Reignite the Sparkle in Your Career

Posted Sep 15, 2017

by Eileen Couture, DO, RN, CCHP-PEileen Couture

I hope you had a wonderful summer, celebrating the Fourth of July and enjoying the fireworks display and perhaps a parade. For me, the Fourth has always symbolized the halfway point to my summer, with the promise that fall is lurking right around the corner. So it is often a loud cry out to enjoy every remaining moment of summer.

What I find interesting about the Fourth of July is that no matter how many fireworks displays one has seen, the sparkle and spectacle continue to amaze. Hundreds of people patiently wait and are awed by the loud bang and then the momentary beautiful spray of sparkle and color against the dark sky. The message and the celebration never get old.

In my neighborhood, this year was a bit unusual because soon after the start of the show, the fireworks suddenly stopped. The crowd waited and waited. The atmosphere was filled with whispered words of impatience during the delay, and before long people started to leave.

Succumbing to Malaise
In providing health care to the incarcerated, we are reminded of the importance of our own freedom. We see firsthand daily what our freedom means. It takes a special and committed person to choose to practice in a restricted environment. We are touched by our patients’ journey, and as we walk away, like it or not, they affect our journey, as well.

Providing care to the patient behind bars can be an overwhelming task at times, and spirits can become drained. Using the Fourth of July fireworks as an analogy, how is your sparkle? Despite the daily celebration of life, are your colors tiring? Are patients recognizing your impatience or lack of energy to answer questions? Do they walk away disappointed, grumbling about your lack of caring attitude?

I offer a remedy to this malaise: Come to the National Conference on Correctional Health Care, Nov. 4-8 in NCCHC’s hometown, Chicago. What better way to meet and network with others who work in correctional health care? In this supportive and stimulating educational environment, you can replenish your toolkit with fresh ideas and recharge your attitude with positive interactions. You will return to your job with a renewed sense of purpose and lots of information for improving your day-to-day work.

Patience and Persistence
Thirty minutes after the fireworks delay—after most of the audience had gone home—the night sky was filled with spectacular pyrotechnics. Often, when things do not go as expected, patience and persistence pay off. Hope to see everyone in the fall.

Eileen Couture, DO, RN, CCHP-P, is chair of NCCHC’s board of directors and serves as the American College of Emergency Physicians’ liaison to the board. She is the medical director at the South Suburban Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Hazel Crest, IL, as well as an attending emergency physician at several Chicago-area hospitals.

[This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of CorrectCare.]