is much of the research is years old. In fact, many sites are citing research from 2010 to 2013 with very little from 2014 through 2016. Now, this may be due to incidents like what has happened recently sparking research to be conducted more thoroughly through these time frames but this hasn’t stopped in fact in much of research with the rise in mental health, and substance abuse there has been ever increasing the problem.

…there has been a 110 percent spike in the rate of violent incidents reported against health-care workers. In one informal survey, as many as one-in-four nurses suggested that they had been attacked at work between 2013 and 2014 alone.* Patients often kick, scratch, and grab them; in rare cases even kill them. In fact, there are nearly as many violent injuries in the health-care industry as there are in all other industries combined. Health-care workers make up 9 percent of the workforce.

As a nurse leader, I think we have a responsibility to not only speak out and speak up for better working condition including nurse staffing ratios but be a voice in coming up with solutions. We know what it takes to do our jobs and do them well, just yelling and lobbying isn’t enough we also need to be a voice in the creation of laws and the education of our healthcare system.

The first step is to raise awareness about how dangerous the nursing profession has become. I challenge nurse bloggers and nurse leaders to raise awareness and bring the spotlight on this rising concern.

Next week we will discuss strategy and techniques for identifying these dangerous situations and diffusing them.










Servant Leadership in Nursing

Servant Leadership is not a new concept. It has been around a while now. While many companies try to emulate it, few succeed. Robert K Greenleaf in 1970 coined the phrase in his essay The Servant as Leader.

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.” –

I believe this is an important concept for Nurse Leaders. Many times I think we tend to go to the extremes. I have said it here before “not all Nurses naturally make great managers.” Nursing in itself is about service to others. It’s showing compassion and caring to those in need and those in pain and doing everything in our power to bring relief and promote healing.

In the first extreme, we focus so much on serving others it’s difficult to take a step back look at the big picture or the long-term goals. These nurses find it difficult to make tough choices and manage personnel.

In the second extreme, we focus on being a “boss” and forget to step into the much and get our hands dirty. These leaders often find themselves caught up in power trips, always fighting to get ahead and prove their worth.

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived? “

Finding the balance I believe is important. To be a servant leader, you must put others first and build up your team. In doing so, you will also build yourself up, not an easy task in corporations who don’t value the employees.

“However, servant leadership is problematic in hierarchical, autocratic cultures where managers and leaders are expected to make all the decisions. Here, servant leaders may struggle to earn respect”

I get it. I work for a large corporation who values the servant leadership model, but that has not always been the case. As a nurse, you will find many varying degrees of leadership styles. However, what I have found is sometimes the companies that don’t value this type of leadership are the ones that need it the most.

When looking at leadership models for many years, a pyramid has been used to describe the hierarchy and reporting structure.

Servant Leadership Wrong Pyramid model
Copyright: koya79 / 123RF Stock Photo

Now many companies are making the switch to turn this pyramid on its head. In this way, the focus is to support those supporting the customer and improve employee satisfaction and retention.

Three quick tips to becoming a better servant leader.

Listen to your team.

I often think of a servant leader as a moderator. When someone has an opinion, a servant leader will listen. If the opinion is right and has credence, they will be humble enough to accept it and move forward. If the opinion is missing the mark, they will take the time to mold the thought process and help teach the person why it doesn’t work, instead of shutting them down.

Every moment is a teachable moment for the servant leader.

Every servant leader must teach and be able to learn. Don’t let mistakes go unnoticed. It doesn’t matter if the mistake was made by you or someone on your team. This is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Invest in others.

“That means the leader is not always leading, but instead giving up power and deputizing others to lead.” Skip Prichard

If you have never read the book The Dream Manager I highly recommend it. In this book, Matthew Kelly and Patrick Lencioni speak about creating an environment that invests in the employees and helps them fulfill their dreams, dreams like buying their first house, going back to school, learning a new language and many others.

If you want more tips on being on being a better nurse leader with a servant’s heart follow us on facebook and twitter.


5 Steps to Handle a Crisis Like a Pro

Being a nurse leader when everything is going smooth is one thing, but being a nurse leader when a crisis comes along is a whole other beast. Many Nurses shy away from leadership roles because they fear to be the one in charge when it hits the fan. What do you do when all eyes turn to you for answers? How do you step in and lead your team? Here are 5 steps all nurse leaders need, to take charge.

1. Slow it down


When you’re frantic, there is no thinking, decision making, or acting to resolve the issue at hand. Slow down the situation and those involved. The only way to do this is to control your thinking. Instead of letting your inner dialogue go down all the ways this bad situation could get worse, focus on what is going on now, and what steps are needed to correct it. There will come a time to come up with a plan to counter the fallout. But in this first step keep it simple. What is the path of least resist that bring the most positive outcome and resolve the situation at hand?

“Slow is smooth, Smooth is fast” – Mel Gibson in The Patriot.

2. Get “Most” of the story

Nurse Crisis 80%
Copyright: viperagp / 123RF Stock Photo

Once you have slowed it down get the information you need to make informed decisions. Ask questions. Often key facts are left out in the heat of the moment, so it’s important to make sure to dig a little deeper until there is enough information to act swiftly. I remember a situation when a resident was choking. It was lunch time, and one would assume the resident was choking in the dining room. In fact, when the caregiver came running up to us, we immediately ran off in that direction. Luckily, the caregiver stopped us long enough to tell us where the resident was so we could move in and act swiftly.

With that said once we knew where the resident was had enough information to act. Now could have we asked more questions and gotten more information? Yes but that would not have helped this resident.

Bernstein Crisis Management speaks to the 80% rule.

80% rule. Leaders certainly want to make the right set of decisions. Strong leaders understand they will not always have all of the information they might like. They know that making an imperfect decision can often be better than making no decision at all. Even if the decision needs to be “fine tuned” for implementation, they are comfortable making it.”

3. Exhale

Nurse Panic Stop and Breath
Copyright: vipervxw / 123RF Stock Photo

pan·ic1 – a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals. –

Before rushing into battle take a deep cleansing breath. Here is the weird part, in a panic situation, you can’t do it. First, you need to exhale. Force all the air out of your body completely emptying you diaphragm then breath in.

“When you feel like you can’t catch your breath, it’s because you forgot to do something.

You forgot to exhale.

That’s right. Before you can take a deep breath, you have to give one away. Why? Because, when you’ve been breathing in a short, shallow manner (from your chest), if you try and take a deep inhale, you just can’t do it. All you can do is take a more labored, shallow breath from your chest. That will give you all the air you need, but it won’t feel good.” Anxiety Coach.

4. Be ready to work

Crisis Nurse leader

The quickest way to lose the respect and trust of your staff is to sit there and delegate out all the sacrifice that must be made. However, By being the first to put yourself in the front of the fight, you will gain the respect and loyalty of your staff and be able to model how to handle the situation at hand.

“If there are sacrifices to be made – and there will be – then the leaders should step up and make the greatest sacrifices themselves. Everyone is watching to see what the leaders do. Will they stay true to their values? Will they bow to external pressures, or confront the crisis in a straight-forward manner? Will they be seduced by short-term rewards, or will they make near-term sacrifices to fix the long-term situation?”- Developing a Leader

5. Rely on your training


Crisis Nurse Training
Copyright: leremy / 123RF Stock Photo

It’s interesting that when people need to perform CPR they often come away saying something to the effect of “I can’t believe I remembered how to do it. It’s like I just knew what to do”. This is why state regulations often require us to complete our CPR training every 1 – 2 years. Hopefully, when the situation comes to hand, we are able to react and have our muscle memory primed to handle the emergency. The old adage “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is a mantra every nurse leader should become intimate with. The one thing anyone can do to prepare for the worst, keep calm in a crisis, and be the leader the situation needs, is to keep learning, keep training, and keep drilling.

Have more tips for crisis management? Please comment below! Also, drop us a line if you have subject matter requests.


NCLEX to CEO – 7 Characteristics of a Nurse Leader with Bonus Material

I am excited to announce the launch of our new book NCLEX to CEO – 7 Characteristics of a Nurse Leader.

I want to give a huge thank you to those who have joined us on this journey we started a few months back.

I appreciate you supporting The Nurses Lounge!

NCLEX to CEO – 7 Characteristics of a Nurse Leader is a collection of our 7 characteristics blog with bonus content Being a Great Nurse Advocate!

click here for your limited time free copy 4/3/2017 to  4/6/2017.

nclex to ceo nurse


I have one last huge ask. If you download the book please leave a review so that I know if you enjoyed it and let others know if it’s worth checking out.

Once again thank you so much for being a part of The Nurses Lounge.

Leukemia Patient Returns to Hospital as a Nurse

Why did you become a nurse?

Reasons from around the web!



The big return with minimal investment. I came from a low income family and wasn’t sure how I was going to afford college. The hospital based diploma program I attended was free 100% in return for me, working at the hospital after graduation. Best investment ever

prnqday, BSN, RN

I love helping others and truly do feel that nursing is my calling. The pay isn’t too bad, however with all the crap I have to put up with sometimes the pay definitely isn’t on the top of the list to why I became a nurse. IMHO. When I chose nursing, at a very young age, I wasn’t aware of the schedule of flexibility. I must say the flexibility is a plus. I can work in so many different areas of nursing and feel as though I’d never be bored.


Nursing is not my calling!!! Trust me if I had the time to go back to school I would. The reason I went into nursing, I was in vet school and had to quit due to a family emergency. I had to come home and since there was no vet schools around and I had pretty much all of the curriculum for nursing school figure I would go so I can at least work and be making some kind of money. And I’m still here.

Palliative Care, DNP

Because I was wait listed for dental hygiene and didn’t want to wait a year.


Encouraged by my Dad who was a firefighter – he enjoyed helping others in a time of need and that characteristic rubbed off on me.

Wilena Blackwell, RN, MSN, CCTN

“I can remember being a little girl, about 7 or 8 years old. I was raised by my grandmother who was in her late 60s. As her health started to decline with diabetes and other problems, she had a home health nurse who came out and taught her how to administer insulin. I remember at the age of 8, I learned how to administer insulin, give pills and instill eye drops in my grandmother’s eyes. I was my grandmother’s caretaker. The home health nurse was a true inspiration to me. She always encouraged me to do my best in school and I, too, could become a nurse. I enjoyed the idea of helping and healing others. To this very day, I will never forget that nurse. She was caring and compassionate, and she played a big role in my decision to become a nurse and a mentor to other young girls – today, I tell them that they can become whatever they want if they put their minds to it.”

– Sarika M.

It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. I have been a nurse for over 30 years. I have had my share of disappointments, but it is from my own experience I am able to draw the perfect pleasure of nursing. I was a psychiatric nurse and worked with youngsters who had issues with drugs and abandonment. I became very enlightened and gained abilities to intervene in many cases.In one case, as the young lady was leaving she said to me, “I’ll never forget you, what you said to me, as long as I live.” I guess that one instance made my life important to someone. I have since become a supervisor in a nursing home where I oversee 60 residents. I see to the comfort of my residents while they are alive, and I comfort their families when they pass. I feel my life matters! In a world where it seems money is the only measures that people look at, I am proud to know I matter and make a difference in someone’s life.

Jason Hautala RN

I joined nursing because of the excellent girl to guy ratio in nursing school. Who knew I would be in a classroom full of men hating women? Please elaborate on why you became a nurse. Thanks.


I got hooked on nursing in the military, I am a medic and was deployed to Kosovo in 00-01, after working in the ER in a combat support hospital I fell in love with the pace and the challenge of nursing, after that it just seemed like a logical fit to become a RN when I got home. Besides there is something about sticking medal and plastic into people that just does it for me

Bossy 1

… because I love to give injections and I look good in white!

Seriously, when I realized that I didn’t want to pursue biology, nursing was the only field that took all of my credits. After all, my parents money was terrible thing to waste!


Welding class was full.


I got lost on the way to the police academy.


I became a nurse because when I was 17 I had a horrible experience with a nurse practitioner. My piece of ^%$# ex boyfriend cheated on me with a bunch of girls and gave me HPV as well as a horrid UTI and yeast infection. The NP treated me like I was a dirty @#$% and after taking one look at my vagina said, “oof, yeah, that’s gotta hurt like hell, I gotta prescribe you someting”. All I can remember is her lack of compassion while I laid on the exam table, spread eagle in front of a stranger at 17 years old, alone, tears streaming down my face. I vowed that I would never treat someone like that ever and that I would take her job some day. I’ve been an RN For 3.5 years now and am a year away of getting my Master’s degree to become an NP. 🙂


I was a Graphic designer with intentions of going into art therapy. I was made redundant, so I did plan B.

Never regretted it for a second.


Seemed like a good idea at the time? (That time may have been after lots of tequila).


No idea. But I’m pretty damn good at it.

Gina Maslow, RN, MSN, APRN-BC

I became a nurse because it would give me a profession at the end of my training.  I was pretty clueless at the time.  Throughout my training I kept thinking “I don’t like this”.  After graduation I applied at Kaiser (the only place I wanted to work) and was hired by a labor and delivery department administrator because she like to train new grads!  It was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I learned so much and developed skills in phlebotomy, peri-operative, newborns, recovery, post-partum and pediatrics!  I have gone from an AA nurse to BSN, to MSN, to a post-grad nurse practitioner.

Whatever your reason for becoming a nurse, thank you!

Nurse Fills Patients Fridge With More Than Just Food.

Amanda Mary Perez a nurse care aid was doing a routine visit on a home care client. As she was helping this gentleman, he asked Amanda to clean out his fridge.  However, when she opened the fridge she soon discovered it was empty.

nurse finds fridge empty
Facebook – Amanda

Concerned, Amanda asked her client, “who buys the food?”

“I buy food when I have the money” he replied.

Like it would be for many of us, this moved Amanda to tears and made her take stock of her wants and needs.

“Someone once told me, it doesn’t matter what you have now because as a human you’ll always have the mindset that it’s not enough and you need or want more. Lately, I have been so upset because I wanted the materials in life. New Car, House, more clothes, and shoes, etc.” Amanda says on her Facebook.


Nurse Shops for patient
Facebook – Amanda

Realizing, “my needs are wants, and his wants are needs” Amanda drove to the store and used her income tax money to stock his fridge with food.

Nurse Full Fridge
Facebook – Amanda


We cross many paths on our journey as a nurse, and it is easy to fall into a sense callousness without seeing the warning signs. One day we are distraught at a patient’s situation, the next day indifferent.

How does this happen?

Our natural response to pain is guarding. If we touch a hot stove, we jerk our hand back. If we touch a painful situation, we step back and distance ourselves.

Now I want to make a point here. As Nurses, we MUST learn to disconnect from the situation from time to time. It does the gunshot victim no good for us to be in tears in the corner of the room while they are bleeding out.

I remember when my son was just learning to crawl and he took a bite out of a piece of bread. I didn’t realize he had it in his mouth when I laid him on his back and started to change his diaper. But as soon as I looked at his face I knew something was wrong. I immediately turn him over and swatted his back and out came a nice lump of dough.

At the time it was acting and react. But as soon as it was out, my heart sank into my stomach, and I started shaking. I began asking what no parent ever wants to imagine… What if it hadn’t come out or I hadn’t noticed?

The point is, you must have an emotional distance to perform your job. However, you also must care.  Many will disagree with me here. In fact I have had discussions with others about emotion in the workplace. Some think emotions only get in the way and have no place. I think emotions are what drives us to do better. I believe we must connect with our patients and empathize to provide the holistic care we are all called to.

One of the basic building blocks of ethics and ethical conduct toward others is empathy. Without empathy it is difficult for any of us to understand the needs and wants of others so that we may know how to treat them kindly and generously, or to practice any other virtue in our day-to-day relations with them. – Nursing

So how do we find that spark?

Put yourself in your patient’s shoes.

None of us want to imagine losing a child, a spouse, a sibling, or a parent. But, take a minute and picture not being at your spouse’s side after 63 years of marriage. I tell you, I would be a miserable, grouchy, mean old man if that were me.

One of the basic building blocks of ethics and ethical conduct toward others is empathy. Without empathy it is difficult for any of us to understand the needs and wants of others so that we may know how to treat them kindly and generously, or to practice any other virtue in our day-to-day relations with them. – Nursing

One of the deepest felt loss was when a patient I was caring for passed. This particular gentleman lost his wife his son and his sister within the past year and was mean on life. Seriously, this guy insulted with the best of them. I was called every name in the book by this guy. Everyone he met left fuming at the ears. But, I remember when he passed it hit me hard. I thought I can’t imagine the life he has led and all the loss he has had.

Spend time with your patient.

The most comprehensive feature of the nurses’ collective understanding of caring was their recognition and acknowledgment of the person behind the patient, i.e. person-centredness. – BioMed Central

When getting into management roles our face time with patients decrease. However, on the floor, we often become, so task-oriented we lose the personal connection. I think it is hugely impactful to take a minute to just to hold a patient’s hand, walk them down the hall, or even sit and have lunch with them. It is amazing what a few minutes of undirected time can provide. I understand we by no means can do it with every patient as our staff ratios are through the roof. But I challenge you in whatever field of nursing to take a minute just to spend time with a patient.

Attend a patient support group.

I think every nurse at some point in their career should attend a support group. There are many patient support groups out there. I was forced to lead one, one afternoon and it changed my career. The person who was supposed to be hosting it had an emergency, and I was called in to host. I had no idea what I was doing and spent most of the time just listening. I think that’s when what it means to be a nurse truly hit home. I listened to the patients and families as they went around the table talking about how scared they were, and alone they felt but how this nurse or that nurse helped them through it. I left that day knowing I was doing exactly what I should be doing.

It is easy in our careers to become cold and calloused. But strength doesn’t come from an emotional distance, strength comes from connecting and loving your patient. It comes from putting yourself in their shoes like Amanda did and spending time with your patient. So, a big thank you to Amanda for selflessly serving another and to the millions of nurses out there that go above and beyond out of love and sacrifice.

If you would like to check out the original article by Ann-Sophie Kaemmerle, you can find it at The Little Things.

Please Comment below and share a time you have experienced a nurse going above and beyond.



The 7 Characteristics of a Nurse Leader Part 4 – Trust

We’ve been on a role this week digging into the characteristics of a clinical leader. We are going to dive into the glue of it all today. Trust. In any profession, there is a foundational need to build trust. In this article, we will discuss why trust is so important and how to get it.

If you haven’t caught the previous parts, please check them out below.

The 7 Characteristics of a Clinical Leader – Part 1 – Humility

The 7 Characteristics of a Clinical Leader – Part 2 – Confidence

The 7 Characteristics of a Clinical Leader – Part 3 – Resourcefulness



Trustworthy – deserving of trust or confidence; dependable;reliable: 

As a clinical leader having others’ trust can make or break your career. I learned early on; trust is such a valuable yet fragile thing to have. The good news is you already have a leg up on every other profession just by being a nurse! In 2016 Nurses were ranked #1 in Honesty, and Ethical Standards per the Gallup Poll ratings done December 7-11, 2016. This is the 15th straight year topping this list with 84% of the public rating nurses as “High/Very high.” Compare this to members of Congress where 59% of Americans rated their Honesty, and Ethical Standards as “Low/Very Low.”

Find the full results here – Gallup Poll.

Why is that? What do nurses do to foster such a high rating?

In a recent article on Inna Khazan was cited as saying, “Nurses are the one you call if you need something. People tend to place more trust in those that are directly caring for them.”

As a clinical leader patients, families, staff, and co-workers all rely on your opinion. However, without trust your opinion means squat. I remember when it dawned on me how important this is and how we must continually work to gain it.

Around my first week as a supervisor, we had a new admit come in. I remember meeting them and introducing myself and right away they had a complaint. The room was too cold. “Oh, this is an easy one,” I thought to myself, I can fix this. I assured them I would take care of their problem.

Then I got a call. A patient had fallen, and I needed to respond. I ran to the scene and took over. We provided minor first aid to a small laceration, and luckily the patient was okay! Now around this time, my shift was coming to an end, so I finished out my day and took off. Completely forgetting about the new admits request. Oops. No big deal right?

The next day I went in to check on them, you know, make sure everyone was treating them well.

“Why is my room still freezing we asked you yesterday to fix this”!

“I am so sorry I don’t know why no one has fixed this yet,” I said as if I told someone to fix it.

About the time these words leave my mouth, in walks maintenance.

“We will have this fixed in no time thanks for calling us we had no one told us this wasn’t working.”

And… I had done it. They couldn’t prove that I hadn’t reported it, but they saw right through me. Trust was out the window.

This might seem like a minor thing at face value but fast forward a few months. Our relationship deteriorated. It didn’t matter what I said or what I did; it was wrong. I was having to explain myself at every step and often that wasn’t even good enough. This was one of the most challenging assignments I have ever had. Not because of the acuity or the complexity of the care, but because it was based on a foundation of mistrust. I had lied and crushed it from the beginning. What saved this one? Eventually, I walked into the room looked the patient and the family in the eyes and apologizing. I admitted my fault and took ownership. I told them I had forgotten to notify someone of the room and feel that led to a negative relationship and I apologize.

“When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
― Stephen R. CoveyThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

So how do you go about building trust?

Building Trust

Build Trust by being honest

  1. Be honest

As you can probably guess by now. I learned my lesson. One of the first lessons I tell new nurses is this one. If you make a mistake come to me. Be honest, and we will do whatever needs to be done to fix it or make it right. But don’t lie, not even by omission. I don’t know a single nurse who has lost their license by accident. It is more often by trying to cover up mistakes than the actual mistake itself. Look, we all make mistakes. We all forget to do something. The only way to recover is to shine a light on it, apologize, and strive to do better. If you can’t be trustworthy in the little things, you can’t be trustworthy in the big things.

Build Trust by following Through

  1. Follow through

Nurses are pulled in dozens of directions every day. It is important to find a system to keep you on task and remind you to follow through. I figured out a long time ago if I don’t write something down I will never remember it. As a clinical leader, I have learned to treat my day as if I am at the bedside. Being bedside, we often have a scrap piece of paper that we took report on; for some reason as clinical leaders, we stop doing that.

I now have a notebook or laptop or sometimes even just my phone that I am constantly taking notes on and am a huge fan of running to-do lists. I start my day by making a list of things I need to accomplish and as the day goes on, I will add to this list or scratch things off. My last hour or so I take a minute to look at my list and triage what’s left. Anything that absolutely can’t wait, I do then. If it can be postponed till the next day, I will start my list for tomorrow and add these items to it.

The key here is communication if you can’t complete a task make sure you let the person relying on you know. Also, give them your deadline on when you will have it done. I usually say something like, “I had some things come up today and was not able to complete that task, I have it on my list for tomorrow and will have finished by this time. Does that work for you?” That way they know you didn’t blow them off.

Build Trust through Prioritizing

  1. Prioritize

We learned a lot about triage in nursing school. I propose you can take what you learned and apply this to your role as a clinical leader. Just like triaging patients takes practice, triaging interruptions takes practice as well. I find new nurse leaders usually start out one of two ways.

The first, take on everything as soon as it crosses their plate. These nurses are sitting with a patient doing an assessment, and someone walks in with a phone call. They excuse themselves and answer the call, going back to the patient to only have someone else interrupt. Once again, they excuse themselves and take care it. This cycle turns into a pattern for their work day. They are always stopping what they are doing and taking care of the next” emergency.”

The second group is very task orientated. They sit down to do the assessment, and someone comes with a phone call and before finding out who the caller is the nurse shoos them out the door. However, in this case, it was the doctor who is getting on a plane and needs to give them an order for the patient they are currently assessing.

Both of these leads to patients and families feeling that they can’t trust in your leadership. They may feel you are flighty and not listen or so busy you can never be bothered with their concerns. By learning to make quick triage decisions, you can learn to prioritize your day and your responses. Taking care of those critical situations while devoting your attention to the task at hand.