EP 4: Death by a Million Paper Cuts

Discussion with RN Karrie Brazaski, Founder and Executive Director of Helping Healthcare Heroes, about her personal story of burnout. A journey from bedside nursing to nursing administration and beyond.


Dr. JB: Ever wished for a safe place to have conversations that need to be had? A place where you could say the things that need to be said? Well, welcome to Hope4Med. This is Hope4Med, med. New day for med, med. For us by us and just for us. This is Hope4Med, med.  This is Hope4Med, med, new day for med, med. For us, by us, and just for us, this is Hope4Med, med.

[00:00:36] All right, everybody. Welcome back to Hope for Med. This is Dr. JB and today we have a very special guest. Her name is Karrie Brazaski, she is a nurse. Karrie, go ahead and introduce yourself to my listener.

[00:00:54] Karrie: Well, thank you for having me here. Yeah, I am a nurse now of 30 years. I’m also the founder of Helping Healthcare Heroes, which is a nonprofit where we are working at making sure that we have tools and resources for health professionals so that they do not burn out. And also the founder of Redwood Executive Coaching, where I help organizations retain their key talent.

[00:01:19] Dr. JB: Excellent. So Karrie, walk me through what made you decide to become a nurse in the first place?

[00:01:27] Karrie: Well, I am one of those that actually always wanted to be a nurse as a little kid. I would play with my dolls and all the stuffed animals and it was funny cause I always put casts and tape, everything on them. And um, but anyway, then even into college knew that that was just what I wanted to do. I had that moment of, oh, maybe this isn’t and I  went to work in a architectural and engineering firm and worked in their accounting department with mergers and acquisitions, and I was bored out of my gourd. I literally would plan like, ooh, at 10 o’clock I could go to the water fountain. So maybe I could see people and, and talk to them because literally I was at the end of the hall and this little cubicle, and I just knew that I enjoyed the work, but it wasn’t interactive enough and so nursing was truly the calling for me.

[00:02:21] Dr. JB: Anybody else in your family a nurse?

[00:02:23] Karrie: No, nobody is a nurse. Well, actually my aunt,  I have a great aunt who was a nurse now that I think about it. Um, and she did, she was a nurse and then she did a lot of, um, pediatric volunteering for a pediatric hospital. But I wouldn’t say that she really shaped it, she’s just somebody that I knew that was in nursing.

[00:02:43] Dr. JB: Okay. So you went to school and did you go straight through and get your BSN?

[00:02:50] Karrie: I did. Uh, I’m a proud Florida Gator, um, four years at the University of Florida and then came out, and my first love is OB. So I was a labor and delivery and high-risk OB nurse, um, for quite a few years until I was, I was on the night shift and the day job, um, I just, I wasn’t functioning well, as many of us don’t do well on that weird sleep cycle. And so I literally went to ICU, surgical ICU, just to get a day job. So you could tell how, uh, how much I needed to be asleep at night and awake during the day because OB nurses don’t typically go to surgical ICU.

[00:03:34] Dr. JB: That’s right, that’s right. And so straight out of nursing school, you went straight to the overnight shift and worked in OB the whole time?

[00:03:43] Karrie: Yup. Yeah, the whole time.

[00:03:45] Dr. JB: Okay. And so you loved that experience?

[00:03:48] Karrie: Oh yeah. I loved, I love birthing babies, um, and what’s really kind of, it’s weird now that I look back at it, at the time, I, they always thought it was a little different, is all of our fetal demises. Those were the patients I always wanted to make sure that I took care of, um, because so many of my colleagues were uncomfortable with them and I was like, this is the most awful experience, in my opinion, anybody could ever go through. And I had the ability to make it positive and to create beautiful memories for that family, and so I was always that person, even if it was not my shift and my day to work, they would call me if there was a fetal demise, because I just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed taking care of those families.

[00:04:35] Dr. JB: Oh, wow. That’s really wonderful because it must be really difficult on mom and the whole family.

[00:04:42] Karrie: Yeah.   I’ve been a nurse for 30 years and so you will come across patients that are etched in your memory and those are the ones that, I have a couple surgical ICU patients that I remember, but it was the patients and the families that they lost their babies, those ones like I can remember their faces, the incidents, the, everything that kind of led up to it. So yeah, those they’re, they’re just a part of what you are today.

[00:05:11] Dr. JB: Mhm. And so one day you decided these, uh, overnight shifts were, I was done with them. Um, and you’re gonna join the, the world of the daytime crew.

[00:05:25] Karrie: The land of the living, I used to think. I mean I, I can remember working night shift and getting mad that like the birds would chirp in the morning, you know, cause it’s just, I was just cantankerous when I worked night shift, so I needed to be on the, on the day shift.

[00:05:41] Dr. JB: Okay. And so how was that transition?

[00:05:44] Karrie: Um, you know what? It was good. I think the hardest part for anybody when you go, like I had been an OB nurse for six years and I would say a very good, competent, um, OB nurse, and so then you go into a new area. You’re not an incompetent nurse, there’s just a body of knowledge you don’t know as well. And I think sometimes we did, I know that we probably did it in OB too, when people would come to us, you know, it’s like, you act like they’ve never done anything before, and this is their very first experience. And it’s like, guys, I know how to be a nurse. I know how to do a lot of these things. This just isn’t what I’ve been doing every day. The cardiac, um, like we got all of the bad post open hearts, um, that couldn’t you know, get out of CV ICU and go to step down and then go home in three days. Um, I guess then, well then it was probably four days, but so, you know, we always saw the bad cardiac cases, and so it was just a difference. And I think that we need to remember that as we change, you have to learn new things, but it doesn’t mean that you’re totally incompetent, it just means I’m not competent in this area.

[00:06:58] Dr. JB: Yet.

[00:06:59] Karrie: Yes, yet. Now don’t make me go do either one, I haven’t done direct patient care in probably, man, um, almost 20 years.

[00:07:10] Dr. JB: You’ve not done patient care in 20 years you said?

[00:07:13] Karrie: Well, 18, 19 years, yes, since I’ve done like consistent direct patient care, because when I went to surgical ICU, I had a severe latex allergy and I had an anaphylactic reaction at a patient’s bedside, and so it took me out of bedside nursing. That was back when everything was powdered latex gloves and like you could walk down and you’d see everyone’s scrubs just white from all the powder. And I couldn’t breathe and went, like I said, went into anaphylaxis at the patient’s bedside, um, and got into case management and then from there I got into, um, hospital administration and, and went into leadership roles as a chief quality officer and a chief nursing officer, and then a chief operating officer back to chief nursing officer. So it, I was a CNO, but I think at 30 or 31, I always tell people, there is nothing you can’t do in this career if you are willing to, to walk through the door, when it opens. Take the chance, take the risk, be okay being uncomfortable and learning something new.

[00:08:20] Dr. JB: Wow. That’s amazing. 30 years old, you became a CNO.

[00:08:26] Karrie: Yeah. Yeah. In a, an extremely dysfunctional hospital too. It was when, I actually went as the chief quality officer and then she retired and we were looking for, I want to say four or five months, we were looking for somebody and the staff came and said, why do we not just promote what we have? And so they, the nursing directors kind of rallied together and then they offered me the position, and I guess the rest is history. I, I loved leadership roles, I love being able to, um, make a bigger difference and may, and remember that the role of administration, and this is what saddens my heart when I, when I hear people and even when I talk to some colleagues, the role of administration in my mind is to remove the barriers so people can give better, easier care. Our job is to make sure that the funds are there so that if we need new technology or we need new things, but ultimately, it’s there to support the people who are taking care of the patients.

[00:09:35] And I think so many times we lose that or we have administration that is so disconnected from the care that’s given that it, it just, it, uh, I don’t even, I don’t even have words really to articulate it. But that’s probably one of my saddest things that I see in our, in our profession, is that, I loved healthcare, I still love healthcare, I think it’s extremely broken, I think it’s not supportive, um, of the people who are providing care, there’s some mixed, um, what shall we say, incentives? And there’s a lot of misalignment and you’ve got a lot of competing forces trying to practice within the same building. And so it, if everybody, if everybody focused on the patient, that’s why everybody is there, but we forget about what the central tenet of hospital healthcare is.

[00:10:44]Dr. JB:  When you mentioned that sometimes there’s a disconnect between administration and the bedside. Why do you think that is, what happens?

[00:10:56] Karrie: Well at the, at the sake of irritating, um, some of my former colleagues, you have a lot of people at the top who’ve never done anything in a hospital. I mean, they know, and they’ve seen care, but they don’t know what it’s like. They don’t know what it’s like to make a choice of helping this patient get to the bathroom or helping that patient puke. I mean, in the simplest terms, I mean those are pretty benign things, but those are choices people have to make many times.

[00:11:32] Yeah. You know, and, and it’s like, okay, here, here, I’ll be back. Or, you know, making the choice of, do I go in a and I give that patient a bath or do I go over here and make sure this patient has a heartbeat? Now that’s a pretty simple one in our minds, we’re always going to go help the heartbeat, but that means that somebody didn’t get the bath that they may have needed. And, and those are, you know, when we talk about the moral injury that’s going on in our profession, it’s those types of things. It’s not like I didn’t do something and a patient died. I mean, we, whenever anybody dies, it’s always the what if, what if, what if, what should I have done? What could I have done? What, what should I have done different? I mean, we “what if” it to death, even though no matter what we would have done, the outcome was going to be the same. Those are hard. But when we have to make the decisions of what are kind of the human decency, or I have to make a decision, how long do I sit here with this patient and hold their hand? Because they’re really scared, their family’s not here. And, and COVID has brought on this whole new thing for, um, healthcare givers that I just, it it’s mind boggling to be able to give care with no family at the bedside.

[00:13:04] Now, for all of your listeners that are in healthcare, we know that some families are like the death of us. We cringe, we just are like, oh, okay, you know, I can’t take this family today. Can you take care of this patient? You know, we have those, but at the base of it, they’re all doing it because they truly love that patient. But then we also have those families that we love because they’re, they’re, you know, you’ve got a tray that comes in and they’re like, oh, I, I can, I can help them get set up. I can wash them up, I can do this. You know? And, and so you’ve taken all of that away from the bedside and now you’ve made nurses and techs and respiratory therapists try to be there to be their families. They’re making those decisions between a bath and a heartbeat every day, more and more.

[00:14:00] Dr. JB: And in some situations, it’s just the nurse with no nurse assistant, with no tech to help manage the load of patients that he or she has.

[00:14:14] Karrie: Yeah. I think one of the, the worst things that we did in, I want to say it was in the nineties and it was when we went to this primary nursing model, maybe it was even, I don’t know, maybe a little earlier than that, but anyway, it’s I was a new nurse where everything had to be primary nursing. And so I, as the nurse became responsible for everything, we got rid of all of the team nursing, and the nurse ended up taking care of, being responsible for less numbers of patients, but she became totally responsible for all of the care. And I think that that really hurt the way in which nurses functioned, because now we’re like, oh yeah, we’re a team, we’re a team. Well, you’re a team with no members. It, you know, you’re going to play a basketball game with two people versus, you know, the five that you’re supposed to have. And, and so I think that that has been a huge detriment, um,  to, I will, I will say to our overall well-being as well as satisfaction in the job.

[00:15:31] Dr. JB: Yeah. Cause in my day to day, right, I work as an emergency medicine physician, I work very closely with my nurses, and you know, that is definitely something that I hear is, you know, they’re, they’re tired, they’re working hard, um, and they feel like they don’t have the support. And so I wonder what was the impetus for that change from the, I guess the team model to this new model?

[00:16:00] Karrie: Um, if I recall back, it was a lot of academia where it was like the nurse was going to be, and it was this elevation of the primary nurse in elevating the practice. Um, I don’t think it had the intended consequence and you know, it’s funny cause I haven’t really thought about that ’til we were just talking here. It’d be interesting to go back and kind of look at what was that evolution, because you know, now you’ve got one or two techs for an entire floor. Yep. I mean, you know, a 20 bed, ER, and you’re lucky to have a tech, maybe two. There’s no way that there’s enough, um, there’s enough bandwidth to continually sustain that.

[00:16:51] And that to me is one of the reasons why nurses and health professionals get so burnout. And one of the reasons that I believe that the industry has as high rate of PTSD as it does, we don’t allow people the time to process the care and the lives that they lost. Because when a patient dies, think about it, so patient dies in ICU. This is what an ICU nurse gets: oh, your patient died, oh, okay. Can we send the family back? Oh, okay. Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay. So is the, is the patient in the morgue? Did you call OMI? Is family gone? Oh, is your, is your room clean? Oh, you can take the next, oh ERs on the phone. I mean, that’s what she gets, that way.

[00:17:40] And it does not even, not much different, you know, not much different in the ER, other than you’ve got an ambulance now, you know, or here’s the next thing. We don’t allow people the time to just take a breath to process it and over time, you know, you and I talked about this beforehand.  Nursing, healthcare, it’s, you know, death by a million paper cuts and those paper cuts are on your heart. And that’s one of those times, it’s just like another paper cut. Just another one, another one, another one, until like, I can’t take any more.

[00:18:18] Dr. JB: So going back to your personal story, what was that, those paper cuts that made you decide, you know, what I need to transition out?

[00:18:29] Karrie: Um, I think that there were so many paper cuts that my health was now in the toilet. I had had two cancer scares, um, and I was becoming extremely disconnected from my own family. Um, as a matter of fact, my mom had a, um, a run of V-fib. Thankfully she works in a hospital and they were able to see her, and so they got her to the ER and everything, and she was fine, but that, you know, immediately after that happened, I got a phone call and that I needed to go to Florida because, you know, my mom’s in critical care now and  just had a, a bad cardiac event.

[00:19:08] And so my husband is driving me to the airport and two days or a day before, I had been to the, uh, physician who was telling me that my results from my thyroid were probably cancer and, you know, everything that we were going to do, but we wanted to, they wanted to do one more test. And so literally on my way to the airport, I looked at my husband and I say, oh, by the way, I talked to the doctor yesterday and I may have cancer, but don’t worry about it, you know what, we’ll figure it out when I get home. And I left, and I dropped that bomb on him like that, and that’s when I was like, oh, my God, you’re losing it.

[00:19:46] Like that is not how you tell someone that you love, “oh, by the way,” you know, “it’s at gate four,” you know, kind of thing while he’s dropping me off at the airport. And so it was that. Um, I had, I was at a point where, um, the, the company that I was working for wanted me to move my family and go, as they quote, “fix” another hospital that was in preliminary denial of accreditation by joint commission. And I had done that previously in another facility, gone from preliminary denial of accreditation to actually have a perfect score, not even a recommendation. So they knew that I could go and help and do it, but it was like, I don’t want to do it anymore. And I got to the point where I would go on vacation. I literally would pick locations that had extremely bad cell service because it was the only way that I could disconnect. We went on a trip, um, I think it was around Thanksgiving right before I quit, um, and we went to St. Martin because the hotel that we had had quote unquote, “spotty internet,” it really, that was how I picked the destination because you just couldn’t get a break.

[00:21:04] You couldn’t, you know, it was, it was just getting to be too much. And there’s no, I had no work-life balance. I worked for an organization that literally myself or the CEO had to be in town at all times, and you couldn’t be more than 20 minutes away from the hospital. Well, I live 90 minutes from the nearest Costco. So, I felt like I was really kind of hamstrung in a town with very little to do. I couldn’t go hiking because you know, the other person was out of town more than I, you know, he had family drivable and mine was all across country, so you’d have to fly to them. So I got stuck and I got to the point where I loved my job, I loved my work, I love the work that I got to do, but I was resenting my job. And the more and more I talked to people, that’s what they, they get that, you know, you love, you love being a doctor, you love being a nurse, but you’re resenting your job because it’s, you know, we, we all go to work in exchange for money. Let’s not, you know, we can say whatever we want, it’s a calling, it’s a this, it’s a that, but bottom line, we go in exchange for the money. We, we exchange our genius and our hours for money.

[00:22:32] When that gets to be a point where it doesn’t feel like it’s a fair exchange anymore, is when the resentment starts to get very high. And, and so it’s, you know, that was kind of the last straw and was really for me, the “hey, can you go move?” And, and it was like, no, not no, but hell no, I’m not doing it. And I, and I don’t want to do it.

[00:22:55] And a few days prior to that, I had been at mass and it was, uh, it was a homily that just really got to me and everybody left afterwards and I just found myself just crying, just bawling in the pew. And my priest came up to me and he was like, what is going on? And I’m like, I just don’t know how much longer I can do it. I mean, this is just, it’s wearing, it’s taking everything out of me. And he looked at me and he said, “you know, you don’t have to do that?” And it was like, what, what are you talking about? And he’s like, “well, you do know there are other ways to make a living, there are other things that you could do.” And it was like this light bulb, like, oh my gosh, he’s right, I don’t have to do this. And it was like the first time that I, I felt like I had permission. Like it was okay to walk away, even though I didn’t know what I was going to do. Um, but it was like, wow, I never, like, it just didn’t even dawn on me that I could do that, which seems silly now when you look back at it, but you know, you get so entrenched in it and it’s just what you do that, it feels like you’ve done it for so long, what else could you do?

[00:24:11] Dr. JB: Exactly. And the truth, truth be told that even today, people still feel like they can’t walk away for one reason or the other. Um, I think a lot of it has to do with fear and, um, this is all that I know. So what am I going to do? You know, I’ve been in school for X amount of years. I was training my whole entire life to do this. Um, this is what I’ve been doing for umpteen years. What other skill set do I have besides my day to day?

[00:24:40] Karrie: Yeah. You know, it’s like, you know, we look at these people who were married 20, 30 years, and then they’re, you know, the last kid goes off to college and then they get a divorce and you’re, you’re just thinking, how, how, how do you do that? You know? Well, they were like how, I got to a point where I don’t have to do it anymore. It becomes the same thing in a job, unless there’s something that finally clicks to where it’s like, oh my gosh, I don’t have to do this anymore. Or like I advocate for, get you the tools and the support and the techniques so that you don’t feel like that, so you don’t have to leave your job. You should not get to the pinnacle of your career and have stress and burnout knock you out.

[00:25:24] Dr. JB: Exactly. Exactly. So if you reflect back on your decision, was there anything, you know, if you could turn back time, do things differently that you would have, that would have changed the outcome or would the outcome have still been the same regardless?

[00:25:41] Karrie: Yeah. Um, no, there’s definitely things. I, I ignored, um, symptoms of early stress and burnout before the stress got to the point of chronic stress, I just ignored it. You know, it’s like every year you get this cold, you know, and, and from Thanksgiving through Easter, it’s well, it’s cold season. Well, you know what, it’s not normal for everybody to get sick. It’s not normal to be sick for five months out of the year. And you know, I’ve been gone from the hospital five years. I’ve never gotten sick between Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter now six years. Never once, actually I’ve never even had to go to a doctor since I left.

[00:26:29] I went from multiple doctor visit after doctor visit of we don’t know, yes, maybe you have, you know, this, that, it’s an auto-immune, and you know, we don’t know what it is to maybe this is cancer, well, now that’s what, now we need to do a GI scope, now we need to do this and that. I felt like I was a darn pin cushion. We couldn’t figure it out. I leave and miraculously, everything, well, I changed the way in which I live my life and I don’t, you know, I’m not into that high-powered chronic chaos every day and have created some lifestyle habits that support it, I don’t, I don’t get sick anymore. And if I do, like, if I start to feel like I’m getting down, I go to bed, I go to sleep. And to me, one of the biggest things that I see in healthcare, actually, I see it everywhere, is everybody kind of looks at sleep as what we do at the end of our day instead of it being as important as breath and water. You know, you can’t, how many days can you go without water? I live in the desert, so it’d be like, you know, it’s like that. We think that we can just go without sleep and our body needs sleep. I tell people all the time sleep is the most underutilized and underappreciated stress reduction tool that we have in our disposal. We all know how to do it. We’ve been doing it since we were born. There’s no bad side effects to it and it’s easy. You just gotta make time for it.

[00:28:15] Dr. JB: And you see, so a lot of people will say, um, you know, the reason why I left this hospital or X clinic is because of my, uh, supervisor or the administration. And so, but you’ve been there, and what are your thoughts about, about those complaints that it’s your it’s leadership that drives me away?

[00:28:38] Karrie: Um, I think there’s a part of it that that is accurate. Um, I like to look at, um, burnout, stress, all of that, kind of as a three-legged stool. You have you as an individual and there’s study after study after study that yes, says that, you know, leaders, or people leave because of leaders, but I’ve also worked in organizations with absolutely awful leaders that had no te–, no turnover. So, there’s a part of it where you’re able to overcome that and I think a lot of times people are kind of like, uh, leaders come and go. I can, I, you know, I can endure this long enough to where they’ll win, and a lot of times that’s probably true. But the other is that you have control over the things that you can control and the more at peace and the more, the more you can take care of you to where you can choose your responses instead of react to responses, I think you become less apt for it to be a leadership issue.

[00:29:50] And now don’t get me wrong, there, there are some just terrible leaders. I mean, there’s bad, you know, there’s bad cards. Just go drive out one day, you’ll be like, oh my gosh, drivers are terrible. You know, these are terrible drivers. Well, we have terrible nurses, we have terrible doctors, we have, you know? We have people that just are not nice or they don’t do their job as well as we would like them to, or they don’t have the skill sets that they need. Cause we see a lot of people in healthcare, they were great at the previous job, they were great on the bench, they were great at the bedside and then they get promoted to leadership and then they don’t get the support or the training, and they don’t know how to do the job. And so, you know, you’ve got a little bit of that. So, I think there’s a part where you can, you can determine how you’re going to respond and react to it, and the more balanced and grounded you are, the less apt the angst of somebody else is going to get you to leave a job. Then you have, you have some, you know, where yeah, leadership is just bad. I mean, I’ve worked for five for-profit hospitals.

[00:31:06] They don’t hire new administration because the previous administration was great. They just don’t do it. If that, if the culture and the administration was great, then people wouldn’t leave.  So if you look at the, the turnover in hospital leadership, it goes to a huge part of trying to build better cultures because if you don’t build that culture and get some buy-in and sustainability in your leadership, it’s going to flow down and it is going to affect the, the end bed users, bed users sorry, the end users and your, um, direct caregivers.

[00:31:48] Dr. JB: You know, and we just finished Nurse Week. Just to get you a little bit off topic, just for a second, because you know, it’s such a celebratory event, right? At least that’s what it’s intended to be. Um, and I was reading that they’re actually changing it from nurse week to I think nurse month. Did you hear about that?

[00:32:08] Karrie: Yeah, the ANA did it, um, this last year, because 2020 was supposed to be the year of the nurse and they wanted to do all this celebration for nurses well, they basically weren’t able to do anything because of the pandemic. So then they extended the year of the nurse and the nurse midwife to 2021. And then they said this year, we would like to celebrate nurses the entire month of May so we make it like nurses month.

[00:32:40] Dr. JB: Okay. That doesn’t seem to be something that’s been very widespread though. I just happened to come across it, but it’s not something that I’m seeing everywhere. It’s still, we’re still celebrating nurse week.

[00:32:50] Karrie: Yeah. And then you have hospitals in some facilities and health, um, organizations, they don’t even celebrate nurses week. They’re like, no, we celebrate hospital week, which I won’t even get on my soap box on that one.

[00:33:08] Dr. JB: Hospital week. And what does that mean? Like everybody? So we celebrate everybody one week?

[00:33:14] Karrie: Yep. We celebrate everybody.

[00:33:18] Dr. JB: So I know you don’t want to get on your soap box about hospital week, but I’m curious to know about your soap box pertaining to nurses and nurses’ week.

[00:33:29] Karrie: Well, I think that, um, I, I feel for organizations this year. I, I mean, I think I shared this with you before is that I don’t think there’s much that anybody could have done to really show appreciation for nurses this week or this year that was ever going to be enough. I mean, they’ve just come through the worst. I mean the worst pandemic, the, you know, let’s take everybody out of the hospital that’s not absolutely essential, um, which to me, I still don’t even know how somebody working in a hospital is considered nonessential, um, if they’re part of that team.

[00:34:21] And you didn’t, you know, you, you just had this influx of patients where like, when we have, think about it, you work the ER, you have a boating accident or a bus accident. I mean, I can remember, you know, a bus accident and 35 patients, being, um, being brought into the ER. That’s huge amounts of people all at once. Okay, we have disaster plans for that. We have, we even had, as much as people don’t think of that, you know, there’s disaster plans for pandemics and flu outbreaks. I mean, we were, I was planning these back when I, when you know, I remember these, but it’s usually when you do these, it’s a bus accident. I know that for the next 12 to 24 hours, it’s going to be really rough and then you get through it. Um, or even a flu season, you think about, you know, it’s like, ooh, the flu is really hitting us hard. You know it’s a couple months. This has gone on for a year, I mean, there was like no end in sight, and so I think that unrelenting, I don’t know how you could really recognize nurses this year to where it would not feel hollow.

[00:35:33] Um, so I feel for people who tried to do it, I mean, I saw some people who did it horrendously poor, um, of some of the things that they did. But then I did see some people who tried to do it well, uh, you know, getting nurses scrub jackets or, you know, new scrubs, those types of things, just as a token of appreciation. Um, I love the Daisy Foundation. I’ve instituted Daisy Foundation in every organization that I’ve done, um, and one of the things I used to love about nurse’s week is that all our– are you familiar with the Daisy Foundation?

[00:36:11] Dr. JB: Um, no, I’m not.

[00:36:12] Karrie: Oh my gosh. So if any of your leaders and listeners are in a hospital, the Daisy Foundation is the easiest, most touching way to recognize nurses. Um, it’s extremely, I won’t say cheap because I don’t want it, you know, I don’t want, but it’s extremely affordable for  organizations to do. Um, you can do it essentially with a couple hundred dollar budget and you can really create an amazing, um, recognition for your nurses. And basically it’s, they’re nominated by their peers and physicians and patients. And you do a monthly or quarterly celebration depending on how, how big your organization is, and the Daisy Foundation gives you everything. You just roll it. It’s all very turnkey. So it’s amazing. So anybody out there, the Daisy Foundation. Well, we did this as our nursing, um, recognition program. And so each, um, during nurse’s week, you bring all of your nominees throughout the whole year and you do a celebration because those are the best of your best. And then you have, you know, either four if you do it quarterly, or twelve if you do it monthly, amazing nurses that you get to spotlight and that’s the kind of appreciation that really makes a difference to a nurse. You know, telling stories of what their patients shared about the way that they touch them, those types of things versus a trinket or a coffee and somebody, “I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea,” you can’t win on those things.

[00:37:55] And so I think that, I think that versus token gifts, it’s truly the appreciation. So that’s kinda my, my nurse’s week. And I’ve seen some others that did, like, they did meditation, they did some yoga, you know, they gave nurses tools that really can help them. And then you have the whole, “well, I don’t have time,” that’s a whole ‘nother story, but, um, you know, it, it’s at least people trying to give appreciation for what they’ve done. You think about it, you know, think about a bad incident that you’ve taken care of in the, in the ER, and a patient comes back and they send you a card or cookies. The card and cookie, and there’s no way that can signify the amazing gratitude that they have because you saved their lives, but they don’t know what else to do, but the card. Like the cookies are a nice token, but it’s the card. It’s the fact that they remembered. That’s the kind of stuff that people love. Um, it’s truly the little things that make a difference.

[00:39:04] Dr. JB: But it can’t be a generic, it can’t be a generic card that everybody gets, you know, it has to be more personalized, you know, uh, with your individual name, with something specific for you, but how do they even know how to do that? They don’t even take the time out to get to know you.

[00:39:23] Karrie: Well, and that’s where I think that’s where the leaders need to do a better job. You need to be able to know, um, and, and this is another thing that I think is part of the broken system, is we have too much span of control when it comes to leadership. A nurse on a typical floor will have anywhere from 50–a nursing leader–will have anywhere from 50 to 150 people that are in her unit, depending on the size of her unit. How, how do you adequately lead and manage that many people and, and expect that she’s going to, or he, is going to know them? How many employees do you have in your ER? Think about that. And you probably have one nursing leader who’s expected to do everything for all those people. Then you have an accounting department and how many people does that leader have?

[00:40:22]It’s the disconnect, you know, that where, it’s, I under, I understand that  you know, obviously hospitals need to make money, um, just like, you know, we expect a paycheck cause we go to work. But I, I sometimes look at the amount of money that we spend in turnover. If we brought in a couple of additional leaders, could we stem some of that turnover? Could we have people feeling like they really make a difference and, and be able to really attend to their needs? From an employee standpoint, you know? I mean, there’s, there’s so much money that we spend in turnover. Well, what if, what if we actually could curb some of that, you know? And it’s just like, you know, you hear it with, you know, it’s like you got rid of my $12 tech and now I have to do it, or we hire another nurse. Well, I can hire three techs for what, for, three or four techs for what you pay a nurse. So why not bring in some of those ancillary so that you can keep those nurses?

[00:41:41] Dr. JB: Yeah, exactly. And that’s what I’m hearing from the nurses that I know is just, they, they just keep taking things away from us? And they still expect us to be able to do everything and they just keep adding onto our tasks, you know, but be able to be in four places or have however many places at once.

[00:42:03]Karrie: Yeah. It’s, it’s hard. And the thing is I can see it from both sides. I mean, I’ve lived both sides and there has to be a happy medium, I mean, there’s not, you’re not always, it’s not always going to be perfect. Um, but if you could get it right, 75, 80% of the time, I think people would be pretty happy.

[00:42:25] Dr. JB: I think it’s about, um, you know, as a leader, cause I’ve also been a leader and been a director of the emergency department, but I think that it’s about that transparency. It’s about feeling like you’re listened to and heard, and that the leadership is taking strides to address your pain points.

[00:42:48] Karrie: Mhmm. And that you’re consistent, you know, don’t, this is what used to infuriate me, is let’s not let, and I’ll just pick on ’em cause we all do, supplies, you know, supply management.  Don’t hold me accountable for these things as an ER, but then not hold these people accountable for their parts. That’s what really frustrates people. When you take away their support, or you take away the processes that are there, and you make them responsible for something that was totally someone else’s job, but, and you don’t hold these people accountable. For example, this was probably one of the worst things that our hospital did was that they were in a budget, you know, we, we were making budget. Um, we weren’t making budget. We were making money. There is a difference, you know, we were in the, you know, getting ready to shut the doors or anything, but in this budget constraint, all of the floors will be responsible for emptying their own trash.

[00:44:03] Sounds like, okay, I can take out my own trash. Okay. But really do I want– and some of it is not even the money of it, it’s like, look at the optics. You just had a nurse come in and let’s say, you just sutured something and you know, on this person and you needed a sterile field or you put in central lines, whatever it is. And they did all of that, and they were very technical, very in the moment. And yes, we as nurses, we get done and we clean it up. But then the next thing we do, we roll in a mop and we start mopping the floor. While we’re looking at a monitor and we’re taking the trash out, how much comfort does that patient now have, the family now have, that I just did a good sterile procedure. And the nurse who did that is now the nurse cleaning the floor.

[00:45:03] Dr. JB: Well, that’s, what’s happening now in some hospital settings, right?

[00:45:07] Karrie: I know, it’s terrible.

[00:45:08] Dr. JB: You know, I mean they, the nurses, so they lost their techs, there’s no NAs, um, I’m not sure if we don’t have environmental services or we’re short environmental services, or we just have to flip the rooms really quickly. So the nurses are going in, literally with mops, literally with mops and cleaning supplies, and wiping everything down so that they can flip this room and be ready for the next patient.

[00:45:37] Karrie: And you wonder why. I mean, really, if we think about it, pull back a little bit and we wonder why people are paying 50 to a 100 dollars an hour to get travel nurses to come in because your current nurses are saying why? I have this, I mean, would we ever, I mean think about it, would we ever tell a physician? You can clean your own room.

[00:46:05] Dr. JB: That’s so comical. Um, okay.

[00:46:08] Karrie: Please don’t tell me you have to.

[00:46:10] Dr. JB: No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I mean, I cleaned up my mess after I put in the central line, you know, I’ll get rid of my sharps and throw my stuff away, but I have never been asked to clean a room.

[00:46:23] Karrie: Yeah. Could you imagine if they told you, I mean, that’s what it’s like to a nurse who’s been working with techs and, and it’s not to say anybody is beneath cleaning a room, that’s not the point. I can’t have a tech help put in a central line. I might in the ER, I can’t in the ICU typically, you know, um, you know, but I, I can’t take somebody who’s not trained to titrate the drip. Yeah. I can’t take somebody who has never been in this situation. And oh my gosh, now we’re going to deliver a baby in the ER. They, they can help, you know, they can help be ancillary, but when you need the things and, and be able to anticipate what’s going to go on next. And so it’s like, why, why do, why do we do this? It’s very counterintuitive to what we need long-term and we say that we have a, a, a staffing shortage. Part of it is that we’re creating it.

[00:47:34] Dr. JB: Wow. Because when you add all these things on, right? So now the nurse , has how many rooms, I guess it depends on where you’re working, but let’s say an average of, uh, four, four rooms that they’re responsible for, four patients they’re responsible for. Um, you know, these patients need to be, uh, dressed in a gown, need their  IVs, need to be connected to the monitor. They need to go to, uh, the restroom sometimes, sometimes they need a bed pan.

[00:48:07] Karrie: And there’s never a toilet in an ER room. So the, just a walk to the toilet. You know, think about that, just taking a patient to a toilet is at least a 10-minute endeavor, minimum, because it’s never in the room. So you’ve got to walk them down there. You know, you gotta get them ready, you gotta walk them, or you got to put them in a wheelchair, then you gotta get them there, and then you got to get them on the toilet, and then you gotta wait, and then you gotta get them back. I mean, you just, you think about just, that’s just an everyday thing. We pump fluids, people are going to pee. It’s just like, that’s what we want, but

[00:48:44] Dr. JB: It’s true, it’s true. You know, and then, you know, you don’t have just one of those patients, right. If that was the only patient you had, if you only had one room at a time. Okay, fine. You know, but you don’t, you have more than one room at a time. And so, you know, with that being said, those are tasks that you’re doing already, but then we haven’t even talked about your documentation.

[00:49:07] Karrie: Or lab is short today, so now you guys can draw your own labs.

[00:49:11]Dr. JB: Well, you know, in the emergency department, they draw their own labs all the time, right? And then, you know, you talked about supplies, so there’s always a problem with labs too, and things getting hemolyzed and the nurses have to redraw it again and again. So, um, yeah, the struggle is definitely real.

[00:49:31]Karrie: Yeah. And so I think there are things that, you know, at an organizational level you can do, the other is, you’d be amazed, I was amazed when I started really asking people what they need and want, the people who are close to the job, know how to get it done. I mean, they know how to fix the problem. And I think too many times we’re afraid to ask because we think they’re just going to say “more people” and “we need more money.” That’s usually not the case. They’re willing to do whatever needs to get done with what they have if you give them the other things that they need. Like, if I always know that when I go to the supply closet, it’s going to be well-stocked and I don’t have to be the one to do that because materials management is on it and they know how important it is when I go in there to have my stock or, you know, you’ve got, it’s like, we, we have a team and we always talk about the team, but we don’t always hold everybody on the team to the same level of standards. And when they don’t do their job, who’s responsible for it? You know, who’s, who’s going to come pick up the slack? Unfortunately, it’s typically the, the nurse, because she or he, is the last one in the line and the patient needs it right now.

[00:50:55] Dr. JB: Yeah. That’s true. And the doctors being like, why hasn’t my patient gotten this?

[00:51:02] Karrie: Yeah. And, and, you know, it’s like, you know, if I have to make one more phone call to get one more thing to happen here, I’m going to scream. And then you hear, “well, all they do is sit there on the phone all day.” And I was like, oh, wow, okay.

[00:51:17]But that’s why if we can build, I would never say, I  think I was telling you about this, you know, I say building personal and professional resilience is part of what we do with Helping Healthcare Heroes but I hate hate it because to me nurses and medical professionals they’re very resilient. Um, but it’s, it’s giving them more tools. And I think that when they stop taking care of themselves, just think about that new GN who comes on that just so bubbly, they’re so excited. You know, they come and they’ve just got pep in their step to where they almost like wear you out because they’re so excited? And we lose that along the way. And I think we lose it, part of it is, you know, the reality of what you’re doing kind of sets in, but the other is that those things that as a new nurse or a new tech, you’re new into it, that excitement, you were still taking care of yourself. Like you didn’t stop eating, you didn’t stop, um, working out, you still had a life. And we have to remember to have that work-life balance and those things that fill us back up, we can’t stop doing them. Like I ask people, when was the, what, what brings you such joy? Think about it. You know, what brings you joy? When was the last time you actually did it?

[00:52:53] And bringing back joyful things and laughter um, into your day, making sleep a priority, trying to, you know, just have that mental disconnect from the job because it’s, it can be very all-consuming.

[00:53:11] Dr. JB: That’s true. So, so going back to your story, you, you know, decided that, you know, I got enough paper cuts and I’m going to leave my CNO career that I’ve been doing for years and I’m going to transition into something else. And so, so what happened next?

[00:53:41] Karrie: Um, well I was so severely burned out and sick that I thought that I was just going to take a couple months off and just travel and reconnect with my husband and my son. And so I left the hospital the end of April, beginning of May, so in September I thought, oh, you know, I’ll go find another job, and every time I would go to look for a job, I would physically get sick. Like literally get sick. And I was like, oh my gosh, I got to find something else. And so I started talking to my husband and I kind of went on this whole, um, holistic journey and went and got some holistic nutrition education. Got myself to where  I finally was able to wake up in the morning and feel rested, not like I wanted to crawl back into bed cause I was so tired, um, and started my own business. And I thought, you know what? I want to make sure that no one else has to feel this, that they don’t have to leave  their career because there’s no support and no tools. And the higher that you raise in an organization, the lonelier it is. And I know people think that “oh, you’re in administration, you have all kinds of support.” I would say you have almost zero support. There’s very few people that you can talk to. You’re paid to make everything look great.

[00:55:15] I mean, you are paid for the ultimate house of cards, that everything in your hospital is supposed to look perfect. Your life is supposed to look perfect. You’re on display all of the time. And so, you know, you, you got to, um, for me, I was like, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not going to be a house of cards anymore. I’m going to be real. But at the same time, these people who are still trying to put up the house of cards need some support. And so that’s when I started my own business and then last year, um, we started our non-profit because there were just not enough tools and support for everything that, all of that all our colleagues were going through. And it was, it literally broke me. I can remember just, I had to renew my nursing license last year in the middle of the pandemic, it was in March. So, you know, it was very early March or April, must have been April. And I said to my husband, I said, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to renew this because I don’t think I could go do what they’re doing.

[00:56:26] And then there was another part that felt guilty that it’s like, I have a nursing license, but I’m not doing anything to make it better. I’m not there. And then it was like, okay, this is how we can make it. I didn’t renew my license obviously. And, um, you know, started our non-profit cause it was like, we need to, we need to get the word out that it’s okay to take care of yourself because I had a colleague, she said,  she was doing, um, she does some business and branding coaching. And she said, I want to donate a portion of my profits to a nonprofit and I hear you talk about nurses and wellbeing, and I have some friends that are physicians, will you tell me what charity should I do that are really… another nurse friend of mine and a nurse practitioner friend, we looked for a week and a half. There were no nonprofits that were addressing the mental wellbeing and the trauma and drama that goes on in healthcare. It was get people PPE, get food, but there was nobody, um, there , there was nothing there for them. And there was nothing that was related to the people providing the care.

[00:57:43] If there was anything about stress and burnout, it was for the patients that all these people were taking care of. There was nothing for them, which I said was classic because that’s how they are. Yeah. We’re not about taking care of ourselves. We’re all about taking care of the patient.

[00:58:02]Dr. JB:  Nope, we’re on the backburner.

[00:58:02] Karrie: So why would, why would I think that there would be, that this would be any different? And so that’s kind of how it all came to be.

[00:58:13] Dr. JB: So, what does your nonprofit do specifically? What does it offer?

[00:58:19] Karrie: So we offer classes, um, on how to leave the trauma and drama of health profession at work so that you don’t have to, as I say, go home and be that puddle, or cry yourself to sleep, or cry all the way home. That you have a mechanism to take two or three minutes after a patient dies and process it. Can’t take long because I know, you know, between, you call the OMI and the call for the next patient coming in is very short. But it, and then we also give support around, um, different tools that people can use, meditation, yoga, um, mindfulness. And then we have a six-week program that we’re actually getting ready to launch, um, in June where it’s different techniques. Cause I say, you know, nurses, physicians, health professionals, they’re extremely resilient. You can’t do the job if you weren’t resilient, but the tools that you have only work until you’re, until the tools don’t work anymore. And so it’s learning new tools. What worked before to get you through the stressful things might not work anymore. And so we need to have a whole arsenal of tools to help us maintain our wellbeing.

[00:59:42] As I say, the, the builder, doesn’t go to build a house with just a hammer. So, thinking that you have one stress reduction tool, maybe it’s working out, maybe, you know, whatever it is, you got to have more than that because you can’t build a whole house with just a hammer. And so it’s really making sure that we’re providing tools and resources so that they don’t feel like they have to leave their jobs.

[01:00:08] Dr. JB: Mhm, mhm. So do you feel like if these tools or resources that you’re providing, uh, right now through your not-for-profit, if they were available to you, uh, would you have continued or would you still have left?

[01:00:25] Karrie: No, I think I would’ve stayed. I really believe I would have stayed. I think I would have moved one more time. I don’t think the last place I was at was the last, like, it wasn’t my retirement job, you know, not that, like to take me to retirement. Um, but yeah, I think I would have, because I loved it. It, it tore my soul to walk away.

[01:00:52] Well, I mean, it still makes me, because when you get to that point, you feel like an absolute failure. You spend all of this time in a profession that you’ve trained for, and that you’re constantly, you know, medicine, medications, help. I mean, it’s always evolving. And so you’re always getting additional information and I will tell you when I left, I felt like a failure as a wife, as a mom, I felt like I was leaving my profession down. You feel like a total failure. So yeah, if I had the tools, I’d have stayed.

[01:01:44] Dr. JB: You’re saying you felt like you were failure because you chose to take care of yourself? Isn’t that, isn’t that ridiculous? How the profession, cause you’re not the, a little feels this way, right? You’re not the only one who feels this way. You know how a profession that was created to take care of people, when somebody in the profession decides, you know what, I want to take care of myself, my wellbeing, my mental wellness, then somehow they’re made to feel like they’re a failure. Yeah. You know?

[01:02:19] Karrie: Because, and at the time it was like, I wasn’t strong enough.

[01:02:23] Dr. JB: Question for you, question for you. Did any of your nurse colleagues make you feel this way?

[01:02:34] Karrie: No.

[01:02:36] Dr. JB: Where did you get this then?

[01:02:39] Karrie: So think about, think about when you’re the CNO, you’re not surrounded by nursing colleagues.

[01:02:45] Dr. JB: Exactly. No, I asked that question because it’s a loaded question, because

[01:02:50] Karrie: I mean literally, I would say it was “suck it up, buttercup.” Not just suck it up, buttercup. “Oh, suck it up, and oh, by the way, go home and put your house on the market and move.”

[01:02:59] Dr. JB: Yeah, exactly. No, but I, but I, I said that because you know, you will find that those of us who are living this experience completely understand why one may choose not to do this anymore, right?

[01:03:18] Karrie: Yeah. Oh yeah.

[01:03:19] Dr. JB: It’s those who are not in the health sphere that tend to be the most judgmental about our decisions to save ourselves.

[01:03:28] Karrie: Oh, yeah. My family thought it was crazy and I’m the major breadwinner in my family. I mean, my husband was a stay-at-home dad because hell if he worked too, we did not, who knows who would raise my kid because, you know? And, and my family thought I was crazy and I just was like, and I, I can remember just thinking, I just, I just want to sleep, I want to feel normal. I, and you do, you feel like you’re letting it down. I felt like I was letting the staff that I was leaving, letting them down.

[01:04:03] Um, but I look back over my 16 years in hospital administration. None. None of the CNOs that I was closest to in those 16 years are still CNOs. None of them. And none have retired, like at the age, like you’re in your sixties now you should retire, I mean, they were like, “I’m retiring in my fifties because I’m not doing this anymore.”

[01:04:37] Dr. JB: Yeah . This field definitely will cause early retirement. You know, this is a noble profession, but it’s challenging. Not feeling like you have the support that you need to really be able to effectively do your job just makes it even more challenging and more trying and not having the space to process your experiences also makes it even more trying and it wears on you. And this has been the status quo before COVID, right? Cause you were doing this job well before COVID.

[01:05:27] Oh yeah. I left the hospital five, six years ago.

[01:05:32] Right, before COVID was even a thought, you know, this was the reality. And then, now we’re in COVID. Right? So we entered into COVID with what we’ve been talking about today.

[01:05:48] Karrie: Oh yeah. I mean, prior to COVID what, the rates are like 40 to 45% feeling of burnout between nurses and physicians. Before COVID. I can’t even imagine what it is now.

[01:06:05]Dr. JB: Exponentially higher.

[01:06:09] Karrie: And I don’t, I don’t see exponential support.

[01:06:14] I mean, I, I keep, I keep hoping that there’s organizations out there that are trying to support, um, I I’m, I’m not seeing it as much as I think that we should be. The other is there’s a, there’s a fine line between the organization offering the support and then mandating the support. So it’s kind of like, nurse’s week, you can do it well, but if you don’t message it right, you will just step in it and it will be worse than if you had done nothing. Because if a nurse feels like, or a physician feels like, you are telling them that they are so stressed, because think about it, you come in and you tell them, “you’re so stressed and this is a stressful environment, and so you must go do X, Y, Z.”

[01:07:12] Dr. JB: Yes, just add it on.

[01:07:14] Karrie: Yeah, just add it on versus you know what I’m concerned, and so, you know what, here’s some things that we want to do to make sure that we take care of everybody. And, you know, the first thing that we’re going to do is make sure we have adequate staffing, um, but it, you know, it’s okay, I tell people it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to not answer the phone, um, if you really need that break it, you know? And I know people say, “well, who’s going to take care of them?” And it’s like, I don’t, I don’t know, but it always seems to work, it always seems to take care of itself. Um, that probably, kind of a Pollyanna answer, but, um, you know, you ha–, you have to be okay to say, no. You have to be okay to say that I’m important, and for my mental wellbeing, no, I can’t work that fifth, sixth, seventh shift, whatever it is.

[01:08:15]And then there’ll be other times where you’ll be like, you know what, I’m, I’m in such a good spot right now, yes, I can do it. So you know what, Mary, you can go take a break right now. You know, we’re, we’re all, we all come at it at different points. The problem is with the pandemic, I think it’s gotten way too many people to the edge all at once.

[01:08:36] Dr. JB: Yeah.

[01:08:37] Karrie: I mean , we’ve lost 3000 health professional lives in the last year. And we, I, I’m trying to remember the statistic, I think it was 20%, um, of nurses, which doesn’t sound like a lot until you figure out what’s 20% of 4 million that left the profession this last year.

[01:09:04]Dr. JB: We don’t have enough healthcare professionals to take care of our current population.

[01:09:08]Karrie: Which is all the more reason why you need to have nurses doing nurses’ stuff, doctors doing doctor stuff, nurse practitioners doing nurse practitioner stuff, and non-licensed people doing non-licensed stuff.

[01:09:19] Dr. JB: Exactly. Exactly, cause we’re a team.

[01:09:22] Karrie: Yeah. And, and, you know, if you’re going to have creep, or scope creep, don’t have creep downward, have it creep upward so that everybody’s practicing to the highest level that their license allows.

[01:09:37] Dr. JB: Exactly. Well, I took away so many things from this conversation, you know, but the biggest thing that I took away from this conversation is that you absolutely love being a nurse. And that, you know, in your transitioning out of a hospital life, you’re still caring for others and you’re caring for your colleagues.

[01:10:04]Karrie: Yeah. And I think that’s what makes us nurses and physicians, it truly is a calling. It’s not like, you know, we went down and, oh, this looks like a nice profession, let’s go do this. You know, we, we truly immerse ourselves in it. It’s funny cause people will introduce me when I’m doing different speaking things and they’ll say, and she used to be a nurse. And I’m like, no, actually I’m still a nurse. You know, I still use my nursing knowledge. I still use, you know, the way in which I assess things is absolutely a nursing process. The way that my brain thinks is like a nurse. And that compassion that you have to have, I would say you have to have, I think it’s just innate in us. Um, it’s there, it doesn’t go away just because you’re not taking care of patients every day.

[01:10:58] Dr. JB: That’s right. That’s right. And now you’re able to redirect it in a different direction that’s more intentional, especially with regards to, you know, taking care of the people that are still, you know, working in the hospital and working at the bedside, to equip them with the tools that may be beneficial to really help them with their day to day, so that they can continue doing the thing that they love for as long as they can. So they could retire at the ripe old retiring age, not in the fifties. Maybe if they want to retire early, I mean, this is your prerogative, but you know, but not because, oh, I can’t do this anymore, but, you know, because it’s time to transition out.

[01:11:43] Karrie: Yeah. It’s a whole different discussion when it’s my choice, because it should be everyone’s choice when you decide to transition out, it shouldn’t be because of stress and burnout. I mean, it just, you think about that. It’s like, wow.

[01:12:06] Dr. JB: But it still ends up being your choice, but you are doing an intentional choice of, I need, I need to do this for me. Right? I need to do this for my health. So, you know, when you say it’s not your choice, like you got fired, you didn’t get fired. I chose to leave, um, chose to leave sooner than I ideally may have chosen if things were different, but I’m still choosing this because I’m choosing for once, for once to prioritize myself.

[01:12:39] Karrie: Yeah. And I, and, and I like, like to choose with a plan. I chose without a plan.

[01:12:50] Dr. JB: Yeah. And that’s what burnout will do to you. And that’s what burnout will do to you. It makes you throw your hands in the air and say enough, done, you know, and you just walk out to the wide open. You’re like, I have no idea what I’m doing next, but I know that’s not it, you know?

[01:13:07] Karrie: Well, it’s funny cause I’ll have people say, “well, what is, what’s a good sign that?” you know, and, and it is, it’s exactly that it is the, you can see it, the hands up in the air and it’s like, I’m done. And you can just, you know, I mean, there’s so many of us that have gotten in there, are times where that’s just in a day, you’re just like, okay, I’m done with this. But when that becomes your, like, I’m done, done, no theatrics, literally I’m done. And the other is when you become so frustrated and jaded about everything.

[01:13:49] Yeah. Like the things I like to tell people think about, you know, we talked about that new GN was all bubbly and excited. Um, but what was it that you loved? What drove you, what gave you the passion and the desire to, to join this, these professions? Think about what that was. And then like, if, if like it’s hard to find in today, then you’re inking closer and closer to burnout because you still should be able to still see it, still see that excitement and the, I mean, you may not have it to that extent. You know, it’s kind of like the love of a marriage. You know, you go through a cycle where it being in the infatuation and the, you know, you can’t get enough of, and then it kind of, you know, it matures and it goes, I think your job does the same thing, but you still should be able to see. I’ve been married for 23 years, I can tell you exactly why I love that man, I can see it every day; if you can’t see it in your job, then you’re inking closer and closer to burnout, and you’re getting further and further away from why you love what you do.

[01:15:08]Dr. JB: So Karrie, thank you so much for your time and taking out a piece of your day to spend it here on the Hope4Med podcast and speaking with my listener. Um, if my listener wanted to get in touch with you or find out more about your work, how can they reach you?

[01:15:26] Karrie: Um, it’s very simple. If you’re on LinkedIn, it’s my name, Karrie Brazaski, private message me. I’m also on Facebook as the same. Um, or you can go to our website HelpingHealthcareHeroes.org, and there is a way that you can reach out, message us, um, and get involved that way.

[01:15:46] Dr. JB: All right, perfect. And we will have a written description of how to get in touch with Karrie at the bottom of this podcast when it gets published, um, and then finally, in closing, do you have any words of wisdom or advice for our listener?

[01:16:08] Karrie: I think the number one would be make yourself a priority and don’t feel guilty about it because at the end of the day, your family needs you whole, your patients need you whole, and the only way you can do that is if you start taking care of yourself so that you don’t burn out. Stop feeling guilty about it. And then the other would be kind of as we talked about earlier in, in, um, our time together today, is you’re not alone. I remember I felt alone. I felt like there was nobody else that was feeling this and as I have reached out and talked to people since I’ve left, I wasn’t alone.

[01:16:53] What I felt was not unique, um, and so many other people had the same feelings, whether they left or didn’t leave. And so reach out to your colleagues, reach out, you know, to other people, because chances are, you are not the only one feeling that way; and just to know that you’re not alone can give you huge amounts of support and then get more support. You know, it may not be through your employer, you may have to do it on your own, but know that there are resources there so that you can take care of you.

[01:17:32] Dr. JB: That’s very well said, Karrie and that’s what, that’s, what Hope4Med is for, is to be one of those resources that Karrie has mentioned. Hopefully you’ll find something that resonates with you and that allows you to decompress and keep going forward.

[01:17:50] Yeah. Who says a doc can’t rap?  D O C T O R J B, the greatest doctor to ever touch the mic, the greatest podcast ever broadcasted or prerecorded. Come and learn some, each one, teach one, I’m done.



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