Family Rituals

When taking a class required for a program, you don’t always find it very relevant. Last semester, however, I took a graduate level Family Nursing course towards my Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  I was excited by how relevant it was to begin with, and couldn’t believe how even more relevant it became over the course of the semester.

During this past semester my father was in the ICU for 8 days on a ventilator before he died.  About 4 weeks later my mother ended up in the ICU for a few days (from which she has gratefully recovered).  Before I knew it I wasn’t just studying family nursing, I was also living it.  I got a first hand look at how important family cohesion is during times of crisis. I also saw all too well how health care professionals can positively or negatively effect families in medical crisis.

What follows is a discussion post I wrote for my online course, entirely as it was written for the course. Who knew it would make a good blog post?

So much of what we know about families as nurses builds upon knowledge from the varying social and behavioral sciences. We are blessed that with our holistic view of the human, we can learn from these important disciplines to assess, intervene, and also research.

Research on family resilience, cohesion, and rituals are rooted in the social sciences, with nursing research in support of its use by nurses. The best example I can give of the use of a ritual by a family to reduce suffering during a time of crisis is from my own family with the recent death of my father. His nighttime ritual when we were growing up was to say to us “goodnight, sleep tight, and dream of a happy, sunny day tomorrow”. This was something I started doing with my own kids at a young age, and brought me much joy to pass that along from my own childhood.  Whenever they had the opportunity (my father lived in Phoenix), he would say it to my children and they all loved it.

The night before his recent surgery, we Skyped together and that was the last thing he said to them. We didn’t know it at the time but it was ultimately the last words he ever said to my children. My father awoke from surgery and was very cognitively aware, but spent his final 8 days before his death intubated and on a ventilator. From the point I arrived in Phoenix (day 4 post-op), I called my kids each night and put them on speaker phone so they could say “goodnight, sleeptight, and dream of a happy sunny day tomorrow” to my dad. He clearly understood and it brought him great joy. I hope my children retain positive memories of this, as it was also the final words they said to him.

My sister and I were in the room when he coded, and the whole family had time with him after he was gone. I don’t remember what the actual last words I said to him were while he was still alive (nor could I possibly know the last that he heard), but those were the final words I said to him before we left his ICU room that night.

While we often think of the big holidays or family vacations as the ‘rituals’ that promote family cohesion, we should not forget the importance of the little things that can bring joy and comfort to families. Small things can bring great memories.

Final page of The Sunshine Book by Helen Frederico

Final page of The Sunshine Book by Helen Frederico

Posted in Families, Family Nursing, Nurse | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How do you self-identify?

I’ve had the interesting opportunity to talk to a variety of families over the last few months. In assessing their family structure and function, I have started to ask a very interesting question of each of the members of the family: “tell me all of the ways in which you self-identify”.

Now before you read any further I encourage you to stop and think about how you would answer this question. Take your time and write it down.

Don’t peek ahead until you’ve done it. Done? Great.

Now look at your list and reflect on what you wrote. What do you think about how you self-identify?

I’ve found the question rather interesting. I’ve asked family members across the lifespan and I’ve asked students.  Its almost as interesting what people don’t say as much as what they do say.

One astute individual noticed that we often identify ourselves solely on the basis of how we relate to others. Take a look at your list. Did it include things like mother, son, wife, or husband? Is there anything on the list that isn’t dependent on your relationship to others?

After allowing people to answer this question without giving any examples, I then follow up with some more specific questions.

What else made it on your list? Do you strongly identify with your cultural or ethnic background?  What about your gender, sexual identity or preference? Religion?

One astute man, once I asked his gender, sexual preference, gender identity, and ethnic/ cultural background said “its funny that I didn’t say white, heterosexual, cisgender man. I guess its a bit of a privilege to not have to identify as those things”.

A few of my other favorite responses include an 11 year-old boy who said “autistic boy who loves math”, and his 5 year-old sister who was so excited to have her turn to respond: “princess!”.

For me, the revelation came in noticing that I listed “advocate”. Though I’ve never been asked that question before, I’m not sure it would have made it to my list previously. While I think I’ve probably been an advocate for awhile, its only something I’ve come to embrace over the last few years. I’m kind of glad I have, though ultimately I think it only makes me feel much more responsible to act on injustices. Sigh.

Ask those around you this question. I think you’ll find it as interesting as I did… and if you’re so inclined, share some of your responses or reflections in the comments.

Posted in Holism, Teaching | Leave a comment

Autism Awareness vs. Autistic Acceptance

It’s mid-April, so by now you’ve seen calls for Autism Awareness with splashes of blue everywhere you turn.  This is especially true if you are embedded, as I am, in the world of children’s autism.

The past few months I have ventured into the adult’s autism world, and let me tell you, it is a completely different place.

See, in the world of children’s autism, professionals and parents are the ones with the voice. It’s a world where neurotypicals or allistic (those not on the autism spectrum) speak for those ‘with autism’, and they speak about autism in a particular way.

It’s a world where they speak of being ‘aware’ of autism, where they ‘light it up blue’, and raise money to ‘combat’ autism. It’s a place where they say things like: “When you say ‘person with autism’ you acknowledge that they are a person first”.  They label the girl a ‘hero’ who agrees to go to the prom with an autistic boy.

All of these thing unwittingly perpetuate stigmas about ‘people with autism’. They make accepting autistic people an anomaly it doesn’t have to be. There must be something wrong with being autistic if referring to someone that way makes them less than human, right? It’s a world where they (understandably) fear for their children and the challenges they will face because they know how ruthless the world can be. Yet in trying to ‘combat’ autism, and while parading their children around on the track before a baseball game, they perpetuate language and attitudes that make the world more difficult to be autistic.  Oddly, the world of children’s autism is a world that completely ignores the fact that autistic children grow up to be autistic adults… and autistic adults have a very different perspective on autism.

If everyone could spend some time listening to independent autistic adults, as I have these last few months, they would start to hear something very different; some things they’ve been saying for a long time.

What you’ll hear is they need a lot less ‘awareness’ of autism, and a lot more acceptance of autistics. You can’t separate the autism from the human. Autism isn’t breast cancer; we don’t need awareness, cute symbols, and walks for prevention. Autism is one of the many forms of human existence and expression that makes us individuals. It makes us the same as some and different from others, but most importantly: uniquely ourselves. It is being brunette, or Irish, or dark-skinned, or introverted, or cisgender, or hyper, or social, or easy-going, or blonde, or Jewish, or curly-haired, or ambidextrous, or balding, or gay, or… It’s a world that needs a lot of work to learn to accept those who are different.

I am grateful to the autistic adults who for the last few months have trusted me to come into their world and show me how amazing adult autistic life can be.  They have allowed me into their homes and social groups and shared with me their strengths, challenges, and joys.  I have met parents, computer scientists, high school students, singles, veterans, teachers, pet owners, graduate students, single mothers…

It is a challenging world, as it is for allistics. Yet autistic adults who have taken the time to really learn about autism have a self-awareness and understanding of others worthy of all of our envy.  We should be grateful for the wide range of human expression, as we have much to continue to learn from each other.

I have changed my own language; from one of awareness to one of acceptance. I have changed my perspective as well. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that I have a lot to learn and a lot more work to do.

Let’s come together to accept those, ALL of those, who are different from ourselves; whether it’s hair color, sexuality, temperament, physical ability, personality types, neurocognition….

Autism awareness or autistic acceptance; that’s what the clash of these two campaigns really comes down to. I choose to accept people for who they are. So no blue for me, no puzzle pieces. I will work for a world where my son can grow up with acceptance for who he is, and with his needs met for inclusion and success.

For more information on Autism Acceptance Month, please go to http://www.autismacceptancemonth.com/

Posted in Autism | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

AWHONN Conference 2015, Long Beach

I’m back from another blogging hiatus, and feeling motivated after a fantastic and energizing conference.  I love conferences!

This was my first conference with AWHONN, and by far the biggest of any conference I have attended.  When I saw how big it was I was a little nervous of having come by myself.  Its easy to feel small and alone in a crowd like that! It ended up just fine of course.

No matter where I went in Long Beach I ran into fellow (and easily identifiable) conference attendees. Before I knew it I had a walking buddy to my hotel, a different lunch buddy, some folks to chat with on the Queen Mary (a gorgeous ship and wonderful tour, btw), etc. It was fun. Though I was able to go where and when I wanted to, I wasn’t really alone unless I truly wanted to be.

One of the things I appreciated about this conference was the balance between having sufficient sessions and getting breaks. It was very well done.

Besides wanting to learn what I could about my specialty for both my full time teaching job and my per-diem birth center (RN) job, I also wanted to scope out DNP programs and consider project ideas. I would say I was very successful in both areas! Because of the exhibit hall I have a few options for programs that I never would have thought of, and ideas-and perhaps more importantly- networks for a number of different projects that energize me.

I intend for my next few blog posts to be about the sessions that I found most interesting,  valuable,  memorable, or relevant for me.

Nursing errors: I know nurses are human. I think we need to forgive ourselves for that, and better understand why we make mistakes in order to prevent them. Also we need to change how we respond when people make mistakes. Take a look at “Just Culture” for one of my many ideas for a DNP project. More to come in another post.

NitrousOxide for labor (and other uses): we are using this where I work at the Minnesota Birth Center. I am only still learning but grateful women have this option.  Because the birth centers are using it it is catching on like wild fire in the Twin Cities.  I expect my project will be too late for hospital implementation, though I may look at working with a clinic to use it for IUD placement,  colposcopy, etc. More to come in another post.

Resuscitation with the cord intact: also something we already do in the birth center. It was one of my biggest frustrations as a practicing hospital midwife; having to cut a baby off from its own blood and oxygen supply in order to move it and administer oxygen. This is another thing I would love to work with a hospital to implement.   More to come in another post.

BirthTOOLS: an evidence-based website for promoting physiologic birth;  put together by the American College of Nurse-Midwives and partners. I have a lot more reading to do to understand the full picture on this site, but it appears to be a one-stop shop for evidence-based practice protocols, decision support tools, and quality improvement tools; all related to promoting “normal”, or “physiologic”, or “optimal” birth in hospital units. More to come in another post.

I enjoyed this conference very much and highly recommend it. Next year its in Grapevine, TX (near DFW). Its hard for me to get to out of state conferences, but I definitely plan to make it to another AWHONN conference.  Who knows… maybe some day soon I’ll be presenting on the successful implementation of my DNP project!😉

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NLN Technology Conference 2013

Last weekend I attended the NLN Technology conference in Philadelphia, on the campus of Thomas Jefferson University.  It was a great weekend with experts in technology from all over the nursing education landscape.  There were many great sessions relating to the 4 main topics: simulation, e-learning, telehealth, and informatics.

There was an attempt by a few of us to bring Twitter into the conversation at this conference.  There was some conversation, and I hope to see this continue to grow and expand.  Here are the tweets from the conference, in reverse chronological order.

JeffNurseEdOct 27, 3:17pm via Twitter for iPhone

We are ignited! Great conference, great speakers and presenters and ideas #NLNTechConf #innovationJSNfaculty

NursingTheIssueOct 27, 9:01am via HootSuite

Nursing CEU’s are available by MOOC’s (particularly by JHU)#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 27, 8:12am via HootSuite

“The Science of Safety in Healthcare” from John’s Hopkins U via Coursera #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 27, 8:04am via HootSuite

Talking about MOOC’s with John’s Hopkins #NLNTechConf

JaniceHobbaOct 27, 8:01am via Twitter for iPhone

Final day in Philadelphia-learning new technology advances in education #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 26, 2:40pm via Twitter for iPhone

Attending “Unconference on #informatics ” w/ Judy Warren Biggest topic is barriers to faculty adoption @AboutTIGER#NLNTechConf

DrTeseOct 26, 7:51pm via Instagram

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen. Outside Jefferson Univ. #nlntechconf instagram.com/p/f84suMLn1x/

CPMRCmichelleOct 26, 2:40pm via Twitter for iPhone

Attending “Unconference on #informatics ” w/ Judy Warren Biggest topic is barriers to faculty adoption @AboutTIGER#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 2:05pm via HootSuite

Integrating informatics: teaching ethics r/t data #nlntechconf

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 1:12pm via HootSuite

NCSBN simulation study ncsbn.org/2094.htm #nlntechconf

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 10:46am via HootSuite

ow.ly/i/3xoBw Poster #4 Nlntechconf

DrTeseOct 26, 10:41am via Instagram

#nlntechconf instagram.com/p/f752p_Ln_e/

CPMRCmichelleOct 26, 10:06am via Twitter for iPhone

Need point of care references in #simulation #evidence-based practice #NLNTechConf @IPETracy

CPMRCmichelleOct 26, 9:57am via Twitter for iPhone

Attending “Unconference session on Simulation” great sharing & learning Need #standardization and tools to evaluate learning #NLNTechConf

DrTeseOct 26, 9:21am via Instagram

Oh yeah! It’s getting exciting here! #nlntechconfinstagram.com/p/f7wpTIrnwz/

IPETracyOct 26, 9:05am via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Excited to be sharing “IP Faculty Perceptions: A Technology enhanced Program to Facilitate Interprofessional Education”#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 8:57am via HootSuite

“Blue Button” People should be able to download their own health data bluebuttondata.org #NLNTechConf

DrTeseOct 26, 8:38am via Instagram

Having fun in an amazing sim lab! #nlntechconfinstagram.com/p/f7rvjErn5N/

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 12:14pm via Twitter for iPhone

Welcome to the #NLNTechConf ! Thank you Thomas Jefferson SON for hosting. Missed you @BethAnnSwan

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 8:25am via HootSuite

Regional Extension Centers are resources for health informatics#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 8:11am via HootSuite

Warren challenges faculty to sign up for an NPI number#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 26, 8:04am via HootSuite

Take your notes by Twitter today! You’ll have them available online and others will benefit as well! #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 26, 7:46am via Twitter for iPhone

Ready to start Day 2. Opening with Judith Warren on Meaningful Use, eMeasures & Blue Button:What to Teach? #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 5:04pm via Twitter for iPhone

Another great TIGER session. #NLNTechConf by TIGERS @sschlak @mjbTIGER @PatHintonWalker @AboutTIGERpic.twitter.com/kVnBwIMP4f

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 3:50pm via HootSuite

Looking for group discounts for TIGER VLE contact sschlak@himss.org #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 3:40pm via HootSuite

Wow. TIGER VLE looks like a very rich resource for all things informatics #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 3:35pm via Twitter for iPhone

@sschlak Demonstrating the TIGER VLE Amazing platform to learn and share! @AboutTIGER #NLNTechConfpic.twitter.com/rnDnNccNzW

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 3:34pm via HootSuite

Register for TIGER VLE ow.ly/qbHKO Only $25 a year and “you can live in there” =) #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 3:24pm via HootSuite

Learning more @AboutTIGER Initiative and the Virtual Learning Environment #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 3:09pm via HootSuite

TIGER Initiative Foundation is a 501c3 under the umbrella of HIMSS #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 3:06pm via HootSuite

TIGER Summit in 2006. Brought together nurses from all specialties around informatics. Developed a 3 year and 10 year vision #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 3:00pm via Twitter for iPhone

Marion Ball kicking off TIGER session!! #NLNTechConf@AboutTIGER pic.twitter.com/UM9de099ZH

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 2:27pm via HootSuite

E-ICU: when camera turns on its not towards nurse or patient, and ask “may I come in?” Just like knocking on a door#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 2:21pm via HootSuite

Lehigh Valley Health Network telehealh website. Check out the videos. #NLNTechConf ow.ly/qbyH6

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 2:00pm via Twitter for iPhone

Magnet Prize winners #LHVN Joe Tracy and 4 nurses sharing their #telehealth success stories #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 1:48pm via HootSuite

School telehealth visits: keep kids in school longer, keeps kids healthier #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 1:48pm via HootSuite

E-ICU showed a 30% reduction in mortality #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 1:37pm via HootSuite

One of the biggest Issues in telehealth: licensure.#NLNTechConf

DrTeseOct 25, 1:28pm via Instagram

Back to the Future per Joe Tracy -telehealth predicted #NLNTechConf instagram.com/p/f5n5kKrn9V/

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 1:28pm via HootSuite

How can we pay for telehealth? Giving patients the right care and the right time in the right place. #NLNTechConf

DrTeseOct 25, 1:23pm via iOS

Telehealth with Joe Tracy #NLNTechConfpic.twitter.com/VTOIIzA5F4

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:51pm via HootSuite

Prezi presentation website prezi.com #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:43pm via HootSuite

New York Times video on MOOCs (Massively Openly Online Courses) ow.ly/qbiCT #NLNTechConf

AlisN1derlandOct 25, 12:49pm via Twitter for iPhone

@livingston_dr Welcome to Twitter! #nlntechconf

NJCU_NursingOct 25, 12:17pm via Mobile Web (M5)

Great pre-conference presentation on mobile technology in nursing education by Dr. Brent Thompson at #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:43pm via HootSuite

New York Times video on MOOCs (Massively Openly Online Courses) ow.ly/qbiCT #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 12:41pm via Twitter for iPhone

Massive Open On-line Courses (MOOCs) #NLNTechConflearned something new!

DrTeseOct 25, 12:39pm via iOS

Welcome to the Brave New World of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) NLNTechConf youtu.be/KqQNvmQH_YM

DrTeseOct 25, 12:38pm via iOS

One of the greatest! Dr. Diane Billings #NLNTechConfpic.twitter.com/gnmtvQnjFl

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:33pm via HootSuite

ow.ly/qbhdL Link to conference handouts online #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 12:32pm via Twitter for iPhone

Janet Willhaus igniting participants with #simulation teasers!#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:24pm via HootSuite

Hashtag announced at beginning of main conference session#NLNTechConf Will be using from now on instead of#NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:22pm via HootSuite

[nursingeducator.com] Blog about technology in Nursing Education by Brent Thompson (our preconference presenter)#NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:19pm via HootSuite

Learn more about Twitter so you can join the conversation at#NLNTechConf wp.me/p1oxf8-bZ

NJCU_NursingOct 25, 12:17pm via Mobile Web (M5)

Great pre-conference presentation on mobile technology in nursing education by Dr. Brent Thompson at #NLNTechConf

CPMRCmichelleOct 25, 12:14pm via Twitter for iPhone

Welcome to the #NLNTechConf ! Thank you Thomas Jefferson SON for hosting. Missed you @BethAnnSwan

JaniceHobbaOct 25, 12:13pm via Twitter for iPhone

Beginning my afternoon in Philadelphia at the NLN/Elsevier Technology Conference #NLNTechConf

IPETracyOct 25, 12:12pm via Twitter for BlackBerry®

Attending Elsevier NLN Technology Conference #NLNTechConfwith @CPMRCmichelle

KteeleyOct 25, 12:12pm via Web

Great to be here at #NLN #NLNTechConf

School telehealth visits: keep kids in school longer, keeps kids healhier #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 1:46pm via HootSuite

E-ICU showed a 30% reduction in mortality#NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:24pm via HootSuite

Hashtag announced at beginning of main conference session #NLNTechConf Will be using from now on instead of #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 12:13pm via HootSuite

Looking forward to the sharing of pearls and a great back channel discussion on Twitter#NLNTechConf13 #NLNTechConf

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 10:44am via HootSuite

Any tool or technology can be misused. Must have electronic device policy to inform students & cover the program on misuse. #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 9:55am via HootSuite

Free reference apps: Medscape & Epocrates#nlntechconf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 9:48am via HootSuite

Coach’s eye: students video themselves and faculty analyze, annotate, and give feedback (small cost for IOS and Android) #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 9:38am via HootSuite

Free reference app: Medscape#NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 9:24am via HootSuite

Ask for faculty copies of titles from Unbound, Skyscape, etc. #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 8:38am via HootSuite

iPod Touch good option for no monthly-fee mobile computing (wifi only) $200-400#NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 7:45am via HootSuite

[nursingeducator.com] Blog about technology in Nursing Education by Brent Thompson (our preconference presentor) #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 25, 7:28am via HootSuite

Pre-conf session on mobile computing about to get started. Here we go! #NLNTechConf13

NursingTheIssueOct 24, 9:28pm via HootSuite

Had a great time this eve with a brilliant nurse educator @robin_dewald. So excited for this conference to start tomorrow! #nlntechconf13

NursingTheIssueOct 24, 7:06pm via HootSuite

Twitter 101 at the bar! Join us! #nlntechconf13

robin_dewaldOct 24, 7:04pm via Mobile Web (M5)

#nlntechconf13 hello all! Glad to be here with you.

NursingTheIssueOct 24, 12:29pm via HootSuite

Learn more about Twitter so you can join the conversation at #NLNTechConf13wp.me/p1oxf8-bZ

DrTeseOct 23, 6:54am via Twitter for Mac

Looking forward to #NLNTechConf13 in Philly!

MaryAnneRizzoloOct 21, 11:24am via web

Conference sold out but you can still register for precons. Notify adoyle@nln.org if interested.#NLNTECHCONF13

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Twitter for Nurse Educators

This seems like a good time to update and repost my Twitter 101.  I am heading to the NLN Technology conference where I am looking forward to meeting other nurse educators who will share their various ways of incorporating technology in teaching and our lives.

I am also hoping to see the active use of Twitter for sharing conference pearls and for vibrant back channel conversation.

About Twitter

Twitter is microblogging: using 140 characters or less to convey a thought, idea, or message.  During a conference, you might tweet some nuggets or pearls that you heard, like

#HITS12 Reflective listening – a critical communication skill – challenge in virtual situations per Dr. Smith

You might also use it to organize, like

Waiting in the lobby… heading to McCormick & Schmicks for chocolate bags. Join us #HITS12

Those who are present and those who are not can converse on the Twitter “back channel” and keep the dialogue going.

Getting to Twitter

There are several ways to get to Twitter.  On a computer go to www.twitter.com and create a log-in (more on this later).  On your smartphone you can use a Twitter app (Twitter, Peep, Seesmic).  If you don’t already have it, go to your app store or market to download.

If you really want to follow your tweets closely, you can have it send notifications to your cell phone every time one arrives, either all tweets or those from a particular person.  But don’t think you have to do this- you can choose to only see your tweets when you go to the website or app.

Finding the tweets you are interested in

You can follow people or organizations whose tweets you would be interested.  Find people with the same interests as yours and follow them.

You can also search through topics; that’s what hashtags [#] are for.  Search for a topic of interest, and save the topic for easy future searches.

Making the best of your tweets

Helping others find your tweets are important.  After all, you have important things to say, right?  Use hashtags [#] anywhere within your tweet to help catalog your topic and for people to find it.

Retweet (RT) important tweets from others that you think your followers would enjoy.  Its like forwarding an e-mail.  You can simply RT a message or RT it with a comment and add your thoughts.

Carry on a conversation

Once you’ve found interesting people and topics you can use Twitter for back and forth conversations with one or many people.  Hitting ‘reply’ will direct a message to someone putting @username in the Tweet for you.  One pearl of wisdom I recently learned is that when a tweet begins with @username, it will only be seen by the user you are replying to, and anyone else who happens to be following both of you.  If you want everyone who follows you to see a reply or directed tweet, be sure to put a character in front of the @ symbol.  This explains the “.@” you will often see.

What if I need more than 140 characters?

Though you don’t want to do it often, there may be times when you need a longer tweet, like if you’re including a link.  Most Twitter apps will accommodate this by shortening your tweet and including the link.  Again, this isn’t something you want to do often, because your followers won’t always want to click through to read your full thought.   One of the big lessons with Twitter, of course, is to be brief and concise.

Why and when to tweet

There are many reasons to tweet besides conferences.  You can tweet to your students about news and important items.  You can keep the conversation going about topics you discussed in class or clinical or open a back channel for student chatter that will allow them to ask and answer questions.

Personal reasons to tweet might be when traveling to keep friend/ family aware of your location and adventures.  You might let people know where you’re going if you want people to join you.  The possibilities are really endless.

Your Twitter presence

When you sign up for Twitter you’ll want to think about what you want your Twitter presence to be.  Some people like to keep separate personal and professional accounts.  On my personal account I might talk about something silly my kids did, and follow my friends.  I might make political statements or send quirky jokes.

On my professional account I only tweet about things I would want my students or colleagues to see.  I follow other professionals with similar interests and RT those that would be beneficial to other nurses, midwives, or educators.

Its that easy!

So it really is that easy to Tweet.  If you get on, let me know!

@nursingtheissue

Posted in Teaching, Technology, Technology tidbit, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Self-reflection

The other morning, I picked up my phone, opened an app, and typed the following words: “the kids won’t leave me alone while I’m trying to write a speech”.

Then I thought about it for a while and wrote “The kids need time and attention from me, and I’m not available much during the week.”

With further thought I typed: “The kids need reassurance from me they will get the time and attention they need, even if it can’t happen right now”.

Ultimately I wrote “I will set aside time when I will completely focus on my kids, and will tell them now when that will be.”

It was a worthwhile few moments of self-reflection and saved me and my kids a lot of frustration.

I was thinking about self-reflection and preparing to give a speech on it.  With annual milestones and rituals such as back to school and harvest festivals we are encouraged to reflect on our lives.  Where am I now compared to where I intended to be?   What are my triumphs and what are my regrets?  I have become one year older, but how have I become one year wiser?

I teach in a nursing program, and the team of instructors that I work with has been looking at the concept of self-reflection.  We see frequent self-reflection as essential to learning and personal growth. As a way of processing an experience, reflection can help us learn, develop emotional intelligence, and improve our work, our relationships, and our overall perspective on life.  As one of my co-instructors said recently, “we don’t learn from our experiences, we learn from our reflections on those experiences”.

To do so though, it can’t just happen once a year, of course.  It must happen often; after an experience or encounter, or perhaps at the end of each day.

As a teacher and a mother, I’ve been wondering how I teach this important skill.

I went looking for various frameworks for self-reflection; a systematic way that I could teach others.

One framework used in our nursing program is a 3-part method called “What? So What? Now What?”

You start with the “What”.  Reflect on the facts. What happened. Who said what.  How did you respond.

Next reflect on the “So What?”  Here’s where you analyze what all of it means. How does it make you feel?  Why did you respond the way you did? What impacts the way you view the experience?

Finally reflect on the “Now What?” What did you learn from this experience?  What would you do differently next time? How can you apply this experience to other areas of your life?

As I continued to search for frameworks I asked that ever important question: ‘is there an app for that?’  And the answer is ‘of course!’.  I found a few.

One app asks you to record how you are feeling periodically. By recording how you feel over a period of time you can review then analyze, reflect, and hopefully gain some self-insight into your own moods and feelings.

Interesting, but not exactly what I was looking for.

There are a wide variety of mind mapping applications out there.  Mind mapping allows you to turn your thoughts into visual representations you can move and manipulate.  This is a way great for visual thinkers to process thoughts and reflect.

The app that I used the other morning to reflect on the issue with my kids is an interesting but simple one.   Its called “4 Lines Diary” and has a very simple premise. You reflect in 4 lines: Fact, Discovery, Lesson, and Declaration.

Fact: what happened?

Discovery: how do you analyze it?

Lesson: what did you learn?

Declaration: what do you change moving forward?

The interesting part is its true to its name; you have only one line with 64 characters for each.  Its micro-self-reflection, if you will.  It’s an interesting exercise in not just reflecting, but in really boiling the issue down to what it’s all about.

Reflecting can be done in many other media as well- you certainly don’t need a smart phone: drawing or painting, role playing, poetry, or montage to name a few. It isn’t the method that’s important; it’s finding the way that works best for you.

Reflecting is a simple way to become more conscious, more intentional, and ultimately make better decisions.

Its something I am trying to build more of into my life, both informally and formally.

How do you build self-reflection into your life and what effect has it had?

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