How NOT to Lose $20 Million Dollars in 1 Day

When I looked at the case studies Paul handed out to us yesterday, as soon as I saw the words “Harvard Business School” written at the top of the page, I could literally feel a gray fog covering all logical parts of my mind. Despite the many times my father, a banker, has attempted to sit down and “talk business” with me, with hopes of teaching me a lesson (or twenty), I am quick to zone out. Whenever I hear someone labeled as a “business person,” an automatic picture is painted in my mind of someone who is greedy, underhanded and pretentious (I’d just never tell my father that). I tend to view them as people with personality traits that are polar opposite of the caring, candid, genuine, and empathetic nurses I have been educated by. I wholeheartedly recognize how inaccurate this depiction is, but blogging provides an avenue for these thoughts to be safely expressed, right?

Today, I was swindled out of $20 million dollars (thank you, Sean…sorry, Dad). As soon as I sat down to “negotiate”, I knew how unqualified I was to even attempt such a task. To say I was “uncomfortable” would be an understatement.  Instead of walking away without a deal to find someone much better suited to handle this situation, I thoughtlessly allowed myself to be led down a deceptive path, ultimately leaving $20 million dollars poorer than when I arrived (I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I type those words).

Although this fabricated “negotiation” had no significantly negative outcomes (aside from public embarrassment), I automatically realized how much of a wake-up call this one exercise was for me. Not only did I realize I should finally take my father’s business lessons seriously, but I learned to never allow the behavior I exemplified in this negotiation to carry over to my professional behavior as a soon-to-be Registered Nurse.

Having already attended two days of a Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Camp, I was truthfully both shocked and discouraged at how I attempted to “do business” with this seller. I have consistently heard the advice from faculty members here reminding us that if we don’t know how to proceed in a certain situation that may arise, “Admit you don’t know the answer and then go find it!”  In my case, I should have walked away from the conversation and returned either when better prepared or with someone more experienced in negotiating.

As an attendee of the Telluride Experience, it is understood that I hope to never be a nurse, especially a new graduate RN, who puts her patients at risk by pretending to understand an order or know how to successfully perform a clinical task that I truly do not completely comprehend. This is precisely why I came to Telluride. I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded people who have the same wish for themselves: to never put their patients in harm’s way. People who view safety not as a priority, as John Nance said, but as a core value.

In addition to never pretending to understand something when I do not, my wish as a new RN is also to never be afraid to be “the small voice” of the eighteen-year-old who spoke up when he noticed the Air Force Colonel’s error, saving hundreds of lives.  Whether it be a more experienced nurse, a physician, a pharmacist, etc., whenever I doubt their course of action, I hope to rely on my intuition and own nursing skill and knowledge, never belittling my own intelligence. I know that if I continue to always put the patient and their family at the center of care, which is the ONLY place they belong, neither of these two fears will ever become a reality.

Needless to say, at the end of the day, I am very much looking forward to Paul and Farzana’s extra negotiation class tomorrow afternoon.