Health Care is Waiting for Nursing Professionals to Speak Their Minds

By: Lorie Brown

When I was a nurse, I did not want to share my thoughts on ways to improve patient care and now I realize I was not alone. A few months back “The Wall Street Journal” published a study showing that 33% of nursing professionals in a New York hospital said that they withheld ideas from their nursing supervisors. Another 29% said that they “sometimes” withheld ideas from their supervisor while 44% said they routinely withheld ideas from the surgeons they worked with and another 18% saying they “sometimes” withheld ideas from their surgeons.

I know nursing professionals have the answers on how to improve the working environment, the flow of work and patient care. Naturally, they are in the best position to see what is going on in the hospital and know what to do about any problems. When these great ideas are not expressed, patients get the short end of the stick.

Children have a natural ability to speak their minds. They say exactly what they feel and do not monitor their thoughts. As adults, we find this to be a fascinating and adorable trait in children, yet we somehow feel that if we speak our minds, we may hurt someone’s feelings or we may experience rejection or even some kind of retaliation.

Why are nurses unable or unwilling to speak their minds?

Nurses may not speak their minds for many reasons including: fear of discipline, concern their input will be rejected, believe that no one will take their input seriously or value their input, or feel that their input will not make a difference. For me, it was all of the above! I had these great thoughts on improving patient care, but felt no one would take me seriously or do anything about it. What this means for the patients is the great ideas of nurses likely will never be implemented.

When we do not speak our thoughts, ideas or truths, it comes with a cost. It can create illness and can become painful by causing anxiety, depression and unhappiness. We as nurses need to be healthy to take care of our patients and ourselves. By expressing yourself, you can make yourself happy by speaking your truths and, when you are happy, others around you will be happy as well. By expressing yourself, you can create camaraderie and effect positive change. Everyone wins!

While I would love to tell you to go out and give your employer a piece of your mind, that may not be the most sage advice! Next week, I will share with you tools which can eliminate the fear or beliefs that stop nursing professionals from speaking their minds and how to speak your mind to get the best results and stand in your power.

By Lorie Brown, Creator & Founder at | RN, MN, JD | Registered Nurse | Attorney | Author | Speaker | Transformational Leader | Lorie received her BSN from Indiana University, her MN from University of California at Los Angeles and her JD from Indiana University Indianapolis. Lorie has spent her career helping nurses. She has a private law practice in Indianapolis where she represents nurses before the Nursing Board. Lorie’s mission is to empower nurses to speak their mind, stand in their power and be a change agent to improve patient care.  Lorie would like to know if you are an empowered nurse. Take the quiz to find out at


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5 Biggest Blunders Nurses Make in their Career!


By: Sue Heacock

Before jumping into the article, take a look in the mirror. See the human staring back at you? Nurses, like all other members of the human race, make mistakes. We are well aware that errors made by nurses can affect their career. It can impact the progression of healing and the life span of our patients. This article will not focus on those. Instead, we will concentrate on the 5 mistakes nurses make that impact their professional standing.

  1. Blame game. We have all worked with a “blame gamer”. He/she professes perfection in every way and any inconsistencies in practice are related to someone else. It was somehow Nurse Suzie’s fault that the blame gamer’s patient was administered the wrong dose of medicine even though Suzie works on the floor 2 stories up. Blame gamers quickly establish a reputation as complainers and a colleague not to be trusted. Don’t be that person and for that matter, don’t be personally associated with that person. Guilty by association will come into play with the blame gamer.
  2. Settling. Most of us get a position and like moss on an old oak tree, settle in for the long haul. Some nurses have no desire to elevate their career and further educate themselves. They become stagnant, losing both creativity and objectivity. I believe that you should never stop learning. Go for that higher degree you have been thinking about. This is not to say that if you are happy where you are it is not noble. But continue to educate yourself and excel in the position you are in. You don’t settle for the minimum in your personal life so you should not do so in your professional life.
  3. Not taking care of yourself. The combination of sleep deprivation, improper nutrition and lack of exercise lead to a highly ineffective nurse. Let’s be honest here. You are too tired to be “all that you can be” and you end up just going through the motions of patient care. Not taking care of yourself is a mistake that not only impacts your career but shortens your life. The irony of an unhealthy nurse is that he/she is educates patients on how to properly care for themselves and then runs out for the Big Mac or for a cigarette break.
  4. Cover-ups. Covering up a mistake simply compounds the error. There are HONEST mistakes, honestly! Remember the part about being human? If not, back to the mirror with you! Covering up mistakes demonstrates your lack of ethical fiber and forever tarnishes your trustworthiness. This is a career ender. If you make an error, fess up immediately so that any adverse impact to the patient can be quickly remedied. Early reporting also leads to quick root cause analysis and the elimination of similar nursing errors in the future.
  5. Burning bridges. Remember the “settling” part a few paragraphs back? If you burn your bridges, you can forget whatever you learned in that section as you will need to be settling in right where you are.  You will never get that promotion or positive reference. Visualize what happens a bridge literally burns.  That will be your nursing career going up in flames instead of the bridge and the ruble falling into the water is YOU! Treat your colleagues and supervisors with respect, follow the rules, and be the best nurse you can be for your patients. You can then step on that bridge at any time without having the fear of getting wet.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made as a nurse? How did you correct it? Leave a comment below!


10 Tips to Beat Anxiety When Taking the NCLEX Exam!!

By: Sue Heacock 

Whether you’re taking a short quiz or the NCLEX exam, you’re sure to encounter test anxiety. It is that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you feel that you will inevitably fail, no matter what. It is the physical tension and the headache that creeps up on you as the big test draws near. It is that overwhelming “knowledge” that failing this single test will negatively impact the rest of your life.

So what can you do to conquer this fear? Here are 10 tips:

  1. Be prepared.  Nothing conquers anxiety more than confidence. Nothing builds confidence better than preparation. But how can you prepare?
  2. Study effectively.  When preparing for a test, especially in nursing, a student often feels overwhelmed. There is just too much information and so little time. So start studying the day you get the test date. Begin by investing some time organizing. Break the information into several subcategories and study only one block of information at each study session. Schedule manageable study sessions into each day, say after your nursing classes, and don’t let anything deter you from your schedule. And no, organizing your sock drawer or going out with friends for a quick dinner are not valid reasons to break your study schedule!
  3. Eat and sleep well.  Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and have a well-balanced, light meal before you take the test. Junk food or energy drinks are not replacements here! Don’t overeat or under sleep.
  4. Leave the notes at home and have no time for chit-chat.  You are ready. Don’t create stress by attempting last-minute studying, especially for the NCLEX exam. This will increase anxiety and leave you second-guessing what you know. Don’t study with your peers immediately prior to the test either. They may not be as prepared as you and their anxiety can rub off on you. You don’t want that since you are ready and focused.
  5. Take a breather.  Right before beginning the test, take three deep breaths, then go for it! As you do, think positively. Positive thoughts lead to positive results.
  6. Answer the ones you know first.  Okay, you have confidently mastered all of the information but now look at the first questions and draw a blank. Don’t worry, quickly move past any questions you are unsure of without giving them any thought. Finish the questions you know and go back to the ones you skipped last.
  7. It is not a race.  Don’t get uneasy because you are not the first or may even be the last to finish. Slow and steady wins the race. Focus on your test, not on what your peers are doing. There is usually no trophy for being the first one done.
  8. I can do this.  As you breeze through the test, continually focus on the confidence of your answers and how well you are doing. Drown out the negative with the positive.
  9. No check please.  When you have finished the questions you know, go back and complete the ones you skipped at first glance. Now, get up and turn in the test. Don’t go back over every answer and start second guessing yourself.
  10. Celebrate.  You prepared your best and scored your best so don’t obsess over your performance. Enjoy the rest of your day and think about the fact that you are one step closer from being a nursing student to a successful nurse. Most importantly, celebrate the “A” when you get the NCLEX exam or the test results back.


3 Types of Nurses at Work That Drive Us Nuts!!!


By: Jennifer Ward

Every day we meet a lot of various types of people. But handling different types of nurses at work can be a daunting task. It can be very frustrating working with lazy, difficult co-workers who don’t pull their weight. If you have been in this profession for any length of time, you know who I am talking about. Here are three types of co-workers that drive me nuts:

The Off-Duty Charge Nurse
This is the charge nurse who browses the Internet or reads a magazine while you are working. It can be frustrating trying to complain to management about this, and the only thing you can really do to protect yourself and your patients is to document that you have made him or her aware. If a situation is emergent, inform the house supervisor. If you are too overwhelmed with your demands, ask a co-worker for help. This doesn’t mean that you are incompetent. It just means that you are having “one of those days” and you will repay the favor when they have “one of those days.”

The Complainer
This is my least favorite. Every nursing unit has one. They express their complaints about everything: their assignment, the nurse aides, the patients, the weather…anything and everything. I usually try to change the subject and not give in to their complaining, or I just distance myself from them.

The Constant Talker
This is the nurse who is incapable of being silent and focusing on the job at hand. No matter what you are doing or how busy you are, they will insist on telling you all of their history and personal information. There are a few things you can do:

  • Avoid making eye contact. Keep doing whatever you were doing; just answer with, ”Uh-huh.”
  • Move to another area. Especially if you are charting, move to a quiet room so that you document effectively without interruption.
  • Ask, “Are you already done with your charting?” Sometimes dropping these sorts of hints helps clue them in to stop chatting and to get moving.
  • Let’s face it, none of us are perfect, but in order to create a more positive nursing work environment that runs smoothly, these tips can be helpful:
    • Stay positive.
    • Avoid gossip, and avoid being a “tattle tale!
    • Keep complaints to a minimum.
    • Be supportive of new staff to establish productive and successful nursing unit.
    • Help out nurse aides whenever possible. This demonstrates teamwork.
    • Help out overwhelmed co-workers.
    • Offer compliments followed by constructive criticism.
    • Acknowledge a job well done-show or tell them that you appreciate them and their performance.
    • Make an effort to get to know staff. Simply ask if they had a nice weekend or invite a newbie out to lunch.
    • Never criticize or punish in public. If someone deserves criticism or being punished, do so in private or with only another manager present. Also document the discussion and the outcome. Properly address mistakes to build teamwork in nursing.

Creating a work environment with positive energy can be challenging. After all, there are many different personalities that make up our workforce. Properly dealing with different types of nurses will help you gain respect and increase you work satisfaction. Do you have co-workers who drive you nuts? How do you handle them?


Are You Complaining Too Much About Being a Nurse?


By: Alicia Pierre

The quick answer is yes. A more apt answer is who doesn’t? An even better answer is yes, and what can we do to change that? Let’s tackle this in a way that gives solutions to a nagging problem. After all, nobody wants to be around a nurse who complains too much. Also, complaining is far from fun. Entertaining negative thoughts about being a nurse and verbalizing them regularly does nothing for the psyche, or your team. It often makes you feel worse and certainly doesn’t move management/administration to make changes.

I have to say that I do not think nurses complain more than the average employee in the workforce. It’s commonly accepted that most people do not enjoy their jobs. Feeling disgruntled in the workplace is far from unique to the nursing profession. But there are some characteristics of nursing that contribute to the high numbers of disgruntled workers and the rate of attrition from the profession.

Here are a few factors:

  • The tension of healthcare care – There exists an unrelenting air of tension in health care. The many issues, bureaucracy, sadness, illness, and death that are parts of being a nurse. It stirs emotions. Deep emotions. Most times we try to detach for the sake of carrying on and remaining productive. Other times, we just don’t know how to deal with it all. The result? Anxiety and tension that feels pervasive and heavy.
  • Mostly female co-workers – Let’s admit it, females complain more than males. Males may have similar thoughts about a topic, but females tend to verbalize feelings much more than our male counterparts.
  • A lot to complain about – For the purpose of this article, it would be pointless to list all of the specific ‘issues’ the nursing profession faces today. The litany of potential things to complain about is almost infinite. Also, each workplace has its own challenges.

So, do you find yourself complaining? Are you frequently verbalizing your dissatisfaction with your workplace?  Then do something about it. Exercise your options for change.

So what options do you have?

  1. Be a change maker – What are the workplace issues that you most complain about? Can anything be done to change them? Is there protocol that allows you to voice concerns? Use your discretion here, but you may decide to attempt to be a voice of change. Alternatively, you may want to become active with organizations that are advocates and activists for change in nursing. Becoming active with an organization like this may help you to feel more positive since you are doing something to contribute to improvement within the field.
  2. Change your mindset – Perception is everything. Notice how two different people respond differently to the same situation. It’s all about the meaning we put on things. I know this can be a challenging concept to embrace, but being able to shift how you think about something is powerful. Often, what we perceive as terrible, actually is not. If you are able to change your mind set about your workplace, do so.
  3. Change your nursing job – Please don’t hand in your notice on my account. But if you have decided that you do not want to work somewhere anymore, then make the next smart decision. The decision to explore your other options. Everything starts with a decision. Then you can take steps to make the transition happen. Do you need to update your LinkedIn profile? Your resume/CV? Start networking? Searching for positions online? Talking to people? Take a course? What can you start doing to make your transition goal a reality?

So yes, maybe being a nurse makes one complain too much.  Maybe we even have reason to. Nevertheless, incessant complaining is unhealthy and often times annoying. Redirect your energy. Focus on change.

What change have you decided to make today?