They teach us policies, the teach us procedures, they teach us techniques, but who teaches us about burnout, compassion fatigue, overwhelm? Who teaches us to manage our money, our relationships, our lives and ourselves while putting all our energy into caring for others?

Steph’s love for healthcare professionals stems from her background in nursing but after burnout just about caused her to lose everything, she turned her life around and now inspires, coaches and empowers them to do the same.

With critical shortages in nursing globally, the time to champion, value and coach your nurses and healthcare professionals to a higher quality of life is now! Nurse recruitment and retention starts here.

Any Suggestions for Nurses Week to Party Hearty?

A special week in May comes annually, National Nurses Week, is dedicated to celebrating nurses and bringing recognition and awareness to the public of this exceptional profession. Not only is it a time to commemorate the caring and compassion that nursing is known for, but it is also time to highlight the brilliance that nurses possess and the critical role you play in the healthcare system.
I encourage you to go out of your way to make a ‘big deal’ about this week! It is time to strut your stuff, puff your feathers and shout out about the difference you make. The public is watching you and you have the potential to inspire young souls to make a career choice, or perhaps inspire more mature souls to make a career change! All the while you can be having great fun (is anyone having too much fun in their life already that they couldn’t stand a little more?), connecting with your colleagues on a whole new level, and that can only be good for cohesiveness and collegial relationships!
Here are some activities suggested by the American Nurses Association for National Nurses Week:

  • Recognize colleagues from other health related disciplines, such as P.T, R.T., with a “we appreciate you” reception.
  • Plan a special celebration (luncheon, dinner, or reception) to network and celebrate together. (Get some sponsors on board to help finance this).
  • Write letters to local institutions asking them to nominate their outstanding nurse. You can include nurses from practice, education or any other areas. List their names in the program and recognize them with plaques and certificates. Note: Some districts announce their “Nurse of the Year” at this time.
  • Promote a positive image of nursing by sponsoring a health fair, conducting preventative screenings in underserved areas, or organizing a walk-a-thon or fun run. You might want to co-sponsor with a large institution like a hospital or health club to share expenses and some of the details that come with planning such an event.
  • Sponsor a coloring/art contest or poetry contest for school children using the theme or creating one of your own. The drawings could be displayed in local hospitals, malls, schools, nursing homes, etc.
  • Contact local hospitals, schools, and libraries to set up displays for National Nurses Week. Bring in their caps, student uniforms, and photographs makes a very interesting display.
  • Volunteer to go out to schools to speak to students about the many roles of nurses today. Take along promotional materials about careers in nursing.
  • Write articles or letters to the editor about “hot” nursing or healthcare topics
  • Call radio stations and ask them to make announcements during National Nurses Week.
  • Utilize TV, radio, newspapers, and community bulletin boards to announce your activities.
  • Host a fundraiser and donate the money to a local charity (e.g., a walk-a-thon).

While we could sit back and wait for others to throw flower petals on us and shower us with gifts of appreciation, we may be better served by taking an active role in this day. The good will come back, tenfold!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a nurse speaker, advocate and champion. Her live, 2 disk CD called the Well-Nurse Initiative, is hot off the presses. This fun, easy to listen to CD will make the next year of your career, the best one yet! Visit to find out more.


As a Nurse can I use coaching?

When I began Life Coaching many years ago, most people had never even heard of coaching outside of the typical sports connotation. They had no idea how this coaching concept could be applied to life. “Just wait”, I told my sceptical friends and colleagues, in a few years not only will everyone know what coaching is all about, but everyone will either have one, know someone who is one, or want to be one – and that’s exactly what has happened. Coaching is not only the new buzz word, coaching is the “next big thing”, and for good reason – it works! Coaching is positive, pro-active and forward thinking. It is a synergistic relationship that helps take people to new levels personally and/or professionally, faster and more effectively than they would have on their own.

Now is the time to bring coaching into your hospital, clinic or institution, and you can be the start of anurse-coach revolution!

Of course, there are a couple of stipulations. Coaching only works when the “client” is:

  • Ready – they have to be in the right place emotionally; it is definitely not therapy, nor is it mentoring, preceptoring or counselling.
  • Willing – as a coach, you can’t want things improved more than they do.
  • Open – as much as they put out, they will get back: give a lot, get a lot; give a little, get a little.
  • Honest – a no brainer, you can only work effectively with fact, not fiction.
  • Motivated – you are there to be a champion, but they do all the work.

Coaching works when you genuinely care about helping the other person be better.

Here are some general principles of coaching that make it so successful:

  • I don’t have to know more than you to be more than helpful to you.
  • I don’t have to know you well to help you well.
  • I don’t take credit for what you do.
  • I don’t work in the past.

As a coach, you can be many, many things to your nursing colleague. For example, you may be called to be their:

  • Champion – oftentimes believing in them more than they believe in themselves.
  • Sounding board – to bounce ideas off of and to give an impartial opinion.
  • Kick in the pants – when they need it.
  • Expert listener – hearing what they aren’t saying.
  • Mirror – most of the brilliance is discovered in this way.
  • Accountability Specialist – once they commit, you are their checkpoint.

One of the best analogies of coaching compares it to learning to ride a bike, “What the heck IS Coaching?” is a one minute read, here, if you are interested.

So, without going through formal coaches training, you can still act as a coach to a colleague, provided you both agree to the above terms. Wouldn’t it be great to create a win-win! You could take turns coaching each other.

Here’s how it might look

You and Jan decide you are on a similar path of personal and professional development. Neither of you have ever been professionally coached, but both are interested in the process, understand the value, and are willing to “give it a go”. You genuinely care about each other and really want the other to succeed in every way. You can be happy to share in each other’s success and rejoice in each other’s triumphs.

I suggest you start with a 30 minute commitment every 2 weeks, over the phone. At the start of the call, make it very clear that one of you is in “coaching” mode – not friend mode, not colleague mode. This is a very important first step in the process. Everything said is confidential and every statement, advice, or comment, is said only within the parameters of helping. Sometimes, as a coach, you say things that a friend may not say. The “client” has the option of taking or leaving this information, but the coach must respond honestly all the time and follow their intuition to hear what is in between the words.

The agenda may look something like this:

  • A report of some wins from the past two weeks (coach – your job here is to cheerlead!)
  • Pressing issues for this week (coach – your job here is to cut to the chase, get to the heart of the matter relatively quickly, and figure out the real issue.)
  • Problem solve (coach – you may use brainstorming, mirroring or provocative questioning here, it is better they come to an answer/solution on their own rather than you telling them what to do. People are more likely to do it if it’s their idea.)
  • Finally, it is time to get a concrete commitment from them of exactly what they will do before the next call to improve the issue.

After the time is up, you can switch roles, but I recommend using another session for the next person because it may be difficult to switch to a coaching role after a sometimes emotional session.

If you are like most people, if you have a great coaching relationship, you will be pleasantly surprised at how effective, empowering and easy (and quick!) positive change can be.

And if you get stuck, I’m not far away!! Coach on!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate personal coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses’. She presents at conferences internationally and would delight in teaching your nurses to coach! If you would like booster shots of inspiration, follow her on Twitter and add her on Facebook or sign up for her monthly e-newsletter sign up! Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools or to find out how bring Life Support for Nurses to your staff!


Does Persistence Pay off?

Newt Gingrich said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”

Perseverance is resolve, determination and tenacity. More than endurance, it means a steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks.

Can you think of a situation that happened in your life that caused you to pull this quality out of your tool kit? Learning to walk, for sure, getting through nursing school, definitely, and more recently? Perhaps it was putting up with the stresses and strains of life and work in general.

Can you think of a time when you perhaps could have pulled this quality out, but for whatever reason, didn’t? Perhaps you quit a course, gave up on a friendship or broke a commitment. Did it leave you with a feeling of regret?

There is a fine line between being obstinate, which has a more inflexible connotation, and being persistent. The obstinate person won’t take no for an answer; they are often stubborn and refuse to change (uhh, do you know anyone like this?!) The persistent person believes in the long term vision, and therefore, is more motivated to continue the climb, even if it’s uphill. It is much easier to be persistent if you believe that the greater good will arise from the situation.

The world (and the bookstores!) are full of success stories from people who gave it one more try, who didn’t give up, who looked for one more right answer. The world (but not the bookstores!) are also full of stories from people who tried to move a new idea forward, tried to meet someone special or tried to get fit, but never quite got there.

Persistence is not an inborn quality, it is something that we can practice and develop, nurture and cultivate. If you would like to strengthen this characteristic in yourself, ask yourself – what do persistent people do?

Persistent people:

  • believe in themselves.
  • get wise council and consider the source when they are being advised or criticized.
  • try things many different times and many different ways before making a judgment.
  • are open minded, willing to explore, take reasonable risks, and are ok with falling down a few times.
  • make sure they get up one more time than they fall down.

Do they get hurt, discouraged, disappointed? Do they second guess themselves, question their process, and wonder if they are doing the right things? Absolutely!

Ask anyone who plays a musical instrument. They must put in the time and the sometimes torturous hours of practice to achieve what ends up to be a beautiful result. A wise friend of mine told her son when he wanted to quit his music lessons, that if he could find one person who quit their music lessons and did NOT regret it, then he could quit his too. It’s no surprise that he couldn’t find a soul who was happy that they had quit, yours truly included. They all wished they had persevered through the tough times and carried on to reap the rewards. Sometimes we don’t have the persistence ourselves, and that is where a very supportive “everybody” comes in very handy.

For example, let’s take a sport such as running. You give it a try for the first time and set a goal of running a 10 km fun run in 2 months. After a week, the novelty has worn off and you are tired, discouraged, and have aches and pains. Here you are faced with some choices…

  • One might say running is not for me and quit.
  • Barrel on through the pain and keep going.
  • Reassess the situation and adjust your training.
  • Ask for assistance or coaching from someone more experienced.

About 90% would say, “I’m not a runner and that’s the end of the story.” The other 10% might ask for some help from someone in a position to help and encourage them, reassess their training and keep at it, until one day, you stop pretending you are a runner and you actually ARE one! Persistence has paid off!

Nurses, what’s on the back burner that you have given up on? Where could persistence make the biggest difference in your life? What do you need to focus your time and attention on right now?

To shorten the distancebetween perseverance to achievement, get advice from someone in the know, someone with ‘stick-to-it-ed-ness’. Be sure to tell them what you are committing to and tell them how they can support you – picture the end in mind. PERSEVERE – Paste that word where you can see it: on the dashboard, bathroom mirror, anywhere. When you see the word, let it provide you with strength to carry on. Persistence does pay off.

As always, I am so interested in your progress, so please email me at

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions& associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can A Nurse Find More Time?

What is your relationship with time? Good, bad or indifferent? It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the time bandit often has you frustrated at how quickly the hours, days, months and even years seem to disappear, and how difficult it seems to get anything done in the time that you want it done by! Time always seems to be winning; it’s always “flying” by, yet we are consistantly surprised at how fast it goes! We feel under pressure that we won’t be able to get everything done, and that makes us not only less productive, but also less effective and less happy.

I have some good news and some bad news for you. Which would you like first? Of course, the bad news…you will never finish everything you have to do, and the only time you will ever be “done” with all the things you have to do, is when you are six feet under. Sorry to tell you that! BUT…the good news is that we can redefine time and this will allow us to potentially change everything!

In my opinion, James Gordon Gilkey said it best when he used less than 200 words to really sum up time:

“Most of us think of ourselves as standing wearily and helplessly at the center of a circle bristling with tasks, burdens, problems, annoyance, and responsibilities which are rushing in upon us. At every moment we have a dozen different things to do, a dozen problems to solve, a dozen strains to endure. We see ourselves as overdriven, overburdened, overtired. This is a common mental picture and it is totally false. No one of us, however crowded his life, has such an existence. What is the true picture of your life? Imagine that there is an hour glass on your desk. Connecting the bowl at the top with the bowl at the bottom is a tube so thin that only one grain of sand can pass through it at a time. That is the true picture of your life, even on a super busy day. The crowded hours come to you always one moment at a time. That is the only way they can come. The day may bring many tasks, many problems, many strains, but invariably they come in single file. You want to gain emotional poise? Remember the hourglass, the grains of sand dropping one by one.”

What do you think about time? Whether you are in the ER, palliative care or the recovery room, whether you are trying to get out the door for soccer practice or attempting to squeeze in a work out, whether it’s getting out of the house early in the morning or winding the house down and crawling into bed, each moment holds the capacity to deliver a feeling of either stress or peace.

Choose peace. Here’s how:

  • Consider time your friend, not your nemesis. Shift the way you look at time and it will be much easier to “find” time.
  • Watch your words. Eliminate – “I’m late”, “I’ll never get finished”, “I’m always rushing”, “I don’t have time” – all of those phrases feed your subconscious mind with the information – “No time”!
  • Program new thoughts. “There is exactly enough time to do what I have to do.” Believe it and go!
  • Set a deadline. I will work on this project until 11:30. I will go to bed at 10:30 three nights a week. I will do my charting until 15 minutes past the hour. Remarkably, our work expands to fit the amount of time we give it. Set a limit and stick to it, this will also help the procrastination!
  • Relax. When it seems time is getting the best of you, take 2: 2 minutes to breath consciously, 2 minutes to close your eyes, 2 minutes to stretch or move your body, 2 minutes to reframe the present situation and change the way you are thinking about time. You will ultimately change the way you feel about time.

In the end, we all have the same 1,440 minutes in our day. Those minutes will never be enough time to do everything we think we “should do”, but they are exactly the right number of minutes to do what we choose to do. Those minutes are just enough time to do our most high valued and pressing things on our agenda. We are one person with one minute at a time to “spend”, we won’t get that time back and we can’t negotiate for any more. So let’s work on updating our relationship with time, it is on our side, it is our friend, it is a gift, and it is like a grain of sand passing through the hour glass. Do one thing at a time and know that everything else will be there for another day.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit for more cool tools or email her for a complimentary Quality of Life Assessment.


How Can A Nurse Survive Work Pressures?

Have you ever had “one of those days?” Your alarm was set for p.m. instead of a.m., you’re late, you just banged your toe against the leg of the bed, your hair is not cooperating, the cereal spilled, and there is a detour rerouting traffic. You finally get to work and guess what…you’re “short”, call-lights are going like mad, and the hallways are full of people who need YOU, now!

STOP the ride! All you want is for your shift to be over, to go back to bed, and to pull the covers up over your head!

If one of those days is happening to you more often than not, then perhaps you could do with a few tricks to pull out of your sleeve at times like these. Here are some quick, easy and doable tips for surviving everyday work (and home) pressures.

  • DB&C – It’s not just for your patients, replace the “C” for coughing with “C” for contentment, i.e. deep breathing and contentment – inhale deeply and exhale for twice as long. Fill those cells with much need oxygen; do this 5-10 times. You can add words to your breaths. For example, on the inhale say peace, love, patience, and feel the essence of those words being drawn into your body. Exhale words you want to be rid of like, stress, frustration, anger.
  • Acknowledge – Find a safe, private place to vent! Scribble! Doodle! Keep a stress ball in your pocket or stamp your feet in the linen room! It’s necessary to acknowledge the feeling of pressure, while finding a release for that pressure.
  • · Boundaries – There is no need to ruin your whole day, so give yourself a time limit to be frustrated. Say to yourself, “I’ll give this 10 minutes and no more of my precious time.” Life is too short to let your whole day be ruined, so set a boundary and then move on.
  • Problem solve – If this is something that is recurring, ask yourself if there is something you can do about it. If you stubbed your toe over and over on that bed frame, perhaps you should wrap a towel around the post! Sometimes there are simple answers to recurring problems.
  • Repeat a mantra – I know what I know, I am doing the best I can at this moment, I am enough, I can’t please everyone all the time, I can only do one thing at a time, etc. Repeating a mantra is calming, grounding and reaffirming.
  • Don’t take it personally – Not everything is about us. Sometimes it’s situational, sometimes it’s environmental, but if we can give people the benefit of the doubt a little more often, and not assume everything is directly related to us, pressures may not seem as overwhelming.
  • Hang out with the happy gang – Don’t let the cranky gang get to you; distance yourself whenever possible or they will bring you down to their level. Surround yourself with winners not whiners. Develop a professional network of like-minded, supportive people who want to deal with issues, not exacerbate them.

We all have “one of those days,” but with a little practice and commitment we can shift the “bad day” to perhaps a “bad hour”, and then with even more practice, reduce it to a “bad moment.” This is a life/work skill that will do you (and those you serve and those you love) well, and will enrich your life for years to come!

Good Luck!

Nurses, please leave a comment sharing your tips for dealing with daily work pressures!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a personal growth & wellness speaker, nurse & coach who helps healthcare professionals live their lives to the fullest! Email her for a complimentary Quality of Life Assessment.


How Can I Be More Professional?

There are so many different levels of nursing with such a variety of healthcare providers, how do you know who is professional staff anymore? Gone are the days of telltale nursing caps, white pantyhose and dress uniforms. Most nurses welcome scrubs and crocs with open arms! This leaves many patients/residents/clients wondering who is the professional staff and who is housekeeping.

This led me to wonder, what makes a professional?

Is it the number of letters after someone’s name? Is it their position? Is it their personal qualities and behaviour? Can the unit clerk or housekeeper be considered a professional?

I am sure you have met many ‘professionals’ with fancy titles, lovely offices and more letters after their name than you have in your own name. Some of whom have left you with a very sour taste in your mouth after dealing with their unprofessional behaviour.

Furthermore, I am certain we have all met less educated providers that impress us with their honesty, integrity and caring behaviour towards those on any level of the social, educational or economic scale. The janitor who takes great pride in his shiny floors, the ward clerk who is always one step ahead, the LPN/ LVN who has an uncanny yet accurate intuition when it comes to patients needs.

So what does a professional look like, act like and behave like, and how can we become more professional no matter what or how many letters come after our name?

  • A professional looks the part. Like it or not, the way you dress is important. You can be the sharpest tool in the shed, but if you are covered in dirt, it will be hard for anyone to tell. Professionals spend the time, money and energy to look the part. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but it does, sorry.
  • A professional treats everyone, colleagues/patients/residents/clients, with dignity and respect. They see value in each person, no matter how high or low on the totem pole they happen to be. Not always an easy thing to do, but always the right thing to do.
  • A professional commits to life-long learning. School is never out for us, whether it’s ‘automobile university’ (that is listening to informative CD’s in the car), always having a book on the go, keeping up to date with their professional magazines or websites, attending personal or professional conferences, or simply by listening and learning from others.
  • A professional does their best at what they are being paid to do. They are committed to excellence whether they ‘feel like it’ or not, whether external circumstances warrant it or not.

Can anyone with the right attitude be a professional? Yes. I know that you may have specialized skills and training, perhaps more so than your lesser skilled colleagues, and you perhaps invested more years in schooling and education than some of your peers. But what is to be gained by holding yourself high and making others feel low? Instead, what if we hold the bar high for everyone? If we treat everyone we work with as professionals and expect everyone to act like a professional in the realm of what they do, I would bet my last nickel we wouldn’t be disappointed!

So a number of questions beg to be asked…

  • Are you a professional?
  • What could you do to act MORE professionally?
  • Do you treat others professionally?
  • What could you do differently to improve professionalism in your workplace?
  • How would things be better in your workplace if you treated others more professionally?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue! Leave a comment below or E-mail me at

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat and is a highly regarded speaker at conferences, internationally. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can I Gain The Respect Of My Co-Workers?

“I get no respect!” The words made famous by actor Rodney Dangerfield beg to ask the question, “Do you have the respect of your co-workers?”

We all want the respect of our co-workers, but it doesn’t come automatically, no matter what your position is or how many initials you have after your name. Respect is not a right, it is an earned privilege that can be broken in an instant with a bad choice. We all have a horror story about co-workers that we, ourselves, don’t respect, and people will be quick to tell you why they do not respect others.

Today, let’s shift the focus to what we can do to earn more respect in the workplace.

  • Mean what you say: Promise very rarely, but deliver on every promise. Be very, very certain you can provide before you make the promise, otherwise say, “I’ll try.
  • Say what you mean: Because things can be easily misunderstood, speak clearly and concisely. Make certain you are understood by asking the recipient to paraphrase back what they heard.
  • Don’t be condescending: No one likes to be treated like they are stupid. It’s not so much our words, but sometimes our tone and body language that leaves something to be desired, especially when we are in a hurry.
  • Praise good work sincerely and validate others: Recognize everyone has something to offer: the housekeeper who has the opportunity to comfort a bereaved family member while you are busy making the necessary calls; the ward clerk who makes your job easier; the nurse’s aid who takes the time to fix someone hair and give them a real ‘lift.’ It is our job as leaders to help bring out the best in others, even it’s not obvious to all. Try to notice little things done well and mention them.
  • Don’t know everything!: Ask for advice, input, suggestions. If you already knew the answer to the question, resist the temptation to say so, and say “thank you”. If someone offers a great idea, don’t “one up it”- let them own it and take pride in it.
  • Honesty matters, always: If you made a mistake, admit it, if you aren’t certain, say so, if you need help, ask for it. Always discipline privately, not in front of others. Don’t talk about anyone behind their back, ever. Make it a personal law.
  • Increase your competence: Subscribe to lifelong learning and continuing growth, and develop yourself personally & professionally. Freely share with others who are interested, encourage others, and be open to change.

We cannot demand respect, we cannot force respect. The bottom line is ground your actions from a place of integrity. Do the right thing. If you always come from a place of integrity, people may not always agree with you, people may not always like you, you may not always be right, but you will have the peace of mind that comes from trying your best and making the best decision you could at the time with the information you had available.

Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a personal growth & wellness speaker, nurse, and coach who helps healthcare professionals live their lives to the fullest! Email her for a complimentary Quality of Life Assessment.


How Can I Get My Patients To Be More Compliant?

Who wouldn’t! It makes our jobs easier or our day brighter, and, of course, the more compliant the patient, the more speedy their recovery. A win-win for all!

If we want more compliant patients, perhaps we need to be more amenable nurses. If we can develop a positive relationship with our patients, they are much more likely to follow our instructions and advice, not to mention, treat us more kindly and respectfully.

As in most areas of life, it is not necessarily the big things that matter most but the constant little things we do that can make a huge impact on the lives and the feelings of others.

And so, I bring to you these simple little morsels that I have adapted from “150 Ways to Show Kids You Care,” by J. Roehlkepartain. As I have adapted these tips for us, as nurses, you can indeed alter them ever so slightly into ways to show your children, your spouse, your parents, your…(insert important person here)…that you care.

Focus on one of these today and see how it works for you!

  • Pronounce their names properly.
  • Ask them about themselves.
  • Look in their eyes when you talk to them.
  • Laugh together.
  • Say yes a lot.
  • Be yourself, no one does it better!
  • Notice when they’re acting differently.
  • Discuss their dreams and fears.
  • Learn what they have to teach.
  • Make yourself available.
  • Find a common interest.
  • Apologize when you’ve done something wrong.
  • Listen to their favorite music with them.
  • Smile when you enter/leave the room.
  • Thank them for being cooperative.
  • Point out what you like about them.
  • Clip magazine pictures or articles that interest them.
  • Sit down and talk WITH them, not at them.
  • Give them your undivided attention.
  • Ask for their opinion.
  • Treat their friends and friends respectfully.
  • Tell them about yourself.
  • Praise more; criticize less.
  • Ask them to help you.
  • Believe in them.
  • Delight in their uniqueness.
  • Include them in conversations on rounds.
  • Respect them.
  • Make sure they understand.
  • Welcome/acknowledge their suggestions.

Remember, it is not just heroic acts that are remembered but the tiny acts of kindness that come from a place of caring.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can I Handle Difficult Patients And Co-Workers?

As if the actual JOB is not hard enough, add difficult patients or co-workers to the mix and you may have a recipe for disaster. Dealing with difficult behavior can often times take its toll on us emotionally, leaving us feeling beat up and spent. Does that sound familiar?

Research has shown that 1 in 3 nurses have likely experienced some sort of physical or emotional abuse this month. Have you? With all the training on policies and procedures, where is the training to help us deal with some of the most trying issues that people, who intentionally or not, maltreat and drain the life and the hope right out of us.

Next time someone is trying to tie your ‘catheter in a knot’, consider these tips for handling difficult patients and co-workers:

  • Don’t try to change them. Chances are good that this is their habitual behavior. That will not change unless they decide to take accountability for it. Some people are in love with their misery – sad but true.
  • Don’t take it personally! Their actions are a reflection of where they are at in life. They may be sick (your patients), tired (your co-workers), have issues at home and have many other things that are affecting their behavior.
  • Set firm boundaries. “I will not tolerate being spoken to that way.” “I treat you respectfully, and I expect the same in return.” Statements such as these teach others how to treat you and set precedence for future behavior.
  • Everyone wants to be heard. Restate what the patient or coworker is saying and what you are hearing between the lines.
  • Acknowledge their feelings. That doesn’t mean you have agree, just acknowledge their feelings.
  • Try empathy. I often feel sorry for people who are stuck in a state of negativity or anger. It must be awful to be angry all the time, and sometimes compassion lessons the blow.
  • Hold your ground. If you give in, you may be opening up the door for even more challenges. Difficult people are often in love with their misery and will keep after you the more you give in.
  • Use fewer words. Don’t blather on and on, they are not listening anyway. Short, concise messages are more likely to drive your point home.
  • Look at them IN BETWEEN their eyes. This will allow you to remain focused on what you need to do and not get distracted by what is probably their penetrating stare.
  • Research for solutions. Ask others, read behavioral books, search the internet. There is ALWAYS one more thing to try, so don’t give up!

While nothing will work every time, some things will work sometimes! Continue to collect an arsenal of tools that may also include: humor, taking the higher ground, ambivalence and/or a positive attitude. If you have a selection to draw upon, when the incident arrives, you will be well prepared to deal with the difficult people in your life.

They may not go away, but make a decision that says they will not take you down with them and you will not be converted over to the ‘dark side.’

Good Luck!

Have a story or experience you’d like to share about dealing with difficult patients or co-workers? Please leave us a comment below!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a nurse speaker, advocate and champion. Her live, 2 disk CD called the Well-Nurse Initiative, is hot off the presses. This fun, easy to listen to CD will make the next year of your career the best one yet! Visit to find out more!


How Can I Shift My Mood In A Hurry?

Is this a dream, that my shift would only be a few minutes long? Ye-HAW!!

Wake up honey, you are dreaming! In the real world, our shift may be 8, 10 or 12 hours long, it may even be double, but consider a different kind of shift – a shift of your mindset, a shift of your attitude, a shift of your perspective. One of these shifts could lead to a dramatic difference in how long your ‘real’ shift seems, how you interact with your patients, colleagues and your family, and how you decompress after a tough day.

But how can we find any more time in our day when we hardly have time to go to the bathroom?

While it may be hard to find an hour here or there, all of us can find a few minutes. In fact, when we have those few minutes, we often let them go to waste because we figure it’s not enough time to do ‘anything.’

WRONG!! With some purposeful thinking and advanced planning, we can make great use of those few minutes instead of letting them go to waste.

Three minutes is more than enough time to shift your thinking, shift your mood, and shift you into a better state of being. Whether at work or at home, set a purposeful intention to make good use of your time, the next time you have a few minutes to spare. Consider employing one of these ideas and notice the shift that occurs within you:

  • Give someone you love a seriously, awesome hug.
  • Visit your work library – scan a nursing journal article.
  • Play a favourite song and dance in the kitchen (or the med room).
  • Do a self-massage – rub your temples, scalp or acupressure points.
  • Google a random quote for the day, post it, and contemplate how it fits into your day.
  • Stretch – do some neck rolls, reach for the trees and go for your toes!
  • Do a few push ups, sits ups or lunges – you may be pooped before 3 minutes are up!
  • Rub lotion into your hands (or feet!) long and leisurely – enjoy it!
  • Pick up the phone and give someone a quick call to say, ‘love ya!’
  • Clean out one drawer then admire your effort!
  • Spend time with your pet – brush him or give him a belly rub.
  • Think about how you can do your job (nurse, parent, partner) better.
  • Teach a team member who is struggling – share a story of your mistakes and what you learned from them.
  • Make a human connection & an impression – with the janitor, the ward clerk, the volunteer.
  • Check it over – the med dosage, the proper pronunciation of the patients name, the time for a scheduled event – validate and be certain.
  • Strategize with colleagues, family or friends to grow this list!

As you purposefully set out to shift your mindset by employing some of these ideas or some of your own, you will find you come out of the 3 minutes in a higher state than you went into it with.

Congratulate yourself for caring enough to try! Eventually, this will become second nature and your wasted minutes will be replaced with attitude shifting activities. Email me with your 3 minutes ideas!

Life’s short, time’s precious, make the most out of it, even just 3 minutes!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a personal growth & wellness speaker, nurse & coach who helps healthcare professionals live their lives to the fullest! Email her for a complimentary Quality of Life Assessment.


How Can I Strengthen My Character?

What comes to your mind when you think of character? Everybody has one – strong, weak, questionable!

Daily, we see people going through huge changes in their lives, perhaps affected by illness, going through treatments that were unimaginable to them a short time before, or supporting a loved one through a life-threatening ordeal. It takes only one moment to appreciate which side of the bed that you are on, and to consider yourself thankful to be serving, rather than being served, in these situations.

Have you ever marvelled at some peoples’ strength of character as they endure their challenges? Have you ever wondered if you would handle things so well?

Sometimes people have huge, significant wake up calls after an illness, and are able to “change their life” as a result. In the healthcare profession, we often have to distance ourselves from too much of a personal connection with our patients, but wouldn’t it be great if we could get our “wake up call” from someone else’s experience, and not have to go through a frightening life altering incident?

I believe the foundation for living well is developing a strong character, and here is how to do it in 4 simple steps…

Get your journal ready!

  • Who are you now?What character traits do you currently possess that you are very proud of? It’s probably the qualities that come easily and effortlessly to you, qualities that your friends are drawn to, perhaps qualities that you would be proud to pass onto your children.Make of list of these traits and ask people you trust to help you add onto your list. Yeah, it’s a bit embarrassing, but get over it! WE are on a mission here! Tell them you are working on a project and you need their help.On this list are your gifts! Share them with the world, look for ways to use them, be proud of who you are and the qualities you possess. This will not make you conceded, vain or boastful; the purpose is to fully appreciate your qualities that make you unique and wonderful!Grow the list; 25 is a nice number!
  • Who do you want to be?As we continue on our journey, we can also develop characteristics in ourselves that we admire in others. Begin by identifying one quality you would like to strengthen in yourself, a quality you possess but perhaps it’s in short supply! Uncover and discover what people with that characteristic do, how they behave and present themselves in the world. Emulate this behaviour; look for opportunities to behave that way yourself!You know what they say, fake it ‘til you make it.
  • Ditch the reruns in your head saying, “I can’t, I could never, I have never, no one in my family has any…” You see, these reruns provided a handy excuse to NOT develop your character, to NOT stretch, reach and grow. They allow you to settle for second best, and you deserve more than second best. Starting right now, VOW to replace those negative reruns. Every time they pop up, replace them with something positive and affirming, such as “Everyday I am becoming more…, I am working on…, It is great to be better improving my…, Good for me, I’m getting more…”!
  • Congratulate yourself for caring enough to have the inner dialogue with yourself to try to improve! You are already miles (or kilometres!) ahead of the pact, YEAH! Celebrate each small step, and when you have a firm handle on this character trait, go back to step one!

Here is an example of this process in action

  • I am helpful, kind, fun, motivated, and compassionate. Yeah, me! I am on the lookout for ways to share my gifts with others to whom they don’t come as easily. I am letting “my little light” shine!
  • I want to be more patient. People who are patient don’t get frazzled in traffic, don’t mind waiting in line at the store, chew their food slowly, and don’t finish their patient’s (or other people’s) sentences. Patient people are peacefully tolerant with their co-workers and allow and understand human error. I will look at what patient people do, i.e. they let other drivers into traffic, they read a magazine at the checkout counter, they chew their food slowly, they don’t get ruffled with delays, and they let other people finish their own sentences! Then, I will start incorporating these things into my daily regime.
  • I will replace my “I am not a patient person” slogan with “I am becoming a more patient person every day.” I will remove the negative words that hinder my progress and replace them with positive affirmations that acknowledge my accomplishments in gaining this strength.
  • I will forgive myself for not being “perfect.” I will be gentle on myself when I slip. I will not give up but start fresh as each moment arrives. I will celebrate the effort I am making and congratulate myself for trying and for doing!

Developing your character may not be the kind of thing that will cause people to stand up and take notice, however, it will be the kind of thing that YOU take notice of. Others may sense a change, but not quite be able to put their finger on it.

Developing your character is a slow, quiet, life altering process, well worth the investment of time and energy!

Good luck and keep me posted on your progress, because I care, really, I do.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded award winning (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can I Use Creativity And Innovation In Nursing?

If we want more, different or better, we must do more, different or better.

When I first heard about him, I could tell he was very successful. But it was when I heard him speak that I knew I wanted to be a part of what he was doing.

Brian had come to speak to our association about his business of transforming healthcare institutions from the ground up and from the top down. When he was finished speaking, two hours later, I was hooked. His organization was changing the face of healthcare, I believed in and respected was he was doing, and, in my humble opinion, he needed ME! I was confident that with my experience in nursing, speaking and coaching, I would be a perfect complement to his team. Now, how would I ever convince HIM of this?

How can I get this man to notice me? How can I get him to be aware of what I can do for his company? How can I stand out amongst the stack of resumes that are no doubt on his desk? Clearly, a standard resume was not going to cut it.

Now, I have never considered myself to be a “creative person.” I cannot even draw a straight line or a stick man, but this situation required creativity at its best. So, I asked myself, “What would a creative person do?” and amazingly enough, an answer came to me!

A quick trip to Wal-Mart provided the Children’s Doctors Kit that I needed. Once home, I emptied out the toy instruments and put a toe tag on each one. On each toe tag I wrote a quality that I possessed. For example, on the otoscope I wrote that I had exceptional listening skills, and then I commented how each of these qualities would be helpful to his organization. I packed everything up in the kit, along with a letter of explanation of exactly why I was sending this and what I wanted. Everything went into a large packing box and I shipped it off to him (cost with shipping about $25). My goal was to get him to notice me, to know who I was, and to remember my name.

Mission accomplished. He phoned me immediately upon receiving the package! He was surprised and impressed, and while they weren’t looking for anyone at that particular moment in time, he said I had just moved my name up to the front of the list. YES!

True to his word, when they were ready for new blood, my name (which he remembered) was at the top of the list. Since that time, I have enjoyed working with and learning from Brian.

If I had sent in a standard resume, what do you think would have happened?

It is not likely you want the same job that I did, but I bet there is something that you do want, something you want just as bad or even more, isn’t there? I bet there is a situation at work or at home that could benefit from a little creative problem solving. What is it?

How could you use creativity to help you get what you want? How could you use creativity to help your patients get what they need? How could you use your creativity to create a more fun, caring and positive work environment?

Think beyond “arts & crafts” type of creative. Are you creative with words, clothes, décor, flowers, fun, problem solving? Think about bringing an innovation from another area of life into healthcare, or taking a healthcare idea into your “real” world!

Use creativity and innovation to your favour!

With all the challenges in healthcare, we need your creativity to make easier, smoother, more successful transitions, to make our collegial relationships better, to make our patients more comfortable.

Strengthen your creativity muscle:

  • Think to yourself, “What would most people do in this situation?” and then do something else.
  • Ask yourself, “What would a creative, innovative person do in this situation?” and do that!
  • Get curious, uncover things, ask more questions, come up with uncommon reasons for why things happen – slow traffic, school being closed, why it’s raining, again!
  • STOP saying you are not creative!
  • Don’t be afraid to POP, to get noticed, to share your brilliance.
  • Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
  • Use colored papers, colored pens, colored binders and office supplies when possible – it’s good for your brain!
  • Engage your tactile senses; have unusual textures on as many things as possible.

Vow to do at least one little thing different per day. Here’s a list to get you started: wash a different body part first, sit in a different chair at the table, eat with the other hand, sleep on the other side of the bed, drive an alternate route to work, try wearing your watch or ring on a different hand, park somewhere different, adjust the seat in your car, switch cars with your partner, take someone else’s dog for a walk, move your dishes into different cupboards, park on the opposite side of the garage, move some furniture around, dial the phone with your non-dominant hand, sit in a new place, read the paper in a different order. These things will help you to increase your comfort with novelty and change, and help you get used to different things.

Visit where you can sign up for a daily “stretch-ercise!”

If you don’t feel you are naturally creative, then it should be a great relief to hear that it is a skill you can develop and is a skill worth honing.

Let me know your creative, solution-focused ideas. Write to me at

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded award winning (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can Nurses Stay Sane At Christmas? Tis The Season To Be Crazy…I Mean, Jolly!

’Tis the season to be crazy…I mean Jolly!

Does the stress of the season ever bring you down, overwhelm you, or leave you with a feeling of dread? Maybe you love the excitement, the preparations, the decorations, the shopping, or maybe there are visions of burnt gingerbread men dancing through your head as the countdown to the “holidays” begins?

Nurses, would you like to have the best Christmas ever? If so, the first step is to figure out exactly what that means to you. Create a vision for your perfect holiday season, think it out and write it down. It may look something like this…

“I will enjoy not only Christmas Day, but the entire Christmas season. I will spend money wisely and I will keep company with those who fill my spirit up. I will enjoy the tastes of the season and prepare what is special and reasonable to me. I will not succumb to pressures that are not congruent with my values. Each day of the season, I will take time to appreciate the beauty that this time of year brings, and I will give more than I take. I will take care of myself, so that I can be my best for those I love.”

Hey, that sounds pretty good to me. I think I will keep that as my vision!

Once you know WHAT you want out of the season, work “backwards” to create it.

Here’s how…

  • First, stop telling the whole world and yourself how busy you are. This statement does not bring a peaceful feeling to you, does it? More likely than not, it brings anxiety, stress, and feelings of not doing enough, having enough, or being enough. Start telling yourself that you have more than enough time to do whatever NEEDS to be done. Ahhh, that feels better, doesn’t it? Know and believe that everything that needs to be done will be done, and if it didn’t get done, it didn’t need to be done!
  • Less is more. Simplify. Look at your to do list – what can you “do” without? Do the things that you love and consider letting go of some of the things you feel like you “should’ do. Have everyone in the family pick one tradition that is most important to them and make those your priorities. When we did this, I learned that the traditional “dainties” I had been making for years didn’t mean a thing to anyone else, but the decorating of our individual graham cracker houses was something no one wanted to give up!
  • Delegate, Delegate, Delegate! Do you know you actually don’t have to do everything yourself? Really, it’s true! Others can help and though they might not do it just like you, they truly are capable. It will do wonders for their self-esteem and confidence to make their own way.
  • Lighten up! Most of the pressure we feel, we put on ourselves, don’t we? Do things with a happy heart or don’t to them at all. If you decide they are worth doing, and you CHOOSE to do them, don’t complain about it.
  • Be honest, tell the truth and live your values. If it’s time to stop exchanging gifts with someone, be honest and say so. Don’t make up excuses; just tell it like it is. We have said to friends, “We are cutting back…”, “We are donating to charity in lieu of gifts…”, “We would rather spend time with you than exchange gifts.” We hoped they would understand and do you know what, they all did (and where likely relieved themselves!), and now we cherish memories we create together instead of unwrapping gifts with them.

In the end, enjoying the holiday season is a choice that only you can make. You get to be 100% responsible, and that is great news! Set an example for all by creating your ideal holiday, by being the persona of calm, cool and collected…because after all, ‘tis the season to be jolly, not crazy!

Merry Christmas from Canada!

A Christmas surprise will arrive in your inbox, just email and say Merry Christmas from wherever you are!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can Nurses Have Successful Relationships? Part 1

Communicating effectively is an ongoing challenge, especially in these times. It is, however, worth our time and effort to brush up on communication skills that will make the lives of everyone involved easier. In this three part series, I will discuss six communication tips that are essential for successful relationships.

Tip 1 – Agree to disagree

Sometimes, well, probably most times, it just doesn’t pay to argue. But then again, sometimes, grrrrrrr, things just drive ya crazy!

For over 20 years my husband Randy and I have had the same “discussion,” and never once has a resolution come around. The issue at hand: BACON GREASE!

How do you dispose of bacon grease?

She said… “When I was growing up, my parents put it in a container and froze it, then later scooped out the frozen fat and threw it in the garbage.” (clearly the proper way!)

He said… “When I was growing up, my parents ran hot water down the drain, poured the grease down, ran some more hot water, and then it was gone. My dad was a plumber and he said as long as you ran the hot water, it was fine for the pipes.”

EVERY TIME we had bacon, without fail, the bacon disposal “discussion” came into play. Neither of us would budge; we both think OUR way is right, and we simply cringe at the way that is not our own (i.e. wrong!).

Finally, we came up with a solution: just agree to disagree. So we made a pact that if I am cleaning up I get to dispose of it my way, and he gets to shut up. If he is cleaning up, he gets to dispose of it his way, and I get to shut up. It’s either that or no more bacon, which probably isn’t a bad idea either!

So what does bacon grease have to do with life?

Let me ask you what’s going on in YOUR life right now, that is:

  • Draining you
  • Now leading you down the path you don’t want to go
  • Preventing harmony in the home or workplace
  • Keeping inner peace away
  • Making you tired just thinking about it
  • Providing more challenge than it’s worth

See where AGREEING TO DISAGREE might fit into your personal or professional life, and watch some of those other issues disintegrate!

Tip 2 – Intent and Consent

My 15 year old daughter, Gina, needed braces and was not certain she wanted to get them. She kept putting off making a decision, and to tell you the truth, I sort of forgot about it, too. One day, I stumbled upon the paperwork and realized we needed to decide, pronto! I called to Gina and said, “We need to decide about these braces, right now!” This began a long, difficult argument which ended with me having a screaming fit, and both of us unnecessarily upset. When I was done with my little tirade, I realized that I was in dire need of some new communication skills. That is when I discovered “intent and consent”, from Dennis Rivers,

To start, you state the intention of your conversation, that is, what you need to talk about and approximately how long you will need. You then establish a good time and get the consent of the other person. The more important the conversation, the more important intent and consent is because it gives the other person time to wrap their head around the situation and prepare themselves. You are also more likely to have them come to the table willingly. Here is how this technique could have been used when I discovered the braces paperwork…

“Gina, I need to talk to you about the braces issue. We are going to have to make some sort of decision. It will probably take about 15 minutes, so would after supper tonight or tomorrow be ok to do this?”

This brilliant little technique could solve a multitude of problems, both at work and at home. Imagine talking to your nurse manager about a great idea, a subordinate about a challenge, your spouse about vacation planning (read…do not discuss during favorite TV show!).

See how many ways you can make these two terrific tips make the relationship in your life even better! Feel welcome to share with me how these played out for you!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can Nurses Have Successful Relationships? Part 2

I love people, you love people, we all love people, people! How come then, at the end of the day, if I asked you what drove you the MOST crazy, you (and me!) would probably say people!

Communicating effectively is an ongoing challenge, especially in these times. It is, however, worth our time and effort to brush up on communication skills that will make the lives of everyone involved easier.

Personally, CONTROL is a big issue for me. How about you? Wanting to be in control opens the door for a wide variety of issues, and, for some strange reason, not everyone likes me to be in control of everything all the time! Imagine?

Today, we will bring to light a few techniques to help the “control freak” tone it down a notch.

Tip 3 – Translate complaints/criticisms into a call

Whether you are a parent, a spouse, or basically in any relationship where you spend a lot of time with the person, you may find yourself “nagging” more than you would prefer. You can hear it coming out of your mouth, but you just can’t stop it! You don’t like the way it sounds, you don’t like the way it makes you feel, but for Pete’s sake, no one is doing anything “right”!

Insert this tool here!

Translate your complaints/criticisms into a call for action. It looks like this…

I come home and I see the kitchen in a disastrous state and everyone plunked down watching TV. I was prepared to make supper, but now it is not the veggies steaming, it’s me, as I begin my rant… “What is going on in this kitchen? Why hasn’t someone unloaded the dishwasher? At least bring your dishes into the kitchen! Surely I am not the only one who knows how to change the garbage!”…and on and on and on I go. This rant leaves me depleted, then tuned out, and the kitchen still in a mess.

Here’s how the new tool works. I come home and I see the kitchen in a disastrous state and everyone plunked down watching TV. I want to scream, but I take a deep breath and decide to handle this like a big girl. I tell the kids, “in 5 minutes the TV goes off and I need you to meet me in the kitchen.” I use these 5 minutes wisely to decompress! Then, I start my request…

“When I come home to a kitchen like this, it makes me feel so overwhelmed because I just can’t make dinner in this situation. Now, I would like some help so that I can prepare a yummy meal for you. Aaron, please empty the dishwasher and wipe the counter. Kara, please load the dishwasher and sweep the floor. Gina, please change the garbage and set the table. Give me a shout when you are done and I will start dinner, and then I think I may even be in the mood to make you guys a dessert!”

State your request clearly, concisely, and in a matter of fact tone. Tell them what you saw, felt, and what you would like them to do at this time, and, if possible, what’s in it for them to do it.

It is actually quite shocking how much gets done when you just ask, how much better you feel about leaving their dignity (and yours) intact, and how you can be in control without losing control.

Tip 4 – Empathize, don’t advise

Have you ever told someone something, knowing that you were merely venting, and they started giving you all sorts of advice? How did you feel? Did you want the advice? Probably not, you just wanted to vent! But we LOVE to help, and we love to solve problems. We have a friend or a relative who had an issue just like yours, we read a book about a problem just like yours, or we have an idea for you and we want to tell you how to solve your problem. The problem is, not everyone wants advice – shocking, I know! The “empathize, don’t advise” technique might sound like this…

“Ouch, that must be a bummer. You must have been really upset.” It is the words that go with the feeling of empathy.

Hold onto your suggestion – they may just ask for it, or, if you can’t contain yourself, you can at least ASK their permission…

“Would you like me to tell you how my aunt handled that?” or “May I give you my two cents?”

Tip 5 – Right is not all it’s cracked up to be!

Have you ever “won” an argument and felt terrible? Have you ever “won” at someone else’s expense? Sometimes being right is not all it’s cracked up to be. Being right is not as much fun as being happy. What if you didn’t HAVE to be right all the time? Is it possible there might be two right answers – yours and someone else’s? What if you absolutely KNEW you were right, could that be good enough? Do you have to hammer the point home? Consider just letting it go, and being satisfied with the knowledge that you were the bigger person, and didn’t need to be validated at someone else’s expense.

Nurses, try integrating these three techniques into your work and home life, and see if people will magically be driving you less crazy at the end of the day!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can Nurses Have Successful Relationships? Part 3

Communication isn’t everything in a relationship, but it pretty much affects everything. While it has been said that verbal communication is only a small part, I’m not so sure I agree with that 100%. So, today’s communication tip focuses on our words, or shall we say, our lack of words!

This is going to come as a huge shock and surprise to you, if, in fact, this one tip escalates every relationship you have to a higher level!

Ready? Here it is – you’d better sit down – it’s a doosy!…

Tip 6 – Everything that is in your head does not need to be said

I know, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Even when the words are fighting to get out of your mouth, even when you are certain that you absolutely must say them, or else you will explode, the fact is that not everything you’re thinking needs to be expressed verbally. Some things are best left inside your noggin! For example, I come home to find my husband has done the laundry, but for some reason the shirt I need sits on top of the dryer – unwashed! I know I should say, “Thanks for doing the laundry, that really lightened my load.” Pardon the pun! But instead I say, “Why didn’t you wash my shirt?” Clearly not the right thing to say if I ever want him to do the laundry again. That’s OK though, because he has the same problem… I am in labour, having his baby, and he says, and I quote, “I have a headache.” You have a HEADACHE? And you are actually saying that out loud, to me, right now? Are you serious? Now my husband has nursed me through surgeries, coached me through 3 labour and deliveries, and been by my side for every major and minor occasion for over 20 years – and my failing memory doesn’t remember much, but I remember this!

“Not everything in your head needs to be said” is the granddaddy of all communication techniques, in my book. It’s hard, I know, but pause with your thought and ask yourself, “is what I am about to say going to strengthen this relationship or weaken it?”

Remember, you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube. It just doesn’t work. Just because you think something, does not mean you have to act on it.

We get very attached to our words, and when we think of something, our natural inclination is to blurt it out. When in doubt, pause, shhh, and think before you speak.

Coming in tandem with the above tip is Stephen Covey’s timeless words – Seek first to understand – they are beyond sensible; often we are so busy, trying to figure out what WE are going to say next, that we don’t take time to truly grasp what the other person is saying. Research tells us that most people who offend someone have no idea that they did so. Before you fly off the handle, try such statements as – Did I get this right….So if I understand correctly…When you said…, did you mean…? And reiterate concisely the message you received.

Enter into the conversation intent on understanding the others person’s story. We don’t need everything we say to be agreed with, but we all want to be heard, and we want to be validated that our story matters.

At the end of the day, relationships are what matter most. The care and compassion you bring to your nursing care and into your home is enhanced by the skill of your communication. There is a delicate dance between using your words to enhance a relationship to open it up to a higher level, or using your words to drive a wedge in between work or a personal relationship – your choice, your life.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Can Nurses Make A BIG Difference In Patient Care?

Similar to our law enforcement counterparts, nurses often have to deal with people who fall into the Sad, Mad or Bad category. We don’t see our patients/clients/residents at their best and sometimes they don’t bring out the best in us. Despite our best intentions, when the time, effort, energy crunch is on, it is easy to fall down the slippery slope to…well, I’ll just be frank…nastiness.

Let’s not! Let’s rise above and try to apply small changes to make a BIG difference in patient care. This is what your patients want you to know:

  • Help me feel human. I have been poked, prodded, tested and scanned. I don’t feel special, unique or important. I feel like a number, a product, a ‘case.’ Make me feel more human by using my name, looking in my eyes, taking my hand and not talking about me, butby talking to me.
  • Empower me. I am used to being in control. I am a spouse, a parent, a community leader. People count on me. I am not used to feeling too vulnerable and out of control. So many people seem to be in control of what’s going on with my illness, I feel helpless. You can allow me to be an active player in this game that I have been forced to play. Let me make small choices and be a part of important decisions. Even though I may not understand the terminology, I have the brains to contribute to my care plan. Communicate my choices to me and let me be involved.
  • Ease my fear. I am sick and petrified. I do not know what lies ahead. My job, my finances, my family, everything is hanging. My fright shows up as anger to you, please don’t take it personally. I have so much going on, so many fears, questions and burdens. You are seeing me at my worst, this is not the me I am used to, but still your calm voice and your composed presence can help me ease my fears.
  • Treat me with respect. Ask me before you call me by my first name please. Honour my family, too, they are an extension of me and they are hurting too. I know you have seen this/done this a thousand times, but I have not. Preserve my dignity and self respect, be polite, explain until I understand and let patience reign.

I know you have a difficult, demanding job. I know you are a skilled decision maker and have clinical expertise. I know you are overworked, tired and ‘short.’ I know you try your best and I know that we, your patients, sometimes don’t make it easy for you; some of us are sad, mad and bad, but by doing these little things, you can make us glad we haveyou on our side!

Please know it is not only the big life saving things you do that matter, it is the small, seemingly insignificant details you perform for your patients/clients/residents that make a BIG difference. Oh yeah, and it feels good for you, too!

PS – Nurse…Thanks, thanks a lot!

Nurses, please leave a comment below sharing your tips on how we can make a difference in patient care!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat.

Sign up for Stephanie’s E-Powering newsletter for a shot of inspiration just when you need it or take in a Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit


How Can We Integrate New Nursing Grads?

Do you remember what it was like to be a new nursing graduate? One day you were a student, and ‘poof,’ one day you were a nurse. Expectations ran high and responsibilities ran even higher. The cushion of ‘just being a student,’ and having your instructor ultimately be responsible, is gone in an instant. Do you remember the anxiety, fear and unsure feelings of those first few months?

When you are well into your own career and overloaded with your own patients, it is easy to forget what it was like in the beginning. But wait, we need your active participation to help us integrate our new staff, now more than ever! In a profession that is one of the most trusted and respected in the world, it is embarrassing that we have a phenomenon known as ‘nurses eating their young.’ The well known, but little talked about, epidemic of senior nurses making work life even more challenging for their young counterparts. I am hopeful that the general public is unaware of this, as it would be rather embarrassing for us!

Why do you think this exists? Do we feel that new grads must ‘pay their dues,’ that because no one supported us, we don’t need to support them? Is it our own insecurities? Are we worried they have newer, fresher knowledge, and that they will want our jobs?

Whatever our reasons, whether conscious or not, many of us are hurting, rather than helping, our new nurses integrate into our institutions. With the shortageof nurses so prevalent, wouldn’t it be in OUR best interest to help these ladies and gentlemen through their first, and possibly most challenging, year in the profession?

Dr. Judy Boychuk Duchscher, RN, PhD, has made her life’s work helping new nurses transition into the workplace. Beyond this article, her compelling research and tools for integration can be found on

What’s in it for you? Well, supporting the profession, giving back to the nursing community, and doing the right thing, for starters.

To help your new staff not only survive but thrive, communication, patience and empathy need to be evident. While you are busy with your own case load, consider a small amount of time and energy well invested by helping them. You can help by:

  • Validating where they are coming from – “ I remember how hard it was to be new.”
  • Make yourself available for questions or venting – “Would you like to have a coffee together?”
  • Enthusiastically include them in social activities outside of work – “Come with us, you can ride with me!”
  • Anticipate their needs – “Are you comfortable doing that procedure on your own?”
  • Be ultra-patient with their questions
  • Let them accompany you when you have a unique assessment, but don’t tell them everything. Let them assess – “Do you notice anything unusual about Mrs. Jones today?”
  • Praise and compliment – “Good job on that!”
  • Trying to keep their assignments/units consistent for at least the first 4 months
  • Do not schedule them as the sole nurse for breaks or for high acuity patients, and have seasoned staff close at hand.

If you can help a new nursing grad transition, not only will you likely have a fan for life, but you will be contributing to the profession; they will be more likely to pay it forward when they are senior staff, and you will be helping patients/residents/clients by ensuring that they have competent, capable and confident care.

You will be making a difference, and isn’t that what nursing is all about? Share your experiences with other nurses in the Decompression Room– a non-judgemental, supportive outlet to decompress after a grueling, taxing, challenging shift.

Nurses, please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this article!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a personal growth & wellnessspeaker, nurse &coach whohelps healthcare professionalslive their lives to the fullest!Email her for a complimentaryQualityofLifeAssessment.


How Do I Make The Motivation Last?

How many professional development (PD) events have you attended, been WOWED by the speaker, vowed to do something different, and the next day things were exactly the same? How many times have you gone to a nursing event and yawned your way through, daydreaming the whole time? How many binders do you have at the back of your closet?

Our time and attention are so precious, so let’s not waste a moment. As a ‘motivational’ speaker, it is my job to get you EXCITED about MOVING into action, but sometimes we are accused of being like Chinese food…it fills you up but leaves you hungry again in a couple of hours!

For me, there is no satisfaction in getting a standing ovation if the next day nothing is different for the folks who were standing! I get a high when, weeks or months later, people email me to tell me specifically what has changed as a result of our time together.

Yes, it is our job to inspire, educate and engage you, but only YOU can motivate yourself. You must find your own reasons. You can have all the insight and ideas, but at the end of the day, YOU are the one that has to do it! The goal is to move from knowing to growing!

Here is how to ensure you get the most from your next in-service, PD event or even an article…

  • Set a goal that you will find something of value – even if it’s just a quote, a line or a spark of an idea. If you go in thinking…I already know this, that won’t work, we’ve tried that before, etc., you are doomed to waste your time.
  • Don’t ask, “Can I use this information?” rather ask, “How many ways can I use this information?” Look at everything you do as a learning opportunity. Your job is not to ask IF you can use the information, your job is to ask HOW you can use the information. There is no one right or perfect way for everyone. Take the information you get, twist it, turn it, combine it and make it work for you!
  • Write down, highlight or mark the ideas of interest. As soon as you can afterwards, transcribe your ideas into a journal or computer file.
  • Commit to practicing/implementing one idea – use a post-it note as a reminder. If it’s a big idea, break it down into small manageable tasks.
  • Tell someone else. Find an accountability buddy so you can help each other.

For a real life example, I was reading the business book, Blue Ocean Strategy, where they taught a technique to create a unique business idea. It didn’t ‘fit’ for my business, but I thought it would be a great tool for life. If I had just been thinking IF I could use this tool to build my business, as they suggested, I wouldn’t have used it – but I thought, HOW can I use this tool in other ways, and it worked!

Here is the tool in a nutshell:

Divide a paper into 4 quadrants, label each quadrant as follows:

  • Eliminate
  • Raise
  • Reduce
  • Create

For today’s issue, getting more out of your PD experiences, list things in each area that you can do to help you accomplish this. For example, you could eliminate negative preconceived thoughts about the event beforehand, raise the number of times you ask questions, reduce the distractions by not sitting with your usual group of people, and create a follow up plan to put your learning into action! Simple and effective.

Here is the insight…since you have to be physically present at these events anyway, you deserve to take something home. Even if the presenter doesn’t thrill you, even if the room is too hot, the chicken is rubbery and the giant chocolate cookies are gone, go with the intention of hearing a takeaway that was meant just for you. I bet you will find it!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate advocate for ‘nursing the nurses’ and presents at conferences internationally on the topic. To assess your quality of life, email Stephanie@yourlifeunlimited.caand write-nurse the nurses in the subject bar. A complementary coaching tool will arrive in your mailbox shortly thereafter!! Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


How Do We Go About Booking You For An Event?

First, I would love to speak with you on the phone. It would help me to get to know what you are looking for to make your event awesome – so that I can let you know if I am the right person. I only want to come if I am the right speaker with the right message to compliment your event. If I am not, I would happily recommended one of my colleagues to you.

So, if you think I could be a great fit to engage, empower and enrich your group – let’s talk! Give me a call 1-204-255-5912 so we can connect!

Next, I would be happy to have a conference call with your planning committee to address and questions, concerns, suggestions etc.


I Am A Nurse Leader Who Hates Reprimanding Others, Any Idea?

I don’t remember what I did, but I know it wasn’t that bad. What I do remember is that her name was Kathy and I remember the feeling she left me with. I can still feel it in the pit of my stomach two decades later.

Kathy was our charge nurse and it was quite evident that she liked her position of power, or maybe she was just having a bad day or month or decade! In any case, on this particular day, I was the unlucky soul who was the recipient of her wrath. Coincidently or not, she waited until everyone was gathered around for report and then tore into me. I was overwhelmed with shock, fear and embarrassment. My mouth dropped open and my colleagues were visibly embarrassed for me as well. No one spoke a word in the uncomfortable silence that followed. Like I said, I don’t remember what I did, but I sure remember how she made me feel, and I certainly don’t remember what I learned from the mistake I made. The lesson I did learn was how NOTto reprimand people. Contrast that with this incident…

When I was a young nurse, I made a mistake in my job and learned a very valuable lesson that I still call upon to this day. I made a medication error. I gave the wrong medication to the wrong patient. Now, it was only a Tylenol, so no harm was done, but regardless, I still made a medication error. Nobody knew but me. Here is what happened…

I was preparing the lunch time pills and had to crush up a particular patient’s pill because she couldn’t swallow it whole. I crushed it up, mixed it up with some yummy apple sauce, and then became distracted by someone else wanting my attention. I put the mixture down, dealt with the other issue, and when I came back, I grabbed the pills of another patient and promptly put them into her mouth. YIKES! The second she swallowed the pills, I realized they weren’t hers. I remember feeling the urge to choke the pills out of her, but of course I realized that wasn’t going to be a good idea either! It was too late, the deed was done. Ughhh. I slunk my way down to my supervisor, my head hanging very low, and I began to ramble on… “I made a medical error. I gave one patients’ Tylenol to another patient because I got distracted and wasn’t paying attention to what I was supposed to be doing. Next time, I will finish what I am doing and then move on to handle the next issue. I am so sorry.”

She just looked at me. I was panicky. She said, “When an error has been made, these are the things we look for:

  • Remorse
  • Accepting of responsibility
  • Ability to understand why it happened
  • A plan in place so that it does not happen again

You have come into my office and all of these things have been addressed, now go back to work.” Hmmm, that wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be.

The words my supervisor spoke all those years ago still resonate with me. I remember the error I made and how to fix it. On the other hand, all I remember about the first mistake I made was not to get tied into Kathy’s wrath!

While few people want to do it, the truth is that at some point throughout this wonderful and sometimes turbulent career that you will both love and hate, there will be an occasion or two (or 3,4,5…) when you will be called upon to reprimand a subordinate, it just comes with the territory. To not reprimand would be neglectful of your duties; we all must be corrected so that we may learn from our errors.

Here are a few tips to help you practice the art of reprimand and make an impression that will leave positive impact on the person in question:

  • Request time to speak with the person in private. Although it is a rather rhetorical question, it gives them advance warning and shows respect. Needless to say, you must find a quiet, private place to discuss the matter.
  • Be direct. Don’t generalize by using the words “always” or “never”. Assume this is out of character for them. Use “I” words, i.e. “I notice your work hasn’t been up to its usual high standard, is there something going on you would like to talk about?” (if this is true)
  • Consider the “sandwich” technique – good, bad, good. For example, “I really appreciate when you (insert something you value about them), but this time I noticed (insert issue to be dealt with). Before you part, finish with something positive such as, “I believe you are a very important part of our team!”
  • Give them an opportunity to explain their story and be part of solving the problem. Encourage them to come up with their own solution to the issue so that they will leave with their dignity and confidence intact. Perhaps they could… stay late, phone the family themselves to explain, have a game plan for the next time a similar situation arises.
  • Finally, follow up. Check in with them at an appropriate time later. Thank them for rectifying the situation, if applicable.

In a perfect world, we would all perform flawlessly with angelic like attitudes. Unfortunately, in reality, we sometimes we have to reprimand, so make it gentle but clear and purposeful. Meanwhile, “catch” people doing good as often as possible and let them know – that is much more fun! If we do praise the good work more often, we will have to reprimand less, and that would suit me just fine!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


I Am Sick Of Conventional Nursing, What Should I Do?

I have long admired people who took conventional occupations and made their own unique career.

Outsiders might look at nursing and assume bedpans and shift work, and that can be true up to a point, but if you are ever bored of those things, you needn’t look far to see how your career could blossom with an open mind and a shift of perspective. One of the most fabulous things about nursing is that you can virtually have a job anywhere in the world, and with the shortages abounding, this is in your favour with lucrative signing bonuses and fringe benefits to boot!

Beyond that, many nurses turn to non-traditional work such as research, specialty work, clinical work, teaching, working in schools, working for corporations, and even entrepreneurship.

Take yours truly, for example; shift work was perfect while my 3 children were small. I worked opposite shifts to my husband and we were able to parent without daycare, ever. Quite amazing really!

When our children were school age, shift work wasn’t working for me anymore; I was missing too many suppers with the family, too many sporting events, and I was unsatisfied, restless and beginning to resent nursing. I wanted to have a job where I could work while my kids were in school. So I did what any rational nurse would do – I set up my own business, an in-home nursing foot care practice. While not extremely “glamorous,” it afforded me two things that were very, very important. One, it allowed me time to really connect with people on an intimate, long term basis, something I didn’t have with conventional nursing. Two, it allowed me to have breakfast with my kids, get them to school and pick them up at 3 – perfect! Although I started out hating feet, ironically, I loved this job! The business grew to include other nurse-moms who were looking for just the same benefits.

Fast forward again, as my family and I evolved, so did my entrepreneurship. After being trained as a coach, I worked with others to help them create the life they wanted, and began teaching adult education on personal growth & development. This evolved into a speaking/coaching/writing business called, Your Life, Unlimited, and even a radio show! With time, I realized the natural fit would be to combine my nursing with my speaking/coaching business and began to focus solely on “Life Support” for healthcare professionals.

Your nursing career may begin with bedpans and shift work, and it may end with bedpans and shift work, but if you don’t LOVE what you do and the people you serve and work with, STOP, before you turn into Nurse Crotchety. Trust me, you WILL turn into Nurse Crotchety if you are not LOVING what you do anymore. You may not have to look outside of our profession to be rejuvenated and revitalized. Perhaps you just need to look at nursing through a different lens. Combine other things you love with nursing, explore others options, challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, and see if you too can come up with the perfect career for yourself within healthcare or beyond.

Nursing is about helping others, and as many ways as there are to help others, there are ideas for creative ways to nurse. I still believe I am nursing, perhaps not in the conventional way, but I am still seeking to help others, just like you are. What about you, are you where you want to be?

There will be a million reasons why you can’t, but only one reason that will pull you forward to success (whatever that success means to you), and that is because you want it bad enough.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a personal growth & wellness speaker, nurse & coach who helps healthcare professionals live their lives to the fullest! Email her for a complimentary Quality of Life Assessment


I Am Thinking About Journaling, But I Don’t Know Where To Start?

Have you ever exploded to a co-worker, stewed over an incident with your superior, given the silent treatment to a patient, or sent an email that probably shouldn’t have been sent?

If you have done, or considered doing, any or all of these things (or worse!), you are not alone! Welcome to the Overworked & Overwhelmed Club. Membership to this club is free, but not mandatory, and today I would like to focus on one specific tool to help you get evicted from the O & O Club!

Journaling. No, this is not your grandmother’s diary we are talking about, nor is this akin to charting! This is a proven, therapeutic way to tackle difficult issues. It does require some of your time, attention and focus, but I think you will find the payoffs are well worth it.

Following are some of the wonderful benefits you can receive from nurturing the healthy habit of journaling:

  • Work out on paper the issues at hand; strategize to develop solutions for same.
  • Articulate the proper words to say to help you communicate better with someone.
  • Vent! You can say things in your journal you would/could never say in person, and it’s ok!
  • Be still and quiet. Journaling can help you slow down, be present and concentrate better.
  • Goal setting – thinking about an idea is one thing, writing it down takes on a whole new meaning.
  • Offers a reality check – do you really want to quit your job, get a dog or move to Iceland?
  • Provides a safe place to grow – a place for little ideas that won’t be judged, a place for seeds to sprout.

Many people understand the benefits of journaling, but they have a few obstacles in their way. The most common one I hear from clients is the proverbial, “I don’t have enough time!” We have a preconceived notion that we have to journal daily, or for a lengthy piece of time for it to be effective, but that is not the case. While journaling daily is a wonderful habit, picking up your journal when the mood strikes is a great place to start, and even as little as 10 minutes can be very productive. The second piece of resistance I hear is, “I don’t know what to write about!”, and the journal turns into a chronicle of the day – “I did this and I did that.” While chronicling your day may be interesting to look back on, you can easily jot notes on your calendar for this purpose. Pro-active journaling focuses on getting to know yourself on a more intimate level, and is a very empowering tool.

You may want to write about interactions, incidents, hopes and/or feelings. You may start a gratitude journal, a personal health journal, a relationship journal, or you can let the journal take on a life of its own!

I suggest you buy a beautiful blank book that you are drawn to and also chose a very nice pen to write with. Consider buying a variety of special pens just for this purpose, or using a one with colored ink to really get the creativity flowing!

If you are stuck on what to write, here are some questions to get you started:

  • What are the qualities/characteristics that you are proud to posses? What do your friends love about you? Can you identify how you developed these traits?
  • Who are the 3 most influential people in your life? Are they positive influences? Why?
  • Why did you enter the nursing profession? Why are you still here? What needs to happen to keep you here?
  • Some days we wonder if we make a difference, and some days we are certain that we do. Write about a connection you made with a resident/patient/client when you KNEW that you were making a difference.

Journaling is one simple, yet effective tool that will help you out of the Overworked & Overwhelmed Club. I can guarantee that if you begin to implement the healthy habit of journaling, you’ll find that you explode, stew and regret a lot less often! Good luck!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a nurse speaker, advocate and champion. Her live, 2 disk CD called the Well-Nurse Initiative, is hot off the presses. This fun, easy to listen to CD will make the next year of your career, the best one yet! Visit to find out more!


I Am Tired Of Living The Way Everyone Else Thinks I Should Live, How Can I Live MY Way?

What would it look like if this fall you were a little more in control of your life, a little happier, a little more excited about being? If you are tired of just going through the motions and are ready to add some pep to your step, try implementing a couple of these ideas to your nursing care plan!

  • Get clear on what you want. We are not single dimensional beings; we are multi dimensional. We need to consider all aspects of self, including areas such as the spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and even financial. We set out a plan for our patients, so why not set out a plan for ourselves? What do you really want within each of these areas of your life? Set an intention. If we don’t know where we want to be, how will we know when we are there? Take some time to get crystal clear on what you REALLY want.
  • Ask for what you need. It seems the closer people are to us, the more we think they should automatically know what we want and need. This is a false belief and only serves to aggravate both us and them. Just as we cannot be expected to anticipate all of our patients needs, it is no one else’s job to read our minds and figure out our needs. It is our responsibility to make our needs known and ask (kindly) for what we need.
  • Come from a place of integrity. It’s more than everything we do, it’s who we are. Coming from a place of integrity means being truthful and honest. It means being reliable, it means coming from a place of trying to build rather than break, to help rather than hurt, connect rather than crumble. It is treating our patients the same, whether someone is watching or not. When you live your life with integrity, your reputation will precede you and when you err, it is more likely that you will be easily forgiven and people will give you the benefit of the doubt. Always come from a place of integrity.
  • Praise more. Look for the good in people first. Fight that habitual tendency to bark out the first negative thought. You may have to look deeper, harder or longer, but it will be worth it to find something genuine and kind to say. Most of our patients are not at their best when we serve them; they are having a rough time, and we can make a difference with only a few carefully chosen words. Same thing holds true in our personal life. Greet people like you are happy to see them, consider holding your tongue and decide if that criticism or harsh tone is really necessary. To improve every relationship – praise more.
  • Share. It’s just the right thing to do. Share your tangibles and your intangibles; share your knowledge, your expertise and your gifts. Help those who are stuck, give to those who have less than you, encourage those in whom you see potential (and even those in whom you don’t). Have no expectations, ask for nothing in return – just share.
  • Be a problem solver. Shift from asking “How come…?” to asking, “How can…?” How can we find another way to look at this issue? How can we gather more information about this? How can we create something better? The masses can point out the issues, but the movers do something about them. Shift from being a problem observer, to being a problem solver.
  • Gravitate towards what’s good for you. Our bodies naturally gravitate to what is good, and repel from what is bad. This goes for food, people and thoughts, too. Increase your physical activity by 10 %, limit poor food choices, put up boundaries around those things in your life that are sucking the wind out of your sail. Gravitate toward the good!

If you want to bring great things into your life before year end, start now, plan now, do it now! You will reap the benefits for a long time to come, and so will others!

Nurses, be a hero! Bring in Stephanie to share her Life Support for Nurses ideas that work! Contact her at to receive a complimentary ‘Quality of Life Assessment’ or visit for more info & resources!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat.


I Need To De-Clutter, Where Should I Start?

I have two fantastic apples trees in my backyard. Every second year they produce the most amazing big, sweet, juicy, tasty apples. I slice, dice, bake, and give them away, because there are only so many apples one family can enjoy, right? I was mentioning to an acquaintance about my apple trees, and he told me how he would bring his extra apples to the food bank or to the homeless shelters. What a great idea! I welcomed him to pick my apples for his cause, so he and his wife came over and gathered a big box filled to the brim with apples. They were delighted, I was delighted, and I was certain those who received the apples would be delighted too.

The next time I spoke with this fellow, I asked him how the apples went over. He was very excited to tell me how beautiful and delicious the apples were, and how much he and his family had enjoyed them. Great, how about at the homeless shelter, I wondered. “Oh,” he said, “I didn’t bring them there, they were too nice to bring there, so I gave them away to my friends and family.”

I beg your pardon? They were too nice to give away? Did I hear that right?

I could have given them to my family and friends, but I gave them to him because he was going to share them with the less fortunate. That was the whole point, wasn’t it?

This really got me steamed, and when we get steamed we tend to think a lot, don’t we? I got to thinking: Do the less fortunate only deserve bruised apples? Do they only deserve sour apples (metaphorically speaking)? In other words, do they only deserve stuff we don’t deem “good enough” for ourselves?

I know I have heard others say, and I admit I have even said it myself in regards to giving away used clothing, “that’s too good to give away.” This incident made me revisit that statement. Why not give it away, even if it’s good? If you can’t use it, don’t use it, won’t use it, give it away, even if – especially if – it’s good. The less fortunate deserve “beautiful apples” just as much as you and I do, maybe more so because they would probably appreciate them more.

True charity doesn’t matter if its tax deductible. True generosity is not only when you give away something you don’t want anymore, but also when you give away something you do.

So consider, when you are trying to find a spot for those gifts you don’t really need, when you are organizing and de-cluttering your space, when you’re cleaning out your closet or cupboards, if there is some “stuff” you would do well to be rid of. Maybe you can skip the garage sale this year and just give it away. It feels good. It feels right.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


I Want To Know How To Nurse And Live Happier.

“If only I had an easy bake oven, then I would be happy,” said my 6 year old self.

“If only I had a boyfriend (with a car!), then I would be happy,” said my 16 year old self.

“If only I could replace this terrible linoleum in the kitchen, then I would be happy,” said my 26 year old self.

“If only Nurse Crotchety would retire, then I would be happy!” said my 35 year old self.

Over the years, I have tried many, many things that I thought would make me happy. What about you? What would make YOU happy? Winning the lottery, buying a new house, paying off your old house, a different career (or superior!), living in a different place, losing weight? The list goes on and on, doesn’t it? The, “I’ll be happy when…” virus continues to propagate, and sometimes the more we continue to pursue the elusive “happiness factor,” the further away it gets. This leads to frustration, dissatisfaction and disappointment, when we realize that getting the “stuff” only leads us to wanting more “stuff,” and still the feelings of being unfulfilled remain.

I have long been fascinated by the stories of people who have overcome tremendous odds and comeout on top. You’ve seen these people too, haven’t you? They have been your patients, your colleagues, your friends. I have always wondered what makes some people succumb to adversity, whether it is illness or misfortune, and what makes other people overcome it. Working with hundreds of inspiring people has taught me many things, not the least of which is the answer to my own question. Happy people, successful people, fulfilled people and people who overcome adversity have simply decided to do so.

Can it really be that simple? Can our pursuit of happiness end right here, with a simple decision made by us, right now, to decide to be happy no matter what? To embrace our success in the moment and to overcome adversity by choosing to see the opportunity it brings. Can it really be that simple?

Too much of our time is spent rehashing the problems of our past or worrying about the unknowns in our future. This is truly a waste of our precious energy and time.

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the King of Bhutan. Where? Bhutan. It is a tiny country nestled in the Eastern Himalayas where they measure the prosperity of their country by the happiness of their people. They coined the term “Gross National Happiness” (GNH) to connect with the Buddhist notion that the ultimate purpose of life is inner happiness. Hmmm, who’s up for raising Winnipeg’s GNH? Why not start today, it really is simple:

  • takeand hoard less; giveand share more
  • complain and criticize less; acceptand praise more
  • work and frown less; smile, laughand play more

Well, you get the idea.

If you are in pursuit of happiness and have been for a long time – STOP! – it doesn’t happen.In fact, it won’t happen, “when this…” or “when that…” It happens the very moment, the very second, you DECIDE it be so. STOP waiting for a better time, place or circumstance. You can decide to be happy even while you are pursuing a new direction, even while you are getting out of debt or recovering from a difficult relationship. It is not about creating perfection, it is not about waiting for something or someone to bring you happiness on a silver platter, it is about accepting and appreciating what you have now.

In your pursuit of happiness, why not DECIDE to enjoy every stage – the planning, the journey and the destination.

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate advocate for ‘nursing the nurses’ and presents at conferences internationally on the topic. To assess your quality of life, email and write – nurse the nurses in the subject bar. A complementary coaching tool will arrive in your mailbox shortly thereafter!! Visit information!By Stephanie Staples


I Want To Work On ‘Me’ But I Don’t Know Where To Start.

I have a tiny card in my wallet that says, “Work harder on yourself than on anything else.” I keep it by my credit card so that I see it a lot!

This statement has significant meaning to me and here is why…we put much time, money and effort into our education and professional development, we work long and hard at work, we treat our colleagues and patients respectfully, we show devotion to our jobs, our careers, but sometimes we don’t pay the same respect to our own personal development.

Do you give your best at work and give your loved ones what’s left over? Sometimes we don’t have much left to give at the end of a hectic day. We feel safe enough with those we love to let our “real self” out, but at what cost?

When was the last time you took a parenting course, listened to a “communication improvement” audio, or read a book about enhancing relationships?

If your family and relationships are what you value most, are you spending a fair proportion of your time and resources “tuning up” that area of your life? Granted, the time may not be equal, but if we can ensure the quality to be top notch, how much would that be worth to you?

If your “talk” says family first, but your “walk” shows that they get the “you” that is leftover, then do what is necessary to walk the talk!

Communicating is a great place to start!

  • Consider your tone of voice – Do you ever talk to your family in a voice that you would never use at work? They deserve the same dignity that your colleagues and patients are entitled to.
  • The silent treatment is never an option.
  • Name calling, insults and rudeness indicate a weakness of character on our part, not the other person.

Here are three suggestions:

  • Create a “driveway moment” before you enter your house. Take a moment to pause, and don’t go in the house until you have put yourself in a positive frame of mind. Think about what you have to look forward to beyond those doors.
  • Commit to implement one idea from one personal development resource this month, i.e. attend a course, read a book, or listen to an audio CD. Attending is not enough, IMPLEMENTING one idea is key.
  • ASK your family how you can be a better…listener, parent, partner.


“The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes.” Harold B. Lee

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate advocate for ‘nursing the nurses’ and presents at conferences internationally on the topic. To assess your quality of life, email Stephanie@yourlifeunlimited.caand write-nurse the nurses in the subject bar. A complementary coaching tool will arrive in your mailbox shortly thereafter!! Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


I Work With Sick People All Day, I Need To Find Some Beauty Somewhere. Help!

One day she was a princess and the next day she was a…

Kara, my almost 18 year old daughter, the honour student and perfectionist, was celebrating her 12th grade graduation. Like the other one hundred and three girls from her school, she was dressed to perfection – the makeup, the nails, the hair arranged perfectly, a dainty purse and matching shoes, and the dress, wow, it was beautiful! Champagne in color, strapless, and with a lightly beaded bodice, it fit her right off the rack like a glove. I was so proud of her; she looked like a beautiful young woman enjoying her special night with one hundred and three other beautiful young women. A wonderful time was had by all.

Twenty-four hours later, we had flown over two countries and were in the war torn country of El Salvador, on a two week mission trip to work with the poor.

Two years ago, as a family project, we had each made a vision board; a collage of what we wanted our future to look like. On Kara’s board was a dark skinned child, and when I asked her why she had that picture on her board, she said she wanted to do mission work one day. At that moment, I learned something about my daughter. I made a promise to her that if she went on a mission trip that I would go too. Truthfully, I didn’t think she would really go because you have to be immunized and she is petrified of needles. However, her desire to go overrode her fear of needles, and the next thing I knew we had both received our shots, and were on our way to El Salvador together.

I did not want to go. I was not happy about how much money this “trip” was going to cost, and I was not happy about how much work I would be missing. All I could think about was what I was giving up to go away. But a promise is a promise, and poof, there we were in the remote village of Loma Linda.

And then I saw her, this disheveled, grubby girl drenched in sweat, with braids in her hair and a sweatband around her head. She had the most gigantic smile on her face, and she had children dripping off of her, just like the sweat. The children couldn’t get enough of her; they were touching her and patting her, she was lifting them into the air and swinging them around, and they were putting fresh picked flowers into her hair. Despite the language barrier, their communication was flawless, it was the universal language called love.

This was my daughter, she was a mess, and I had never seen her look more beautiful. In fact, all the other young girls in our group were exactly the same – a sweaty mess and so gorgeous that it brought tears to my eyes.

I asked myself, “What is more beautiful? Young women dressed to the nines, primped and polished and perfect, or young women connecting countries, building a bridge of love between cultures, being natural beauties by smiling and laughing and loving, no holds barred.” The answer was crystal clear.

It was then all my worries vanished. I scolded myself for my selfishness of not wanting to spend my time and my money – shame on me. These people have what we would perceive as “nothing,” and the very least I could do is give up some time and resources to make a tiny difference, to have some understanding of what they go through. The trip would prove to be an emotional, spiritual, educational, physical and cultural experience that would be the beginning of many changes for all of us who made the journey.

Although we started the trip as mother and daughter, it was soon evident that my role there was not as a mother; I was there as an equal to my daughter, both of us learning and stretching and growing simultaneously. As often happens, when we set out to try to do something for someone else, we get so much more in return.

I would have never had this experience if it weren’t for the gentle but persistent nudging of my beautiful princess, mission working daughter. It was a gift I will never forget.

And so, let me ask…what is beautiful to you? In the hardship of all you see in your difficult and demanding job, do you see the beauty of someone resting in peace, of a family member holding a hand, of someone’s head bowed in prayer, of a shared laugh or connection? Do you see the beauty of simple gift amidst the chaos?

If you can find beauty in these fleeting moments, it will make the difficult moments pass more quickly, and it will make life seem more fulfilling. It will simply make you feel happier.

Beauty comes disguised in many forms – take notice and see what you can discover. If you feel so inclined, share your discoveries with me. I would love to hear from you!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a passionate advocate for ‘nursing the nurses’ and presents at conferences internationally on the topic. To assess your quality of life, email Stephanie@yourlifeunlimited.caand write-nurse the nurses in the subject bar. A complementary coaching tool will arrive in your mailbox shortly thereafter!! Visit www.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


I’m A Nurse Who Can’t Say No! Help!

The number one reason most people cite for not taking care of themselves is lack of time. Who can argue with that, especially nurses with busy schedules? The list of things to do goes on and on! This one small, but mighty word can help to change all of that; the word is NO.

Many of us have an aversion to the word “no”. We don’t like people to say it to us and we certainly don’t like to say it to other people because there seems to be a compelling human need to say yes! Why do you think that is? Perhaps it is because we:

want to help other people

put others needs before our own

want people to like us

don’t want to ‘rock the boat’

fear real or imagined consequences or confrontations

think no one else can/will do it (read…as well)

To realize that everything comes with a cost, that with every “yes” we say to something, we are saying “no” to something else, even if it’s “just” some precious self-care time, we are trading that for the thing we have said “yes” to.

Please know that I am not talking about not being compassionate, not helping out, or not doing your share. I am talking about those times when we feel manipulated, coerced and/or talked into things that we know we shouldn’t be doing at this time. I want to feel empowered to say no, if I need to, so that I can bring my best to all areas of my life. What about you, nurses? When I do say “yes”, it will be with a happy heart!

Here are some techniques to empower you to say “no” when you need to.

Pause. Immediately after the request, ask for time to think about it. See if you need any other information to make your decision, collect the data you need. Tell them you will get back to them in 5 days, 5 hours, 5 minutes – however long you think you will need to come up with a decision.

Acknowledge the value in their idea/request. Phrases such as: “I would love to help you”, “That sounds like a really great idea”, “Thank you for thinking of me. I can see you are really passionate about this”, lets them know you are listening and caring.

Say what you mean and mean what you say, politely and firmly. Perhaps, “I just can’t help you at this time” or “It’s not going to work with my present schedule” or “I am sorry, I just can’t do it.” Be brief, be honest, and don’t offer up a lot of reasons (unnecessary excuses).

If negotiating is an option to you, enter it here. “I can’t do the full shift, but I could do 4 hours”, “I could do Saturday if someone else takes my Sunday”, “I am not the right one to ask to bake for the community club event, but I can sit at the door and sell tickets” or use “How about I… (insert what you are willing to do) because then… (state win-win for both parties)”.

Ditch the guilt. Know to the very core of your being that you have made the right decision and that you will make the decision right. Don’t waiver; don’t feel guilty for choosing to put yourself first. You have decided what is right for you and those that mean the most to you. That is always the right decision – for everyone. Short term discomfort will very likely lead to a long term win.

Saying no means you are able to say yes to something else. Like everything else we get good at, saying no takes practice. It is not always the easiest thing to do, but I guarantee it does get a little easier each time you say it!

Good luck!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit for more cool tools!


Is It Possible To A Be Rich Nurse?

Look as I might, I have never seen any nurses on the Forbes richest people list. What’s with that? Surely society is very mixed up when it comes to showing financial gratitude to those in the healthcare industry. Nonetheless, we do make a decent wage (although there is always room for improvement!) and with rare exception, we should not be running out of money before we run out of month!

In our Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreats we try to cover all the bases: physical wellness, spiritual wellness, emotional wellness, etc. A crucial issue we cover, which is very necessary but not too many people get excited about, is financial wellness. You can be the most ‘together’ nurse in your hospital, have a devoted family, be in great shape, eat healthy, and do all the ‘right’ things, but if you are in trouble financially, everything else will suffer. Everything!

YOU deserve to be in great shape financially, and you can be on your present income with a little discipline, knowledge and accountability on your side.

Often, we know what has to be done, but it all seems so overwhelming that we don’t do anything, and so the pit of financial worry becomes deeper and deeper! Don’t despair, help is near, and NOW is the time to commit to doing one of these simple tips to start you on the road to financial freedom:

  • Get a clear understanding of your assets and liabilities. Ask a friend to recommend a trusted financial advisor to you, and make it your business to get educated about your money.
  • Start a financial journal. Write down EVERYTHING you spend for a month. Yes, everything! What an eye opener!
  • Figure out the difference between a want and a need. With each purchase you make, ask yourself, “Is this a want?” or “Is this a need?” I don’t mean if it’s a want that you can’t buy it, I simply want you to increase your awareness of the difference between the two. If it’s want, you may practice some more comparison shopping, you might choose to wait until it’s on sale, you might ask yourself, “Do I REALLY need this?”
  • Set a financial goal, a credit card pay off date, a retirement date, a set amount in your savings accounts or a date for the dream vacation. WRITE it down and begin to take small steps to achieve your goal.
  • Do some research with your family and commit to trying one “money saving” idea a week, such as: carpooling, bag lunching, shopping around for your insurance instead of just absently renewing.
  • Make saving a priority – YOU are a priority and you must pay yourself first. Set up an automated withdrawal system and commit to a certain amount of money that will automatically go into your savings account, whether you can commit to $20 a week or $20 a month – start somewhere! In a very short time, you will not even notice the money is ‘gone.’ You will thank me later!

Many people love and care about you, but no one is responsible for your financial future but you! No one has the ability to control your financial destiny but you! And no one has a say about what to do with your pay check but you!

Financial freedom; you’ve earned it, you deserve it – go get it!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a is a highly regarded speaker at conferences, internationally, a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visitwww.YourLifeUnlimited.cafor more cool tools!


What Do I Do When I Just Want To Quit?

Some days it is extraordinarily clear why you went into this profession. You are on top of your game, the decisions are coming quickly and easily, your intuition is bang on and you know, without a shadow of a doubt, you are doing exactly what you were born to do – to nurse. You are making a difference and it feels great!

Then there are the “other days” when you wonder, every moment of the day, why you are here. What were you thinking to choose a profession that would put in you the fire of stressed doctors, sick people, worried families, difficult and sometimes even unsafe work environments, a profession that would have you routinely deal with things that “normal” people wouldn’t deal with for any amount of money, and to go through all of that during hours when “normal” people are sleeping and on special occasions to boot!

Nursing – caring for others, giving of yourself to ease another’s pain and suffering – a difficult job made even more difficult if you strive to excel in the profession. Some days you want to quit; I know you do because I did too.

On those days, take a few moments and ask yourself these questions:

  • What made me go into nursing? Perhaps it was an experience you had with a nurse, perhaps it was someone you admired, maybe you have always loved caring for others. Whatever the reason, reflect and remind yourself as to why you choose this career.
  • What do I love about this career? Helping, caring, teaching, continually being challenged. The technical aspects, the human connections, the flexibility, the diversity, the opportunities for growth. Focus on what you love.
  • When did I feel I made a real, profound difference? Capture these moments in a journal. We think we will remember forever, but we forget. Consider starting a nursing journal that chronicles those special times, those special people-they make the tough times a little bit easier to get through
  • Am I doing the best that I can do for my patients? Are you giving top notch care and service you can be proud of, given the circumstances? Or are your patients suffering because you are unable to serve them as they should be served? Honest answers only.
  • Am I bringing my team up? Are you contributing to the positive culture of your workplace or are you part of the team that is bringing the group down? Are you part of the solutions or part of the problem? Would you want yourself as a team member?
  • Do you have anything left for your family at the end of your shift? Do you feel completely depleted at days end or is there enough of you left over to give your loved ones 100%. Ask them, too.
  • Am I happier more often than I am unhappier at work? Does just thinking about work make your blood pressure rise? Do you dread going to work more days than you look forward to it?
  • Do I have adequate ways to relieve stress? This is not a one time fix. We all know the stress busting tips, but we need to practice regular, ongoing implementation of them, so that they have impact and effect on reducing our stress.

In the end, it is crucial to realize that we always have a choice. If you are inherently unhappy with your job, please move on. Unhappy nurses have a ripple effect that reduces patient satisfaction (and therefore their healing), brings down the entire unit and potentially increases the risk of serious errors. If you are unhappy, please step down and move on, or step up and create a better work and home life!

Remember, there is always another “right” answer, always someone who has had the same problem as you are having, someone who has overcome it, someone who has written a book about it. Don’t stop trying to make things better; connect with others who are doing great work, bring positive people into your circle and avoid the “cranksters” like the plague. Bring your best to your unit; you will be on top of your game and the rewards will be great!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples, a highly regarded (and slightly hilarious) nurse speaker for conferences, conventions & associations, and a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit for more cool tools!


What Is A Technique To Use When I Need A Quick Fix To Get Out Of The Dumps?

You wanted a quick fix and this is the quickest and most effective one I know, follow the steps in order, hold and repeat as necessary.

  • Tilt your head to the side
  • Look up to the sky
  • Breath
  • Smile

Its’ impossible to be down in the dumps, cranky or angry in this position, try it!

What Is One Thing I Can Do To Start Regaining Control Of My Life?

If you have ever doubted the power of one, it is time to reconsider. One cannot only make a difference, it can make THE difference. Consider Mayo Clinic Nurse Kathy, a past audience member of mine who told me that when she was a young child she played the piano. One day, at a reception after a piano recital, she was pouring tea for a gentleman who said to her, “I hope you pour tea better than you play piano.” Young and impressionable, Kathy was devastated. She took this information to heart and never played in public again. Everyday at work, she passed by a beautiful baby grand piano (if you have been to Mayo you would have seen them set out for passerby’s to play for the enjoyment of patients, staff and visitors) and wanted to play, but the man’s words from decades before echoed in her mind, “I can’t play.” Kathy wrote to tell me that she decided to let this one hurtful statement go and finally played in public 5 decades later.

One of anything has the potential to make a huge impact, good or bad.

Think about some ‘ones’ in your world, for example: one person who made you feel terrible about yourself; one person who made a positive difference in your life; one idea you acted on that started a huge shift in your life; one person who influenced you to go into nursing; one fear you conquered.

Here are some ideas of one that, if implemented, could significantly increase your quality of life.

  • Take one minute per hour to close your eyes refocus and reenergize yourself.
  • Use 1% of your day for your own personal growth – that’s about 14 minutes.
  • Every month, write a thank you note to one person who has helped you on your journey of life.
  • Pull one tip out of every magazine/journal you read.
  • Pick one course/activity and try it before your next birthday.
  • Ask one new colleague to share your break with you.
  • Give one chocolate bar to the gas jockey.
  • Use one commercial to do an exercise.
  • Let one old, limiting belief go.
  • Go one day without looking in the mirror.
  • Plan one weekend this year to go away with a friend/loved one, just for FUN!

In this world, there is no shortage of ideas, but what seems to happen is that when we are overwhelmed with information, we freeze and don’t do anything! Just pick one little, itty-bitty thing to do and DO it!

About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a nurse speaker, advocate and champion. Her live, 2 disk CD called the Well-Nurse Initiative, is hot off the presses. This fun, easy to listen to CD will make the next year of your career, the best one yet! Visit to find out more!

Where Do I Start To Make Life Better?

Wow, that’s a big question for small space! It’s overwhelming when we see so much that needs changing, sometimes we think we can’t change everything so why bother changing anything. I disagree. Small things matter. What YOU do matters. How you show up in the world matters. If we want to change the world, we have to look inward first. Start where you are at and work with what you have.

Here are some ideas:

  • Pick one cause you can get excited about.
  • Choose to make your first automatic thought a positive one.
  • Refuse to gossip.
  • Take care of yourself so you will be able to give your best to the world.
  • Zero in on your great qualities and look for opportunities to share them with the world.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to focus on all the things that are going RIGHT in our world!