Shift Change

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life, Change The World

"The only consistent in life is change." Change can mark a longed-for transition--we look forward to changing from kids to adults, from students to professionals. Change is necessary for growth, and without it we wouldn’t be able to serve each other the way we do now.  Like the changing of seasons, a change is sometimes needed to transition into something else.

However, while some changes are beautiful and anticipated, changes can also be traumatic, unexpected, devastating. Every American was changed by the mass shooting last week in Las Vegas. Whether for a moment or for a lifetime, the news of the horrific injuries and loss of life—59 killed and 515 injured at the time of this writing—causes each of us to determine where we stand on the issue of firearm regulations, of the treatment of the mentally ill, of what we’re willing to accept or speak out against. Our American history was changed in a moment, and we are left to determine how we are going to grow.

Image: David Becker/Getty Images

As medical professionals, we see tragedy from the inside. We are among the first to speak, talk to and touch the victims after the event. We are the ones on the front lines, when the shock is palpable, the emotion is raw, and the outcome is uncertain. We are called in this moment to provide answers we don’t know, courage we can’t guarantee, and sometimes hope we can’t feel. The strength, determination and courage shown by the medical teams in Las Vegas were incredible, and they continue to treat and heal these victims today.

 After the tragedies of Sandy Hook, the Pulse Nightclub, and now Las Vegas, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain the idea that we are truly making a difference in the world. The victims in Las Vegas were at the height of community, sharing a common bond of music to unite and celebrate. This was a “safe” venue, precautions were taken…and yet the unthinkable happened.  We can be filled with a sense of dread that mass tragedy can happen at any moment, and we are powerless to stop it.

What do we do with this unexpected, tragic change in our American history, and how do we choose to grow as a result of this experience?

Growing in fear is not the answer for us as medical professionals. Courage is embedded within us. We call on our courage daily in our own practice and we watched as courage overcame chaos in Las Vegas. We watched first responders jumping into action to provide immediate assistance, total strangers driving wounded victims to hospitals, doctors, nurses and medical staff working hours on end in blood-smeared hallways to give their time and talents to the victims—maybe you were one of those angels in scrubs. This change was not meant for us to transition more deeply into fear. The world needs us to show courage in the face of our uncertainty.

Should we grow in hate? We go into healthcare because of our empathy, our ability to connect with people and feel their struggles to help treat them. By nature, we fight those things that threaten to harm and destroy those that are in our care, whether it is an infection, a behavior, or an event. It is easy to be filled with hate for the shooter in Las Vegas, and sometimes even for those we feel might be contributing to circumstances that led to the event. However, the immediate images flashing across social media and our televisions showed the best of humanity as the concertgoers immediately began to think of others, sometimes complete strangers, above themselves. The outpouring of support saw no race, no religion, no political bent—it was pure and true and from the heart. To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, hate truly drove out hate in that moment. Surely this change is not meant to provide a transition more deeply into hate.

We work in the area of miracles and of modern medicine. We do not give up when situations look hopeless. We dig in, conduct research, discuss options as a team and choose the best path to moving forward. Our nation is currently in a state of shock, and it’s time to come together using our influence as caregivers and providers to provide a path forward for those who are hurting. It’s what we have been trained to do.

In her book Braving the Wilderness, social scientist and bestselling author Brené Brown describes the importance of this moment for potential healing: “In a hardwired way, the initial trauma and devastation of violence unites human beings for a relatively short period of time. If during that initial period of unity we’re allowed to talk openly about our collective grief and fear—if we turn to one another in a vulnerable and loving way, while at the same time seeking justice and accountability—it can be the start to a very long healing process. If, however, what unites us is a combination of shared hatred and stifled fear that’s eventually expressed as blame, we’re in trouble.”

Whether you feel it or not, you as a medical professional are ready for this change, for this challenge. Your education and your experience, as well as your empathy, have prepared you to get comfortable with discomfort, to have truthful conversations with people of all views, and to listen without judgement. In Brown’s words, “we can build connection across difference and fight for our own beliefs if we’re willing to listen and lean into vulnerability. Mercifully, it will take only a critical mass of people who believe in finding love and connection across difference to change everything.”

Are you willing to use the specific talents and gifts bestowed upon you as a medical professional to make a difference in the lives of others at this crucial moment? Can you see this change in our history as an opportunity for connection and healing? Will you be determined to treat infections of hate and fear with the antibiotics of love and vulnerability?

If so, throw on your scrubs and don't bother clocking in…our shift is starting right NOW.

Even though it’s exceptionally warm here in Missouri, last Friday was our first official day of fall. One of the best parts of living here in the Midwest is the changing of the landscape from summer to autumn. Greens give way to rich oranges, reds, and yellows as the leaves on the trees signal cooler weather and shorter daylight hours. This change allows the trees to adapt to different climates, to provide a period of rest from many seasons of changing carbon dioxide into oxygen, and to store up chlorophyll for the upcoming year.

As medical professionals, it's important to be able to adapt to changes in our careers and our lives. Changing regulations, corporate structures and caseloads can play a major role in destabilizing our work patterns and driving our stress levels into the stratosphere. Taking a cue from leaves, what are you doing to adapt, rest, and prepare for change? Are you thinking of taking a leadership position, attending a new course, or taking additional moments to practice self-care and rest?

 We give so much of our emotions, our intellect and our physical abilities to our patients. However, like the leaves, we need to allow for seasons of adaptation and rest. Even it means carving out just 10 minutes per day to refill and recharge, it’s incredibly important to be sure you have enough in your reserves so you can share yourself with others.

Much like Midwest seasons, change in our profession is unavoidable, and it's important to take measures beforehand rather than be forced to adapt. Like the spectacular watercolor landscapes that appear throughout in our heartland this time of year, change can also be a beautiful thing if approached with direction and confidence.

What are you doing to refill, recharge, and prepare for change?

We are excited to announce our "Scrubs for Change" project, rolling out just in time for 2016.  Women who are victims of domestic violence often arrive at shelters with little more than the clothes on their backs.  They desperately need comfortable options while receiving care and treatment.  A great solution?  Donated used scrubs!  They fit all all sizes and genders comfortably, and give dignity to those that need clothes while they are getting back on their feet.Catalyst has decided to partner with domestic violence shelters to provide clean, pre-worn scrubs as an option for women in a time of transition.  Our first partnership is with House of Hope in Catalyst founder Holly Godfrey's hometown of Lexington, Missouri.  Ann Gosnell-Hopkins, House of Hope's executive director, says that the donated scrubs will also be used to help provide uniforms for the women who are transitioning back into the workforce, as many jobs in the rural area are in healthcare and require scrubs.

Here's how your used scrubs can become "Scrubs for Change":  Send your pre-worn scrubs to Catalyst at the address below, and we will e-mail you a coupon code for 20% off your next scrub order!  Be sure to include your name and e-mail address with your donation so we can send you your coupon code.  Pair up with other nurses and therapists to send in scrubs together to save on shipping, and each person that donates will get a coupon code!

We hope to start partnering with other domestic violence resource groups throughout 2016--if you know of a place that might benefit, please contact us HERE!

Not only will you be helping survivors of domestic violence here in the U.S, but by purchasing Catalyst Scrubs you will be providing sustainable income for at-risk women around the world.  Plus, we guarantee that you will love our scrubs as much as our mission.  Our repeat customers agree that these are truly the BEST scrubs on the market, and the story behind them makes them the best scrubs in the world.  "This material is crazy-soft, and it doesn't wrinkle!"  "I've washed mine a million times and they look just like they did when I bought them!"  "I love the pocket placement on the tops and pants"--these are just a few of the comments we've received in the past month.

Send us your scrubs today, help the homeless here in the United States while providing jobs to women in the slums of India, and reward yourself by purchasing a luxurious pair of new Catalyst Scrubs!

You can send your washed, pre-worn scrubs to:

Catalyst Scrubs--Scrubs for Change

705-B #223

Lee's Summit, MO 64081

Or, if you live in the Lexington, MO area, you can deliver them directly to House of Hope:
301 Broadway
Lexington, MO 64067.

Feel free to contact us anytime with questions or suggestions!

The soul always knows what it needs to heal itself.  The challenge is to silence the mind.  ~Carolyn Myss

It’s that time of year when we reflect, remember, and resolve.  For those of us who work in patient care sometimes we put our own needs well below those of those who need us.  Here are some suggestions for true renewal in 2016:

  • Take 5 minutes twice during your shift to go somewhere quiet and just focus on your breathing.  In our busy day, it’s impossible to find 20 or 30 minutes to slow down, meditate and clear our minds.  But taking just 5 minutes, twice during your shift to get away from the beeping IV machines, ringing patient call lights, endless stream of questions and spur-of-the-moment issues will help bring your stress level down, slow your blood pressure, and give your mind a few moments of rest.  Even if it means locking yourself in the staff bathroom!  Try this method:  close your eyes, breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, then exhale for a count of 4.  Do this for a few minutes, twice a day, and you will find yourself with increased energy and better able to serve your patients and fellow staff.
  • Turn off all electronic devices 30 minutes before going to bed. Whether you work the day or night shift, getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult.  Studies show that using electronics (scrolling through Facebook, staring at a computer screen, or watching telelvision) right before bedtime increases the time it takes to call asleep and often keeps us from getting much needed restorative REM sleep.  Try it for 15 days and see if it makes a difference for you
  • Treat yourself. Buy one new item for your workday that will make you smile this year.  It can be a new lunchbag, stethoscope cover, jacket for work, or a new pair of scrubs.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will serve as a reminder that it’s okay to have a little fun and happiness at work.
  • Mentor a new staff member. Remember how you felt the first few days (even months) into a new career?  Find a new member on your team and ask her to lunch or for a quick coffee after a shift.  Let her talk about her concerns, and offer your expertise.  You might find yourself learning from her as well, and you’ll grow in your confidence as a professional and a leader.
  • Write one thank-you note each week—and send it. Gratitude is a surefire way to lift your spirits and foster a positive attitude in you and in others.  It doesn’t have to be a novel, just a few simple words or sentences.  Give it to a co-worker, a friend, a patient—and enjoy the happiness that comes from recognizing others.

"One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say."  --Bryant H. McGill

Being a great listener is paramount to being an effective patient care advocate.  Our patients rely on us to give them what they need, and we can’t do our jobs without participating in active listening.  While there are always distractions and it’s impossible to be 100% attentive in every situation, here are 5 things to avoid when a patient is speaking, and 4 ways you can improve your listening skills.

A great listener avoids:

  1. Distractions.  Checking your pager, visually scanning the hallway for nurse friends walking by, jotting down notes not related to the conversation—these actions tell your patient that you are not engaged in the discussion at hand, and that her problems are not important to you.
  2. Interruptions.  Aside from just being rude, interrupting a patient’s concern or question does not allow you to hear their full story, and makes them feel like you don’t have time for them.
  3. One-ups. If a patient is telling you about her concern, don’t try to top her complaint with someone else’s.  For example, a patient who is sharing a concern about a doctor being crabby does not feel better when you tell her “You think that’s bad, he yelled at a resident in the break room today!”  A patient wants you to be present in her concern, not thinking of someone else’s.
  4. Premature Solutions. As healthcare professionals, we are expert problem solvers.  That’s what we DO.  However, not every patient interaction involves a problem to solve, and we don’t need to constantly look to find one.  If a patient is talking about her family and how she misses them while she’s in the hospital, she might just be sharing a bit of how she is feeling, she doesn’t automatically need to be told that you are going to ask her doctor for a psych consult or a script of Zoloft (although if it continues or worsens then a greater solution might be necessary).  Sometimes the expression of a feeling is part of healing just as it is.
  5. Defensiveness. If the patient is sharing an opinion about you, you might hear criticism that is not actually there.  If you are concentrating on being defensive, you cannot be a good objective listener.


Tips for listening success:

  1. Be aware of your listening habits.  Ask friends, spouses, and others close to you if you are a good listener, and what you can do to improve your skills.  (And refer to #5 above to know what NOT to do when you ask!)
  2. Practice good listening body language. Make eye contact, lean forward, get on the same level as the patient, and remain focused.  These actions convey to your patient that you are truly engaged with what they have to say.
  3.  Reword and restate.  After a patient shares their concern, repeat what they have told you back to them in conversation.  For example:  “What I’m hearing you say is that you are frightened when the housekeeping people come in to empty your trash, and you would like for them to knock and turn on your light before they come in.”  This lets the patient know you have understood their message.
  4. Be honest. Make sure you have time to talk, or let the patient know that you will return when you do.  There are moments during a shift where it is physically impossible to practice good listening skills.  If a patient catches you at an inopportune time, it is better to be frank  and let the patient know that you are in the middle of something and you want to give her your full attention, so you will return when you complete your task.  Give her a time frame, and then make good on your word and give her your full attention when you return.

Listening is constantly ranked as one of the highest markers of satisfaction in hospital surveys.  When you listen well, you are trusted.  When you are trusted, the patient will tell you more and you will be able to provide better care, leading to better outcomes.  Active listening is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your patients, each and every day.