Our Voice, Our Strength: Break the Rules!

Goodbyes are never easy, and AACN President Chris Schulman’s farewell address and tribute to the AACN community and her family brought Wednesday’s SuperSession attendees to tears.

“One day, I found myself serving as AACN’s 48th president,” Schulman said. “I never, ever thought I would do something like this. I leave today with a heart full of gratitude for everyone in this room. Thank you for an incredible year. As we all look to the possibilities that lie ahead, please always be guided by your WHYs and this final thought from my very favorite philosopher, Walt Disney: ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’” Lisa Riggs, AACN president-elect, added, that yes, YOU can do it (such a fitting exchange from one president to the next). Many times, we feel powerless in the system, and it seems that policies are set in stone when, in reality, as Riggs pointed out, 75 percent of “rules” are institution specific or the result of misinterpretation.

However, Riggs reminded us of our newfound power stance: There is something each of us can do to effect change in our facilities. Our Voice, Our Strength, AACN’s new theme for the coming year, empowers us to question as many rules as needed to change the status quo.

Think about it, Riggs said. “How could we become fully in charge of our practice? What would it be like if we designed the EMR around the way we work? What if we were engaged to find solutions to staffing challenges? What if we pushed back on regulations that don’t make sense? It would be something like nirvana, don’t you think? It would actually be you and me as nurses making our optimal contribution and owning our practice.”

Attendees were treated to two keynote speakers at yesterday’s SuperSession, and they gave us two hints for how we can be heard. First: communication, and we don’t mean digitally. “When listeners are listening to a speaker in an engaged way, their brain waves sync up,” said NPR host Celeste Headlee. “This is what we are capable of when a human voice reaches a set of human ears. This is the kind of bond you create when it’s truly authentic analog communication.”

Second: Interact. As author and renowned speaker Dan Thurmon hoisted himself onto the wobbly lectern and into a handstand, he said, “I’m not balanced, I’m balancing, making constant adjustments and corrections. I’m working really hard and, on top of all this effort, after all this work, I’m still in the same place — just more exhausted. Out of uncertainty IS the opportunity. You can see it, you can elevate your vision and then you can initiate change.”

So, go out there and BREAK THE RULES!

2 Responses

  1. Kathryn Hardee RN BSN CCRN says:

    I had the pleasure to meet Chris Schulman @ the Odyssey in Richmond Va
    What a great President. I have been a critical care nurse for over 40 years and it’s important to let the novice nurses know that our voices are heard. Please get engaged with your job.

  2. Rowena Durand says:

    I’ve been a critical care nurse for almost 30 years and given many responsibilities which I called them ” oppourtunities” because of the leadership and accountability that comes along with it. I believe with those virtues , it gives me the chance to influence many nurses to make a difference, to have a voice and promote practice change. And you are very right when you say, not all practices are set in stone and they don’t have to be policies or protocols to implement or institute them because they are simply best practice that can and will impact outstanding outcomes with our patients. As someone who helped to develop shared governance in our institution, we primarily focused on having a voice, make a difference, to have autonomy , take ownership, and take pride to what you can deliver and results of what you delivered because it is very rewarding . My message to all ” don’t give up, take the punch and don’t stop believing. …