In Part 2 of our series, prepare to be inspired by three strong, passionate nurse leaders from Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar Missouri. What fuels their passion for the nursing field? What are some creative ways they’ve advanced their careers? Where do they find resilience during these challenging times? Listen and find out here!
Claire Dale: “And so that’s what makes me stay energized and passionate, it's just seeing nurses succeed. Then also, on a smaller scale, our organization just allows us to try new things and give us different responsibilities, and different tasks to do so that we don’t have burnout in our leadership roles, and to also help us reach our full potential and not get stagnant.”
Christine Parent: Welcome to another episode of MEDITECH podcast. We’re the leader in healthcare technology, empowering you to be a more informed healthcare consumer and provider. Hear the latest from our friends and colleagues in the U.S., Canada, and abroad on topics we think you should know about.
Welcome to Part 2 in our series where we explore nurse careers and resiliency, even during challenging times. From Citizens, we have Claire Dale, Angela Long, and Kyla Inman. Welcome ladies.
First, why don't we start with the introductions?
Claire Dale: My name is Claire Dale, I’m the ICU and Telemetry Director here at Citizens. My background is critical care with a short stint in nurse recruiting, and I've been a Citizens Memorial for 6 years.
Angela Long: I'm Angela Long, I have an MSN degree. I work in the geriatric/psychiatric unit and also as the director. I’ve been at Citizens for 16 years.
Kyla Inman: I’m Kyla Inman, I am a nurse practitioner in cardiology. I’ve been there for about three and a half years. Prior to that, I was in primary care for two and a half years, before that I was an RN working at CMH, and I’ve been here for close to 15 years.
Christine: We are slowly coming off of two pandemic years, can you talk about the impact you've been seeing on patients? What's the biggest challenge you’re addressing now?
Claire: While we were in in the midst of the pandemic, on the critical care side, we saw increased volumes, not enough beds and support for those patients, we struggled a lot with making sure we had adequate staff as well as adequate resources to care for them. Now that we're on the other side of that, the biggest challenge I’m seeing in critical care is the mental effect it's had on the staff, just how to deal with the trauma that we saw. We saw a lot more death than we had in the past, seen a lot of staff members needing professional help, whether that’s counseling, or even medications to help them deal with some anxieties, some trauma effects of that ,so that would be the biggest challenge we are seeing now.
Christine: Talking about the healthcare workers, you know, they are reporting this lingering effect from emotional trauma caused during this pandemic. Where does your resilience come from and how does your passion for what you do fuel you?
Kyla: Honestly, I try not to watch the news. My husband actually makes fun of me because of this, because sometimes I'm out of the loop of things, but it doesn’t stress me out. I don’t allow it to bother me. I also try to take time for myself, try to work out and take care of myself, try to spend time with the family, and try to do that balance of life in general and not just work only.
Claire: I operate by the motto that “happy nurses take the best care of their patients,” so my resilience and fuel comes from ensuring that my staff have what they need and are taken care of. I am very relationship-oriented, so I feel better when the people I care about feel better. On a professional side, that's where I have worked really hard and continue to work hard just to make sure that my staff have the support that they need. On a personal note, I have learned that I needed to find some hobbies, kind of what Kyla was talking about, just taking care of myself and developing some different strategies at home that allow me to relax, so I’m not constantly thinking about work, and I have learned that that has been very beneficial for me.
Angela: And I have to say that both of them pretty much answer for me, because I am both. I don't watch the news. I don’t like to do that, and I'm out of the loop a lot, but I am okay with that. I love to support my staff and I think that mine comes from, my patients are taken care of, my staff are taken care of, and the work-life balance is huge. I love to travel, about every three months I make that, whether it's two or three days, I travel. And take time for myself to stay in that realm.
Christine: That’s great, I’m a traveler, too, so I appreciate that, that time that you can disconnect. Healthcare workers are citing higher levels of burnout than ever before. What are some ways your organization and community are supporting you?
Kyla: The way that I have seen our organization through the whole thing, they are completely supportive, they would you know, “What do you need? How can we help you?” Staffing has always been a challenge but they have always come out with, “Let’s work together and try and figure out how to do this.” Food being donated has been a huge thing, especially from the communities. Even each other’s departments, we are just a great, tight-knit group and that helps that way. Pay has increased for our staff, which is huge to a lot of our staff. So they have been able to say “Yes, we’re going to let your staff have a pay raise,” or “pride pay shifts” are what we call them, to help us with some staffing.
Claire: Our Administration has just been extra supportive of making sure that mentally we were taken care of, as well as an employee assistance program. It's available to staff, but even outside of that, you know there's a mental health crisis and it's extremely hard to get into a counselor or a psychologist. Our administration has worked really hard to almost make our employees a priority, to make those appointments quicker knowing just the trauma that we’ve have seen.
On a personal level, I was really struggling last Fall. I just really needed some time away and to start some counseling and some different things. My boss and our administration allowed me to take a month off just to refocus and take care of myself — that has made a huge difference. I know that that was not because it was just me, that’s just how CMH cares for their employees, and so that was a huge benefit. Through the whole entire pandemic, they encouraged people to take time off. We have allowed employees to use their vacation time, they have earned that, they need that time off, so even in a staffing crisis, we still have granted that and allowed them to be gone and then we figure it out. It’s just so many ways that CNH supports their employees.
Angela: And on a side note, too, they also are already proactive in our Manage Well program which is our insurance benefit, and basically what it does, is it’s an app for us that we can track different things for us to have a healthy lifestyle, to include diet, exercise, and push us to do that, which makes us all perform better in the long run.
Christine: Yes, definitely some tremendous leadership displayed at your organization and the outreach as you mentioned and the support. Can you describe, either one of you, a time in your career when you found yourself at a crossroads but maybe were able to change tracks still within the nursing field, to stay energized, and passionate in your calling as a nurse?
Kyla: I think it would have to be in when I was working as an RN, I had debated and I wanted to go on and pursue my education further to become a nurse practitioner and I went back and forth, honestly for years. At one point, I had finally gotten pregnant with my daughter, Pealyn, and at the time I said, “Okay, I’m just going to work as a nurse. I’m fine with that, that is good.” But this urge just kept coming over me and I just couldn’t get it out of my head, and I finally just pursued it and I did it for my children, you know, so actually going to work as a nurse practitioner allowed me to work part-time so I could spend more time with my family. There’s a lot of flexibility with that with family life, which is what I like. I just had that urge that I had so much more potential to be doing more than what I was doing. I knew I had that potential to help people more, and I wanted that, that is what that drive just kept coming back but I knew I had to pursue it.
Angela: I think for me, it was actually going from a nurse to management and being the director of people under me or people around me that I can guide and lead. I had an amazing director
before I took the unit that I have that taught me a lot, she was very supportive. I love my patients, I still have a little bit of that too, like before, but a lot of it is just being that supportive person from the staff and then building new things, and figuring out new things for the population that we serve in psychiatry because like Claire said earlier its it’s own pandemic, so that’s what kind of drove me to make that change.
Claire: My story is similar to Angela’s. I actually came from a bigger facility close to here, and
I was feeling the strain of staffing and not feeling supported, so that’s what really drove me to change. I knew I wanted to go into management because of the manager that I had, she was excellent, but I had seen other not-great managers, and so it did help me also decide what kind of leader I wanted to be, but also with that transition, I learned just how much I love nurses. I love patients as well. I love caring for patients, but I love watching nurses reach their potential like Kyla was talking about and recognize that even at the bedside, which we often think is just the first step in nursing, you just make such a huge difference. You can really have a really fulfilling career, and so that’s what makes me stay energized and passionate, it's just seeing nurses succeed. Then also, on a smaller scale, our organization just allows us to try new things and give us different responsibilities and different tasks to do so that we don’t have burnout in our leadership roles, and to also help us reach our full potential and not get stagnant.
Christine: No, I love it. I think that nursing is such a purposeful career, and you mention it with the passion and the love for what you do. What advice would you give anyone thinking of entering the healthcare field today?
Angela: Do it for the right reason. If you want to give to other people, if you like to support other people, that’s why you should get into healthcare.
Claire: I would say on a practical level, get an entry-level job at a hospital and see really what it looks like. Most healthcare programs prepare you to enter the workforce, but they don't prepare you for what you actually see. That would be my, I recommend that to people considering nursing school all the time, get in the hospital, see what it's like, because like Angela said, if you have the dream of what you think it's going to be, it's not. Ever! It is always fulfilling, it's always a great career choice, but you have to be in the right headspace for it.
Kyla: I completely agree with what Claire and Angela said. Something else, I always push people toward nursing because there so much variety in nursing where you can work as a nurse,
you can go on to be a manager or a teacher or a nurse practitioner, you can do as much or as little education, you can work with patients, you can work with computers. There’s so much variety, but I think the groundwork has to be what the girls said, you have to have that passion to help people but then it's a great field to go into.
Christine: I will say I always think that nurses are problem solvers. They are really smart and they always at the bedside trying to figure something out or help a patient, so I do think that at least I put my hats out to you, we've actually introduced the concept of hackathons which you've presented a problem and whenever there's a nurse on one of the hackathon teams, they always win. I'm telling you.
We’re almost ready to wrap up so let's end on something light. We’ll start with Kyla. I imagine most nurses can't wait for some time off, how do you unwind after a stressful week?
Kyla: Personally, I do enjoy working out. I recently ran a half-marathon. I do a variety of workouts. Sometimes it's high fitness, sometimes it’s a run. Sometimes I’m lifting weights, and I just feel better when I can put some music on and just get out in nature and run and get your endorphins up and just feel good. It gets your energy up for the rest of the day, it’s my favorite way. Also I always enjoy spending time with my family. I’ve got two kids and I love it when we can go outdoors and do stuff whether it's jumping on the trampoline, or playing some baseball, or whatever it is.
Angela: For me, weirdly, a lot of people think it's weird, I make candles. I enjoy making candles, I love the aromatherapy, candles make people happy, so that’s something that I like to do. I also have a Great Dane and a Boxer, so they are my other favorites. And I am a new Grandma, so I’m absolutely in love with my grandbaby and another one is on the way.
Claire: I just recently developed some new hobbies, and those include being outside like Kyla said, not running half-marathons but I have enjoyed learning more about gardening and bird-watching so my family likes to make fun of me because I piddle outside. I just walk around the yard and take off dead parts of plants, so I’m a piddler outside but that is really relaxing for me. I also enjoy reading, and I have a large selection of books, many that I have never read that are still waiting, but that’s relaxing for me. I also have a three-year-old niece and nine-year-old nephew who are pretty much my world, so any time I get to spend with them, I always say that they are the only two people in the world that can always make me smile, so that’s how I relax.
Christine: So Kyla, Angela, and Claire, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your experience and advice with others.
Thanks for tuning in, next time join me for Part 3 in our series. I am hosting nationally-recognized nursing innovator and leader, recently retired Dr. Jane Englebright of HCA Healthcare and MEDITECH’s Associate Vice President, Cathy Turner. We take a high-level view of some ways we are seeing nurses shape a successful and satisfying career. As always, be sure to subscribe to hear our latest episodes, and we'll talk to you next time.