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Lessons in Lavender and Leadership

Marilen3 resized 600Marilen Logan, RN, MSN, PHN, stands hunched over a table. In her hands are vials. That's not unusual for a nurse in a busy city hospital - until you look inside the vials. Rather than a blood sample, these vials contain lavender, peppermint and lemongrass.   


"Patients in the hospital are often under a lot of stress," says Marilen. "Certain scents can enhance a feeling of calm, reduce anxiety and in turn improve outcomes."   


She adds, "It's also a familiar healing approach for many of my patients, who have been exposed to the benefits of aromatherapy because of their unique cultural backgrounds."

Marilen says her own diverse background inspired her to create the aromatherapy program. "I grew up using aromatherapy. My aunts in the Philippines would boil certain leaves when my mom suffered migraines. And my mother would give me citrus fruits to smell when I got carsick."   


Marilen created the unique program last year while at Sutter Health's California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) in San Francisco. Her program was the centerpiece of a study the hospital conducted to determine how aromatherapy could improve patient satisfaction and overall experience. It was so successful there; she hopes to import the program to CPMC's St. Luke's campus, where she's now the interim supervisor of nurses in the telemetry, medical-surgical, and intensive care units.     


Journey to Nursing  

Growing up in her native Philippines and then Dubai before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Marilen always admired the work of her aunts -- all nurses. Although she wanted to follow in their footsteps, Marilen's journey to nursing took a slight detour.   


"Believe it or not, I was squeamish about blood," she laughs. So after earning a degree in psychology she worked in the world of finance.   


But as Marilen watched her parents get older, she realized that the need for high-quality medical caregivers would grow. So she banished her fears and entered a masters nursing program with an emphasis in health care systems leadership.   


"My parents believe strongly in education and compassion for others," Marilen says. "I want to pass along those same values to my teams. When nurses are supported and encouraged, they see the bigger picture and begin to really 'own' their unit. This results in a better working environment for nurses and better patient care."   


Marilen says her deep-rooted values also created a foundation for her professional success. "I have been able to move into leadership because I'm always looking for ways to continue my education. My supervisors at CPMC also have confidence in me and help me find these opportunities," Marilen says.   


In fact, her aromatherapy program was her final project for the Leadership Residency Program, a one-year paid leadership development program sponsored by Sutter Health. "I was amazed and grateful to be selected by my Chief Nursing Officer to take part in the LRP," Marlien says. "I'm also thankful to work for a hospital and health system that supports its employees with such wonderful opportunities."   


Future Smells Sweet  

Marilen's dreams for her future are as strong as the lavender oil in her aromatherapy program. "I hope to become a chief nursing officer someday," she says. "I also hope to teach student nurses and honor my aunts by mentoring my younger cousins who have gone into nursing."

"I've found a great place to work and see myself staying here a long time so that I can give back," she adds," "I want nurses to be happy where they work."


To learn more about nursing at Sutter Health, please click here.


This is bull, I dont think she never even work longer as a bedside nurse. Yes into leadership, your approach as a nurse will be different if you work in real nursing care. This is a slap to bedisde nursing.
Posted @ Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:05 AM by Eric
This is one of those pretend to be nurse, She went fast track and did not do bedside nurses, I bet you she did not even have bedside experience. She admit that she is squemish with blood and admit she wants to be CNO, you have no idea how to take care of patient. This article is slap to nursing!!!!
Posted @ Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:11 AM by john
Wow, instead of criticizing an individual for practices that they believe in, why don't you praise the initiative to assist our patients. Regardless of the path in which she obtained her current position, her education and devotion to the patients is evident. Lastly, if you decide to overly criticize someone, please do so in a grammatically correct fashion so you do not look as ignorant as the responses you are posting.
Posted @ Thursday, March 22, 2012 11:57 AM by Paige
Unadultered tripe.... 
Dropping in 2 large bore Iv's into a patient exanguinating onto the floor is nursing. Comforting a family who just lost a loved one is nursing. While I can appreciate the human response to something that smells lovely this type of thing makes me think of the laughable nursing diagnosis of " Energy Field Disturbance " 
" yep she's a real straight shooter with upper management written all over her ".... 
and Paige, I can be devoted to running in circles till I am dizzy but it still doesn't get me anywhere. Let's stay practical with things. Nursing has its roots in practicality. Clean linens, fresh air good hygeine - Florence Nightengale took common sense and made a profession of it. It seems we as nurses have strayed from those things that built our profession and seize upon every esoteric opportunity to enter into New Age Mysticism. 
Let's stay with the Science and Compassion of Nursing and leave the Witch Doctoring and Voodoo to the lower IQ population
Posted @ Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:19 PM by Stacy
I would rather have this obviously caring nurse than any of these nurses making mean comments. I don't know if aromatherapy works, but mean and arrogant certainly does makes a for a good nurse.
Posted @ Thursday, March 22, 2012 5:41 PM by Carol
Wow, these negative comments are something else. Instead of being appreciative that a nurse is taking initiative in developing new ways to comfort patients, you instead bash the route in which she became a nurse. Even worse, you did it in a grammatically incorrect, hard to understand way! I'm pretty sure she didn't get her degree and license from some diploma mill. A nurse is a nurse. But please don't be my nurse with that sort of attitude.
Posted @ Friday, March 23, 2012 12:28 PM by Chloe
I agree... such negativity and ignorance. Aromatherapy does work and what harm is there to making the environment more pleasant!!?? 
I think it is interesting and shows creativity. 
Posted @ Monday, April 23, 2012 9:58 AM by rose
Wow!! Why are nurses so hard on each other? Always eating our young and being way to critical of each other. The "Profession" of nursing makes room for all types of nurses not just "bedside” nursing, right? I believe aromatherapy is a wonderful thought, especially if effective. I applaud Marilen for thinking outside the box.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 01, 2012 1:39 PM by Toshua
Some of these comments are so spiteful and small minded as to not be worthy of comment. 
How can you think that someone who is trying to share an aspect of healing from their past and culture is nonsensical? My mother is a very conservative Christian. Whenever we got sick she burnt pinon incense and sage. Likewise, when I get ill, I burn the same incense. When I’m stressed, I’ll rub some lavender oil beneath my nostrils and it helps. I’ve done a lot of work on reservations and sage is nearly universally burnt among First Nation peoples. I just can’t believe that pleasant scents are so strongly opposed by nurses. I guess so many are used to the smell of b.s. 
Posted @ Wednesday, May 02, 2012 1:51 AM by Ryan
Historically, nurses are hard on one another. We are in challenging times with difficult work environments and huge workloads. Although we can disagree with one another, it would be more productive if we could be open to ideas and interventions outside our traditional toolbox. Teaching "cultural competentcy" to nurses, physicians and other clinical professionals, I have observed that if we are not "culturally competent" we are not "clinically competent". Access to care is the first step to healthcare and the next step is to be able to "engage" the patient. If you are not open to interventions that can help engage and develop trust with the patient, a nurse will not be able to effectively have a patient's commitment to compliance. Describing "vodoo or witch doctoring" as "lower IQ", reveals something from this clincian that could benefit from some cultural competency education. Our nursing scope has demanded a broader knowledge and understanding of the science, however, we also much realize the diversity of our patient population. As we work with diverse populations, we have to expand our knowledge base. This means we need to ask ourselves to consider interventions that are outside our comfort zones. We all view the world through a different set of glasses. If aromatherapy is useful for helping some patients relax, then more power to this practice. I'd prefer this to taking a sedating medication.
Posted @ Wednesday, May 16, 2012 1:50 PM by Eve
Interesting dialogue. I can imagine that the many nursing theorists such as Orem and the theory of self care and Leininger's theory of culture care received similiar negative comments; however, they are notably published and studied in nursing schools. Imagine that!!
Posted @ Tuesday, July 09, 2013 3:38 PM by Yvonne
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