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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nurses: 10 Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season

By Kristeen Cherney

Just as the seasonal changes mark changes in weather, flu season brings about changes in health and wellness. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of people in the United States get sick with the flu annually. While many cases clear up on their own within several days, complications from the flu can require medical office visits and even hospitalizations.

As a nurse, flu season makes for even busier work days as offices attempt to fit in as many patients for treatment as possible. The problem is that this also means that nurses are placed at an increased exposure to the flu. Treating someone with the flu doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get sick, but a weakened immune system might increase your risk. Consider ten ways you can boost your immunity to the flu as you treat others with the illness this season.

1. Consider a flu shot

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still says that an annual flu shot is the best mode of protection for everyone, including healthcare workers. Some medical practices and hospitals even require that all staff and medical professionals get flu shots. These requirements are certainly not without controversy, since not everyone wants a vaccination. Your decision may also depend on individual risk factors, such as age and personal health history.

2. Employ the use of surgical masks

Surgical masks are certainly required in some jobs. You likely can’t wait to take off your protective mask after participating in a surgery. As uncomfortable as they might be, you should consider wearing a mask when coming into contact with season flu patients. On top of that, encourage the use of masks in sick patients to help prevent the spread of the flu to others.

3. Keep your hands away from your face

Throughout the day, you might scratch your face or brush something, such as loose hair away from it. Such simple acts can lead to transmission of the seasonal flu. It’s hard to be mindful of this fact all of the time, but remembering not to touch your face at all can ultimately help keep you from getting sick.

4. Forget fancy soaps

You already know the importance of frequent hand washing, especially as a nurse. You can keep your hands clean simply by following basic rules and using regular soap and water. While having hand sanitizer around is not a bad idea, don’t waste time and money on specialized soaps. Such products are not any more effective than regular soap.

5. Fit in a quick workout

After being on your feet all day, the last thing you may want to do is work out at the gym. Crazy hours can even make working out seem impossible. Still, the benefits of regular exercise are undeniable, and it can even help protect your immune system. Think of quick spurts of exercise you can fit in throughout the day, such as taking the stairs or taking laps around the building during a five-minute break.

6. Keep apples at hand


When it comes to the flu, an apple a day really might keep your doctor away. Apples are widely available during fall, which also happens to be the beginning of flu season. The nutrients will help boost your immune system, while the fiber can also keep you full. Try apple slices for quick snacks.

7. Assess your individual risk

High-risk populations might need to use extra caution during flu season. This includes pregnant women and anyone over the age of 50. If the flu seems to be running rampant around your building, take extra precautions.

8. Change out of your clothes ASAP

Washing your hands and wearing a surgical mask may do little good if you wear your germy scrubs home. If possible, change out of your clothes before heading out of the building. Store in an airtight bag and take them home with you.

9. Be mindful of ill co-workers

No one is completely immune to the flu, including those who get vaccinated. If you notice a co-worker starting to get ill, encourage them to go home. Also be mindful of shared surfaces and disinfect them right away.

10. Stay home

The only real way to stop the spread of the flu is to eliminate exposure. As a nurse helping patients, this can be impossible. However, if you get sick, you should keep others well by taking the day off.


Resources
• Freyer, Felice J. (2014, September 25). Brigham and Women’s nurses sue over flu shot mandate. Retrieved from http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/09/24/nurses-union-sues-block-proposed-flu-shot-mandate-brigham-and-women-hospital/SQBXdxd1OQwTie5Fyg1d1J/story.html
• Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs. (2014, August 28). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm
• Preventing the Flu. (2010, December). Retrieved from http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/kids/vaccines/preventing-the-flu.html


Author Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites with a focus on women’s health issues. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and cultural studies. When she's not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga, and traveling.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Nursing From Within by Elizabeth Scala

I had the distinct pleasure to read an advance copy of Nursing From Within by Elizabeth Scala this summer and I have to say it came at the right moment.

We all experience lows in our nursing careers and Elizabeth hits the nail on the head when she guides you through the process of reaching within yourself to find that passion and learn to love nursing again.

So once again I am honored to be part of the virtual book tour for this wonderful book. Every nurse should read it and it's a MUST for your professional library!!

Nursing From Within will help you to love nursing again as  it directs you to take care of your own body and soul so that you can continue to be there for your patients.

Nursing is one of the most physically and emotionally exhausting professions and if we don't replenish ourselves we will not last very long. Nurses make a difference in someone's life everyday and in order to be able to be there we need to keep filling up our own fuel tank with love and compsssion for ourselves and our career.

Elizabeth writes in a conversational style that it easy to read and retain the tips and information she gives you. And it's easy to pick it up again and again to refresh yourself when times get really stressful. Thank you Elizabeth for this insightful book!

The healthcare industry is undergoing many changes now as we accept the challenges of the Affordable Care Act.  Most notably right now, nurses are taking a lot of heat with this Ebola crisis and it's important to remember why we wanted to become nurses and to hold on to that passion and love even through the trying times.

Nursing From Within will support us as we take this next leg of our journey through the life and career as nurses.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Catch Up Friday: New Apps, Workshops and Books for Nurses

It's catch up Friday again....
We have a host of new books, apps and workshops for nurses.

Next week Sept 30 and Oct 1 (Tues & Wed) the IOM is holding a workshop on The Future of Home Health Care: A Workshop in Washington DC. You can view it LIVE for FREE without having to travel. See details on the IOM website. Home health care promises to be one of the fastest growing employment for nurses. You can find out more about home health care nursing from my website HomeHealth101.com.

TheJoyCE continuing education tracker app is now available from the CEU Group to help you keep track of all of your CEUs. 


Check out the Events Calendar from RNtoBSN Online Programs. It's a great idea and addition to their very useful site. While you're visiting be sure to look around at all of the great information they provide.

For those thinking about a career in nursing here's a Definitive Nursing Guide (2014)

Highway Hypodermics Travel Nursing 2015 the latest MUST HAVE travel nursing guide from Epstein LaRue is available now. It's trending high among the Best Sellers in Nursing Issues, Trends & Roles on Amazon. You'll love the way she writes and be delighted with the amount of information she gives you if you're a traveler or thinking about travel nursing. Check out her website too.

Elizabeth Scala has written an excellent book, Nursing From Within. I was humbled to be asked to read and review the book before it was published. It is an excellent book and a MUST HAVE for your professional library. It hit #1 on Amazon's New Releases for Nursing. The Virtual Book Tour starts on Oct. 1. Check out the list of reviewers. I will be posting mine on Oct. 16th.

My latest book, The New Nurse Handbook was published in July by Fall River Press and is available now.  It revisits the Everything New Nurse Books, but was updated and revised in early 2014.

Happy reading!!!!



Friday, September 12, 2014

Top 100 Nursing Blogs

Once again I am humbled by the peer recognition for this blog. Thanks so much for the honor and the kind words. Please check out the list. There are some really great blogs on it.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget






Monday, August 18, 2014

HCAHPS Score -- Focus From Day One


Do you understand what HCAHPS scores are and why they are important to your job? Or do you only know that your supervisor brings the scores to staff meetings and yells at you to improve?! Your HCAHPS Score should be a focus from day one of your employment, but you need to know why.

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The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a sophisticated and nationally standardized patient satisfaction survey which bench marked against hospitals all over the country and is publicly reported . This means a patient who is looking to find the very best option for his or a loved one's care is going to look at these scores and decide the best place to go.

Healthcare is a service industry and nursing is the backbone of that industry. Consumers expect the highest level of customer service from service providers and now they have the power to effect change in the healthcare industry by voicing their opinion about the care they received.Low scores are going to cause a hit to the financial pocket.

To be able to focus on your facilities HCAHPS scores from day one, you need to have training and tools. Your education begins at onboarding and should continue throughout your career there. Nurses need to understand Regulations and requirements such as HCAHPS surveys. Participation is required in order to receive the maximum reimbursement which covers options available in the facility, the type of treatment offered, and trickles down to your salary and staffing.

Having the options to provide education and tools to nurses with the latest evidence based practices and clinical competencies depends on how well your patients and the community value your care and recommend your facility to others. Quality of patient care depends on the tools nurses have. It's a cycle and hospitals need invest in their staff and provide the tools in order for staff to grow professionally and be able to step up the quality of patient care.

The HCAHPS survey utilizes multiple questions to determine covers six important areas of the patient's experience of care. These include:
  • how well the doctors and nurses communicate with the patient and how comfortable he is that he understands what you said
  • how responsive is the staff to his individual needs 
  • how well do the doctors and nurses manage his pain
  • how well do the doctors and nurses communicate key information about his medications, treatments, and discharge information throughout his stay and especially at discharge. 

Other elements in the survey include the patient's comfort levels such as the cleanliness and quietness of the room. And then the overall rating of the hospital and whether or not the patient would recommend the hospital to others.

For staff to understand and buy into the HCAPHS program, the hospital needs to provide ongoing education and information, not just raw scores and condescending remarks that staff needs to improve. Nursing is about combining the art of patient care with the science of medicine and technology to allow patients to assume responsibility for their own health status and outcomes. Information, communication and education are key elements and all of the players needs to know and understand the impact of regs like HCAPHS.

Patient education is one of the major keys to reducing the high cost of medical care and to achieving better outcomes. Patients need to feel confident moving forward with their own health care and to do so they need the best possible evidence based care and instruction. With these tools they can maintain and improve their health status and give the credit to those who helped them get there. HCAHPS score do matter and you need to understand why and how to improve your care. Feedback is essential to improvement. Listen to the information and get involved in the improvement process.

Disclosure: This content has been brought to you by Halogen Software, the market leader in talent management software. Bringing value to nurses is at the forefront of Halogen Software’s goals so they are partnering with nurse leaders online to bring attention to important issues that healthcare organizations face every day. To find out more Halogen Software and the support they can provide to your nursing staff check out their healthcare page.

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Recognition from NurseJournal.org

We are once again in Great Company with these 15 Awesome Nursing Blogs to follow from NurseJournal.org. Thanks again for the recognition.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

One of the Top 30 Nursing Blogs



http://RNtoBSNOnlineProgram.com
We've been honored again. And we are in some pretty great company as a pick for the Top 30 Nursing Blogs by RNtoBSNOnlineProgram.com. Thank you for your kind words and peer recognition.




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Use Common Sense with Social Media

Social media is wonderful and externally useful, but like anything, it comes with a need for etiquette and good old common sense!! Users have to accept responsibility for anything they post and set privacy settings to maintain social professionalism. Be discreet and aware of all of your connections. Understand that law enforcement can access your accounts if needed, and nothing is completely hacker-proof. Nurses will be held to a higher level of expectations for professionalism.

Nurse Blog CarnivalSocial media tools such as LinkedIn are most useful in job searches and networking. In fact many employers hire exclusively through this app. But be sure what you post about yourself on your profile is true and that you use discretion if you don't want your current employer to know you are looking around even if it's just a casual glance to see what's out there and what you might be worth. Remember your boss might be looking too. It's also a great place to join interest groups and share experiences and information about your particular field. You might even connect with old friends or previous colleagues.

Facebook is great for connecting with friends, meeting new friends with similar interests and staying in touch with family and friends across the miles. But remember as a nurse you have HIPAA regulations to abide by with regards to your professional life. These regs apply to all aspects of your professional life and all levels of social media. Don't be posting stories about your patients, even if you don't use their names, it's hard to avoid details that might identify the person. And for heaven's sakes don't be posting pictures even if they tell you it's OK. What happens at work, stays at work!

Twitter is another way to keep up what your friends are doing, and it also gives you information on what's trending at this moment. You can follow celebrities, sports teams, breaking news. etc. It's instantaneous and remember anything that appears on the Internet can be found again even if you delete it. So be sure it's what you want to put out there before you hit send or upload.

Written words and photos can be taken more than one way and even your best friends can interpret something the wrong way and make a lot of drama for you.

Make sure you know the people you allow to post on your sites, and if necessary set your privacy so that you have to approve everything first. Or have a very select group of friends who have access to any page.

Google + is a way for nurse bloggers and authors to authenticate their writing and to gain recognition. It's also a way to connect with friends and share information. Pinterest is great for quickly sharing such things as ideas, humor and photos.

Flickr allows you to share photos with those you chose to do so with. This allows others to view and possibly print or share with friends you allow to do so.

There are numerous other social networking and sharing apps and websites that can be quite useful and fun. Just be sure to be aware of what you share and who has access. Also be sure to remember not everyone "gets" nurse humor or is open to hearing about blood, guts and gore.  Someone you don't even know declaring something you said is offensive can get you banned form a site, or fired from your job.

Enjoy social media but like anything else in your life as a nurse, understand you are held to a standard that others may not be.

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up here.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recognition is Appreciated!!!

We have been honored once again as one of the 16 Blogs You Need to Read from MedicalScrubsCollection.com. Thanks for the inclusion!!! (We are listed #1) Check out their site, their scrubs and their blog. And the other blogs listed... there are some really great ones in the list!!!

It's Catch Up time.... I have a lot of information and great sites to share with you...

I recently received an email from an NP who has put together a really great forum for Nurse Practitioners. NPForum.net Give it a look and spread the word to the NP community.

Check out RNspire Initiative and see what people are saying about what inspires them to be nurses, and what others are saying about the wonderful nurses who have inspired them. Great idea from Cardinal Health to show appreciation for nurses.

Need to create a resume?  Here's some great tips to Create an Effective Nurse Resume in Five Easy Steps. Examples are included. Remember to always keep your resume up to date. You never know when you or your employer might need it. And if you put it off, you might forget some very important experiences you've had.

Mediaplanet Publishing has established a new Nurse Appreciation Campaign with some great content and ideas.

Nowhere But Up; The Future of Nursing is a great infographic to share.

Please enjoy these sites and be sure to share them on your social media Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Gooogle+ etc. If you have a site you'd like us to share, email me. It may take a few weeks, but I will try my best to include as many as I can in my next Catching Up post.

Enjoy some summer reading. Hurry this offer expires July 16....
Barnes & Noble