The reluctant middle manager meets Maya Angelou
I had never imagined myself being a manager of any health service. I imagined my clinical work as a diabetes educator being all about the person in front of me. I believed this coal face work and the person living with diabetes mattered despite (yes despite) the system I worked within. So when the nursing director asked me to ‘cover’ for my boss for two weeks around christmas I was mildly reluctant, but happy to help.
When the two weeks extended to two months I continued to agree with the strict stipulation that acting as manager did not interfer with my studies to become a nurse practitioner. My goal was (and still is) to provide people living with diabetes a choice in specialist services. In our very small regional city on the southern most point of Australia, there just ain’t that much choice. So, I agree, she agrees and the next two months roll on.
Now, two years on, in just the last two weeks, I have been nominated for the 2019 Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards for the change managment, consumer engagment and clinical redesign work that I have led at the John Morris Diabetes Centre. (This is where I’ve been ‘acting’ as manager.) These Tasmanian Health Service annual awards celebrate the significant contributions that nurses and midwives make to healthcare within the Tasmanian Community. I’ve been more surprised and humbled that I have been nominated in two categories – Excellence in New Knowledge, Innovation and Improvment and Excellence in Leadership.
Of course one thing did not simply become the next. I remember several points at which I despaired. Telling my husband I could not go on with my workload – post graduate coursework, learning how to be a manager, re-inventing a service in lean times – I would be tired to my core! At these points he is endlessly supportive and helps me remember why I do what I do, always reminding me I can move on to other work, if I want to… after all, I have that choice. These words are like a cold water splashed on my face.
At these times I regroup with my team (nursing director, diabetes educators, allied health professionals, endocrinologists, receptionists, nurse practitioner and consumers) and remember our north star and continue. You see, I love my work. I love the opportunity to change how the person with diabetes experiences care for the better. Care doesn’t have to be at the other end of box ticker or ignornace. Care can be human and humane.
Early on in my ‘acting’ role in managment I remember reading something Maya Angelou said that eased my discomfort with the difficulties of managment. In a book or interview (I can’t remember) she said “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
Today that quote (kept secretly) rings clear as it is actualised. I love what I do and will continue to dedicate myself to improving access to quality care. I will continue to ask the person living with diabetes, “what do you need?” followed closely by “how can we do this?”.
Thank you for the nomination. Win or not, it’s a strong shout out to the John Morris Diabetes Centre.