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Rock Your Health: 10 Life lessons from the blackberry patch

Picking blackberries is my ZEN thing to do in the summer, as it takes me away from the usual city stuff and allows me to become re-connected to nature and who I am. And since I am also a Life Coach, I see the application of my experience to those of you who might like to do some soul searching as well.

Here are my thoughts on the experience of picking in the patch. YOU can decide how this can apply to your life.

B – Be prepared before you enter the patch.

Shorts and tank tops are not picking attire. Blackberries grow on long prickly vines that not only scratch me easily, but can wrap around my ankles and trip me if I start moving too fast. I prepare and protect myself with long-sleeved shirts and pants, preferably denim, socks, and shoes, no sandals.

L- Listen to the sounds of the woods for guidance.

If birds are chirping pleasantly, bugs are buzzing around making a lazy sound, leaves are fluttering in the breeze and I feel calm, then all is well. At a moment’s notice, however, I have heard a screech or a squawk or a fast rustling thru the woods and know that something is up! It’s amazing if I don’t have the distraction of all the “people noise” that the sounds of nature are there to guide my survival in very basic ways.

A – Analyze your next move before you take the first step.

Before I start to pick, I scan the entire patch and get the big picture of how I will proceed. Where is the best entry point that provides the easiest access, has the least amount of entanglements and yields the biggest return. This is a “prickly” venture and can lead to a lot of scratches, so I need to be strategic and move carefully as I proceed.

C – Check behind you often.

Sometimes when I keep moving forward as I pick, I only see one side of what is available. When I turn around periodically, I see more berries that I might have missed if I were always looking forward. I like to use the “turning technique” by planting my feet in one spot and picking in all directions before I move on, so I can see all the angles.

K – Keep moving deeper into the patch.

The best is yet to come. The first glance does not reveal the true bounty that lies within. As you go deeper, you start developing the “eye” for what you are looking for and you start seeing more of what is there than you originally thought. And berries always appear smaller from a distance, so when you get up close and personal, you really can see how big and beautiful they really are. Of course moving deeper into the patch means more vines, more stickers, more scratches, but no pain – no gain. It is well worth it to forge ahead.

B – Berries that fall to the ground before you get to them are a gift.

Two things are happening here. If you get overly greedy and try to pick too many berries at once with your hand, there might be overflow and they might fall out of your hand and onto the ground. The positive spin on this is that there might be a critter on the ground that had a wonderful berry drop from the heavens right down to the ground in front of it – and it perceives it as a gift! So instead of getting frustrated when you lose the perfect berry, think of the joy that critter feels when it appeared.

E – Expect to experience some pain

I never make it out of the patch without a few scratches, mainly on my hands with exposed skin, but if I pick slowly and steadily and avoid quick moves, I keep it to a minimum. There will be times when you are tempted by a beautiful cluster of ripe berries to reach farther than you should, and then it is easy to get off balance and fall, or pull a muscle. Again, slow, deliberate, and calculated movements reduce the possibility of pain and suffering.

R – Rejoice over the experience.

Appreciate the bounty you are harvesting, how nature provides such delicious and nourishing treats, that you have taken the time to be with nature, be with yourself and be “one with the berries”. The best stress management tool there is for grounding and it’s all FREE.

R – Ripe berries have the best flavor and are easiest to pick.

The biggest berries are the ripest and sweetest, and they are the easiest to pick. When you hit on a cluster of them all ripe and ready, you can cup your hand around the whole bundle and they slide easily off the vine and into your hand. Very smooth! Most of the time the biggest and ripest are found in the shade or hidden among leaves, so when you find them they are a complete surprise. I always get excited when I find them – and usually shout out to my picking partners – “I’ve found the mother load!” So always keep your eyes open when picking, because the best berries might not be in full view, they might even be very low under a lot of brush and you might have to look a little harder to find them.

Y – Young berries need more time to mature

Just because a berry looks ripe doesn’t mean it is. You’ll know right away if it is ready to be picked because if it hangs on tight to the vine and you can’t easily guide it off, it’s not ready. A gentle tug will tell you if it is time or not. If you start pulling too hard you could mash it and then it is of no value to anyone.

So if you want to coach yourself today, ask yourself – How does this apply to your life?

Summer Nursing Roundup

Summer is here, so it’s time to explore some of the best—and worst—nursing stories from the past few months.

Nurses included in healthcare fraud takedown: The department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led a nationwide takedown on health care fraud schemes involving $900 million in false billings. 301 individuals, including nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals, were charged in this in this fraud takedown, the largest in history. Charges included conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, kickbacks, money laundering and identity theft. (Source: Department of Justice)

Nurses are never off duty—even on their wedding day: Julie Stroyne, a trauma nurse from UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, was leaving her wedding to start her new life when she heard people yelling for help. Dropping her bouquet, she rushed into action to help an unconscious woman on a nearby park bench. She performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the woman in her wedding dress, saving the woman’s life before the paramedics arrived. (Source: Today)

Dean of Nursing moonlights as a comedian, for the kids: Gloria Ferraro Donnelly, the 74-year-old dean of Drexel’s College of Nursing came up with an unexpected way to raise money for students: a stand-up comedy routine. Dressed in a t-shirt, yoga pants and sweatbands with a water bottle tied around her waist, the dean’s comedy routine called “The Quest for Physical Perfection,” has raised almost $65,000 for the student emergency fund since 2010. Though she’s retiring this year, Donnelly hopes to continue her comedy career to continue raising money for the fund. (Source: Philly.com)

New strategies for the nursing shortage

Hospitals are offering new incentives to get staff involved with recruitment.

We’ve all heard it by now: the nurse shortage is here, and it’s only going to get worse. Between population growth, retirement, and life expectancy increase, reports estimate a three million RN shortage by 2020.

Faced with these challenges, University of Missouri (MU) Health Care has asked its staff for help in recruiting nurses to their facilities. Instead of offering bonuses and incentives to new hires, MU Health is offering staff members $10,000 for recruiting qualified candidates to its Intensive Care Units (ICU). MU Health hopes to convey respect and value for their employees, improving retention while making the facility more attractive to new applicants. The recruiters also say that sign-on bonuses could lead to job-hopping, rather than encouraging nurses to stay at a facility.

One of the other factors affecting the shortage is a bottleneck around training people to become nurses. The retirement issue applies to nursing school professors as well, and schools are constrained by professor to student ratios in determining how many applicants are accepted.

MU Health Care also hopes to address this issue by helping its staff become educators. They have instituted a residency program that allows trained nurses to collaborate with nursing students at their hospitals. The hospitals provide exposure to nursing students, and they hope to encourage students to stay within their community once they graduate. The Missouri Hospital Association is sponsoring a clinical leadership academy, which will train bedside nurses to become clinical instructors.

In addition to its own programs, MU Health Care encourages employees to go back to school to advance their careers, offering tuition reimbursement for staff members. These creative incentives for employees serve the dual function of retaining current staff while making the facility more attractive to new recruits.

House calls can benefit patients and cut costs

Two of the lasting images of early healthcare professionals is the doctor with their big bag making house calls and a midwife rushing to a family home to facilitate a birth. As healthcare has advanced, we’ve moved away from this home-based model toward the consolidated approach of the modern hospital. However, some practices have returned to house calls, with some positive results.

Independence at Home, a program created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), seeks to identify patients that would benefit from homecare or cannot be helped in a hospital setting. The project sends mobile interdisciplinary healthcare teams, lead by physicians and nurse practitioner, out to the homes of these patients and provide care.

According to a recent Medscape article, the program reports a few different benefits. The patients receive more attention and care from providers, and the setting can foster trust between patient and provider. Hospitals and nursing homes can be difficult places for many patients, and they would prefer to get treatment in their homes. Terminal patients particularly benefit from this; as one provider notes, hospitals are not where people want to die.

The providers benefit from the more personalized patient relationship as well, but there are also financial incentives for homecare. CMS reports that they saved $25 million by using this system and $11.7 million of that went back to the providers. Because the system targets some of the most expensive Medicare patients, hospitals can save a lot by providing in-home care in this system. In addition to the CMS program, Veterans Affairs Medical Centers report that providing home care for some of their patients cost 12% less than standard care.

Game teaches nurses about med management

A new board game might help nurses minimize medication errors.

Many nurses report that medicine management is a difficult aspect of their responsibilities. Focus Games Ltd and healthcare academics have developed an educational board game designed to help “frontline healthcare professionals understand, recognize and minimize medication errors.” The Drug Round Game, an adaptation of “Snakes and Ladders,” hopes to teach nurses and nursing students about medication management, while giving them the opportunity to practice drug calculations and have big picture discussions in a low-stakes environment.

Nursing students that have tried the game describe it as fun and engaging, while improving their nursing knowledge and practicing what they’ve learned. Professors who’ve played the game with staff and students say that the game is enjoyable yet challenging, and an effective way to practice and refine their skills.

For more information about the game, check out City University of London’s press release.

National Time Out Day

Today is National Time Out day! For the 12th year in a row, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) want to remind medical professionals to take a moment before every procedure to make sure they are “operating on the right patient, the right site and the right procedure.” The Joint Commission reports that wrong site surgeries occur five times every day in the United States, and AORN hopes to raise awareness of the issue and improve patient safety.

For more information or to see how you can participate in National Time Out Day, visit AORN’s official website.

Animal therapy not just for patients

We hear all the time about how nursing is one of the most stressful professions in the country. This combined with the struggles with nurse retention has led a few hospitals to get creative with helping out their stressed-out nurses: Animal therapy sessions.

Animal therapy has been used with patients for years, particularly to help patients with trauma and mental health disorders. Inspired by these results, executives at University of Pennsylvania hospital and Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) instituted regular animal therapy sessions for their employees. Penn’s “pet a pooch” program was instituted by ER nurse Heather Matthew, brought in dogs from local shelters to spend time with their employees. In addition to helping the stressed-out staff, over a dozen dogs have been adopted since the program started three years ago.

After seeing the positive effects of Penn’s program, RUMC started their own program called “Pet Pause.” Hospital staff immediately reported feeling less stressed after their animal therapy sessions, and an internal study confirmed that the sessions lowered participants blood pressure and increased staff morale. Studies elsewhere have shown that animal therapy reduces stress hormones, and management researchers have found improvements in employee satisfaction and productivity when dogs are allowed in the workplace.

Do you have paws program at your facility? Let us know in the comments!

For more information, check out the Chicago Tribune article.

Rock Your Health: Top 5 Reasons Why SUGAR RULES When You Can’t Lose Weight and What You Can Do About It


Getting CLEAR about solutions!

C – Create a Relapse-Proof Environment

This is the first step when you are trying to stop your “sugar madness”.  If you feel you are addicted to sugar and can’t get away from it, clean up your environment and remove all these highly-processed carbohydrates from your home, your office, your car, and anywhere else you may be tempted to eat them.  If they are right there when you become hungry, you will make a poor food choice every time.  But, if you have good quality, low-glycemic food and snacks available when you are hungry, it really is not that difficult to eat correctly. You must not only protect your environment but also plan ahead so that you have healthy food choices available at all times.

Ask yourself – What do I need to do to create a sugar-free zone to support my efforts to reduce my sugar intake?

L – Learn About Sugar

Carbohydrate-rich foods are the primary source of energy for all body functions so we must eat some daily in addition to protein and fat.  Sugars are simple carbohydrates that can be easily digested by your body and include foods like cake, soda, sweets and highly processed foods.  We call them “fast” carbs.  Over 80-90% of carbohydrates consumed by adults and children today are simple-sugars, also called high-glycemic.

Complex carbohydrates take longer to be digested and include foods such as whole grain products, fruits and vegetables. We call them “slow carbs”. Both types of carbohydrates are broken down into sugar for the body to use and both cause blood sugar to rise, however complex carbohydrates raise the blood sugar slowly and simple carbohydrates raise it quickly.  It is that fast rising blood sugar called “spiking” that causes all the health problems.

Ask yourself – What facts about sugar do I need so I can make wise decisions about my intake?

E – Examine Your Relationship with Sugar

Do you think you might have an addiction to sugar?  You probably think sugar addiction is about lack of willpower or discipline or motivation. It is not. It is about your biochemistry. You were born with a body that responds to sugar, alcohol and refined carbohydrates differently than other people. You are sugar sensitive. Sugar acts like a drug in your body. In fact, it affects the very same brain chemicals that morphine, heroin and amphetamines.

Ask yourself – What is my experience with sugar and how would I like it to be now?

A – Appreciate How Sugar Effects Your Body

Everyone needs to eat carbohydrates which are digested and then changed into sugar in the blood stream and carried – with the help of insulin – into our cells to produce energy.  Blood sugar or blood glucose is the main source of energy for our organs, muscles and tissues. This is a normal healthy process for our bodies to function correctly.  However, too much of the wrong kind of sugar, can create problems.

Ask yourself – What is my body’s response to sugar? Should I get my blood sugar checked to find out if it is normal?  And if it is not, what am I willing to do to correct it? 

R – Realize Your Body is Under Stress from Too Much Sugar

We all know how stress affects our bodies.  I hear the complaints every day – headaches, neck aches, back aches, upset stomach, insomnia, and on and on.  There is another type of stress that we may not be aware of, and that is called Glycemic Stress.  When your body is bombarded with too much sugar from all the high glycemic foods mentioned previously, your insulin is over-producing to cope and an internal stress cycle occurs of spiking and dropping blood sugars.  This leads to Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome and then possibly Heart Disease and Diabetes. Not a pretty picture, is it.  But these are the facts.

Ask yourself:

  • Where am I in all of this?
  • Where do I see myself with my health in the future?
  • What part am I willing to play in moving forward with a healthier lifestyle?
  • What steps do I need to take?

Need some support?  Email me at carol@carolebert.com and let’s talk!

Nurses uniquely qualified for hospital design

The role of nurses has expanded greatly over the past few years, as nurses are moving from the bedside into all facets of healthcare. Hospitals have started to use nurses’ expertise to help design their facilities, with impressive results.

Hospital design can have a profound impact for both nurses and patients, but facilities are just starting to include nurses in the design process. Health Facilities Management (HFM) reports that involving nurses in design planning can help executives and contractors keep patient-care priorities in mind during construction. Seemingly small decisions, like the placement of sinks, computers, or wall outlets, can lead to an increase patient satisfaction. Nurses have been behind some of the pioneering new hospital designs, such as single-occupancy maternity rooms and the acuity-adaptable patient rooms. As one nurse told HFM, “Nurses spend the most time with the patient… we have a responsibility to be the voice of the patient, family and each other.”

Looking out for each other is another great reason for involving nurses in hospital design. A study published by Hassell and the University of Melbourne found that hospitals designed to accommodate nurses have a better chance of attracting and retaining nurse staff. The researchers identified a link between hospital workplace design and efficiency, health and safety for staff and patients, and staff morale. These factors play a significant role in staff retention, and who better to ensure a facility is attractive to nurses than nurse leaders?

Nurse-led design choices improve conditions for patients and nurses, but they can also help the bottom line. Nurses are involved in many different areas of the hospital, and their input can make operations more efficient and affordable. In one example reported by HFM, nurses saved the Parkland hospital project millions of dollars by eliminating unnecessary equipment and cabinetry in emergency rooms.

Both the survey and HFM article note that despite these benefits, nurses don’t always get a voice in hospital design. But as nurse-designed hospitals flourish, perhaps more facilities will involve nurses in design plans.

For more about Nursing and hospital design, check out: Take Five: How renewal rooms revive stressed out nurses

Rock Your Health: Gluten-Free for You and Me?

How much gluten are you consuming daily and it is affecting your health?  Just look around at work at how much is staring in your face daily.  Check out these facts.

G – “Gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains

- Labels on foods using the claim “gluten-free” now must have a gluten limit of less than 20 ppm (parts per million)

- Until now, celiac patients did not know what the words ‘gluten free’ meant when they saw them on a food label

T – Three million people in the United States have Celiac Disease which is 1% of the population

- Eliminating Gluten from the diet is a big challenge for those with Celiac Disease

- Now the FDA has set guidelines for the use of the term “gluten-free” on food labels to help people with celiac disease maintain a gluten-free diet.

 

F – Foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine which limits absorption of nutrients and leads to other serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

- Removing Gluten from the diet is the only way to manage Celiac Disease

- Eliminating Gluten from the diet will also improve life for many others who are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive.

E – Eliminating the following from food will allow food manufacturers to use the label “gluten-free”

  1. an ingredient that is any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains
  2. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has not been processed to remove gluten
  3. an ingredient derived from these grains and that has been processed to remove gluten, if it results in the food containing 20 or more parts per million (ppm) gluten

Want more support around this issue on how to live a gluten-free lifestyle?  Email me at carol@carolebert.com