Nurses on Twitter

Whether you like it or not social influence now matters in your professional life. You can stay stuck in the past and ignore Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and ResearchGate, but you do at the risk of becoming obsolete. I recently saw a post by a philosopher who thought it was better when all of the intellectual discussion stayed within academia and peer-reviewed journals. What he didn’t realize is that elitism is no longer acceptable and is a view largely held by the privileged who never had to fight to be heard. The days of predominately white men controlling what is discussed, studied, taught, and identified as important are over.

While there are politicians that think social media has too much influence I would argue that what they may be objecting to is that we can now be heard by the masses and politician, clergy, and the famous no longer are the sole owners of the bully pulpit. The average person on the street can reach as many people as the pastor of the church. The elementary school teacher can use social media to let the entire community know there isn’t enough money to buy all of the school supplies. The healthcare community can spread the word about healthy lifestyles and policy that may adversely impact your access to care unless you act.  Who of us doesn’t get posts in our neighborhoods about break-ins and crimes so we know to be on the lookout? Each of us can call out politicians for their lies. We are able to form a community with people we would rarely if ever see and we are stronger and more equal as a result.

Social media also matters in your research influence. It is impossible to attend every conference and network with all the people you would like to meet, but almost every conference now has a #hashtag. If you look it up you can follow the tweets of the conference and network with people even when you can’t be present. It grows your network of people with whom you share a research, policy, or practice interest. When you do meet people in person they will know your name. In emergency management, we always say you don’t want people to hear your name for the first time in the middle of a disaster. As a researcher, you don’t want people to hear your name for the first time when you need their help.

The various platforms have their limitation but they each have their strengths and purposes. For example, I only used LinkedIn for professional contacts. I will accept any professional request. I use Facebook mostly for friends and people I want to stay in touch with from previous jobs and neighborhoods.  I only accept a friend request from friends, colleagues, and people I know or have met at conferences, events, or interacted with in other ways. ResearchGate is only about my academic work. Twitter is like a huge town hall or community meeting. I can connect with people that share interest across nursing, disaster research, health policy, public health, politics, faith and all manner of social activism. Each platform has a purpose and I use each in a different way. I now regularly run into people at conferences that I know through social media. That connection has improved my networking at conferences and the attendance when I’m presenting.

Understanding and maximizing tools are important. Almost all of the social media tools have limits. The limits on Twitter make management important and it also makes etiquette important. Twitter only allows individuals to follow 5000 accounts unless you have more than 5000 followers. Once you reach that number there is a metric that essentially allows one to follow 10% more people than follow them. The result is that some people reach the 5000 and then can’t follow anyone else even if it is their research partner unless they first unfollow someone.  Here are some quick tips to maintain your numbers

Follow

  • People that will follow back – the truth is if they aren’t following you back they probably think the relationship is less important than you do. A less kind view is that they only care about their own success and not about the success of anyone else.
  • Those that share an interest and will interact.
  • Those who have influence in your profession or provide information you may not otherwise see.
  • Those you may want to connect with related to work, research, and social issues.
  • The people that are trying to make the world better even if they may never follow back. Some days you need to be inspired and know there are people out there that try hard.
  • Key influencers in your area of interest.

Don’t Follow

  • Large accounts and news media. Those accounts will most likely show up in your timeline anyway. It is the Donald Trump phenomena. Unless you block him he will show up in your feed so why follow. He certainly doesn’t need the followers to be able to follow anyone he wants and unless you are famous he probably never sees your replies.
  • People who have mistaken Twitter for Tender or another dating app. If a man or woman has to tell you the are honest, or God-fearing, or loyal they probably aren’t.
  • Don’t be afraid to unfollow or block people that are rude, believe conspiracy theory over science, or generally make your blood pressure rise. I should want to convince anti-vaxxers of the error of their ways, but God either didn’t give me that level of patience or I have failed to develop it.
  • Don’t follow people or companies that follow/unfollow/follow/unfollow… It is an effort to get you to follow back or they are using it as advertising. That is different from people that follow you and accidentally hit unfollow and refollow within minutes or people that are unfollowing non-followers because of the limits.
  • Don’t feed the trolls. Block them.
  • I also block people that keep getting recommended to me by Twitter, but who clearly have no interest in collaborating or interacting. It is the only way I’ve figured out to get their names to stop popping up.

Maintain Lists

  • The accounts you don’t want to follow but want to check on a regular basis.
  • People you NEVER want to interact with because of their behavior online.
  • The hashtags that are of interest to you.
  • Researchers or leaders in your area.

My Favorite Nursing Hashtags

  • #VolForLife
  • #NurseTwitter
  • #NursingEducation
  • #NurseEd
  • #NursePractitioner
  • #NP
  • #FullPracticeAuthority
  • #CRNA
  • #NPsLead
  • NursesWhoTweet
  • #NurseLife
  • #FutureOfNursing

Nurses to Follow

I wanted to add nurses to follow, but there are so many amazing nurses involved in policy, research, practice, and social justice that I didn’t want to leave anyone out. If there is a downside to nurses on twitter is that many are not good about following back. If they don’t it is fine to unfollow and then check their pages from time to time.

I wish we were as good about making lists of people to follow as some other groups are because there is power in numbers and we are the largest healthcare profession. If we all joined together we would make nursing issues trend on a daily basis and bring our special talents to issues that matter to us. Imagine 100,000 or 500,000 nurses tweeting about immigration health in the detention facilities, or full practice authority, or NINR funding or the unacceptable infant mortality rate in the US. Imagine.

 


When You are Ready to Retire: Teach

A friend recently called for advice about making the move to academia. Many nurses and other professionals in government civil service and uniformed services have doctoral degrees in their chosen professions and of those, a significant number have worked in policy, research and development, and administration. If they entered public service right out of college they are relatively young when they reach the years of service necessary to retire. I was 48 so I had time for another 20-year career and I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do than teach.

Why Make the Move

A life of service is hard to leave. Any person that has dedicated their life and professional career to the service of the country is unlikely to be fully satisfied in corporate America or staying at home. When you chose government service you clearly do not do it for the money and that is a characteristic that is unlikely to change. You may like having money, but most likely it is not the key driver for making a decision. The retirement check gives you the freedom to follow the heart and the ability to take a salary less than what you were making in the government and still break even.

When I left active duty I applied for four jobs. Three jobs were in academia and one was with the state government. I almost immediately had three interviews and three job offers. I took the one that paid the least but was most likely to be an easier transition. As my husband told me, I was used to people “kissing my ass” and doing what I said without question and in academia neither would happen. That would turn out to be a very pleasant change. There is little that is more limiting to personal growth than blind loyalty or loyalty out of fear of position.

You may have given a lot, but a lot was given to you.  If you are retiring you have given your entire adult life to service to the country. But, your country has been giving too. My Ph.D. was fully funded, every training course I took was paid for by the government, and every effort was made to help me succeed. I may have given, but I received in equal or greater measure. When the Ph.D. program in nursing began at the Uniformed Services University one of the hopes was that after completing service to the country those they educated would then teach as a way of giving back. Never forget the country you served also served you.

There is a difference between what is taught and what one needs to succeed. Senior officers and government official hire and train hundreds if not thousands of young people fresh out of college. They have seen what makes those young people successful and what leads to difficulties in their professional lives. It is true that what is taught in college is essential knowledge and if done well gives a young person the necessary skills to adapt, but in many cases, it is the skills of listening, respect, professional presentation, and teamwork that are missing. As an officer or a senior official, you know how to blend this information into impactful lessons in a way a person who spent their life in academia will not.

I am easily able to explain to students why it is important to always be early for work and to think before you speak. I have a dozen real-life stories of things that have happened. I also have stories of people that thought they were on the right path but didn’t recognize that they had strong talent that would take them further if they had the courage to chose a different path or make a career change. One of our Presidental Management Fellows who was a nurse turned out to be the best champion of the Combined Federal Campaign our office ever had. She was missing her calling in fundraising and went on to be very successful. Not every student in nursing wants to be a nurse. It is okay to point out other paths they may take after finishing their degree. It isn’t necessary to change majors. It is fine to take a nontraditional path.

Academia needs people with well-developed leadership skills. There are things universities do well, but teaching leadership is not one of them. From day one as an officer leadership is taught and emphasized. It is not about learning to administer, which is definitely emphasized, but about leading. Don’t misunderstand, there are some amazing Deans, Provosts, and Presidents of universities, but there are even more that have little formal leadership training. What makes a great researcher isn’t always what makes a great leader.

If you work for the federal government until retirement you will have been sent to courses on strategic planning, financial management, personnel management, and leadership. You have probably managed large numbers of people, large and small budgets, grants, pilot projects, policy development and implementation, and a plethora of special projects. You have in your toolbox things the average academic does not have and in addition, you have been tested under different leaders and multiple administrations with all the political appointees they bring with them who may are may not have any knowledge of the area they oversee. Most importantly you have grown a thick skin and learned how to work fast and under pressure.

I was privileged to work with an amazing President, Provost and Graduate Dean when I first came to academia. They hired me for my leadership skills and not my academic history. The department had been without a Chair for a couple of years and the one before me had left quickly. I had looked for the job that needed my skills and was also willing to let me teach. When those three job offers came in there was no doubt which one I wanted and which was the best fit. It was the small school where I could learn academia and help them to address several years without a department chair. It was a win-win.

Transition Planning

It is a good idea to start your transition plan one to two years before you retire. Here are 10 must for your transition plan:

  1. A curriculum vitae is a must and it should look like one in academia. There are many things in government that are the same as academia, but academics will not understand government speak and if you don’t use academic terminology you will hurt yourself.
  2. If you are not publishing you need to start. I would highly recommend two to three peer-reviewed articles a year. It may seem intimidating, but it is easier than it sounds.
  3. Never turn down an invited presentation. All of the invited presentations you did now need to be on your CV. You are most likely going to have to search for them.
  4. Make sure your CV includes the number of people you supervised, budgets managed, and major accomplishments by position.
  5. You didn’t get to retirement without serving on many committees, task forces, and probably at the national level. You need them all on your CV.
  6. Start teaching by working as an adjunct instructor or lecturer. You do not need to be paid but you do need a letter of appointment. If you have ever taught a government course, precepted students, or developed training it needs to be on your CV.
  7. If you haven’t practiced clinically in a while you may want to renew that skill. Most places will want to know that you still understand the clinical setting even if they will not expect you to teach clinical courses. Volunteering is a good way to make sure you are current.
  8. Attend professional conferences where you are likely to run into academics. Use all of the skills you ever learned about networking. You need to start a new Rolodex.
  9. Start looking at university requirements for tenure and rank and make sure you are writing to those requirements.
  10. You need a good mentor for the transition and you need to reconnect with your dissertation advisor. Both can couch you on negotiating rank, salary, and start-up packages. If any university tells you that a retired Captain O-6 or senior executive service needs to start as an Assistant Professor you need to look elsewhere and this is especially true for women as it is more likely to happen to you than your male counterparts.

Teaching is a great opportunity to continue your life of service and it will remind you on a daily basis why you chose your profession all those years ago.

 


I Want to Walk in Your Shoes

I have had a long career and a wonderful life that I look back on with joy. There are a few exceptions and most of those are the times I could not find it in myself to walk in the other person’s shoes before passing judgment. I excused my behavior as putting the mission before individual needs, including family needs, when in reality it was poor communication and a lack of trust.

As both a staff member and a leader I have been a horrible judge of how much time it takes to do a task. I’m not any better with home repairs. If you ask me how long it will take to paint my home office I imagine I can do it in one day. Having painted many rooms I know I can’t do it in a single day, but none the less my mind tells me I can.

One day our office was preparing a briefing for the White House. As the Assistant Secretary and staff worked on the brief I reminded them how much time we needed to print and collate the required copies. As they passed the last possible minute we could get it printed on time and leave adequate time for them to get in the car and make the trip to the White House I was stressed. A copier doesn’t work faster because the presentation is going to the White House and neither can a person. The Assistant Secretary was so angry that it wasn’t completed when he needed it that he threw his briefcase, but that also didn’t make the copier work any faster. It is a common failing of highly motivated and highly successful people to think the world revolves around their expectations and needs. It doesn’t.

In academia, the stakes are much lower, but the passions are just as high.  How many classes can a faculty member successfully teach and how many papers can be carefully graded in a normal work week? Is it more work to grade a graduate or an undergraduate paper? How many grants can be written and how many papers published? How much time does committee work actually take? How much time does it take to grade the work of a student after a nursing clinical and how early must the faculty member be at the clinical site before the students arrive so everything is ready for a seamless day? How much time is actually spent on research with and without a graduate research assistant?  And then there is all of the unaccounted for time of mentoring, advising, writing letters for jobs for former students, and being active in professional organizations. But work isn’t all that a person must do. My experience is that everyone is working hard and maybe even too hard. It is an American characteristic.

All people have things they need and want to do that are not related to work. Each person has tasks of self-care such as dental and medical appoints. There is the task we all hate but must do such as getting vehicle inspections and anything to do with the DMV.  Moms and dads must care for sick children and even attend the extracurricular activities of those children. Who hasn’t had to be home to sign for a package or wait on the plumber? We all will eventually have to attend a funeral. These are all tasks of life and they are not optional. A well-rounded person must do these things and a productive employee should be supported when doing them. Why do we judge them?

Judgment is not new. Consider that at the time of Jesus they were writing about the Father judging no one I assume that the message is that we have done it throughout history and it has always been an undesirable behavior.

22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son,23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:22-23

I know my inability to see the perspective of the other did not end at the office and I doubt I’m alone. How often do we try to walk in the shoes of our spouses, parents, or children?  How often do we try to understand the store clerk whose line is slow or the driver who makes a mistake or the person that doesn’t understand stand right and walk left on the metro escalator? How often do people try to understand issues of equality without trying to justify the current norm?

Ultimately to walk in the shoes of the other person we must be willing to trust the person is working as hard as we are, cares as much as we do, and has intentions that are honorable. We must see the other person as equal and deserving of respect.

I’m finally at the point in my career and my life that I would rather trust a person than find fault. I would rather underwrite the mistakes of others than limit them and me with my judgment.

See each person for what they bring to the table and not what you would bring if you were them.

 

 

 

 

 


Do Catholic Women Want Women Deacons

When I taught at Clarke University Sr. Joan told me I should start all meetings with a prayer. I was fresh out of the 21 years of active duty where you did not pray at federal meetings. Asking me to lead a prayer before meetings caused me great anxiety. I was so bad at it that Sr. Kate gave me As We Gather, As we Part which contained 150 opening and closing prayers.  Mostly, I was bad at it because I didn’t feel I had led a life that deserved to lead a prayer, but I looked around at the Sisters and knew they had. Last night I searched the house for the book and couldn’t find it. Today I found it in my office. I should have known it was packed with office books because that is where I used it at Clarke. I knew I needed it.

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the mind of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. Proverbs 10:21-22

Women are not fragile! I don’t know what women were like in 533 AD, but my guess is fragile was far from accurate. Today women are definitely not fragile. We fought for the right to vote and then we literally fought for the right to fight for our country. We fought for the right to work and then for equality in the workplace. Despite the obstacles, we continue to raise families and in most cases take on the majority of that task. We continue to show up even when you treat us as less than because of our gender. Fragile, those Bishops should have looked inward. I suspect their egos were what was fragile.

I’m not sure how many people are interested in the topic of women deacons. I’m not sure if Catholic women care enough to be the Dorothy Day of our time, but I do. Show up and be counted. If we do not bring equality to the church it will be diminished in our lifetime as young women walk away because they see the hypocrisy and the misogyny in the Bishops that deny history.

Let’s not be the fools that die from lack of sense. If we don’t trust that there are women chosen by God to be Deacons and stand and support them, then we are no better than the Bishops that saw women as fragile. Are you fragile or are you ready to be a suffragette?

Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system. – Dorothy Day

 


Curse of a Nurse: Social Justice Nursing in the World

The curse of a nurse is an educated mind often formed by religious and social backgrounds combined with work experiences which enable us to see things from a little different perspective. Principles of religion, education, and nursing practice illuminate what is wrong in our society.

We are both blessed and cursed with what we see and experience. The day of an average nurse is full. It is full of cultural perspectives, love and hate, grief and joy, violence and compassion, and fear and bravery. Nurses see people when they are vulnerable and willing to share truths, but they also see them when in the delirium of medication or pain they reveal what they would normally never give a voice. The nurse in the clinic or at the bedside sees the end result of failed policy, bigotry, and poverty. The nurse also sees those with privilege, success, and wealth and realizes the results of disparities.

Nurses experience all we see and what we see fills our lives with wonder and a search for the truth. There are days that we are bone tired with aching feet. The best we can do is ramble on about what we have seen to supportive family and friends. There are times when the mind is too tired to resist and in those times the truth is most apparent. There are also angry and frustrating times when we can identify with the worst instincts of humanity. It is a unique perspective and empathy that drives us to work for social justice. Out of our wonder, we find joy.

Many nurses are called to address social justice in the world and see it as part of what it means to be a nurse. It is tied to our spirituality. I write from my perspective as one who embraces the curse of a nurse and strives to pursue social justice in my small piece of the world. Love my perspectives or hate them, but know I have a thick skin and think we all grow through open and honest conversation even when it is difficult.

And so the [hu]manwho philosophizes and wonders is ultimately superior to one who submits to the despairing narrowness of indifference. For the former hopes?  – Joseph Pieper


Destructive divisions

I hope they never distinguish what we share. I wish I had your way of bringing heart and soul into writing.

Radical Rhymes

They stand us up against one another. You know the drills as well as I do, just as you recognise their scape goating. Their adoption of diversity is just another means of creating divisions, of directing our accusatory gaze sideways rather than upwards.

Famine, terrorism, discrimination, nationalism, the destruction of the environment, all are the products of a corrupt system built and maintained for the benefit of a very small minority. The divisions they stimulate and exacerbate between groups of people are designed to channel frustration and deflect attention from the real causes of most human ills – inequality and injustice.

Immigrants bring crime, disease, cultural  incompatibility. Age old tropes that they wheel out periodically to generate divisions they then mercilessly exploit. Look up media accounts from the 19th century, then compare them to tabloid coverage today. Place them side by side, and you won’t be able to distinguish them.

View original post 371 more words


My Favorite Nurses

It is a good week to say thank you to all the nurses that helped me along the way. If I talked about one each year between now and my old age I would not be able to thank them all so today I want to start with just two, CAPT (ret) Cecelia Reid and Chris Kasper.

When I finished my MSN I had to report to duty the next morning in DC. I walked out of graduation, picked up my diploma, handed my father the keys to my apartment because he was going to meet the movers, and got in the car so that I could report at 0800 the next morning. I could not have been more excited. When I arrived a serious looking Captain in Service Dress Blues ask for my ID, slapped it down on her desk with her hand over it and ask me for my ID number. When I told her the number without a moment’s hesitation she smiled and we have been friends ever since. She was my first role model as an officer.

Cecelia recommended me for deployment on an NOAA research vessel to the South Pacific for two months that turned into three because we sustained damage going through a typhoon. She did forget to tell me that we would be going to the Aleutian Islands and into the Bering Sea first, which would have resulted in some warmer clothing. It was the greatest adventure of my young career.

575776_10200965353555380_1584704984_n

CAPT Cecelia Reid with Faye Abdellah

Cecelia was there when a patient pulled a knife on my unit and she was there when another patient was so violent that all the nurses and psychiatric nursing assistants (PNA) were wrestling on the ground with him screaming at the psychiatrist to call a code. I still remember that woman saying, “You can handle it. You can handle it.” The words I used to get her to call the code shocked me. I think it was the first time I was disrespectful to a physician or an elder, but then again we were getting our butts kicked by the patient on PCP that should have never been released from the restraints.  She was also there with a sense of humor when a psychiatrist complained to her and the Chief Medical Officer that I called her incompetent in rounds. I did not. I called her a blanking idiot. In my defense, it turned out the psychiatrist had never passed her boards and somehow in ten years the hospital had not noticed. I noticed when one of the PNAs informed me that she was removing my orders from the chart every night and returning them in the morning. Needless to say, what she did could have endangered the life of the patient. Obviously, the psychiatrist didn’t say what provoked my inappropriate comment, but when I told CAPT Reid it resulted in the discovery that the psychiatrist didn’t have a medical license.

Cecelia was supportive when I ask to transfer to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and she arranged a temporary duty assignment for me with Indian Health Service when I was working in DC. She wrote my nomination for my first early promotion. She wrote one of my reference letters to my Ph.D. program and she is still always there when I write or call. Cecelia is that nurse you want to be when you grow up. She is kind, compassionate, organized, intelligent, creative, and always looking out for her team. What I didn’t realize as a young officer was that when you were on her team it was for life. She is still the nurse I want to be.

Chris Kasper is an academic through and through. She never stops thinking about how to make nursing and healthcare better. Her life is academic research and training the next generation of nursing researchers, and now Dean. When I first met Chris she knew I was doing some work with AFRRI and ask if I would find out if they did any research with muscle. The next time I was there I ask and was introduced to a scientist that had the answer she wanted. I never imagined it would result in her being my dissertation chair, a lifelong friend and mentor, or a total change in my career path. She said noone would ever doubt I could do policy since I was a Chief of Staff, but I needed something else when I moved into academia. She knew I would.61519_155812487780481_3082463_n

Chris is one of those rare people that see through the illusions and delusions. She knew better what I needed to do to be successful than I did and guided me down the path. She is the first person I told I wanted to move to academia, after my husband. She had perfect advice and helped me with negotiations along the way. Anytime I’ve changed academic jobs my first call has been to her to ask if it was a wise move. My success in academia is largely due to her guidance and letter writing.

Chris and Cecelia couldn’t be more different in their career paths, but they had four things in common:

  1. Leading by example and with love for patients and team.
  2. Tireless dedication and service to the nation.
  3. Unequaled integrity.
  4. Fierce loyalty.

Happy Nurses’ Week to all my mentors and friends.