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Aug 23

New beginnings

OK, OK….I admit it. I have been a little bloggin’ lazy this summer. I cannot believe it’s the 23rd of August, and I haven’t talked with you since Canada Day. My bad.

This is the time of year where my true Geekdom shows. I start to wish for new shoes and a new backpack, and wander the aisles at Staples looking longingly at school supplies (don’t you love the smell of new erasers and isn’t it fun sharpening new pencils?). OK, I realize I just lost anyone under the age of 35 (FYI pencils are those pointy yellow things with “HB” on the side that people used to write with). I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the start of the new school year–the crunch of yellow leaves underfoot, the cool edge to the breeze, the need for cozy sweaters in the mornings and evenings… but most of all, I love the new beginnings. New challenges to face, new puzzles to unravel, new people to meet that are dreaming of better futures–it’s like a clean blackboard (I guess I should get with the new century)…it’s like a clean whiteboard just waiting for new ideas to jump onto its surface. I have had a chance to chat with a few students this summer, nursing students entering the third year of the their program but starting at a brand new place–the University (I teach in the third year of a wonderful collaborative nursing program). They are excited, nervous, wide-eyed and eager to “get on with it”! Me too!

I remember every September of each of my tenures as a student, and I always felt the same way–I wondered what new things I would learn, and who I would be at semester’s end. A few months ago I was cleaning out an old filing cabinet and I found a journal I had kept from my first year of nursing school at the Foothills Hospital. I sat down on the floor and read the words that were definitely in my handwriting, but it was hard to believe that the thoughts were mine. I was so nervous, so terrified of making an error, and I was worried about a particular classmate who didn’t appear to like me…really?  I read to the end of the journal (which was only one clinical rotation), and even over those few weeks I could see the growing knowledge behind my clinical work, the slowly building confidence to speak up in post-conference (anyone who knows me now would never believe that I found it difficult to speak up in a group!)  That’s the wonderful thing about a good education, you don’t just learn stuff. In a very real sense, you become someone else–particularly as you develop in one of the practice professions like nursing. At each step, you become someone who is relied on more, who has greater responsibility and accountability, and a greater ability to “imagine” what it will be like to join the profession, and BE a registered nurse. To each nursing student reading this, whatever year you are entering–enjoy the journey, and savor each new beginning. Jot down some of your thoughts as you go along, and tuck them away in a safe place–one day you will look back and marvel at who you were, and who you have become. Best wishes for a most successful year!

Jul 01

Happy Canada Day!


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Dr. Jeanne Besner

I cannot think of a more fitting tribute to all Canadian RNs than the bestowing of a tremendous honour on a deserving RN. I hope many of you have already heard this exciting news. Dr. Jeanne Besner, former CARNA President, former Chair of the Health Council of Canada and all around force of nature—has been admitted to a very prestigious group in being awarded the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada! Wow! Jeanne’s achievements speak for themselves, she is an absolutely
amazing nurse leader.  If you have met her, then you know that she is also one of the most passionate nurses anywhere—it simply radiates from her when the discussion turns to nursing. I am so proud to know her, and count myself lucky to call her my friend.

Congratulations Jeanne—you continue to inspire all Alberta RNs!

Jun 28

RNs and LPNs: what’s the problem?


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Hello! It’s been pretty quiet on the old blog the last couple of weeks (or maybe, like me, you have all taken a little vacation? Just spent a week in Napa valley with 5 nurse girlfriends–crazy fun)–anyhow, I’d like to try something a little different.  I will pose a question, and invite your reflections.

If there is one issue I hear about when I am visiting with nurses, it’s this: “the RN-LPN problem”.  I’m not sure I understand it very well, but I’m pretty sure it has got to do with role ambiguity and role tension, and lack of clarity when it comes to overlapping scopes of practice.

What is your experience of the “RN-LPN problem” in y our workplace? What are the potential solutions? Ball is in your court, and thanks in advance!

Jun 24

I want to solve tough problems…


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My wonderful niece Jenn!

I had lunch with my niece today—Jenn is a bright, funny and engaging young woman (age 37) who has had some struggles in her life. Pregnant at 16 and unable to complete high school, she has worked hard to obtain her high school equivalency, and is single-handedly raising two wonderful kids (her oldest is now 19). She feels she is at a turning point in her life, and wanted to meet to talk about possibly going in to nursing. She has been working as a phlebotomist for several years, and has grown so much in that role—she is now a trainer of others in the skills of engaging with the public and performing phlebotomy. But, she no longer feels challenged by her work, and put it this way: “I want a career that challenges me. I am good at the tasks in my job, but that’s just it…I want more than tasks. I want to solve tough problems, and I thrive on challenging situations that others shy away from.” I told her that was just about the best description of a reason to enter nursing that I had ever heard (and MUCH better than the one I gave to the admissions officer when I applied after high school—“I don’t want to be a secretary and I really want to help people”—yuk right? Apologies to any secretaries in the readership…)  As registered nurses, we need to be good at tasks, sure, but that’s the easy part! What we really do is engage with others to assist them in defining, priorizing and addressing tough problems as they seek to live their health—and we thrive on challenges that would topple the fainter-of-heart.
She also  told me that the prospect of studying nursing both excited and scared her, and I told her what I have always
told my own kids: if it scares you, but you can manage the risks, it’s likely something you should do!

So, she is starting the application process…and I am so excited about having another nurse in the family one day—it makes me very proud.  I look forward to watching her grow into the amazing nurse I know she will be…and I’ll be there every step of the way.

If any of you  (especially the nursing students out there) would like to offer Jenn some words of wisdom or encouragement, I know it would mean a lot to her!

Jun 11

Shout it out!


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Just returned from an uplifting, positive and inspiring CARNA conference. Such an amazing bunch of RNs in attendance! We all committed to being part of a positive force within the profession–to encourage our colleagues and create cultures where nursing passion grows! So, when I got home and found this I had to share it–just like the little guy in the video, find your curb and shout out your encouragement to fellow RNs!

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