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Celebrating books: ‘Should’ – taking back your power over words [to post whenever too busy for notes!] June 23, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Inspiration, Leadership, Professional Practice.
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In the midst of all the Symposium goings-on, we wanted to take a minute and celebrate the work of one of our CHCM staff member, Rebecca Smith. At CHCM she is involved in all the writing activities of the company, and also consults in the area of human communication/relationships.

Creative Health Care Management last year re-issued Rebecca’s book: ‘Should: How Habits of Language Shape Our Lives‘, due to its very useful applicability to the health care environment.

In ‘Should’, Rebecca explores the power of language at a psychological level – the power it has to hold us back or to move us forward. It is another non-silo work, applicable to everyone in every part of their life. Including, of course, nurses.

I had the privilege of providing the foreward for the 2016 edition and here’s an excerpt from that:

‘The culture of nursing is replete with all forms of oppression, but I have always thought that the most insidious among them is self-oppression, often referred to as victim mentality. There is no question that our work is hard or that there is, and will always be, more work to do than time or resources to do it. In fact, it is no mystery why people in all disciplines within health care might slip into feeling victimized or oppressed.

But that doesn’t mean self-oppression and victim mentality are the only choices available to us.

Self-empowerment — the opposite of self-oppression — is possible for all people in all circumstances (remember how self-empowered Nelson Mandela became during his time in prison!), and just as the name implies, it happens from the inside out. It happens because of the decisions we make to empower ourselves, and one of the most direct routes to doing so comes through noticing and changing the language we use to describe our lives. If our language is full of references to our own powerlessness, what kinds of stories do we end up telling ourselves about who we are, what we do, and how much we matter?

Part conceptual, part workbook, this work is full of concrete, applicable ideas. If you’ve already read Rebecca’s book, we’d love to hear about your experiences with her ideas. Otherwise we strongly encourage you to pick up a copy for your self-empowerment library!

 

RAA Part III – Achieving Full Experience of Will Power June 15, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Manthey Life Mosaic.
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This is part III of an initial series of articles about RAA. Here are links to the previous parts:

RAA Part I

RAA Part II

 

After 10 years of experience applying these ideas to professional roles and organizational structures, I began thinking about them in relation to my own life.

By this time one thing I knew for sure was that when nurses accepted responsibility for the Primary Nursing (PN) role, they experienced empowerment and manifested less victim behavior than before…..and much less than those who’s did not accept responsibility.

I also knew for sure that accepting responsibility was an experiential activity……not an intellectual activity.   You can’t just think you are responsible….you have to experience it, to literally place yourself in the position of being responsible, in order to have full access to legitimate authority.

In PN, this only seemed to occur when the nurse established a responsibility relationship with the patient.   The explicit establishment of that relationship was necessary in order for the nurse to experience responsibility acceptance. The closed door of power (personal or other) only opens when an individual experientially recognizes their responsibility.

So, my epiphany moment occurred when I asked myself the question of whether or not I had accepted responsibility for my life.

I immediately remembered with resentment areas of my life where I felt victimized.   My ex-husband, a former boss….etc.   With great clarity I knew that if I had truly accepted responsibility for all aspects of my life, I would not feel victimized by past events. As this thought process evolved, I recognized that accepting responsibility for one’s own life involves the three major components of behavior: thinking, feeling and acting.

So, accepting responsibility for my thinking meant I had to develop new thought processes.  Often, my thinking fell into automatic pathways developed over the passage of life.   These pathways needed to be examined and in many cases changed, as they led directly to victim thinking.

The new thinking required the development of new neuron pathways, and then also lots of deliberate practice until consciousness of choice became my automatic thought process in response to situations and events in my life. This involved learning to make space in my reactions to events and people for the experience of choice.

Likewise, accepting responsibility for my feelings meant I had to learn some skills for handling feelings in an appropriate way which also often involved changing the way I think.   The connection between thinking and feeling began to be more manageable. Further, accepting responsibility for my actions helped me recognize the connection between thinking and acting and how action can positively influence thinking and feeling.

This overall development required me to develop new ways of being in my life, and the results have been increased positive energy, increased choices, and increased well-being.

Nursing: More Work to do than Time Available June 6, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Leadership, Professional Practice.
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Nursing staffs often face unpredictable peaks in workload. These peaks can occur at any time and maybe be caused by any of a number of factors: unexpected admissions, sudden changes in patients’ acuity levels, or true life-or-death emergency situations.

These peaks are sudden, stressful, and highly charged emotional events.

As workload escalates, experienced staff members begin prioritizing and scanning: scanning the care environment, selecting the next most important thing to do, and doing it.

This triage process may go on for minutes or hours, is informed by high-level critical thinking, and results in  patients receiving safe and adequate care but not receiving every item of ordered or desired care.

Those non-delivered care items are not consciously omitted, nor are they forgotten. In fact, they lie waiting in the nurse’s professional- thinking brain space until the stress is over, the documentation is done and they have left for the day. On the way home, these ‘undone’ activities float to the surface and cause feelings of guilt, failure and anger – anger because the quality of care delivered didn’t meet the nurse’s own standard for care.

I believe that the treatment for this situation is to acknowledge explicitly throughout the profession and throughout the health care system that, as professionals, nurses have the right and the responsibility to determine what to do and what not to do when there is more work to do than time available.   And when questioned,  nurses need to be able explain their rationale for the decisions that were made.

Common sense requires recognition of this reality.

Recognition and understanding of heretofore  ‘hidden truths’ about nursing work can lead to much more productive research and practices, and can help dispel legacy myths about nursing practice…that we  always give total patient care.   That leads us right into the dysfunctional mind set of fear and guilt about staffing that now is all too often present in the life of a staff nurse.

More about ‘hidden truths’ relation to nurse resources and nurse workload in another posting.

Discipline without Punishment (Poll!) May 30, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Leadership, Professional Practice.
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A crucial component of the Responsibility/Authority/Accountability paradigm is accountability, which means looking at results and determining what lessons can be learned, what needed behavior changes can be identified, what course corrections can be made.

Sometimes there is a need for the manager to address a staff nurse’s behavior directly, and the best way to do that is via positive discipline, which never includes punishment.   The derivation of the word punishment is penalty, while the deviation of the word discipline is learning.   We need a shift to discipline and away from punishment.

Punishment for mistake making and behavior problems is punitive when it incudes the intention of making the person feel shame or guilt.   Guilt as a behavior modification tool seems to be coming back in to popularity again, and that is truly mind-boggling.   And it is punitive.

I’d like to hear about your experience! Please join the conversation by participating in these two polls, and/or commenting.

 

Readers, please share examples of experiences when punishment (suspension, shame or guilt) was the goal; in contrast to times when discipline (learning) was the goal.

Absence of RAA – Problems Universal May 16, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Inspiration, Leadership, Professional Practice.
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..Disparity in the balance between responsibility, authority and accountability at the personal, departmental and administrative levels of operations creates dysfunctional organizations and troubled human relationships.

Case Study Working Kitchen.docx

Case Study_Small Organization.docx

Nursing_More Work Than Time

Absence of RAA in the workplace leads to many problems and struggles that make it much harder to get the work done. Not only that, but the people involved are required to spend additional energy and internal resources just to continue on, all the while contributing much less to their groups’ effectiveness than would otherwise be the case.

Today we’re looking at some non-nursing examples, because RAA has universal applicability, and it can be easier to identify things when they are at a distance from one’s own situation.

At the top of this posting, you’ll see links to the case studies we’re referring to in this post. One describes a dysfunctional restaurant situation, the other a problematic instance in a small organization.

In both cases – symptoms are unhappy workers, managers on the defensive and not leading positively, and stressful work experiences.

The main issue is lack of clarity about the scope of responsibility.   When individuals don’t have clarity about the scope of their responsibility vis-a-vis mangers, etc., the workplace becomes dysfunctional.    Conversely, when the scope of responsibility allocation is clear, but commensurate authority is not delegated, the stressful workplace becomes dysfunctional.   And finally, when responsibility has been clearly allocated, but is not fully accepted by the individual, the workplace is stressful and becomes dysfunctional.   Responsibility Authority and Accountability need to be sequential and commensurate.   Any disparity or imbalance creates a stressful and dysfunctional workplace culture. When workers are given responsibility without authority and accountability, they are prevented from doing their useful best.

When managers are given authority but never held accountable, they do not have the opportunity to learn and grow.

Managers and staff perceive each other through their own filters, clouded by their own life experiences and expectations, and impacted by organizational and external forces outside the control of either of them.

Often people feel their situation is hopeless, and they just check out.

In these difficult times, it’s important for each of us to bring our best self forward in pursuit of our goals.  Success in one’s work life often results in the perception that one’s life is successful….and it is!    RAA and related concepts are useful in that process.

Acceptance of allocated responsibility is an important strategy because it results in actually experiencing the reality that we always have choices. We have small choices and a few big choices available to us pretty much continually, if we are honest.

The act of simply making a choice is powerful, even when the choice itself is small.

Like staff nurses who have more work to do than time available, everyone in the workplace needs to honestly assess to the best of their abilities and skills what most needs to be done, and then Own Those Choices. Letting go and trusting people to interact with us as needed in a healthy way about our choices (and their choices) frees up a wonderful amount of energy.

We can model the behavior we want to experience. We can manage our feelings from within the situation, look at it objectively, and assess the likelihood of it becoming something we  consider tolerable/optimal.

We can decide to stay in situations that we don’t like because of reasons that are valid – making even that choice is itself an improvement, and opens up other choices.

The suffering martyr/victim posture is limiting and destructive, and is never necessary or useful. By taking care of ourselves more, we’re also acting in the best interests of those around us (in the long term certainly).

We’d love to hear your stories of your struggles, journeys, lessons and useful insights!

 

 

RAA Series May 2017 Part II of III May 10, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Professional Practice.
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By Marie Manthey

When the design of nursing service delivery and function allocation is organized with integrity and balance between Responsibility, Authority and Accountability (RAA), the hospital workplace culture is efficient, quality of care is high and organizational trust is in place. That dynamic is similarly true in all other workplace environments.

Working theories and ideas and practices from general industry have been put to use in our work over the years creating Primary Nursing, Relationship-Based Care and leadership practices, now we will also be expressing these ideas in terms of nursing as well as other workplaces.

In using these concepts to design the organization of work, four questions need to be answered. They are:

Who has decision-making authority, and for what time frame?

Is work allocation basically by task/skill levels or whole function assignment?

How is communication handled?

How is the whole function managed?

These four elements ultimately govern how most work is assigned and performed.   The way they are defined has a profound impact on the experience of the workers and the quality of the work.   I was astonished during the formative years of Primary Nursing to see major changes in both performance level and personal growth of individuals when the organization of work changed! That’s all that changed: not the patients, not the doctors, not the staffing, not the hospital systems.   With the same staffing levels, the same level of knowledge and skill of the workers, the same amount of tenure and experience, the quality of work dramatically improved, the culture of the unit did a 180 change and all involved, patients, nursing staff, physicians and others commented on the extraordinary difference they experienced.

For me personally over many years, I have observed whole nursing staffs move from a state of dependency-framed entitlement-voiced victim thinkers, to a group of professionals able to assume their legitimate role as full participants in the collaborative management of patient care.   In order for that collaboration to be real, registered nurses need to be in the role of Primary Nurse where they fully experience the professional autonomy that their license affords them.

Implications for Teamwork

Throughout my years of experience with these concepts, one issue has become crystal clear:   The morale of the work group has a profound impact on the quality of the work.   Furthermore, I fully realize that morale is the result of the interpersonal relationships of the work group, the way the staff treats each other in the face of these every day realities of hospital work. Strong team work and healthy staff relationships create positive morale. These and other attributes of Relationship-Based Care are essential to optimal patient care delivery.

Healthy interpersonal relations require three behaviors.   These are:

Open communication

Functional trust and

Mutual respect

Interestingly, it seems that liking/loving your team mates is not at all essential to healthy team work.   In fact, it matters little, if at all.   What is absolutely vital however is for each member of a healthy work group to accept responsibility for managing relationships using these behaviors.

Open Communication

Of the three, the most challenging is open communication.   It has been my experience, that difficult conversations are often avoided.   In highly stressful situations, this is even truer.   I have found that more often than not, the culprit is inadequate communication skills.   Most of us simply don’t know how to say hard things tactfully.   And the effort to learn that skill is often at the lowest point of a busy person’s priority list.

It is incumbent on everyone to find ways to deal directly with one another about difficult issues tactfully, and for others to learn how to not accept one workers complaint about another, unless it is to help the complainer figure out how to deal directly with the issue.

Functional Trust

In the sense used here, trust means trusting one another to do the work assigned in the right way.   This impacts interpersonal relations in many ways, as well as the effective utilization of the resource of support workers.

It is the person who mistrusts that has the biggest impact on team functioning and therefore it is incumbent on that person to identify and openly communicate to the mistrusted person what they need to do to regain trust.

Mutual Respect

This element is also absolutely key to healthy team work, and requires moving beyond role valuation when that valuation creates dysfunction.

It is vital that each member of the team be recognized as having equal potential for improving or destroying morale, and for contributing to their teams effectiveness.

Are these elements in place where you work now? What has your experience been, currently or at prior work places?

Questions or Comments? Join the conversation!

Part III of this particular mini-series on RAA is coming soon!

From the Heart – Writings in Process, an inside peek April 23, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Professional Practice.
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For this first ‘From the Heart’ note, I wanted to let you know what I’m working on next from my writing queue. Almost my whole career, there has been a constant backlog of things I wanted to write. Now, after all these years, it’s as intense as ever!

So there are two immediate things I’m working on: One on RAA, and the other on coping with workplace stress.

RAA – many of you know stands for Responsibility, Authority and Accountability. There are so many aspects to these concepts and their implementation – I could write a book about it all! Hey.. first things first though, we’re planning on putting out a series of articles in this space. We’d like to incorporate your comments, stories and questions as well! So anything you’d like to share, please feel free!

And then in the more immediate future, in the next week or two I’m planning to post some thoughts about the endless struggle to respond optimally to workplace stress. This is another struggle this is as present as ever these days. How is it going for you? Do you have any particular strategies that you’ve found special success with over the years? Is it an even higher mountain to climb lately? How is it going?

When you write, if there are aspects of your comments that you don’t want posted and/or if you want your name withheld or anything like that, just let us know.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

MM/cs

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.

Gratitude breeds gratitude;discontent breeds discontent April 26, 2014

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Everyone is free every day to choose how they want to experience the day.   As Dr. Phil says, ….we get to choose to contaminate or contribute…..every single day.    Often, the stress and workload in bedside nursing and in most hospital managerial roles can obscure this truth.    It can seem like everyone else has more impact on our experience than we do.

However, we can opt to contribute by intentionally reflecting on  the aspects of our lives and work that we are grateful for…..and we can intentionally refuse to spread discontent  by not engaging in it….even when we are invited to do so by a colleague.

It is time for each of us to take back the power we have to manage our own lives.   Choices have consequences.    Let us be clear about that and aware daily that we own our life experience.

The Choice of Every Nurse Every Day…an excerpt of my introduction to this new book….. June 24, 2013

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, History, Inspiration, Professional Practice, Values.
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Advancing-Professional-Nursing-Practice-Book

A painting is not created by a free floating hand making marks with oils on canvas. The hand belongs to an artist connecting with his or her mind, body, and spirit, not only to the process of creating a painting, but to those who will one day see the painting. The hands of the artist are not where the skill lies. Without the whole person showing up in the creation of the painting, there is no art; there is just painting.

The art of nursing can be thought of in much the same way. The nurse can show up as little more than a pair of hands doing tasks, but this is not nursing; this is just doing tasks.

The art of nursing (as is perhaps true of any art) is about connection. In the art of nursing, the nurse connects to the patient, and the nurse also connects to the profession of nursing. Advancing Professional Nursing Practice is about the art of both of those connections. It is a book in which the ANA standards are named and explained, connecting nurses to the practice and performance standards of their profession. It is also a book about Relationship-Based Care, which is a care delivery model that connects nurses to patients and families by removing barriers to the nurse-patient/family relationship and improving relationships throughout the organization.

I’m always happy for nurses who get to work in cultures that support healthy relationships throughout the organization, and I share the distress of those who work in environments that seem to be fueled by chaos and competition. It is the choice of the nurse, however, whether to show up in either environment as a whole person, fully invested in the care of patients and families; or simply as a technically competent task doer.

In 1966, the way I viewed nursing was changed forever by an article I read in the American Journal of Nursing. It was written by Sister Madeleine Clemence, and it was called “Existentialism: A Philosophy of Commitment.” The way I saw it, this learned nun, a woman far ahead of her time, was challenging me, a young nurse leader, to show up as a whole person in my work. Her article challenged me to change my own practice and to mentor others to do the same:

“Commitment can mean many things: a promise to keep, a sense of dedication that transcends all other considerations, an unswerving allegiance to a given point of view. In existentialism, commitment means even more: a willingness to live fully one’s own life, to make that life meaningful through acceptance of, rather than detachment from, all that it may hold of both joy and sorrow.”[1]

It was no accident that Sister Madeleine was talking about “acceptance of, rather than detachment from, all that life may hold” in the context of the nurse’s work. As a nurse herself, she could see that the work of the nurse is secular for all, but sacred for only those who commit themselves to making it so. As we go about the work of nursing, are we solving problems or are we entering into the mystery of what it means to be with a person who is suffering, vulnerable, and afraid? She quotes philosopher Gabriel Marcel, writing, “A mystery is a reality in which I find myself involved…whereas a problem is [merely] in front of me.”

It raises a provocative question for nurses: Am I involved with my patients, or are they merely in front of me?

Over a century-and-a-half ago, Florence Nightingale helped to make nursing an art through bringing compassion into her own practice and then writing about it so that others might see that when the basic relational needs of the patient are tended to, there is a healing that takes place whether cure is possible or not. She famously encouraged the soldiers of the Crimean War to write to their loved ones. She understood the simple human truth that connection is healing—connection with loved ones (be they near or far), connection with one’s own thoughts and feelings, connection with the realities of one’s current situation.

The compassionate focus on connection that Florence Nightingale brought to nursing is still there, but it has gotten lost in the shuffle over and over; throughout history every time there was a major change in the world of health care. Here is some historical background:

Prior to the Great Depression, private duty nursing was the main avenue of employment for the nation’s RNs. As the Depression eliminated this avenue for many, RNs returned to their home hospitals as temporary workers, often on a volunteer basis, sometimes working for their room and board. As such, they found themselves working in a highly regimented, task-based, time-focused system of care that was designed to control practice and teach student nurses. This eventually became the main avenue for employment of RNs and remained so until fairly recently.  This move from more autonomy for RNs to less autonomy is a pattern that has repeated itself throughout modern history.

After WWII, the proliferation of new hospital beds coupled with the baby boom (which greatly reduced the nursing workforce), resulted in team nursing, a delivery system designed to maximally utilize technical expertise and assistive support staff under the direction and supervision of an RN. Again, the focus was on assigning and supervising the performance of tasks, since the only person educated to provide a therapeutic relationship was nearly always consumed with supervision and the performance of tasks requiring a higher skill level than that of her staff.

The system upheaval that characterized the last 30 years of the twentieth century, which was driven by finance, technology, and regulation, resulted in most health care organizations dealing with higher patient acuity coupled with severe cost cutting, which again resulted in a focus on managing the tasks of care rather than managing therapeutic relationships. The resulting dehumanization within the care system drove a spiral of regulations and system constraints that further complicated (and continue to complicate) an already intensely complex adaptive system.

The age we live in is no different. As we deal with the myriad changes of health care reform, we’re seeing, once again, a return to task-based practice. This time, however, it feels different to me in various ways. I’m heartened by the numbers of organizations that are embracing Relationship-Based Care. The publication of See Me as a Person is another example – it addresses the need for nurses and other caregivers to be “in it” with their patients rather than merely ministering to their bodies. As the next major societal shift in health care advances, whatever it is, the profession of nursing must continue to define itself. Society trusts us to do so, and our covenant requires it.

Nurses must ask themselves some important questions: What exactly is it that must always be present in order for nursing to really be nursing? What is the actual core of nursing? What strengthens that core? And what must be present in order for that core to even exist? In short, what is the nursing imperative?

I would ask you to mount your own inquiry, and come up with your own answers. Here are mine:

The nursing imperative is a two sided coin. On one side there is the imperative to be clinically competent in both technical skills and clinical judgment. The other side is the willingness to step into being with the human being for whom the nurse is caring. In health care, people experience vulnerability at every level of their being: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. The privilege of nursing is having the knowledge and skill, the position and relationship, to interact with a vulnerable human being in a way that alleviates pain and increases mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual comfort. This is the privilege of nursing—the being with a vulnerable human being. If this privilege is ignored or overlooked, nursing isn’t happening. No matter what is happening in a care environment, authentic human connection with the vulnerable human beings in our care can and must happen. That, to my mind, is the nursing imperative.

It’s clear that half of the nursing imperative is that we have a mastery of the technical aspects of nursing, but the other half of the nursing imperative—and it truly is no less than half—is staying present to the vulnerability of others. This book seeks to address the dual nature of the nurse’s work, both the instrumental and relational. If you are a nurse (or about to become one), I’d ask you to keep this dual nature in mind as you read this book.

Marie Manthey, MNA, FRCN, FAAN, PhD (hon.)

March 8, 2013


[1] Clemence, M. (1966). Existentialism: A philosophy of commitment. American Journal of Nursing, 66(3), 500-5.