You know you're a nurse when ...

I have to wonder why, when some people get in a “power” position, they kind of turn into real … dictators.  We’ve all seen it, everyone from the nursing assistant who gets promoted to mentor “newbies,” to CEOs of large associations/corporations, to some in political positions.

Maybe they feel serving their own needs outweighs others. I don’t really know.

There’s a saying, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I’m not sure I totally believe that.  Maybe for some it’s true, but then why wouldn’t everyone in power, abuse that power?

I guess I’m lucky that I’ve had some pretty great visionary servant leaders to be an example in my life, including my own boss. Having people as an example of something you want to model is a fabulous teaching tool. But I also really want to serve as I lead; it’s part of who I am.

I personally think you become more of who you are when given the opportunity. I mean, why is it that when some people come into millions they blow through them in no time like a spoiled, selfish indulgent child while others do great things with their wealth?

The money didn’t change anyone. It just allowed a person an opportunity. It was up to them to do with that opportunity what they wished. It was their choice.

But I wonder: Did all those politicians who couldn’t keep their pepperoni on their own pizza start out that way, or did they just read their own press accounts and think they had become infallible? Does the CNA who “eats her young” forget what it was like to be new and did she need friendly guidance, or did she get drunk on power?

Does the charge nurse who tells the resident that he has to wait until his aide finishes with someone else to go to the bathroom forget who she is there to serve, or does she feel her position of “power” makes her “too good” to wipe a bottom? 

Why do some administrators feel they just have to use performance reviews to point out everything they can possibly point out to belittle someone, thinking it will make him or her work harder, instead of encouraging and empowering staff and making the facility a place where the staff want to go each day? Just who are they serving?

If you’re in a position of leadership, you are in a position to serve. Servant leaders are people who are who are servants first, who know they have a responsibility in the world. Servant leaders contribute to the well-being of the people and community they are in. They place their main focus on people, because they understand this truth: Only content and motivated people are able to fulfill set expectations, responsibilities and make change in this world. We were blessed as humans with the ability to make choices. We are not robots. So choose to serve.

You can choose to be one who will be remembered with honor and respect. Be the DON who will always roll up his or her sleeves during that dreaded C.diff outbreak. Be that CNA mentor that will be talked about when you are long retired as the one who taught leagues of “newbies” to realize that what they were doing was making a difference in someone’s life each day. Be the CEO of the mega association/corporation who remembers that people matter most, not the profits.

And yes, I know you need money to run an association/corporation, but when those on top are making obscene salaries and bonuses and nursing assistants have to work two full-time jobs just to keep bread on the table, greed is on someone else’s table. And guess what, profits will happen, just not at the expense of others. (A great servant leader taught me that one.)

So, can absolute power corrupt absolutely? I suppose. But can we choose to motivate people to change the world? Absolutely!

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC — a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet.