How I see it … the changing landscape

Today I would like to talk about the changing landscape both figuratively and literally.

After finishing a long day at work today I had three events to attend for professional organizations I support related to my job.

Two of these were in the city. I do go to the city campus of my workplace at times, however, the campus and vicinity is familiar and I don’t generally venture far from it.

Generally I’m fairly confident navigating my way around, finding where I need to go and getting myself there. However today was a very different and confronting experience.

It was the first time I had been to this particular area in the city for around 18 months. The landscape had completely changed.

Over the last six months my visual field has decreased significantly (you can read about this in my previous post). While I knew the area I was in, it was very unfamiliar. I had been there before it was when I had much better vision and in my mind I expected that the experience of this area and the layout would be very similar to the last time.

This expectation was far from truth and my experience was considerably different. I knew where I needed to go but getting there was challenging and physically and emotionally exhausting.

Imagine when you are tired yet your environment continues to overstimulate you. You try to track everything around you to ensure you remain safe while navigating with one eye closed and looking through a cardboard tube with the other.

One thing that particularly frightened me was the addition of painted bike and scooter lanes (on the footpath). Where people and fast moving vehicles darted unexpectedly to avoid each other. I tried to keep track of everything around me but found so over stimulating and visually challenging that I just had to stop for a while before setting off again.

To combat this, most of the time I navigate my environment systematically but today this approach did not work.

I finally arrived where I was meeting friends and colleagues, I entered and walked the perimeter of the rooms to find my friends. I couldn’t see any of them. I did another circuit and decided to go outside and call, no answer, texted and waited 15 minutes. it was cold and windy outside so I decided to find somewhere warm, get a drink and wait fir the next function to start.

It struck me just how isolating restricted vision can be – particularly when technology can’t help. What began an easy adventure had become challenging because of the changes in my vision.

I eventually did manage to meet my friends, they were sitting in one of the rooms but I did not see them despite walking past. I couldn’t express just how fatigued I was just getting there and cried when I found them.

What this has reminded me of three things. Firstly, the need to conserve the use of my vision. Secondly, the expectations I have of myself and my ability to thrive in busy, crowded and unfamiliar environments might need to change. Lastly, that these changes aren’t a failure but a new beginning.

How I see it … accentuating the positive

When you are striving for the best, with a number of things going on such as family in hospital, vision changes, the end of the academic year, crowds at Christmas, public transport, PhD oral examination and thesis amendments, co-chairing, marking, several conference presentations and a lot of deadlines / submissions to journals simultaneously it is sometimes hard to see the wood from the trees or in other words the positive in some situations.

As a reminder to myself that there is positive out there – I have put together a synopsis of my 2019 achievements to remind myself. Collating them like this has helped me to see the big picture.

Work

  • Paid Work
    • Lecturer (Full Time) at Auckland University of Technology
  • Volunteer Work
    • Area Youth Manager (St John Youth) – resigned late 2019
    • Course Coordinator (St John Youth) – current
  • Study
    • Completed, submitted and defended my PhD
In one of the lecture theatres at AUT – AA234

Awards

The Robyn Carr Cup for Excellence in Nursing Informatics 2019 awarded at Digital Health Week.

Appointments and Memberships

Speaking

eAllied HealthWhat does it mean to be digitally competent clinician

Presenting to allied health professionals about what it means to be a digitally competent clinician.

Health Informatics NZ – What nurse educators want to assist them develop a nursing workforce for the future: Nursing Informatics Competencies for New Zealand Nurses (presented with Michelle Honey and Emma Collins)

Discussing the nursing workforce in relation to Nursing Informatics at HiNZ 2019.
Brendan Wood (also from AUT) and I at an Auckland St John Investiture

 

eHealth NursingChallenges and enablers nurse educators face teaching nursing informatics (presented with Michelle Honey)

Presenting our Keynote around the challenges and enablers of teaching nursing informatics.
The auditorium was huge and rather daunting.

 

Media

eHealth TV Interview regarding being awarded the Robyn Car Cup (click here to watch the video)

Just for fun – two of me!

NZ Woman’s Weekly Article – click to see the full story.

Article from the Woman’s Weekly

Campaigns

#alttextforall – look under our services for my video.

  • Social Media has gone a little viral on Facebook with more than 12,000 hits

Reviewing

  • Reviewer Clinical Case Studies and Scientific Submissions for Digital Health Week (HiNZ)
  • Reviewer Journal of Clinical Nursing
  • Reviewer Emergency Medicine Journal
  • Reviewer Emergency Medicine Australasia
  • Reviewer PM&R: The journal of injury, function and rehabilitation

Other Achievements

TBC

How I see it … Being human

This week has been challenging, but some valuable lessons have emerged. For example, when to push back, when to follow and when to be ”human”.

After years of working as an emergency nurse and in a pre-hospital emergency setting, I have found that responding in the moment during unexpected and stressful situations has become automatic. In these situations I naturally gravitate to take a leadership role, I think logically, respond in a manner that is calm and allows problem-solving, involves directing others and managing complex situations. I feel comfortable and confident operating in this environment and am sure of decisions I make at the time.

Along with this, the nature of being a nurse involves, caring, communication, advocating while managing complex situations all of which have all become automatic for me and will remain with me throughout any career or life changes that I make.

In academia curiosity is assumed and decision making appears to be less intertwined with a way of being as it is in nursing. For example, in academia there is time to consider, research and react while nursing requires continuing adaptation and problem solving with the situation at hand. This week I have wondered if adaptability, problem solving. trust, confidence and values others have for nurses in healthcare is actually valued in the academic environment?

Analyzing my decisions this week has spurred me to reflect on the coexistence of my role as a researcher, educator and nurse. Furthermore, I wonder whether those who are not nurses understand and trust the values, morals and ethical stance of nurses in the same way as other nurses do?

To me being a nurse is a lifelong undertaking, not a mode of operation I can switch on and off depending on the need or the job at hand. This week, being a nurse and responding in a calm, logical and emergency nurse like manner in academia was important and influenced outcomes in a way I believe was positive. However, in an academic environment I am not 100% sure that this was the “right” reaction.

While I consider myself a competent and confident academic, the interesting part is that, after working in academia for the best part of a decade, my default mode of operation is still thinking and reacting to situations as a nurse first and academic second. However, I do not believe that this approach is necessarily “wrong” and finding a way for these to comfortably exist is key.

I believe there is room for a mixture of roles (researcher, nurse and educator) with the attributes of all roles valued equally yet mutual understanding and valuing of the unique attributes of each is required.

How I see it … innovation

I have had several conversations lately and given several presentations on innovation in either education, health, nursing or technology and am getting a name for myself as an “innovator” and someone to ask about how to innovate.

 In designing my presentations and associated learning opportunities, I have explored my thoughts, definitions, challenges and triumphs through innovation.

For the record, before I continue this reflection, I consider myself an innovator, disruptor and often unconventional leader.

Often people see innovation as working with cutting edge technology, and in some ways, this is what we see in the media and society portray as innovation. Along with this the innovators are often reported as being visionary, someone who is dynamic and leads others to success, while working at the forefront of the modern world, inventing and designing novel solutions.  I believe there is much more to innovation than this.  With the characteristics listed above in mind, I question where innovation is learned or begins, along with the constant need for novel contributions.  What we hear about are established innovators.  However, what I want to promote is the value of the journey in innovation.

For example, innovation can be:

  • being curious and questioning the status quo
  • a desire and striving for a better solution
  • thinking about something in a different way
  • trying something new or failing at something new and learning from this regardless of the outcome

When I look at the four examples above, my initial thoughts are, “isn’t this learning?”, and “isn’t this what most of us do every day?”  The logical response after these questions is “well, aren’t we all innovators then?”

I would argue, yes we are all innovators in certain contexts. One of the most important characteristics of an innovator is curiosity and a willingness to challenge their own and others views.  If I look back at my journey of innovation, I can honestly say that I was not always an innovator, in the sense that the media portrays innovation.  I was willing to learn and continually curious. However, it was not until I had become comfortable in my ability, knowledge and skills that challenging myself became a part of my being.

The ability to challenge and change your perspective and direction goes hand in hand with showing vulnerability.  Which, in my case, ultimately progressed to the knowledge and confidence to challenge others, and eventually society.

Lately, a new term seems to be commonly associated with innovation; this is disruption.  I particularly like this term, as it describes the thinking associated with innovation well.  For example, innovators often do not look for the one “right answer” but look toward many different possibilities and challenge society along the way.  In my opinion, the word disruption now has a positive meaning, rather than being eternally negative. 

The term disruptor and at times innovator can seem lonely as they refer to a single person.  Furthermore, the media often use these terms when describing a single entity, thus isolating that entity.  I began to fully realise this at a time in my career when innovation was viewed by those around me as not conforming, or rule-breaking and not required.  In my experience, successful innovation not only depends on the passion and drive of the innovator but their ability to recognise the value of those who support that team.  It was this realisation that led me to consider myself an unconventional leader and innovator.

To summarise, recognising and valuing innovative traits such as curiosity, challenging our own beliefs and disruption are a part of the journey toward innovation and are key in advancing society. I believe that people who are innovators may not always manifest the visionary, dynamic characteristics that society or the media often portray them as holding.  Furthermore, the journey toward becoming an innovator yields many lessons such as the importance of honesty, tenacity, passion and teamwork.