If You’re So Smart, Why Haven’t You Figured This Out?


If You’re So Smart, Why Haven’t You Figured This Out?

 That’s the voice in my head. It sounds like my mom’s voice.

I’m wondering how many other nurse leaders are out there who are successful in the clinical business of healthcare, but yearn for authentic caring and healing being evident everywhere in their organizations?

I’ve been trying to put my finger on the one word that sums up my nurse leader career in hospitals. And it’s …


This word feels so good.

It’s like a warm wash all over me.

It’s surrender, forgiveness, truth, release of fear.

Followed by a deep gratitude for the clarity.

Yes, I was successful by hospital management standards. I wasn’t fired; I balanced budgets; I recruited and trained new grads; I cherished the seasoned nurses, but not enough; I embraced EBP with fervor; loved quality improvement projects; dabbled in shared governance and Magnet initiatives; always talked about Jean Watson’s caring theory; grew my emotional intelligence (thank God!); loved the people I worked with; wrestled with physicians; always loved ethics cases because this is where real emotions and truth collide and where meaning emergences; made rounds routinely; loved palliative care and end of life decision making and support because this is where real nursing happens; loved being around smart and caring nurses who could do both simultaneously; loved coaching and mentoring nurse leaders, and …

On so many levels, I loved it all.

So why didn’t I go back to it?

Because I got that sick feeling when talking with recruiters and prospective CEO bosses.   In the back of my mind, that voice bellowed,

What makes you think you can do it here, or there, or …..?

What is the it ?

I’m learning that my it is:

Creating Caring Consciousness in an organization-

Being able to talk authentic caring moments, like it’s ‘shop talk’,

While rounding with every nurse

Intertwining it with their daily logistical challenges of meds, treatments, etc.

While talking with physicians

Illustrating that the nurses’ connections with their patients saves them time, reveals critical information and brings more coherence in their medical practice

While talking with the CEO and the Board

Showing them how nurses are the reflections of the spirit of healthcare

And their work is saving lives and creating calm in patients’ storms

I’m figuring it out. It takes some thought adjustments, some awareness, lots of clarity, and seeing the path in tiny steps.

That’s what I didn’t see before.  If it takes seeing it as a failure to see it clearly, I’m OK with that. 

Image courtesy of pexels.com

2 thoughts on “If You’re So Smart, Why Haven’t You Figured This Out?

  1. Katherine says:

    Yes! We’ve all experienced these thoughts and feelings. Thank you for putting them into words!

    1. pmcclendon says:

      Yes, this is my daughter responding. And I love it. I enjoy a lot of support from all of my family. What is unique about her responses is that she is in nursing school at UCLA and is seeing the collide of the different worlds up close. Interestingly, her sister is caring for patients in a pain clinic and cancer patients at UCSF through yoga and meditation and a private reiki practice. I am blessed.

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