The road less traveled

If you heard my “how I got here” on RN.FM Radio, then I’ll go ahead and build on a subject that may have you question about whether I’m a “real nurse” or not. If you didn’t listen in the other night, what are you waiting for? Get over there and check out the show.

I briefly spoke about my clinical experience at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the wonderful professionals that I had the fortunate opportunity to work with during my “tour of duty.” Each and every time that I have a chance go back for a moment and speak about my Hopkins days, I do so with great enthusiasm. I worked in the cardiovascular surgical ICU for two years, and I truly feel that this experience provided me with a tremendous foundation that helped me build the company that I have today. Not to mention, it was just a really cool place to work. I found great pleasure and pride to be a Hopkins Nurse. I usually showed up 30 minutes early for each shift, ready to take report on my patient and hit the ground running with great vigor, hungry for knowledge, soaking up every nugget of information that I could, and ultimately wanting to positively impact my patient that day.

There were plenty of extremely complex patients, multiple machines and meds, various consults throughout the day, and even the occasional 2 nurses per 1 patient ratio. For some, you simply can’t imagine, and for those who understand, well, then you know where I’m coming from. I don’t wish for anyone to be a medical wreck like we sometimes had on the unit, but I truly felt as if I was thriving in that situation, and I knew that I had a tremendous team providing support.  On the show, I spoke briefly about our ability as RN’s in CSICU to truly have some input on our patients. Now, let me preface that we of course had standard post surgical protocols and procedures that we followed, but there were plenty of situations where “standard” just wasn’t working for my patient that day.

Okay people, aren’t there times when we have to complicate things every now and again, and shake things up a bit? Sometimes we just have to stir the pot. I just wish a few of those patients didn’t choose to do that on my shift.

So, each morning (or evening, depending on the shift), we rounded on our patients to discuss what the plan of care was going to be. This could have been the plan for the day, the shift, or each hour depending on how critical the patient was at the time. I can’t begin to tell you how fantastic it is to truly feel like I was in a collaborative environment. Surrounded, by nurses, physicians, respiratory, and pharmacy, discussing what the plan was for this patient. Each one of us contributing to the overall care, and outcomes of these patients. Some of you may be thinking, “oh sure, that’s how it is at the bedside.” Well, it was for me, but feel free to chime in here if I’m glorifying the situation. Remember, this is through my eyes, my own experience, and this is just my opinion. Let me not digress too much here. I just want to reiterate that this was a real team approach. So, to my Hopkins colleagues that I toured with, Thank you all. Your breadth of knowledge, clinical expertise, and willingness to educate has carried on ten fold into my current practice as a nurse.

Okay, let’s open the can of worms here and see what happens, shall we? Let’s talk about that elephant in the room. Fast forward to this moment right now. Are you with me? So, for the last four years I have been away from the bedside, running a business, rallying a movement to shake things up a bit in our current healthcare system. All good things I can assure you, but let me go ahead and discuss that can of worms that we just opened, and talk about that elephant. Let’s really define who I am professionally.

First, I am a Registered Nurse, and proud to be a part of this prestigious group of professionals. Over the top? Not at all. If you’re a nurse and not proud to be one, then you really need to reach out and let me give you some perspective. Second, I founded and currently run a medical consulting company. I don’t get wrapped up in titles. President, CEO, or rock-star in charge (I know I’ve seen this somewhere). Call me whatever, but I’m a nurse (RN), and if you have the chance to meet me, you’ll quickly realize that I’m serious about it, and still hungry for that knowledge. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it or I’ll find someone who does and I won’t rest until I fully grasp it.

Why am I telling you this? Well, let’s get back to that elephant (the worms scooted off somewhere), because I want to let you in on something about being a “real nurse.” I left the bedside not because I wanted to, but essentially because my wife had an opportunity to work at a company that would provide her with commensurate experience that Hopkins did for me professionally. We had to move for her career. Hey, she moved for me. So, I just took this opportunity to evolve as a nurse, and combine my clinical skills with my business knowledge.

My company was born at the dining room table just mere feet away from where I’m typing this, and it has evolved into an organization that now fills a gaping hole for a variety of under served populations. Just like Hopkins, we work with some of the most medically complex patients you could imagine. Assessing, analyzing the data, and putting all of the pieces together is no easy task. Some of these individuals are one or two steps away from ending up in the ER, and potentially the ICU. They’re in your community. So here I am again, working with extremely complex patients, multiple medications (and machines in some cases), multiple healthcare provider consults, and even the occasional 2 or 3 other nurses on 1 patient to look at every angle. I’m out there in homes, schools, various clinical settings, and in the community elevating the level of care that my patients receive. Giving them the opportunity to experience their next level of wellness.

The focus here at Innovative Nurse is about embracing the role that fits you, that makes you want to get up everyday and do it again, that pushes you to be better no matter what the setting. So to those nurses who are at the bedside, I’ve got nothing but respect for you. I was there, but I never quit being a “real nurse,” I just evolved. I’m fighting the good fight out here, making clinical decisions and collaborating with medical teams striving for positive outcomes. Sure, there’s been a time when I left the board room, or the office, and just by chance walked into a situation where I had to make a split second decision to save a life. No monitors, no equipment, EMS several minutes away, essentially no back up right there in the moment. Just instinct, knowledge, experience, and my razor sharp focus on trying to summon a life back…

And, that was just Tuesday for me.


  1. betsbush on January 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    The thing about being a “real nurse” is that it can be defined so many ways. “Being real” or being authentic in our care, in our moment with a patient, a client, or a colleague, is paramount. It’s so important that we continue to open doors that expand and evolve that definition of what being a real nurse means to each of us.

  2. AnnaMorrison on January 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    innovativenurse Great post, brother! Excellent perspective on what it means to be a ‘real nurse.’ I think it’s so vital to continue pushing and expanding the definition of what it means to be a nurse. When we do that, the doors to expanded ‘reach’ and nursing influence open alongside the definition itself.

  3. innovativenurse on January 11, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    @AnnaMorrison and Betsy. Thanks so much for adding to the post. It’s exactly the message I’m trying to convey. Like I said, much respect to all of you in “traditional” nursing roles. Nursing isn’t static. It’s an ever evolving profession…especially if I have something to do about it. Rock on Nurses!

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