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Maureen Bonatch MSN BSN, MSN, RN

Leadership | Psychiatric Nursing | Education

Maureen Bonatch MSN, RN is a freelance healthcare writer with nursing experience focused on leadership, psychiatric nursing, private duty home care management.

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Maureen Bonatch MSN has 21 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in Leadership | Psychiatric Nursing | Education.

Her involvement in various projects and trainings combined with her strong support of such efforts were instrumental in assisting her agency in acquiring a commendation for recruitment and retention efforts. Maureen served as a mentor for nursing graduate students and as an instructor for Nursing Community Health Theory. During her work in psychiatric nursing, she acquired her certification as a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse and provided patient education for Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and instructed staff on Comprehensive Crisis Management training. Maureen began her healthcare career working in women's healthcare providing counseling for contraceptives, pregnancy and community outreach while she acquired her BSN. Maureen is also a multi-published paranormal and fantasy fiction author. She is the owner of websites MaureenBonatch.com and CharmedType.com.

Maureen Bonatch MSN's Latest Activity

  1. Thank you for trying to get the P TSD at there.  I sent everyone I know met a message to pass this along to every  Nurse or clinician they know, Especially those in the 4 areas I'see have the highest rate. 

    It is  too late for me.  I had never heard of it and I am guessing most my psychiatrist's never heard of it and I know management I never heard of it.   I sucked it up for 6 years until I had a mental breakdown. It is no longer about saving my job, was about my life.  While it's true I was rail roaded  out or than the United States I have ever seen.  I can't believe 18 years as a Hospice RN or perfect record at this company had no bearing on their decision.  Over the years I have been selected to  Personally care for it the CEOSs parents. They were neither lived  near the  area I was and I was not a case manager.  They wanted  me then. Because I had such a good record and for the most part, I could put on a mask and play my old self. I had one complaint, I did not admit a family because  our me. Director agreed they did not meet criteria. But he was violent and the family needed help

     It was no big deal. However, hen the people I'n management who knew me rapidly retired . Soon we had a new unit director and supervisor , very quickly I over heard  Them talking one night. Basically  We're going to use any use they could find to get me out of the department.

     I was getting a little help from a shrink. He had recently added Traumatic to my diagnosis. I was Already waking each night around 2 or 3 o'clock in a panic. When I found out they were after me and I already doubted I had the ability to go to any department besides home health, And they were over that to . I knew my days are numbered. I didn't know what was wrong with me I couldn't watch TV anymore because there is always something that remind me of things are movies. I Started keeping a bottle schnapps beside the bed. I had not drank and over 20 something years since college. Interestingly, I didn't have any of after I got fired or lost my licence. I had used the wrong calculator online to be safe by my shift. It was to avoid a DUI. Or Below .0.8. I asked for a union rep. I was given 30 min and zero help nor allowed to leave and get help. I had never been in trouble, I did not know how. I had one nu.ber and no one answered. Saying I would be terminated if I did not. I did blew 0.03. The woman had a chart it said unencumbered.  I was put on adm leave. I had already been barely holding on. I became lethargic . The new shrink.put me on disability for 6 weeks and finally told me what it was. He sent another letter to extend it 6 months if they were unable to accommodate my disability In a department away from cancer and death. 8 weeks into it i was told to come in to talk about the accomidation,  .they knew the union rep was unavailable. We all had memos for that week. I was told no rep was needed. I protested, but they were holding my check. It was an ambush. I had to leave by resigning or being fired. It was insinuated the board would not be notified if I resigned so I could get another job. I found out it had been done long before. I resigned the union said that was it. As soon as I say alcohol lawyer say bye. I never drank. I would not have, bit I was a shadow of myself. TE


    TELL OTHERSI will do everything I can





  2. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    How Technology Use Can Impact Our Health

    Technology has become immersed in most areas of our life, and that of our patients. This can make some tasks easier, but it can also have negative implications when you can’t, or don’t want to, step away from the screen. Although there are many positive benefits to the use of technology, ongoing use, and spending an extended time staring at a computer or phone screen, can have negative effects. Often it may be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate the extent of use of technology since many daily tasks, and more positions, require the use of technology. Increasing awareness of how ongoing use of technology can impact our lives, and our patients, can assist in reducing exacerbation of some ailments, or offer a chance to suggest modifications, or provide preventative education. Physical Effects Vision Extended time spent staring at a computer or phone screen can result in eye strain, blurred vision, or dry eyes. Some methods to alleviate discomfort include: Keep eye drops on hand, rest your eyes for brief intervals—and don’t forget to blink Ensure that lighting is adequate and intermittently change the distance you’re focusing on Increase the text size on your screen Pain and Strain If you’re working on a laptop, be sure to put it at the correct height. Avoid looking down at the screen and putting additional strain on your neck or shoulders or this may contribute to discomfort, or tension headaches. Other things to consider include: Try not to hold your cell phone in an awkward angle between head and neck Evaluate your workspace and desk for proper ergonomics Be mindful of the risk of repetitive strain injury from typing, clicking the mouse, or staring at the computer screen Inactivity The risks associated with too much sitting has prompted more people to invest in standing desks. Most nurses encourage patients to exercise more to decrease risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, so this can support patient education. A few ways to reduce the time sitting, and increase exercise, include: Set a timer, fitness app, or watch, as a reminder to take a break, or to stand and walk around Park farther away from your destination, or take the stairs when you can Stand when you have the opportunity, or walk around your office while taking a phone call Hearing Headphones and ear buds provide a convenient way to listen to music or audiobooks, catch up on podcasts, or have a private conversation. Ongoing exposure to loud volumes can result in hearing loss or tinnitus, so a few ways to protect your hearing include: Turn down the volume Limit the length of time of use Put it on speakerphone Social Effects Some people’s fear of missing out has left them unable to unplug, or tune out the need to constantly check their screen for updates. It may also lead to feelings of inferiority, or social isolation from relying on cyber friendships. Technology has made it possible to stay connected with distant family, provide telehealth for patients in rural areas, and offer convenient access to information. It’s also made us become more impatient, desire immediate gratification, and become more easily distracted. Too much multitasking has left many unable to focus, or it may reduce our productivity instead of improving upon it. A few ways to practice, and educate, on creating better technology habits include: Reduce overall screen time by prioritizing notifications, or set designated times to check emails, and social media Set automatic messages to discourage distracted driving, or interrupting sleep Turn off reminders for incoming messages to increase the ability to focus Set parental controls on phones, and check them periodically, for cyber bullying, inappropriate content, or other risks Remember that the social media presence others create isn’t always accurate to reduce feelings of jealousy or inadequacy, or create a gratitude journal to outline positive aspects in life Creating a Balance Technology has many positive benefits. It’s provided us with methods to provide less invasive healthcare, expand treatment options, and increase opportunities for long-term health. It’s also offered convenience in our personal and professional life for scheduling appointments, gaining information, and reducing tedious tasks. Most of us aren’t going to eliminate the use of technology. The key is to develop a balance of technology use with our life, and increase awareness of the potential negative effects for ourselves, and our patients, and then work to reduce them. How Do You Balance Your Technology Use?
  3. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Make a Not to Do List

    Many of us spend the day counting the hours until our shift is done, or until we have a day off to focus on our personal To-Do List. But once this long-awaited time arrives, often it’s never enough. We may spend most of our spare time crossing off the things that we need to do, leaving little time for what we want to do. Often there’s no better feeling than accomplishing everything on your To Do List, although sometimes that list seems never-ending. What if that list was shorter, making it easier to reach those goals? What if we narrowed down our To Do List by focusing on what not to do? Then perhaps instead of being controlled by what we feel we have to do, we can spend more of our free time doing what we want to do. Reevaluate Your To Do List There’s no doubt that there are many tedious tasks that we have to do each day, but often many that populate our list, or our minds, are things that may not merit the guilt accompanying them. What might have been good a few years ago, might not meet your needs today. We may spend so much time doing what we feel we have to do that we no longer know what we want to do. The life you live today isn’t the same as the one you lived a few years ago, or even last year. Our needs and wants evolve with the passing of time, but often we don’t reevaluate if there are things we can remove from our homes, or our thoughts. Minimizing, decluttering, and organizing our material possessions has gotten a lot of focus lately. Some even say that decreasing the things in our physical space can help us find more happiness and peace in our thoughts. Make a Not To Do List There are tasks that take up our time, energy, and finances, that may begin to feel more tedious and not worthy of our time and energy. Focus on one or two tasks, or items at a time and consider, how much do I care about this? Prioritize your time for what’s important to do today, what can wait until later, and eliminate those things that may not be worth your time. I’m Not Going to ... Keep that subscription to that magazine or blog I no longer read, or pay the membership fee for an organization I no longer have the time, or the desire, to participate in. Purge your home and the guilt of things that are no longer important to your life today. Move those clothes around that I keep thinking will come back in style, or that I’ll lose 10 pounds so they’ll fit better. Reduce the time spent sorting through your closet and make it easier to find the items you love to wear. Stare at the overflowing inbox and instead start deleting or unsubscribing the unnecessary, or endless, emails vying for your attention. If you don’t want to unsubscribe, many offer the option of reducing the frequency. Check my email every five minutes. Plan certain times during the day for email and social media so it doesn’t overtake your day. Set your phone down so you can be fully present. Be distracted or annoyed by spam phone calls, or feel the need to respond immediately to texts and social media. Instead block spam numbers, let them leave a message, or change the settings for times you don’t want disturbed. Say yes to get-togethers, meetings, and clubs that I really don’t have the time, or desire to participate in. Decline early, and politely, so guilt doesn’t weigh on you or result in you backing out at the last minute. Neglect to ask for help. Someone in your family, or professional life, might be willing to assist with, or do some tasks more efficiently. The Gift of Time Most nurses realize the value of each minute. Whether we’ve learned that from the demands on our time, or our patients who say they wish they’d spent their time in a different way. Make the space and time for what’s most important in life. Don’t let the tedious tasks on your To Do List take up all your time and prevent you from getting to the things you really want to do because there’s too much you have to do. What we don’t do might just provide more time for what we want to do.
  4. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    What Advice Would You Give to Future Nurses?

    Thank you! Hoosier- It is such a careful balance to provide realistic, practical advice, even if doesn't always want to be heard.
  5. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    What Advice Would You Give to Future Nurses?

    The news is often overflowing with articles about nurse burnout, bullying, staff shortages, and questionable compensation. You may have experienced some, or all, of these issues yourself during your nursing career. Maybe enough to make you wonder why you went into nursing in the first place. This may make it difficult to come up with a positive response when someone asks you, “Do you think I should go into nursing?” The issues of inadequate staffing and the significant number of nurses reaching retirement age are a common concern of the nurses today. A continuing influx of nurses into the profession is required to help reduce these staffing issues. Although with a significant number of nurses leaving the profession, it can be helpful to provide advice that is more practical, rather than personal, for someone considering a career in nursing. Don’t Be a Dream Crusher Complaining comes as a natural response to most people, some so much that it’s become a habit. We might not think twice about unburdening all the unsavory things about being a nurse on a willing listener to feel validated. Even if your complaints are justified, this can paint a negative image of the nursing profession. It may potentially deter future nurses before they determine if nursing is a good career choice. Even if it feels like the bad aspects of the job are outweighing the good, consider that the positive benefits of nursing are probably what led you to the profession, and made you stay. Provide Practical Advice The profession of nursing continues to be an attractive, growing, career option. One that’s held in high regard and respect by many who consider it the most honest and ethical profession. With an awareness of the challenges that can accompany a nursing career, explain what you feel might be a few key characteristics of a good nurse. That way they can determine if a nursing career would work well for them based on their career goals, personal strengths, weaknesses and their personal life. What Are Some Characteristics of a Good Nurse? Flexibility: Nurses work holidays, weekends and with varying schedules. Sometimes there may be several different shifts in one week or extended hours during one day. Empathy: Nurses must draw upon empathy when caring for patients at their most vulnerable times, or dealing with the challenges of patients that have different views, beliefs or are just difficult to care for. Compassion- Providing compassionate care is at the heart of nursing, no matter what the specialty. Physical endurance- Long shifts spent on your feet providing physical care for patients can take a physical toll, so recommend that they consider their personal tolerance and physical limitations. Attention to detail- Accurate documentation and having a discerning eye to notice changes in patient conditions is essential to provide quality patient care. Excellent Communicator- Nurses work with an increasing variety of disciplines, cultures, and in diverse environments. This requires strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills. Lifelong learner- Healthcare is continuously changing through the use of technology. This increases demands on nurses to continue learning to keep their skills relevant. Emotional stability- The demands of nursing can be stressful, so positive coping mechanisms, prioritizing self-care, and the ability to recognize and address signs of burnout are important. Organized- Stellar organization skills are helpful to juggle the varied demands of a nurse’s usual day and provide quality patient care. See for Themselves These key characteristics are shared by many nurses, although each specialty, and different nursing environments, can come with their own positive and negative attributes. It may be challenging to adequately describe a day in the life of a nurse to ensure a future nurse is entering the profession without blinders. A deeper look into the reality of nursing could be achieved for someone who is uncertain if nursing is the right career choice. What are Some Ways We Can Encourage a Future Nurse? Take an online course Shadow a nurse to observe a usual day Become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) to experience providing direct patient care Obtain work in an entry-level job in a healthcare environment Share Your Wisdom The nursing profession isn’t for everyone, and ultimately the decision is an individual one, but you can help a potential nurse to make the best decision about their career. Instead of chipping away at the fresh face full of idealistic hopes and dreams, allow their enthusiasm. It just might help you remember why you chose nursing in the first place. What Advice Would You Give to a Future Nurse?
  6. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    What’s Love Got to Do With It?

    Nurses are often the healthcare professional patients turn to when they’re vulnerable. As the most trusted profession, our patients may confide information during routine care that they wouldn’t normally share. Sometimes vague or questionable information about relationships may be concerning, and raise questions as to whether emotional or physical abuse is occurring. The way we respond to the patient may determine whether they feel validated, or persist in seeking help. Emotional abuse may be challenging to define, since the signs may be subtle, or absent. Nurses are in a unique position to provide education on early interventions, prevention, and health promotion. Adequate communication, and developing an awareness of signs of emotional abuse, may provide an opportunity to offer guidance and education. Emotional Abuse Most of us have been in arguments, or yelled at someone we care about. Often we regret it and apologize later, and sometimes we don’t. These occasional outbursts are normal expressions of emotions. But if yelling or hysterical screaming is the first, and only response, that may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Emotional abuse is an attempt to control the other in a relationship. Often the perpetrator doesn't even realize they’re being emotionally abusive. They may feel insecure and blame the other for their unhappiness, or think they know what’s best. A few potential signs of emotional abuse include when one person in a relationship tends to: Respond with criticism Attempt to isolate the victim from family and friends Make unfounded accusations Constantly check on their partner’s whereabouts Review their phone, email, and computer history Accuse and place blame for their problems Humiliate with name calling, and other methods to belittle or embarrass Gaslighting Another form of emotional abuse is known as gaslighting. This manipulation tactic to gain power in a relationship makes the victim question their reality. It can occur in a relationship, the workplace, and has been used by abusers and cult leaders. Gaslighting is done slowly so it wears the victim down until they begin to doubt themselves, lose confidence and their own sense of identity. Even if the perpetrator tells lies to distract from their behavior, and deny what the victim knows is the truth, they may be begin to doubt their perception of reality. Codependency Codependency can affect the ability to have a healthy relationship. These relationships are often one-sided and emotionally destructive or abusive. Initially this term was used to describe relationships that involved alcohol or drug dependence, but it has since expanded to include relationships with someone who is mentally ill, or from a dysfunctional family. The victim may neglect their own needs, and their family and friends to support their abuser. This unhealthy behavior has become their normal. They may not know how to respond in any other way. Despite their unhappiness, often they feel guilty, and as if they’re to blame. Look for Subtle Signs We may need to confront their own fears, values, attitude and beliefs about abuse to educate themselves about signs of emotional abuse. Personal experiences and cultural upbringings may cause us to overlook the signs, or question why the patient hasn’t taken the steps to end or leave an emotionally abusive relationship. Relationships are stressful and often the victim invests significant energy into preventing the next emotionally abusive episode. They may not want the relationship to end, but want the emotionally abusive behavior to stop. Nurses can look for subtle physical signs that don’t have an identifiable underlying cause such as stress-related health issues such as digestive issues, headaches, or being evasive to the cause of an injury. Try to communicate with the patient alone in a safe, quiet setting and avoid undermining or judging the victim. Safety First Nurses play a role in identifying, and reporting, signs of domestic violence, now often referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV). Even though the majority of victims are women, men can suffer emotional or physical violence as well. Appearances shouldn’t be judged as to who seems more physically intimidating in the relationship and who might be at risk. Encourage patients who you fear might be in an unhealthy relationship to devise a safety plan if they don’t intend to leave, or a code word for family and friends to indicate they’re in trouble. Provide available hotlines and other resources so they realize that there’s help available. Increase Awareness Often patients who may suffer from emotional or physical abuse don’t ask for help, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer it. Acquiring ongoing education can help increase the awareness of emotional abuse, and the ability to identify the signs of an unhealthy relationship and how to help these patients.
  7. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Stop Putting Your Life on Hold

    Thank you for sharing! This is wonderful how you've invested in yourself.
  8. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Stop Putting Your Life on Hold

    Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow, or next month, or next year, or … Maybe never. Nurses are busy. As caregivers, we tend to put other’s needs in front of our own. We strive to do as much as we can, for as many people as possible, in the least amount of time. This can lead to missing breaks, staying for a second shift, or not taking that class we were thinking about. We might feel like we don’t have time to add one more thing, or we’re too tired to spend our personal time the way we’d planned. After a while, the tendency to put things important to us off until another day may become reflexive, and this behavior can leak into our personal life. When we keep putting our life on hold it could eventually affect our physical and mental health if we deprive ourselves of meeting our needs. Why Not Me, Why Not Now? I’ll Be Happy When… Why do we wait for happiness? Sometimes we associate a new job, finishing a class, losing weight, or a specific day of the week, as what’s standing in the way of happiness. But often once we reach that desired destination, we realize that it wasn’t the barrier. Or we discover that there’s something else we believe we should accomplish first before we can be happy. If we continue with this pattern of putting our happiness on hold, dissatisfaction may become our default emotion. I’ll Do That When I Have Time to… So far no one has had any more luck coercing Father Time to slow down than they have had in fooling Mother Nature. As much as we try, we all have the same 24 hours each day. The key is dividing up and prioritizing how we want to spend this time. If we feel as if we have no time to do what we want, or what we enjoy, it can take an emotional toll. Make living life now a priority, instead of waiting to enjoy life. They’ll Be Upset If I Don’t… Sometimes it’s difficult to say no when helping others can feel satisfying. It can provide us with a sense of pride and purpose. But if we spend too much time giving to others and neglecting ourselves it can build resentment. We can still be helpful to others, although if we always say, yes, and never say, no, we might never have any space on our calendar for ourselves. Time to Let It Go We’re allowed to change. What worked at one stage of our life might not bring us joy in another. There are many things that occur in our lives that can cause us to shift our schedule, or our priorities, or to put goals on hold. They could be related to different stages of our career, our life, or those of our family, that require our attention. Although the years may pass, and things may change, sometimes we’re left with the mindset from a different time of our life. It might be time to let go of obligations that don’t fit what we want out of our life now. If we do a self-assessment, we might determine that we might be compromising aspects of our self-care. This could result in us pushing our bodies harder than we should to meet what we feel are our obligations day after day. We should be able to shift our perspective to feel joy, instead of guilt, when we reach for what we want instead of putting our needs on hold. Self-Care Isn’t Selfish It might feel as if we’re being selfish in making ourselves, and our lives, a priority. As nurses, we educate our clients about taking care of themselves with proper sleep and nutrition for better overall health and well-being, but we don’t always listen to our own advice. We know that listening to our body can help more than just us. When we work to meet our needs first, and our goals, we shouldn’t think of it as being selfish. It can help us be more productive, to be able to give more to others, and care for our patients easier. Self-care should extend to examining the goals we’ve put on hold for our personal and professional life. Even starting with small steps toward bigger goals and dreams can help refresh our mindset and help us remember what’s important. Gain a Positive Return on Investing in Yourself Don’t put your personal wellbeing on the back burner by always saying yes to things you don’t want to do, or that don’t serve you purposefully, or that take time away from meeting your goals. You might find a much more positive return on investing in yourself. What Have You Put on Hold in Your Life?
  9. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Make These Resolutions Anytime of the Year

    The New Year’s Eve ball drop starting the year may already feel like a distant memory, and many of us have already dropped the ball on our New Year’s resolutions. This occurs so frequently that January 17th has been dubbed as, Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day. There’s no reason to be hard on yourself if your resolution didn’t stick. Just because January 1st feels like a clean slate, you don’t have to wait another year to begin to make positive changes. We tend to wait for a new month, a new week, or a new year, to make a change, when we can resolve to make changes anytime of the year. Focus on Making Small Changes Change is hard. It can take 21 days to, break, or form a habit, and many claim that it takes even longer. The changes we wish to make are usually big ones. Things we think that will bring happiness once accomplished. Perhaps we should focus on creating new habits, instead of breaking old ones. If we start making little changes with ourselves, and the people closest to us, positive changes may follow if we resolve to: Reconnect You’re busy. Before you know it, you’ve lost touch with friends you vowed to get together with once a month. Or you discover you haven’t talked to some of your family since the last holiday. Don’t wait for the next high school reunion, holiday, or tragic event, to get together with friends and family. Sometimes just picking up the phone to talk to a friend or family member, can shine a joyful light on a routine day. Social media makes it easier to reconnect. Although the ease of social media can work against nurturing relationships. People may feel like they can be less personal, and not bother to text or call when they can post on social media. Then when you are together, it can invade that time. Try to focus on being together instead of virtually living life on social media. Apologize Perhaps there’s someone in your life you’ve become estranged from, and by now the reason for the disagreement may seem ridiculous, or you’ve forgotten what lead to the hard feelings. It may feel like too much time has passed to apologize. Usually it hasn’t. Consider whether that difference of opinion is worth not having that person in your life. Decide how much you value that relationship. If there were more positive memories than negative, perhaps it’s time to extend that olive branch of forgiveness. It may be worth agreeing to disagree, or tolerating a conflicting opinion, to have the relief of releasing those ill feelings. Approaching that person may be easier than you thought, and they may be grateful you took the first step. If they remain bitter, it may enable you to move on and not be burdened with regret of not trying to mend that rift. Go Back to School You may have hobbies or dreams you’ve put on hold, but even if years have passed, there’s no reason why you can’t pursue those now. Learning something new may help you improve your career, or your outlook, as you find a healthy way to relieve stress or explore untapped talents. Your school days may be behind you, but if you’re feeling stagnant in your job, or your life, taking a class might reinvigorate a zest for life. These classes may be relevant to improving your career, or it may be taking dance lessons, or pursuing interests you’ve always wished you explored. Change Jobs If you spend your time counting the hours until you’re off work, or the days until your next vacation, or holiday, perhaps it’s time to consider changing jobs. January is the most popular month to change jobs, but if you’re bored, or frustrated, with your work environment, or looking for a new challenge, no particular month will help you make this decision. There are plenty of nursing jobs available, but don’t grab the first one that comes along, or you might end up in a different job but stuck in the same unhappy situation. Take the time to examine the cause of your unhappiness. If you’re unsure if a job change is what you’re looking for, seek out a mentor, or shadow a nurse on another unit, to uncover what sparked joy for the nursing profession in the first place and determine what job might reignite that flame. Don’t Wait for a New Year January 1st might seem like the best time to make resolutions for positive changes, but it’s only one day, and one month, out of the entire year. Don’t give up on finding happiness in the everyday by waiting for another Monday, or another year, to roll around. You can resolve to make positive changes anytime of the year.
  10. Maybe you’ve been preparing for years for a leadership position through education and promotions, or perhaps the opportunity was thrust upon you. Regardless of the path you took to get here, you’re now in a nursing leadership position. Even if this position is within the organization you’ve worked within for years, your priorities have changed. In addition to being responsible to your patients, you’re now responsible for your employees, as well. Even if you know all the employees, and have worked beside them, they’ll have different expectations of you in your new role. Most leadership positions have tasks that require the skills of either a manager, a leader, or both. Only you can determine how to balance the key aspects of both roles and carve a successful path as a nurse leader. Manager versus Leader It’s not necessary to be assigned a leadership position to be a leader, and all nurse leaders aren’t successful in leading their employees. You can lead from wherever you are in the organization if you know how to project qualities and characteristics that inspire and influence others. Organizations need both managers and leaders. Both roles have different priorities, and sometimes you might need to combine the skills of each. You might be required to manage budgets, inventory, staffing, and quality improvement efforts, while a leader’s duties extend beyond required tasks. Leaders must consider their employees emotions, and recognize and respect them as individuals. To gain their trust and respect, leaders must ensure their employees feel appreciated, and that they believe their efforts make a difference in the organization. Qualities of a Good Leader Often nurses are promoted into leadership positions because they’re good clinicians, critical thinkers, or since they have the most experience. But perseverance doesn’t procure leadership skills, although that doesn’t mean you can’t work to acquire or enhance these skills. Consider what qualities you’ve sought, or admire, in a leader, and how you might work to develop, or model, those behaviors. A few desired qualities in a leader might include: Presenting as a role model in a professional, and ethical manner Being fair and consistent Taking responsibility, and being accountable for their own performance Keeping the bigger picture within view Displaying passion, vision, and focus A commitment to the organization, and their employees An empathetic and caring nature Excellent communication skills Seek a nurse mentor who will provide you with honest feedback to help you determine where you fall within this spectrum, and what skills you should strive to improve. Listen to their feedback with the understanding that acquiring a nurse leadership position is only the beginning, to succeed it’s important to continue with professional development and keep abreast on potential organizational challenges. Initial Efforts Reap Rewards Without the heart and soul of a leader, you can be in a leadership role but not be successful in leading. Inspired and motivated followers who support their leader are essential to accomplishing organizational goals. Whether you’re new to the organization or adjusting to a role in which you’re now supervising your coworkers and friends, taking the time to listen, rather than making assumptions on what you believe needs done, can assist in achieving success. Initially, most new leaders can benefit from spending more time listening, than delegating tasks and acting. Take advantage of the knowledge and expertise at your fingertips, and share your expectations, as well as clarify what your employees expect from you in this new role. A leader is one person, it requires communicating and collaborating with your team, and addressing individual concerns, to earn the respect and support essential to achieving success. Find Your Peers It can be lonely at the top when you realize that although you can still be friendly, and even friends with your employees, you have a new level of responsibility and often have access to confidential information that you can’t share. It’s helpful to develop a social network, and professional relationships, with other nurse leaders to reduce feelings of isolation. Broadening your network can allow you to establish mutually beneficial relationships in which you can share best practices, knowledge, and validate that you may face the same challenges. If you’re concerned about asking for advice, or sharing experiences, with local competitors, there may be opportunities to establish trustworthy relationships online where you’re not in direct competition. These can be acquired through professional networks, or on social networks such as LinkedIn. New Challenges and Rewards A new nurse leader can be presented with many challenges. But there are also opportunities to reap rewards and gain professional satisfaction from having the chance to make a difference in your organization, and for your employees.
  11. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Benefits of Networking in Your Personal Life

    The thought of networking makes many people cringe. It can evoke a vision of a room full of strangers with half trying to sell themselves, while the others try to find a good place to hide. Often, we don't think about the importance of networking until we're looking for a new job, need a reference or recommendation, or to gain professional connections. Perhaps developing a different view of networking that intertwines with our personal life could help increase our chances for career growth. What-or Who-You Know That coveted position, or the inside scoop about a new opportunity, is still often about who you know. Many positions are filled before they're advertised. To reduce the guesswork of sorting through resumes with comparable skills and uncertain work ethic, often a recommendation from a friend, or a co-worker, might prompt a manager to make that connection. That recommendation may never come if others aren't aware of what you do, or what you're looking for in a job. You don't have to be looking for a new position to discover exactly what you're seeking. Instead of saying, "I'm tired of my job," Or "I'm looking for a new position," be clear about what you do and what you're looking for by saying, "I want a job that allows me to..." or request their help by asking what they think would be a good fit for your skills. You never know what opportunities might be available if you don't ask. Share your dream position with your: Colleagues Friends Family members Personal social network Social media network- which may include friends of friends or previous colleagues Be a Natural Networker Those who excel at networking don't always realize that's what they're doing. They make connections and positive impressions as a part of life. Many do this by asking curious questions and responding about what they do in more of a storytelling, or intriguing, manner rather than regurgitating the same information. Make your response memorable. Many personal acquaintances may already know you're a nurse. But nurses can have a variety of skills and positions. Do they know what skills you excel at or want to grow? Or are they aware of what you might be good at if a position comes up? Ask them to describe your skills, or the job you're seeking, to see if you need to convey this information more clearly. To help expand upon your skills, instead of saying, "I'm a nurse," consider adding intriguing details that uniquely describes what you do, or would like to do, such as: "I introduce babies to their Mom." "I help the elderly find ways to stay at home." "I'd like a chance to teach." "My next career step is..." This method may make your response more memorable. If the person is someone new to you, offer a unique bit of information. Rather than discussing the weather, or using conversations starters most of us fall back upon, share something you've recently learned or read about. That way people are more likely to remember the conversation if you need to follow up. Not Just for Extroverts If you attend a networking event, try not to cling to the people you already know in fear of starting a conversation. Even though those of us with a more introverted personality may shudder at the thought of talking about ourselves, it's helpful to realize that networking isn't just about talking. The traits that make nurses good caregivers can help us excel in making connections. Because nurses are often: More attuned to the needs of others Better listeners Able to excel at interpreting body language These skills may help us notice the ones at a networking event who appear to mingle with everyone but they aren't really networking well. They seem to have FOMO, or a fear of missing out. They're talking to one person while scanning the room for who they want to talk to next. Or they appear distracted, as if they're waiting for their turn to talk. Being the person who listens and pays attention lets each person know that they're worthy of our attention. This task can be challenging, especially when you want to stay present with a room full of stimuli competing for your attention. Practice focusing on the other person and being present in conversations with your family and friends. Building Your Network Networking doesn't have to be a planned, or unpleasant task if we work it into our everyday life. Sharpening these communication skills can be beneficial when it comes time to look for that transfer, new job, or to get a reference or recommendation. Sharing our career goals and specific skills with the network of family and friends we're already surrounded with might reveal the perfect opportunity, or secure that glowing recommendation.
  12. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    A Negative Workplace Can Be Contagious

    We spend a large part of our day at work. Unfortunately, there are times when it may feel as if it doesn't matter how good our day begins, because once our feet hit the work floor, we know our mood, and productivity, are going to take a nosedive. We usually can't choose our coworkers, and spending lengthy amounts of time at a job where we must rely on each other in a high-pressure nursing environment often leads to stress. Add the tension produced from negativity transmitted through gossip, attitudes, or our general perception of shared communication and we're left feeling disengaged and uninspired. Some stress can help motivate us to be more productive, but prolonged workplace stress and negativity isn't good for our mental or physical health. It can leave us mentally fatigued, defensive and contribute to potential burnout. Infected with Negativity We tend to mimic, or mirror, another person's mood and facial expressions. This mirror neuron is one way we can empathize with others, and how we interpret the actions of others. Although speculation remains regarding the function of the mirror neuron, many of us can't deny that if we're watching an event, our heart might race along with the contest. Or if we watch a sad movie, we're pulling out the box of tissues. We replicate another's emotional state and reproduce it for a shared experience. Just like laughter is contagious, so is negativity. When we're surrounded by negative people, sometimes it's easy to fall into the pattern of complaining along with our coworkers, even if we didn't realize we had something to complain about. Sometimes before we can change our behavior, it's necessary to develop an awareness of our unconscious response. Then we can make a conscious choice to avoid the infection of someone else's negative emotional state. Treat the Virus It takes time to change a habit. But if waves of discontent have had us swimming in negativity, we should determine how we truly feel about the situation, or our workplace, and then how we would like to respond to it. This requires accepting that we can't change how another person feels, and that we're not responsible for improving their attitudes, only our own. It's easy to become distracted worrying about the behavior of others, or to become infected with a negative vine of gossip that often has its roots tightly wound in highlighting the shortcomings of our coworkers. We automatically fall into the conversation and become a victim to the effects of our emotional reaction. Instead of joining in, we could discourage negativity by: Ask for their solution - this may cause your peer to admit that they didn't have one, and that they weren't even seeking one and were only complaining Share success stories - what we focus on tends to grow, so look for, and share, the positive aspects Pause - take a deep breath and make a conscious decision of how to respond rather than responding on autopilot Be supportive - but don't feed the negativity Don't take it personally - some people thrive on negativity and won't be dissuaded Look with a new perspective - and try to leave past baggage of experience with the situation, and the individual, behind to see if that changes a conditioned negative perception Prescribe Happiness Sometimes it's hard to accept that our happiness doesn't have to be dictated by circumstances. That it's within our control and not always delivered from an outside source. If we rely too much on one person, or one thing in our life, for our happiness, then we've given it too much power over our emotional health. No matter the situation, if we strive to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses we may be more productive. Positivity is a choice that can allow us to be more curious and open while negativity tends to trigger stress, fear and even anger. Although sometimes changing our mindset isn't enough. If our workplace has become a toxic environment, we might need to consider options which may include a transfer, or seeking a new position. Seek a Cure Negativity cannot always be avoided, but we can control how we allow it to affect us. Ongoing negativity in the workplace can be exhausting and detrimental to our physical and emotional health. We can make efforts to dissipate some of the negativity and temper our response, although sometimes the only cure is moving on in our career.
  13. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Is It Me? Or My Generation?

    While attending nursing school, I worked my way through various roles at my job at a women's health clinic. When I graduated, I was ready to move into a nursing position with the company. Imagine my surprise when the company I'd worked with for eight years responded that they didn't have a current need for nurses. Then they wished me luck in acquiring a nursing position. I hadn't noticed that the nursing shortage had ended at that time, and that experienced nurses flooded the market, or that time has a way of changing things. I'd rested on the principles of my parents' generation, where I thought long standing company loyalty as what was expected. While growing up, many people worked at one job with one company for their entire lifetime. I thought my path would be the same. Assumptions can't be made about each generation because we're all individuals, but the period we grow up in can influence our values and beliefs. Our experiences and the state of the world may shape our thoughts and perspectives, how we interact with others, our work ethic, and our expectations from our employers and each other. Our work and interactions with different generations don't mean that we'll change our perceptions or beliefs, but it's helpful to understand that this might influence our workplace relationships. Our View of The World My twin girls are Generation Z. About six years ago it became apparent that they'd view things differently based on the world they grew up in. My daughter thrust the phone at me and declared something was wrong. Because when she dialed her friend's number she was met with an annoying sound. She couldn't understand why she couldn't get through. Amused, I informed her that this sound was a busy signal. My daughter had no idea what I was talking about. Since her friend didn't have a cell phone, my daughter wanted to know how she could reach her friend now. I said, "You'll have to wait and call her later." The idea of a lack of immediate communication was foreign to her, as it would be from what she was accustomed to. The same way I'd not experienced the world as my parents did that helped shape their perspective. Consider Different Mindsets I've reviewed many resumes and completed countless interviews over the years. Some things may not have changed with my interview practices, but I've learned that other things have. Such as that I'm no longer quick to judge the applicant who's had multiple short-term jobs. Something that me, or my generation, may have considered a negative trait. Nowadays, opportunities are vast, and many companies value the variety of skills and experience acquired from varied positions. Thus, some employers might view the resume I'd built and perfected over the years and assume that I'm not open to change, or that the structure is outdated, or that I don't have enough diversity in my skills. I may not agree with these assumptions, but in realizing the mindset of the employers that may view them, I can have my resume updated to a more modern style and font, and highlight the relevant skills to help to display what they're looking for. Even if the employer is from my, or an older generation, I understand that the way my skills are evaluated may have changed to keep up with the times. Sometimes it can be beneficial to take a moment to realize our beliefs assume that others understand our perspective. While in some ways that's challenging, if not impossible, to meet without having the same experiences. But what we can do is be open to learning from each other. Each generation has something we can learn from the other. We are individuals and should be treated as such. Changing Perspective If we view that our goals are often the same, even if we take a different route to achieve them, we can realize that there are valuable skills gained in each generation, despite our differences. We can't stop the passage of time, nor control another's thoughts and beliefs, nor should we want to. The best we can do is look to understand each other and help lift each other up for success. If we seek to discover the value and focus on what gifts each person brings to the position, we can accept each person as an individual. Understanding that no generation is better than the other, but together we make a perfect blend of skills, it can help us all in meeting our goals.
  14. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    When You Take Your Work Stress Home

    Some days the end of the shift can't come soon enough, although often it might seem as if after you physically leave work, your mind decides to stay. Your thoughts run like a hamster on the wheel and you can't stop rehashing the day. Wondering what you could have done differently, or how your patient is doing now, or worrying about what issues are waiting for you to return tomorrow. Work can become difficult to separate from your personal life if work stress catches a ride home. Fretting about work can become intertwined in your routine, making it hard to truly unwind and relax. Work worries can weigh on your physical and mental health, and steal the joy from your time away. This can result in starting the next day stressed about work before you return. Tune in To Your Routine The long commute home may have you routinely mulling over the day, or the end of the evening may awaken your mind to worry about the stress of tomorrow instead of preparing for sleep. Often the environment, or certain situations, can trigger a certain feeling or prompts us to follow a routine such as when and where you have your coffee, or check your email. It often takes a conscious effort to change a habit. It's easy for someone to tell you to stop worrying about something or to suggest methods that work for them, but only we can determine what works best for us, and to make that happen it may require creating new habits. We are creatures of habit, but there's no reason we can't work on making positive habits to challenge the negative. As nurses, most of us are aware of how stress and fatigue can affect our mental and physical health. Yet often we end up neglecting ourselves because we're busy taking care of everyone else, or we feel like we can't take the time to make the effort. After a while, we believe that this is just what we do, or how things have to be. If we become aware that worrying about work frustrations has become our routine, we can make an effort to change these habits and our mindset. Divide Your Day It can be difficult to change your thought pattern but trying to leave unnecessary work worries at your job before you start the rest of your day can help you enjoy that time better. Unwind on the Drive Home The distance from work to home can be frustrating, but it can also be an opportunity to mentally divide your professional from your personal life and leave your work stress behind. Schedule an activity or appointment after work to avoid lingering late when it's not essential Stop at the gym before heading home to temper stress with exercise Listen to an audiobook on your drive home or your favorite upbeat or relaxing music Call family or friends during the commute Unravel your Thoughts Most of us have obligations awaiting us at home and if we're distracted by work, we can't give our family, friends, and ourselves the attention they deserve. Change your clothes into something more comfortable and that you associate with home Adjust the settings on your phone so you're not getting constant email notifications If you must check your work email, schedule a certain time and time-frame to do so Enjoy a walk with family or friends or another enjoyable activity Unplug for the Night We all need our sleep, but despite how tired we may be, sometimes work stress can cause sleep to elude us. There are many tips on improving sleep, and working on a few habits might help get some extra shut-eye and start the workday more rested. Develop a nighttime routine that indicates to your mind and body that you're ready to relax Separate day from night with a warm bath, herbal tea, or a certain beauty routine If possible, don't keep your phone on the nightstand If you need your phone nearby at night, consider adjusting the settings for certain numbers to have access if it's essential and set the others to Do Not Disturb Clear Your Mind Nursing can be a stressful job and sometimes it can be hard to banish all the worries and stress from our mind at the end of the day. But if we make a conscious effort through routines and habits to separate the stressors of the day from our evening, we might be able to clear our minds and be more rested and relaxed for tomorrow. How Do You Separate Your Personal and Professional Life?
  15. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    Unexpected Side Effects from the Side Gig

    A side gig is something you do to add to your income in addition to your regular job. Having a side gig has become more common with many people cashing in on a variety of things. The new endeavor may have nothing to do with their current employment and might be something previously considered a hobby. The Internet has made starting a side gig easier than ever. It offers vast opportunities to create a website or promote and sell a product or service. As a nurse and a fiction author, freelance writing was a natural progression for me as a side gig. Initially, I saw healthcare freelance writing as an opportunity to combine my two areas of expertise to make some extra cash doing what I enjoy, but I discovered several unexpected non-monetary rewards that accompanied my side gig. Expand Your Mind There is a certain comfort found in routine. Although sometimes we get to a point in our careers when we're not necessarily looking for something different, perhaps we crave something more. A variation from the usual to help keep our mind sharp and prevent us from tiring of the daily routine. Even though I've been a nurse for many years, writing healthcare articles often involves extensive research to ensure accurate and up-to-date information in the rapidly evolving healthcare environment. The word, research, initially made me cringe. I was done with school, right? I'd been out of the nursing classroom for a long time, and never realized I might miss some things about that environment. Maybe not the starchy uniform or the nursing cap that never wanted to stay on my head, but perhaps the thrill that accompanied learning new things. As I researched articles, my thirst for knowledge reawakened. Subject matter and healthcare topics that had lain dormant since graduating nursing school and moving into a specialty stirred. It seems that we don't really lose this knowledge. Although sometimes sharpening our brain and flexing those familiar muscles can allow us to appreciate just how much we've invested in our career. Grow Your Professional Network Many of us bonded with a group of friends in nursing school, and then with coworkers at our job, but often that circle narrows the higher we climb the career ladder. Initially, my venture into freelance writing was a solitary endeavor, but as my side gig grew, I met other like-minded healthcare writers. The ability to interact with nurses from across the country, as opposed to my little section of the world, did more than expand my professional network. It also: Opened new opportunities for jobs that may not have been obvious Made professional connections to seek advice, references and referrals Improved my confidence with the ability to share my expertise and knowledge Provided new perspectives for things that I'd been doing one way for so long that I hadn't realized there were other options Pushed me to learn new technology and challenge my comfort zones Helped me realize that you could make good friends without ever meeting them in person Change How You Perceive Yourself Since a side gig is in addition to your regular job, it provides a certain freedom over your regular employment. With this extra work, you have more of an ability to turn projects down or step away when you need a break. A side gig does not have to be related to your regular nursing job. Spending time doing something different might be helpful to reduce stress and allow you to clear your head when your job becomes overwhelming. As the years' pass, we often lose time for hobbies we used to enjoy. Pursuing these passions as a side gig can help prioritize this time for keeping your dream alive without guilt. Exploring a different interest can: Validate that you can still be something more and that your job doesn't define you Try something new without the commitment Keep your skills fresh Improve your time management skills Help to prepare for a career change Socialize with people with similar interests or in different stages of their life or career Offer a creative outlet Provide a way to reduce stress More Than Extra Cash That extra cash can come in handy for paying down debt, increasing your savings or indulging in an extra extravagance without guilt, but often there are other benefits to pursuing a side gig. There's no reason to change the work you do now, but perhaps you have some motivation to add something more.
  16. Maureen Bonatch MSN

    The Hidden Weight of Worry

    Don't worry, be happy. This carefree song emphasized not letting worries steal our happiness. If only it were so easy to completely forget our worries and smile. Sometimes we might think we've done just that. It might seem that there is no reason not to smile yet we're burdened by the weight of worry. We may not even realize the worry is there until the event we've been focusing on with apprehension comes to fruition. Often it passes us by without the impending doom we assumed would accompany it. Only then do we feel some of the tension lift-until the next needless worry begins to gnaw at our thoughts. Worrying About Worry It's almost impossible to eliminate all worry, and we really wouldn't want to. Adaptive worry, is what drives our survival instinct. It can help us focus, work harder and provide motivation to push ourselves further than we would otherwise. It's maladaptive worry that steals our sleep and has us fretting about the uncertainty of the future. This isn't the same as suffering from anxiety, depression or burnout. These are the everyday worries that are out of our control, or that we've allowed our imagination to inflate, until it consumes our thoughts as we fear all the what ifs? What if I can't find a parking space? What if I look like a fool giving that presentation? What if I fail that test? What if I sleep in and I'm late? What if they don't like me? Worrying about things you have no control over can create a vicious cycle. When you lay awake worrying about the next day you might end up sleeping in, or worry might keep you from concentrating on your studies and then you aren't prepared for the test. Slow the Cycle Sometimes dealing with the uncertainty is worse than dealing with the issue itself. Generally, most worries never come to fruition, or often these events don't have the catastrophic effects worth the energy you've invested. It can be hard to see what you can and can't control if you're feeling overwhelmed. Worry can be bad for your health and add to your stress by stealing your sleep, or prompting you to indulge in poor health habits to try to distract your thoughts from worry. Taking the time to reflect can help determine which worries are better off eliminated. Has worrying about this ever changed the outcome? Can I learn something from this experience for the next time? Is it worth the worry? What's the worst thing that can happen? Do I really care about this that much? Coping with Worry We may not be able to stop worrying, but identifying our worries might help us learn to accept them and reduce some of their heavy control over our thoughts. You might still worry, but when you realize what's causing the underlying distress you can determine if it's worth the trouble. It might take someone else pointing it out to realize it's not kryptonite but just a harmless old rock weighing us down with worry. While planning an upcoming vacation, I worried about all the things I needed to do. My husband, an expert at evading little worries said, "You haven't even gone on vacation yet and you're worrying about when you're getting groceries when you come home?" His incredulous look and simple statement made me realize that this was a ridiculous worry. We weren't going to starve if I didn't make it to the store the day after we returned. There are many ways to work on reducing your worry, but none will be effective unless you individualize it based on what works best for you. A few ways to halt, or reduce, worry include: Take the worry out of your thoughts - write about it, or talk to a friend or therapist Relax- practice yoga or mindful meditation, exercise, or watch a funny movie, or listen to music Forget about it - trust yourself to handle the situation, or snap a rubber band on your wrist when you find yourself worrying, or channel Scarlett O'Hara and schedule worry by deciding to think about that tomorrow Just do it- address the source of worry and tackle that task Lighten your Load Worry can be a good thing, if we use it to keep us safe, increase our productivity and motivate us. It's when we worry about the little things that we have no control over, or that we might later realize were kind of silly to worry about in the first place that can cause us undue stress. Unburdening ourselves from these little worries that weigh on our conscious can help us enjoy each day more and worry less about tomorrow. Do You Have Tips on Worrying Less?