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Lessons from Gardening

Self Study: Aspirational Guide and Pragmatic Plan

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 110
As I write this, the March nor’easter has just barely clipped DC on its blizzardly path up the Atlantic coast. Earlier in the week spring was everywhere.  Now it can't be found.  But I know it will be back. It is rarely a straightforward path from season to season.    

As I thought about the capricious spring weather, I remembered my evolution from dreaming about creating a compelling landscape to transforming our property into an ever-evolving expression of realistic beauty. I continue to learn about the dance of balancing the permanence of the land with the transience of the local environment and my skills as a gardener. What are the lessons learned that apply to an NP postgraduate program?  Continuity requires change. What are the commonalities between an amateur gardener's self study and that conducted for a postgraduate training program?  The self study process is emblematic of how to manage the paradoxical relationship between permanence and change.  The outcomes of thoughtfully conducted self studies provide guidance on managing the change process to support relevance and excellence, resulting in continuity, whether in a garden or in a postgraduate training program.   

Bottom line:  use the self study as an aspirational anchor and a pragmatic guide for documenting success and identifying areas for improvement.  Celebrate success.  Be inspired by failure.  Embrace the interconnection between permanence and change.

Super Bowl: Preparation Results in Nimble Pivots and Overtime Win

SWOT Analysis – Preparing for Nimble Pivots and Success

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 134

Mid-winter is a time of end-of-season rivalries and celebrations (or not!), analysis and reflection, planning and implementation. 

This past weekend, the 51st Super Bowl had a nail-biting, historic overtime win, complete with a half-time sky diving diva, heroic vindication, familial dedication, awkward award moments, and a stolen jersey.  The Patriot’s 4th quarter come-from-behind victory is emblematic of careful preparation, taking stock of current circumstances and making immediate decisions that fueled success.  

The common theme here is the importance of rigorous preparation prior to nimble, targeted response. That preparation includes conducting an internal evaluation, considering the findings, executing a plan.  Now, how does this link to the need for a training program to conduct an internal self study followed by external validation of its findings, then executing on a plan?  Conducting a SWOT analysis provides information that is useful in determining a program's strategic direction.  

1980 Hockey Olympic Dream Team -- Miracle on Ice

Self Study -- Characteristics of an effective group

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 172
As a student at the University of Wisconsin, I had some appreciation of the importance of hockey as a fast, hard-hitting game of endurance and strategy.  But I came to appreciate hockey as an example of disciplined and rigorous team work, resilience, almost psychic communication, and exquisite timing during the 1980 Olympics.   So what is it that makes a team come together and accomplish amazing things, including a transformative self study?


In the previous blog we discussed the importance of creating the core self study evaluation group.  This blog will explore the on-going process of group development.  Bruce Tuckman, a scientist, psychologist and professor emeritus at The Ohio State University described five stages of a group:  forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.  

Lessons Learned from the Great Pyramids

Self Study -- Committee Work is Excellence in Action

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 135

The new year has begun; we’re all back to work.  So, if you are thinking about accreditation, the big question is: “How do we begin the Self Study process?“  As Mark Twain wrote, “the secret to getting ahead is getting started”.  Let’s get started. 

As I think about daunting tasks, building the pyramids comes to mind. Another daunting task -- conducting a self study.  What are the lessons learned from the pyramid builders that are germane today and applicable to conducting a self study? 

Lessons Learned from Cleaning Closets and Getting Organized

Self Study Energizes and Informs Your Program

Candice Rettie, PhD 0 256

Welcome to the inaugural posting in a new series exploring the purpose of the self study in the accreditation process.

I recently read Marie Kondo’s quirky best -sellers: “the life-changing magic of tidying up; the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” and the sequel “spark joy”.  In concept, a self study is just like cleaning and reorganizing a closet, maybe a lot of closets since there are magnitudes of difference in the scale of activity! Think about it...

Over the next several months, we will explore in more detail how to conduct a meaningful and relevant self study using a nine-step process.  In creating this series, please do reach out to me personally or through the comments box to create a conversation about how to conduct a self study.  I look forward to your questions, concerns, experiences and observations – they will enrich the posts and the conversation.    


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