Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

When comparing life to amusement park rides, many people say that life is like a roller-coaster. Lots of ups and downs and bumps around the bends. But I think that life is a lot more like a Ferris wheel. Especially for those in leadership positions.

I mentioned in a previous blog that my childhood is filled with memories of going to Ocean City, MD, with my sisters and my dad in the summer. We couldn’t wait to go to the boardwalk and get on the amusement park rides. My favorite wasn’t the vomit-inducing, spinning till you turn pea-green rides; what I wanted was the huge Ferris wheel.

One year, with my dad beside me, we got stuck at the top. At first, I panicked and shut my eyes. But my dad said, “Don’t you let fear win. Open your eyes.” Eventually I did and I remember it was both frightening and awe inspiring at the same time. I mean, here I was at the top of this ride, looking over the lights of the park, the Atlantic Ocean, the town of Ocean City. The beauty was amazing, but it was scary realizing we were stuck 108 feet in the air.

This is kind of like leadership. You’re at the top, you have a chance to do something awe inspiring but you also realize this is a lot of responsibility, which is incredibly frightening. Especially if you had my first leadership position which was “Poof, you’re a DON!” Happens to a lot of us. Sometimes you think, do I want to be “stuck” at the top when it might be safer midway up the wheel?

So, back to the ride. I had a choice. I could close my eyes and not see what was going on around me, I could totally freak out and have heart pounding panic, or I could take in my surroundings and enjoy the ride and grow from the experience. I think the latter is the type of leader I aspire to be.

I guess what I am trying to say is that our lives in this profession have a lot of ups and downs, and goings round and round like a Ferris wheel. One day we’re up as we have a complaint survey that is unsubstantiated, and the next we’re down as we have an unexpected federal survey.  

We can either get stuck and have vomit-inducing panic or we can focus on the beauty around us and what we can do.  My advice is: Don’t let fear win, enjoy the ride. 

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates. 

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.