What a great idea!


I just spent a wonderful long weekend in Nashville, Tennessee at Nursing Management Congress 2012. What a great city, great venue (Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center), and great event! I learned a lot, connected with lots of nurse managers and executives, and enjoyed my surroundings. I have lots to share with you over my next few blog posts, but I’m especially excited to share the following idea which was presented by one of the attendees and then shared by Sharon Cox, BSN, MSN during the opening session, titled “Nurse Managers: Adding Value in a Time of Volatility.”

During one of the preconference workshops, a discussion about staff recognition had begun, when one attendee (I wish I knew her name to give credit where credit is due) shared a means of recognizing staff members that has had positive results. Rather than recognizing a staff member with a pat on the back or a letter of recognition to be filed, this manager asks the staff member (and I’m paraphrasing here), “I’d like to let someone important to you know what a valuable asset you are to us. To whom could I send your letter of recognition?”  She then wrote a personal note to to the person selected. 

This manager said she’s written to parents, spouses, mentors, and children of her staff members and has gotten positive feedback from all involved. She even met one staff member’s parents at a wedding and was thanked in person for the note she had written about their daughter.  

What a great idea!

Posted: 9/18/2012 2:59:45 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments

Categories: Inspiration

First Clinical

It was my sophomore year of college and we were heading into the hospital for the first time. We had been learning about communication and practicing with one another and now it was time to meet a REAL LIVE patient and use our skills. I was so nervous!

I realize now what this first encounter meant to me. I wanted my first official interaction with a patient to be a positive experience. I had already had some doubts about nursing as a career choice and thought that this experience would give me some insight if this path was indeed the right one for me.

Another thing that I realize now, was that I wouldn’t be just talking as a friend, daughter, sister, or student – roles that I was familiar with. This was new territory and this patient would look to me for answers and support. My role as a nurse was beginning and this patient would trust me to say and do the right thing. 

Despite my nerves, I remember wondering (and being a little impatient about) why we weren’t doing real nursing things when we went to the hospital. I know now that communicating with patients is real nursing. Making that human connection is a big part of what makes us different from other disciplines in health care. Think about how you communicate with patients, their family members and caregivers, and other healthcare providers. Think about how others communicate with you? Any differences?

I like to think that since becoming a nurse, I’ve become a better communicator. I try to consistently think before speaking. I work hard to really listen to others rather than thinking about what I’ll say next when someone else is talking to me. When a difficult conversation is taking place, I think back to the communication strategies that I learned during those first years of nursing school. I also try to pay attention to my own nonverbal cues and those of others.

Have your communication skills and strategies changes since becoming a nurse? How so?

Posted: 8/5/2012 2:40:30 PM by Cara Deming | with 0 comments

Categories: Inspiration

The Future Has Begun

It’s been almost 2 years since the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health and this landmark report is still being discussed and written about. This thrills me! People are hearing and learning about nursing. Other disciplines in healthcare have responded to the report. Nurses are making changes based on the report and sharing their plans and outcomes. Good things are happening!

We have a collection of articles and editorials all about the Future of Nursing Report and in the past few months several good reads have been published. Take a look:

Learn how the nursing staff at one New Jersey health system embraced the report and made changes to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction by reading Responding to Health Care Reform by Addressing the Institute of Medicine Report on the Future of Nursing (Nursing Administration Quarterly, September 2012).



In Nursing's future: What's the message? (Nursing Management, July 2012), the authors share the response of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Division of Nursing, including “…creating opportunities within our hospital and our professional networks for honest conversation about the report and its implications, and then using strategic planning to design our action strategies.”



Read Wellness Promotion and the Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing Report: Are Nurses Ready? (Holistic Nursing Practice, June 2012) and discover how the role of disease prevention and health promotion, or wellness, is a critical component for nurses in implementing the changes recommended in the IOM report. 



In the NACNS Position Paper: The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists Response to the Institute of Medicine’s The Future of Nursing Report (Clinical Nurse Specialist: The Journal for Advanced Nursing Practice, August 2012), the NACNS addresses several of the IOM recommendations with strategies and recommendations specific to clinical nurse specialists. 



The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses has also developed specific recommendations based on the report which were published in the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing (June 2012) – Integrating the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing Report Into the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses Strategic Plan. 



There are over 35 editorials and articles that have been published in our journals since the release of the IOM report. All can be read online FREE --- be sure to check out Focus On: The Future of Nursing.  

What changes have you implemented in your practice or career plans? Have there been initiatives at your workplace since the release of the IOM report?

Posted: 7/29/2012 1:16:48 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Inspiration

Communication and relationships

Each week we select 3 articles to feature on our Recommended Reading list. We rotate the items on this list so there are always 10 articles available – and they are all free to read! It’s fun for me to choose these articles for several reasons – first, I get to do a lot of reading, but most of all, because I do think about what I’m “hearing” here on our blog, out there on our social media pages, and in real-life discussions with my nursing friends, when I select the articles to include each week. We also select 3 continuing education articles to include on our Recommended CE list, and remember, all of our CE articles can be read online free!

A hot topic lately, and one that is dear to me, is communication. Interactions with both patients and our colleagues are so important for outcomes and patient and staff satisfaction. We know that patients trust us, we know that we know our patients well, and we know that we are important members of the healthcare team. One of our current featured articles, Facilitating Goals-of-Care Discussions for Patients With Life-Limiting Disease—Communication Strategies for Nurses, has a great section with the heading Nurses' Special Relationship With Patients: 

“For those with a life-limiting illness, nurses are the ""constant"" in their journey through a frequently fragmented healthcare system. The nurse becomes familiar with the patient's medical history, health status changes, ""behind the scenes"" discussions of the team, family dynamics, and expressions of thoughts, concerns, and values. Thoughtful communication is essential throughout the trajectory. As the nurse builds a relationship based on trust and consistency, he/she may be viewed as ""more approachable"" than others in the healthcare team and, as a consequence, be part of informal discussions with patients and families. Therefore, the nurse is well positioned to facilitate discussions focused on goals of care and treatment choices in the setting of a progressive debilitating illness.”




We do have special relationships with our patients. They are relationships that allow us into patients' lives during critical times, they are relationships that allow us to advocate for our patients, and they are relationships that allow us to provide the best possible nursing care to our patients. I hope you enjoy this article and the others on our Recommended Reading lists! 

Happy Reading 


Peereboom, K., & Coyle, N. (2012). Facilitating Goals-of-Care Discussions for Patients With Life-Limiting Disease—Communication Strategies for Nurses. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 14(4). 

Posted: 5/23/2012 8:36:42 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Inspiration

Yes, Nurses do Make a Difference

Every year Nurses Week rolls around and nurses are told “thank you” by their institutions; if you are lucky, you may receive a token of appreciation like a lunch bag, a water bottle, or a beach towel. The research is clear, nurses do make a difference in patient outcomes and nurses are the most trusted profession according to the Gallop poll. This is my 28th year experiencing Nurses Week, but this year I am seeing it a little differently.  

My mother passed away last year on May 25th from small cell lung cancer. From the day she was diagnosed to the day she died was 2 and a half months. She tried chemo but it didn’t work, it often doesn’t. She never regretted trying the chemo because it gave her the time to say good bye to all of her family and friends. Her friends were incredibly supportive of her and the rest of our family. You see, her friends were all nurses. They helped prepare meals, assist with her activities of daily living, and administer her medications. They even stayed overnight when one of the family couldn’t stay. They allowed me to be the “daughter” not always the caregiver. When my mom died, she was surrounded by her children and three of her best friends who were all nurses. These women made all the difference in the world to my mom and our family. They made it possible to keep her where she wanted to be – at home. 

Being a nurse doesn’t end when you retire or take time off to raise your family. It is an innate part of who you are and how you conduct yourself each and every day. So, during this Nurses Week, if you come upon a nurse who is retired or is taking some time off, say “thank you…you make a difference.”

Submitted by:
Anne Dabrow Woods, MSN, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC
Chief Nurse
Wolters Kluwer Health / Lippincott Williams & Wilkins / Ovid Technologies  

Posted: 5/6/2012 9:10:35 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Inspiration

Inspiring blog posts from 2011

I read a lot about nursing - mostly journal articles, but this year I’ve spent quite a lot of time reading nursing blogs and I love it! Some tell stories of certain patient experiences, some bloggers have written more about the changes our health care system is undergoing, and others use their blogs to teach students and lead newer nurses. Quite a few nurses out there do all that and even more on their blogs. I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts from the past year. These are the blog posts that have inspired me and left me with such a good feeling about nursing. Thank you to nurse bloggers who share their stories and experiences. It is so great learning from you all. 

A Nurse’s Week Reflection: The nurse’s night off
Nurse Story

Humility, Forgetfulness, and Glitter

Receiving compliments
At Your Cervix

Return of Compassion
New Nurse, In the Hood

The Priceless Clarity of Inexperience
AJN’s Off The Charts

There are such talented nurse writers out there and I’m sure I’ve missed some good posts – please share your favorites as well. I'd love to read more and learn what posts have inspired you this year.

Posted: 12/18/2011 11:23:33 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 1 comments

Categories: Inspiration

A Special Thank You

When I started to think about a special post to write for Thanksgiving, I tried to remember a time when I really grew as a nurse. There was no question in my mind about a certain patient that was instrumental in that growth. The crazy thing was I never even knew her.

It started out like any other shift – I was assigned two patients (we were fully staffed), a wonderful leader and my former preceptor was our charge nurse for the evening, and a team of interns and residents who had been in our Medical Intensive Care Unit for a few weeks were working. All the beds were full and none of our patients were up for transfer out of the unit, so it seemed like we were in for a calm shift.

Linda was a young woman who had a uterine rupture during childbirth and had lost a lot of blood. She subsequently developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and had come to our unit about 2 weeks prior to this particular evening for intubation and management of her ARDS. She had no significant past medical history, no known allergies, and had an uncomplicated pregnancy with regular prenatal care.

During change-of-shift report, I learned from the day shift nurse that the MICU team had met with Linda’s family that day after a neurological exam and testing had revealed that Linda was brain dead. The family had decided to gather together this evening and we’d remove Linda from the ventilator. They had also requested to donate her organs.

A representative from Gift of Life arrived shortly after the start of my shift and the family started to drift in as well. Never had I been part of such an emotional patient experience. The strength and courage of the family of this young woman – this new mother – was incredible. While their grief was palpable in the room, so was their faith. They verbalized gratitude at being fortunate enough to be able to donate several of Linda’s organs and saw this as a way to continue her life.

So, this special thank you goes out to Linda and her family…

Thank you for allowing me to be part of that night.


Thank you for sharing your faith with me.


Thank you for sharing your stories with me.


Thank you for teaching me that death, even a tragic one, can give us strength that we might not even know is within us.  


Thank you for thinking of others and giving life. 


Posted: 11/23/2011 9:12:12 AM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Inspiration

Once a nurse, always a nurse

Have you ever heard someone say “I used to be a nurse” when asked what they do? Me neither! In fact, when someone asks me what I do, the first thing I say is “I am a nurse.” This is usually followed by questions about where I work, what type of patients I care for, and the like. If the person I’m talking with is truly interested, I’ll explain my background in critical care, my role as a nurse practitioner in women’s health, and now my career in the world of publishing. I am proud of what I’ve done in the past and what I do now, but the biggest sense of pride comes with being able to say “I’m a nurse.”

A recent conversation with my mom went something like this: 

Mom: “Have you heard from your cousin?”

Me: “Yes, he’s been great.” I then went on to fill her in on recent events in his life, as well as what his family and friends have been up to.

Mom: “Wow, why is it that everyone calls you with their latest news?” She then answered her own question with “I think it’s because you are a nurse.” 

That warmed my heart! You can probably relate similar stories, especially when it comes to others, sometimes complete strangers, sharing their healthcare stories and questions.

Nurses – we truly are a special group!

Posted: 7/31/2011 12:14:09 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 5 comments

Categories: Inspiration

Time for you

Many of us nurses put the needs of others before our own. We often take care of patients and families, as well as our own family and friends, sometimes even strangers, before we take any time to care for ourselves. I know I may be generalizing here, but enough has been written about this topic  (see below for some articles and links) for me to know that I’m not the only one who has noticed this. On that note, I’d like to share some inspirational words from some of our fellow nurses…

Over at her blog, Nursetopia, Joni shares the story of her personal health journey in Working Towards Health: One Year Later and Enduring Onward. “So, today is a lovely day – a reminder of where I have been, what I have accomplished, and where I am going. It all started with one day.” Way to go Joni!

Sean from My Strong Medicine is a second-career nurse and athletic trainer who is passionate about nursing and personal health.  From his bio: “Health is the true treasure and measure of wealth.”  Thank you for inspiring me with your posts and tweets Sean!

I’ve also enjoyed reading the words of Gail M. Pfeifer, RN, MA, news director from the American Journal of Nursing. In AJN’s eNewsletter Gail sometimes carves out a special section “Your Space - Taking Care of You” and shares her tips for committing to a healthier lifestyle. In the January 2011 issue, she wrote “Like other nurses I've met, I tend to put my own needs and creative desires behind the needs of others. This can be a wonderful thing to do—at times. Taking care of ourselves, however, can sharpen our altruism and make caring for others much easier.”

By the way, it was a study shared in AJN that first got me thinking about this topic - Journal Watch: Reducing Fatigue Among Nurses. In this particular study, researchers used an intervention which included education on fatigue and loss of sleep, strategies for increasing the quality of sleep and staying alert, and modified scheduling of shifts, to decrease fatigue in full-time nurses. The result? Decreased fatigue and better sleep led to fewer errors.

Here are some related articles and editorials from our journals. Some are a few years old, but definitely worth the read!

Nursing 2011

Emotional Climate and Self-care

Holistic Nursing Practice

Where Is the Team?
Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing

Work Life Balance: Myth or Reality?
Journal of Trauma Nursing

Posted: 6/8/2011 1:45:14 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 2 comments

Categories: Inspiration

Thank you from one nurse to another nurse

Another Nurses Week has made its way to us. It's amazing how fast time goes by as we get older. Nurses Week this year is a little different that previous years for me. My mom was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer  2 months ago. She tried chemo but unfortunately it didn't work,  so 2 weeks ago we placed her on hospice and I moved in with her so she could stay at home and die surrounded by her family and friends.

What has struck me about this entire experience is the importance of nursing throughout the entire process. When my mom was a patient in the hospital where I work on the weekends, I was in awe by the way nurses of all ages and experience delivered care. I always thought our hospital delivered great care, but until I saw it in action with one of my own family members, I have a renewed appreciation for the nurses at the facility.

My mom has quite a few friends who are retired nurses. They  have stepped up to the plate to care for her, and to give me and the rest of our family a break when we need it. The care they deliver is exceptional. They know the importance of ""just being"" with her,  when to just hold her hand, when to medicate her, and when to talk her through episodes of respiratory distress. Obviously the art of nursing doesn't stop when you retire.

The hospice nurses are some of the most gifted nurses I have ever seen. They have so much to teach the rest of us on managing symptoms of end of life and have no problem with getting what they need for their patients from physicians.

My mom is pain-free and comfortable right now due to all of your efforts. I know she will experience a ""good death"" based on her terms.

So for all you nurses out there, I would like to say thank you for your dedication to the profession and your ability to make a difference in a person's life. You have certainly made a difference in mine and my mom's.  Happy Nurses's Week!

By Anne Dabrow Woods, MSN, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC


Posted: 5/10/2011 1:05:51 PM by Lisa Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP | with 0 comments

Categories: Inspiration

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