Sunday, September 20, 2009

Go the distance in your practice!

In it for the long haul? Public health nursing is a tough professional track. I heard recently of a nurse that quit before her first year was out because of the political environment in her agency. So unfortunate! Your success is, at least in part, subject to the reality of your office's political environment. How to survive and thrive? Here are my suggestions:
  1. When you are new - pay attention! Lay back and put your own expectations aside for a while. Be a sponge, not a brillo pad. Embrace reality.
  2. Recognize and show an interest in the expertise around you. Ask for your coworker's stories of how they entered public health. Nothing kills a new employee like hearing how they know it all. Yikes.
  3. Fight your own fear and say an enthusiastic YES! to every assignment. You won't know what you're doing until you get out and do it.
  4. Fight the urge to join in cynical language you hear. There is a dark humor in nursing, but if you haven't cemented yourself in the role it may not just be blowing off steam, you may really damage your perception of your job. It's bad "self-talk" and I recommend you supplant it with positive thoughts (In the words of Stuart Smalley - "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit people like me!")
  5. Be prepared for a long adjustment. You can't really know what you are doing for a few years. That's unique in nursing. Give it time. The "long haul" view is exactly the same one that you will use to measure the success of your nursing interventions to families you serve.
You're in it, so give yourself the best chance to stick around for the reward of a nursing life well lived. Be patient and apply some strategy to give yourself the best chance for success.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Onward PHNs!

PHNs are facing a difficult fall season. Usually the onslaught of vaccination is known. Not so this year! Not only does the fall promise to bring a busy season, maybe 3 times busier than usual, but a season with a vaccine that faces a tough sell to our public that needs it the most. Pregnant women and children. In the midst of this, an economy that is shrinking just as our public needs it the most. What to do? What nurses always do!
Assess your population: Are you asking the right question of your public? Are you evaluating what they expect from you and what they will need in a month when we receive the vaccine? Leverage those relationships that you have developed over the year.
Plan: What strategies are available to you to deliver vaccine? Do you have relationships with local nursing schools, EMS and other people available? Use the people around you to enhance your ability to serve the public. Poor relationships? Get with it and get better for the future!
Implement: Don't be afraid, we do immunization all the time! Beef up your staff. Use this time to show that you really care about their talents and abilities. Too late? Never! Ask your staff. They will help you more than you know.
Evaluate: Early in the process take a moment and see what worked. If it didn't, take a look at the next time. Survey your staff. Be there. They will appreciate it.
Redo: Hey, we get a do-over this fall! 2 doses of H1N1 most likely mean that we will get to do it.....again~ What went well? What could be improved? Do it.
Most of all, take courage. We have the opportunity to do, evaluate and study what works with our public. With God's grace we won't see a mutation in the strain. Remember that this may be the very best of the scenarios that we could have imagined. Use it to learn more about the interesting world of public health

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Great job Wisconsin PHNS!

I was reminded this week of the excitement comes with new ideas. Our state public health nurse conference was held this week. Without a doubt, the most energy was generated by learning what other agencies are doing to bring health to their community.

We are, at heart, just "regular folk" trying to make the world a healthier and happier place. It is heartening to know somewhere out there programs are being done on a shoestring and producing great results. The greatest thing is to see the next generation of nurses tackling this difficult field and enjoying the challenge!

Congratulations new PHNs, and for those of us that have been there a while, cheer on the ones that will be practicing long after we are gone. Avoid the words "We tried that and it didn't work".