Drawing Lessons: Sideways Perspective,Dishwashers & Forks III

Forks Sideways (2009) JParadisi

Fork Sideways (2009) JParadisi

        A  doctor mentioned that if health care reform occurs, he will not make enough money to pay off his student loans. If this is true, he has a valid concern.

     I heard that 62% of personal bankruptcies in the United States are caused by debt incurred from a medical crisis. If this is true, it is also a valid concern.

    Everyone has a reason to be for or against Health Care Reform.  Fork tines upwards, or fork tines downwards.  We know that forks can also be placed in the dishwasher sideways, keeping the tines clean and free of entanglement in the basket. 

     Forks have to be washed after use. Health Care Reform is going to occur, one way or another, because our society can not afford the current system.  Some people fear  Health Care Reform will take away their Medicare benefits. At the current rate that health care costs are increasing, Medicare benefits may need to be cut. Why not change the system, and create a Medicare for all who need it? Medicare for everyone.

        The yelling and pictures of President Obama sporting a Hitler mustache at town hall meetings feels similar to the nurses venting their frustration, anger and distrust at each other and the administration during the intial phases of transition to nurse governance at a hospital, which I posted about on September 3rd. The force of opposition displayed at these meetings on the evening news is reminiscent of the energy surrounding the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and early 70’s. Historically, social change in our country occurs with dramatic labor pains. 

           Health Care Reform is a civil rights issue.

          Maybe, when all of the yelling has stopped, honest, respectful and productive conversation will begin at town hall meetings on the evening news.

Drawing Lessons: Problems in Perspective, Dishwashers & Forks II

Tines Upwards (2009) photo:JParadisi

Tines Upwards (2009) photo:JParadisi

      Garrison Keillor says that you don’t really know what you think until you start writing.

       This morning, while the coffee was brewing, I unloaded the dishwasher. Imagine my surprise to see that all of the forks were placed tines upward. 

       I asked my husband about this fork/dishwasher thing. He has an opinion: tines upward. 

      I can live with it. But what if I find tines upward to be unacceptable?

     A hospital I worked for decided to implement nurse governance as a tool for making decisions within nursing units.  The process was painful in the beginning. We would attend meetings facilitated by a representative from Human Resources  with our nurse manager present, and for awhile, some doctors too. For an hour at a time we  would vent our hurt, frustration, anger and distrust towards all of the factors we blamed for making our work difficult. This process went on for several meetings. Most of the time I wanted to bail, because I felt we weren’t making any progress. Because attendance was mandatory, I stayed. 

     Then something happened:  one meeting, the arguing and the yelling stopped. The strong emotions had run their course, and now we were ready to talk calmly to each other. We were able to begin the work of conflict resolution.

      Each of us was asked to make a list of the top five problems we wanted fixed in our unit. The lists were compiled, and an overarching list was posted on a wall in large letters for all to see. This list was the starting point from which we selected the six most important problems by group consensus.  The rest of the list items were saved in a “parking lot”,  meaning that once the first top priority problems were resolved, the rest of the list would be revisited in the next wave.

      Six committees were formed. Participation on a committee was mandatory. We were paid for our time. It was understood that some of the problems were resolvable, and the lifespan of some of the committees was self-limited. Committees dealing with issues like communication, staffing, and education, were longstanding in nature, and members made a time commitment to those.

     Things improved. For me, the most important thing gained from this model of conflict resolution was learning how to talk to my colleagues, our manager, doctors, and administrators in a manner that was honest, respectful, and productive. Is it perfect? Did we create a nursing Utopia? Please, we’re adults here, of course not. But I learned a lot about listening and respecting the perspectives of others, and a way to resolve differences.

     Just in case I change my mind about forks and dishwashers.

Drawing Lessons: Dishwashers and Forks in Perspective I

Tines Downward (2009) photo: JParadisi

Tines Downward (2009) photo: JParadisi

     The other day at the nurses’ desk, my colleagues had a conversation about which direction to put forks into the dishwasher.

     I’d never given the topic any thought before. Hmmmm. Should I have a position on this?  Why has this question never occurred to me in the twenty years I’ve owned a dishwasher? Do other people think about forks and dishwashers, or  just nurses? Our one male nurse was not working that day, so I couldn’t ask him if this is a gender issue. 

     There were two opposing views. Some of the nurses feel that forks should be loaded into the dishwasher tines downward, because this prevents the tines from coming in contact with the fingers of the person unloading the dishwasher after they’d been washed.

     The second group feels forks should be placed tines upward in the dishwasher. That way the tines don’t get stuck down in the plastic basket holding them, making removal of the fork from the basket easier and more efficient. These nurses also feel that debris is better removed from the tines in this position.

     Hmmmm. I wonder if there are any studies on this? Are there best practice benchmarks for dishwasher use?

     Puzzling over this, it occurs to me that there is at least a third way to place forks into a dishwasher. They can be laid on their side in the tray in the top shelf of the dishwasher. They get clean that way, they don’t get tangled in the basket, and the handle is easily accessed to prevent touching the clean tines when removing the forks. 

   I am reminded that when I am presented with a problem, rarely are there only two answers to it.