Change Your Mind, Change Your Life, Change The World
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
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:
Tips for listening success:
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.
You work in your scrubs, you run errands in your scrubs, you attend after-work events in your scrubs. Let’s be honest, you pretty much LIVE in your scrubs. Scrubs are all kinds of awesome: comfortable, washable, and easy to throw on before starting your shift. If you are required to wear a certain color, then bonus easy points for you! However, scrubs sometimes get a bad rap for being boring and unflattering. Here’s how to rev up your scrub style game in 5 simple steps:
Scrubs don’t have to boring, unflattering or frumpy. Use our tips, pick your best look, and rock your scrub style!
"Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better."
If your daughter, niece, or another young woman close to you told you they were studying to go in to the healthcare profession, how would you react? Would you warn them about the late nights, the difficult patients or the stressful protocols? Or, would you tell them about your favorite patient success story, the time you stayed late to make sure the new nurse had everything she needed for her shift, or the camaraderie you share with your co-workers? Working in healthcare is both challenging and invigorating, and we’ve come up with our “Top 5 Reasons Why Working in Healthcare is Awesome.”
Do you remember the moment you decided you wanted to serve others by going into the healthcare profession? What defines that moment for you: a caring nurse when you were sick? A doctor that took the time to heal you? Someone in your community that you saw making a difference? For me, that person was and still is my dad. My dad decided while he was in dental school that he wanted to build his practice in a town that truly needed his services, even if it wasn’t the most profitable location. After spending a few weekends in interviews and looking at prospects, my newly-married parents settled in the sleepy, rural community of Lexington, Missouri. My dad has practiced in Lexington for almost 40 years, and he has stayed true to his mission to offer his services to those that need it most, whether in my tiny hometown or halfway around the world.
Lexington was surrounded by apple orchards, which meant an inflow of seasonal workers and their families to pick produce every fall. Each Thursday night in September, after seeing a full day of patients, my dad would welcome these seasonal workers into his dental practice for much needed free dental care. My mom, brother and I would do our best to work through the language barrier to determine the symptoms of each patient. After 3 semesters of Spanish in college, the only phrases I remember are the ones I learned in my dad’s office: “open your mouth,” “close your mouth,” and “spit here.” Dad didn’t stop at serving the seasonal members of our community. He has never turned away someone in our small community that truly needed his healing, often knowing that he would not see payment for his services.
Dad’s mission wasn’t limited to people in our community. My father has provided dental treatment to people in Mexico, Haiti, St. Lucia, Jamaica, El Salvador, and I am probably forgetting a few countries. He has donated his time and talent to one or two medical mission trips every year since I can remember. He has used these opportunities to bring the hardships of life in extreme poverty back to educate the comfortable congregations here in the United States. As a little girl, I remember watching my dad devote hours to loading Kodak slides into projector trays. We would spend weekends traveling to churches in small towns and large cities, some in my home state of Missouri and to the surrounding states of Illinois and Kansas. During the service I would usually sing a solo, sometimes mom would play the piano, my brother would help haul the equipment and dad would present his slides and talk about poverty and the need for help in countries that had absolutely no resources. We were like the Von Trapp family for foreign mission education, only with fewer kids and no whistles.
The images of the people on the slides, my dad’s description of the relief of the patients when they received help, the complete honor they bestowed upon the guests to their towns…it stuck with me. Dad’s message was always the same: WE ARE CONNECTED. WE NEED EACH OTHER. EVERYONE HAS VALUE. EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING. Phrases running like an electronic banner through my mind from the time I could remember.
It doesn’t surprise me that at the end of my senior year of college, after graduating with two degrees in the Arts, I would take a sharp turn after walking across the stage and enroll in a Master’s program in therapy. Healthcare was in my blood. After graduating with an additional degree in Speech Pathology I took a position at a safety-net hospital in Kansas City—a hospital whose mission is to provide service regardless of the ability to pay. It was in my blood. And after a decade providing services to those living in poverty in my community, the urge to help people around the world became a natural progression. I began thinking about ways that, instead of just individuals on medical trips, the entire healthcare community could rally together to do more for those who need it most. Not just to treat the symptoms of poverty, such as poor healthcare and little access to services, but to treat the cause and provide economic opportunity and stability.
And now I am asking all of you to come along on this journey with me by being a part of the Catalyst community. We are connected. We need each other. Everyone has value. Everyone can do something. If you believe, come with us. Let’s heal the world together.
Thanks, dad—I was listening the whole time.
Soni and Janessa live on separate continents, worlds away from each other. Yet, the bond they share as women is stronger than culture. It is in their DNA. As women, we are resilient, we are hard workers, and we will do anything for our family. We can do amazing things with little resources and can stretch our grocery dollars to span the needs of our families. From New York to Nigeria, we are the same.
Studies conducted in the last few years have proven that women hold the key to lifting vulnerable communities out of poverty. In November of 2014, the Bread of the World Institute presented the results from their recent hunger report: “When Women Flourish, We Can End Hunger.” The main findings of the report indicated that by empowering women and girls around the world, hunger, extreme poverty and malnutrition can be significantly diminished. It also stated that women are disproportionally at risk for these issues due to discrimination, especially in developing countries with minimal resources.
Women are born savers. Studies performed in both developed and developing countries have proven that women outperform men on saving, and women are better at making their money go further to cover the needs of their family. Women also know how to maximize their impact. Research shows that investing in women can create the most widespread impact from increases in health and education outcomes to reductions in crime and corruption. When women earn a paycheck, they are less likely than men to spend it on themselves and more likely to cover their family’s immediate needs of food, medicine and schooling. Most do this while also maintaining their households, whether in a thatched shack in India or a suburban ranch house in the Midwest. For any woman with a family, her life is nonstop and her work is endless, but she never loses sight of what she is trying to accomplish.
Women are the heart and soul of their community. Women have been known for centuries for their abilities to love and nurture, but there is so much more. Especially for women in poverty, there is an ability to rise above the circumstances, to do more with less, to hope for a better future. Women around the world, from Bangladesh to Boston, know that they invest in their children and their community they will create a better life for everyone around them. They know that if they save a little they can invest in something big, They know that if they start building now they can create something sustainable for the future. The world needs women to walk their walk and create their dreams. And the women need us to partner with them to take the first step.
I get asked on almost a daily basis how I came up with the idea for Catalyst. It's been quite a journey! A little over a year ago, in May of 2014, I started searching online for ethically-sourced scrubs and found little to no options. I found a few "give back" brands, but there was little information and definitely no connection to the people that made them. I didn't just want my purchase to allow the company to "give a pair" to someone else, or provide medication to people in other countries. While those are noble causes, there are plenty of charities that are already providing those things. I wanted my scrubs to give jobs, to give opportunity, to give hope--and I knew there were other medical professionals that would jump at the opportunity to partner with women in need of stable employment around the world.
The more I answer questions about Catalyst's innovative business model, the more I realize that what we are doing is truly revolutionary--and if you are reading this, thanks for being part of the revolution. Here are the top 5 ways that Catalyst is different from any other medical apparel brand on the market:
1) We find cooperatives that are creating beautiful, quality products. We respect the artists for the work they are known for, and we create products together for Catalyst.
The women of Alpha Fashions, our partner in Chennai, India, were producing high-quality men’s dress shirts that were so popular in their city that they currently own and operate two stores. My husband Jim, who wears a button-down to work every day, traded out his usual Banana Republic dress shirts to don those from Alpha Fashions because the quality is stellar and the style and fit are perfect.
I have purchased home décor and jewelry items from the More than Sparrows cooperative through their online store “The Sparrow Studio.” I was impressed with the artistry of their work and their passion to become educated entrepreneurs and businesswomen. I knew they would be the perfect partner to create the Catalyst accessories.
2) We pay our partners in advance. Most companies wait until they receive the product, it passes inspection, and sales are made before the people that created the product receive payment. The producers are responsible for buying the materials for the items they produce, and the waiting period to receive payment can be almost a year from the time the partners start making their items to sell. At Catalyst, we realize our partners often do not have money to buy the raw materials needed to start making their items, and they are not able to wait a year to receive payment for them. We pay our artists BEFORE they start making our items, so that they can purchase supplies and start receiving their wages immediately.
3) We are a for-profit business. Our business model is based on sustainable, scaleable growth to continue to partner with as many communities as possible. Catalyst believes that the only way to long-term alleviation of poverty is to provide sustainable jobs at living wages. We link arms with women in areas where job opportunities are scarce and finding buyers is almost impossible. Catalyst creates a growing market for their items and ensures they are being paid fair wages to solidify that we are having a lasting impact on their communities.
4) We are not a charity, we are a partnership. Catalyst believes that we are not in the business of "rescuing" our partners, as that would undermine the lengths that they have gone to fight for their own opportunities. We choose to work with groups that are already making a difference in their communities. The women that we work with are entrepreneurs in their own right, simply needing a greater platform to showcase their ability and create their products. We value the dignity and self-empowerment that comes from earning money for a job well done. At Catalyst, our success is truly intertwined with the success of our partnerships. When we grow, so do they.
5) We do not control the businesses that we partner with, and we do not dictate the wages these partnerships pay their workers. Instead, we allow the business owners of our partners to set fair, living wages based on the standards of that area. Catalyst reviews this wage to ensure that it is fair based on the cost of living for that country. Our partners also provide extra benefits to their workers such as school and childcare (India) and a medical fund, business training and education (Rwanda). We also work with our partners to make sure that they are planning adequately for growth and expansion of their own business, thanks to your Catalyst purchases!
And there should be a sixth item on the list: we are true partners with our customers as well. We are reading your excitement about the new line of scrubs on our Facebook page, we see you sharing our posts with your friends, and we see your belief in something that has never been attempted before. Thank you so much, and feel free to keep sharing Catalyst with others!
Last Wednesday on May 27th, I had the opportunity to speak to Doniphan Leadership Institute Fellows at William Jewell College in Liberty, MO. I was asked to share my experiences as a leader in healthcare and to serve as a round-table panelist to answer questions from the students taking the course. These students were leaders in their own right, and I secretly wondered what advice I could offer to such seasoned professionals. Instead of sticking to a prepared script, I chose to answer questions that they posed, and it was a learning experience on both sides of the table. The afternoon forced me to think deeply about what is necessary for leadership in healthcare, whether managing an entire health system or just managing our own actions. Almost nothing in healthcare is done as an individual, we rely on each other to serve our patients and get through our day, and it’s important to serve as a positive role model whether we are bestowed with the “leader” title or not.
1) Honesty—We have the opportunity in healthcare to truly make life-and-death decisions. Our co-workers must have all of the information needed to perform their jobs, both good and bad. No person or system is infallible. The only way we can build trust within our teams is to be vulnerable as leaders and admit our mistakes, learn from them, and let the people we support know how we are going to avoid making the same mistakes in the future. We cannot expect others to be honest and open with us until we show them that same opportunity.
2) Integrity—We need to do what we say we will do, and do it often in view of our team. This supports trust, and it also allows our team to feel confident enough in the day-to-day to try new things and build new programs and opportunities. If everyone is concerned about when the next negative event will happen, or doesn’t think that their leaders will follow up with what they have been told they would do, then the department dynamic turns from one of teamwork to one of “every man for himself.”
3) Community—Everyone on the team must feel like they are making a difference, that they are valued, that their opinion matters. This is not just about serving as a small cog in the giant machine of the healthcare system, but about team members truly feeling like they are valued as individuals. An effective leader knows not just what his or her team member does at work, but some details of his or her personal life: birthday, favorite sports team, alma mater. A good leader makes personal connections with team members and makes them feel as important as they truly are.
4) Positivity—In Jon Gordon’s book, The Energy Bus, the main character is told that his positivity must be greater than the sum of his team’s negativity if he is to be a good leader. This is 100% true. Want a positive team? Be a positive example. And if your team’s negativity is greater than the positivity you can manage, then it might be time to re-evaluate the purpose and actions of members on your team…or the purpose and actions of their leader.
5) Service—Leaders must be great servants before they will be seen as influential. Leaders must not ask or expect from others what they would not do themselves. This could be an action, like performing distasteful jobs in the workplace, or it could be an expectation, like asking the staff not to ask questions when a change is made. Leaders must delight in the results of the team and must not forget for one moment that their success depends on the success of others. John C. Maxwell says it best, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more of his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit.”
Whether serving as an appointed healthcare leader or not, every person who puts on a pair of scrubs each morning has the opportunity to share honesty, integrity, positivity, community, and service with those that interact with each day. How will YOU choose to lead today?
In the past decade "Be the change" has become a saying so commonplace that it has become a catchphrase, to the likes of Nike’s “Just do it.” No one would argue with the message, but putting it into action involves more than just placing a bumper sticker on a car or magnet on the refrigerator.
Today, nearly half of the world’s population lives on less than $1.25 per day. 22,000 children die each day as a result of poverty. Poverty leads to limited choices, scarce resources and little opportunity to slow its vicious cycle. Poverty provides a gateway for oppression, violence and abuse, perpetuating the problem and further stunting the ability of those affected to rise out of their circumstances.
Because you are reading this blog, you can consider yourself among the wealthiest in the world who have been educated and have access to electricity and the internet. Have a stable job and a safe shelter to sleep at night? Now you’re in the top tier of the most wealthy. You are in the perfect position to help stop the cycle of poverty, to “be the change.”
In our land of plenty, it’s easy to approach this change as an opportunity to give our wealth to those that so desperately are without. We have seen the telethons after major disasters, the celebrity-studded charity events to raise money for starving children in Africa, the popular “buy one, give one” models of trendy shoes and clothing. And these are good things--charity is needed in a crisis. After the earthquake in Haiti, immediate funds and supplies were vital in providing emergency assistance for those affected. But what happens a decade later, when the infrastructure is still in shambles, the attention and funding has been diverted to the next disaster, and the people are still suffering and without basic essentials? Charity is not a long-term solution, it is a short-term fix. That kid in Africa that benefited from the pair of shoes you purchased is going to need another pair of shoes in three months, in six months…forever. Charity is a great band-aid, but it doesn’t stop the bleeding.
But--there is a solution. What if, instead of showering those in need with our own excess, determined by our charity and willingness to give…we empowered them to create their own? What if we built industries instead of shelters, what if we gave parents jobs so they could buy their children shoes instead of relying on us to provide them? What if we could transform communities and countries by the power of our consistent purchases instead of the amount of our one-time donation.
Catalyst Scrubs was created as a vehicle for this revolution, to allow healthcare workers to transform the world through the power of their purchases. We can give back and fight poverty and oppression with something that we wear every day. We can display our commitment on our sleeves and share our fight with others who can join us.
We have partnered with women and communities in resource-poor areas to make beautiful, handmade scrubs and provide dignified income and opportunity to their families. Your purchases allow these women to feed and clothe their children, to send them to school, and to pay for needed medical care. Your commitment to change through consistent purchases from Catalyst will transform entire communities and reinforce to the women that make our products that they are creating value, that they have worth, that they are important. You will change their future.
Can buying a pair of Catalyst Scrubs spark the movement to change the destruction of poverty? We think so, and we’d love for you to come on this journey with us. Our first round of poverty-fighting scrubs will be available in early autumn, and we plan for them to sell out and send a message that we are ready for change. Join our movement and lead the change! “Like” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/catalystscrubs , tell your friends and get ready to purchase the first poverty-fighting scrubs in the world. Buy scrubs, spark change.