1. Krichten, Amy E. MSN, RN, CEN, TCRN

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If we have learned anything through the tragedy of the pandemic over the past 2 years, it is that change is inevitable. Change happened with or without our consent. In some circumstances, change was needed for basic survival, and in others, it was implemented for personal satisfaction. Some of us found new expectations pushed us far outside our comfort zone. There is no doubt we had our fair share of changes. Lately, I found myself yearning for the days when change happened a little less frequently.

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The Change Theory of Nursing was developed by Kurt Lewin, who is considered the father of social psychology (Petipren, 2020). He theorized a three-stage model of change known as the unfreeze-change-refreeze model. Unfreezing is the process that involves letting go of the past. The change phase involves moving to a new foundation. Finally, refreezing is establishing the change as a new habit. Nurses, by virtue of patient care principles, embrace change. We are experts in the process of assessment, action plans, and outcome evaluation. In theory, we should be well positioned to navigate change, regardless of the circumstances. The reality, however, confirms that not all change is regarded as positive. Therefore, controlling our reactions to change is imperative to our success.


Currently, members of the Society of Trauma Nurses (STN) are embracing the changes introduced by the seventh edition of the Resources for Optimal Care of the Injured Patient (American College of Surgeons [ACS], 2022). By this time, most of us have read the document, completed a gap assessment, and formulated a plan for change. The process of unfreezing established policies, procedures, and organizational charts is in full swing. We have completed the assessment phase and are moving forward with action plans. Like most change, the new expectations may be perceived with mixed emotions.


Numerous studies have shown that having a positive outlook on change correlates with better psychological and physical well-being and can even increase your life span (Wormley, 2021). As a result of addressing change with a positive outlook, you become more creative, solutions come more easily, obstacles seem less impossible to overcome, your energy level is higher, and you are more motivated to accomplish the task at hand (Wormley, 2021). In the workplace, your mental attitude plays a role not just in how others perceive you but also in your job satisfaction and performance. Considering many of us spend at least 40 hr a week working, fostering a positive mindset in your job is essential for your success.


To successfully navigate change, three principles are often referenced: affirming mission statements, thinking long-term, and channeling the stress (Bohman, 2019). STN utilizes these three principles to keep our organization thriving. The first principle is to affirm a mission statement. STN's mission statement is to ensure optimal trauma care for all people globally. The 2022 STN strategic plan and budget were recently updated to affirm the mission statement, support future growth, anticipate member needs, and foresee opportunities for change. Your employer probably has a mission statement too, and you should have one as well. A personal mission statement would help you define your purpose at work, what your life is about, and what motivates your behavior. This statement includes the concept of having personal goals. Goals are proof that you have a plan and are working toward something. They are evidence of forward positive motion.


A second principle is to think long-term (Bohman, 2019). Sometimes the sheer volume of change can be intimidating, making motivation challenging. Break big changes down into manageable steps, and consider how to solve the problem at hand. Focus on the end goal and the desired outcome. Instead of reading the entire Resources for the Optimal Care of the Injured Patient manual in one sitting, for example, break it down into chapters, standards, or even sentences. Utilize resources, including STN's website and educational offerings, to enhance your understanding of trauma concepts. Consider the positive benefits change may have. This may be an opportunity to grow.


A third principle is to channel the stress into positivity. Change is stressful. Although you may not have a choice about the change itself, you have a choice about your response to it. Choose to embrace happiness. This should include surrounding yourself with positive people. STN is more than 3,500 members strong. Consider connecting with a fellow STN member to support each other. Make a concerted effort to be kind. An article in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that the memory of doing something kind for someone causes us to want to do it again (Aknin et al., 2012). If you make kindness a regular habit, it will become a cycle of generosity and happiness that makes you feel good and causes those around you to feel happy as well (Aknin et al., 2012). I encourage everyone to do at least one act of kindness every day; hardwire this practice into your daily life. Drive your emotions; do not let them drive you.


Carrie Underwood sings a song, titled Change (Wikipedia contributors, 2022). The lyrics "Oh, the smallest thing can make all the difference-Love is alive-Don't listen to 'em when they say you're just a fool, just a fool to believe you can change the world," reminds us that we can still make a difference, even if it is just one step at a time. By affirming our mission statements, thinking long-term, and choosing to embrace happiness, we can position ourselves to navigate change successfully. STN is committed to supporting our members through all aspects of change. It is in knowing that we are going through it together that brings us comfort.




Aknin L. B., Dunn E. W., Norton M. I. (2012). Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 347-355.[Context Link]


American College of Surgeons (ACS). (2022). Resources for optimal care of the injured patient. ACS ( [Context Link]


Bohman D. (2019, February 12). The secret to staying positive during change in the workplace. ATR International. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from[Context Link]


Petipren A. (2020). Lewin's change theory. Nursing Theory. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from[Context Link]


Wikipedia contributors. (2022, May 24). Carrie Underwood. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from[Context Link]


Wormley R. (2021, December 9). 18 simple ways to keep a positive attitude at work. When I Work. Retrieved May 24, 2022, from[Context Link]