What if Religious Leaders Aligned Against Violence?

Motion Blur Stretcher Gurney Patient Hospital EmergencyAn OpEd by Meg Helgert, FNP

I’ve been thinking about all the shootings lately and what seems to be driving this…in a few words..fanatical religious thinking at some level, not necessarily the whole story, however a large majority of incidents seem related.  I wonder if more religious groups/leaders need to come together and help solve this.

Placing the burden for this squarely on the shoulders of the US government will not resolve this. It hasn’t so far and it is but a small part of a much bigger issue facing our country. Allowing the gun lobby to control members of congress and many splinter groups across the country isn’t a viable solution either. Church and state need to stay separated, so it makes sense for church leaders to open up dialogue with all faiths on this very serious problem we are facing, and make the first move.

It seems that many of the shootings involve believers or beliefs that are attributed to religious motives. As such, wouldn’t it make sense that a coalition of religious leaders who address how they are delivering their messages and what their message brings in this day and time might be an important step towards minimizing these shootings?

I maintain this would to be responsible church leadership. Gun control is one thing but definitely not the whole answer. Addressing mental health in our society is also part of the answer.  Nevertheless, many of folks believe strongly in what their religions teach them and religious leaders need to look seriously at the messages and doctrines they are preaching to their church members. This is definitely not a “quick fix” but a very positive start in the right direction. Many people look to religeous leaders for guidance and to this extent they have a profound responsibility in the messages they give their parishioners. Many of the messages given to members from the pulpit are taken literally and much of bible teaching is metaphorical. To know this difference is the mainstay of responsible church leadership.

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120px-Globe.svgThere is a huge responsibility in delivering a message based on peace and respect for all human beings; all walks of life and for all who inhabit this small blue planet we call home.
In my humble opinion…

Meg Helgert, Family Nurse Practitioner

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Hello fellow health care workers! (A fun & popular guest post by Marguerite Walker)

13495270_1805929552970505_950535724183008833_nAs a nurse for over 35 years it has come to my attention how vital it is to care for ourselves. And as the demands on the nurse “in the trenches” grows, it is crucial that we find healthy ways to strengthen our inner resources and still maintain our sense of humor.

My background includes CNA work on a neuro surgery unit in upstate New York. There I learned basic bedside nursing from some dedicated and fun loving nurses.

From their encouragement I decided to try my hand at nursing school. After pursuing different areas of nursing, everything except birthing babies and brain surgery, I discovered that patients and nursing staff alike truly appreciate humor and a song or two. The families need us, the doctors command us, and the administration expects of us professionalism.

Our jobs often take us places that require rapid decision making and nerves of steel. I believe we need to give ourselves time and space to breathe, to “whistle a happy tune” .
We as nurses can find beacons of light in the hectic workplace by supporting each other and “trying out” alternative behaviours. I know through improvisation
such things are possible.

One Halloween as charge nurse on an adult/ residential psychiatric unit, I dressed up as a fake furry godmother, with wand in hand. It was a delight to witness otherwise disengaged adults become smiling images of their true selves.

Learn more about how medical improv can bring light and levity into our workplaces and a lot more!!


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Salary Negotiations: The Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for a Raise!

by Emilie Lewis

(First published at Ready. Aim. Hire. Feb, 2016, Columbia College)

Salary negotiations are always tricky: A thin line between respecting your boss and your own value as an employee. With tons of advice and suggestions out there, we’ve narrowed it down to a list of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when asking for a raise.


Time it right: Plan an official meeting with your boss, don’t bring it up in the break room. Try not to schedule a meeting for a busy or stressful week, but don’t broach the subject if your compatwo nurses talkingny is in a slow period or slump.

Have a plan: Is your annual review coming up? Save the discussions for then. If not, map out exactly what you’re going to say and how you’re going to bring up the discussions. Practice on a friend so that you come across as confident but not entitled.

Have proof: Just because you’ve been with a company for another year doesn’t mean you deserve a raise. Have you recently taken on greater responsibility? Have you successfully led a project to completion? Keep track of your accomplishments and productivity and approach your boss after a successful performance.

Think about benefits vs. money:
Perhaps added benefits can be negotiated in place of a salary raise. Always wanted to attend that training in Hawaii? Maybe this could be an adequate reward for exceeding customer expectations. If your boss shies away at the mention of additional income, there might be a way to add benefits as compensation.

Consider job upgrade vs. pay upgrade: A change in job title might lead to a change in job salary. If you’ve been taking on tasks for co-workers or increasing your productivity to twice the expected rate, you might be eligible for a more prestigious job title, which might make your boss more inclined to increase your salary.

Compare yourself to others in the field: Ultimately a raise is about your value to the company. You need to prove that you’re an asset, one your boss needs to keep. Bring up the average salaries for others in your field and base your raise on your comparison to their output and performance.

Prepare to revisit if a raise isn’t achieved: If now isn’t the right time or your boss hedges on the raise, ask what you need to do in order to earn the extra money. Write down a timeline and specific goals and definitions of success and ask to revisit the idea in a few months.


Compare yourself to co-workers: No matter how unfair it might seem that your co-workers make more than you, don’t compare yourself to others in the office. Stick to your individual value and how you compare to others in the industry.

Get personal: Don’t spring the idea onto your boss and give a list of personal reasons why you need more money. Focus on your job description and how you consistently perform above expectations. Demonstrate the additional hours and effort you put into projects. Your boss doesn’t need to know that you want more money for that Vegas vacation.

Get aggressive or threaten to quit: The desire for a raise generally indicates that you’re looking for something more, don’t tell your boss flat out that you’ll quit if you don’t receive a higher salary. Appreciate that they might not be the ultimate decider and keep your temper in check if they don’t say yes.

Be afraid to move on: That being said, don’t stay with a company that doesn’t appreciate your value and work. If your boss continues to avoid the subject or refuses to make concrete timelines and decisions, consider finding a new company. You shouldn’t enter negotiations with quitting in mind, but respect your value and work and don’t be afraid to ask for adequate compensation.

About Emilie Lewis 

Emilie_0287After earning a degree in English, Emilie joined the Marketing Department at Columbia College as the Communications Coordinator. Her daily work includes writing copy for brochures, emails, the college’s website and anything else that requires words. Emilie is a voracious reader, a Ravenclaw and the proud owner of a horse named Shadowfax.

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Let’s Focus More on Listening to Improve Communication in Healthcare!

tears cryingIsn’t this a sad quote?

And while my doctors all said they were aware of the issue, it still felt as if no one was listening. –from Seth Mnookin’s article in the Boston Globe, “I’m A Recovering Addict. So Why Did My Doctors Give Me Opioids And Leave Me On My Own?”?

Problems with respectful and effective communication are serious, persistent,  and common in our healthcare system. And even though we are making exciting strides in promoting speaking up, we are missing important opportunities to emphasize listening. This is a big concern because listening is essential to the success of any efforts in promoting assertiveness and if we aren’t willing or able to listen we won’t be able to build and sustain cultures of safety.  We need to increase our focus on listening skills and practice.

To drive this point home, consider how these three BIG initiatives for improving communication emphasize speaking up, but show little focus on  listening.

  1. search-1 SBAR model for reporting clinical concerns or information during a handoff.
  2. The Joint Commission’s “Speak-up” initiative.
  3. TeamSTEPPS ‘Two-challenge’ Rule.

Granted these are great initiatives, but each of them could be stronger and more effective by incorporating strategies like these that emphasize listening!

  1. Use the GRRRR model for receiving information.
  2. Create a “We’re Listening” Campaign!
  3. Add a 3rd step to the “Two-challenge” Rule.

No doubt there are many other ideas out there waiting to be heard and once we decide to make listening a priority, it will become second nature to ensure that it is emphasized in all models and protocols.

What do you think?  Are we’ paying enough attention to listening?

Posted in Assertiveness, Communication in Healthcare, Complexity in nursing, Diversity, Healthy Workplaces, Holistic Health, Listening, Nurse Entreprenuers, Nurse Leadership, Patient Advocacy, Patient Safety | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment