“ Once you know yourself, in this living stillness, there is nothing in this world that is greater than you”
One of the elements of discovery is “stillness”… I am sure you are thinking, ” What does that really mean? As healthcare professional, how can I incorporate STILLNESS into my life when I have been trained to move and move fast because it is the difference between life and death?”
Guess what, IT IS POSSIBLE! Let’s break this down a little bit more.
Many people see the word “stillness” and automatically think it means to have no movement which is true to a certain point, but from the perspective of discovery, “stillness” is the state of being or being one with yourself. Not thinking about the kids, what you have to cook for dinner, the bills you need to pay, but can’t… the job you dread, the co-worker or friend that gets on your nerves, etc. I mean you DO NOT think about any of that, just simply BE!! In the state of being is where we really and truly get to “know thyself” and not what everyone else tells us about ourselves. In stillness we allow the voice of the holy spirit, which is our GPS navigation system, to guide us through the streets called life. In stillness we learn to quiet the mind and not allow anything that is going on around us affect us. So when you are in a state of stillness, it doesn’t mean that things are not going on around you, it means that they are not going on within you. Let me make it a little clearer for you, you can be at work on a 35 bed med-surg unit with 10 physicians and 3 respiratory therapist on the unit, family all over the place, a supervisor who is screaming at staff, and a co-worker who scrolling through her social media timelines chilling while you have 10 outstanding task and not let ANY, I mean ANY of it affect you internally. The key is to create an intention of stillness which can be achieved by having some intentionality about how you are carrying yourself in a given moment and focus on what is within your control.
Now that we have what stillness means from the perspective of discovery out of the way, I can hear you saying “ Nicole I don’t have time for that”, I have to take care of my family, walk the dogs, manage all the household chores, manage the financial accounts, and I am sure that the list could go on and on but guess what you CAN practice stillness through all of this (I am not telling you what anyone told me but what I know)!! And to be honest if you want to live a life purposefully as a healthcare professional according to Gods’ will then it is a non-negotiable.
So let me share 4 tips that helped me to begin my practice of stillness and make the practice of stillness a ritual in my life.
1. Deep Breath- Yep simply deep breath! I hear you saying “and what is that going to help”? When we take deep breaths it induces the parasympathetic system and slows down your heart rate, which leads to a state of relaxation (use this one when you have trouble going on all around you so that it is not going on in you). 2. Schedule Time to Be- Look lets keep it real we all live busy life’s that pull us in 50 directions and many us live by a Google calendar which tells where to be and when. Well guess what place your “Be Time” on there too. It has been proven that anything we do for 21 days becomes a habit. 3. Get off Social Media- Yep I said it!! Get off Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. stalking pages and looking at fairytale lives that often don’t exist and practice just “ Being” (I was once guilty of this one, LOL). With the hours we spend on these sites weekly, we can really get to “know thyself” and find our purpose as a healthcare professional. 4. Find a Location that brings you Serenity- Know I know I said the state of being can happen when trouble is all around you which means we can have stillness anywhere but to get to a place where we can do this, we can get practice by doing it in areas where we find peace. So that may be by the water, outdoors with the birds chirping, a certain room in your home, etc. Practicing stillness in a location that brings you peace prepares you to be able to do it anywhere.
These tips are the very tip of the iceberg for practicing stillness because stillness goes much deeper but I wanted to start with building a foundation for you to build upon.
Remember in Psalms 46:10 we were told to “ Be still and know that I am god”.
There are people who are not satisfied with the status quo in their careers and instead help shape their vocations. They are the leaders in their professions. Nurses are no different. There are many movers and shakers within the nursing ranks, and Minority Nurse selected five such individuals to highlight.
Maria Gomez, RN, MPH
Maria Gomez, the founder, president, and CEO of Mary’s Center, is no stranger to the spotlight. She has won a plethora of awards, perhaps none bigger than the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. Gomez was selected by the White House as one of 18 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal. “It was a great honor coming from a president like Barack Obama because I think it is very clear that his priorities are very much aligned with our priorities at the health center,” says Gomez.
Gomez was also quick to point out the role the center’s staff had in her receiving the award. “I received the medal for the collective and extraordinary work of my colleagues and our partners in the community,” she explains. “My role is to make sure that all the administrative pieces are in place and that there are sufficient funds to meet our goals. The issues that the president is diligently working on, such as health reform, early childhood education, economic equity, and immigration reform, are issues that we are dealing with day in and day out with the community that we serve.”
Gomez, along with a group of nurses and social workers, founded Mary’s Center in 1988 on an initial budget of $250,000. It served 200 participants a year at its inception. “There were so many community needs around the indigent population that were not being met,” she says. The vast majority of patients served was Hispanic women, and at that time, a small cohort of African women, according to Gomez.
Today, the center has an annual budget of $40 million and is projected to serve over 70,000 participants at six sites throughout the District of Columbia and Maryland in 2013. The Hispanic population still makes up about 75% of whom the center serves with an ever increasing number of African Americans. “But depending on the areas we are in, we serve individuals from over 110 countries throughout the world who have become uninsured, either because they lost their jobs or because they just cannot make ends meet,” says Gomez.
The center provides comprehensive primary care, intensive social services, and—in partnership with Briya Public Charter School—it provides family literacy classes and job skills with the goal of keeping families healthy, supported in their communities, and moving up the economic ladder.
“My education at Georgetown School of Nursing made me very conscious of the interconnectedness of health and the environment in which people live,” explains Gomez. “In order to keep people healthy, individuals need to be supported in the basic necessities of life, such as housing, food, and employment, before they can tackle their diabetes. This model of comprehensive care is very hard to establish within a health department where I was working, so that was our motivational factor to start Mary’s Center.”
Edward Halloran, RN, FAAN, PhD
Although he didn’t start out to be a trailblazer, Edward Halloran has traveled the road less taken. In a predominately women’s field, his career spans back almost 50 years and has seen him take on many leadership roles—a result he says goes back to a book he read at the beginning of his career.
“At that time, it was much more common for every other nurse to just want to be a nurse and just do your thing. But this book said if you are not visible no one will ever know that there is such a thing, so that is what started my interest in being more visible,” says Halloran. “It is not so much that I had any personal interest in it as much as if there were ever going to be more men in the field, it had to be because the ones that were there were more visible. That prompted my involvement over the years in the American Assembly for Men in Nursing [AAMN].”
The 2012 recipient of the AAMN’s Lee Cohen award, Halloran was selected to receive the award by the Board of Directors of AAMN to recognize his significant contributions to the organization. “I was kind of surprised by that,” says Halloran. “I was very pleased [and] delighted that the people that I have been working with for the last three or four years acknowledged that.”
Halloran is a long-time member of the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nursing as well as the former vice president of the National League for Nursing and past president of the AAMN. He is currently finishing his second term as vice president of the latter organization.
Halloran spent a significant amount of time in hospital management. Among his management positions, he was the coordinator of special studies and projects at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Hines, Illinois; the director of nursing at the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois; and the senior vice president, director of nursing and corporate nurse executive at the University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.
“I thought there might be better opportunities to do more in a public way by writing about things or researching them then on a day-to-day basis performing them,” he says about his decision to move into academia. “I had been there and done that so the academic world offered opportunities to do something different.”
Since 1989, Halloran has been an associate professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina and UNC Hospitals at Chapel Hill. During this time, he taught two years in Hong Kong. From 1991-1992, he was a senior clinical nurse on the research unit at UNC Hospitals. He practiced involved care of patients who volunteered for experimental treatment for chronic illnesses, including cancer, HIV, end-stage renal disease, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, and other diseases.
Halloran says the highlights of his career include changing the patient care environment. “That gave me the biggest satisfaction,” he adds. “We improved care, and this is very difficult to do from the inside-out of a major teaching hospital or even a suburban hospital or even a rural hospital.”
Halloran says he feels privileged to be considered a leader in the field of nursing. “In many ways I had … the opportunity to do these things over the years, which has been an honor, and then the second piece is to shape [nursing],” he says. “I have done that through practice and through the teaching I have done.”
Mi Ja Kim, PhD, RN, FRCN, FAAN
Mi Ja Kim is one of four nursing educators in the United States named a 2012 Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing. Since 1994, the Academy has named just 86 Living Legends in the United States. The award honors the distinguished careers of those who have made notable contributions to nursing practice, research, and education.
Kim is a professor, dean emerita, and the executive director of the Global Health Leadership Office at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), College of Nursing (CON). She is known internationally for her leadership in research, scholar training, administration, and policy development. She has published 116 scientific papers and made over 260 research and scholarly presentations at national and international conferences. She has also secured over $6 million in training and research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sources.
Kim served as the dean of the UIC CON which prides itself as a top 10 college in the country, and was the first nurse to be appointed as the vice chancellor for research and dean of the graduate college at UIC. She earned her PhD in physiology at UIC and—with the exception of one year as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at her alma mater, Yonsei University, in Korea—has spent her whole career at the university. “UIC really has been an incredible place for me,” Kim notes. “It is open to anyone who is accomplished in her/his field, regardless of race or ethnicity.”
Kim’s extensive list of accomplishments only reaffirms her status as a leader in her field. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in the United Kingdom and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian American Pacific Islanders Nurses Association. She was one of 18 charter members of the National Institute of Nursing Research’s (NINR) study section as well as a member of the NIH’s National Advisory Council. Kim has been named one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune; has received the Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Nursing (The Public Women’s Award), American Nurses Association Minority Fellowship Programs and the Cabinet on Human Rights; two awards for “Meritorious Service in the Fight Against Heart Diseases – Public Policy and Government Relations” from the Chicago Heart Association; and two American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year awards for the Pocket Guide to Nursing Diagnosis and Classification of Nursing Diagnoses: Proceedings of the Fifth National Conference.
Her research interests include pulmonary physiology/nursing, cardiovascular health disparities in Korean Americans, and the quality of nursing doctoral education involving seven countries. Her career documentary has been filmed by the Korean Broadcasting System, which is the largest TV network in Korea—an accolade she finds a high honor.
The students appreciate Kim. She lists two “Golden Apple” awards she received from the junior and senior undergraduate students as highlights of her career. Since 2013, she has been the program director of the Bridges to the Doctorate for Minority Nursing Students, which is funded by the NIH. Eleven PhD students have graduated under this grant and 23 are in the Bridges program currently. This program is one of the largest ones in the country that have educated and trained underrepresented minority nursing students pursuing a doctoral degree.
Omana Simon, DNP, RN, FNP-BC
Omana Simon is an advanced practice nurse who serves as the facility telehealth coordinator at Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in Houston, Texas. A native of India, Simon came to the United States in 1983 and began her health care career with a BSN before diligently working her way up the ladder.
Today, she works on the cutting edge of technology. Simon provides primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention strategies to the veteran population. For her efforts, she was the Gold Award winner in 2012 of the Good Samaritan Foundation’s Excellence in Nursing Awards in the Clinical Practice in the Large Hospital category and a recipient of the 2012 Nursing Excellence award in the Advancing and Leading the Profession category for the Texas region.
As the facility telehealth coordinator at MEDVAMC, Simon is responsible for a program that allows vets to receive home telehealth, store and forward, and clinical video telehealth (different modalities of telehealth). “Telehealth in Veterans Affairs is a huge project,” says Simon. “We can provide health care through the use of telehealth devices, video conferencing equipment, or Jabber/MOVI.”
Simon is a true leader in her field, implementing a number of clinical video telehealth programs at her facility, including telepreop, telerehab, and tele-epilepsy, to name a few. These programs connect the veterans in the rural areas where health care is not easily available to a provider at a distant site.
She also oversees telehealth equipment and telehealth programs. “I never thought when I went into nursing I would be on the forefront providing care to the patients using telehealth technology,” says Simon.
Under her direction, the home telehealth program at MEDVAMC received three hospital-wide recognitions. “She is very hard working, very intelligent, and very insightful,” says Nicholas Masozera, MD, the primary care director atMEDVAMC.
For her part, Simon says she gets her inspiration from the veterans she serves. “It is truly an honor to serve the nation’s heroes by providing exceptional 21st century health care that improves their health and well-being,” she notes. Simon exemplifies excellence in her role as a family nurse practitioner as well as a mentor and teacher of future caregivers. Simon upholds the tradition of nursing by being a caring, compassionate nurse who settles for nothing but health care excellence for veterans and the community she serves.
Ora Strickland, PhD, RN, FAAN
Ora Strickland is a nationally recognized leader in women’s health, minority health, and nursing measurement. Not only has Strickland won nine American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year awards, but she was also the first person to hold an endowed professorship in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Formerly a professor at Emory, Strickland is now the dean and a professor at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Florida International University in Miami.
Strickland began her writing career early. “Writing is storytelling but on paper. If you are excellent at writing, your work will last a long time; its imprint will be longer,” notes Strickland. “You can build and extend on knowledge and present problems and their solutions in new and unique ways.”
Strickland says she recognized that she could write textbooks when she was a student herself. “You can blaze trails [writing],” she adds. “You can really make a difference if you are good at writing textbooks. You can have an impact on how people are taken care of.”
Strickland is the founding editor and served as senior editor of the Journal of Nursing Measurement for 20 years. She has been on a plethora of prestigious editorial boards and panels, including Advances in Nursing Science, Research in Nursing and Health, Nursing Outlook, Journal of Professional Nursing, Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice: An International Journal, Encyclopedia of Nursing Research, Health Care for Women International, Nursing Leadership Forum, and the American Journal of Public Health.
Strickland has been recognized by many groups and organizations. She was the youngest person inducted into American Academy of Nursing at age 29 and has won the “Trailblazer Award” from the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). She also earned the Mary Elizabeth Carnegie Award from the Southern Council on Collegiate Nursing for her contributions to health and nursing. Additionally, she was inducted into the NBNA Institute of Excellence.
“I don’t think about the awards I won. It isn’t important,” says Strickland. “I get joy in what my students have produced, the research and work they are doing. That is where I find my joy and that is where my rewards come from.”
Maryland State Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam was—and is—a practicing RN. Her work in health care opened her eyes not only to individual patient needs, but to larger problems best addressed on a systemic level, rather than case by case. So she decided to help make those laws.
By age nine, Nathan-Pulliam says she understood the differences among the political parties in her native Jamaica. When she came to the United States, discussions at church about issues and policies helped her figure out where she fit into the American system, and engagement in campaigns taught her how politics worked at the grass-roots level. Before long, she had mapped out a route to making a difference that merged her interests in politics and health. Today, as a member of the Maryland state legislature, she’s one of only a handful of minority nurses serving in elective office around the country.
Nursing and politics might seem like disconnected career choices, but their marriage actually makes a lot of sense. Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a nurse now in her ninth term representing her Dallas-area district in Washington, explains that the varied roles nurses play in hospitals, educational systems, nursing homes, and other health facilities “are great prepping grounds for candidacy in local, state, or elected official capacities. Critical-thinking skills are a key ingredient for success in both nursing and serving in public office.”
Mississippi State Representative Frances Fredericks, an LPN, strikes a similar note. “The knowledge you obtain in nursing really helps a lot in making decisions in your political job. You learn the needs and the desires of people in your profession, and when you’re in the business of writing laws, you use that background to make laws that are reasonable and understandable for people to follow.”
Help wanted—new faces needed
Texas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
With the fate of U.S. health care still very much in limbo, nurses are needed now more than ever in the halls of government. The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, has long contended that the entire country suffers when governing bodies represent only a small pool of possibilities— traditionally, white men from a narrow range of professions. That’s why CAWP joined forces with California political strategist Mary Hughes to create The 2012 Project.
This national, nonpartisan campaign aims to increase the number of women in legislative office (at the Congressional, state, and local levels) by identifying and engaging accomplished women aged 45 and older from fields and industries traditionally underrepresented in government. Health—and nursing in particular—is one of those fields, along with finance, science, technology, energy, environment, small business, and international affairs. Outreach to women of color and diverse backgrounds is also a priority.
Women well established in their careers and approaching the end of their more time-consuming family responsibilities may be looking for new ways to apply their energies. To them, The Project says, “Run for office in 2012!”
Why The 2012 Project?
The year 2012 presents a once-in-a-decade opportunity for women to increase their numbers in office. Following the 2010 census, every congressional and state legislative district in the country will be redrawn, creating new Congressional seats. Research shows political newcomers, including women, have more success winning open seats. It’s a simple equation: significantly increasing the number of women who run for office during the post-reapportionment election year will likely increase the number of elected women.
Why endeavor to elect more women? It’s in part a matter of fairness. More than half the United States population is female, but at no level of government do women hold even as many as a third of the available offices. In fact, the 2010 elections saw the first significant drop in the number of women officeholders, particularly at the state legislative level; only about 17% of the U.S. Congress is female, along with just six governors and less than a quarter of all state legislators. In a ranking of nations around the world, based on the proportion of women in their national congresses or parliaments, the United States is tied with Turkmenistan in 73rd place, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
If it were just a numbers game, many might find the under representation of women in government a less-than-urgent problem. But research from CAWP and others has demonstrated that having women in public office changes both the political process and the policies that emerge from it.
Making a difference, addressing women’s well-being
Take women’s health. A CAWP study of Congress found female representatives were stronger advocates for victims of domestic violence, women’s health, and breast cancer funding. As one example, prior to 1992, most National Institutes of Health-funded medical trials were conducted on groups of men only, and those results were simply assumed to apply to women. One congresswoman joked at the time, “Even the lab rats were white males.” After 1992, Congresswomen Pat Schroeder (D-CO) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) led their female colleagues in calling attention to the flawed practices and forced NIH to include women in clinical trials. Today, women lawmakers remain in the vanguard of those monitoring funding and rules surrounding gender-based health issues.
Mississippi State Representative Frances Fredericks
State Representative Fredericks recalls how her distinctive nursing experiences helped her shape legislation on domestic violence in her state’s judiciary committee. “We (the committee) were always dealing with abuse. Being in the profession that I was, I saw some abuse. When it came down to writing laws, I was able to put that into practice because I knew what can happen to people, the end results of abusiveness…. It was something I really didn’t have to think a lot about, because I knew what happened and was able to utilize those skills in order to try to pass laws to make it better for people.”
Women like Fredericks don’t just change the content of the public agenda; they also alter the way the governing process works. Both women and men in legislatures agree that women have brought greater openness to government, opting for more inclusiveness and more “sunshine” to ensure that all affected parties have a chance to listen and speak up as laws are written.
And women appear to approach public life not as power grabbers, but as problem solvers—a strength enhanced by training in nursing. “I believe as nurses we are taught the nursing process, and it’s an excellent way of solving problems. And so I started looking at different problems and different issues and using that process to solve them,” says Nathan-Pulliam. “I am positive that being active members in the Women’s Caucus—the women legislators of Maryland—many of us women have made a difference on issues that impact women, such as childbearing issues, pay parity, the issues relating to domestic violence and to children, because we are the nurturers.”
2012: positioning women for power
What will it take to get more women like Johnson, Nathan-Pulliam, and Fredericks into public office? Drawing on research, The 2012 Project starts with the assumption that women need more resources and support, or even an invitation, to run. A recent CAWP study found that most women state representatives ran for their first elective office because they were encouraged by those around them. Women were far less likely than men to be “self-starters,” who said their initial decision to run for office was entirely their idea.
The 2012 Project meets women on their own ground—whether in publications that women read or at meetings where professional women gather to talk shop—and issues those invitations. Among the inviters are women who know both the rewards and the stresses of holding an office, because they’ve “been there, done that.” The 2012 Project faculty of former elected women lawmakers and other public officials share the facts about women’s under representation and the need for a national, coordinated effort to elect more women. When they speak, faculty members discuss why they ran, what they accomplished, and the difference it makes to have women setting the agenda and making decisions about public policy.
Once women decide to look seriously at the possibility of taking the next step toward a candidacy, The 2012 Project can connect them to the leadership institutes, think tanks, campaign training programs, and fundraising networks in their own states. Dozens of organizations have joined The Project as allies, indicating their readiness to reach out to potential candidates with essential training and services that can help them make the decision to run and equip them for success.
How to get involved
If you’d like to run for office but don’t know where to begin, The 2012 Project can help. The process begins when you visit www.the2012project.us and click “Take Action,” or e-mail [email protected]. You can also e-mail the same address if you’d like to arrange for a speaker to visit your organization to discuss The 2012 Project and the need for more women to run. Now is the time for you and your nursing colleagues to become tomorrow’s legislative leaders!
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