Nurse's Watch: Conversations on contemporary nursing,
nursing education, leadership, spirituality and blogging.
~Start date February 2010~

Saturday, December 26, 2015

So long...

It has been so long...

So long since ...

I had a moment to think...
A moment to reflect...
Time to savor.

So long since...

I have felt like I was moving forward
I wasn't overwhelmed
The house was clean

So long since...

I didn't have a list
I checked things off my list
I felt in control...

And Lord knows this is hard for me.

I am in dissertation now ...
But it feels as though I am at the bottom of Mount Everest.
The mountain looms in front of me, but I cannot move.
I need a site for my study,
It's a good study but I need a site.

I am at a new job, a different university...
It's a good university but new is hard.
I am new to them,
They are new to me,
And I long for the comfort of familiar surroundings.
I push far too hard for perfection,
So much so that missing the mark has me discouraged.
Leaving me to question everything...

And somewhere on the outskirts of my life is me,
the person.
The daughter, the wife, the mother with children and grand children.
Who is absent.
There is no reasonable way to rationalize this.
Absent from their lives to attend to the lives and needs of others,
Absent to attend to work, and to address things that are necessary to make a living.
But worldly obligations no less,
Am I making a living but missing a life?

Farther along still my soul wonders,
God am I where I am supposed to be?
Doing what I am supposed to be doing?
Living the life that I am supposed to be living?
Am I?

I fear I am too tired, too confused and too hurt at this moment to know.

So what do we do when we cannot know, cannot be sure.
What do we do?

Sit and breathe sister,

Kind words from a friend.

She is right. I need to drop it all for a while.
It will be there tomorrow, or the next day,
Responsibilities always are.

Will it clear my head to push them to the periphery of my life, my mind, my heart for a while?

Well I guess we shall see.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Are you ready for a little serendipity?

The other day as I contemplated yet another change in my life, my daughter reminded me about a poem I had given her. The story goes like this...

When I was pregnant with Carrie we discovered that she was breech. My original birth plan had involved a natural labor in a local birthing facility. This was potentially going to change our birthing plans significantly and I was facing a possible C-section.

While on vacation, I received encouragement from the Lord in the form of a poem on a card. I bought the card and framed it. Our baby Carrie turned around and was delivered in the birthing center, the rest is history... For years the poem served as a reminder that God's ways are perfect, that He is good, He is constant, active and present in our lives and His compassion is unfailing... I of course passed this framed poem on to Carrie when the time came.

During a recent conversation with Carrie, as I lamented life's ever constant changes, Carrie reminded me about the poem, "God Sends His Best to Those Who Leave the Choices Up to Him by Perry Tanksley (1985).

How serendipitous that long ago God used a baby girl to increase my faith. Now years later the same sweet girl is doing it again...


Is there anything more beautiful and reassuring than that? 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

What do you want to be when you grow up... Why I Love Nursing

All those years ago, little did I know what nursing would come to mean to me... I had wanted to be a nurse to help people ever since I was a child in my dad's doctor's office. Years later as I glance back over the path I have taken, I am quite amazed. Never did I realize all the places nursing could take me, all the people I would meet and all the awe inspiring moments and opportunities that would arise...

Bedside nursing:
I wanted to help people and this I was able to do. How blessed I have been to be at the bedside of patients who are ill, tired, alone and in need to comfort and rest. There are not words to describe the feeling of fulfillment... Hearing an elderly man thank God for me in prayer as I left the room, praying with a heart broken woman who's child had been rushed to another hospital, observing a young father of another faith blessing and praying over his newborn son, and most unnerving and yet exhilarating, responding with that rush of adrenaline and the steady Hand of God to an emergency. The stories, the people, the sense of humility and awe that I was able to be present in these moments of utter vulnerability is something I will never forget.

Ambulatory Care Nursing:
Then I moved from acute care into the ambulatory care environment to work in pediatrics. Never did I think I would love any nursing environment as much as labor and delivery but working with children is one of the greatest pleasures in the world. I love to listen to their thoughts on what makes the world go round. Those little brains are fascinating. In pediatrics I learned to carefully craft explanations. A 'shot' is a 'poke' and when I take your blood pressure, I am going to 'give your arm a hug'. Stickers can brighten any day and 'fix' any boo boo, as can bandaids. Bubbles, well, these glistening orbs of air are essential distractions. Oh, and don't forget that prize...

Nursing Education:
For years I was at the bedside and never dreamed of being anywhere else. Then I moved into education. I was excited to prepare nurses to do what I had cherished for so long. I was blessed to be part of students educational journey. I enjoyed watching their eagerness and passion. Eventually we would part ways as they continued their passage into nursing on their own, only now as colleagues. Hopefully, I taught them something. I know every student taught me something and I was honored to be a part of their lives.

Nursing Quality Improvement:
Somewhere along the line, I moved into quality improvement and research. It was exciting. Lean Six Sigma (LSS) was hard at first, a definite learning curve, but then it made sense. Begin by looking for a broken process, then define, measure, analyze, improve and control (DMAIC). What is the voice of the customer (VOC)... what is the voice of the process (VOP).  What are my inputs and outputs... What once was hard, now is second nature. Once LSS is embraced you understand why so many process improvements often fail, the true root cause of the problem is never truly investigated. We just think we know what will solve the problem and act. LSS involves using specific tools... SIPOCs, Fishbones, and matrices to drill down to the process to identify barriers. I love it!

Alright, it is confession time. Those who knew me when can attest that during my undergraduate school days, I hated research. Really, seriously... I find this so funny now. At first I missed my patients, then I realized that I am still caring for patients, only now my focus is on improving patient care with a pen, paper and a computer. It also involves finding gaps and barriers, so I am a detective of sorts, very intriguing...

This by far is one of the greatest things about nursing, the ability to move into new areas of interest and reinvent yourself... how cool is that! Along the way you meet new people, learn new things and explore new settings. This is a great way to keep yourself engaged and relevant.

None of these adventures would have ever been possible without the God's direction, His Holy Spirit and plan, plain and simple, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it..." Isaiah 30:21

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Meaningful Life...

While working on my research proposal a few weeks ago, I found this... 

How beautiful.

How true.

Some times as I grasp for the stars and contemplate my grand plans to take over the world... 

It is wonderful to get a reminder of what is real.

"Yes, everything up till now has already been enough for a meaningful life..."

I am blessed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Medical University of South Carolina...A student's journey

Okay, it is official, I am the worst ever at blogging about this Phd journey! But here's a little update...

I love, love, love my school, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). It is located in one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the United States, Charleston, S.C. MUSC is #1 in the nation in online PhD nursing programs. This is exciting. However, they did not get to this point by luck. MUSC's doctoral program is carefully crafted to build nursing scientists. When I started I really had no idea what I was getting into. However, at that time I received some of the best advice from upper classmen, "Trust the process." How right they were.

Obtaining a PhD is a process. Once you grasp this you will be a happier student. The groundwork has to be laid. This is where MUSC excels in opening the 'toolboxes' to incrementally supply you with the skills needed to become a scientist. What are the tools?

First, the foundation is laid:

The theory behind nursing research is explored. What has nursing's role in research been in the past and where is it going in the future? I am such a nerd, so I loved this class. Finally, I understood what all those nursing theorists were trying to accomplish and why.

Research classes were combined with statistics and guidance in how to research and write. What is quantitative research? What is your research question? What is an integrative review or a meta analysis?  And of course my favorite, what is a p value? Better yet z scores, really?

Little did I know at that time that finding the gaps in knowledge in your area of passion is key to discovering a viable research topic.

As a full-time student, with full-time work, this introduction into nursing research was mind boggling. I felt as if I was barely hanging on and not sure I was retaining any of the necessary information. Later, studies of vulnerable populations, qualitative research, manuscript writing and publication essentials and yet more statistics kept me writing, writing, writing, computing, questioning and critiquing. Ethics, leadership, policy and measurement pushed me one step closer to where I needed to be. Still, I was certain there was no way I was retaining any of this, and as so many times before in my life my goal most days was simple, survive to see the next semester ;-)

Well, to make a long story short, in April I defended my research proposal. I am officially a PhD candidate!!! I am out of my mind excited. I still have a ton to do, but I am getting there. By this time next year...or sooner, it is my hope to have completed my PhD. All the sleepless nights, obsessive thoughts, BBQ fritos, and coffee are finally bearing fruit. So I have my own statistical formula to offer:

(Exponential Reading + Herculean Research) x Persuasive Writing
(Sleepless Nights + Obsessive Thoughts) + (BBQ Fritos + Coffee) x Time

= Compelling Dissertation Proposal

And the coolest part, all the 'stuff' I was certain that I would not remember is there in the recesses of my mind. This information emerges when I least expect it and I find myself reading an entire study without skipping the statistical analyses or find myself planning a study of my own....Muhahaha

Lastly, the best part of all, is that through all these years of doubt, sweat, tears and laughter, I have accumulated friends, mentors and colleagues that I so appreciate. No one ever reaches a long sought goal without help from others. I have an amazing committee for which I am immensely grateful. I have amazing classmates, friends, colleagues and a precious, long suffering family. And I have my faith in the One who made this all possible.

So to all potential nursing students out there... whether you are going for your ADN, BSN, MSN, DNP or PhD, don't focus on the hardships, the doubts, the school loans, the distractions, these can stop us all in our tracks. Focus on the dream, the still small voice that compels you to move forward. On your way, don't forget to embrace each step, each stumble, each triumph because in the end, it is worth it.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This may just work!

As I forge ahead on my dissertation journey, one thing is for sure, it takes meticulous planning and organization. Something that despite appearances, I am not good at! In that vein, I want to share with you something that I just signed up for and have started to use to plan my dissertation steps. It is similar to a pert chart but more intuitive and colorful. Also, it is online and free.

The web site is called Tom's Planner. The planner is set up like a Gnatt chart. The website has a demo that you can play with to see if this format works for you. I am excited. Particularly, with research each step takes a great deal of planning. It is almost like a domino effect, miss a deadline and it will throw everything else off. This will allow me to set due dates for each step and plan ahead. Interestingly, they have templates for dissertations.

I posted a picture of what I have so far... Hmmm, looks like I have a lot of planning to do!