Fall Break has ended. Arizona adventure complete, home before this craziness happened (thank goodness) and coming down from a nursing conference high it’s time to return to work.



Oh hi life sized cardboard Rob Lowe lurking in a dark hallway. You’re not creepy at all standing right there.

And lurking in and around the corridors in the dark of night shift.

Your eyes kind of follow as I walk past you at 0330. That’s not creepy at all.

I know you’re coming to the Valley for a very good reason sharing stories that you only tell your good friends…and since you’re going to be sharing at The Gallo Center this Thursday, we must be your good friends. But must you be so creepy lurking in the hallways here?

Oh well.

I’m working this Thursday night. Sorry Rob.

I guess we will have to settle for this selfie together.

because if you make goals you actually have to complete them

At least when it comes to annual performance goals. It seemed so simple, so easy, so attainable…well perhaps not so easily attainable…but, as my thirteen year old son now says pretty much every day: well then YOLO. He then will carefully explain that YOLO means you only live once; and he’s right. YOLO. So I decided to make for my goal for my annual review to attend a nursing conference some time this year.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Still attainable with some planning and saving and juggling…lots of juggling. YOLO! So I put that down for my professional development goal and submitted it and did not think much of it until two months later at my annual performance review when I was reminded of the goal that I made for myself.

Still might be attainable.

Then distractions…family, a health crisis, kids schools…easy to convince myself there wasn’t a good time to work on this goal. Then the right time to go and there was literally nothing going on.

Then finally, the right time, the right conference and YOLO! So much learning going on. So much the last three days that it’s a wonder my head did not explode.

It almost did.

But now, three days later, I am looking forward to a glass (or perhaps more) of this lovely petit sirah while I reflect on the final statement as the conference adjourned:

There’s room for evidence based medicine & there’s room for clinical expertise.

Because YOLO!

the people that you meet each day

As a NICU nurse, nothing gives me more joy than seeing “my babies” grow and thrive and grow up outside of the NICU. Actually that is kind of a universal joy felt by all NICU nurses, respiratory therapists, unit coordinators and neonatologists. Moments like this:

OMG! I’m crying again. Seriously.

After over 25 years and more patients than I can keep count, I can tell you there are the ones I will never, ever forget…ever. And some I have remained close to through the years because sometimes you do become much more than just the nurse and patient and patient’s family. Hurray for Facebook (after my tiny human patients are officially discharged) for that. Truly.

Then there are the moments when you are in your neighborhood at the mall, the movie theater, the local farmers’ market, the grocery store, or even while at play at a Pumpkin Fair Carnival and you find that you are being stared at…literally. I check to make sure nothing is amiss…spinach stuck in my teeth, a bra strap showing, or worse…and then I smile, perhaps a little awkwardly because what if they are not smiling at me? What if they are smiling at the old man behind me; or perhaps the kid flying down the Giant Slide ride before my kid.

Excuse me, is your name Laura?

She looks familiar to me, but Im not sure why or from where. But she has a stroller with a sleeping toddler so maybe…

I nod my head yes and confess that she looks very familiar but I’m not sure where we have met.

You were my baby’s nurse.

Oh! That’s where I met you, lovely lady with the most striking, velvet dark eyes. I peek at her sleeping little one and honestly I don’t remember him at all. Then again, he was oh so much smaller as mom catches me up on life this first year after leaving the NICU.  It’s clear that it hasn’t always been easy.

I recall a late night conversation in the NICU where I promised her that it wouldn’t always be easy after the NICU…speaking as a NICU mom myself.

I nod my head, understanding. Understanding much too well.

It’s then that my son comes running up to me breathless after flying down the giant slide ride for the umpteenth time. I introduce her to my very excited and eager to take on the next carnival ride, thirteen year old son.

Wait! He was a 24 weaker too! Right?

She reaches out to shake his hand. Daniel, graciously, yet shyly, shakes her hand as he flashes his brace-faced, dimpled smile  before he heads back up to the giant slide ride because he tells us that it is actually that amazing.

Thank you, son!

I peek one more time at her sleeping toddler and I hug her good-bye as I quietly tell her:

It’s hard work but you are doing great mama! 

We both wipe away tears as we say goodbye until we meet again here in our neighborhood.

so about that apology

There is this old saying that goes apologizing doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your egoIn my heart of hearts, I believe that to be true. I also try to live that. If I insult someone or hurt their feelings or even take offense to something stupid and offensive they might say, do or post online and they are hurt enough to call me out on it, I will, more often than not, choose to apologize…if I value that friendship or relationship.

Try being the key word here.

I learned a long time ago that the best apology is to simply say I’m sorry, I apologize, forgive me. No buts needed…or defensive arguments…or lectures about needing to listen. Anything else just falls flat and isn’t really an apology. The irony over who actually taught this to me is never lost on me. But that’s another story.

Today there was this.


I for one, one out of over 3 million practitioners, say okay, fine. Thank you. But that’s just me. Then again, I know that I am not alone. Last night I had the opportunity to take part in a very long conversation with some very smart Registered Nurses and one physician about what we jokingly refer to as the stethoscope incident. For us, we were at the point in this story to acknowledge that nurses united and showing our stethoscopes has made our voices heard in a big way. Johnson & Johnson, one of The View’s major advertiser had paused their ads on that show which meant revenue lost. Eggland’s Best, another advertiser also had pulled their ads…in support of the nursing profession. That’s powerful and we could not help but take note of that. Our conversation last night was what can we do with this loud voice of ours to educate the public, and knock down such stereotypes as the idea that nurses are wannabe doctors, doctors’ helpers, overpaid waitresses, maids and babysitters. Perhaps we can make known that while we are the most trusted, respected profession, we are often maligned just as much as other service related professions. Think of anytime something goes wrong or is less than one’s expectations when you or a loved one is hospitalized. Whomever is most at the bedside is more often than not blamed. We could use this opportunity to address patient safety as in nurse to patients ratios, short staffing and work hours. It would be a good time to discuss the ongoing nursing shortage and the low salaries of qualified nursing educators to educate and train nursing students. It’s also an opportunity to address the violence in the workplace nurses must deal with. My very first patient, when I was a nursing student punched me in the face…literally. I have twice in my career been threatened with bodily harm by an angry, distraught parent. My colleagues in the ER, adult floors and psych units are sometimes kicked, punched and physically threatened by those whom they are trying to care for. All of this was considered last night in our conversation about what shall we now do as 3+ million strong do with our voice.

So when the nearly six minute apology segment aired on The View today, I decided to accept it.

Of course they were pandering to the advertisers. Anyone could see that. But they did say I’m sorry, we apologize. They also gave an opportunity for our voice to be heard with what it is we do, the education and training we must have along with the skill, heart and physical and emotional endurance to do what we do. I’ll take it.

Now can I stop watching segments of The View because I am not a fan and have not really watched since Lisa Ling left the show…2002 in case anyone didn’t know. I sure hope so.

I understand for some nurses this apology is not enough. The nurses who appeared on the show are regarded as traitors. I imagine for some nothing will be enough. It’s hard to put down those torches and pitchforks once they are picked up I guess. But what, if anything, will right this wrong for them? The blood of the ladies of The View? Is that who we are as nurses? As educated, skilled, respected healthcare professionals?

I like to believe that we can move on. Joy, Michelle, Whoopi, Paula, and even Raven with her eye-rolling and I-can’t-believe-we-have-to-do-this-segment body language never should worry that they and their loved ones won’t receive the very best of care the next time they need a nurse because they will. It’s what we do. It’s part of the oath we have taken. As a nurse, over the last 25+ years, I have cared for the babies of Olympic athletes, professional athletes, musicians, politicians, television personalities, farm workers, prostitutes, the homeless, child molesters, clergy, doctors, drug dealers, convicts, gang members, illegal immigrants and just hard-working-everyday kind of people. At the bedside no one patient and their family was more important than another because ultimately my responsibility has been to provide the very best nursing care. I have been compelled to. It’s what I do. It’s what we all, as nurses, do.

Future RN? I don’t know. A Mima can dream. – Hazel Faye 2010

I, for one, believe that it is time that we nurses don our stethoscopes proudly, stand tall together and move on. But we should not be quiet. What has happened in the social media landscape shows just how powerful our voice is. People ARE listening. Who knows? Perhaps some of them will finally come to understand that we did not choose nursing because we were’t smart enough or too lazy to become doctors. Perhaps they finally will understand we do so much more than pass out medications and food trays. Maybe, just maybe they will begin to recognize that we are indeed one of the most vital part of the healthcare that they receive whether it is at the beginning, the middle or the end of their lives.

Oh and because my Dad asked, Kelley Johnson, RN, aka Miss Colorado was second runner up in the Miss America pageant so no, she did not win. But today she is the one contestant from the pageant whom we all are still talking about.