Mary Eggers

Date archives May 2017

General

Buffalo Marathon: Stars & Stripes Relay

This weekend I got to participate in a relay in the Buffalo Marathon! Four of us ran as part of the #IMLPproject, to raise awareness for Footsteps of Western New York.

Footsteps of Western New York was founded by my friend Marty Gregoire, who is a multisport athlete competing with Cerebral Palsy. Marty is on the far right in this photo, he ran the John Beshline 5K on Saturday (part of the Buffalo Marathon weekend) with Team RWB.

18699810_10209358117616800_5382911626445870313_n

Marty founded Footsteps of WNY to help ease the unbelievable costs that CP brings to a family. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars for families who ensure this disability. Therapists, walkers, splints, etc. Footsteps helps make that burden lighter and I am personally committed to helping spread the word.

The #IMLPproject is a free Ironman training program I created last summer. We have a group heading to IMLP this July, and it was just my personal way to give back to the sport that has given me so much.

I had the opportunity to crash with some of the race crew this weekend (specifically Rich my friend for 20+ years!!!!!!) which I often do. By now I am accustomed to the amount of work this crew puts in, and this event was no different. What amazes me about this team…. is that they are a team. They function like a group of friends with a great purpose. I can’t even explain it, but this crew is special.

Crashing with Rich afforded me the chance to have my first “down weekend” in years. I had nothing due for grad school. No commitments of any kind. Nothing. I slept in a big comfortable hotel bed for two nights, finally started waking up at 0400 on my own again, and got the chance to soak up the energy.

I haven’t truly been present enough to let myself soak it all up, in a long time. I got to chat with Bart Yasso and Jeff Galloway. I got to meet the race’s oldest runner. I got to meet first time 1/2 Ironman and Marathon athletes. I got to catch up with friends. I got to drink a beer, actually TWO! I got to stroll around Canalside and take the time to look at arts and crafts that reflected the amazing city Buffalo is once again becoming.

This was my first time competing in a relay, and I was excited. The requirement of the Stars and Stripes Relay was that we had to carry a big American flag the whole way, I was so nervous I would drop it. I took the shuttle to the 30K mark and my good friend Jeff was there (he’s part of Score This !!! and he’s been a friend for years).

I got to see the elite runners come hauling through, and then came the parade. 30K (18.6 miles) is an interesting spot to be at. It’s where sh*t gets real for many. I saw so many smiles and a few moments of agony.

Then came Mike with my flag, and off I was. My segment was roughly 8 miles, which was my longest run in over a year. As I am slowly building up my run mileage I am only at about 20 miles per week for my fall marathon (I need to get to a point where I average 40-50, and I build really slow. I have been through too many injuries to not build slow). While I stayed fit through grad school I am nowhere NEAR race shape. People thought I was kidding…. no…. I don’t kid. I am not one of these athletes who says “Oh I am not ready, I haven’t run”…. and then goes and wins a 5K OOPS! No. Not me! I am honest! When I say I am unprepared, I am unprepared!

Truthfully it was kind of nice coming into an event on the underprepared side. I don’t know why, it just was!

Running with the flag was amazing. It took me about a mile to get used to it. Any time I came to a group of people they would go bananas with USA USA USA chanting! Each intersection I would raise the flag up high and people would scream, cars would lay on the horn and the Buffalo Police would salute. I felt SO incredibly proud to be carrying Old Glory. I get emotional when it comes to racing, I attach great meaning to it and I am not ashamed of that. This is where I get to experience life a little more raw, a little bit deeper. The playing field of sport levels all of us and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Here, it’s us working towards a finish line…. and to somehow become better people.

From mile 18.6 onward is an interesting place in a marathon. It’s where there is carnage, it’s where people realize how close they are to the finish. It gets emotional out there and I love it. It was also a good reminder of what it is like…… it’s been a while since I have been here!

My friend Jamie appeared on his bike around mile 24 ish, he had just run an awesome 1/2 and provided some really great encouragement. Friendly faces lined the street and I couldn’t help but stop for a few hugs. I am a sap, I am a hugger, like I said I get emotional out there, I get peeled apart a little bit!

I rounded the corner on Deleware and two of my teammates Mark and Pat were ready. They joined me and we ran the last 0.2 miles together (holy cats I wish we had all run the whole way together, they are a freaking riot). We brought that flag home in style, our combined finish time was 4:23. I was SUPER proud of that, and I was the slowest one on the team. The photo below is courtesy of Diane Sardes.

Team

Wow, that whole experience was awesome. Carrying that flag was a better feeling than winning. Being part of a team like that, for Footsteps of WNY…. also better.

I walked away from the weekend feeling so incredibly ignited. I have been putting in the work to develop race fitness. I will not say regain, I will not say come back because that gives me too much of a chance to look backward. I don’t want to regain anything. I am really proud of my multisport career. My wins, my records, my good days and bad days, I love all of them. Don’t waste your time trying to recapture the past. Instead, go create your future.

old glory

Photo courtesy of Ken Smith

I have worked hard to come through severe burnout, adrenal fatigue… whatever whatever. It takes time, it takes patience and it takes 100% belief in yourself. Right now I am present again to develop into an athlete that will accomplish some great things. I have actual goals on paper that I am working to achieve.

It’s going to take time, longer than the few months I have put in. I am willing, I am working, I am having a LOT of fun, and each day is progress.

Thanks so much to the incredible crew at the Buffalo Marathon. Thanks to the amazing volunteers, the Buffalo Police Department, and to everyone who worked so hard to make the day appear so effortless. Even though I am a native Buffalonian, I have never participated in this race, a mistake I will NEVER make again!

 

 

General

Supporting Our New Nurses

I have been a Registered Nurse since 2000, and just completed my Masters of Science in Nursing Education  (I get to walk across the stage next week!). I am incredibly passionate about nursing, particularly the educational side of our profession, which is why I chose the Masters program that I did. A few weeks ago I made the decision to postpone my Family Nurse Practitioner / Doctorate pursuit, maybe indefinitely. Being an FNP focuses on patient care, I want to focus on the educational piece. I want to focus on nurses, their development, their education, and supporting them in giving our patients excellent care.

I completed this degree in three years while working full time in academia, Per Diem in Pediatric Emergency, running a business with my husband, staying fit (not RACE fit, but fit!), and most importantly being the best mom and wife I could be. I could never have ever gotten through the past three years without my husband and son. I haven’t touched a dishwasher in THREE YEARS (no, really) and they just did everything possible to support me. So it’s time for me to be HOME.

This week I was asked to give a presentation on how I would suggest we as a profession support our new nurses. It was timely because this past weekend we graduated our largest ever class! We do a traditional graduation / pinning / advancement ceremony, isn’t it the greatest?

FLCC Class of 2017

To help me prepare for this presentation I polled our past graduates. I asked them what they found challenging during their first year of practice. Did they change jobs the first year? Here were some of their responses:

  • Running into ‘firsts’ that I hadn’t seen or done before
  • I changed jobs at 6 months due to lack of staffing.
  • Learning how to balance my kids’ busy schedules and my work schedule.
  • The actual hands on experience is what I needed to get everything on track.
  • Revolving preceptors, one or two would have given me more consistency.
  • I didn’t know what I didn’t know

This next one made me sad, luckily this nurse did change jobs and is in a good place where she is thriving:

“At my first job I wish I had a better training system in place. I wish the nurses

 were like the ones I’m with now. The ones at my first place seemed more like

 the old saying eat their young,  feed them to the wolves, throw them in the 

 deep end and see if they swim. It was such a poor learning environment.”

That should never happen. It is true that historically nursing has been a profession where the veteran nurses HAVE eaten their young. In my 17 year career, I have only experienced that once, before I came to Rochester. I hear it all the time. It angers me truthfully. Part of what we do as nurses,  we teach and mentor our newest, just like any other career.

Our new nurses need support. They are leaving academia and stepping into a world that will challenge them in different ways. They will no longer have faculty to guide them, they will have preceptors and unit  educators on the floor. They will be working 12 hour night shifts which is impossible to prepare them for in academia (those who work as techs already have that advantage).

It’s a different role and we can all do better to help them make that transition.

My focus for our new nurses begins with personal wellness, and for that, I am often laughed at. I don’t care, laugh at me all you want, it’s true. When a nurse takes care of him or herself, they can manage the physical, intellectual and emotional rigors of clinical practice.

You and I…. we figured it out on the fly. We learned how to manage our families and child care and after school events with twelve-hour shifts. We developed systems for sleep, and we often stayed up in excess of 24 hours. I am not recommending that. It led to my temporary burnout of clinical practice a few years ago and something I almost did not recover from. It’s hard to come back from that. What if we worked harder to prevent it?

We have all developed these tools that at the very least… we can pass on to our new nurses. We need to help them learn to manage shiftwork and sleep cycles. How to fuel their body properly on night shift and not rely on the graham crackers in the cupboard. We need to help them develop the habit of remaining physically fit. To those who are not those twelve-hour shifts are brutal. A nurse who is physically fit can recover from them quicker. We need to support our new nurses emotionally, debriefing them after a difficult day or a code, through this we can help them develop positive stress management skills.

I recently read that 44% of nurses show traits of PTSD (I should have looked that up to confirm it), and I BELIEVE IT. You can not imagine some of the things I have seen and been through as a nurse. Things you can’t come home and unload onto your family. Things you can’t reach out to a friend about. It has to be someone who has been there. Who understands.

We need to teach our new graduates about how to manage this career with childcare and school events. It’s almost impossible to be called home from 12-hour day shift because someone at home is sick. As a parent you don’t get your own sick days as it is, they are for your kids and in nursing, the issue is compounded. It’s not a position you are easily reached in the middle of or could just walk away from.

We take care of people, people’s LIVES are in the balance.

You and I figured it out though, and we can pass those tools to the next generation. We don’t have to risk their early burnout or leaving altogether because they are trying to exist in a new career, new demands, new sleep cycles while trying to figure out who is going to get the kids on the bus in the morning.

My grand idea to support our new nurses transcends just the personal side, we have to take care of the intellectual side, the knowledge piece. These nurses have just spent 2-3 years in a nursing program in which they are used to working from an admitting diagnosis, developing or following a care plan based on that, and moving forward.

Depending on what unit these new nurses are coming to, they may be working off a chief complaint instead. They are now dealing with 5-6 patients instead of the 2-3 they care for in clinical. They are now prioritizing medications IV fluids, blood draws, IV insertion, working with the whole health care team (colleagues, Physicians, Residents, Administrative, Environmental, Respiratory Therapists… the list goes on).

I am of the constructivist mindset when it comes to how we learn. Constructivism theory states that students develop a platform in school or life, which serves as their foundation from which their knowledge will grow. Through gaining new experiences, then interpreting and reflecting upon them, and using guidance from an instructor or in our case a preceptor, learning will occur (Kala, Isaramalai, & Pohthong, 2010). By creating a thoughtful curriculum of orientation for these new nurses, through creating an environment in which they can build upon what they know, by providing them reflection opportunities, we can allow their critical thinking skills to truly develop. And their knowledge to truly absorb.

I think the days of feeding our new nurses to the wolves has passed. We need to communicate to our veteran nurses that their knowledge is the gift that can be passed on to this new generation. Our veteran nurses are our experts and our most valuable asset when it comes to really teaching our new nurses. We have so much to give them, we are nurses, why don’t we?

Going forward with my career, I am interested in helping that piece of nursing develop. I want our new nurses to stay in their first job for 5+ years. I want to eliminate 1st-year turnover. While those are lofty goals…… I tend to set lofty goals. I also tend to put my heart and soul into achieving them.

Kala, S., Isaramalai, S., & Pohthong, A. (2010). Electronic learning and constructivism: A model for nursing education. Nurse Education Today, 3061-  66. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2009.06.002