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“Tonight Has Been Revolutionary for Me” October 30, 2008

Posted by mariemanthey in Leadership, Nursing Salons.
Tags: , , , ,

A male sophomore nursing student made that comment during the check-out of last night’s salon.  We had a full house again and the usual mixture of some students, some staff nurses, a couple of people in managerial roles, a faculty member, A CNO of a major medical center, etc.   About 1/3 were new to the Salon format and the rest had been here before.

The student who felt revolutionized by the discussion went on to say he had been part of discussions groups many times in the past, but he had never experienced this kind of conversation before. He mentioned particularly the depth and meaningful topics and the powerful sharing of important experiences and understandings that went into our discussion.  He concluded his comment saying he is at a different place in life as the result of attending the Salon.

Also during check-out many people commented on the value of having students present.

One of the interesting questions raised by an experienced staff nurse is “Can compassion be taught?” The richness of that discussion cannot possibly be summarized in a few sentences here.  Suffice it to say it ranged from giftedness on one hand to “on-the-job-retirees” on the other hand. Again, the students perceptions about some of their classmates was perceptive and valuable

A major topic was the wave after wave of consultants being hired who bring new “administrative” initiatives that are of little value to nurses except to consume valuable time. Several people in managerial roles commented on the amount of time they spend preparing reports, doing surveys, checking to make sure nurses are “saying things the right way,” etc. that they have little time to actually function as leaders, or even as managers.  A particular point of great frustration is the cost of these consultants who seem to know little about the functions of the hospital other than the requirements of  their particular program. The cost of these consultative packages was juxtaposed against the many layoffs starting in this community as hospital census declines in the face of the current economic crises.

We also talked about the basic uncertainty that is characteristic of the work of nurses and realized that is expanding to more areas of everyday life.  Personal security vs. job security was a fruitful discussion and led to the notion that every nurse should have a Plan B in mind, for mental health even if it is never necessary to use it.


1. Richard Bryan - November 1, 2008

I read with interest the question, “Can compassion be taught?” I am glad to hear that it is a topic of discussion among nurses. While I am not clear what they discussion may have been, I have clearly seen a shift among many nurses away from communicating or demonstrating any degree of compassion. Although I believe every individual has the capacity to demonstrate compassion, I believe that many nurses are overwhelmed with the accomplishing tasks and leave the patient behind. To me, there is a direct connection with their educational experience, as opposed to only their work environment. I applaud your engagement of student nurses in the Salon and wish you continued success as you influence another generation of nurses, just as you did me so many years ago.

mariemanthey - January 1, 2009

Thanks for your comment Richard. The inter generational aspect of the Salons is so healing. We find the young nurses really do (often) have passion and compassion….but aren’t sure those feelings are really OK…..hearing older nurses talk about their passion for practice legitimizes what are often ‘hidden’ feelings. Younger nurses do have to concentrate on getting the activity skills and therefor forgo the relationships. What the rest of us have to do is keep the “real truth’ about nursing….the nurse patient relationship….in the front of their consciousness as they begin acquiring those skills.

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