Insights Shared with AORN: MAKE 2015 THE YEAR OF YOU

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Are you scrambling to shop, clean and bake as you also worry about a postoperative patient and being on call tomorrow?

You are not alone, and you CAN do it all IF you have the right mindset, reassures Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC, a practicing nurse and professional coach known to the nursing community as Dr. Phyllis.

She says the hustle and bustle of the holidays provide the perfect time for nurses to hone their multi-tasking skills and plan their goals for the year ahead. “The key is to be present in all that you do by creating ‘day-tight compartments,’” a strategy she attributes to the late life-improvement coach Dale Carnegie.

“Wake up in the morning preparing for your first task at hand, such as getting the kids off to school and be completely present and joyful in that moment. When that part of your day is over, transfer yourself completely to the next task,” she explains, noting “don’t let multiple tasks overlap or you will feel wiped out and be less efficient in every ‘compartment’ of your day.”


Dr. Phyllis offers four strategies for making time to focus on the joy of the holiday season:

1. Have realistic expectations 
Don’t try to over plan and over fill your schedule so you are too busy to enjoy the spirit of the holiday with your friends and family.

2. Simplify
Don’t complicate holiday gatherings or gifting. If you are on call, choose to accept an invitation rather than host. If you are bringing a dish to an event don’t cook, instead purchase store bought food and place it on a festive plate. And, look for creative gift bags to save time wrapping.

3. Plan ahead
Build your game plan for gifting and use as much online shopping as possible–focus on shopping smarter and more efficiently.

4. Focus on people
If you are hosting a holiday event, focus on the comfort and joy of being together. Consider easy, yet festive food such as Tapas, appetizers or desserts. Think about creating an environment of togetherness to celebrate the true spirit of the holiday season.


Take time as the year comes to an end to think about yourself and your professional goals for next year, Dr. Phyllis suggests, noting “2015 should be the year of you!”

She suggests three considerations for perioperative nurses setting 2015 career goals, depending on career stage:

Are you prepared for retirement? (age 55+):
Consider your financial and physical readiness for retirement. Think about how much money you are contributing to your retirement because after age 55 you can put in more money. Also think about your health—is it time for that knee or hip replacement? Do you need to take off 20 pounds?

Start making a plan for aging gracefully in your job. Perhaps you can transition to less physically taxing work in the perioperative field, such as education. You may also want to consider work in another nursing field you can age into.

Are you ready for your next career move? (age 50 and under):
Be adaptable as you consider the forces of change in health care that we see now and developing further in 2015–2016. For example, can you see yourself working in an ambulatory setting?

Are you a team player? (any career stage)
Interdisciplinary collaboration is the name of the game in 2015. The growing trend in any health care organization is to pull together and work as a team. Respect the important role each member of the surgical team has to play.

Consider creating collaborative care councils or initiate a quality care initiative with surgical team colleagues. If you have issues within your team, seek the advice of human resources to mediate discussions. Welcome 2015 as a year of opportunity to become a solid team and you will find that the work itself will become so much easier.


Get empowered, energized and motivated at AORN’s annual conference, March 7–11.


Use the holidays to honor your team members, help them grow, and help yourself find new ways to lead.

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