To LA and back: Spreading positivity on the RSCCU

In the Respiratory Specialty and Comprehensive Care Unit (RSCCU), the staff works to provide exceptional care to patients who are seriously ill, including palliative care. Working with this patient population can take a toll on one’s emotions—to stay positive, the staff boosts morale through fun games.

Monica Willis, RN, BSN, PCCN, staff nurse with UI Hospitals & Clinics for over six years, spreads positivity as the chair of the celebration committee.

“I was motivated to take on this role because I appreciate teamwork, and I like creating a positive atmosphere,” Willis says.

In it to win it

Monica Willis, RN, BSN, PCCN, with the RSCCU’s “prize box.”

Prior to COVID-19, staff participated in an array of activities to socialize, including potlucks and games. Due to COVID, for safety reasons, they couldn’t do potlucks, and the unit became too busy for games.

This didn’t stop Willis from finding ways to bring fun to the department. One of her favorite activities to plan was a contest to see who could get the most steps in—putting a positive spin on the unit’s fast-paced environment.  

“We had two teams, and at the end of the month, we tallied up how many steps we walked,” she says. “With just the people who tallied, we walked enough to reach Los Angeles.”

In April, the staff played a “parents look-alike” contest, which was a fun twist on the well-known “baby look-alike” contest. The staff submitted photos of their parents when they were young, and their colleagues tried to guess whose parents were whose.

“It’s about having something fun to do. Work can be draining and we’re all working hard, but we can play also,” she says.

Celebrating hard work

The celebration committee also recognizes staff achievements, including milestones in their careers. One example is celebrating nurses after they complete their first year.

“That first year of nursing is really hard,” Willis says. “It’s important to recognize that and let them know that you understand how hard they have been working.”

In addition to recognizing milestones, the staff also celebrates national health care holidays like Social Work Month, Physical Therapy Month, and more to recognize their staff.

The patient population is unique, and the unit is often busy. By celebrating successes, everyone on the unit is recognized for their consistent efforts.

Boosting morale

The celebration committee includes the nurses, doctors, social workers, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and more on the unit. They all work together with the common goal of bringing joy to their colleagues.

The staff has shown their appreciation for the games, activities, and recognitions. Many have been bringing in things to donate to the prize box that the committee uses for games.

“I’ve had some really great feedback,” Willis says. “People want to donate and help out so that the games can continue.”

Even the simple things, like tracking steps, can uplift the spirits of everyone involved.

“We work on a floor that takes a toll on your emotions,” Willis says. “But these celebrations create positivity.”

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