Guest Post by Beth Boynton

Improvoscopy with Beth BoyntonNurses are very smart professionals who provide highly skilled service and navigate complex workplace dynamics.  Nursing school is tough to get into and the academic and clinical demands are extraordinarily rigorous. The public ranks us as the most trusted profession year after year!

Yet there is evidence to suggest that we lack respect in the day-to-day work we do.  Chronic under-staffing, horizontal and vertical violence, and burnout are phenomenon that include some lack of respect as shown by these examples:

  • Inadequate staffing demonstrates a lack of respect from leaders as it sends a message that the work nurses do does not merit a supportive environment where enough time, concentration, and nurse assistants are provided to do the job right.
  • Horizontal and vertical violence show a lack of respect from colleagues and is evident in bullying or other dishonoring behaviors.
  • Burnout can indicate a lack of self-respect for setting boundaries and making self-care a priority.

Respect for self and others is part of developing emotional intelligence, incredibly important for all sorts of positive change in nursing,  and for some of us, myself included, involves a lifetime of personal work. Nevertheless it is essential work! Here are 4 things you can do today that will help!

  1. Make it a point to assume a confident body posture when talking with physicians and colleagues.  Shoulders back, nice and tall, arms open, and feet firmly planted.  Not only will this demonstrate self-confidence, it will also raise your testosterone!  (Researcher Amy Cuddy has a super Ted Talk about this:  “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are!)
  2. Improvoscopy with Beth BoyntonMake use of one of these affirmations in your thinking, meditation practice,  journaling or when you are inhaling and assuming a confident posture:
    • I am a nurse and deserve respect.
    • I am a smart, capable, and vital member of the healthcare team.
    • I hold myself in high esteem as a nurse professional
  3. Speak up assertively about staffing issues and incidents of horizontal violence and give yourself a big pat on the back when you do.  Here are some respectful and assertive statements:
    • I need help with my patient assignment in order to make sure I have my lunch break and provide care safely and compassionately.  Can you help me with Mrs. Smith’s admission or Mr. Brown’s blood transfusion?
    • I don’t want to participate in this conversation about the new grad behind her back.  It is disrespectful and she deserves our support.
    • I’m sad.  We’ve lost three patients on the unit this week.  I need to spend some time processing my feelings and if I need help with it, I’m going to get it.  I deserve to have a healthy and long lasting career.
  4. Help me build an onsite resource that will contribute to helping nurses everywhere develop their emotional intelligence! You can help by understanding, sharing, and funding the Improvoscopy project and there are some pretty cool perks too! Thank you very much!

Beth Boynton Beth Boynton, RN, MS, author of Successful Nurse Communication:  Safe Care, Healthy Workplaces, & Rewarding Careers, is a speaker and medical improv trainer.  More information about her work can be found on at and she can be contacted at

Beth needs your help in funding an innovative educational website to help build emotional intelligence (EQ).  She has launched a crowd-sourcing campaign called “Improvoscopy:  Serious Play for Safe Care”! Beth says: “I believe that we deserve to work in environments where respect is in the air and EQ can help make it happen.”

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


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