Learning Curves, Leadership and Empathy

Mac Attack photo: jparadisi 2010

I finally did it.  Readers who are artists and graphic designers prepare for a collective groan at my old, ass backwards ways: JParadisi RN has converted from PC to Mac. The feeling is similar to the moment you find true love after looking for it in all the wrong places. The same as finally enrolling in art school, and marrying the right guy. I wonder what took me so long? This is my first post using the new computer.

Delaying the conversion had a lot to do with the unavoidable learning curve that comes along with new software and programs, I mean apps. It’s difficult to find answers when you have to learn new terminology to ask questions. Imagine what a patient or family member in crisis feels, trying to talk to nurses and doctors about unfamiliar treatments or end of life issues when they don’t know what questions to ask or the terminology, often with little or no time to prepare. This is the obvious metaphor and an easy post to write. This is not the post I am writing.

This is the post I am writing: I am gaining empathy for my coworkers. A series of unanticipated events has hit our department infrastructure with the force of a tsunami, resulting in several colleagues stepping into leadership roles with little preparation.  Meanwhile, changes continue coming at us like a set of ocean waves pounding the shore.  When these nurse leaders come in for their shifts they find new expectations added on to their day, and I admire their commitment. You can argue that they volunteered for the extra responsibility, and that is true, but someone has to oversee the daily continuity or the unit is crippled. Unit leaders have to make immediate decisions in the midst of the controlled chaos that is patient care. There’s a learning curve for them too, especially for those developing new skills in a constantly changing environment.

Empathy for residents and new nurses is necessary too. There is always a learning curve when you begin something new. First do no harm is a guiding personal ethic for all interactions, not only those involving patients. Not all forms of inflicted pain leave a visible mark.

Just now, after twenty minutes of work, I lost a paragraph while trying to cut and paste it into a future post—Frick! Learning how to use Mac and keep up with JParadisi RN’s Blog“s production schedule is simultaneously frustrating and exciting. I am lucky to learn in privacy, away from the critical eyes of coworkers or patients. My colleagues stepping up to the plate in a time of transition do not have the same luxury.