The concept is simple. The results can be life-changing. Invite a group of nurses to your home, prepare a simple dinner (or order pizza) and encourage a conversation about the nursing profession. With a little bit of guidance, guests soon will be brimming with energy, and before they leave, they’ll have a renewed sense of purpose about their profession.
Perhaps that’s an oversimplification of the nursing salon concept, but as Kathy Mikos, RN, DNP, and Connie Hardy, RN, DNP, CNL, have discovered, it’s not much more complex. Mikos, vice president for patient care services and CNO of Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Ill., and Hardy, assistant professor at St. Xavier University in Chicago, have brought nursing salons to the Greater Chicago area with great success and with hope the concept will grow.
“One of the people at the [second] salon does not believe in the term ‘burnout,'” Hardy said. “She said she was at a kind of turning point and she needed to refresh her spirits, and that happened that night. It’s not a top-of-the-mountain-type thing; it’s pretty mundane, but you do walk away refreshed with your spirit reactivated.”
Connie Hardy, RN
Mikos said she learned about nursing salons from Marie Manthey, RN, of Minneapolis, who has helped start salons around the country. Manthey writes a blog about the salons she hosts and attends at mariesnursingsalon.wordpress.com.
Mikos and Hardy spoke with Manthey about conducting nursing salons in the Chicago area, and so far three have taken place, hosted by Hardy; Shawn Tyrell, RN, CNO at Adventist Hinsdale (Ill.) Hospital; and Melinda Noonan, RN, DNP, NEA-BC, nursing operations director at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Mikos said she plans to host a salon in March.
Manthey attended the first salon at Hardy’s home, where 31 people took part. Guests came from a broad spectrum of specialties and age groups, and also included male nurses from the region.
Kathy Mikos, RN
“I brought students in, and we also had retired RNs, so we really ran the gamut of representing various thoughts,” Hardy said. “It’s not necessarily representing various specialties, but where people are in their life and how they look at the profession.
“I think the cool thing about these is they’re not discussions, they’re conversations. Discussion kind of implies we’re trying to weigh people’s opinions on a certain topic, and that’s not the focus of this. It’s truly the opportunity to sit and converse about important topics. It’s a little bit like complexity theory, where the whole is really more than the sum of the pieces.”
The topic of conversation the first evening was what can be done to help new nursing graduates at a time when many of them are finding it difficult to land their first job.
“The very first question that was asked — it’s the only question — was ‘what’s on your mind in nursing today?'” Mikos said. “By the time you go around the room, there is a topic that kind of naturally surfaces and becomes the focal point for the night’s discussion. There is no agenda for the meeting, and there are no minutes, no accountabilities. It’s just that conversation for the night.
“When you walk away — and I think everybody felt that in both [nursing salons] — you are absolutely with something inside yourself,” Mikos added.
Lora McGuire, RN, MS, a retired Joliet Junior College faculty member who serves as a clinical educator at Provena St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill., attended both salons. She said she found the no negativity rule at the salons refreshing.
“It was so great to be in a room with such dynamic nurses. When I came back [to work], I was so excited,” McGuire said of taking part in the salon. “It was so great to be around passionate people. I decided to do it every other month. I would be interested in hosting one.”
The hope is nurses who have taken part in the first few events will do just that: take it upon themselves to host their own nursing salons. Growth is key to the success of the salons, Mikos said. The more salons that are available, the less chance those salons will become stale.
“You don’t want it turning into a club,” Mikos said. “You do want new people coming in.”
Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.