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As it happens: RBC Symposium Day 1 June 19, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Inspiration, Leadership, Manthey Life Mosaic, Professional Practice, Values.
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Today is the pre-conference afternoon of the 2017 International Relationship-Based Care Symposium, here in Minneapolis at the Hilton Minneapolis!

Here are links to the handout materials available at this time:



It’s been great already to have a brunch at my home – to which I invited international guests, several local nursing leaders and CHCM consultants. Conversations ranged over various topics including comparisons between people’s situations in different countries.

The conference itself is a very enthusiastic experience! I have been constantly in motion and it’s wonderful. Everyone is very happy to be here and many are saying ‘this is exactly what we need at our hospital!’

This afternoon I was able to be a surprise guest at the Daisy Foundation session. I spoke about the the impact of Florence Marie Fisher coloring in my coloring book, and also what a wonderful thing it was for me to be able to nominate her for the DAISY award. In closing I brought in Florence Nightingale as well.

I enjoy talking about the power of nursing: as I experienced in my lifetime the impact of my nurse when I was five years old.  I like to make it clear that the work that I’ve been involved in leading is directly the result of Florence Marie Fisher coloring in my coloring book.

I don’t think that that concept can possibly be emphasized too strongly: the power of good nursing care!

Much more to come, looking forward to sharing it with all of you!



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.

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.

Florence Marie Fisher February 16, 2007

Posted by manthey in Manthey Life Mosaic, Professional Practice.
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I had a most thrilling experience today …

Some of you may remember that I dedicated my book, The Practice of Primary Nursing to a nurse named Florence Marie Fisher. Sometimes when I speak, I tell my own story about how I became a nurse and I always mention Florence Marie Fisher. 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 parents 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 and visited occasionally. However, when one or the other came, a very painful procedure was done involving an intramuscular injection of their blood (horribly painful), so I felt not only abandoned but also frightened and confused by the pain associated with their visit.

Florence Marie Fisher is the name of a nurse who cared for me. She would sit by my bedside and color in my coloring book. For some reason, that translated to me to mean she “cared for me.” I decided right then that I wanted my life to be about that kind of caring, and from then on, I knew I would be a nurse. As a kid I often got doctor/nurse kits for Christmas, and I always threw away the doctor stuff. Only being a nurse was of any interest to me.

Forty years later I wrote the book on Primary Nursing. When I finished, the publisher asked me who I wanted to dedicate it to, and after a few minutes of thought I said Florence Marie Fisher. Although we had never communicated in any way after I left the hospital, I never forgot her name. And so the book was dedicated to her.

The publisher thought it would be really cool to find her, so they contacted the Illinois State Board of Nursing, whose records indicated she had moved to Indiana and that her last name was Ambrose. They then wrote to the Indiana Board to locate her, but there was no response to their request, and the search had come to an end.

It was earlier just today, when my search resumed. I was going through my papers in preparation for turning them over to the University of Minnesota Library Archives. I found copies of the publisher’s letters to the state boards and got to thinking about a way to search for Florence Marie Fisher that wasn’t available almost thirty years ago … the Internet.

Now for the thrilling part. I didn’t find her, but I found her son.

And I just finished talking to him.

As I was explaining my connection to his mother, I got choked up several times just realizing I was actually talking to Florence Marie Fisher’s son! He was just as thrilled to hear from me, as he had no idea of his mother’s impact on me. Out of nowhere he gets this call about the influence his mom had on me. She died in 1989, so I guess I was just meant to find him now not back in 1979 when I was writing my book.

He knew nothing of me, my work, or his mother’s connection to that work. It is a straight line for me. And as I told him about my work, the book dedicated to his Mom, the impact on nursing and patient care this work has had. He got just as choked up as I was.

The connection we had was extraordinary. I never thought I would find her, and I guess technically I didn’t, but talking to her son felt very close. And being able to tell her son about the tremendous impact she had on me was one of the high points of my life!

I am sending him one of the few remaining first edition hard copies of The Practice of Primary Nursing and the second edition, which is also dedicated to Florence Marie Fisher.