President's Message: Embrace Service: Which is Hard when there is always a cost!

Posted about 2 months ago by Stephen Born

Globally, nurses like you and me are volunteering their services to our associations in order to advance our practice. There are many reason why we volunteer. Whatever the reason there is always a cost to our involvement.  The most obvious one is the time we have to carve out and set aside and the work we put in to finish whatever tasks and jobs we volunteered for. This time commitment competes with family time and doing things we enjoy. The things we enjoy doing can give us more than pleasure they can also give us a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose. It is hard every month to carve out time for our professional commitment as we try to provide balance within our personal and work lives.

I have also found that my involvement in AORN eChapter in particular, gives me a sense of purpose in my contribution to perioperative practice and making a difference to my practice. My involvement means that I always achieve significant learnings both professional and personal by working with those I am volunteer with. It also means that I gain skills through the work that I take on and working with more experienced nurses to achieve our goals. The most significant benefit for me is having the opportunity to help those with less experience grow more professional knowledge, skills and achieve a sense of purpose through our activities.

Another cost is also the frustration when working with others who don’t see it “my” way! Working within a team can be frustrating whether it is a volunteer team or a work team! So, we all learn skills by being involved and being prepared to work through the issues. I wonder what part in our thinking a focus on the personal costs to volunteering plays in our decision, not to get involved. The cost of time and having to work with others who have different views on how to do things or who don’t pull their weight, are strong and valid reasons not to volunteer, I am sure.

I am curious what your reasons not to volunteer or struggles in volunteering are? You are probably thinking he is going to ask me to volunteer now, and you would be right! I would like to commend the work that our Communication, Education, Finance, Membership Committees and our Leadership Development Task Force have been achieving this term and will focus on outcomes of these volunteers in the future. For this President’s Message, I would like to draw your attention to a new committee we are starting, call for expressions of interest for this committee or any eChapter committee and then finish with sharing one of my main motivators for being involved in eChapter and working with this fantastic group of nurses even though there is always a cost to service!

eChapter has donated to the AORN Foundation in the form of the eChapter Endowment Scholarship $80,000 since 2007. This allows eChapter members to undertake study to achieve higher academic qualifications and needed clinical education. At our best, our membership numbers were around 3000 members and we were very financial and were able to fund this significant contribution to the foundation. Today our membership stands at 1147 members and in order to still support what we are doing the BOD had decided to activate a Ways and Means Committee to look at fund raising so we can continue to support many of the worthwhile initiatives eChapter is known for.

If you are interested in serving in this way and have a skill set for fun and creativity then Click Here to take you to the committee willing to serve survey! THEN come back to finish reading!

We know that there is a very proactive person within eChapter who just has to Chair this committee!

We would like this committee to take a global perspective and to this end we would encourage our members outside the USA who may love to get involved. Location in the world is no barrier! Think how creative we can be to look at fund raising from a global perspective and how many members from around the world getting involved can promote perioperative practice in ways we can’t even imagine now! Sound worthwhile? So, click on the link and register your interest as we welcome all volunteers and we guarantee that regardless of the cost there are so many benefits to service, especially in the service of advancing perioperative practice!

I said that I would finish with sharing one of my motivation to service in this way. I warn you now that this story may be challenging to read.

Our son will be 31 years old next month. When Christopher was 7 years old, his best mate who was 5 weeks older than him and our godson had a cerebral bleed and went into a coma on Christmas night from which he did not recover. As this was the Christmas break the children’s ward was closed to save costs and gain efficiencies over the much slower period. This meant that our godson was nursed with other children in the recovery room of the children’s OR’s acting not only as a PACU but also a neuro ward for the final week of his life. 

New Years eve of that year we stayed awake all night with our God son’s parents, our minister and some close friends as we all faced the reality that he was being assessed at 10am New Year’s Day for any signs of brain activity with full knowledge of consequences of finding no activity. Our measurable and audible grief when we received the expected results were shielded from the other patients and families by a material curtain! I felt guilty of my audibly crying when other children and families were trying to create their hope for the future, for their child, when it was obvious to all that our God son was no longer with us. It was in the following weeks of his passing that I realised that I had to continue to serve my Australian professional association because I wanted to make a difference to the quality of care we provide. Advancing professional practice standard and guidelines, raising the status, workforce numbers and appropriate scope of practice and thus political positioning of our profession, developing and being developed by others and developing and promoting educational resources are all ways that eChapter and AORN collectively make a difference. A difference only made possible by our service to our chapter.

I do not think of this tragic scenario every day, but when I recently wondered why I continue to serve when often I focus on the personal costs, I was reminded of this defining moment in both my personal and professional life.  Looking back, I hope that our service, hand in hand with millions of nurses around the world continues to be the difference, making it more likely that the care we provide is of the highest standard on every level that patient outcomes can be measured. Let’s Embrace Service! Side by side making a difference, collectively growing our awareness of and strategies for managing the personal cost of service and embracing the actions needed to serve our community!

Click Here to take you to the committee willing to serve survey!


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