Sharon P. Fisher has always wanted to make the world a better place and she believes that nursing is her true calling. She is a board-certified Adult and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner located in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the owner of Nurtured Well, a women’s mental health practice, and she is also a co-author, wife, and mother. Sharon values community in the workplace and feels we can all learn something from one another. It is crucial to acknowledge your feelings as well as those around you and to never ignore the importance of self-care.
Thank you so much for your time! I know you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what early experiences brought you to choosing a career in the medical profession?
I always wanted to do something that made the world better in some way. After a brief stint as an ecologist, I knew nursing was my true calling. I loved caring for people and the flexibility it offered. I also loved how pure it was. As an ecologist, there was controversy in the area I was working between the people we were regulating and some intense environmental groups. I felt caught in the middle.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you in your career as a doctor?
I’m not sure I can pinpoint one most interesting thing. What I love about nursing is that every day is full of interesting people. I thrive on learning the stories of others. As a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, I also find observing my response to people very interesting. That, of course, is part of the therapeutic process.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting out on your career? What lesson did you learn from that?
My first job as a nurse was in the cardiac progressive care unit caring for patients who just had open heart surgery. I was at the end of my fourth night shift in a row and exhausted. I brought my patient his insulin and administered it. Only problem was, it was the wrong patient! He did not even have diabetes. I immediately brought him ice cream and orange juice, paged the resident on call, and then rechecked the patient’s blood sugar. The patient was fine, the resident was too tired to care, and when I called the patient’s wife to explain what happened she calmly said: “Oh that’s why he’s so happy—he loves having ice cream for breakfast”. Of course, I analysed how I made my mistake and strategized to not do it again. But at the end of the day, it was not nearly as catastrophic as I thought it was. I also realized that the only health care providers who don’t make mistakes are the ones who are either not practicing or those that are lying.
To #DareToCare means to survive and thrive in today’s medical world. How do you take care of yourself? What’s the routine you must do to thrive every day?
I am religious about meditation, exercise, and getting enough sleep. I do all three almost every day. I have learned to be flexible in how I achieve this. For example, some days exercise may be a 40 minute intense work out and others it is a 10 minute walk. My meditation can last from 2 minutes to 30. I feel something is always better than nothing. I am gentle on myself about this.
I write a series of letters to my God-daughter in my latest book. In that same vein, what are 5 things you would tell your younger self?
The 5 things I would tell my younger self (in no particular order) are:
1. You are enough.
2. Travel more.
3. Take the time to figure out what you really want your life to look like and unabashedly pursue that.
4. Wear sunscreen
5. See a therapist.
How can medical professionals reclaim heart-based healing amid pandemic, political, and other pressures?
Health care providers are under more pressure and strife today than ever. It is novel to be living through the same trauma our patients are experiencing. Take the time to grieve. You may be hurting over the unprecedented death toll from Covid, the behaviour of your fellow countrymen, the end of innocence…whatever…all feelings are valid. Grieve. Second, set an intention for your day when you wake.. What drove you into medicine or nursing? Tap into that. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day. You can even write it on a piece of paper and take a photo of it. Make that the screensaver on your phone. There will always be challenges and distractors. Remembering your motivation will inspire you.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your work as a healthcare professional? Can you explain?
I am a practicing Kadampa Buddhist. This means that I engage in daily prayers, meditations, and readings from Buddha’s teachings. The major tenet of Buddhism is that we are all suffering. Compassion is seeing suffering and being energized to help relieve it. As healthcare providers, we are privileged with the opportunity to do this every day. If we learn to see this as a blessing, not a burden, we will be inspired by our work. Therefore, I recommend Introduction to Buddhism by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. One does not need to be a Buddhist or convert to benefit from his great teachings.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence in the healthcare community. If you could inspire other doctors and nurses to bring change to affect the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Said another way, what difference do you see needs to be made for our collective future?
I think for us to thrive as humans, we need to really focus on community. We need to see the world as one large interconnected village. Health care providers can do this by supporting one another. In the United States, there is still a hierarchy in health care. There is also a major bias towards Western medicine. I think both things interfere with really helping people heal. Of course, we should use evidenced based practices however, we should embrace all reasonable ideas. Furthermore, different disciplines need to learn from each other. I fantasize about a hospital where all employees have to shadow other professionals in health care for some amount of time. For example, social workers would shadow nurses who would shadow pharmacists who would shadow doctors who would shadow respiratory therapists, etc. We do our best work when we are complimenting each other, with open minds and compassionate hearts.
How can people connect with you?