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The Mosaic of Marie Manthey’s Life April 30, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, History, Inspiration, Manthey Life Mosaic, Nursing Peer Support Network, Nursing Salons, Professional Practice, Values.
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by Marie Manthey

I became ill at the age of 5 and was hospitalized for a month at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago. It was a traumatic experience in a couple of ways. First of all, my parent’s didn’t know how to prepare me, since they had never been hospitalized themselves.. so they just said I was going to a large building. They left me there for a month, visiting twice a week, and sometimes when one or the other of them came, a very painful procedure was done involving an IM injection of their blood. As a result, I felt not only abandoned but also frightened and confused about the pain associated with their visits.

Florence Marie Fisher is the name of a nurse who cared for me. One day she sat at my bedside and colored in my coloring book. For me, that translated to ‘cared for me’ … and I decided then that I wanted my life to be about that kind of caring.

From that time on I knew I would be a nurse. I entered a hospital diploma program right after high school, and worked for the next four years as staff nurse, assistant Head Nurse, and Head Nurse. During the last of those years I started going to night classes in the community colleges .. not necessarily at first to get my degree.

I was invited to enroll in the degree program at the University of Minnesota, which was one-of-a-kind at that point. After 15 months of full-time study, I received my Bachelors degree in Nursing Administration. Soon after I was recruited into the U of M’s Masters program in Nursing Administration, in what was the last of the 3-quarter Master’s degrees.

Before finishing that degree, I was recruited by Miss Julian to be an Assistant Administrator of Special Projects. This was a new position that gave me an unbelievably valuable opportunity to learn first-hand about leadership and administration. I was able to experience directly not only organizational dynamics, but was also privileged to work with a group of administrators who used Senge’s principles of a learning organization even before he’d written ‘The Fifth Discipline.’

It was during this time that I became one of two Project Directors for Project 32 (at the University of Minnesota), a pilot program to improve hospital services from an interdisciplinary/interdepartmental perspective. This project eventually morphed in to Primary Nursing, and my career became about understanding and implementing organizational changes that result in the empowerment of employees and the accompanying development of healthy workplace cultures.

Throughout the next ten years of my life in nursing administration – first at another community hospital within the Twin Cities, and then at Yale New-Haven Hospital in Connecticut – I freely helped others with Primary Nursing.. Always accepting visitors and often speaking both locally and nationally as well as publishing as time allowed.

During this period of my career, what had been a manageable, socially acceptable level of alcohol consumption escalated in to full-blown alcoholism. There was an intervention and I entered a 6-week residential treatment program on the East Coast, and have been sober ever since.

In my first year of sobriety as I was feeling my way forward, there were no positions in Nursing Administration available to me. Instead I wrote my initial book on Primary Nursing .. and returned calls to all who had ever asked me to speak, putting out the word that I was available for speaking and consulting. The result was that Creative Nursing Management, Inc. was born, now the longest-running nurse-managed health care consulting firm in the U.S.

When I finished writing Primary Nursing, the publisher asked me who I wanted to dedicate it to.. and that had to be Florence Marie Fisher, the nurse who had colored in my coloring book when I was five. We weren’t able to contact her then, and so I gave up on that idea of actually connecting with her.

My career as a successful entrepreneur has continued ever since. Running a business was not ever something I thought I would do. I didn’t see myself as a businesswoman, but rather as a professional woman. Nevertheless, through many trials and many errors, the company grew. I often say we were successful not because of my business acumen, but rather because my work was authentic and based on real-world realities and values.

In time we grew into a multi-faceted, multi-national firm called Creative Health Care Management. I sold the firm when I turned 65 (in 2000) to the employees themselves. Now in semi-retirement (still, in 2017!) I remain involved in the important work of developing nursing practice and improving patient care.. just without the stresses and challenges inherent in leading an entrepreneurial entity.

An additional aspect of my work today involves tackling the challenge of Substance-Use Disorder. A group of us concerned with the problem of shame and stigma associated with SUD formed a Peer Support Network here in Minnesota, and we are partnering with entities involved in all aspects of the situation.

Another vitally important component of my professional life today has to do with my involvement with my alma mater. After transitioning away from day-to-day involvement in the running of CHCM, I became active in the Alumni organization at the U of M School of Nursing, and also became an adjunct faculty member there. In 1999 the University of Minnesota awarded me with an honorary doctorate, which was thrilling beyond compare. Today I am also active with the Heritage Committee at the School of Nursing, and am engaged in other ways as well with the University.

I also continue to be a part of my own and others’ Nursing Salons – a safe space for nurses in all walks of the profession to share conversations and support one another.

My ongoing interest in changing the way we think about workload and resources is part of the same picture. As healthcare incorporates more and more technology, the temptation strengthens to discard the human caring aspects.

As nursing matures as a profession, I am more convinced than ever, that the choice to care – and to express care and compassion by one’s behavior – is the absolutely correct choice nurses must make in order to continue to serve society justly.

Clinical competence must be on one side of the nursing coin, and care on the other. This is the ‘Coin of the Realm’ nurses must choose if, in fact, the covenant between nursing and society is to continue to exist.

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