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ElizabethScala1 BSN, MSN

psychiatry, community health, wellness
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ElizabethScala1 is a BSN, MSN and specializes in psychiatry, community health, wellness.

As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and Nurse's Week program host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. In her bestselling book, ‘Nursing from Within‘, Elizabeth supports nurses to make those inner shifts that are required to more fully enjoy our nursing careers.

ElizabethScala1's Latest Activity

  1. We already know that caring for patients comes with a tremendous amount of stress. Nurses are regularly charged to be the calm face in the room with patients, family members, and even doctors. Who among us hasn't had to remain steady and focused when faced with a daunting task or emergency event that would cause a non-nurse to curl up in a ball on the floor? So how do nurses remain that tower of strength in stressful situations? Is it built-up callousness because we've seen so much? Perhaps for some, but others may use something deeper, more meaningful so patients and family members feel they can put their faith in the nursing staff -- the staff who remain so strong when others feel their worlds crumbling down around them. From my own experience and that of nurse friends and colleagues, I've pulled together a list of tips and techniques for nurses to use in those moments where high anxiety may threaten our resolve, but where we must keep ourselves together. Call on your spirituality One of the strongest tools, no matter our belief system, is our spirituality. This belief that there is a force bigger than ourselves that connects us to our fellow humans can help us lower our stress levels in moments of great crisis in nursing. Our spirituality gives us hope, which we can then pass on to patients and family members through calming words and presence. Keep a talisman in your pocket One of my nurse friends had a "worry stone", a polished stone with a slight groove in the middle of it, that she holds in her hand when she has to have a difficult talk with a patient or family member. She says the cool, smooth surface of the stone helps ground her and no one ever sees how nervous she may be. Use essential oils In one Planetree Hospital where a nurse colleague works, the nurses use a few drops of lavender essential oil on cotton balls placed around the room instead of always using Ativan to calm patients. The same can work for nurses with a few drops of lavender on the inside of a scrub top or on a cotton ball pinned to the inside of the scrub. Body heat will naturally carry the scent upward. Any essential oil with a pleasing scent that calms can be used discreetly. There are also beautiful aromatherapy necklaces, bracelets and earrings that allow the scent to rise, but not mushroom around you so others will not inhale the fumes. Build your support team Have you ever worked with a fellow nurse who appeared not to have one friend on the nursing team? That's a tough way to practice nursing. Your support team will not only step in to help you with a patient when needed, but also be there to build you up and stay strong during stressful times. A cardiac care nurse I know says she thanks the heavens for her team when there is a code blue because she's nervous every time. She knows she can lock eyes with one of her nurse friends on the unit enabling her to keep herself together and focused during the code. Knowing which people are going to have your back, not simply to assist with tasks, but also give you that emotional support when needed, gives nurses a sense of security in knowing they are not alone. Focus on the joy and privilege of nursing This isn't always easy, especially when nurses are in an active code, in the middle of a surgery that's not going well, or in any other life and death situation, but focusing on the amazing privilege we have to affect someone's life... to touch so many lives in a meaningful and deep way, can help us call upon that part of us that patients and families look up to for help. Not everyone can do what we do. Not everyone has the dedication to learn ALL that we must learn AND keep learning in order to care for patients. Not everyone has the resolve to keep caring, day after day, year after year. But we have that. We have those incredible gifts. And they are not small gifts. Sometimes knowing how much we are needed and that we have these things to share with our fellow human beings that could change their world helps us build our own resolve in this incredibly stressful and rewarding career. Let's hear from you! What would you add to the list above? What's one thing you can share with everyone reading, as another tip for dealing with stressful situations? Leave your comment below, and as always, thanks for reading!
  2. ElizabethScala1

    Five Nursing Myths... Untruths Disproved

    Thank you for your comments. The point I was making was that nurses do SO MUCH MORE than the tasks that the general public or those not associated with nursing know about. When a person who is unfamiliar with nursing hears the term "nurse" they think that they do only those things and not others. Nurses do A LOT!! In and outside of the hospital setting. Thank you!
  3. ElizabethScala1

    Five Nursing Myths... Untruths Disproved

    Awesome! Way to hear of all of the variety you experienced. Thanks for reading and sharing!!
  4. ElizabethScala1

    Five Nursing Myths... Untruths Disproved

    Awesome, thanks for sharing that you do have a variety in your role as an APRN! And yes... This is definitely one of the BEST perks of being a nurse. So much opportunity! Thanks for reading.
  5. It is hard to believe that is has been two years since the 2015 Miss America scandal. If you are a nurse, you know the one. Daytime television hosts from the show, 'The View', mocked Miss Colorado and the fact that she was wearing a stethoscope on stage. So, it was no surprise that after these comments were aired, nurses were in an uproar about the profession of nursing and the value nurses bring to healthcare. In fact, nurses across the country came together in an unprecedented way. The#NursesUnite hashtag blew up on social media and nurses from all over shared photos of themselves, proudly wearing the stethoscope at work. And even though I felt so inspired by my nursing colleagues, I wondered... are we leaving something out? Yes, nurses do wear stethoscopes at work. But not all of us do. You see, nurses are found in places beyond hospital walls. Nurses work at jobs outside of the doctor's office. Nurses are involved with more than reading orders and passing meds. So let us remember that there is so much more to nursing. And when we are out in the public, talking about what a nurse does... let's be mindful of the myths about nursing. Speak up to squash these false perceptions! Here are 5 Myths about Nursing We Can Educate the Public On Nurses only work in hospitals, emptying bedpans and following doctors' orders As we know, this is not true at all. Nurses are business owners, researchers, speakers, and authors. Nurses can work in prisons, schools, religious institutions, and any branch of the military. Nurses can own nonprofits, volunteer on voyages abroad, work with computers, and even patent medical devices. Nurses are everywhere! Nurses are people who were not smart enough to become doctors As we know, this is totally false! In fact, many of the nurses that I have interviewed on the Your Next Shift Nursing Career podcast, tell me that they actually did consider medical school. And guess what? It was not the training required or the educational milestones that turned them away. It was the fact that they chose nursing because they saw it as a career that would allow them to do MORE for their patient. They felt that by becoming a nurse, and not a doctor, they would actually get to impact patient lives on a much larger scale. Nurses are tired, unhealthy, stressed out people No way! I see more and more nurse coaches, nurse fitness instructors, and nurses who are yoga teachers than ever before. Nurses are online teaching the public the importance of healthy eating. Nurses lead meditation classes and teach mindfulness workshops. In fact, organizations are starting to hire nurses (both in healthcare and non-healthcare settings) to help their employees be happy and healthy too! Nurses do not have emotions and can handle it all While a nurse is a very resilient being, they too feel things. When a patient dies, a nurse may mourn. When a new life is born, a nurse might see it as the most beautiful thing on earth. A nurse has feelings and needs downtime to recharge. In fact, recent studies on compassion fatigue and secondary trauma syndrome tell us that, like 'non-nurse' people, a nurse needs time to process what they are seeing at work and deal with their emotions. Nurses have feelings too! Nurses wear scrubs Sure, nurses who work in certain patient care settings will wear scrub uniforms. And you will also see a nurse wearing a lab coat. In fact, if you are treated by an Advanced Practice Nurse, such as a Nurse Practitioner, they may wear professional clothes with a white lab coat (just like a doctor may). So be careful when judging a book by its cover and stop with the Halloween nursing costumes. Nurses do not look like that! Have you ever heard of a myth about nursing that was not true? What did you do to educate the public on the profession of nursing?
  6. ElizabethScala1

    5 Tips to Halt Nurse Burnout in Its Tracks

    Great point!! Thanks for adding this to the discussion.
  7. ElizabethScala1

    5 Tips to Halt Nurse Burnout in Its Tracks

    Sure, normal stress reactions are just that... normal stress. However, when you get beyond what is normal (like a downward spiral into a quicksand type feeling of not getting out of it), then we are in trouble. There is "normal" stress. And there is burnout. Both are real. Just not the same thing.
  8. ElizabethScala1

    5 Tips to Halt Nurse Burnout in Its Tracks

    Glad to hear that it helped a lot!! What would you like to be doing next in nursing?
  9. As nurses, we know that nurse burnout pervades the profession. Insufficient staffing, long work hours, phone calls to come in to work on your days off, and a growing nursing shortage all contribute to nurse burnout. Sounds ominus, doesn't it? So given the cards that are stacked against nurses, is it inevitable for every nurse to suffer from nurse burnout in their career? Below are some tips and tricks to halt nurse burnout in its tracks before it gets a firm hold on you! Stop with the Brave Face and Admit There is Something Wrong When nurses are on the job, we put others' needs before our own; frequently not even stopping to go to the bathroom. But when we constantly push down our needs for a break or won't admit to ourselves (or others) that we're overworked and overstressed, we're setting ourselves up for failure. Nurses in direct patient care face tough jobs at the bedside. Stretched thin through insufficient staffing, nurse-to-patient ratios that are unsafe, patients with so many co-morbidities that it's impossible to address them all -- nurses' stress levels don't just put nurses' mental and physical health at risk, they also put the patient at risk. The most effective way to deal with burnout before it becomes a problem is to talk to someone. The department manager or nurse supervisor is the first stop. Yes, they have heard complaints about nurse staffing before, but management can't help a nurse suffering from burnout unless it's known to them. Every facility handles nurse burnout differently, and some, unfortunately still have no programs in place to help alleviate the burnout problem. The first step in addressing the problem, in any case, is to speak up. Second Line of Defense: Relationships with Coworkers In the event that a facility lacks a program, plan, or resources to alleviate nurse burnout, the relationships that nurses have with their co-workers can often relieve some of the more detrimental effects of nurse burnout. A nurse friend of mine never dreamed she'd ever been a person that fished (yes, I mean with a fishing pole and a tackle box), but after learning that so many of her coworkers got together on off days to go fishing and raved about how much of a stress reliever it was, she decided to give it a try. She said that dark cloud she felt constantly hanging over her head at work was suddenly not so dark after all. All the normal work stressors were still there, short staffing, sicker patients, but she didn't feel they weighed so heavily on her because she felt closer to her co-workers. She felt there were people who had her back. Engage in mindfulness and take a pause When work and life in general becomes too stressful and nurses know they are burned out, it is time to take a pause and look at the big picture. Quiet time -- when there is no "mind" noise from technology, family, patients, but just time to breathe in and out and be quiet -- creates a space to be able to see problems, possible solutions and even long-held desires for the nursing career you'd dreamed of having. It may take some practice to see what you wanted when you began your nursing career and what you need to do in order to get it back on track. Approach the situation looking for possibilities. The path to get to the goal(s) may be reveal itself in time, or you may know immediately the steps to take to get there. Let go of what no longer serves If you've been a night shift nurse your entire career and now you need to transfer to the day shift, ask to be switched. If you've had your fill of your nursing specialty and think a change may refresh you, check the job board at your facility. If your normal stress relieving activities are no longer working, try new tactics. Even simply taking up a new hobby or sport can refresh your mind and stop the overwhelm from overtaking you. In the same vein, if you haven't had made time to engage in your favorite hobbies or activities, schedule them on your calendar like an appointment. And then, keep the appointment. You'd do it if it were a doctor appointment or one with your child's school, right? Give appointments with yourself the same respect and reverence. Watch ants I don't mean that you have to literally watch ants, just observe nature. Whether it's watching ants build an anthill -- something you may have done as a child -- or a spider build a web, or simply noticing the different shapes clouds make. When you're observing this amazing planet, it's tough to think about all the stressors at work. Taking a few minutes or hours in nature helps us slow down the world a bit and take a look around. I'll bet there may be a few places that you used to go and enjoy spending time in that you haven't seen for a while. Could you schedule a date on your calendar to revisit one? Take a friend or loved one who has never been there and make a new memory. Sometimes in all the stress swirling around us, we forget to notice some things that have been missing for a while. Reconnecting with nature or a favorite place helps us fortify ourselves against burnout and as stated above, helps stop it in its tracks. OK, so what did we miss? If you were talking to a nurse who was looking for answers on how to deal with stress what would you tell them? What are some other ways to cope with and shift nurse burnout?
  10. ElizabethScala1

    3 Steps to Connecting with Patients

    Asking the patient a question that is related to recent history is a great idea. Thank you for sharing that with us here!!
  11. ElizabethScala1

    3 Steps to Connecting with Patients

    Great to hear this! Thanks for sharing your specific examples with us. I especially enjoyed the IV start. That is SO TRUE! When we focus on one thing and do not let ourselves become distracted by what is next- we are more likely to get it done (and done right) the first time!!
  12. ElizabethScala1

    3 Steps to Connecting with Patients

    Distractions abound on every nursing shift. Nurses are constantly pushed and pulled in every direction with numerous interruptions. Call lights, doctors' questions, new orders, phone calls, colleagues needing help, patient family members... the list is endless. And every once in awhile, we get a moment -- maybe a magical moment? -- to connect with our patients. Really connect. But do we have the energy? Or even remember how? Given the swirl of activity in direct patient care, it is easy to miss the moments when a patient wants or needs a deeper connection to their caregiver. Signs, unless overt, are often overlooked when we've got our minds on everything going on both inside and outside the patient's room. If nurses can slow their minds down in the moment when they approach a patient for the first time, and remember connection first, questions second, we have a greater chance of making that deeper connection to a patient. This practice not only builds trust between the patient and nurse, it also works to reduce on-the-job stress for nurses who think they have little time for patients because of all the required behind-the-scenes work. One Deep Breath One nurse I know closes her eyes for a brief second and takes a deep breath before entering a patient's room for the first time. Working on a critical care unit, she says it helps prepare her for the care this patient population demands. The one deep breath practice is a great tool to center yourself before any situation that requires you to be fully focused and allows you that moment to connect with yourself before trying to connect with another person. Eye Contact This seems a rather simplistic tip to creating a connection, but people -- not just patients -- feel honored when you look them in the eyes when you first meet. Nurses should introduce themselves when meeting a patient for the first time and look the patient in the eyes when doing so. How many of us walk into a room, glance at the patient, say our names and then begin writing on the dry erase board with our backs to the patient as we launch into our litany of questions? How many can raise our hands to that one? No judgment here. My hand is in the air as well. Would you want any meeting with anyone caring for you to start this way? Think of going to a new doctor or even sitting in a bank manager's office for the first time. Would you feel confident that the person was going to have your best interests at heart, if this was your first impression of them? Your discomfort might be abated in the next few minutes, but already the seed of doubt is planted. It will be easier to find fault with the care, and you will repeat your first impression to others should anything go wrong. It doesn't take 30 seconds to walk over to a patient's bedside, look them in the eyes, and introduce yourself before starting that writing. Empathy Laying a trusting foundation makes segueing into the last step of connection building so much easier. We can demonstrate empathy through our common experiences, knowledge, humor, and even shared interests. Empathy not only strengthens the bond between patient and caregiver, it also improves outcomes for the patient. Some may lament it's all about the Press Ganey scores. Well, yes, that's part of it, but focusing on the patient and building that connection makes caregiving a better experience for both patient and nurse. One nurse I knew said she preferred working nights even though it wreaked havoc on her melatonin levels because she had more time to make a connection to her patients. She said she heard more "stories" on the night shift than she ever had time for on dayshift and that building that connection, she felt, kept patients off their call lights and built assurances that she'd be back to check on them. This is not to say that it is not possible to build a connection on any other shift, it is simply what worked for her.
  13. Totally true! You do not have to leave nursing altogether. The opportunities are endless. I showcase all that nurses do by interviewing a variety of nurses on the Your Next Shift podcast Your Next Shift: A Nursing Career Podcast | Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN | Keynote Speaker | Bestselling Author | Nurse's Week Art of Nursing Host The show shows that nurses have SO MANY possibilities once they have that degree. My goodness... we have had nurse actors, nurse writers, nurses in academia, nurses in research, nurses in tech.... The list goes ON and on!! Great point, thank you for speaking to this!
  14. ElizabethScala1

    Finding the Time for Self-Care

    Wonderful to hear!!
  15. ElizabethScala1

    Critical issues Nurses face today?

    WOW! What a great post. You have covered many of the issues that get in the way of practicing the "art" of nursing. While the science moves full speed ahead (and gladly so, as the tech really does help improve quality of care and impacts safety... when done properly, right?)... The Art of nursing lags behind. We feel that we are unable to connect with patients. We wonder if we really made a difference or had an impact. We question the value or meaning of our work. All of this leads to burnout. Which is more than "just feeling tired after a long day". I am so glad that you brought up these critical issues. I would also add that lack of time for patients and for self is something that nurses struggle with each day. Awesome, awesome job!!!
  16. ElizabethScala1

    The Importance of Networking as a Nurse

    This is a GREAT point! I have seen this happen in my own and in others careers. Thank you for bringing this up in the conversation. Excellent insights!

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