Assessment and Leadership in Nursing

The first step of the nursing process is assessment, and for good reason. The American Nurses Association defines assessment as “a systematic, dynamic way to collect and analyze data about a client, and it’s the first step in delivering nursing care. Assessment includes not only physiological data, but also psychological, sociocultural, spiritual, economic, and life-style factors as well. (American Nurses Association, 2018).”

Assessment can be applied to every aspect of our lives. What is a problem you are facing that you can’t solve? Have you properly assessed the situation? Is there a different angle that you haven’t considered? For me, I want to improve my skills as a leader. First, I need to assess my leadership abilities to find out where I can improve. Here are some ideas I’ve come across:

  1. Find a Mentor

Who is someone you look up to at work? What skills do they have that you could emulate? If possible, shadow this person for a day to see what they do differently that makes them stand out. For my BSN, I shadowed a nurse who was in charge of a program that helped teenage moms to avoid a second pregnancy. This was a great experience to see a different side of nursing that involved managing a grant.

  1. Practice Humble Inquiry (by Edgar H. Schein)

This was a book that was featured during my charge nurse class. To quote Humble Inquiry: the Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, “Humble inquiry involves learning to be humble with respect to ourselves–to honor our human capacity to take in and deal with complexity, to have a broad range of experiences, and to be agile in responding to those experiences. (Schein, E., 2013).” This book focuses on slowing down and doing self-reflecting, becoming more mindful, and building relationships. I highly recommend it!

  1. Really Figure Out What You Want to Do

What area of nursing are you interested in? Do you have a goal to start your own business or work from home? Ask yourself what you really want to do several times and then focus on the answer. The real answer will come from within and point you in the right direction.

  1. Work on Your Public Speaking

This is a skill that will be an asset no matter where you go. Find a class that can improve your public speaking, and force yourself to get out there in front of people. In this digital age, when we don’t have to do so much talking, we’ve forgotten about how important it is to face people and make eye contact with an audience. This will help you become a better leader in any area or aspect of your life.

What ideas do you have to become a better leader? Share them with me in the comments!



Hardship is Life’s Teacher

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Being a nurse is not easy, and I have to admit that I used to think it was. Sure, I knew that there would be a lot to learn but I never expected the level of juggling that would have to take place in a 12-hour shift. There are other nurses, doctors, techs, social workers, and therapists you are communicating with, on top of keeping your patients alive and communicating with them as well.

I’ve had the experience of being a hospital staff nurse, a preceptor, and a charge nurse, and I can tell you that I’ve grown so much, learned so much, and been challenged in ways that I never thought possible. Dealing with the hardships of staffing, making the assignment, putting out fires and quieting the drama have taught me so much. Hardships are opportunities to grow, although we rarely see it that way. These hardships and setbacks have helped develop my confidence as a nurse.

I admit that when I have difficulties at work it can be easy to let them affect me personally and dwell on them, but I’ve learned to have a (somewhat) short memory. When it comes to criticism, acknowledge that everyone has a learning curve and adopt a growth mind-set. Move on quickly from these setbacks, and use them as opportunities to learn and grow.

To me, it’s important to celebrate the small daily wins–a patient says “thank you”, your manager says “good work,” or the team coordinates the care perfectly. When you celebrate the small victories, it will develop your confidence even more. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Remember why you became a nurse. If you can do these things, those hardships will lead you to an extraordinary place.

Commit to Yourself in the New Year

New Year’s resolutions rarely last past January. One week you’re eating salads at every meal and the next you say, “Screw it,” and head out to get some fast food or order a pizza. What are some ways to make those resolutions finally stick?

Resolutions should really change their name to S.M.A.R.T goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. But don’t just say “I want to lose 15 pounds by March” and leave it at that. Write down your goal and three things you are doing to work towards that goal. If you don’t have anything that you are actively doing to work toward the goal, then it’s a lot less likely to stick. That’s where the commitment to yourself part comes in.

A new way to write down your goals is to have a bullet journal. This is a trendy journal that you can use as a to-do list, a notebook, a sketchbook or any other organizational tool that you can think of. For example, if your goal is to increase your fitness this year, write down that you are going to start a new and fun workout program, workout three days a week, and challenge yourself to stretch everyday. The bullet journal will force you to commit to yourself and your goals, because you wrote it down so now you are more likely to do it!

Also, share your goal with a friend so that you are more committed. Studies show that sharing your goals, progress, and successes makes you more likely to be committed. Post something on social media to gain even more support: #goals! The positive reinforcement you receive will motivate you to keep at it.

Set a goal in all areas of your life and commit to them: Health, wealth, relationships, travel, and fun. Let me know about some of your goals for the new year in the comments!




FitBit Sleep Tracker

Hello everyone! I hope you are all well. I took a bit of a break for the holidays, as I was busy getting the girls clothes and toys. This can take up a lot of time, what with the wrapping and the buying of the perfect gifts. Christmas is a lot of work for mothers, and even more so for working mothers. When can you fit it all in? Well, it was a very special Christmas and we all had a fun time. It’s worth it to see the joy on their faces. I hope everyone out there is doing well and had a blast this holiday season.

It’s great to be back writing this blog today. I received a special Christmas gift: the FitBit Charge 2. I tried to get one for myself last year, but it was co-opted by my daughter. Well, now I have my own, in rose gold no less, and I’m discovering all the fun that can be had. I’ve been tracking my sleep for two nights now, and, in case you wondered, yes it is weird to wear this on your wrist all night. But, like all things in life, you get used to it.

This first night I slept for 6 hours and 17 min, with 19% of that being REM sleep, 56% being light sleep, and only 11% being deep sleep.


I know that sleep is important, as I’ve written about it before here. But what is the amount of deep sleep that an adult person in their 30s needs? According to the National Sleep Foundation, when we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our daily work and activities. To get the most out of our sleep, both quality and quantity are important. Deep sleep is the part of the night where our bodies repair themselves and build up energy for the next day. This is the stage where tissue repair occurs and the body can detoxify itself. Without enough deep sleep, you can become depressed and very fatigued. If you sleep for 7 to 8 hours a night, about 20% of that time should be spent in deep sleep. People in their 40s or 50s may only need about 10% of deep sleep, and those in their 70s and 80s may need only 5%.

I have a goal now: to increase my deep sleep to around 20% instead of 11% (yikes!). Let’s see how I did the second night:


This was a rough night despite going to bed early. I woke up in the middle of the night, but still got more deep sleep (13%) than the night before. It’s fun monitoring my sleep this way, and I highly suggest you try it. Let me know in the comments section about your sleep successes or failures.

Six Ways to Avoid Empathy Burnout

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by another’s emotions that it is hard to process your own emotions? Do you lash out at loved ones in your life, and feel like you are spiraling downward into compassion fatigue, or empathy burnout?

At the end of the day, nurses can feel a lot of sadness, exhaustion, detachment, and anger. As time goes on, we might be unable to empathize with others due to our own desensitization. Those of us who spend a lot of our time and energy caring for others can be easily burned out. Here are some key elements of to add to your resilience toolkit:

  • Mindfulness Meditation. This is a great tool and I’ve posted here about it before. The process can be as easy as taking a breath during stressful situations. Practice this technique on a regular basis to see results.
  • Gratefulness Journal. This is a place to write down that for which you are grateful in your life. Everyday, write down three things that you are thankful for, or that make you happy. Then, at the end of the day, write down three good things that happened on you shift. This can help to redirect your attention if it was a particularly bad day.
  • Organizational Support. Form a support group at work and get your employer involved. Talking to other people about the problems you are facing helps you realize that you aren’t alone. Hospitals often provide counseling benefits to their employees through their health insurance.
  • Take Your Breaks. It can be hard to get away sometimes, but make sure you take a break. Leaving the floor for just 15 minutes to do something for yourself can really give you a boost of mental energy.
  • Don’t Shut Out Others. Don’t isolate yourself from others at home. If they ask you about your day, let them hear you out about what’s bothering you. They don’t have to fix it, but just by listening they can help.
  • If You Lash Out, Seek Help. Getting angry with others in your life is a sign that you need to process your emotions in a better way. Help yourself and those in your life by getting some counseling.  

After reading this, do you have some of your own techniques for decompressing? Let me know in the comments what has worked for you and what doesn’t.

Five Benefits of Strength Training

As nurses, we are always moving–lifting, walking, running, bending over–and doing a lot of grunt work. When it comes to moving patients, we want to make sure that we protect our back and joints most of all. The best way to do this is to ensure that we have adequate muscle mass to lift and slide our patients properly. That’s where strength training comes in!

  1. Strength training builds muscle, therefore increasing metabolism

Studies show that strength training increases the resting metabolic rate, so you can burn calories even when you’re sitting down doing some charting.

  1. Strength training builds mental toughness

We all know that bedside nursing can be stressful, and you might feel like you are juggling six balls at once sometimes. Strength training challenges you in a way you might not have been challenged before. This leads to an increased confidence and ability to handle whatever the shift might throw at you.


  1. Strength training increases bone density

As women, we know it’s important to maintain good bone health. Strength training helps to prevent osteoporosis later in life. When you lift dumbbells and do a curl, the muscles pull on those bones. The cells in your bones react by creating more new bone cells. Your bones become stronger and more dense. Perform strength-training exercises and you’ll be less prone to bone loss as you age.

  1. Stronger muscles lead to better performance, in all areas!

Whatever exercise you engage in, outside of work or during work, you will have more success with a good foundation in strength training. It can also help you burn more calories during cardio workouts, or while running down the hall to a code!


  1. Strength training increases heart health

In one Appalachian State study, those who performed 45 minutes of moderate intensity resistance exercise lowered their blood pressure by 20 points. That’s as good as most blood pressure pills, and with less expense.

Get out there and start training! I prefer the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme programs. These are great for building muscle and confidence. Start with some light 3 to 5 pound weights and a resistance band. If you are interested in getting started with a 21 Day Fix challenge pack, you can get one Here. Let me know what has worked for you in the comments!

Add More Color to Your Diet

We’ve all heard that we should “eat the rainbow”, and that the more colorful our plate, the better. Recently, my plates have been pretty beige, so I’m looking to add more color to my dinners. Here are some tips for adding color to your diet:

Go to Farmers’ Markets and look for Purples

  • Purple peppers
  • Purple carrots
  • Purple sweet potatoes
  • Purple cauliflower
  • Purple beans

These are actually found in nature, and contain a big dose of vitamins and minerals. You can make the purple sweet potatoes into fries. Season with truffle salt or pink himalayan salt for added flavor. The purple carrots can be used in a stir fry, along with the purple peppers. Use the cauliflower to make a warm purple salad. Cook the cauliflower for 5 to 10 minutes to make it soft, then add olives, breadcrumbs, vinegar, and red onions for more color.

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Get Creative with Greens

Add celery hearts to your Caesar salad. Drizzle the celery hearts with olive oil, then char them on a very hot grill. Make the dressing in a food processor with 1 egg yolk, 1 diced celery stalk, 1 smashed garlic clove, a 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Process while pouring in 2 cups of olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Pour this over the celery hearts and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yum!

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Eat Some Pink Power Snacks

Find some smoked salmon and make a twist on a bagel with lox. Top a Wasa cracker with some cream cheese, smoked salmon, and red onions. The salmon is a great dose of protein and will help you stay fuller longer. Also, look for new fruit cups that have Chia seeds in them. The chia seeds provide extra vitamin C and fiber so you can power through your day.

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Add colorful items to your shopping list and see how creative you can get. This is a fun way to cook healthy!

4 Ways to Maximize Your Workout — At Work

Most of us see exercise as a separate time commitment, like we have to go the gym for so long and sweat so much. The truth is that there are a lot of ways to move during the day that count as exercise, and anything that keeps you active and moving is a great way to drop some pounds. Here are some ways to maximize the amount of movement you get during the day.

Take the Stairs

Pretend like the elevator doesn’t exist! If you work on the 20th floor this could be difficult, but start off slow and work your way up. Including this healthy habit will lead to increased flexibility and resilience, not to mention increased muscle mass and endurance.

Park Far Away from the Entrance

The farther away you park from the door, the more steps it takes to get there. Keep this in mind wherever you go–the grocery store, the mall–to get in some more movements. Walking just a quarter mile a day can help improve a sedentary lifestyle.

Take Five for Exercise

Take a five-minute break at work for some energy-building movements. It’s best during those afternoon hours when you feel like taking a nap. Instead of reaching for more coffee, do some active reps, stand up at your desk, or take a lap around the floor. Who cares if you look strange doing lunges down the hallway, you’re staying active!!

Challenge a Friend

If you stay active with your co-workers, you’re more likely to commit to being healthy. I once worked at a place where we would race each other down 12 flights of stairs. This helped keep us awake and was also fun to do with a buddy. You could also wear a pedometer and compete with each other to see who has the most steps. Friendly competition keeps it interesting and fun!

What are some other ways to move and improve at work? Let me know what you think in the comments!


Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Today I’m sharing some ways to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer, since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important for women to get a mammogram screening as early as age 35, so your doctor can have a baseline image of your breast tissue. Early detection is still so important.

To reduce your risk of breast cancer:

  1. Get vigorous exercise twice a week. High-intensity workouts can cut your risk of breast cancer, and help you stay at a healthy weight. The American Cancer Society recommends that the average adult get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Vigorous exercise should increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and make it harder for you to catch your breath. Don’t pass out, though! The vigorous activity also reduces inflammation and activates natural killer cells, two things that may protect you from cancer.
  2. Choose your water bottles and containers carefully. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in hard plastics like reusable water bottles and other containers. This chemical has been linked to a higher breast cancer risk because it simulates the effects of the female sex hormone estrogen, which can fuel breast cancer. Choose stainless steel and glass containers instead, or look for those that are labeled BPA-free.
  3. Choose the right dairy. Studies from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute showed that women who ate yogurt regularly had a lower risk of breast cancer. However, those who ate more hard cheeses, like American and cheddar, had a 53 percent higher risk of getting breast cancer. Cheese is high in fat, so those women who consumed a lot of cheese may have had less healthy diets and been heavier, which may have led to them getting cancer. Eat your cheese in moderation!
  4. Don’t feel guilty about soy. Some studies claimed that soy was bad for women and could increase the risk of breast cancer, because it was an estrogen-mimicker. However, the majority of research indicates that soy is safe to eat. A Tufts University study showed that women who ate soy actually increased their chances of survival. Soy is found in tofu, soy milk, and edamame.
  5. Don’t be dense. Ask your doctor about the denseness of your breast tissue. Younger women have more dense breasts due to having milk glands and ducts for breastfeeding. If the breast tissue continues to be dense after age 45 or so, then that’s a risk factor for breast cancer. If your breasts are more than 75 percent dense, you may need to do a breast MRI or 3-D mammogram to get screened. These methods are better at detecting tumors in dense breast tissue.

Always be proactive with your health! Get your yearly OB/GYN checkup and regular mammograms as recommended. Early detection helps to save lives!



Tips for Adding Holistic Nursing Techniques to Your Practice

Holistic nursing is defined as “all nursing practice that has healing the whole person as it’s goal (American Holistic Nurses Association, 1998).”  The holistic nurse uses his or her skills and knowledge to nurture the patient’s wholeness, peace, and healing. The whole person is taken into consideration during each phase of the nursing process. Members of the American Holistic Nurses Association use one or more complementary, alternative, or integrative treatments. Here are five approaches you can use on yourself or with your patients to promote healing.

  1. Meditation. This is a great relaxation tool for emotional well-being. At the workplace, you can meditate anywhere that you can find a quiet space–in the break room, outside during a short walk, or in your car before or after your shift (Schroeder, T., 2017). You can even encourage your patients to meditate to help reduce pain and anxiety.
  2. Therapeutic Touch. This technique was developed in the 1970s. It involves the manipulation of a person’s energy field between the practitioner and receiver. The Therapeutic Touch International Association defines it as “a holistic, evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being (TTIA, 2017).
  3. Aromatherapy. Nurses can use aromatherapy to bring comfort to their patients and reduce pain. Use a scent that has a positive emotion attached to it. Ask the patient what they would prefer and go from there. Practitioners can use essential oils with citrus, mint, woodsy, or floral scents. Different oils can be mixed together to create a unique blend (Guitierez, C., 2017).
  4. Deep Breathing. This can help to reduce stress in yourself and your patients. It’s easy for everyone to do, as long as you can breath! Take deep breaths from your diaphragm, pushing out your belly with each breath. Once you have mastered diaphragmatic breathing, try some other techniques such as 4-7-8 Breathing, Roll Breathing, and Morning Breathing.
  5. Supplements and/or Probiotics. As a nurse, we can recommend certain supplements to our patients such as fish oil, and other vitamins and minerals. I also recommend a probiotic for patients after they have been on antibiotics. The easiest one to get is some yogurt, if they don’t want to spend a lot of money. Always remind your patients to be mindful of drug interactions if they are on any other medications.

These are some recommendations and of course there are many more. Let me know what you have tried in the comment section!


Gutierrez, C. (2017, June). Holistic Nursing: Engaging the Five Senses for Emotional Health (AHNA). Beginnings, 37(3) 6-7, 24-25.

Schroeder, T. (2017, June). Meditation for emotional well-being. American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA). Beginnings; 37(3), 10-11.

Therapeutic Touch International Association,