Tag Archive for: welsnurses122018

Remaining Steadfast in Unsteady Times

Have you ever taken a stress Q&A?

I remember taking one in nursing school. If you checked “yes” to three or more questions it indicated that you had stress. If you think about it, there is not a day that goes by without some stress. There are good stressors, such as a wedding, a trip, a new baby, and a new job just to name a few. Some bad stressors are not being prepared for a test, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, and divorce.

So what does stress have to do with remaining steadfast in unsteady times? During unsteady times it is especially stressful. We may lose our job because we witnessed to a patient, our marriage may end in divorce because our spouse got caught up in the evil of mainly “worship yourself,” or we may lose our business because we will not compromise our faith values.

Are you getting stressed out just reading this? Then read on: God reassures us in his Word.

In 1 Corinthians 15: 57-58, Paul reminds us “Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:7-11 “Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen”

Resting in God’s eternal promises we can remain steadfast in unsteady times.

By Anne Mackey RN, PN

 

 

 

Caring for Yourself as a Caregiver

By Alexis Adams MS, Professional Counselor

From finishing school, to becoming a mom, to working full time, I have found that I often spread myself too thin, taking on the role of helper but ultimately neglecting to help myself. I am sure many of you can relate. Particularly, in my field of work as a professional counselor, I am surrounded by struggling individuals and families, and I have the honor and challenge of being present with them and their emotionally heavy struggles. Do not get me wrong—I love what I do and I would not change it for the world. However, in doing what I do, I am required to be a little more proactive in preventing myself from burning out. The goals and principles outlined below have helped me as a professional counselor to manage self-care effectively and will also benefit those in a nursing profession.

It is a bit ironic that one of my greatest struggles is also one of the things I advocate most for my clients to use in their own lives. I remind them of how absolutely essential taking time for themselves is. I preach to them that they cannot pour from an empty cup, yet I have difficulty heeding my own words. I make excuses such as I am too busy or I will do it later when things settle, which they never will, so that futuristic date is ever elusive. I feel that the real message I am sending is that I am somehow above taking time for self-care, that informing others of its many benefits is somehow sufficient. This is like telling the pastor that because he preaches God’s Word to his congregation, he does not have to be in Scripture to feed his own soul.

I understand the importance of self-care, especially given the nature of my work. I truly do not believe it is beneath me—far from it. I, like other health professionals, carry a lot on my plate. Bogged down by heavy caseloads, troubled people, administration, and life stress…the list never seems to end. Self-care is even more pertinent to my life and well-being because others are counting on me, and I cannot give to them if I have nothing left to give.

Based on the research and my own life experience, most of self-care begins with being mindfully aware of ourselves. That involves being conscious of our limits, needs, triggers, and warning signs, as well as knowing what our norm is and when we have exceeded that point. For example, I know that I need to take a step back and give myself some attention when I lack the desire and energy to involve myself with others or do the things I most enjoy. However, by that point it is too late for me—I am emotionally exhausted and ineffective in serving others. So instead, I have compiled a preventative list: things that you can do or keep in mind in order to prevent burnout as well as ways to incorporate more self-care into your everyday life in order to avoid reaching that point.

First, as difficult as it may be, leave work at work. In my own life, this is often a cop-out for why I do not have time to take care of myself. I come home and take care of the needs of my family and then continue to occupy my time with e-mails and paperwork, leaving no room for the things I enjoy for myself. I have to remind myself that the e-mail I want to reply to will still be waiting for me when I return in the morning. I do understand that things pile up and that there never seems to be enough hours in the day to do all that we need to do. However, consider the supply and demand principle. The more time we allow ourselves to supply, the more our work will demand.

Next, be familiar with common warning signs of impending burnout. They are different for every person, but some examples include loss of hope, feeling numb or distant, lack of pleasure in things that were once pleasurable, thinking of work outside of work, etc. Once you are aware of your signs, be sure to listen to them. They are your mind’s way of telling you to take a break.

This leads to my next point: be sure to do something that you enjoy at least once a week, if not once a day. Anything will do, but be sure that no matter what you do, you do it for you. For some, that might mean going on a run or listening to their favorite type of music. Others may garden or build something. It is much less about what you do and more about making the time to do it. Whatever you do does not have to be time consuming; you may only have a few short minutes most days, but once a week you should block off a few hours. Again, the goal is to find something that you can reasonably do that helps you to find peace.

Ask for help if you need it. Often I feel that we as helpers believe we must be superhuman—that we cannot have needs or problems, which ultimately sets us up for failure when we are confronted with reality. Realize that it is not weakness to seek out support. It does not make you any less effective as a helper, but rather makes you stronger because you are not left to shoulder the burden alone. We all have problems that we carry on our hearts, and I encourage you to share them. Our shared experience can be empowering. It reminds us that we are not alone and gives us new insight into how to address our problem from a different angle. Please seek out the support of someone you trust—someone who is familiar with you who can check in with you on a regular basis. Perhaps that person is a friend, colleague, supervisor, or trained counselor—someone you feel that you can go to.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, be sure to actually ask for help. We cannot expect for people to be able to read our minds. They may have no idea you are struggling until you reach out, and not for lack of caring. Sometimes it can be difficult to bridge that gap, to check in with someone for fear that we may embarrass them or be off-base.

As simple as it may seem, part of self-care is taking care of the basic necessities. Make sure that you are getting decent sleep on a regular basis, eating balanced meals, getting regular physical activity, and keeping up with personal hygiene. To that degree, be sure that you are taking time for self-care in all facets of your well-being, not just the physical. Take care of your emotional, spiritual, mental, and social self as well. I like to view the whole person and all their parts as a wheel, with each of the facets of the whole person being represented by a spoke. If any one spoke were to become too long (that is, you are devoting too much time to it) or too short (that is, you’re not spending enough time attending to it), then the wheel will not roll. We must balance to maintain all areas of life equally.

Trying to keep up with everything in life can be exhausting. Give yourself permission to take a break. Take time to take time off. Go on a vacation. Step away in order to refresh. You are not doing yourself or anyone else any favors by being the workaholic martyr. In fact, research has found that people who use their vacation time or take a break from work are more productive in the long run.

Another thing to take into consideration is your perspective. Be realistic about how much you can control and do. It will help alleviate some of the unnecessary stress that you put on yourself. While we have the best intentions and truly desire to help others as caregivers, there is only so much we are able to do. The rest is out of our control. Make peace with the fact that you tried and did your best, and allow for God’s will to be done. Remind yourself that God says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), with the realization that he is present in your many vocations and duties.

Finally, be your own cheerleader. Give yourself positive affirmations. The work we do is draining. There is minimal appreciation, yet we pour our hearts and souls into it. It is OK to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. I find it helpful to keep notes from previous clients, students, or peers tacked to my walls or inside my cabinets to serve as reminders that I have made a difference in someone’s life. It helps me to get through the days that are especially tough, when I doubt why I do what I do, and when it is difficult to feel like I am enough.

Making time for self-care is not an easy feat. There will always be excuses or other things to be done, but it is important to keep in mind that you are a priority. You have to be—not only for your own benefit, but also for those you serve.

Alexis Adams, MS, is a professional counselor at the Christian Family Solutions counseling clinic in Mankato, Minn. She specializes in working with individuals who have experienced trauma, are dealing with attachment-related concerns, and who struggle with addiction. She also works with combat veterans. For more information about counseling services through Christian Family Solutions at their multiple clinic locations or via secure video, please visit ChristianFamilySolutions.org.

 

 

 

 

Serving on a Short-term Medical Mission Trip

By Kathleen Lee MS, RN, WELSNA Treasurer

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). This is a verse from a daily devotion I read as I prepared for a medical mission trip with Christians Forward – Southeast Asia (CFSA) (christiansforward.org). I thought the verse fit the situation well. The trip was not to Thailand as many of the CFSA trips are, but to Mahahual, Mexico, a first for the organization. Mahahual is the site of the Costa Maya Ministries (costamayaministries.org) and the Cruz de Cristo Lutheran Church. The church is served by Martin Valleskey, a WELS pastor. A group of three RNs, one LPN, and two non-medical individuals were part of the mission team.

According to Anne Press, executive director of CFSA, the organization provides opportunities for nurses to serve in a short-term mission and to witness and demonstrate Christian love to others during the mission trip. CFSA also has roles for non-medical individuals in both manual labor and medical trips.

On our team, Jill Holter, a Christian day school teacher from Tacoma, Wash., served as an assistant.

The team offered nurse-run clinics on five days. Two were in the “middle class” section of Mahahual (that is middle class by Mahahual standards), two were in the poorer section of Mahahual, known as Kilometer 55, and one took place about an hour away in the poor village of Xcalak. At each clinic site, there were three “nurse tables.” The table was manned by an RN, an assistant (either the LPN or a non-medical person), and an interpreter for the non-Spanish speaking nurses. Patients would approach the table and share their medical complaint or make a medical request. The RN would assess the patient and then offer education and/or over-the-counter medications. We treated complaints including headaches, GI distress, skin conditions, pain, and parasites. When a patient could not be treated with the over the counter medications, they were encouraged to see a doctor. We were able to check blood sugars, total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides with equipment lent to us from a local clinic. Each patient was given information about Costa Maya Ministries Bible studies and the Sunday church service.

My nursing teammates commented on serving in Mahahual. Marilyn Schwartzbauer, a critical care nurse from Bismarck, N.D., stated the team was able to provide basic health care in a moment’s time. We did not have an opportunity to follow up. As nurses, we were limited to treating minor problems and providing education. Education included teaching non-pharmacologic methods to manage the problems including stress management. Carol Laumer, an LPN from Willmer, Minn., is motivated by the thought of helping others. She wished the team could do even more for those we served. She believes that as a servant we need to avoid acting superior and must be willing to do all of the necessary tasks. Meghan Mortenson, a bilingual clinic and home health nurse from Green Bay, Wis., stated when serving others it is important to understand the patient’s perspective and then meet their individual needs. I am a retired RN from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., and the WELSNA treasurer. I view serving as doing for others the things they cannot do for themselves. It is important to keep the focus on the people and their needs.

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Mahahual and Xcalak and to work with a wonderful team of Christian women.

 

 

 

 

Parish Nurse Corner

By Allison Nass BSN, RN, WELSNA communications coordinator

Q: Is it necessary for parish nurses to have liability insurance?

Lisa LeBlanc MSN, RN, CNL, the instructor for the Faith Community Nursing course offered by Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wis., stated, “The best resource for all parish nurses (or Faith Community Nurses) is the American Nurses Association’s Faith Community Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice book. I have the third edition of the book and having read the previous editions and this one, there is no specific information regarding liability insurance for parish nurses.” She goes on to say, to her knowledge, there is no formal recommendation by a governing body on the topic of liability insurance for the parish nurse.

We also posed this question to the insurance group who provides insurance to Lord of Love Lutheran Church in DeForest, Wis. They replied that their insurance policy covers “pastoral counseling” but does not include any medical advice given to an individual or group outside of the scope of psychological or spiritual counseling. This means that any type of medical education, counseling, or encouragement is not covered in their insurance policy. The representative recommended that the parish nurse seek to hold his or her own insurance policy.

Sue Bolha RN, the parish nurse coordinator at David’s Star, Jackson, Wis., told us that although she carries liability insurance, she does not require the nurses who help out with their program to do so. She has discussed this issue with the parish’s insurance provider and was told that it is not mandatory for each nurse to hold liability insurance as long as the nurses abide by the four general roles of parish nursing, which are health education, health counseling, volunteer coordination, and community liaison, and if the nurses provide proper documentation when needed.

So what is the answer to our question? No, it is not mandatory for a parish nurse to carry his or her own liability insurance. However, it is a topic that each parish nurse should discuss with his or her parish so that jointly, they can come to an agreement on the topic. The insurance provider for the parish should be contacted to assess if the service of the parish nurse is covered under the current parish’s insurance plan or if the provider encourages the nurse to seek his or her own liability insurance as policies can vary from one insurance provider to another. Once the parish and the nurse come to an agreement on whether liability insurance should be carried by the nurse, they can also discuss if the nurse will provide his or her own insurance policy or if the parish will cover the cost of the insurance. Once these decisions have been settled, the parish nurse can continue his or her important work with peace of mind and a clear conscious. God’s blessings on your work!

Do you have a question you would like addressed in the Parish Nurse Corner? Send your question to WELSnurses@wels.net!