This spring for a story I wrote for Healthline News, I had the pleasure of interviewing a man named Fab Cabrera (pictured). Fab is a nurse at Brandon Regional Hospital in Brandon, Fla.
I wrote the story to explain how men increasingly are entering the field of nursing and why they even are being recruited by hospitals. Fab is a funny guy. He is anything but stiff, but instead undeniably passionate about his work.
I like to think of myself in much the same way, even though I am a health journalist and not “in the trenches,” so to speak. So many people who work in the healthcare space aren’t exactly warm or passionate, even though you would expect the opposite, right? In fact, many are serious, guarded, and so very, very corporate and calculated in the moves they make and the words they say.
So Fab and I clicked, and the story I wrote for Healthline News ended up doing very well. Nurses are in great demand. I know at least one of the hospitals that had a nurse quoted in the piece promoted the story as a recruiting tool on Facebook.
I heard from Fab again a few weeks ago. As a follower of my Facebook page, David Heitz Health, he had seen my recent Caregiver Relief story about a new study that says many nurses these days are so disgruntled they would choose a different career if given the chance.
Disturbing news given our nation already has a shortage of nurses. With 10,000 Baby Boomers a day turning 65, our nursing shortage is a big problem that is getting worse.
In an email, Fab wrote to let me know that he has started a podcast called “The Nursing Revolution” with the marketing director of his hospital, Natalia Diaz. Natalia, one might think, represents the cold, calculating administration arm of the hospital.
Hospital environments: Are HIPAA debates more important than a patient’s care?
And unfortunately, there is no denying that many hospitals have cold, calculating administrative arms. I had a trip to a hospital emergency room in the spring where I truly thought I was dying. While I lie there, very scared and with severe tachycardia, I listened to nurses fighting amongst themselves over HIPAA laws, doing this in the presence of patients like myself who may also have been very scared.
Agitated, I explained to the doctor that I thought it was a sad example of what’s going on in healthcare today. He did not respond with kindness or compassion, to say the least. Later, however, hospital officials did carefully and compassionately listen to and respond to my complaint.
Fab said such stories are common.
“The idea that changes in nursing will ever be from the top down at this point seems like a cruel joke in which corporations and their shareholders are the only ones laughing,” Fab told me. “We at The Nursing Revolution hope that the changes can be affected from the bottom up, like revolutions. Hence the name.”
The podcasts are about 18 minutes long. While they don’t deny or sugar coat the very real problems nurses face, they aren’t gripe sessions. Instead, they are solution-oriented, fun discussions between Fab and Natalia. Honest to goodness, these are SO good, this pair should become an internet sensation among nurses in no time. The discussions are very eloquent and use powerful, no-nonsense language.
For example, in one podcast called “The Monster Under Each Bed,” Fab and Natalia discuss one of the painful realities of nursing: Tending to a patient after they just have been given a very bad prognosis. In the podcast, Fab talks about a man who is just told by his doctor – in an 18-minute visit – that his stomach cancer has returned and in fact metastasized to his lungs. Fab had chosen to be present in the patient’s room when the doctor shared the news. Because Fab knew that after that doctor left, he would be the one tending to the patient who inevitably then began the five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
At the end of each podcast, Fab and Natalia issue a challenge to nurses. At the end of the “Monster Under Each Bed” podcast, for example, they discuss how to bring kindness to work and to your patients, even when you don’t feel like it. It’s not preachy (none of the podcasts are), and the techniques they share seem, at least to me, realistic and helpful. You can check out the podcast by clicking here.
As a healthcare worker or even an unpaid caregiver, what is your legacy?
In another podcast, “On Legacy,” Natalia and Fab discuss what drives them in their jobs and gives them purpose. Good managers keep their employees happy by doing the smallest of things that don’t cost a cent: Fueling their passions. But in the healthcare environment, many managers pass on the stresses of their jobs to their employees. They don’t have time for touchy-feely stuff like talking about pride, purpose or philosophy.
Those managers are making a huge mistake, and Fab and Natalia explain why. Again, without being judgmental or preachy, but fun.
This Fab guy is funny. He’s really funny. He’s also a wonderful American success story, having moved to the U.S. from El Salvador at the age of 20 without knowing a word of English. And then, to go into a female-dominated profession like nursing? This guy has intestinal fortitude, a heart, and a sense of humor. And Natalia is the perfect sidekick. A sensible hospital administrator – level-headed but passionate, smart but not arrogant.
I encourage you all to check out their podcast, and like their Facebook page, The Nursing Revolution. And let your nursing friends know about the podcast, too.