We Are the Change – Adaptability as a Core OHNA Value

Submitted by Marina Ormes RN, HN-BC (ret)
OHNA Director through 2023

Adaptability is one of OHNA’s core values and we certainly have been living it the past three years. Our tag line: We Are the Change, means we are changemakers—leaders at the forefront of change. It also means we must be able to stay current with changing and evolving conditions and situations.

Nurses, of course, are uniquely positioned and well-trained to respond to changing needs. We are patient advocates, the eyes and ears of not only changing vital signs or lab tests, but also changing energies—the “vibe” in the room.

Good nurses are tuned in, in practical as well as energetic ways, to what our patients need. Holistic practice means we are present with the patient and the patient’s family so we can notice what needs to happen… not just TO the patient but FOR the patient’s greatest good.

As our beloved Kathleen Bell and other presenters reminded us during last month’s conference, healing is not the same as curing. While curing means eradicating a disease or restoring physical health following an injury, healing can occur at all stages of life and in response to all life events.

We can even heal while actively dying, and this means we as nurses remain present so we can support what best serves the patient, whether that is physical comfort or through emotional/spiritual integration that leads to greater wholeness.

All of this applies also, of course, at the organizational level. We must remain present to what IS, not just what we thought or hoped for. We must be ready to respond to needs as they emerge and change approaches when called for.

In 2020 we were thrilled to have made a commitment for Full Camp with Breitenbush Hot Springs for our conference. For the first time ever, we had grown enough that we anticipated registration numbers high enough to justify reserving all of Breitenbush, just for OHNA conference participants.

Then along came a global COVID-19 pandemic that has forced all of us to adapt. As if that weren’t enough, as part of the massive forest fire events of 2020, fire tragically destroyed much of Breitenbush’s buildings and infrastructure.

Adaptation for the Board of OHNA has meant cancelling our 2020 full-camp conference, pivoting to an online conference in 2021, and not being able to meet in person for two years. Board members were, as so many of us were, stretched thin. We have had to learn ways to support our own resilience, both at a personal level and as the governing Board of OHNA.

The past three years have been challenging, but in September of 2022 we were able to meet in person, with a smaller group, at the actively regenerating Breitenbush Hot Springs.

Many forest species are strengthened by adverse events such as fire. Some, like morel mushrooms, even wait until after fires to fruit with their delicious mushrooms. I felt this strength when we met together. I was moved by the power of Breitenbush’s efforts to rebuild. I felt the power of what OHNA has become as a group while “not” meeting in person, while “not” doing business as usual, while “not” getting much accomplished from our to do list.

I felt the strength of who we have become because we know how to heal—not because nurses are better at healing than anyone else, but because as holistic practitioners, we trust the healing process to unfold without needing to control or understand it.

And what we have become simply feels magic. It is more deeply rooted, stronger, clearer, and more organized in both thinking and readiness for action. Participants at the conference were all of these things individually as well as together. What was shared by many at the closing ceremony was not just a sense of personal renewal, but a sense of deep regeneration that included clarity about action steps, commitment to self-care practices, and strength to step into more leadership roles within healthcare and beyond.

This, to me, is the epitome of adaptability. It is the ability to let go and surrender with intention and with being present to what is. In so doing, we allow ourselves to become what we could previously only imagine. It is an integrative approach. It is giving ourselves permission to let go of what isn’t working and become something new, even when (maybe especially when) it isn’t comfortable to do so. This is what it means to be the change.