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!  support@catalystscrubs.com

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.

Over here at Catalyst, it’s been a year of building relationships, learning the ins and outs of sustainability and trying to best serve the needs of women around the world.  We are excited about 2016, and can’t wait to offer new and exciting products, including pants in TALLs for all of our vertically-gifted customers.  Here’s a few of our other resolutions for our personal lives 2016:

  • Buy less.  Fast fashion and clothes that we wear once or twice are irresponsible and can actually hurt the economies that receive our send-offs as “charity.”  Do we really need 7 coats and 10 pairs of jeans, or can we use the money we would spend on clothes to make a difference somewhere else?
  • Find something and/or someone that inspires you and get connected with it on a regular basis. My friend Michael is the executive chef at Episcopal Community Services in Kansas City.  A classically trained chef with an impressive resume of work, Michael left his five-star chef life behind to use his gifts to serve those that need it most, but no one would call where he works a "soup kitchen."  He has trained former jobless patrons to be sous chefs, serves delectable entrees like frittatas with sauteed vegetables, wilted greens, ricotta and parmesan--created from donated food, no less--and refers to anyone he serves as his “guests.”  I can’t wait to volunteer for Michael in 2016.
  • Be kind. Brene Brown (one of my favorite writers) says that when we can start to believe that everyone is truly doing their best, we can find compassion instead of resentment, and love instead of loathing.
  • Support businesses that share your values. Of course, I will recommend buying Catalyst products as a great way to do this, but there are hundreds of terrific businesses dedicated to making this world a better place.  Find them and support them.
  • Love yourself. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.  Be kind, patient, and understanding.  Give yourself the opportunity to screw up and make better choices.  Show yourself a little grace.

 

We wish you all the best for a terrific 2016!

"Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced."  --John Keats

 

Dear Me with a New Degree—

                Congratulations!  This has been a long road of late nights, tough clinicals and lots of tests.  The State of Missouri says you are ready to practice, even though I know you feel a little bit uncertain.  The truth is, you will never feel like you know everything, even ten or fifteen years later, so it’s okay to just go with what you know and trust your gut.  Trusting your gut will be very important, so pay attention to that feeling.  You will find yourself questioning protocols, procedures and policies.  Never put one of those above what you know to be good patient care.  Ask for clarifications and don’t be afraid to speak up.  Seniority and authority should be respected, but your instinct is what will make you great in this setting.

                Get to know your co-workers.  Not just the nurses, therapists and doctors you interact with, but everyone in your facility.  Chat with the housekeepers, learn the names of the food server’s kids, and talk sports with the maintenance guy who fixes the light above your desk.  Everyone in your facility plays a very important role, not just the front line medical staff.  When you take the time to interact with people, you can give your patients the best care by knowing exactly who to turn to when there is a need.  And you will learn that you are just a small cog in the big machine, and humility is a good thing.

                Be nice, but don’t be a pushover.  Listen to your colleagues.  Learn from their training, and be willing to accept that many times there is more than one way to successfully treat a patient.  You will work with some brilliant people who will change the way you practice your craft.  However, remember that you are there to be the expert in your field.  You might not have the same knowledge base as other professionals you are working with, but you have training and experience that is vital.  Don’t be afraid to give your opinion when it’s appropriate, to speak up for the patient if you have questions about treatment plans or to take your concerns to management if you truly feel they are warranted.

                Surround yourself with positive, happy people.  It’s easy to get sucked into facility soap operas, and there will be drama whether you work with 6 people or 6,000.  You cannot be dragged down and lifted up at the same time, so choose wisely.  And if you can’t find anyone positive to associate with, perhaps it’s time to find new co-workers.  It is not your responsibility to provide the “happy” for your team, just the “happy” for you, and if you are always trying to fight negativity you will start to get resentful and tired. 

Find mentors you respect, and not just mentors in your same field.  Ask to shadow them, take them to lunch, pick their brains for what keeps them motivated and makes them tick.  If you want to grow as a practitioner, you need to align yourself with people that will challenge you and cheer you on.  And if you can’t find a single person in your facility that you respect and admire to be a mentor…leave.  Your professional growth is ultimately your responsibility, not your facility’s.  Every moment you are not growing, learning, and improving is a moment wasted.

                Celebrate the little successes.  You will have lots of “firsts” in the next few years, some good—the first time a patient tells you that you made a difference in her life, and some not so good—the first time you realize you have someone else’s bodily fluids on your scrubs.  Each one is an experience to remember.  Your professional life will be filled with little moments that shape you as a provider.  Cherish all of them.

                Most of all, don’t lose your passion.  You are going into your chosen profession, ready to make your patients and your professional community better.  The best providers still feel this way 10 years later, even 30 years later.  You were born to do this.  There is a whole world waiting for you to change it.  Get after it.

Love and Good Luck,

The More Experienced, Wiser, Just as Passionate Me

Me (left) graduating with some of my besties, Rockhurst University Communication Sciences & Disorders Class of 2002