Let me take you back to 2008. Change was in the air as we had two distinct options to choose for president of this great country. Although I had been of age to vote during two prior presidential elections, I had not been motivated enough to be moved to action. Up until that point, I sat idle and let others make those decisions for me. The 2008 presidential election was different. I felt my vote mattered, and it did. Maybe it was the election, the “Yes, We Can!” mission, or my increasing maturity, but in 2008 I chose to take a more active role not in politics, but in life. In the upcoming years I would join my Homeowners Association, church board, my sons’ school board, become a team leader in Suburban Hospital’s Emergency Department, and also join Suburban’s Professional Practice Council. After serving on the Professional Practice Council for more than three years I am honored and humbled to assume the position of chair starting this September.
So, you may be asking yourself, “What does that have to do with me?”
Before I came to Suburban in June of 2008, I had worked as an RN for nine years but never once felt a desire to get involved in anything more than my daily assignment. It’s not that I was a bad nurse in any way. I did my job well and was respected by co-workers and patients alike. That being said, my only desire was to clock in, take great care of my patients, and clock out. Then one day a co-worker approached me about joining the Professional Practice Council and I reluctantly told her I would give it a try. How bad could it be anyway when all I have to do is sit there and give my opinion when necessary? What I didn’t realize it that the more time I spent on the council, the more I grew to appreciate how precious it is to actually have a voice that can make a difference. We as staff nurses have a voice in the way Suburban Hospital coordinates patient care. That thought should be empowering to us all. No other hospital that I’ve worked at values the input of their staff nurses more than Suburban Hospital. If you are a member of the team here, you have a unique opportunity to have your voice heard in various formats. Whether it be a hospital-wide council, unit-based council, a survey, or even the filling out an anonymous Nursing Practice Issues Referral form, nurses have tools to improve patient and staff outcomes.
We have probably all heard the expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” If there is one thing I have learned from being on various councils is that it takes time for any organization to make changes, and the bigger the organization the longer it takes. After all, is it harder to change direction in a kayak or on a cruise ship? You may not see it, but I have proof that our leaders are working hard behind the scenes to create the most positive environment possible for our patients and staff. If you don’t believe me, then I encourage you to join one of the unit-based or hospital-wide councils. Don’t sit on the sideline and let others make decisions for you. If you choose to accept, then you will look back with me and say “Yes, We Do!”
Lester Ortiz, RN