Ah, a day in the life of a critical care nurse. We wake up confident, BIG, ready to conquer the day with confidence. By the end of our shifts, we sometimes leave deflated, small and in many instances, drenched.
Emcee Jon Holmer opened Tuesday’s SuperSession by hilariously depicting a typical shift while DJ Sean set the scene with music, everything from “It’s a Beautiful Morning” to “Maniac,” which is often how we feel by day’s end. Hey, at least we can laugh in the face of exhaustion. But through that exhaustion, we excel.
Celebrating excellence is a big part of the NTI experience, and, yesterday, Circle of Excellence award recipients gathered onstage to receive their awards, share the spotlight and explain how this year’s theme has influenced their contributions to nursing.
“AACN President Chris Schulman shared with us how our WHY is really our professional and personal compass,” said board treasurer Louise Saladino, while recognizing the award recipients. “WHY we became nurses. WHY we go to work each day. When we reconnect with WHY, we reaffirm our core purpose and have a guiding beacon for what we can — what we must — do to ensure that every patient gets the excellent care they deserve.”
“My passion is integrating proven treatment guidelines to save lives,” said award recipient Nicolas Abella from Community Health System Professional Services Corp. in Franklin, Tennessee, one of the award recipients. “Today, there are 272 patients who have survived sepsis thanks to the engaged hospital leaders and clinicians who followed my lead in exchanging their habitual processes and procedures for evidence-based practice.”
Then, keynote speaker Amy Cuddy took the stage, visibly moved by our stories of WHY. “I have been waiting to meet you for years. Ever since I started talking about presence and personal power, and how people connect with each other and themselves, I have felt that the people I most want to connect with about this message are nurses. I think you do the most important work in the world.”
Cuddy had the perfect stage to share what she’s learned as a social psychologist, best-selling author and leadership professor at Harvard University. Her research on body language and performance under stress has given her unique insights into the power of presence. The popular TED Talks presenter stressed the need to make yourself “BIG” — as animals do to fend off prey — to portray power and confidence, whether or not you feel it. “Expanding our posture and movement gives us the courage to bring our authentic best selves to our biggest challenges.”
“People are not very good at telling themselves they’re powerful when they feel anxious, but all of us are able to expand and make ourselves bigger,” she said. She concluded with a quote from Maya Angelou: “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances. Stand up straight.”
Before heading to the Critical Care Exposition, attendees received a keepsake coin stamped with the question, “What is your WHY?”
“Let this coin be a symbol, a reminder, the currency of your courage,” Saladino said. “You are the difference in the lives of those you serve every day. You are the stewards of those critical moments, artfully blending science and compassion. Never forget your importance to so many people and their families. Let this coin be a symbol, a reminder, of that value.”