Friday Q&A with Stacey Mitchell

I'm pleased to bring you a new Q&A this week, featuring Stacey Mitchell. Stacey is the immediate past-president of IAFN and a fantastic role model for people looking to push the boundaries of where forensic nursing can go. I like chatting with her because she has a similar perspective on the importance of understanding the business of what we do. Located in the great state of Texas, Stacey's now taken on a considerable challenge in her most recent venture--but I'll let her tell you about it herself:

I've been a SANE since: 1993

Hospital or community-based program? Hospital based program. Harris County Hospital District is a community owned system. We are implementing a full service program to include all aspects of abuse and neglect including trauma injury and evidence collection

I'm a SANE because: I enjoy the forensic aspects of health care

The best advice someone ever gave me was: "Don't take no for an answer"

A skill every SANE should have is:
Critical thinking skills

A skill every program coordinator should have is: It's two: management and leadership skills. These are core. In addition, they should also be people saavy in terms of working with different specialties and not trying to force them to bend to your will, but to see how to compliment each other.

More money or more staff?
Both. Can't have one without the other

I wish someone had told me when I was first starting out: Get your MBA

My most indispensable resource is:
the support from my colleagues and coworkers

My strong suit is: Being able to work with anyone and sell the program

I would rather eat glass than: meet with the budget office Gotta learn to speak the language of "finance". They are a tough crowd.

I take care of myself by: having great friends with whom I can talk and having friends who are NOT forensic nurses

It will be time to do something else when:
I'm forced to do it all, lose the hospital support or get too old to get out of bed at 2am

In 10 years I would like to be: an administrator (with a forensic program in my hospital, of course)

Words of advice for a struggling SANE program coordinator? Surround yourself with the people who are smarter than you. You don't have to know it all. So, find those that do and enlist their help (financial people, hospital lawyers, supportive doctors etc...). Don't be afraid to ask for help and then listen to what they tell you. Take your time making decisions and know that you don't have to make them all by yourself. Don't be afraid to say "I didn't understand a word you said. Would you please explain that to me?"

Running a forensic program is hard work. You have to go out there and find the resources, ask for help, provide lots and lots of information (mostly numbers). It's worth it in the long run because if you are prepared then they (most of the time) won't say no. If they do say no, then ask when can this topic be revisited.

Jenifer, there is so much to tell a new coordinator. I could go on and on for days. The coordinators these days have to understand that it is a business. Their program is a business (a small one, but one nonetheless). Things will not be handed to them on a silver platter. It takes hard work and asking lots of questions for the outcome to go their way. I think many expect things to be given because it's for a good cause. Those days are gone. The coordinators must develop a business sense because the nurse executives and administrators all have MBAs and think analytically while the staff nurse who fell into this role hasn't learned that yet.