1. Walsh, Colleen DNP, RN, ONC, ONP-C, CNS, ACNP-BC
  2. NAON President 2016-2017

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I hope that you and yours had a wonderful and joyous holiday season. I was surrounded by family, peace, and love, and I feel very blessed in so many ways. I know this is the time of year when we reflect on what was and what will be. That is the purpose of resolutions. The New Year gives us permission to "start over again" and try to be better than we were the year before. It is a reset button, so to speak.

Colleen Walsh, DNP, ... - Click to enlarge in new window NAON President 2016-2017

I know many of you hit the gym on January 2 and then gulped nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on January 3. You swear that this year will be the year you finally stick with it. What was your "ah ha" moment? What was that moment when you decide to take control of your life and make those resolutions a reality?


I teach acute care nurse practitioner students and they always ask me, "Colleen, when do patients need total joint replacements?" and I tell them, "When the patient asks for them." I explain to them the "ah ha" moment patients have and how critical it is to identify that specific moment so that we as orthopaedic nurses can seize upon that motivation to assist our patients reach their specific goals.


As I have written before, I have had bilateral total knee replacements in 2014. I, too, had my "ah ha" moment at Christmas of 2013. All my kids were home for the holidays, and they asked me for the car keys so that they could go to the mall and finish their Christmas shopping. I said, "Of course, and let me get my coat." They gently told me that I was very slow and I would slow them down as they had limited time. I sat there looking at the Christmas tree, sipping egg nog, and thinking, "Well, that does it. It's finally time to do something." I did and have seen the results of my resolution, as I have lost more than 80 pounds. It wasn't easy, but then again, any worthwhile goal is never easy, is it?


So, what are your resolutions for this year? Most of us want to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, spend more time with family and friends, etc. Approximately 40% of Americans make resolutions each year, but, unfortunately, only about 8% of people actually achieve them (Diamond, 2013). One major obstacle to achieving those goals is that we often set too many lofty goals and do not assign any metrics to those goals.


It is easy to say that you will go to the gym this year, but successful people set the goal of going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. That is measureable, and if there aren't 10 other competing goals, that goal may be much more achievable. We as orthopaedic nurses are so familiar with metrics and know how critical they are. Make your resolution obvious. In the era of Facebook, Snapchat, and others social media platforms, it is easy to post that you will go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and make yourself accountable. On your orthopaedic units, your manager posts the metrics and how well your unit met those metrics. Don't those results make you work harder or make you proud?


Keep believing that you can achieve those goals. It is easy to become frustrated if you aren't losing weight quickly, and many give up if results aren't seen. We beat up on ourselves if we eat a forbidden food and say "I have no will power" and use that as an excuse not to continue to achieve that goal. As the sage saying goes "if you fall off the horse, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and get on the horse again." Nothing is impossible if you believe. There is always a way to start over. If your unit didn't meet goals this month or this quarter, there is always time to improve. It is never too late.


I would hope that the chance to "start over" extends to our elected officials.


I know many of us, including me, are so relieved that the bruising 2016 election is over. This election seemed to always find ways to lower the bar until it was submerged in mud. No matter who you backed to win, it was ugly, and true competence was hard to find. Now that the election is over and Donald Trump is the new President-Elect, the country can get back to what it is supposed to do, which is move forward. I hope that our elected officials can work together and have the courage to cross party lines so that meaningful legislation can be passed. Unfortunately, the culture of partisan politics has become so toxic I fear that the gridlock that has been the hallmark of Washington will continue. Our legislators should make a resolution to serve the people who elected them rather than serve the special-interest groups.


Unfortunately, much of the political discourse did not fully explore the issues facing our nation. People were too busy slinging mud and insults to discuss any issue in depth. The fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is mostly likely demise. During the election, Mr. Trump called for total repeal of the ACA and with a majority vote in the Congress, repeal is most likely. What we don't know is what will replace it? What kind of health care will our patients have access to? What does all this mean for orthopaedic nurses?


Many of our patients, thankfully, will continue to have coverage either through Medicare or through employer health plans. I know that health care insurance issues vex the smartest and brightest people among us, but it is our responsibility, our obligation to our patients, to at the minimum, direct them to resources that can assist them in understanding their insurance options so that they have enough information to make informed decisions regarding their health care. This means that we need to carefully and closely watch what new health care plans are being developed. We as nurses should raise our voices and tell our legislators what our patients need. Should your other New Year's resolution include becoming more informed about issues related to our patients' health care options?


I wish all of you success, both personally and professionally, as you determine and strive to achieve those resolutions that you have set. Remember, you CAN do it!




Diamond D. (2013, January 1). Just 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolutions. Here's how they do it. Forbes. Retrieved from http:// [Context Link]