Saturday, October 5, 2019

Thoughts on a College Education

Found this quip in my iPhone notes, it was dated October 5, 2014... exactly 5 years ago today. Just think it is interesting to review prior thoughts and writings every once in a while to see how you may have grown or how you may have departed, from past thoughts. Or in this case, how the past 5 years in my growth and experience has validated my thoughts from 5 years ago. I hope to expand on these thoughts in the future, developing a practical metaphor to convey the true spirit of learning in a college setting.

I believe that college is a place, a lifestyle, an action, and a mode of transportation. 


way of life


Mode of transportation

Kristie Hartig

Thursday, June 20, 2019

What kind of nurse are you?

I believe the world needs nurses, nurse educators, and nurse leaders who are idealistic motivators, leading the way for the future of nursing, through education, support, collaboration, and service.

I think I am one of them. My passion for authenticity, integrity, transparency, ethics, advocacy, and tolerance, drives my desire to motivate and encourage new nurses along a similar path.

If we reach nursing students early in their nursing program and hold onto them in a mentor-to-mentee capacity throughout the curriculum, we may be able to introduce them to a world of professional nursing where they still have a solid grasp on compassion and equity in practice and peer relationships. (Image credit:

There has to be some way to circumvent the cynicism of well, so many nurses. For those who are cynical new grads, maybe you have been mistreated and have experienced what it feels like when "nurses eat their young." Maybe you aren't to blame for your negative, judgmental attitude.

Maybe you are among the misguided who somehow believe that RNs, you know, real nurses, only work in hospitals. Ha! Good grief, give me a break. Real nurses take care of people. All people. No matter the facility, no matter the person. How are you missing that? All I can say is walk a mile, sweetheart, walk a mile!

Cynical nurses are like a vortex...the Coriolis force leading to an infinite abyss of broken spirits. These cynics purloin energy from nurses who believe and practice as I do. They drain the life force of others and even push some to burnout. Since many can't beat you and your nasty attitude, they join you, only to find that there is nothing sweet about the energy created at a negative nancy convention.

Redirect your energy. It's never to late to change your attitude. Life already sucks most of the time, don't make it worse by feeding into the negativity. #EmbraceTheSuck

Where your thoughts are,
your energy is.
Where your energy is,
you will be.
What you think about,
you bring about,

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Free CEUs for Nurses

Here are a few websites offering a bit of free training and CEUs for nurses! Some are more than just 1 education credit!! FREE! From this list alone, there are more than 25 free CE units waiting for you to grab!

For your first free CE unit, check out my publication, on the use of nutrition supplements and how they enhanced patient outcomes. (CE Hours: 1.00) is a website with tons of free CE courses available all the time. They change out pretty often so get them while you can and keep checking back on the site. Just search "free" and you will see a list of free CE available at that time.

For access to additional free CEU courses, check out,, and

Here are a few examples from that were free as of June 19, 2019 (copy and paste the links into your browser):

1) Keep It Clean: Hand Hygiene and Skin Antisepsis (CE Hours: 1.00)

2) Using Emotional Intelligence to Create the Work Environment You Desire (CE Hours: 1.00)

3) Do You Reflect a Positive Image of Nursing? (CE Hours: 1.00)

4) Unlock Your Creativity: Be an Innovator! (CE Hours: 1.00)

5) Work Life Balance: Learning to Say \\"No\\" Strategically! (CE Hours: 1.00)

6) Promoting a Culture of Safety to Prevent Medical Errors (CE Hours: 1.00)

7) Family Caregivers: Doing Double Duty (CE Hours: 1.00)

8) Transitions of Care (CE Hours: 1.00)

9) The Healing Power of Humor (CE Hours: 1.00)

10) Compassion Fatigue (CE Hours: 1.00)

11) What's on the Inside: An Overview of Blunt Chest Trauma (CE Hours: 1.00)

12) Motivational Interviewing (CE Hours: 1.00)

13) Recognizing Drug-Seeking Behavior (CE Hours: 1.00)

14) Evidence-Based Approaches to Pain Control (CE Hours: 2.50)

15) Opioid Use Disorder and Pregnancy: What Does Evidence-Based Care Look Like? (CE Hours: 1.00)

16) Health Literacy and Discharge Education: I Didn’t Understand (CE Hours: 1.00)

17) Patient Counseling: Preventing and Combating Opioid Misuse (CE Hours: 1.00)

18) Responsible Opioid Prescribing, Chronic Pain, and Addiction (CE Hours: 1.50)

19) Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting as a Barrier to Good Patient Outcomes (CE Hours: 1.00)

20) Effective Pain Management is More Than Just a Number (CE Hours: 1.00)

21) Meeting the Challenge of Pediatric Pain Management (CE Hours: 2.90)

Just keep learning!

My journey to become "educated" has been long and winding, and the path continues far ahead of where I am now. I either can't see the end, or I just don't want to. (Photo retrieved from The Wilderness Road, a blog on wordpress)

I initially went to college at age 17, only three days after my actual high school graduation day. I made it somehow through five semesters of college (Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall) without having any direction or goals, without a plan or purpose. I married, left college, went to beauty school, moved to another state, had kids, worked here and there, then divorced...

Rough time...through the divorce. I can't imagine it is ever easy when kids are involved. But I had to do something to earn a decent living and provide for the kids, so I decided to go back to school. After all, I was now an experienced adult who could finally appreciate the process of learning.

So, I "restarted" college 15 years ago as a single parent of two. Whoa, that was so hard. Balancing bills, parenting, school, being broke, and being the oldest in class... I don't think I could do that again, as I don't even know how I did it to begin with! I was 32 years old, so that probably helped as far as energy and motivation...but it was still pretty tough!

After completing a certificate program at a vo-tech training center to become a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in 2005, I decided to continue with school. I worked as much as possible, hungry for stabilized income, but decided to enroll in prerequisite courses for an RN program. I think half of the reason I kept going to school was that I was able to borrow enough money to help with living expenses while I did my pre-req courses, and the other half was that my previous loans were deferred while I was enrolled in school!

And okay, I admit it. I did the same thing when I went to a university where I was enrolled in a nontraditional nursing program. Yep, that's how I survived financially, scraping money together from full time work, financial aid loans, and scrooge-like spending practices. I finally graduated with a BSN degree in 2013. I remember being so excited to finally be accepted and starting in an RN program.

But boy, oh boy! Every single quiz, paper, exam, and clinical simulation, turned into such a high-stakes event--the threat of being booted "out of the program" was such a giant, dark, heavy storm cloud, always looming, even on the sunny days.

I am currently enrolled full time in an MSN program with Education as my designated specialty. I was so gung-ho to start but ooophf -- it is so hard to
stay motivated and see this thing through.

The end is so close but I am so over it! I am in my last semester and I only have two classes left to go. I can DO this, right?

Dare I say that I will probably continue with schooling until I receive a terminal degree in nursing (PhD or DNP)...
Yep, I think I have to. Heck, it sure beats
having to start payments on the student loans I racked up while trying to survive school as an adult (who already had bills, kids, car troubles, and lots of other responsibilities).

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Affordable Care Act

Oh wow. This is great! It is the best summary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) purpose and intent that I have seen to date. It is from the article The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Health Policy and Practice by Sarah Rosenbaum, in the Public Health Reports journal Vol. 126 No. 1, published in 2011.

“Consisting of 10 separate legislative Titles, the Act has several major aims.

The first—and central—aim is to achieve near-universal coverage and to do so through shared responsibility among government, individuals, and employers.

A second aim is to improve the fairness, quality, and affordability of health insurance coverage.

A third aim is to improve health-care value, quality, and efficiency while reducing wasteful spending and making the health-care system more accountable to a diverse patient population.

A fourth aim is to strengthen primary health-care access while bringing about longer-term changes in the availability of primary and preventive health care.

A fifth and final aim is to make strategic investments in the public's health, through both an expansion of clinical preventive care and community investments.”

This is not what people understand, and there is just no way to educate those that don’t want to know more. I will leave you with something I read in a book I am reading for school (reference is Nickitas, below). It is a quote that completely strikes my funny bone, as probably the most ignorant comment about the Affordable Care Act…

Early in President Obama’s first term, when healthcare reform was being proposed, he reported receiving a letter from a woman who did not know the difference between a government and a private health insurance plan. She said, “I don’t want government-run health care. I don’t want socialized medicine. And don’t touch my Medicare” (Cesca, 2009)

Ok, she takes the cake for sure...

...and then for her official winner's certificate...


Nickitas, D. M. Policy and Politics for Nurses and Other Health Professionals, 2nd Ed. Chapter 2, page 15. Retrieved from an e-book online through Western Governors University.

Rosenbaum, S. (2011). The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Health Policy and Practice. Public Health Reports, 126 (1). Retrieved from

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Nursing: Professional Presence and a Healing Environment

Achievement of success is reliant upon a winning merger of professional and personal life, and maintaining the healthy balance between them. One way you can attain this balance is to develop a professional presence plan that can be used to bridge the two worlds. Professional success in nursing depends upon the nurse’s self-knowledge and awareness, as well as the technical training and experiential practices. Various personality tools can be used to identify your your personality type, which can provide insight about how you think, plan, react, and self-manage.

This post will help you to explore self-awareness practices to increase the presence of mindfulness in your life and health care practice, by encouraging you to understand your strengths and weaknesses. It will also focus on professional presence, mindfulness practice, and healing environments. Utilizing the awareness gained from analyzing your thoughts, beliefs, and values, as well as your activities, relationships, and experiences, you can transform... and create a healing environment through the use of self-knowledge, active listening, authentic leadership, and mentoring.

Models of Health and Healing

According to Larry Dossey there are three eras of medicine between the 1860’s and current times (Koerner, 2011). Initially, illness was thought to exist as a physical response to brain functions. In the 1950’s we began to understand that illness presented with the culmination of physical, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects, internal to the patient.

It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the care models began to integrate external, social and spiritual components and how this metaphysical energy, both intangible and invisible, has a direct impact on patient health and healing. The core differences can be identified in the approach to care.

In Era I, providers sought only to reverse or correct the physical properties of the illness and used scientific facts and objective data to provide care. In Era II, providers began to understand that the subjective data the patient provided also had an impact on care—how and what the patient thought, felt, and understood resulted in variant outcomes. In the modern era of practice, there is a deeper understanding of the impact that the environment of care has in patient healing, and the patient’s own power in healing.

To be human is not just to have power over the mechanical or chemical components of the brain. It is the culmination of the physical, mental, spiritual, social, emotional, cultural, theoretical, and mechanical components that pertain to that patient.

Era III ushers a practice where there is greater consideration for the environment of care, and in order to promote a “healing environment” we must consider the human, and all that this means, to positively impact on patient’s health. The core difference in the eras then is based on consideration of internal versus external powers and the persuasion they have over the outcome of healing.

Models and Professional Presence

The environment of care has such an impact on patient outcome, as does the patient’s current human state. “[Mind-mediated phenomena] should inspire doctors to find more ways of treating the ills of the body by taking advantage of the powers of the mind and convince patients that those powers are always available to help restore lost health” (Weil, 2004, p. 234).

The Era I practices are comparable to the practices you have as a novice nurse, where you use a mechanical, textbook approach to care. You are not yet experienced enough to incorporate anything other than completing tasks, recording and reporting data, and advocating for patients in small ways. You may have since progressed through the levels of nursing experience to become a proficient clinician, and may have emerged to practice with intention, incorporating the needs of the patient and family in a meaningful way to promote an environment of healing.

Does your practice recognize the multitude of factors affecting patient outcome, including your beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes, and those of the patient? You must not allow your own beliefs or attitudes to obstruct the progress of patient healing, because your sole purpose as a nurse is to advocate for the patient in any way necessary.

Influence on Nursing Practice

Certainly your professional presence influences your nursing practice. If you are perceived to be competent, calm, self-assured and poised, it will promote an environment of trust and collaboration, which will in turn result in an increase of self-assurance, poise, competency, and composure. When this is perceived by the patient or fellow staff, it promotes a healing environment.

Many principles are used to promote healing presence in nursing practices. With self-knowledge, you begin to understand how you perceive your surroundings, and how you tend to react to situations. Knowing your personality type can be of great benefit as you learn to facilitate a healing environment. Knowing your personality traits as determined by the Meyers & Briggs typology test, enables you to be mindful in your practices. Use the principle of authentic leadership to influence the practices of others, and to unite in the common purpose of providing a healing presence to your patients.

Koerner defines healing presence as “the difference between safety and quality,” (p4 Koerner, 2011). I disagree with this definition and believe that healing presence is the bridge between safety and quality, not the difference. When I ask myself ‘what is the difference between the two,’ I think about how I define the two terms in this context. Safety, simply stated, is determined by the technical or mechanical aspects of providing patient care. Quality can then be determined by how that care was provided, focusing more on an emotional or mental application. Therefore the nurse’s healing presence does not differentiate between safety and quality, but rather bridges the obvious gap between the two.

Whole Person Goals

Mindfulness in essence, is self-reflection-in-action (Sherwood & Horton-Deutsch, 2012, p.80). In developing your own practice of mindfulness, you can create a plan to strengthen your health and balance in the physical, vital, mental, and spiritual bodies/aspects.

To be more mindful physically, it is important that you nourish your body and provide it with adequate exercise. You could prepare a menu on a weekly basis, to increase the opportunity to make smart and healthy food choices rather than fast food or processed foods.

To be more mindful in the vital/rhythmic aspect, you can institute a specific curfew for yourself by setting an alarm on your phone/watch. At that time, you would stop what you are doing and begin your bedtime routine. This cut-off time for you nightly, will enable you to achieve the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep each night.

You can also begin the practice of meditation using a phone app like Headspace. You can use the app daily as it suggests, and evaluate the effectiveness after seven days. Meditation will help to ease anxiety and focus your thoughts, and can help to prevent burnout as a nurse (Lichtenberg, et al., 2013).

To account for the mental and emotional balance, you can incorporate breathing exercises as an adjunct to the meditation. You can integrate the use of the 4-7-8 (Relaxing Breath) breathing exercise several times throughout the day and thoughtfully begin to practice it when you recognize that your stress level is high (Gonzalez, 2016). The act of intentional breathing is a “bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds” (p62, Weil, 2004). You can also read books for pleasure, to gain mental and emotional balance.

To achieve and maintain spiritual balance, you can look into attending church weekly, or complete daily scripture readings, or daily religious/gratitude journaling. This will help to restore a positive attitude and bring the realization that you are loved, cared for, and watched over.

Achievement of Goals

The wholeness of being human, involves attention to all of the aspects of mind, body, and spirit health. In order to achieve the goals you set for myself, you must continue to grow in the understanding that only balance among those aspects will bring ultimate health and allow you to help others in their pursuit of health and wellness. You can make a chart for yourself, to help sort the practices you plan to implement and to help meet the goal of mindfulness. Here is an example of a goal chart:

To adjust to the changing of your “whole person,” you will have to keep in mind why you chose to observe mindfulness. In order to become an agent of change you need to carry out changes in your own life.

Healing Environments: Best Practices

There are two facilities I have found in particular, that stand out in their patient care optimal healing environments. Their goal is to promote healing environments that reduce stress, anxiety, to speed healing, to shorten hospital stays, and to reduce the need for additional medications. Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) offers many different benefits in internal (spiritual care, meditation room), interpersonal (massage therapy, essential oils, café and dining options), behavioral (guided imagery, art therapy), and external environments (healing garden, bird aviary) (Grinnell Regional Medical Center, 2017).

The Johns Hopkins Hospital works to reduce the stress of hospitalization for the patient and family, incorporating artistic and aesthetic elements into the environment of care. They have rooms designed to be filled with sun, public spaces that are peaceful and elegant, ceiling tiles that absorb sound over patient care areas, gardens that are lush with landscaping designed for reflection and meditation, an art collection on display throughout their buildings, and animal sculptures in the children’s center. They have even included art images on the window shades in private patient rooms (Hopkins, n.d.).

Professional Presence Promotion

You can apply self-awareness and insights from review of the healing environments that were discussed, to promote professional presence in your current health care setting. As discussed in Management Learning by Becker, Jordan, and Messner in 2009, reflection plays a key role in organizational learning and has been based more on reflection-on-action than reflection-in-action. To engage staff in learning, it is important that they be enabled to learn and reflect as they go, so allowing time for review and reflection is a necessary element. Staff should be offered education on mindfulness practices, and encouraged to develop their own sense of mindfulness.

In the optimal healing environments discussed above, noise reduction was a key component to promotion of the healing process, both for the patient and for the family. Partnering with the patient, and allowing them time and space to “sort through the issues of the day, offering understanding and interpretation along the way” (p138, Koerner, 2011) is imperative to patient healing. You can begin to offer a quieter, safer, more supportive environment to your patients as a result of this research. There are areas where we can reduce stress for our patients through noise reduction on the unit, during changes of shift and nurse-to-nurse reporting practices. We can create an enhanced healing environment simply by ensuring that the patient room and bedside table are clean and free of debris and clutter.

We can begin to guide patients through their own mindfulness practices, and teach them non-medicinal techniques to manage their stress and pain – such as breathing exercises, meditation, darkening the room, decreasing environmental stimuli, or repositioning. There are many ways to initiate the use of mindfulness, self-awareness, and healing environments in your organization.

In Conclusion

Achievement of success is reliant upon a winning merger of professional and personal life, and maintaining the healthy balance between them. Adhering to a professional presence plan can bridge the two worlds. There is power in knowing that professional success in nursing can be secured through your own self-knowledge and awareness, as well as the technical training and experiential practices you have and those you will encounter.

In using personality tools to identify your personality type, you can explore self-awareness practices to increase the presence of mindfulness in your life and your health care practice, by understanding your strengths and weaknesses. You can more clearly focus on your professional presence, mindfulness practice, and the healing environment. You can transform and create a healing environment through the use of self-knowledge, active listening, authentic leadership, and mentoring.

George, B., Sims, P., McLean, A.N., and Mayer, D. (2007). Discovering your authentic leadership. Harvard Business Review. Reprint R0702H.

Gonzalez, B. (Ed.). (2016, May). Three Breathing Exercises And Techniques. Retrieved November 5, 2017, from Andrew Weil M.D. website:

Grinnell Regional Medical Center (Ed.). (2017, December 9). Optimal Healing. Retrieved from

Gustafson, C. (2016). James Gordon, MD: The Potential of Mind-Body Self Care to Free the World From the Effects of Trauma. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. 15(2), 54-60.

Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). A healing environment. Retrieved November 12, 2017, from

Jordon (2009). Reflection & mindfulness in organizations. Management Learning.

Matsuo (2012). Leadership of learning and reflective practice: An exploratory study of nursing managers. Management Learning.

Koerner, J. (2011). Healing presence: The essence of nursing 2e. Springer Publishing Company. New York, NY. ISBN: 9780826107541

Lichtenberg Heard, P., Hartman, S., & Bushardt, S. C. (2013). Rekindling the flame: Using mindfulness to end nursing burnout. Nursing Management, 44 (11), 24-29.

Mendes, A. (2015). The role of nurses’ and patients’ beliefs in nursing care. British Journal of Nursing (Mark Allen Publishing), 24 (6), 345. Doi:10.12968/bjon.2015.24.6.345

Rassin, M. (2008). Nurses’ professional and personal values. Nursing Ethics, 15(5), 614-630 17p. doi: 10.1177/0969733008092870

Reid Ponte, P., & Koppel, P. (2015). Cultivating Mindfulness to Enhance Nursing Practice. American Journal of Nursing, 115(6), 48-55 8p. doi:10.1097/01.NAJ.0000466321.46439.17

Sherwood, G., & Horton-Deutsch, S. (2012). Reflective practice: Transforming education and improving outcomes. Indianapolis, IN, USA: Sigma Theta Tau International. ISBN: 9781935476795

The Myers & Briggs Foundation (Ed.). (2017). The 16 MBTI® Types. Retrieved November 22, 2017, from The Myers & Briggs Foundation website:

Weil, A. (2004). Health and healing: The philosophy of integrative medicine. Houghton Mifflin Co, New York, NY. ISBN: 9780395344309

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A New View

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything."

Remember to put the glass down.

(I don't know who the author is so I am unable to give credit, but I did not write this myself! If you know who I need to credit, please comment or email me!)