Professional Advocacy Matters!

As the post-election season winds down, and we come to grips with how different this next presidency appears to be, we are faced with two choices. We can be upset, vent our unhappiness on social media and talk about it with our nursing colleagues. Or, we can reach out as professional nursing advocates to make a difference.

Healthcare access and coverage is still a central issue in the US. No matter what you think about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) or the new president-elect, care and coverage for the uninsured and working poor is crucial and ongoing. The good news is that California has developed a successful program that could be used as a model for the rest of the country. The less good news is that other states are struggling to meet the performance pillars of the ACA. While it appears that the president-elect will attempt to dismantle at least parts of the program, there is ample opportunity for professional advocacy around this issue.

RNs are the most trusted profession in the country. With that reverence, comes great power! Find a local cause about healthcare you can get behind. My work in correctional healthcare as a strategic planning consultant allows me to identify issues that are otherwise hard to see within the community. I am passionate about healthcare for inmates released on parole or probation (prison or jail), so they do not end up in the ER seeking primary care.

As an RN, you have seen first-hand the issues that affect your patients. Find one that you are passionate about and get involved. Write an op-ed piece, run for elected office or work as a volunteer. There are plenty of community healthcare issues to care about. What difference can you make?!

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN


The Fall Season – What Are You Working On?


The calendar says that the season of Fall has just begun. Fall is my favorite season! Because I was born in Boston, I think I have the changing seasons in my DNA. The beautiful fall leaf colors and shedding of leaves is a season full of transition and transformation. Transformation always requires transition (change) first. You cannot do anything new (transformation) until you determine the need for a change in the first place.

Working on your purpose requires a process of evaluation, soul-searching, transition and transformation-much as the leaves change color, and eventually fall off. The changing colors are glorious, but the process must include shedding the leaves so new spring growth can occur after winter ends. Trees without leaves are not dead, but rather getting ready for spring growth. This is true for those of us considering our purpose. We are changing on the inside, getting ready for new growth and direction.

This wonderful diagram making the rounds on Facebook demonstrates the intersection of purpose into our lives. Most religions and spiritual practices talk about having purpose. Do you know your purpose? Is it the same as your paying job? How do you entwine purpose in your life? How do you feel when you find it? Lots to think about while you watch the leaves change color and fall…


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Empathy: A Crucial Leadership Skill

Maria Shriver wrote a great article on the power of empathy recently (Sunday Paper, 8-7-16). Some folks believe you either have empathy or you don’t. Shriver states that there are studies that show it can be taught. Empathy is not like rolling your tongue-a can/cannot do proposition! I believe that empathy is one of the most crucial skills a leader can utilize with others. Empathy is the ability to share someone else’s feelings, and understand their experience. Sometimes you may have even walked in their shoes.

In my forty year career, I have met senior executives that perceive empathy does not belong in the workplace. I couldn’t disagree more. I became a better leader when I exhibited empathy, particularly to subordinates. Empathy isn’t compassion or sympathy; however you may use both in addition to empathy when dealing with work situations.

Empathy is also something we can use for ourselves. As many career women, I am much harder on myself then I am on any other person. Beating ourselves up (or others) doesn’t help us grow or change. If you want more caring, compassion, and collaboration, try looking at empathy as a key strategy. Especially for yourself!


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Leadership Caveat: Let go of vibrating poles

I recently came across two incidents of vibrating poles. This is a reminder that we all need to consider. There are multiple issues in healthcare organizations that can make you crazy. Our natural tendency is to try and control things so we can “fix” them. Many healthcare facilities are extremely dysfunctional, so we can’t change anything. As we continue to try and control whatever is dysfunctional, the more frustrated we get, and still nothing changes. A healthcare organization is the equivalent of a vibrating pole. The temptation is to hang on to the pole to make it stop vibrating. In reality, that makes both you and the pole vibrate. You cannot stop the pole from vibrating, no matter how hard you try! The answer is to let go of the pole. Not easy to do in work settings, but the only thing that will save your sanity.


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

What I learned: Control or Coordination?

I recently completed a consulting project involving a large jail healthcare system. The assessment and implementation of the recommendations was long and arduous due to politics, passive-aggressive behavior and an enormous bureaucracy. I was a subcontractor for this gig, working for a respected colleague and friend who “owned” the contract. We have different and complementary skills, and usually work well together. We struggled with this contract due to the issues above, but our biggest challenge was based on communication between ourselves about the project issues. We have very different communication styles and strategies.

This organization was the toughest I have ever consulted in. I believe they truly wanted help but didn’t want to deal with having a mirror held up or implementing the actual changes required to solve the problems. My colleague and I struggled mightily just to have our assessment considered accurate. As a result, we often got caught in others’ verbal crossfire. The question that kept coming up was “who was in charge?”

As a sub-contractor, I was often present physically but didn’t “own” the contract. I worked hard to identify myself as someone who “coordinated” work, but wasn’t in “control” of the work. I had to quickly identify a way to coordinate between us, without appearing to be “in charge.” It was difficult, especially when my colleague wasn’t physically present.

As a result, we had to adapt to this dysfunctional environment by talking frequently, not taking inappropriate staff behavior personally (not always easy when someone is insulting you!) and to improve our own communication so we didn’t fall into the same craziness we were witnessing.

What I learned is that coordination between colleagues is much more important than who is actually in control or in charge. It is crucial to accept that not everyone communicates the same way, and we had to work hard with our different styles. What matters most is that we did communicate, and completed the project in spite of the challenges. Can you tell when you are in control or when you need to coordinate your work with others?


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN

Moving Your House

Many of you have seen YouTube videos that show up on Facebook and other social media sites. There was one recently that I found amazing. It showed about 80 men moving a complete, totally built house onto an already leveled cement foundation! This short clip showed the men standing inside the house and picking it up at the same time….walking in unison taking very tiny steps. No machines, no yelling, just directing from the person coordinating the move. You see many feet moving in union based on the director’s recommendations for turning and moving. Once the house is essentially in place, there is more guidance from the project director. In less than 10 minutes, the house is in place to be attached to the foundation.

Now think about your organization and how work is accomplished. It doesn’t matter if you work in a hospital, jail, prison, clinic, retail store, coal mine or office. How would your job change and your work tasks improve if you did them in the manner this house was moved?! Single goal, simple direction, working in synchrony. Fascinating to consider! See for yourself- Definitely worth watching!


Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN


There is much written about integration of healthcare organizations, integrating culture shift, etc. The challenge of integration isn’t the concept; it is how to do it. No one seems to know exactly. I think integration is a process of the collective whole and group. If people are not integrated into themselves, then how can they integrate into a larger group?

How do we integrate in our own selves and what does that mean? As a person who experienced childhood physical abuse, I learned at a young age to live in my head and not my body. This means that for many of my years, I lived only above my neck. Not healthy. Through therapy, massage and exercise I have learned to live in my whole body. This has helped me feel better, lose weight and be centered in my own self.

If we are not centered ourselves, it is tough to lead and culturally center an organization. Be sure you allow time for your own integrative behaviors as well as leading others!



Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner – MentorRN