1. Baker, Kathy A. PhD, APRN, ACNS-BC, FCNS, FAAN
  2. Editor-in-Chief

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Recently, in a meeting with nursing leaders from our specialty, the group took a few minute to debrief about what was happening in their practice and personal lives since we had last been together. Many of our experiences were the same, with reports of burnout, exhaustion, lack of energy or focus due to heavy workloads, and an inability to see an "end" to the pandemic and its aftermath in healthcare settings. As I listened to our discussion, I worried, "Will we be forced to accept that what we thought was temporary and atypical is going to become our new usual?"

Kathy A. Baker, PhD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowKathy A. Baker, PhD, APRN, ACNS-BC, FCNS, FAAN Editor-in-Chief

Among the reports of weariness and dissatisfaction, however, these same colleagues also reported how they and their peers have learned to be more flexible and adaptive as a result of all we have been through. According to these nurse leaders, communication became even more critical among the healthcare team than before. Several leaders talked of how nursing huddles had been instituted in their gastroenterology units not just to facilitate unit communication but also to keep staff informed of what was happening on a daily basis at their institution. Sensitivity and listening were also highlighted as outcomes that have noticeably increased.


I heard other encouraging accounts of how positive things were happening as a result of these stressful experiences related to the pandemic. Colleagues described how they were much more cognizant of giving thanks to each other. Being kind was now at the forefront of their minds. What was so amazing as I listened to the discussion was my realization that as we gave voice to the challenges, we also began to give voice to our values and vision. The conversation became inspirational and uplifting. I had to admit it felt good to acknowledge and affirm the positive.


Reflections on our conversation helped me recognize that the stress of the pandemic in the work setting has provided new opportunities for better ways and new processes to emerge. Many of these new processes are the result of an absolute necessity to find a more efficient way to function because of our limitations in staffing and resources. What also resulted was a better scale of fit for many programs and processes that had never been seriously evaluated or revamped since change takes time and effort. Because that change wasn't mandated, evaluating programs and processes that were deeply engrained in our everyday work habits always seemed to be low on the priority list. In reality, the challenges of the pandemic have led us to "hit the reset button."


Hitting "reset" isn't just applicable in the work setting. There are opportunities to change processes and habits in our personal life as well. For instance, now that I have had an extended opportunity to work from home more often and for longer periods each time, I realize there are books, folders, and files that I have accumulated with the intent to organize "when I had time." As a result, I'm more overwhelmed now despite my original intent being greater organization. Creating a space in my home office that lends itself to efficiency and inspiration currently has forced me to give attention to my habits of just setting things aside to essentially end up as useless clutter. Because recognizing working from home is going to become for me more of a norm than the exception, I am learning to give a few hours each week to sorting through my office piles. As a result of this "reset," I am actually benefiting from revisiting those relegated books, files, and folders as I deal with the backup and clutter that has accumulated despite my best intentions. I am proud to report I even went so far as to send an older, infrequently used piece of equipment off in the back of a truck to the dumpster today. I'm learning to hit the reset button!


I am looking forward to being together again in May at the SGNA annual course in Salt Lake City. I am more than ready to press that "reset" button so I can fully immerse myself in the networking, learning, and laughing that are always the norm with my gastroenterology colleagues. I hope you are planning to attend as well.


The evening I described sharing with our gastroenterology nursing leaders has me wondering what each of you is experiencing related to hitting the reset button for your professional and personal lives. I would love to hear from you to document more of our thoughts and experiences on how the past few years have impacted each of us, along with what processes and programs have changed as a result. And I would love to know your opinion about what is "usual" now in our practice setting and nursing specialty. Let me hear from you at mailto:[email protected].