A Tribute to Suzanne Smith

In the nursing world, there are a few people we can identify as having shaped the world of nursing education, practice, and leadership. This week we lost one of those individuals, Suzanne P. Smith, EdD, RN, FAAN.

When word spread that Suzanne passed away unexpectedly, a ripple went through the entire nursing community. Suzanne had been an integral part of the nursing community for many years. Perhaps best known for her scholarly contributions on education and leadership; Suzanne was editor-in-chief of two nursing journals, The Nurse Educator and until 2011, The Journal of Nursing Administration published by Wolters Kluwer Health / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. She also contributed to many books and was an important leader within the International Academy of Nursing Editors.

Suzanne wrote about the importance of the evolution of nursing education to meet the needs of an evolving healthcare system. She was well known for her work on organizational transformation, process-centered healthcare and leadership. Suzanne was a mentor for new authors, educators, and leaders within the nursing profession. She believed in leading by example and was often the bar to which nurse editors, authors, educators, and leaders were compared. In 2011, Suzanne was recognized for her contributions to the global nursing and healthcare community when she received the prestigious President's Specialty Recognition Award from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Dr. Suzanne Smith lived her life as she wanted to, contributing to the profession she so greatly loved, nursing. Her legacy will be one filled with inspiration, dedication, and fortitude. Suzanne believed each of us has the power to transform healthcare organizations, education, and the nursing profession.

Suzanne, you will be greatly missed.

From the Wolters Kluwer Health / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Family

Posted: 9/20/2013 3:53:47 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Nurses call to action

I have been trying to limit my watching of the Newtown, Connecticut events on television. I feel guilty about it, as those directly affected by the horrible massacre that occurred December 14th must face the tragedy every minute of every day. Like you, I am experiencing all sorts of feelings of sadness and anxiety and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders.

I have not limited my reading though. I feel that by reading the stories shared by family members, I am getting to know the victims and in some small way, I am honoring them. I am reading the stories shared by the survivors and feeling that in some small way, by doing so I am helping them process the events by “listening.” I am reading the thoughts and feelings of how others are processing what happened, hoping to contribute to the discussion and let our voices be heard so that changes can be made to make our nation a stronger and safer place for ourselves and our children. 

Now I turn to the feelings of “How can I help?” and “What can I do?” I encourage you to see posts from our colleagues at AJN’s Off The Charts and Nursetopia for lists of resources and ways to help. Also, the American Nurses Association has assembled a list of more than 30 nursing organizations joining forces to call for change. 

“The nation’s nurses call on President Obama, Congress, and policymakers at the state and local level to take swift action to address factors that together will help prevent more senseless acts of violence. We call on policymakers to: 

• Restore access to mental health services for individuals and families 

• Increase students’ access to nurses and mental health professionals from the elementary school level through college 

• Ban assault weapons and enact other meaningful gun control reforms to protect society”

Nurses – we are the largest single group of health care professionals. We see the devastation caused by weapons and violence. We care for patients with mental illness and know there is need for improved services and access to treatment. It is time to take action.

Posted: 12/21/2012 4:41:00 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Honored by a Liebster Award Nomination

Thank you to Julianna Paradisi of JParadisi RN's Blog for the Liebster Award nomination! These awards are a way for bloggers to get to know one another better, recognize one another, and share favorite blogs with their audiences. To continue the trend, I must share 11 things about myself, answer 11 questions asked by Julianna, and nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions. So, here we go:

Eleven Things About Me
1. I speak Italian. My parents met when my dad was in the Air Force and stationed near my mom’s hometown in northern Italy. They married, had my brother, and then moved to the U.S. I learned the language from visiting our family and studying it in school. 

2. I like wearing glasses. I tried contact lenses but couldn’t get used to them. I own several pairs of glasses at any given time and like to order different styles online.

3. When time and acuity allowed, I thoroughly enjoyed washing patients’ hair, which was not usually an easy task in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. It was time consuming and messy, but I hope that someone will do that for me if I’m ever critically ill. 

4. I always, always wear a watch and am usually early for everything! It drives my family a little bit crazy!

5. I don’t like to style my hair, but if I have to, I usually straighten it, and then curl it. It makes no sense, I know.

6. NICU nurses are my heroes. For 2 months, they were lifesavers and caregivers to my twin sons who were born at 29 weeks.

7. I enjoy gardening. I find weeding relaxing and I don’t mind cutting the lawn or trimming shrubs. The best part, of course, is having fresh vegetables and herbs on hand all summer!

8. I still have many of my books from nursing school. They have been updated with new editions and even with all the information that is now available online, I still can’t part with them.

9. I love to fold clean laundry but hate to put it away.

10. Math was always my favorite subject. I took Calculus I and II as my electives in nursing school and now I enjoy tackling math homework with my kids, although they are learning things very differently than I remember!

11. Nurse bullying, horizontal violence – whatever you want to call it – upsets me tremendously, especially when it involves students or new nurses. We really need to support one another! We all started as beginners!

Eleven Questions From Julianna
1. Who was your childhood hero? My older brother! I would do anything to get his attention! I remember even begging my mom to make him say “I love you” to me. 

2. What book (s) have you read more than once? Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  It’s a wonderful tale of friendship, but a real tear-jerker! Also, The $64 Tomato by William Alexander.  I read it every year while prepping our garden for the upcoming season. Even my kids like to hear excerpts of the author’s trials and tribulations in the garden!

3. If you could do one thing in your life over, what would it be? I probably would have done my MSN in acute care. I enjoyed women’s health and am glad to have that knowledge and experience, but I think my real passion is critical care.

4. In one sentence or less, how would you describe yourself? This is tough! Ok, here goes… I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and aunt who thrives on being with and caring for others.

5. What is your favorite way to exercise? Walking with friends. It’s a great way for us to catch up on each other’s lives and put in some miles!

6. Name one person from any era, dead or alive, you would like to meet. Mother Teresa. 

7. What is your secret talent? I can tap dance; took lessons for 13 years!

8. Do you ever dance to music when no one is watching? Yes, but it’s definitely more fun when my whole family gets into it!

9. What is your all-time favorite TV show? Friends.

10. What TV show theme song do you know by heart? So many! Friends, Cheers, Brady Bunch…. Also, thanks to my kids – Phineas & Ferb and Good Luck Charlie. 

11. What is one ability you wish you had, possible or not? I wish I could control time – the possibilities are endless…

Eleven Nominations
These are my favorites – enjoy! (Full disclosure- two are LWW journal blogs)
Nursetopia
Nurse Story
Correctional Nurse.net
Infusion Nurse Blog
Nursing Staff Development: Behind the Firewall
ANS: Advances in Nursing Science Blog
AJN’s Off The Charts
RNspiration
3cs: coffee, children, and cancer
At Your Cervix
Crass Pollination: An ER Blog

Eleven Questions for My Nominees
1. What makes you laugh?
2. Have you ever written for publication?
3. What was your first nursing job?
4. What is your favorite blog post that you’ve written?
5. What’s your favorite TV or movie quote?
6. What is your biggest fear?
7. Do you sing in the shower? If yes, do you have a favorite genre or song?
8. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
9. Can you describe your best memory of nursing school?
10. When did you know you wanted to become a nurse?
11. What do you find most fulfilling about being a nurse blogger?

Posted: 10/30/2012 8:55:27 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Healthcare Policy – An interview with Dr. Carole Eldridge

Last week I had the privilege of speaking with Carole Eldridge, RN, DNP, CNE, NEA-BC, Director of Graduate Programs at Chamberlain College of Nursing. This fall, Chamberlain is launching a new Masters of Science in Nursing Healthcare Policy Track and I was particularly interested in learning more about Dr. Eldridge, as I’ve been following her on twitter for years (@Nerdnurse), and about this new MSN track.

I was more than impressed when I asked Dr. Eldridge to share her nursing background with me. In a nutshell, after about 15 years in acute care (including critical care, post-surgical care, hemodialysis, and transplant), Dr. Eldridge and her husband moved to Africa for about a year to run a health clinic. When she returned to the U.S., she started a Home Health and Hospice Agency which grew into about 50 agencies in 4 states! After selling this business, Dr. Eldridge became interested in education and saw a need for training nurse aides. She started her own publishing company which developed training packets. After selling this company, Dr. Eldridge returned to school herself for her MSN in Leadership and Healthcare Business, and later her DNP. She taught for about 3 years, and since then has held various titles including Director of a Master’s program, Dean, and Campus President. Wow!

In her current role, Dr. Eldridge oversees all of the graduate programs at Chamberlain College of Nursing. As previously stated, this fall, a new Healthcare Policy track is available for MSN students. The development of this track is timely in the wake of the report from the Institute of Medicine – The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health – and as we approach a Presidential election here in the United States. An MSN in Healthcare Policy will prepare nurses to be active in bill and policy writing, foundations, education and training, academia and research, disease investigations, health services, and other positions where one can “Impart the voice of nursing to direct the path of healthcare policies that benefit patients, the community, our nation and the world.”

This particular program involves 6 core courses (foundational concepts, theory, informatics, leadership, research, and basic healthcare policy) and 6 specialty courses (healthcare systems, economics, global health, nurse leadership and healthcare policy, healthcare policy practicum, and a capstone project).  When asked for more details about the capstone project, Dr. Eldridge gave me several examples that students from similar programs have done, such as global health projects, legislative proposals, and oral testimony collaboration. The coursework is flexible, can be completed in 2 years, and is completely online.

My favorite part of our conversation had to be discussing the upcoming election. Dr. Eldridge reminds us that as nurses, we have a responsibility to be politically engaged in order to best advocate for our patients. In particular, we need to be alert to the following:

  • Economics – how will healthcare be funded? 
  • Affordable Care Act
  • The aging population, including funding their care & medical devices
  • “Equitable access”
  • Epidemiology
  • Vaccines
  • Global Healthcare 

Remember, Florence Nightingale was our first political activist. As nurses, let’s remain educated about the issues and share our voice. We are more than 3 million strong – it’s important that we are heard!

Resources:

The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health 

Keeping Health Care Reform Healthy, Patients Informed (American Nurses Association) 

ANA’s Policy and Advocacy page 

ANA's Nurses Strategic Action Team (N-STAT)

Posted: 8/30/2012 8:46:39 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Nurse to lead CMS

On December 2nd, Dr. Donald M. Berwick will step down as administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Replacing Dr. Berwick will be Marilyn Tavenner, who served as Berwick’s deputy principal administrator since April 2010. The first article I read about this development was last week on Reuters.com. Toward the end of the article, I read “Tavenner is a former Virginia health secretary and hospital chief executive. A nurse by training, she has been with CMS since February 2010, first as acting administrator and currently as principal deputy administrator." A nurse to head CMS? Yes!

Since last week, I’ve read more about the sequence of events leading to Dr. Berwick’s resignation as well as more about Marilyn Tavenner’s background and experience. In this blog post from the Washington Post, Tavenner’s path from ICU nurse to this nomination is chronicled in detail with comments from former colleagues describing her as respectful, quick-thinking, decisive, and hard-working. In an article on HealthLeaders Media, more former colleagues share their thoughts and feelings of Tavenner’s pragmatism, leadership experience, and decision-making skills. 

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has released a statement commending the White House for its decision to nominate Marilyn Tavenner, MHA, BSN, RN, to head CMS.  I’d like to join in on the commendation. Seeing a nurse take on such a prominent leadership role makes me feel proud – how about you?

Posted: 11/20/2011 8:35:51 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Effective mentoring

I just finished reading Professional Growth: Taking a novice nurse under your wing from the September issue of Nursing2011. In this article, the author, Pamela Woodfine MSN, RN, emphasizes the importance of mentoring and making a new nurse’s first experiences in the “real world” of nursing positive ones. She also stresses the importance of recruitment and retention to the future of our profession. Below, the phases of the mentoring process are listed as presented in this article. Regardless of where you are in your nursing career, whether the new nurse or a new or experienced preceptor, I think you’ll find them interesting and helpful in planning and implementing a successful transition into nursing. 

  • Phase 1: introductions, discuss one another’s personal and professional goals 
  • Phase 2: set goals and objectives together, establish a time frame
  • Phase 3: determine guidelines for implementing plan of action and working relationship (for example, open communication, availability, and constructive criticism) 
  • Phase 4: reflection and feedback  (most important phase; fosters critical thinking and increases clinical skills)

I hope you enjoy this article!  Also, you can read about A memorable mentor in my career and my thoughts on The makings of a good mentor.

Posted: 9/14/2011 3:40:06 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments

Categories: Leadership


What is shared governance?

There are certain words and phrases that are used frequently in nursing and medicine – sometimes so frequently that we lose our understanding of their true meaning. Or sometimes, we may not have really understood them at all.

For me, “shared governance” was one such phrase. In the past, if someone had asked me what shared governance meant, I would have had some difficulty explaining it in great detail. Sure, I would have answered that it’s a model for nurses to work together and manage themselves, but beyond that, I’d have been at a loss.

That is, until, I did some reading. Now I feel better prepared to discuss shared governance and its role in nursing. Here’s what I’d say now:

Shared governance is collaboration, whether in scheduling staff, educating new staff, or implementing evidence-based practice. It involves teamwork, problem-solving, and accountability, with the goals of improved staff satisfaction, productivity, and patient outcomes. It is working together to make decisions that affect nursing practice and patient care. It is working with other disciplines for the good of the patient. It is collaborating to improve nursing practice. 

Allow me to share the following excerpt which I found very enlightening:

The structure is shared governance; the process is professional nursing practice; the outcomes are positive productivity data.1

Is a shared governance structure in place where you work? Have you been involved with implementing shared governance? I'd love to learn more; it sounds like the ideal working environment, but I'm wondering - does it truly exist?

1. Church, J.A., Baker, P., Berry, D.M. (2008). Shared governance: A journey with continual mile markers. Nursing Management, 39 (8).

Posted: 8/11/2011 8:41:54 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 5 comments

Categories: Leadership


Are you a nurse leader? Yes!

What does it mean to be a leader? In the past, I would think of a nurse leader as any nurse in a management position or an advanced practice nurse. After reading Finding the Leader Within: Thoughts on Leadership in Nursing, my perspective has changed. Let me share the following words of the authors to help you understand why we all can be, and should be, nurse leaders:

…real leadership is less about a title or institutionally granted power, and more about how we “show up” in the myriad of moments that make up our days.

…leadership is an “in the moment experience”

…being a leader is basically about constantly trying to be a better person.


The authors’ work has focused on helping individuals find the “leader within” and developing behaviors to share their leadership with others. To do this, they identified five “skill-cepts”, that is, skills derived from leadership concepts:

  1. Know your stuff - have the knowledge and be confident in it
  2. Have a goal - know where you are going
  3. Stay “in role” - focus on your goals and how to achieve them; avoid taking things personally (you really must read this part of the article in its entirety!)
  4. Love the fight - recognize resistance as a sign that you are making an impact
  5. Cultivate gratitude - remember there is always something positive to gain, even when you are faced with challenges

 

I hope you find this article as inspiring as I did. You can read it free online until 7/1/11 as it is from our current featured journal. Let me know what you think!

Reference: Gordin, P.C. & Trey, B. (2011). Finding the Leader Within. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, 25(2), pp. 115-118.

Posted: 6/23/2011 8:44:23 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Are you a nurse leader? Yes!

What does it mean to be a leader? In the past, I would think of a nurse leader as any nurse in a management position or an advanced practice nurse. After reading Finding the Leader Within: Thoughts on Leadership in Nursing, my perspective has changed. Let me share the following words of the authors to help you understand why we all can be, and should be, nurse leaders:

…real leadership is less about a title or institutionally granted power, and more about how we “show up” in the myriad of moments that make up our days.

…leadership is an “in the moment experience”

…being a leader is basically about constantly trying to be a better person.


The authors’ work has focused on helping individuals find the “leader within” and developing behaviors to share their leadership with others. To do this, they identified five “skill-cepts”, that is, skills derived from leadership concepts:

  1. Know your stuff - have the knowledge and be confident in it
  2. Have a goal - know where you are going
  3. Stay “in role” - focus on your goals and how to achieve them; avoid taking things personally (you really must read this part of the article in its entirety!)
  4. Love the fight - recognize resistance as a sign that you are making an impact
  5. Cultivate gratitude - remember there is always something positive to gain, even when you are faced with challenges

 

I hope you find this article as inspiring as I did. You can read it free online until 7/1/11 as it is from our current featured journal. Let me know what you think!

Reference: Gordin, P.C. & Trey, B. (2011). Finding the Leade

Posted: 6/23/2011 3:23:02 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


Snapshot

I was on orientation in the Medical Intensive Care Unit and I had the most amazing preceptor. She really did know everything. I still have yet to meet a smarter nurse, or person, for that matter. Her knowledge of physiology, pathophysiology, medications, technology, and random entertaining facts to keep us going during night shift astounded me! Not only that, she was (and is) an amazing nurse --- caring, compassionate, a good listener, excellent at time management, and all things nursing!

And her teaching skills? Amazing.

I was a new graduate fortunate to work with and learn from this nurse every day. I had worked in this MICU as a nursing assistant for over a year, so I knew some of the basics (where to find supplies and knowing which room is which is huge when you are just starting out, right?) I’ll never forget this one time…

Amy (not her real name, of course) would often stand back in the corner of a patient’s room while I did my assessment at the start of a shift. Sometimes I’d forget she was there until she’d start with “the questions.” During this particular shift she said, “Lisa, what if all of a sudden the ventilator alarms for a high peak airway pressure?” I started to go through my list of troubleshooting ventilator alarms: look at the patient - is he in distress, what is his oxygen saturation, how is his color, listen to his breath sounds, is his endotracheal tube in place - and then moved on to the ventilator - any water in the tubing, is everything connected as it should be, etc.

Amy then said “Okay, you don’t find any concerns, but the high pressure alarm is still sounding. Now what?”  I replied, “I would disconnect the patient from the ventilator and bag him.” Amy said “Yes, and what else could you do to search for a reason for the alarm?” I could tell by Amy’s face that I was missing something.

She pretended to take a picture. Huh? I must have looked confused, because she did it again. I thought for a minute and then it hit me --- a chest x-ray!

Posted: 6/12/2011 8:51:48 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Leadership


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