Tag Archives: clinical supervision

Clean Hands. Clear Head.

Part 1. Clean Hands. Clear Head.

“Clean Hands. Clear Head.” is an animation of a mindfulness script that distills the content of my 2016 blog post “Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments” into a short (less than 2 minutes) video. The voice part was recorded on an iPhone at a hospital sink #authentic. The visuals were done on Prezi.

Here’s a link to the Prezi version of “Clean Hands. Clear Head.” prezi.com/jehramlhdkcm

Addit 29/03/20: to my surprise, some people want a text version. I won’t write out the whole thing (too long, a bit dull), but below are some key phrases:

This is my mindful moment.
The anxiety and tension will be washed away.
I will rub in the resilience and kindness that sustains me.
After 20 seconds or so I will pretend I’m TayTay, and shake it off. 🙂
I will smile, then will intentionally slow my breathing.
Me and my hands will be safe.

Feels free to use/modify PRN. I would be grateful for source attribution as “meta4RN.com/head”
Just in case it’s handy here is a PDF: CleanHandsClearHead
And here is a MS Word version: CleanHandsClearHead

Part 2. Surviving Emotionally Taxing Work Environments. March 2020 version.

On a related topic, for the last few years I’ve facilitated many hour-long, interactive sessions called “Self Care: Surviving Emotionally Taxing Work Environments.” for my fellow nurses at the hospital where I work. As at March 2020, I’m not confident that we’ll have an opportunity to meet face-to-face as a group all that often, so I’ve tweaked the session, tried to cut-down on the rambling, and have switched from hour-long interactive, to 20 minutes of well-intentioned, a tad-amateurish, youtube video embedded below:


Self Care: Surviving Emotionally Taxing Work Environments. March 2020 version.
(video, 20 mins)

Here’s a link to the Prezi version of “Self Care: Surviving Emotionally Taxing Work Environments. March 2020 version”: prezi.com/xcejt9pgd0b3

Part 3. References & Resources.

I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the March 2020 version of  “Self Care: Surviving Emotionally Taxing Work Environments.” Self-plagiarism? Nah – it’s a groovy remix of some favourite old songs. Regular visitors to meta4RN.com may recognise the repetition, and be quite bored with me using the website as a place to store updated versions of old stuff. Sorry about that, but it’s just so damn convenient. 🙂

Here are the resources and references used in the presentation: (because I’m recycling old ideas this list is ridiculously self-referential).

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses [www.acmhn.org], Australian College of Nursing [www.acn.edu.au], and Australian College of Midwives [www.midwives.org.au] (2019) Joint Position Statement: Clinical Supervision for Nurses + Midwives. Released online April 2019, PDF available via each organisation’s website, and here: ClinicalSupervisionJointPositionStatement

Australian Government (24 March 2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers
www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

Basic Life Support Procedure
https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/607098/pro_basiclifesprt.pdf

Eales, Sandra. (2018). A focus on psychological safety helps teams thrive. InScope, No. 08., Summer 2018 edition, published by Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union on 13/12/18, pages 58-59. Eales2018

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

Employee Assistance Service (via Queensland Health intranet)
qheps.health.qld.gov.au/hr/staff-health-wellbeing/counselling-support

Employee Assistance Service (via Benestar – the company that CHHHS contracts out to)
benestar.com

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Lai. J, Ma. S, Wang. Y, et al. (23 March 2020) Factors Associated With Mental Health Outcomes Among Health Care Workers Exposed to Coronavirus Disease 2019. JAMA Network Open.
jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2763229

Lalochezia (getting sweary doesn’t necessarily mean getting abusive) meta4RN.com/lalochezia

Nurse & Midwife Support nmsupport.org.au  phone 1800 667 877
– we have specifically targeted 24/7 confidential support available

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Queensland Health. (2009). Clinical Supervision Guidelines for Mental Health Services. PDF

Spector, P., Zhiqing, Z. & Che, X. (2014) Nurse exposure to physical and nonphysical violence, bullying, and sexual harassment: A quantitative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Vol 50(1), pp 72-84. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748913000357

That was bloody stressful! What’s next?
Web: meta4RN.com/bloody
QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0038/555779/That-was-bloody-stressful.pdf

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance (a reframing of reducing aggression) meta4RN.com/zero

End

Thanks for visiting. Let’s join the kindness pandemic to offset some of the crap that goes with the COVID19 pandemic.

As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Stay safe.

Paul McNamara, 25 March 2020

Short URL: meta4RN.com/head

Creative Commons Licence
Clean Hands. Clear Head. by Paul McNamara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Protecting Nurses and Patients

Q: What do wearing gloves, using lifting machines, legislating ratios and clinical supervision have in common?

A: They’re all measures that protect nurses and their patients. 

Gloves

Back in ye olde days when I started nursing (the 1980s) the concept of “universal precautions” was introduced (source). In short, suddenly all body fluids were to be treated as potentially infectious. It didn’t matter if you arrived in hospital as a needle-sharing, sexually promiscuous, pus-and-rash stricken bleeding wreck, or a saintly and demure sex, drug and rock-and-roll avoidant 80 year old nun, we treated your body fluids the same. Amongst the changes this heralded was that gloves were to be worn whenever there was a risk of coming into contact with body fluids. It was a new way of working for older nurses and doctors. For newbies it was just standard practice: so much so, that in the mid 1990s the term “universal precautions” was replaced by “standard precautions” in Australia (source). 

My first (short lived, temporary) job as a RN was in a nursing home. I had to argue for gloves to be made readily available for the AINs, ENs and RNs. The initial response was along the lines of: [1] using disposable gloves for every encounter with body fluids will be expensive, [2] nurses can wash their hands if they come into contact with urine or faeces, and [3] do you REALLY think that any of these elderly people have been sharing needles or having unprotected anal sex to contract HIV? They came around, but at first the management just did not understand that universal/standard precautions were not just a nuisance cost, but actually an investment in protecting staff and residents/patients.

Lifting

When I was a student nurse I was often made to feel very warm and fuzzy inside. Not because of my sparkling wit and ruggedly handsome looks (🙄), not because of my enthusiastic and self-motivated approach to work, not because of my knowledge or skill, but because I was able to lift people easier than some of my more petite colleagues. Big boofy blokey nurses were handy to have around when patients need to hoisted up a bed, onto a barouche, or transferred between bed and chair. 

In the hospital I trained in there were a few lifting machines. The way I remember* it, there were about 3 of them for a 900 bed hospital. So, I was a bit incredulous when I first heard of a “No Lift Policy” in the mid-1990s. “As if!”, I thought, “It will be too slow and too expensive to be practical. It’ll never happen.” Anyway, I was wrong. The No Lift Policy was implemented, and has since been renamed and reframed as Safe Patient Handling. The change has been endorsed by employers and the nurses’ union alike. Nurses of my age/era often have back pain, but younger/newer nurses are now better protected. The purchase of safe patient handling equipment and expense of training is not just a nuisance cost, but actually an investment in protecting staff and patients.

Nurses who were students in the 1980s (ie: pre-No Lift Policy)

Ratios

When I was a student nurse it would be usual to be allocated 6-8 patients on either a morning or afternoon shift, and up to 16ish on night shift. On a ward of over 30 patients in a surgical or medical ward in a large acute hospital, it was pretty standard for one RN and 2 student nurses to run the whole thing overnight. #scarynostalgia 

In Australia the states of Victoria and Queensland have legislated nurse:patient ratios. Since July 2016 Queensland nurse:patient ratios have been credited with avoiding 145 deaths, 255 readmissions, and 29 200 hospital bed-days. Amazingly, ratios have been evaluated to save up to $81 million (source). Implementing ratios to stop nurses from burning-out over workloads and to improve quality of care is not just a nuisance cost, but actually an investment in protecting staff and patients.

Clinical Supervision 

In April 2019 a joint position statement was issued by the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses and the Australian College of Midwives that Clinical Supervision is recommended for all nurses and midwives irrespective of their specific role, area of practice and years of experience (source). 

As articulated in the joint statement, there is consistent evidence that effective clinical supervision impacts positively on professional development, and retention of a healthy and sustainable workforce. There is also evidence that clinical supervision of health-care staff impacts positively on outcomes for service-users.

I expect to be still working full time in 5 years time, but not in 10. I hope that by the time I pull-up stumps clinical supervision becomes embedded in nursing practice. Clinical supervision is not just a nuisance cost, but actually an investment in protecting staff and patients. 

End Notes

*not a reliable source: I have the memory of a stoned goldfish

Thanks for reading this far. As always, feedback is welcomed via the comments section below.

Thanks to Stella Green for giving permission to share our nearly-funny SMS.

Paul McNamara, 31 August 2019

Short URL meta4RN.com/protect

Self Care: Surviving emotionally taxing work environments

The nature of nursing will mean that we are likely to be are exposed to a range of challenges. It’s not unusual for nurses to witness aggression, feel unsafe, have first-hand exposure to other people’s tragedies, and to deal with the physical and emotional outcomes of trauma. This emotionally taxing environment can be pretty stressful. It’s something we should talk about.

I’m often asked to talk about this sort of stuff at inservice education sessions. This page is a 2019 update to support those sessions.

Printed handouts are so last century.

“Self care: Surviving emotionally taxing work environments” is planned as an interactive session accompanied by visual cues to give the discussion a bit of structure. Consequently, the transcript/dialogue of the presentation can not be included here.  The visual presentation itself doesn’t use powerpoint slides. It uses the prettier (and free!) platform Prezi instead: prezi.com/skmu0lbnmkm5/first-thyself/#

I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the 2019 sessions. Self-plagiarism? Nah – it’s a groovy remix of some favourite old songs. Regular visitors to meta4RN.com may recognise the repetition, and be quite bored with me using the website as a place to store updated versions of old stuff. Sorry about that. I’ll pop-up a new and original post in coming days.

Here is the online presentation: Prezi

Here are the resources and references used in the presentation: (because I’m recycling old ideas this list is ridiculously self-referential).

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses [www.acmhn.org], Australian College of Nursing [www.acn.edu.au], and Australian College of Midwives [www.midwives.org.au] (2019) Joint Position Statement: Clinical Supervision for Nurses + Midwives. Released online April 2019, PDF available via each organisation’s website, and here: ClinicalSupervisionJointPositionStatement

Basic Life Support Procedure
https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0030/607098/pro_basiclifesprt.pdf

Dymphna (re the patron saint of mental health nurses) meta4RN.com/amazing

Eales, Sandra. (2018). A focus on psychological safety helps teams thrive. InScope, No. 08., Summer 2018 edition, published by Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union on 13/12/18, pages 58-59. Eales2018

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

Employee Assistance Service (via Queensland Health intranet)
qheps.health.qld.gov.au/hr/staff-health-wellbeing/counselling-support

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Lalochezia (getting sweary doesn’t necessarily mean getting abusive) meta4RN.com/lalochezia

Nurse & Midwife Support nmsupport.org.au  phone 1800 667 877
– we have specifically targeted 24/7 confidential support available

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Queensland Health. (2009). Clinical Supervision Guidelines for Mental Health Services. PDF

Spector, P., Zhiqing, Z. & Che, X. (2014) Nurse exposure to physical and nonphysical violence, bullying, and sexual harassment: A quantitative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Vol 50(1), pp 72-84. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748913000357

That was bloody stressful! What’s next?
Web: meta4RN.com/bloody
QHEPS: https://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0038/555779/That-was-bloody-stressful.pdf

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance (a reframing of reducing aggression) meta4RN.com/zero

It’s OK if you forget everything about today’s talk, just don’t forget that there is 24 hour support available via 1800 667 877 or https://nmsupport.org.au

End

Please have a play with the pretty Prezi: http://prezi.com/0ysapc6z9aqg

Thanks for visiting. As always your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 22 February 2019

Short URL: meta4RN.com/SelfCare

 

 

Australian Clinical Supervision Association (ACSA) inaugural Cairns Local Members Meeting

The Australian Clinical Supervision Association (ACSA) inaugural Cairns Local Members Meeting will be held on 22 November 2018. I’ve been asked to be guest speaker. It is planned as an interactive session accompanied by visual cues to give the discussion a bit of structure. Consequently, the transcript/dialogue of the presentation can not be included here, but I have included a cut-down YouTube version below [scroll down].

The visual presentation itself doesn’t use powerpoint slides. It uses the much prettier (and free!) platform Prezi instead.

This page serves as a one-stop directory to the online resources used to support the discussion, and as an easy way for me to find the presentation. 🙂

As previous visitors to meta4RN.com will readily recognise, I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the session (there’s that self-plagiarism vs groovy remix of favourite old songs thing again), so this list below is ridiculously self-referential:

Care goes in. Crap goes out. Ian Miller @ The Nurse Path, 30 May 2017
thenursepath.blog/care-goes-in-crap-goes-out

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

First Thyself (the core source of info for the visual aspects of this presentation) meta4RN.com/thyself

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Queensland Health (2009) Clinical Supervision Guidelines for Mental Health Services [PDF]

Sample Clinical Supervision Agreement (no need to reinvent the wheel – start with a wheel that works and tailor it to your needs) meta4RN.com/sample

Prezi

Click to access the presentation.

You Tube Version

Link: https://youtu.be/fYKl7W8RFBo

End

That’s it. Thanks for visiting.

As always, please feel free to leave comments in the section below.

Paul McNamara, 15 November 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/ACSA

 

Clinical Care and Clinical Supervision

On Monday 17th September 2018 I’ll be presenting to the Cairns & Hinterland HHS palliative care team regarding clinical care and clinical supervision. It is planned as an interactive session accompanied by visual cues to give the discussion a bit of structure. Consequently, the transcript/dialogue of the presentation can not be included here.  The visual presentation itself doesn’t use powerpoint slides. It uses the prettier (and free!) platform Prezi instead: http://prezi.com/gtsqjgs9zdby

This page serves as a one-stop directory to the online resources used to support the discussion, and as an easy way for me to find the presentation. 🙂

I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the session (there’s that self-plagiarist vs groovy remix of favourite old songs thing again), so this list below is ridiculously self-referential:

Care goes in. Crap goes out. Ian Miller @ The Nurse Path, 30 May 2017
thenursepath.blog/care-goes-in-crap-goes-out

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

First Thyself (the core source of info for the visual aspects of this presentation) meta4RN.com/thyself

Flowchart courtesy of Dr Alex Psirides (aka  on Twitter), ICU, Wellington, New Zealand, sourced here:

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Joseph Heller quote from Catch-22 (1961):
“People knew a lot more about dying inside the hospital, and made a much neater, more orderly job of it. They couldn’t dominate Death inside the hospital, but they certainly made her behave. They had taught her manners. They couldn’t keep death out, but while she was in she had to act like a lady.”

Living Close to the Water (re #dyingtoknowday and emotional intelligence) meta4RN.com/water 

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Sample Clinical Supervision Agreement (no need to reinvent the wheel – start with a wheel that works and tailor it to your needs) meta4RN.com/sample

Woody Allen quote from Without Feathers (1975)
“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

End

That’s it. Please feel free to play with the pretty prezi: prezi.com/gtsqjgs9zdby

Also, as always, please feel free to leave comments in the section below.

Thanks for visiting.

Paul McNamara, 2nd September 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/care

 

#WeNurses Twitter Chat re Communication and Compassion

On 21st December 2012 (Cairns time) nurses from the United Kingdom and Australia came together on Twitter using the #WeNurses hashtag. The planned Twitter chat was used to discuss issues raised by the much-publicised death of a nursing colleague – Jacintha Saldanha.

This curated version of the Twitter chat demonstrates nurses using social media in a constructive manner, and responding to the issues surrounding Jacintha’s passing with thoughtfulness and grace. This was in sharp contrast to the shrill, insensitive and ill-informed way the matter was discussed elsewhere on social media and in mainstream media in the UK and Australia.

I’ve used sub-headings in red to structure the chat as per the themes that emerged.

WordCloud created from the full transcript of the #WeNurses Twitter chat

Preliminary Information.
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Introductions.
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Setting The Tone.
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Social Media.
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Individualising Communication & Confidentiality.
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WiFi for Hospital Patients.
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Compassion.
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Prank Call.
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Targeted Crisis Support.
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Clinical Supervision (aka Peer Supervision, aka Guided Reflective Practice).
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Supportive Workplaces.
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Preventative/Early-Intervention Resources.
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The 6Cs (Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage & Commitment).
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Integrating Defusing Emotions into Clinical Practice.
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Finishing-Up: Key Learnings.
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Farewells.
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Explanation

These Tweets were initially compiled using a social media aggregation tool called Storify
storify.com/meta4RN/communication-and-compassion

Unfortunately, Storify is shutting-down on 16 May 2018 and all content will be deleted.

I’m using my blog as a place to mimic/save the Storify pages I created and value.

End Notes

This archive of Tweets relate directly to two blog posts I wrote at the time. If you’re interested in elaboration re the context at the time, please visit these pages:
Questions of Compassion meta4RN.com/questions-of-compassion
WeNurses: Communication and Compassion meta4RN.com/WeNurses

As always, please use the comments section below for any feedback/questions.

Paul McNamara, 3rd April 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/Chat

@WePublicHeath

For the week Monday 27th January to Sunday 2nd February 2014 I was able to use the @WePublicHealth Twitter handle, thanks to the generosity of Melissa Sweet (aka @croakeyblog).


Here’s what happened:

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Explanation

These Tweets were initially compiled using a social media aggregation tool called Storify
storify.com/meta4RN/wepublichealth

Unfortunately, Storify is shutting-down on 16 May 2018 and all content will be deleted.

I’m using my blog as a place to mimic/save the Storify pages I created and value.

End

 

A big shout-out to Melissa Sweet. I am very grateful to Melissa for inviting a mental health nurse to have a stint on @WePublicHealth.

Melissa is a rockstar of public health and health social media in Australia. If you’re not familiar with her work read-up about Melissa here, and “croakey“, the social journalism project of which she is the lead editor, here. More info re @WePublicHealth, the rotated curation Twitter account that Melissa coordinates, here.

As always, please use the comments section below for any feedback/questions.

Paul McNamara, 2nd April 2018

Short URL: meta4RN.com/WePublicHealth

First Thyself

First Thyself – Surviving Emotionally Taxing Work Environments

On 28th April 2017 I’ll be presenting a session at the Ausmed “Breaking Point: Ice & Methamphetamine Conference” in Cairns. More info about the conference here: https://www.ausmed.com.au/course/ice-methamphetamine#overview

The nature of nursing will mean that we are likely to be are exposed to a range of challenges.

Feeling unsafe, witnessing violence, tragedy and dealing with trauma are some examples.

This emotionally taxing environment can result in tension with colleagues, family and friends.

This session will begin day two of the conference by creating an opportunity to discuss the following:

What are the professional implications of working in challenging areas of nursing and healthcare?

How can we maintain unconditional positive regard?

Why self-care matters and how to practice what we preach!

What’s all this then?

“First Thyself” is planned as an interactive session accompanied by visual cues to give the discussion a bit of structure. Consequently, the transcript/dialogue of the presentation can not be included here.  The visual presentation itself doesn’t use powerpoint slides. It uses the prettier (and free!) platform Prezi instead: prezi.com/skmu0lbnmkm5/first-thyself/#

This page serves as a one-stop directory to the online resources used to support the discussion.

I’m recycling and combining a lot of old ideas for the session (there’s that self-plagiarist vs groovy remix of favourite old songs thing again).

Here is the online presentation: Prezi

Here are the resources and references used in the presentation:

Emotional Aftershocks (the story of Fire Extinguisher Guy & Nursing Ring Theory) meta4RN.com/aftershocks

Football, Nursing and Clinical Supervision (re validating protected time for reflection and skill rehearsal) meta4RN.com/footy

Hand Hygiene and Mindful Moments (re insitu self-care strategies) meta4RN.com/hygiene

Lalochezia (getting sweary doesn’t necessarily mean getting abusive) meta4RN.com/lalochezia

Nurse & Midwife Support nmsupport.org.au  phone 1800 667 877
– we have specifically targeted 24/7 confidential support available

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma (re the alarming toll of those who undertake emotional labour) meta4RN.com/stigma

Nurturing the Nurturers (the Pit Head Baths and clinical supervision stories) meta4RN.com/nurturers

Spector, P., Zhiqing, Z. & Che, X. (2014) Nurse exposure to physical and nonphysical violence, bullying, and sexual harassment: A quantitative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies. Vol 50(1), pp 72-84. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020748913000357

Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance (a reframing of reducing aggression) meta4RN.com/zero

It’s OK if you forget everything about today’s talk, just don’t forget that there is 24 hour support available via 1800 667 877 or https://nmsupport.org.au

End

Please have a play with the pretty Prezi prezi.com/skmu0lbnmkm5/first-thyself/#

Thanks for visiting. As always your comments are welcome.

Paul McNamara, 30 March 2017

Short URL: meta4RN.com/thyself

 

 

Nurses, Midwives, Medical Practitioners, Suicide and Stigma

Trigger Alert – this blog contains info re suicide which may be unsettling for some people.

Alarming Data

Click to enlarge. To keep the data handy, save the image to your phone.

Click to enlarge. To keep the data handy, save the image to your phone.

A retrospective study into suicide in Australia from 2001 to 2012 uncovered these alarming four findings:

Female Medical Professionals 128% more likely to suicide than females in other occupations
(6.4 per 100,000 vs 2.8 per 100.000)

Female Nurses & Midwives 192% more likely to suicide than females in other occupations
(8.2 per 100,000 vs 2.8 per 100.000)

Male Nurses & Midwives 52% more likely to suicide than males in other occupations
(22.7 per 100,000 vs 14.9 per 100.000)

Male Nurses & Midwives 196% more likely to suicide than their female colleagues
(22.7 per 100,000 vs 8.2 per 100.000)

Data source: Milner, A.J., Maheen, H., Bismark, M.M., & Spittal, M.J. (2016) Suicide by health professionals: a retrospective mortality study in Australia, 2001–2012. Medical Journal of Australia 205 (6): 260-265

Suicide is a complex matter that does not lend itself to easy understanding or simple solutions. However, something we know about health professionals is that they know that there are mental health services and supports. Health professionals know that these services can be accessed by people who who are feeling suicidal. The data suggests that health professionals have an actual or perceived barrier to accessing these existing supports. I wonder what that barrier is.

Stigma?

Could it be that nurses, midwives and medical professionals suicide at a greater rate than the other occupations because of actual or perceived stigma? We have the peculiar privilege of providing care for strangers who are/have been suicidal, but perhaps we aren’t so good at extending that nurturing care to ourselves and each other.

I have a suggestion for health professionals. If you ever come across a colleague who says something derogatory or stigmatising about a person experiencing mental health problems or suicidality, politely show them the data,. Save the chart above to your phone and show them that suicide is a bigger problem for nurses, midwives and female medical professionals than it is for people in other occupations. Say something like, “Suicide is an important issue for our colleagues too. Let’s both care for this patient like we would like to be cared for.”

You’re very welcome to share the chart above or this blog post with your colleagues – the short URL is https://meta4RN.com/stigma

There’s also a PDF version of the chart here: stigma

Hopefully, sometime down the track, the data will result in targeted support for the prevention of suicide by health professionals. However, we need not wait for our political masters, health bureaucracies and professional organisations before we walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk of fighting stigma.

If we see mental health/suicide stigma we should address it on the spot.

In the words of Lieutenant General David Morrison, “The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept.” As the data shows, it is dangerous for nurses, midwives, medical professionals and other health professionals to accept stigma.

alarmingdata

Support

It’s important to acknowledge that talking and thinking about suicide can be distressing. People in Australia can access support via:

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467

MindHealthConnect www.mindhealthconnect.org.au

phone_hotline-40Outside of Australia and not sure where to get support? Google usually displays a red telephone icon and your country’s suicide support phone number when searching for a suicide-related topic.

End

That’s it. As always your comments are welcome in the section below.

Paul McNamara, 26th September 2016

The short URL for this page is https://meta4RN.com/stigma

Just in case you missed it above, here’s the original paper citation and link:
Milner, A.J., Maheen, H., Bismark, M.M., & Spittal, M.J. (2016) Suicide by health professionals: a retrospective mortality study in Australia, 2001–2012. Medical Journal of Australia 205 (6): 260-265

The Last 40-Odd Weeks

This blog post has one purpose only.

It is to explain why I have been so uncharacteristically vague, and often distracted, for the last 40-odd weeks.

During that time many dozens of people (most of them uni students, but also friends, family and colleagues) have asked this question: “Are you still teaching at the uni?” My wishy-washy responses have been along these lines:
“Hopefully!”
“I’m not sure.”
or the hilariously inaccurate “Ask me again in a couple of weeks.”

FullSizeRender copy

Let me explain/elaborate by using a timeline:

1995: Started working for the health department full-time [see LinkedIn]

1996: Started working for the uni temporarily/part-time – an arrangement that continues sporadically over the years that follow [see LinkedIn]

May 2015: I’m working at the uni. Casual chat between senior uni colleague and I. Outcome = let’s think about the possibility of a shared position between the uni and the health department. There would be some benefits to both organisations. It’d be a pretty cool gig, I reckon.

June 2015: Senior uni colleague says “let’s do it!”. A meeting is held between senior uni colleague and a senior health department colleague. Verbal agreement established. The uni sends a contract to the health department. The first draft of the role description is drawn up by the uni and sent to the health department. The contract and position description cite an October 2015 start date.

July 2015: I’m back at the health department. I make sure that people who need to know about the new position coming know, and offer to help progress things along if I can. Funding’s an issue, of course, but there should be a way…

August 2015: I make occasional enquiries. Bureaucracies need processes and time. Be patient.

September 2015: More enquiries. It’s all about the paper-trail, funding, signatures. Be patient.

October 2015: My enquiries must be getting a bit too shrill. Emails are not answered. Phone calls are not returned. The intended start-date for the position passes.

November 2015: I’m getting anxious about the delayed start not leaving enough time for 2016 subject preparation. I start pulling on the very few levers that are available to me: someone who knows someone who knows someone will look into it. I rescheduled my December flights: if I happen to get this job I won’t have time to go to Japan in December. The teaching starts in January, and there needs to be subject preparation.

December 2015: The position is advertised. Yay!
My request for consideration of transfer at level so as to expedite the position starting in a timely manner is declined. Bugger.
I send in my application and hope for the best.

8th January 2016: Interviewed for the position. I was phoned after the interview and offered a 3 month secondment into the position. That’s weird. It’s funded for 5 years. I ask to think about it over the weekend.

8th-10th January 2016:  Consult with my wife and trusted friends. Consensus is that if I’m good enough to do the job for 3 months, it’s weird that I’m not good enough to do the job for the term of the contract. I find myself thinking of the refrain from Bob Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man:
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

11th January 2016: “Thank you very much for offering me a 3 month position. However, I applied for a 5 year position. I can only commit to the position if the organisation commits to me.” Nice try Paul. “We’ll let you know when we schedule another interview.”

18th January 2016: The uni teaching period starts. The subject is underway without the position being filled.

2nd February 2016: Interviewed for the position again.

2nd February – 31st March 2016: I hear nothing at all officially. Other people do. It makes its way along the health department grapevine that someone else has been successful. One of those whispers reaches me via a convoluted track. I’m disappointed, of course, but not surprised. Silence is the polar opposite of someone enthusiastically saying, “Congrats! We reckon you’ll be great! When can you start?”

1st April 2016 (no, not joking): An email from noreply@smartjobs.qld.gov.au that says “I wish to advise that on this occasion you have not been successful in obtaining the position.”

So that’s it.

I can drop the vague, unknowing responses to enquiries now. It’s a relief to know. It’s a relief to be able to be open and transparent again. I didn’t get the job that I was hoping for. Yes, of course I am disappointed. However, I am totally accepting of the obvious fact that there was another candidate for the position who is better credentialed, better prepared and/or more meritorious for the role.

Ricky Ponting wouldn’t feel bad if somebody said Don Bradman was a better cricketer than him. Same-same, but different. Not that I’m the Ricky Ponting of mental health nurse education. More like Boof Lehmann, I reckon. 🙂

I am disappointed by how long the whole recruiting process took. The uni sent the contract and position description to the health department in June 2015. It’s taken the health department until April 2016 to fill the position. That’s longer than a human pregnancy.

IMG_7564

Despite being there for the courtship, conception and gestation, I now know it’s not my baby.

The other lesson I’ve taken from this is to cautiously self-monitor my behaviour at work (I’m a mental health nurse in a general hospital ). In clinical supervision we recognise that there are parallel processes: how a nurse treats a patient can be influenced by how the organisation treats the nurse. It is prudent that I be especially intentional and vigilant to treat my patients in a timely manner, and with the kindness and respect they deserve.

The last 40-odd weeks have been odd. Sorry about all my distractibility and wishy-washy responses to questions during that time. I hope this timeline/blog post explains it all.

End

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Paul McNamara, 3rd April 2016

Short URL: http://meta4RN.com/40weeks