When I was in grade school, every year my teacher would have the class write down what we wanted to accomplish individually. Some would scribble about getting better at math, others declared they wanted their art projects put on the wall of fame with a gold star. In my case, I sometimes struggled with coming up with a goal.
I would think about some of the things I really wanted to do but then shot them down because it seemed absurd to me! I was never an A+ student but many times having straight A’s would be a floating fantasy through my mind. I would get excited about my goals that soon went poof because of failed past attempts, no matter how hard I THOUGHT I was trying..Then I would just write down something simple, taking the easy way out. After a while the practice became stale and I had an inner push to step out of my comfort zone. Even if it meant coming up with smaller goals as steps toward accomplishing the bigger ones.
As nurses, most of us aim to help others in the best way we can with the knowledge base available. However, sometimes we can get so meshed in our routine and habits that we forget about being adventurous and having goals to work toward (aside from those on annual evaluation forms). In other words, we can become boring. Setting goals helps to keep us on our toes, adding a perk to our step and leads us to become better nurse no matter how many years of experience. We can always strive to do better in different ways; whether it’s learning something new each day or discovering avenues toward improving our therapeutic approach. That often involves thinking outside the box and pushing the limits of how wacky or creative you can be in a professional setting.
When I worked on the inpatient unit of a psychiatric hospital, I couldn’t help but listen to the groans of patients who roamed in boredom or were too negatively stimulated by the noise of cries and screaming. I figured this was a golden opportunity to address a problem in a way that could help soothe the mood of the unit and add some fun. That was my goal, get every on that ward chill as #@%& without sedating them with a jar of pills. What better way I thought, than to use my talent and passion for music. Not only does music have a way of touching the soul, but it aids so much in healing and various studies have shown that. For years I enjoyed playing jazz flute (think Ron Burgundy) with bands and musicians in coffee shops and restaurants. In fact, that helped me mostly get by during nursing school. Every time I looked out into the audience I’d see people either super silent and entranced or dancing it out with some occasional twerking.
The first time I played on the unit, I felt a bit nervous not knowing the reactions I’d get; staff included. Thankfully I had gotten the go ahead from administration to bring my instrument on the floor, so I didn’t have to worry about getting fired. I came out of the nurses station and all the patients sat around awaiting what would come out of that glistening silvery rod.
I started playing a melody, “Somewhere over the rainbow” and afterward, some of those who had a diagnosis of depression managed to curve a smile, others who couldn’t sit still or stay silent enough seemed to calm down. I had witnessed first-hand the power of music and effect on healing. Days later that group of patients got together and wrote a letter with all of their signatures expressing appreciation and how much my playing had helped them. From then on I was known as the flute nurse. That is just one example of how we can set goals utilizing our talents as a nurses and bold enough to do what it takes in creating a better you.