Friday, March 25, 2011

Can I Be The Change?

Following a presentation I gave a few days ago at the University Of Minnesota, School Of Nursing, Be The Change continued in an energizing discussion with a Nurse Practitioner.Her provider plus educator perspective fueled all sorts of possibilities each of us, equipped with an individual set of medical experiences, can improve healthcare.

Is it possible for any of us to really Be The Change? The question begs to be asked by any patient, family member or provider desiring a change right now, not sometime in the near future.

Can anyone be the change at their current job and relationships in and out of the work environment? The answer is yes! It is possible. First and foremost, believe anyone can Be The Change, regardless of job title or college degree. The somewhat daunting task to change should never stop us from being the one who begins a chain reaction.

Consider these simple suggestions as a way to Be The Change, starting today!

  • Be the one who says good morning to others even if yours wasn’t
  • Be the one who gives respect to any job ranging from mail clerk to CEO
  • Be the one who won't exceed work break or lunch time allowances
  • Be the one who refuses to have a bad attitude or gossip
  • Be the one who consistently smiles and says thank you

You might be thinking, how can any one of these small changes make a big impact? In order to be changed in a way that is altering and sustaining, minor daily modification are required. Remember, it’s often little things that are overlooked when searching for a dramatic change.

These suggestions may seem simplistic in words, but moving the words into action is no small task. However, perseverance will make the ordinary become extraordinary. Your change affects others and turns into shared ownership that positively impacts everyone around you. Encouraging them to be the change too.

Be The Change challenges each and every one of you, whether you are in healthcare or not, to start today on your individual path to Be The Change. Feel free to share your story with me at

At the close of every Be The Change presentation, I say, “One nurse, one doctor, one person leads by example affecting others and is the change”.

Be The Change, you might be the one!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Orientation Day!

Be The Change participates in the Park Nicollet Health Services, Orientation Learning Day. Each month I share a small portion of Michael’s story with new nurses just beginning employment with Methodist Hospital. The primary focus of my talk is death and dying, highlighting a few details about Michael’s last, end of life hospitalization.

Death, especially when it involves a child is not an easy topic to discuss. Honest dialog from someone experiencing the unthinkable supports the many who deliver that avenue of care daily. A family member speaking about the specific nursing required during that end of life phase, steps in the right direction towards strengthening partnered relationships between patients, families and their providers. Dispelling the “you against me” myth and instead uniting us in a common goal.

An emotional topic such as death and dying, presented to a healthcare audience who walks the end of life road with patients and their families, has proven to be a valuable partnered relationship. Park Nicollet Health Services is displaying in action a commitment to patient family centered care by including the patient family perspective in their orientation process.

Be The Change presentations create opportunities for patients, families with their providers to use real life experiences as a tool for healthcare improvements. Speaking out on behalf of patients and families, I make their perspective present and attach it to medical expertise. A partnership that nurtures the human experience as well as impacts the quality of medical care through a shared ownership centered in respect of each others role.

This type of healthcare impact is being overlooked by many medical departments and healthcare organizations. The patient family perspective must be present in all healthcare exchanges from daily patient care to corporate management, in order to form a relationship between patient, family and provider that’s not only healing but sustainable. It’s the very thing that’s been missing in previous attempts at improving healthcare delivery.

We have nothing to loose, only so much to gain when we partner together and connect our areas of expertise. Allowing patients and families to stand side by side with their healthcare providers, inside and outside of medical crisis, is the best possible outcome for everyone.

Usually it’s the little things, which really make a big difference. At Park Nicollet orientation I tell a story about a nurse that made exceptional arrangements for a tired mother, recovering from a mastectomy to be with her son just admitted into the hospital. The nurse became a significant partner, giving more than just small necessities the mother needed to stay with her critically ill child. A priceless gift of time was given, nurse to mother, since that hospital admission was her son’s last.

Stored inside that experience is an example of a human experience profoundly influenced by a nurse who already knew how to Be The Change. Thanks to Park Nicollet Health Services, its value can be proudly shared.

Every task, big or small invites us to Be The Change!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Michael's Heaven Day

The funeral was over. Flowers occupied random empty spots in our house. Silver foil containers filled the refrigerator. Michael’s room appeared the same as the morning he left it for what became his last hospital stay.

The morning after the funeral, sitting silently at the kitchen table, were the heart-broken weary remains of a family unsure of how to proceed. That’s when I started to weave together something my brother shared with me a few days prior.

Words shared in a conversation my brother had with Jessica, resonated in his spirit and prompted him to speak it out to me. He suggested my family take a trip immediately following the funeral, to allow some unfamiliar space and time without interruption to assist the healing start. Although difficult to do without Michael, that’s what we did. Middle of March 2005 just days after Michael’s funeral my husband Donn, our daughter Jessica and I boarded a plane headed to Florida.

Looking back on it now, I can honestly say it was a string of divine intervention. Beginning with faith filled words spoken then shared, to a travel agent able to plan a trip for us in a matter of hours, despite spring break challenges. On to other extreme acts of kindness lovingly demonstrated by others, such as those who knew Jessica’s hearts desire to see a Twins game under the Florida sun.

We rarely speak of that March trip in 2005, unlike our other vacations that we relive in story after story and pictures galore. However, it deserves attention especially since it filled purposes beyond earthly comprehension. What began as a respite from the unimaginable became a time of grace. In our new family dynamic as three plus one angel we talked, laughed, cried, and rested. For days we repeated that process, safe in Florida's embrace. What resulted was a resolve to focus on Michael’s life, not his death and press forward to the day we see him again; all because of love.

Love surrounded us on that trip. It was the gentle force we desperately needed to step out in faith. Its flow continues, supporting the decisions that keep moving us forward. In any situation, even healthcare, when life’s good and bad are spoken out and shared it makes overwhelming possible. Words turn into a compass that gives direction to a path never walked upon before.

March 10th, fondly referred to as Michael’s Heaven Day by a family six years lonely for the dream weaver. We can honestly say we walk through our grief knowing unlimited depths of love and confident waiting in and on the other side of painful grief experiences is the very One who holds him now.

In memory of the change maker, our hero Michael Zimanske, Be The Change!