Category Archives: thanksgiving

Just a nurse?

Merry Christmas.  This article is my Christmas gift to my readers, especially nurses whether they read my blog or not.  I thank you for your support and wish all of you the very best for this Christmas season and a safe and prosperous new year.

My wife sent me an article that ran in Fox news about an Australian nurse that fought back on Facebook after having her fill of hearing, “just a nurse.”

One of the saddest aspects of our society in my opinion is the general lack of regard that people have for hospitals.  It is especially demoralizing when community leaders are actively engaged in destroying their community hospital and in the process disrespecting the doctors, nurses, volunteers, leadership and hard-working employees who would do anything for them at any time, no questions asked.  It makes you wonder whether the people who engage in this destruction even care about the capability of the hospital should they or one of their loved ones be stricken with an accident or illness.  I tell audiences regularly that it is not hard to see that  people do not care about the hospital . . . . until they need it.  The same people who persecute voluntary trustees and administrative representatives of their community hospital  expect nothing but the best that medicine has to offer when they or one of their loved ones needs the hospital’s services.  Some of these hypocrites will quietly seek healthcare elsewhere while doing nothing constructive to help their community hosptial.  Sometimes I wonder if the people in the towns where these activities occur realistically believe that they can escape an involuntary visit to their community hospital when they are the victim of an accident, a heart attack or some other unanticipated serious illness?

When the people who engage in activities of this ilk intentionally denigrate their hospital, they are disrespecting all of the employees, physicians and volunteers of the hospital by inference regardless of what they say.  Just like the disgusting, duplicative politicians that commit the young people in the military to life endangering missions then withhold resources and/or engage in open criticism of the military.  This disingenuous behavior is too routine in our society when we witness the spectacle of politicians holding hands and praying together before they send the military overseas only to then undermine and denigrate military leadership and increase the number of body bags coming home by their subsequent lack of support.

I view a hospital like an aircraft carrier.  On a carrier, EVERY person aboard the ship has a job that can be directly traced to the support of a relatively small number of airplanes and their pilots.   The ratio is over 6,000 to about 100.  In a hospital, the primary  reason for every person in the organization is to support the nursing function, more specifically, bedside nurses.  The services delivered in hospitals are for the most part ordered by physicians but they are delivered by nurses.  It is the nurse that is in the building with the patient 24/7/365.  It is the nurse that will place themselves between a patient and any source of danger or threat.  It is the nurse that is the first responder to the patient’s every need.  It is the nurse that carries our their responsibilities with dignity and pride even when they are disparaged or abused by physicians and other authority figures in a hospital.  It is the nurse that is the voice of assurance when a patient is afraid.  It is the nurse that is left to pick up the pieces when a tragedy occurs.  It is the nurse that carries out the final preparations following death.

Nurses control resource utilization and therefore the cost of providing healthcare.  It would seem that executives that are interested in getting more out of nursing would see to it that nurses have what they need to do their job.  In my experience, most of the time, no one has to tell nurses what to do.  They know what to do and they will do it gladly if we will facilitate their efforts and get out of their way.   Those of us in healthcare administration should be ever vigilant to remove barriers, policies and procedures that frustrate the efforts of our nurses to give their patients our collective best.  Nurses influence patient satisfaction and patient outcomes.  One of the greatest sins in society in my opinion is activities of any kind in a hospital that undermine nursing, particularity when these activities are carried out by authority figures.

You do not have to teach or train a nurse to be compassionate or focused on error free work.  In fact nurses operate at far higher levels of performance than the rest of us usually appreciate.  Most of us would not make it very long if we had to perform at the level of our nurses.  Nurses understand the grave consequences of errors in their work.  All too frequently, a nurse that is involved in an all too common human error becomes the second victim of a bad outcome.  That these people can function at all under this stress tells the rest of us how incredible our nurses are.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my relationships with nurses over the years.  The type of people who gravitate to nursing are special.  Most of them are motivated to be in a position to do things to help other people in their time of need.  They do not allow those of us that are ‘bad patients’ to detract from their focus to give us their best.  Their attitude is always positive and uplifting even when we are in the mist of having our worst day(s) and showing it liberally.

Most hospitals recognize their nurses by providing badging that clearly indicates that they are nurses.  One of my personal crusades is to make sure that EVERY nurse in the organization whether they are a bedside nurse or not PROUDLY display their RN identification so that no one will mistake these giants of humanity for any one of the rest of us regardless of their role.

What would our world be without nurses?  What would our world be without the type of people that gravitate to nursing?  What are we doing as leaders that is making life more difficult for our nurses?  Are we creating environments more or less conducive to patient safety?

The next time an opportunity presents itself, do not miss taking the time to thank every nurse you meet for their service to the hospital, its patients and your community.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss any questions or observations you might have about these blogs or interim executive services in general.  As the only practicing Interim Executive that has done a dissertation on Interim Executive Services in healthcare in the US, I might have an idea or two that might be valuable to you.  I can also help with career transitions or career planning.

The easiest way to keep abreast of this blog is to become a follower.  You will be notified of all updates as they occur.  To become a follower, just click the “Following” link that usually appears as a bubble near the bottom this web page.

There is a comment section at the bottom of each blog page.  Please provide input and feedback that will help me to improve the quality of this work.

This is original work.  This material is copyrighted by me with reproduction prohibited without prior permission.  I note and  provide links to supporting documentation for non-original material.

If you would like to discuss any of this content or ask questions, I may be reached at I look forward to engaging in productive discussion with anyone that is a practicing interim executive or a decision maker with experience engaging interim executives in healthcare.

Thanksgiving 2016

As hard as it is to believe, it is Thanksgiving again already.  Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to stop running like we are crazy and reflect upon what we have to be thankful for.  Most of us are blessed beyond anything we deserve with health, family, wellbeing, a career and a lifestyle.  Most of my generation is blessed with a much higher standard of living than we grew up in.  In my case, I am so blessed that I would not know where to start to give proper thanksgiving for all that I have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for each and every one of you, my blog followers.  I am thankful for every person that has intervened throughout the course of my life to save me from myself or to mentor me so that I might be better prepared to serve healthcare organizations at their time of need.  Many of you have played critical roles by providing opportunities that have helped me to grow my skill and relevance to organizations in transition.  Many of you have taken chances on me to provide opportunities that I likely did not deserve to demonstrate that I might make a difference.   I am eternally grateful to everyone that has played a formative role in helping me become the person that I am today.  I sincerely hope that I have not been too much of a disappointment to some of you.

I am eternally grateful for the unbelievable people I have had the privilege of working with.  The incredible demonstrations of integrity, drive and knowledge around me have inspired me to embark on a never-ending odyssey of self-improvement.  I wish I was able to personally thank each and every one of you but time does not allow and I would be certain to overlook someone.

Recently, a CEO of a hospital I had served told me that the place was better for my intervention.  He went on to say that people in the town that never knew I was there owed me a debt of gratitude for the difference my service had made in that hospital and community.  Like so many people like us, this is what we live for; the opportunity to make a difference.  To help an organization and the people that make it up be better for the patients and families we serve.  We are so blessed to work in healthcare where our work improves the abilities of the organizations we serve to save lives and heal people.

Each and everyone of us can always find ways to be better.  This is a heavy burden for those of us serving in the healthcare industry.  In our case, people that do not know us are entrusting their very lives to our ability to insure that the organizations we serve delivers the very best that is possible for them.

I owe my family, especially my wife, thanks for putting up with me .  .  .  through years of education while working.  For getting moved several times.  For suffering with me through terminations and transitions.  For encouraging me and believing in me when no one else believed in me including myself.

I am thankful that I live in the United States.  In spite of the malaise that characterizes our country and the political divisiveness we suffer under, we still live in the best country on earth.  Not deterred by the fact that over the past eight years, we have seen the standard of living begin to fall as opportunities for the young, especially those in the middle class evaporate or are exported over seas;  we can remain thankful and resolved to each do our part to fix this mess for our children and grandchildren.  Now we have a historic opportunity to reverse some of the blight that has overwhelmed our country.

We all need to remember and be thankful for those that sacrificed so much to give us what we have in spite of the thankfully shrinking contingent of consistently incompetent, self-serving, dishonest and sorry politicians that we elected.  This is one thing we can thank the current administration for.  There has never been such a comprehensive sea-change of leadership at every level in our country inspired by disgust at what Washington has become.  Remember, it was around this time in 1941 that the Japanese fleet sailed for Pearl Harbor.

Last but not least, I wish to especially thank those in my inner circle.  Those that report to me directly or work closely with me who collectively have seen to it that I do not fail.  They consistently refuse to let me quit or get down on myself. Not only that, they will not allow me to get discouraged in spite of the daunting tasks I face.  They will not allow me to become demoralized and they continue to sacrifice much of themselves for the cause of the hospital we serve to insure that failure does not occur on our watch.  Thanks to all of you.

Every year, I try to make some calls during Thanksgiving week to thank some of the people that have meant so much to me.  I encourage you to do the same.  Life is so delicate, precious and short.  Among my regrets are things that I wish I had said to some people about how much they had meant to me or my family before it was too late.  Do not let this happen to you.

Here is a thanksgiving toast to you and yours:  Here is to health, money & love and the time to enjoy them – John D. McDonald

THANKS to each of you for being such a positive part of my life.  I wish the very best for you and yours for Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas season.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

Ray Snead