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Are we there yet?

I don’t know how many times I said that as a kid, to my parents on road trips both long and short. I’m not sure what I did with the information either, but it seemed to settle me—at least for a little while. But then the anxiousness would start to creep back in, and I would ask the same question again: Are we there yet?

I think in my adult life I’ve done it the same way. When I was newly married, I wanted to know Are we ready yet? for a baby; when we had a baby, Are we ready yet? for kindergarten. Are we ready for a house or car? Are we ready for college for our children, or for ourselves? Are we ready to retire? Professionally, are we settled on the right number of staff? Are we happy with our nursing satisfaction or patient experience?

When we ask that question today—and I’m sure we all will, personally or professionally—please keep in mind that there are a few other Rs, besides ready, to think about.


There should always be risk—risk of not hitting the goal, the milestone, the mission, the end. I like to say there is no real end; once you set and achieve a goal, you set it again and again. Just know why you’re setting it. You’ll need to tell yourself and your team or family the why, to infinity and beyond. Strong communication in every way, again and again, will be the best policy for the risks you will take.


Once you reach your milestone goal, think back on the journey and look for the good along the way. Find positivity and spread it as you go. Repeat what worked well for you, and achieve more rewards for yourself and your team. Share the wins in as many places as possible, and do it at the start of the agenda for all meetings, large or small. Are you thinking of the glass as half empty, or half full? I choose half full—your positivity toward the journey is key.


Healthcare journeys are long journeys, and we should prepare for that. I’m not a runner—heck, I’m not even a walker—so I won’t use running analogies. But I do think of the Energizer Bunny we’ve all seen on TV. He just kept on going, and that’s what’s needed in healthcare. Find your own battery to keep you moving. Maybe it’s a patient story or an act of kindness that recharges you. Find a routine or habit, and be consistently relentless in pursuing your department goals, sharing positive stories, and correcting problems along the way. Put written reminders around the office, on your computer, in the breakroom, to keep you and your team in mind of the great work ahead.


I think of the small orange ball to my granddaughter’s Little Tikes basketball set. It’s very bouncy, and no matter how many times she dribbles it or squeezes it, it keeps the same shape—it’s always round. Now, that’s great for a toy ball, but what about you? How do we bounce back—from burnout, stress, illness both mental and physical? If we’re deflated, how do we reinflate? What do we need to fill ourselves back up? I like smooth jazz music or scented candles, talking with family or petting my dog—simple things to fill myself back up. Sometimes it’s these little amounts of time we spend on ourselves that bring our resilience back. Whatever it takes, stay bouncy!


All the Rs come to this—our reality! How do we achieve results in quality, patient experience, safety, and loyalty? We have to have strong communication, share our positivity, build our own routines, and start with time for ourselves. All these tips help us set milestone goals—and in achieving those goals we move a little faster, feel a little lighter, have more energy to keep us moving in the right direction. And at the end, when we’ve achieved those goals, we won’t have to keep asking ourselves, Are we there yet? We’ll smile, take a deep breath, and get ready for the next thing—because as we now know, greatness has no end!

I am so thrilled to join the NRC Health team!  I look forward to communicating more with you.

Jill Ellis serves as Solutions Expert, Magnet & Nursing Leadership, in which capacity she works closely with nursing leadership to assist them in engagement, accountability, and outcomes for their accreditation journey. Jill has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years and has experience in many types of operational management. She has a proven track record of providing the resources, support, and tools to empower peak operations and achieve positive nursing outcomes. Before joining NRC Health, Jill worked as a healthcare consultant with Studer Group. In addition, Jill enjoys traveling to historic locations with her husband Brad and spending time locally with her two grandchildren.