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NURSES IN RECOVERY….. September 1, 2014

Posted by mariemanthey in Announcements, Nursing Peer Support Network, Professional Practice.
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Substance use is a serious problem in society and even more serious in the nursing profession.
Nursing is the largest single licensed group within health care. Nurses spend the most time of any health professional in close contact with highly addictive drugs. Historically, chemical dependency and alcoholism have long been identified as significant issues for the profession. Addiction continues to be a major problem….and yet, no nurse enters the field expecting to succumb to a hidden trap that will jeopardize his or her own life and/or license and which may in fact cause harm to vulnerable people entrusted to their care.

The sacred, trusting covenant the nursing profession has with the public is ripped apart by the disease of addiction. Statistically, at least one in ten nurses will acquire a Substance-Use Disorder (SUD) within his or her lifetime.

SUD identification often results in an intervention that brings the individual into a place of treatment.

Regardless of how that identification is triggered, two actions ensue:

  •     the regulation of practice to protect patients, and
  •     treatment of the disorder.

Both the regulation by the Board of Nursing and the reality of treatment and recovery are major life consequences that are challenging and life changing. The need for peer support groups is well understood and already established for most other health professional groups, including physicians, pharmacists and dentists, but there is no such support group for nurses in Minnesota.

UNTIL NOW. A new organization is being formed called the Nursing Peer Support Network. Contact me for further information until our website is up. Meanwhile….this is a draft of our eventual goal statement.

To create within the nursing profession a commitment to value every single nurse….especially those on the road to recovery from SUD. This commitment is manifested by ‘return to work strategies’ that permeate every level and type of employment opportunity throughout healthcare. Nurses will become literate about SUD and recovery and be able to help others in places of employment better understand how to reduce the risks of employing in recovery…..even those with felony convictions. Various strategies and educational opportunities will be created to achieve this goal.

We need you help and support. Feel free to contact me via blog directly to my email or call me at 612-827-1611

A Labor Day reflection: CHOICE AT WORK! September 1, 2014

Posted by mariemanthey in Inspiration, Values.
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I am one of the lucky ones….I knew nearly all my life that I wanted to be a nurse. When I was 5 years old, I was hospitalized for a month. During that period I truly felt abandoned by my parents and worse yet – when they did come – a very painful procedure was performed on me each time. The only positive moment during my stay was when a nurse named Florence Marie Fisher colored in my coloring book. For reasons only known to God, that meant to me that she cared for me….in the fullest sense of that word care.
I knew from then on that being able to do that for another person was exactly what I wanted my life to be about…..and I’ve never looked back!
What made it full of wonder is that I have been able to learn so much about how to live from my work. A beautiful framework for living came through my work when I was involved in the original development of Primary Nursing. The Primary Nursing framework builds the concepts of Responsibility, Authority and Accountability (RAA) into a dynamic whole that can serve to correctly inform the proper relationship among people….the proper structure for an organization….the proper content of a job description.

When each of those three elements – Responsibility, Authority and Accountability – are viewed in their proper sequence, functionality is enhanced. When Responsibility is legitimately allocated, Authority commensurately delegated and Accountability mechanisms are designed for recognition and education (and not for punishment)….then all aspects of an activity can be optimally functional, and personal relationships can be healthy.

But the most important thing I finally learned (sometime in my mid-forties) is that these same elements are at work in my life. The moment I call my epiphany occurred with a blinding flash of insight…..during which I instantly saw that as long as I blame someone else for whatever is wrong in my life, I am not accepting responsibility for myself. I decided to learn how to change that, and I have never found it necessary to feel victimized by any person or situation or institution again.
What does all this have to do with work? I believe we all have choices every day about all aspects of our work …..and that the choices we consciously (and unconsciously)make have the power to either expand our spirit….or to destroy it. I am continually amazed at how many people tolerate working in dysfunctional systems …..or in toxic workplace cultures.  I know there are many factors operating that may reduce one’s awareness or perception of choices. Nevertheless, I have come to believe that even in the most oppressive environments…consciousness of choice instead of focus on victimization is the key to being able to grow spiritually.
Ultimately, I think the real lesson to be learned is that we have a choice to manage ourselves…..or not. Self management means being aware of the importance of healthy interpersonal relationships. Open communication (no back-biting) functional trust and mutual respect are the three key ingredients to healthy interpersonal relationships. Open communication means taking the time to learn the tactful way to talk about difficult issues with co-workers….it is a skill we can choose to learn. Trust is a choice we need to be willing to risk giving…..because withholding it breeds only more mistrust….and mutual respect requires the judgment to see everyone (at all levels of status and education) as being of equal importance to the overall workplace morale.

And I have learned that morale influences the quality of the product (nursing service) more that any other single or combination of factors. In my world that means that the morale of a nursing unit staff will have more impact on the quality of care patients receive than does any other single or combination of factors. And morale is solely determined by the way staff members treat each other in the context of workplace realities, including the reality of more work to do than time available.
These incredibly valuable lessons came to me from my work experience…..and they dovetail completely with what I have learned in recovery.
Consciousness of choice ….of how to respond to my co-workers….of how to be present in my work…. of my values of integrity and authenticity…all of these and more are the opportunities of learning and growth I have received through my work. And I know that all of this came about because Florence Marie Fisher colored in my coloring book when I was five years old. She created a caring relationship with me…..and permanently influenced my life.
She never knew that. I published a book about Primary Nursing in 1979, and dedicated it to her. The publishers tried to find her, but where unable to. Recently I came across those onion-skin copies of the publisher’s letters to a couple of State Boards of Nursing trying to find her and remembered that they were unsuccessful in locating my Florence Marie Fisher. But I thought to myself that afternoon few months ago……Google! And so I googled her and found her obituary…which also listed her survivors. I have since had the pleasure of meeting her son and grandchildren and telling them about the impact she had….not only on my life…but also on my work, which has in turn influenced the experience of nurses and patients throughout the United States and internationally. Of course they had no idea…..her simple act at work of coloring in my coloring book was a sublime act of co-creation. As nurses we can all find ways to choose to color in a coloring book. It is a choice we have to make, individually, and repeatedly. It is a choice that will not be documented….cannot be charged for….and that has a major impact on the lives of at least two people, the patients we care for and on ourselves. The choice to ‘be with’ the patient, instead of just ‘doing for’ changes the nursing experience for each individual who experiences this choice.