2020 was nothing like the year I expected when I wrote the last Blog Post of 2019. I met most of my goals but had to modify many due to the impact of COVID 19. As I look back at 2020, I am most grateful that my husband, family, and friends have been able to stay healthy despite the overwhelming impact of COVID 19 on our lives.

I love this time of the year as I get look back over the year to see how I did and plan for the future. Here are five goals I am going to work on in 2021

1. I want to get better organized on social media and use my time and voice more effectively to address some of the barriers I see in our healthcare system

2. I plan to do more ‘consumer’ focused education so that people know when they are active participants in their care; things change for the better.

3. I want to build the mentoring side of my business and assist professionals to find a path that brings them purpose.

4. I need to work on my health. Walk more, eat better, drink more water, and appreciate the little things that make up our life.

5. Once we can, I hope to get back to onsite conferences, but until it is safe, I will continue to attend virtual events till that time as learning is important to me!

Some accomplishments in 2020 included:

I contributed to several books. They were:

The Secret Language of Healthcare: How to Ask for the Care you Deserve by Robin Shapiro.i had the honor of writing the Forward to the book.This is a book we can all benefit from reading. Check it out!

Case Management: The Key to Patient Centered Care: Volume 2 by the CMSA Chicago. I wrote a chapter on an experience I had as a workers compensation case manager. This is the 2nd in a series of books the CMSA Chicago chapter has put together. I have submitted my article for Volume 3. Stay turned for the release in January or eary February!

I did a complete overhaul of the On Demand CCM Prep Course for the Case Management Institute to relfect the updated Blueprint that rolled out for the December 2020 examination cylce. The course provides practical information that will help you put theory into practice. If you are looking to step up to certification, check it out!

In 2020 I started to write Book Reviews on books written by nurses for nurses. If you write a new book and your want it reviewed email me and we can set up a time to talk. Here are three books that I reviewed this year.

Healthcare Heroes: The Medical Careers Guide: a book to help young people explore healthcare careers. I teamed up with a long time colleague who was putting various healthcare professionals together share the various professionals open for those who wanted to enter the world of heatlhcare. I contributed a chapter on Case Management. If you have a son, daughter, granddaughter, grandson, niece, nephew, or know a young person exploring their options, share this book with them!

Going the Extra Mile; My Untold Story of Becoming a Nurse: this book came from a project I took on with a group of nurses led by a nurse colleague, Eva Frances, who led a writing project for nurses who wanted to write a book. I was teamed up with a young nurse, Rhonda Nelson, who had passion, spirit, and determination. We worked together to make her dream come true of writing a book on her journey to be come a nurse. It was a great experience for me and quite an accomplishment for Rhonda. If you are a new nurse, a seasoned nurse, this book is for you.

The Role of Love in Building and Sustaining a Business: the 3rd book review was done on a book written by another nurse colleague who was part of the Nurses Writers Group. The book talked about the important role LOVE plays in starting, running and growing a business. If you are a business owner or looking to be a business owner, check out this book. It is a good read that will help you to aspire to a higher level.

Trying Someting New:

Over a six weeks, I wrote an article a week to share information people could trust on what to do during the pandemic. I got some positive comments from readers, which helped me know I was on the right track. Here is an overview of the series:

Knowledge is Power: This post was in the early days of the pandemic, March 2, 2020, when we started to learn about the virus. As a nurse, I know that in a respiratory pandemic, germs spread by droplets. To contain the spread, there are there are basic rules to follow.  In this post, I share ten essential tips that would help keep people safe. As the title says: Knowledge is Power.

Strengthening Your Immune System To Improve Health and Wellness: This post came about during the pandemic. Many people were trying to understand how they could improve their immune system to help them prevent contracting the virus. A colleague of mine Sandra Kahn, specializes in Oriental Medicine and has a good handle on strengthening the immune system, so I asked her to be a guest author. We can all learn something from this post – check it out!

Staying Positive During the Pandemic: As the pandemic’s became a reality, we started to get information and misinformation from various sectors. We learned that ‘words matter’ this was evident in this post, and I was glad a colleague commented with some clarifying words!

How are you doing? I want to know. The post touched on aspects of the pandemic that many did not think of: How being concerned with our fellow man is essential. In this post, I wanted to recognize the stress the pandemic brought with it and encourage people to check on their neighbors and loved ones. We are social people and need to be with others. Being isolated was not easy, and if nothing else came from this pandemic – we learned the importance of a simple call, a notecard, or checking in on your neighbor to see if they needed something from the store that could help someone cope.

We are all in this together: COVID 19 showed us how small our world was and how technology can keep us together and safe. Over the past few months, many have attended virtual meetings, doctor appointments, birthday parties, weddings, and funerals. Now that we have learned how technology can bring us together, we will see the emergence of more and more of it. Embrace it, learn it, and show others because ‘we are all in this together’.

The Doctor will see you know: Telemedicine in a COVID -19 World: As a cancer survivor, I wondered how long my Doctor would see me once I finished my chemo. His answer surprised me: we are going to have a long relationship. Those words have proven true, but with COVID- 19, going down to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to my appointments made me nervous One day I got a call from the Doctor’s office and was informed that my appointment could be made virtually. This sounded great, but I did not know what to expect. When the day of the appointment arrived, I was relieved when I saw my Doctor on the screen. We talked, and he reviewed my MRI. The visit only lasted a few minutes – but what was nice is that I was able to stay safe, and did not have to spend two hours driving back and forth to the Cancer Center and fighting traffic. It was a great experience, and I look forward to my next visit.

What’s the first thing you will do when things go back to normal? This post came about from an idea a friend had to keep her friends and family engaged during the pandemic. She would send out trivia questions to the group. People would answewr them and she would send us back the answers and announce the winners. One of her games became the inspiration for this post.

Have Patience, Remain Vigilant; it’s working: The pandemic is hard for many of us, especially when the days turned into months, and all we heard is bad news. This post showed the importance of having patience and remaining vigilant. The simple things like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and staying out of crowds is not easy, but it is what keeps people safe!

The Question We are all Grappling with: Are We Ready to Reopen? This post came about as mixed messages were being sent about reopening the country amid the pandemic. I wanted to let people know they had to weigh what to do with the risks.

Reopening Does Not Mean the Pandemic is Over: Another post of caution with common-sense tips as the country started to reopen.

The Most Devastating Consequence of the Pandemic: This was a moving post on the pandemic’s most devastating consequence. I wrote this post on May 19, 2020. The death toll in the United States from COVID on that date was 90,000 people. At this writing of this post on December 28, 2020, it is reported that we have had 334,695 deaths. It is NOT OVER.

Validation that I am on the right track. 

It’s the Little Things that Matter: The posts that got the most attention this year were posts that came from my realization about what I do as an advocate and how hard the system is for people (patients and caregivers) to navigate. Your comments made me realize what I am doing is important, and I need to continue on this mission. The healthcare system is challenging, frustrating, and sometimes I wonder if what I do is useful. It is the comments from the readers that let me know I am on the right track.Thank you for that validation!

Wow, what a year! Thank YOU for reading Nurse Advocate. I look forward to another year of sharing information and hearing from you!

Happy New Year! Stay safe

Anne