1. Miracle, Vickie A. EdD, RN, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC

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This is the beginning of a new year. Can you believe it is already 2010? It seems like it was only yesterday when we were worried about Y2K and the new millennium. I guess the statement is true: The older you get, the faster time goes.


With the start of a new year, many of us will make resolutions to have a healthier, happier, more fit, thinner, or __________________(you fill in the blank) life. Unfortunately, many of us will forego our resolutions within a few weeks. However, I beseech each of you to make the following resolution and do your best to keep it: Always try to make a good first impression, especially with your patients and their families.


I recently returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. My husband and I love to cruise, and this was our 10th cruise. However, if this had been our first cruise, it would have been our last. From the moment we entered the ship, our impressions and opinions of the ship, its crew, and the cruise line were bad. Without going into all the gory details, everything was wrong. We were extremely dissatisfied with our cabin, the food was barely edible (but at least I did not gain weight), and the air conditioning, with warm temperatures, was intermittent at best. After the first visit to guest relations (definitely an oxymoron), we discovered that our concerns were politely ignored. On another visit to guest relations, one guest service representative (another oxymoron) said that because we had paid for the cruise, there was nothing they could do to try to satisfy us. In addition, after talking with several other passengers, I discovered that our concerns were shared by others. In other words, first, middle, and last impressions were not good. The best part of the cruise was getting off the ship.


However, this bad experience did make me think about the importance of first impressions. Every day, as a critical care nurse, we have the opportunity to make several first impressions-patients, their families and friends, new coworkers, sales representatives, and other healthcare providers from other departments or facilities. What kind of first impression do we make? I know I make an effort to make a good impression as much as possible, but I realize I probably have not always succeeded. I am sure there were days when I was distracted, worried, rushed, already in a bad mood, and wishing I worked at Dairy Queen. I hope there were not too many of these days and I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have shortchanged.


I wonder how this has affected the other person's view of me, the hospital, and the healthcare he/she received. I sincerely hope that if any of my patients or their families developed a bad first impression of me, they later had a good experience either with myself or a colleague.


I resolve to make a good first impression every time I interact with anyone new to me. I resolve to make every encounter as pleasant as possible, even in the most dire situation. Now, will I succeed? Probably not, but I am certainly going to make the effort. I humbly ask that each of you also make this resolution and try your best to follow through.


On another note, February is National Heart Month. Remember to take steps to protect your heart and educate those around you about healthy heart awareness. Heart disease is the number 1 killer in the United States and is an equal opportunity disease. Do not be another statistic. Know your numbers (good and bad cholesterol, glucose level, body mass index, weight, among others). If they are not where they should be, take measures to improve them. Your life could depend on it. Remember, if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be here to take care of others.


Make a good first impression and take care of your heart.


Vickie A. Miracle, EdD, RN, CCRN, CCNS, CCRC


Editor, DCCN and Lecturer


Bellarmine University


School of Nursing


Louisville, KY