Start Where You Are. Use What You Have. Do What You Can.

I love that quote.I have it pasted to my desk on three sticky notes.

“To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

I love that quote. I have it pasted to my desk on three sticky notes. My aim is not to achieve greatness, but rather to remind myself to focus on simple steps I can make in my personal and professional world to make a difference…..without getting overwhelmed.

These were the words of tennis legend Arthur Ashe, whose life was a prime example of such greatness. Arthur was an incredibly gifted tennis player — he made great strides as he won one national and world championship after another, often the first African-American to do so.

But over and above his tennis success, Arthur also made a lasting impact through his work as a social activist.

As a competitor in a sport that was dominated by Caucasians at the time, Arthur felt firsthand some of the injustices suffered by African-Americans during this period. And so he worked hard to raise awareness and fight against these injustices. In addition, health setbacks Arthur suffered became the focus of more activism on his part, as he worked to raise awareness about AIDS and help those affected by it. Today, the legacy of Arthur Ashe reaches far beyond his tennis achievements……he is remembered as a man of true greatness who helped change the world for the better.

As Nurse Navigators, we are surrounded by a whirling cacophony of healthcare reform, program development, implementing new standards, advocating for patients, reimbursement changes, EMR launches….and re-launches!!! The challenges can be staggering….and that only counts the ‘day job’ part of our life.

Yes, it can be overwhelming…however, now is a great time to be an oncology nurse navigator. By the very nature of our work, we are placed at the nexus and have the opportunity to affect meaningful change for patients and healthcare in our communities.

Every morning, I take a deep breath and look at those three sticky notes. I can’t do everything…nor do I want to…but I can do one thing to take a step forward.

Start Where You Are. We are fortunate to have thousands of experienced colleagues across the country. We have regional and national networking and professional groups for nurse and patient navigators. Get started now by creating a LinkedIn Profile and then connect with colleagues. Embarrassed by your LinkedIn profile? Never fear, I was too, until I found this blog post by my friend Mic Johnson: Are You Embarrassed by Your LinkedIn Profile?

Use What You Have. We have a growing body of evidence and tools. Right now, two of my favorite resources are:

  • ONS Core Competencies for Oncology Nurse Navigators. (I even printed off a copy and it is full of highlighted areas and the edges are dog-eared.)
  • The GW Cancer Institute Navigation & Survivorship Resources. (Some simply great tools for program development and *gasp* evaluation!)

Do What You Can. Get connected with colleagues. Read and refer to the tools. I’d love to hear how you have used them in your daily practice….in quality initiatives…in collaboration with other navigators in your system or region.

Each one of us can do one thing to build the body of evidence for our specialty. I’d like to hear your story!

And PS, don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn! You can stalk me here.