I am writing my blog this week as I sit in an old friend’s breakfast restaurant drinking coffee in the town where I grew up. I came here for a long weekend to visit some great friends. It has been nostalgic driving down the streets where I learned to drive, passing the house where I grew up and my old high school, remembering all the experiences that brought me to today.
Many things have changed here. The bridge we used to jump into the river from is gone, now just an overpass.
The orange groves where we would gather on Saturday nights is now a subdivision. The Drive In is now a Home Depot. I’m grateful that the warm gulf breeze is the same, and the gulf sunsets are as amazing as ever.
The town is where I became a nurse, and started in my first surgery center. I began in the PACU, crossed the red line and learned how to circulate, learned Risk and Quality, then became Nurse Manager almost 20 years ago. I considered all the things I have learned in that time, and how I would mentor my new nurse self if I could.
Here are some of my reminiscent brain musings:
Ask for help. When I was new in my role, I thought that asking for help would mean I didn’t know my job well enough. Now I recognize it as a strength, and key to being a successful leader. As a great friend recently told me, the best advice she recieved was don’t be afraid to ask why.
Don’t feel intimidated. When I started my career, I remember how some of the seasoned nurses made me feel. I will never understand why some nurses aren’t nurturing to their peers, but it is a cultural reality. Had my young nurse self not taken it personally, it would have allowed for better learning and less struggle.
Don’t assume. So often, I find that people hang on to “sacred cow” processes. My more mature self has learned to identify this, but, when younger, I trusted the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” or “those are the rules”.
Write stuff down. Update preference cards, write down processes, and update policies as things happen. You never know what will be remembered or who will leave.
Trust your gut. The best advice ever. When less experienced, it is easy to be swayed by others based on their experience or training when making critical decisions. If there are doubts, get some advice or do some homework. Often, your first instincts will be right on track. I’ve always done the…would I be comfortable with this decision if scrutinized? You will be alone in defending a decision made despite the influencers.
Find a mentor. There are several key people that were my go to’s as I was learning. I still rely on great people when I need to make key decisions, and am grateful for the great support and advice they provide. On those days when things get rough, having someone you can trust with experience is key.
I’ll finish this week’s post to return to chasing the ghosts of my past, wondering what my fresh scrubbed new nurse self would think of the now me. I hope she’d approve.