Healthcare is all about “critical thinking,” which occasionally prevents us from getting stuff done and actually healing patients. Click the picture to take our new course about communication and acting on properly processed information. That’s a major challenge at any workplace: removing the distorted lens of perception and seeing things as they are. Is the boss terrible, or does corporate culture just place that mantle of ineptitude on everyone in leadership? Are coworkers clear and brutally honest, or are you being bullied? And finally, do I really use phrases like “mantle of ineptitude” when internally asking myself questions? Yes.
Our last post discussed the importance of outside perspectives, but let me illustrate with a story how to achieve a more holistic viewpoint. I (Nick) rent out my house as part of the snowbird process. The final step will be driving 20 miles under the speed limit wherever I go. It’s surprisingly difficult to clean your house for others, because I’m used to my own mess. I mopped the floors and polished the furniture, but almost missed coffee stains on the kitchen cabinets. They’ve probably been there a while, but long ago my brain told my eyes, “There’s nothing to see here. Let’s concentrate on other things.” Take a step back and will your mind to see things for the first time. It may be an emotional undercurrent at the office, or an automatic response to a seemingly neutral stimulus, or even the way coworkers treat certain employees without apparent cause. Notice normal reactions and those that seem out of place. Culture is extremely powerful, especially during times of conflict, stress, and grief. I read a story today of a funeral home simultaneously hosting calling hours for an American–stoic, somber, whispers of dull platitudes such as “God needed an angel” and a Filipino–kids climbing around the casket, people talking loudly, etc. We revert to traditional ways of doing things, and it’s helpful to ask the simple question, “Why?” Why is the best for the patient, client or customer, and why do we think this way is the best way? None of us could work effectively turning over every stone inquisitively, but pick your battles and see what you uncover.
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Our new course isn’t the only project we’ve been working on. “Critical Doing” is certainly entertaining, especially the interactive videos filmed underwater in Greece and Florida (very relevant to the nursing process), during hurricanes, and while wandering around forests and crowded malls. We are starting a pain and mental health clinic in Akron, Ohio. We have about a dozen employees, and it’s past time to stop talking about corporate wellness and see if we can actual materialize our idealistic views. By putting employees first, we hope their joy will be contagious and lead to much better patient outcomes than the current cookie-cutter methods of care. We’ll continue to update you all on our progress, triumphs, and failures as we do our part to change the broken healthcare system and practice critical doing.
Since all three of us are nurse anesthetists, we expected clients from healthcare once we launched our business, especially since we’ve written research articles, textbook chapters, and now books about various aspects of healthcare and wellness. We thought questions would come from our guest posts about bullying among nurses, or the nuances of work culture as we’ve discussed on FreshNP. To our surprise, the same two themes orbit work issues in the hospital OR, at McDonald’s, and in the cubicles with a pointy-haired boss: relationships and finances.
As much as we stress leaving work at work and home at home, the two overlap substantially. If they desperately need the money, employees will accept far more abuse at work than someone already ambivalent about their job. Perceived lack of support from a spouse or loved one amplifies unintentional slights at work to full-blown rejection. Self-care and wellness techniques help realign our perceptions closer to reality, limiting miscommunication and awkward misunderstandings. Work is inherently awkward, like any other activity where at least one party is only present because they are being paid to do so (think Uber, Airbnb, or that boy you bought pizza at lunch every Friday for a month so he’d go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with you).
For a good time every time, observe other people’s awkwardness for a minute. That’s what much of How to Succeed in Anesthesia School is about–prospective students and seasoned clinicians quickly mastering social dynamics so they can concentrate on the next step on their career path. The quirky humor and irreverent satire may seem at odds with what BEHAVE Wellness stands for, but learning should be hilarious whenever possible. We’ve learned that a stiff, walk-on-eggshells work environment always has more problems than a cheerful place with blundering, authentic goofballs. Besides:
We should really eat before writing these posts. Subscribe on the right with your email address, and you’ll get these witty compliments every time we write a new post. So, besides new information on debt and investing wisely (but not necessarily conservatively–see our Bitcoin post) and balancing a successful career as a caregiver with satisfying, deep relationships, what else does the book teach? Topics include selecting a healthcare specialty, interviewing well, and the best ways to transform theoretical knowledge into something practical for patients. Lest it get too annoying and upbeat, one of the chapters is titled “Picking up the Charred Remains after you Crash and Burn”, not too dissimilar from the section “Cutting your Losses” in the relationships chapter. Best of all, this project comes with a free audiobook version narrated by the author. For the three Americans who don’t have Amazon to buy a paperback or Kindle version, purchase a similar Nook/iBook/PDF here:
We were invited to talk about bullying in healthcare by our good friend and author, Kati Kleber. Increasingly, we’ve all been asked to address this by nursing students feeling powerless in the classroom and in clinical settings. Similar to interns and graduate students, the common thread is continual evaluation by others higher on the totem pole–who themselves may be bullied by their superiors. We incorporated much of the current literature in our discussion on FreshRN, and some of it is surprising (and vicious).
So are we saying that not every nurse is as virtuous as the saintly one above? Bullying is surprisingly common in helping professions, even in churches. The top five bullying behaviors nursing students experience are nonverbal innuendos, verbal affront, undermining actions, withholding information, and sabotage. As opposed to being shoved on the playground, this sometimes requires perception and awareness of the social environment to even realize it’s happening. That’s why bullying is so common and devastating in learning environments. From a personal standpoint, several of us can remember times where we had to choose between learning 100% of the knowledge we needed for the day or being charming and socially adroit, because both required total concentration.
One reason that toxic learning environments are so consuming is the concept of a “snowflake”–an overly sensitive, dogmatic person, as opposed to six sided crystalline ice precipitation. It’s important to consider how other students are being treated, and how distant reality may be from our perceptions of being bullied. This is where others come in, although Behave Wellness would be better suited for that than a college ombudsperson (what do they do anyway?) or hospital HR department. Not that anyone’s life has been changed through a blog comment, but tell us your story below and we will do our best to help. Any professionals you use should be familiar with bullying so they can give you wise and relevant advice.