Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

I always feel a little nostalgic about leaving a year behind and going into a new one, but 2008 is one of those years that isn't too hard to say good riddance to. There were some good times, but the economic disaster certainly put a damper on it for all of us.

They say it's going to get worse before it gets better. Isn't that always the way? Did you think it could get much worse? It's pretty scary to think about how much worse things can get. Being my Scarlett O'Hara self, I'll think about that it's time to celebrate the passing of this year and the dawning of a new one.

Hold on to the hope that 2009 will turn out to be a terrific year after a bumpy start. Party today, but be safe! Believe in the magic of the holiday season.

Happy New Year!!!

Image: Artiom Chernyshevich

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays!!

Hope you all have a very happy holiday season. Let us all hope that 2009 dawns with new hope for a good year filled with good health, peace and prosperity for all.

Take time to enjoy this time with family, friends, and yes, even your patients. The holidays can be difficult times especially for nurses who have to work. Thank you for all that you do for your patients!! Give yoursel a well deserved hug and pat on the back for a job well done!!!

You will make a difference in someone's life today and all through the holiday season as you do everyday. Take time to appreciate yourself!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Become a Nurse

In the next few weeks some of the points I'm going to address revolve around How to Become a Nurse which is a series of articles I wrote that I know is not comprehensive enough.

Nursing is a terrific profession. It's far from perfect and there are many good and bad points to it. But I challenge anyone to find any job that doesn't have just as many ups and downs.

I have often said and will repeat, nursing is one of the most rewarding professions, but at the same time it is also one of the most physically and emotionally challenging! Nursing is NOT for everyone! But for those who are up to the challenge, even the sight of blood, the smell of vomit or feces, and touching dead bodies are issues that CAN be overcome.

Sit at a table with nurses having a meal and you'll soon find that no subject is too gross to be discussed while eating, so somehow we have gotten beyond our worst fears and made it this far... you can too! That doesn't mean that every time I hear someone yacking, I don't have to gag back my own urg! I just learned how to deal with it.

So here are a few points about nursing that you may need to know. In the next few weeks I'll elaborate on them, so stay tuned.... subscribe to the RSS Feed.

  • You do need to be able to understand math and science. This means such subjects as algebra, chemistry, microbiology, and anatomy and physiology. Need help?
  • You need to be able to read and write at a 10th grade level (minimum) in the native language of the country where you are studying. This is necessary to understand the math and science as well as nursing classes.
  • If you already have a BA or BS degree, you don't need to start over and get an Associates degree in nursing. Look into BSN programs or accelerated nursing degree programs.
  • There are MANY different roles for nurses including hospital nurses, clinic nurses, nurses in doctor's offices, insurance nurses, school nurses, forensic nurses, occupational safety nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists,
  • pediatric nurses, oncology nurses, rehab nurses, geriatric nurses, home health nurses, dialysis nurses, and many many more.
  • You don't need to decide on a specialty area before starting a program, but you should explore what education you need for that role. For instance to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP) now you have to have a Master's Degree. So be prepared for more schooling.
  • There are NO Online nursing programs for non-nurses! Don't spend hours digging through sites that promise you these. You have to be at least an LPN/LVN to study and online nursing program for a higher degree.
  • LPN and LVN are the same. The title is Licensed Vocational Nurse in CA and TX and Licensed Practical Nurse elsewhere in the US. More about the LP/VN.
  • You can go to nursing school in PA and go back home to CA to take the NCLEX and get your license to practice nursing. The program just has to be ACCREDITED!!!
  • There is a critical shortage of nurses that is only going to get worse as the population ages and nurses retire. There is also a shortage of nurse educators, so nursing schools are impacted and many have waiting lists.
  • You can become a nurse at almost any age. You can become a nurse as a second, third, forth, etc. career. And you can advance your Nursing education and career at anytime as well.
  • Nursing is a lifelong learning experience. You will need to take continuing education courses to renew your license.
  • You can become a nurse if you have been convicted of some criminal activity, but you must be honest about it and investigate the situation first!
  • You can lose your license or have it suspended for getting a DUI, taking drugs, or committing criminal acts including domestic disputes.
  • More MEN are needed to become nurses.

I have provided links to some of the material I already have available on some of these points and will begin to work to provide more content in the next few weeks.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Season of Suppers

Any home health care nurse or other professional can tell you that for many shut-in seniors their only companion is often a beloved cat or dog. All too often these seniors are barely able to care and feed themselves, much less feed their best friends.

Many times they share their own food with their animals because of economic issues. Purchasing and carrying in food for their animals can also present problems for seniors who therefore give up some of their own nutrition to feed their best friends instead of struggling with heavy bags and cans of pet food.

Banfield Pet Hospitals for pets have combined forces with Meals on Wheels for the third straight year now to promote a program, Season of Suppers, to help provide pet food to recipients of Meals on Wheels who also have pets.

The campaign this year began on November 1 and continues through the end of the year. Fund raising efforts as well as the collection of donated pet foods will continue through Dec. 31.

Janet Crosby, DVM, Guide to Veterinary Medicine has spotlighted this program in a recent blog.

Monday, December 8, 2008

National Influenza Vaccination Week

The CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named December 8-14, 2008, National Influenza Vaccination Week and has designated specific days of this week to represent different age groups.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) wants to remind nurses and all health care workers of the importance of getting immunized against the flu each year. The flu shots are not cumulative and do not protect from one year to the next. This is an important point we make to our patients, and one we all need to heed ourselves.

With nursing shortages and the looming possibility of cutbacks by hospitals. clinics and other health care settings due to the poor economic situation, it is perhaps even more important for nurses to take measures to stay well and be able to go to to work.

Tuesday, December 9 is Children's Vaccination Day. Each year in the U.S. 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized with influenza or complications from it.

Thursday, December 11 is Senior's Vaccination Day. Seniors are always a high risk group for pneumonia and other complications from the flu and should be vaccinated every year.

Friday, December 12 is Health Care Worker Vaccination Day. Hospitals, clinics and other facilities are holding special immunization clinics to ensure all of their workers are vaccinated. Nurses who work with direct patient care are highly recommended to be vaccinated each year. Those who work with any high risk group such as HIV/AIDS or other immunocompromised patients need to protect themselves, but also their patients from the spread of the flu virus.

Last year only 42% of health care workers were vaccinated against the flu virus. Yes, it was a poor vaccine last year, but this is an alarming low number. Each year 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with flu virus and complications. And 36,000 die every year.

Receiving the flu vaccine helps to protect yourself, your patients, your family and your community. Do your part....please!

For more information see the CDC site.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Arrogant, Abusive, Disruptive Doctors

Who would have thought?! The New York Times reports today on a study that shows that arrogant, abusive and disruptive doctors are often contributors to medical mistakes! Did it take rocket scientists to figure that out? Almost any nurse could have told you that!!

The article showcases one such example as a nurse tries to contact a doctor in the middle of the night about a young patient whose shunt is obviously malfunctioning. The doctor becomes arrogant and berates her for calling him because she doesn't know anything, she's not a doctor. A few hours later, after he ignores her third call, the patient is taken to emergency surgery.

Studies have also shown that such abusive behavior leads to low morale, increased stress and high levels of turnover of staff. The American Medical Association has begun to take stock in the complaints nurses have been waging for years. Now many medical schools even have core courses in good communication skills and leadership skills.

Hospitals have also begun to form disciplinary committees which include doctors, nurses and administrators to address complaints and develop a no-tolerance policy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing each of you a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are You Ready for the Holidays?

Ready or not, we are officially headed into the holiday season this week as Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday when retailers traditionally begin the holiday sales. With the poor economy this year, retailers started early and Black Friday may not be the wild day it has come to be known for. Regardless, the holidays are upon us! And this one is going to rough for a lot of people!

For nurses, the holidays can be even more stressful than for the average person. Sick people don't get well for the holidays. The shifts have to staffed and vacation time is often restricted during this season as well. Those with seniority may have some pull, but usually only a few will be able to have sufficient time off to plan for, much less enjoy the holidays. Nurses know they have to be organized and plan ahead. Many tasks need to be delegated. Just like at work....

Here's a few tips for a low stress Thanksgiving. Relax and enjoy the season!

photo: David Lat

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Economic Effects on the Nursing Profession

The downturn in the economy has done a couple of things for the nursing profession. More nurses who have not worked as nurses for awhile have returned to active status in order to bolster their family income and to cover lost income for instance if a spouse has lost a job. This has lessened some of the nursing shortage.

On the other hand, as in any industry, cut backs are likely. Where nurses are going to be most affected by this is in areas where nurse-to-patient ratios are not set and/or enforced. Mandatory overtime will also continue to be an issue, and where it has not been, expect that it may come to be a problem.

Nurses will continue to have good job security as a general rule, but this can vary with the financial stability of the facility or company.

Working conditions have always been a huge issue for nurses, and with a recession heading more towards a depression, this is going to be an even bigger issue. What we need to do is to remain a strong collective voice and continue to advocate for better conditions and improved patient care and safety.

With all of these challenges, it will be increasingly important for nurses to work closely with their administration and to make needs and ideas known to those who can help to make them realities such as legislators. Establishing and enforcing nurse-to-patient ratios will be ever more important in the future.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Share Your Ideas with Nurses in Congress

Health care and the nursing shortage are going to be BIG on the Hot Topics list for the next administration and Congress to discuss this next term....

One of the primary points that I feel very passionate about is that nurses must advocate for themselves, their fellow nurses and their patients. We must have a strong and collective voice. That doesn't mean that we must all have the same voice.

Providing quality patient care means that we often have to be imaginative, inventive and flexible. Home health nurses know that often we have to improvise when we don't have the exact tool that we need to get a job done.

From this we learn to understand that health care is not an exact science and that nurses provide the art of caring along with this knowledge of science. We have a lot of ideas to share and ways to do things much better and more efficiently.

Nurses need to learn to share their ideas and strategies. This is not always comfortable at first, but it can be the most important part of your job. Get involved at your unit level and begin to become part of the brainstorming and planning process. Even if everyone balks at your idea, they may give you constructive criticism about it that allows you to tweak and twist your idea into something that will work.

Nurses also need to get involved in the political process. You don't have to be registered to vote or even a U.S. citizen to discuss your ideas about nursing and health care with legislators.

Many of us feel that our own local legislators are completely out of touch and yet somehow seem to get reelected every time. This can be disheartening and creates a roadblock to the exchange of new, and many times better, ideas. The beauty of the American system is that we aren't restricted to discussing our ideas just with our own representatives.

The are currently 3 nurses in the House of Representatives. (Unfortunately their are none currently in the U.S. Senate.) Two are RNs and one is an LPN. As nurses, we hope that they will be more receptive to listening to nurses. So if you have ideas to share or opinions about legislation to share and think that a fellow nurse may better understand your point of view and support it, then by all means contact one of these three women:

Rep. Lois Capps, for instance, introduced the National Nurse Act (HR 4903) legislation to the 109th Congress in 2006. Each of these three women have introduced and supported many bills in support of health care, patient safety, and the nursing profession.

Get to know your own legislators, and work with these 3 nurses to support more legislation to promote the nursing profession and patient care and safety.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hospice Pioneer Florence Wald Has Died

The American Nurses Association announced the death of Florence Wald, RN, MSN, FAAN. Wald passed away Saturday, Nov. 8, at her home in Connecticut. She was 91.

Florence Wald was a home health nurse, a professor and a dean, and a pioneer in the field of hospice nursing in the U.S. She studied hospice care in London and returned to the U.S. and developed a model for the holistic and humanistic care of the dying that continues to this day to influence hospice care in this country. She taught nurses that they had to understand the concepts and dynamics of death and dying in order to provide quality care to the patients and their families.

Wald earned several degrees in nursing and in science and was published widely. One of the many distinctions she earned was being inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame in 1996 for her distinguished career and her contributions to the nursing profession.

Our deepest sympathies are with the Wald family. May they always take comfort from the fact that this great woman was deeply loved and respected by the nursing community for all that she taught us about the art of caring and nursing, and for her contributions to hospice care.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama Invites Your Ideas

President-elect Obama has asked the nation to contribute ideas about the change we need to see come to fruition. You can add your ideas to the website.

If you need some ideas here are a few:

  • Teri Mills MS, ANP,CNE, RN would love for as many nurses as possible to visit The National Nurse site to learn more about this proposed program and then to send a personal vision note to the Obama site. This could certainly help nursing move forward.
  • If your facility has a particularly bad or good set of working conditions for nurses and the nursing profession, please be sure to send along your ideas and help to promote a new vision for nursing.
  • Do you have an idea about how to improve the nursing education process? How can we manage to educate more new nurses and turn away fewer qualified applicants each year? Contribute your vision and ideas.
Health care is a primary issue for this next administration and nurses are the backbone of the health care industry. The nursing shortage will continue to affect the quality of health care and the health care delivery process. It is vital for ALL nurses to get involved and have a voice in the future of this essential profession.

Thank you for taking the time to participate!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Clear and Decisive Election

After eight long years and three presidential elections, we have finally managed to elect a President without hanging chads, and election tampering issues abounding from every corner!! We don't have to wait for a recount and the results were clear with a wide margin. There were still issues at many polling places, but thankfully, far and above, the issues revolved more around record turnout and long lines than with irregularities.

No matter who your candidate was, the election was for a change fair and clearly evident. This was best accomplished by the huge turnout of voters who wanted to be sure their voice was heard.

Americans voted and their voices were heard in this historic election. Now it is time to come together and resolve the many issues facing this country and the world.

The nursing shortage and health care are issues which are intertwined in the many crises affecting the U.S. and the world. All eyes are going to be on Americans and how these issues are dealt with.

It is important for nurses to continue to work with the new President and Congress to address the issues affecting our profession and health care. Voicing opinions, ideas and complaints is something that nurses have to learn to do in an effective manner. Venting to family and friends is a positive way to help reduce stress, but it is important to learn to become part of the solution.

Take an active role in writing or emailing often to your legislators and to our new President. Voice your opinion on pending legislation and always encourage them to become informed about the issues facing nurses and patients.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I for one am ready for this election to be over! It has been the longest campaign, and of course has turned into one of the dirtiest ever! But then there is an awful lot at stake this time. The economy has never been as bad as it is now, and health care in this country has never been at such a low.

As nurses we are part of one of the largest industries in this nation and we have a HUGE voice. There are almost 3 million of of us and we can influence this election and the way this country addresses health care and the nursing shortage. We DO have a voice for a change, and we need to use it. Please be sure to exercise your right to vote tomorrow.

The commentators and comedians are worried that they won't have as much material if McCain and Palen aren't elected. Well that's funny for a moment, but it's not the major issue in this election! We have all enjoyed some humor, especially in the past few weeks, and we have needed that laughter!!! Thank you SNL!!!

But the seriousness of this election cannot be so easily dismissed. There are a lot of serious and critical issues on the ballots across this nation. Issues that affect human rights and the well being of our citizens.... from teen pregnancy to gay rights, to fixing our roads and protecting our elders. All of these issues affect each and everyone of us and our loved ones.

Please take some time to read carefully about the candidates and measures you're voting on and make informed choices. Look beyond the ads and the propaganda at the actual proposed measures.

And then when all is said and done, on Wednesday, we need to come together and begin to work together to make this nation great again, and to restore the world's confidence in us. We need to move forward to ensure that all Americans have health care and that this nursing shortage is taken seriously and met head on with the funding and legislation to help solve this crisis.

Get out and vote, and then do your part to help out so that all of your fellow nurses have an opportunity to vote!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

California Nurses Ask What You Could Do With $150,000

The California Nurses Association is asking what you could do with the $150,000 the Republican National Committee recently spent on Gov. Sarah Palin's wardrobe and makeup. "Spending $150,000 for a one month wardrobe while painting yourself as a 'hockey mom' or the voice of 'Joe Six Pack' is an insult," said CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro.

The CNA/NNOC points out that the $22,800 the RNC spent on Palin's makeup would pay for 224 mammograms, or 651 flu shots or would provide nearly 14 years worth of Lipitor for one person to lower his/her cholesterol.

To illustrate their point, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC)has set up a website,, to show how $150,000 could have been better spent, "at a time when Americans are struggling to pay their medial bills or keep their homes," according to Geri Jenkins, co-President of CNA/NNOC.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Refelctions on Doctors from Kaplan Books

Kaplan Books recently published the latest anthology in their Kaplan Voices Nurses series Reflections on Doctors. I was asked to contribute to this book and you'll find my story, Rants to Raves, on page 85. Other contributors you may recognize include Emily McGee RN and Terry Ratner, RN, MFA who also served as editor for the book.

The New York Times published a review of the book today and Terri Polick RN reviewed it on

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

West Virginia Nurses: Renew Licenses NOW

There are approximately 8000 nurses in West Virginia who have not yet renewed their licenses this year. The deadline is October 31, 2008. This is a change from previous years when the deadline was the end of the year. Nurses were all notified, but officials are becoming concerned.

Nurses face fines of $500 for November and $100 per month thereafter if they continue to practice without renewing their license. Facilities can be fined as well for allowing the nurses to continue to practice.

Nurses can renew licenses online at the West Virginia Board of Nursing. Payment by credit card is accepted. The cost of renewal is $35.

Some nurses have expressed difficulty in completing the required ceus in time to renew early. There are many options for ceus online. Most allow you to print your certificate immediately upon successful completion of the test. West Virginia requires 12 contact hours each year.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vote in the Poll

I just added a poll in the sidebar. You can only vote once, but give us your opinion who should become the next US President and VP. It's totally unscientific, just for fun, and anyone is allowed to voice their opinion whether they are a U.S. citizen or not.

If you are a U.S. citizen, please remember to register and vote on Nov. 4!!

Thanks for participating.

Be an INFORMED voter! Information on the Health Care Plans for each candidate is available here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All of the pink ribbons are meant to remind women everywhere to get a mammogram, and to learn and practice regular self-exams of their breasts. Getting to know your own body gives you the best advantage of finding an abnormality early. Early detection is a huge factor in the successful treatment of any cancer but especially breast cancer.

Remind your patients that not all lumps are cancerous. If they find one, don't panic, schedule an appointment and check it out to be sure. As nurses we need to set the example by doing. Schedule your mammogram today! Or remind your wife and other loved ones.

For information about breast cancer, symptoms, treatments and exams, see The Breast Cancer Learning Center.

Help pay for free mammograms for those who have no insurance coverage at The Breast Cancer Site. All you have to do is click on the button. Do it often!

graphic from J. Crosby

Monday, October 6, 2008

Register and VOTE!!!

Today is the last day to register to vote in many states and territories. Nurses represent a huge faction of one of the largest industries in the U.S. (health care). The state of health care and the economy are something that effects all of us. No matter what your political beliefs and affiliations, please be sure you are registered and VOTE in this historic election!

You can register online in most states by accessing your state government's website. You can search by entering the phrase "register to vote in Ohio." Of course, you'll substitute your state's name for Ohio. Or go to Rock the Vote and fill in the form.

Travel nurses and those who may be away from home or unable to get to the polls can access absentee voting information here.

Photo: Steve Woods

Friday, October 3, 2008

ANA Website Explains Choice of Obama Biden Ticket

The American Nurses Association has endorsed the Obama Biden ticket for President and VP in the 2008 election.

To find out more about why the ANA believes Obama and Biden will be a better choice to help nurses, see the new website they have created to help voters make an informed choice. Information and materials are available from this site for nurses to educate others.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Having a Boring Student Rotation?

So you're bored with your Post Partum rotation. Well let this be your first lesson that nursing is not about YOU; it's about the patients and the excellent level of care you are giving them!

This rotation may not give you the adrenalin surge that you get in the ER or the ICU, but these patients are just as important. They need your help, understanding, education and caring. So rise to the occasion and meet this challenge.

Not every patient will present you with a specific set of tasks or procedures to perform. You need to figure out what kind of care they need. If nothing else... where are their knowledge deficits about their present condition?

The biggest problem with being "bored" is that you are likely to become complacent. These patients aren't "sick" but they are recovering from a tremendous effort their bodies have gone through in the last few hours or days. They need your care and guidance.

Here are just a few things to consider:
  • Have you assessed that fundus adequately? Is it firm or boggy?
  • Have you instructed the new mom in pushing fluids to replace the vast amount of fluids she lost during her labor and delivery?
  • Are you encouraging her to rest now and to understand what her body has gone through? Does she understand the recovery process, and the need for rest?
  • Is her nutritional intake adequate or is she desperately trying to lose all of the baby weight already?
  • Are her bowels working or is she going to go home severely constipated?
  • Have you instructed her in the need for protein and vitamin C for wound healing if she had an episiotomy or C-section?
  • Have you instructed her in the necessary food and fluid intake to produce milk?
  • Have you discussed breast engorgement, nipple soreness and how to avoid or treat sore or cracked nipples?
  • If she's not going to breast feed, does she understand about formula safety, i.e. not making eight ounces at a time and feeding from that bottle all day?
  • Have you discussed care of the baby including feeding, burping, and diapering?
  • Does the new mom know how to care for the cord and that it will dry up and fall off in a few days?
  • Does mom know to lay the baby on its back and not on its stomach?
  • Does she know how to dress the baby appropriately according to the weather or temperature?
  • If baby is jaundiced, do the parents understand the light therapy they'll receive at home?
  • Do they know how to clean their baby boy's circumcision, or under his foreskin if he's not circumcised?
  • Do they know how to clean their baby girl's bottom from front to back?
  • Do these new parents need some parenting classes or other community resources?
Have you reported your findings to your preceptor and documented carefully?

Post partum may not be your ideal niche, but understand that not everyday will be filled with excitement and challenging patients. There will be times when you are bored and times that you risk becoming complacent.

Don't ever assume that patients who aren't "sick" or don't appear to need much care have everything under control, or are doing "OK." Sometimes they turn out to be your most challenging patients because they catch you off guard and don't know it all and they don't even know enough to know that they don't know that they don't! Or they know just enough to get themselves into big trouble.

The biggest lesson you can learn from a boring rotation is that as a nurse you need to treat all patients with the same level of excellence regardless of their diagnosis, gender, race, or creed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More About a National Nurse

Have you read the latest article about the National Nurse campaign in Advance for Nurses, September 15, 2008 issue? If you don't receive this magazine, you can read the article online.

Learn more about this grassroots movement. And visit the National Nurse website and blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Best Places to Work in Health Care reports that Modern Healthcare has released its list of 100 Best Places to Work in Health Care in the U.S. Is your facility on the list? What do these places have that yours doesn't?

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, there are some hospitals that are experiencing no shortage of nurses. One such facility is Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack NJ where they actually aren't using registries or travel nurses to fill their staffing needs. They also don't recruit foreign born nurses. And they have a waiting list of nurses who want to work there.

On the other hand, New Jersey lists a nursing shortage of 13%. So what's up with this? Some recent research has found that money is not all that nurses are looking for. In fact hospitals that have offered great sign on bonuses for years have found that they can recruit nurses with this incentive, but they can't seem to keep them once their commitment is up. They'll move on to another hospital willing to pay a bigger bonus or better incentives.

So how do hospitals retain nurses? Well, for one thing by doing what we've been trying to tell them for years....Listen to the nurses!!! Not all facilites are created alike, and the needs will vary. Working conditions have long outweighed salary needs in most surveys although nurses will probably never make what they're worth.

Flexible schedules is a BIG item. Working twelve hour shifts simply cannot be maintained year after year by most nurses. Rotating days to nights is another issue. The average age of nurses is increasing and older nurses simply cannot handle the physical stress of twelve hour shifts. Even eight hour shifts may be too much.

Thinking outside the box is essential. Just because hospitals require 24/7 coverage does not mean that two or three shifts works well and provides quality health care.

Help with repaying student loans and tuition reimbursement is another important issue.

High housing costs are prohibitive in some areas. A couple of innovative hospitals invested in apartment buildings near their facility and offer lower rents to nurses and other health care professionals who work in their hospitals. Assistance with downpayments and mortgages is also an enticing incentive.

Concierge services such as car washes, drop off and pick up of dry cleaning, purchasing movie and theater tickets, and other errand services can help to reduce the stresses of everyday life for staff.

Another big issue is documentation. Many facilities are finally implementing ways to reduce the amount of time nurses spend on paperwork.

Facilities where nurses are able to participate in decisions and feel valued also tend to retain nurses.

If you are interested in working in health care, consider a healthcare management degree.

Resources:, September 13, 2008, What Nurses Want by V. Dion Haynes, September 16, 2008, Hospitals Offering Better Working Conditions Instead of Financial Incentives to Address Nursing,
No Nursing Shortages Here

Friday, September 12, 2008

ANA Endorses Obama

The American Nurses Association has has announced its endorsement of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) for President in the 2008 election. The ANA has endorsed presidential candidates since 1984. The process includes inviting candidates to submit a questionnaire on nursing and health care issues and having a personal interview. ANA also considers the results of its online survey of members.

Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addressed the ANA House of Delegates in June, 2008 and spoke about the need for real change to the U.S. health care system.

ANA President Rebecca M. Patton MSN, RN, CNOR, is urging nurses, who represent the largest faction of health care workers in the U.S., to work together to support Barack Obama for President. She has been quoted as saying, "working together, we can use our power in the voting booth to make health care a priority, and make Barack Obama the next President of the United States."

Obama has a history of advocacy for nurses by leading efforts in the Illinois state senate to improve the quality of health care and protect nurses.

Obama also co-sponsored legislation in the U.S. Senate known as the the Safe Nursing and Patient Care Act which includes limiting mandatory overtime for nurses except in true emergencies. If elected President, Obama has promised to sign this legislation into law. Read Barack Obama's proposed health care plan. This plan supports the nursing profession.

No matter what your political affiliation, please be sure to REGISTER and VOTE in the upcoming election!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Never Forget 9-11-01

Reminding all Americans to hang your flags tomorrow in honor of the thousands who were murdered on 9-11-01. God rest their souls!

We shall NEVER FORGET!!!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Widespread Problems with Compression Stockings

Recently CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) announced the latest additions to the Never Events/Do Not Pay List. This is a growing list of complications which Medicare will no longer reimburse hospitals for.

One of the items added to the list is blood clots which develop as a complication to hip and knee replacements. has an important article highlighting a study published in the September 2008 issue of American Journal of Nursing.

This study shows widespread (worldwide) problems with compression stockings. From improperly applying the stockings to inaccurate measurements and fitting, these stockings are not being used appropriately and therefore not helping to prevent the formation of blood clots.

This information can be helpful in improving the quality of patient care and preventing loss of reimbursement for blood clots which result from hip and knee replacements.
photo: Jobst antiembolic stockings

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Do You Want to Become a Nurse?

School has started again and this year's high school juniors and seniors are preparing for their future. If you are thinking about becoming a nurse, you should read Before You Decide to Become a Nurse.

There are a lot of deadlines coming up rapidly such as college applications and NET or TEAS testing arrangements. It's also time to explore financial aid options and start the FAFSA process. Some scholarship deadlines are rapidly approaching. Be sure you have these dates on your calendar and keep them in your sight.

Nursing schools are impacted and many have long waiting lists. Each year schools turn away thousands of qualified students. Make sure you do everything in your power to be accepted! You should also carefully consider the list of schools that don't have a waiting list. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket, apply to several to improve your chances of being accepted.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More Storms Coming Stay Prepared

So glad Gustav wasn't as bad as it could have been. I know it has been frustrating for those who had to leave their homes when it turned out not to be so bad, but there was significant damage to utilities and the threat was real. Better to be safe than sorry. We have to learn from history and sometimes, yes, we do over react. But no one ever wants to see another event like Katrina!

It's easy for me to say that, but I live in earthquake country where we don't have warnings. We have what we all call "earthquake weather" where we think it's too hot and too still for too long, but it isn't always reliable. In fact, it usually isn't. Scientists are working on a warning system, but it's still a Sci-Fi dream away.

The best any of us can do is to be prepared for the unknown with an emergency kit. And if we get an advanced warning take heed and don't play roulette with Mother Nature.

There are already three or four more storms stacked up in the Atlantic. This isn't going to be a fun time. Take care and let's all hope for the best. The most important thing is not to get complacent and to let your guard down. Stay safe!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Be SAFE Please!!!

Hoping everyone heeds the warnings, and helps their neighbors who need it, to get out of the path of Gustav! Upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane in Cuba, likely to be a Cat 5 as it hits the Gulf Coast late Sunday, early Monday. Let us NOT have another Katrina!!!

And for those celebrating the traditional "end of summer" Labor Day Holiday, please be safe. Drink responsibly and drive safely!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nurses Making a Difference in Someone's Life Everyday

Today I read one of the most touching stories about a nurse named Laurie Van Damme who goes above and beyond to help mothers and families deal with the tragedy of a stillborn. Even those who cannot face the possibility of having the time to make closure, have found comfort in her efforts weeks and months after the event.

Once the moment is gone, you cannot get it back again and for so many this is the most heartbreaking part of losing a baby.

Having suffered an ectopic pregnancy many years ago, I know the pain of not having a baby to make closure with. So many hospitals just whisk away the stillborn and think that it is best for the family to forget and move forward.

This is a truly remarkable nurse and she makes nursing the tremendous profession that it is. Thank you Laurie!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pay Attention to the Political Conventions

The political race in the U.S. has been a long one this time around, but as the parties head to their conventions, platforms will become more clear and we'll begin to understand more about where Obama and McCain stand on health care and issues involving solving the shortage of nurses.

No matter what your political preferences, we need to pay close attention to these issues. The nursing shortage and health care crisis in this country are very important issues in this election and how the next administration approaches them.

I hope you will all take some time to listen and read about the proceedings taking place in Denver this week and in the Twin Cities next week.

photo: Steve Woods

Friday, August 22, 2008

Deadline Approaching for Kaplan Anthology Submissions

A reminder to all nurses interested in submitting a story for Kaplan's new anthology about your experiences working with babies in their first 28 days.

The deadline of September 1, 2008 is quickly approaching.

photo from

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Little Humor for Your Day

Perhaps you have heard this already, but it gave me a giggle yesterday. They say laughter can add 8 years to your life, so laugh a little today!

This is NOT a true story, but it's cute. (See

  • Picabo (Peekaboo) Street the former Olympic skier has become an ICU nurse now and works in an intensive care unit in a large metropolitan hospital. She is not allowed to answer the phones however, because she was causing a great deal of confusion: "Picabo, ICU."

Picabo has been the brunt of jokes her entire life, as would most anyone with an unusual name. She is not a nurse, but she has been actively involved in fundraising and raising awareness of the cause of preventing child abuse.

Monday, August 11, 2008

News for Nurses

A couple of items worth bringing to your attention:

Behavior Affects Patient Safety
JCAHO recently issued a Sentinel Alert calling for all JCAHO accredited institutions to take note of findings hat patient safety is being undermined by inappropriate and unprofessional behavior exhibited by health care professionals.

Nurses, physicians, pharmacists, therapists and support staff who demonstrate intimidating and disruptive behavior toward other health care professionals, patients and others will need to be dealt with if facilities wish to comply with JCAHO standards as of January 1, 2009.

For far too long, inappropriate behavior has been ignored, unreported and never addressed for fear of reprisal or being labeled as a "whistle blower." Research has shown that patient safety is being compromised and JCAHO has taken the lead to put an end to such issues.

You can read more about this in my post at Ultimate

Will More Foreign Trained Nurses Ease Shortage?
The Emergency Nursing Supply Relief Act (H.R. 5924) is being considered by several subcommittees in the House of Representatives. On Friday, August 1, 2008, the Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 to pass this bill.

The bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representative on April 29, 2008, by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL). This legislation would increase the number of visas to 20,000 each year for three years allowing foreign born nurses to help ease the current shortage in the U.S. The bill would also authorize grants to help increase enrollment in U.S. nursing schools and develop new nursing education programs.

For more information, and to track this bill see:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Kaplan Publishing Needs Stories for Anthology

Kaplan Publishing has issued a call for nurse writers to contribute to an upcoming anthology entitled Kaplan Voices:Nurses series. For this portion of the anthology, entitled New Lives, the need is for nurses with experience working with babies in the first 28 days of their lives.

These stories would most likely come from OB-GYN nurses, NICU nurses, labor and delivery or newborn nursery nurses, nurse midwives, family practice or women's health NPs, nurse lactation or childbirth educators, pediatric nurses, and any other nurses who have had experience caring for newborn infants.

Kaplan wants you to tell the story of your experience including "the babies you have cared for, the unique clinical and emotional challenges of caring for an infant, and what you've learned along the way." They are looking for life-changing or life-defining experiences.

Stories must be true and from your own experience. Nurses must take care to protect the identity of patients with respect to HIPAA regs. The story must also be previously unpublished.

If your story is chosen to be published you will receive $100 and a complimentary copy of the book. Stories should be 1,000 to 2,500 words told in the first-person. They should be typed in 12-point Times Roman, double spaced. Email submissions are preferred, but they can be sent by mail as well.

Kaplan Publishing advises that due to the large volume of submissions, they cannot verify receipt nor issues updates. If your story is chosen, they will contact you and have you sign an agreement. You may submit more than one story.

Include your name, address, phone number and email address on all pages of your submission. Your story should have a title, as well as a beginning, middle and an end. Enrich it with details, descriptions and dialogue. Include a word count.

Deadline for submission is September 1, 2008. Email submissions to: In the Subject Line place your story's title and New Lives anthology for nurses

Paste the story into the body of the email or attach a Microsoft Word (doc.) file. Manuscripts accepted for publishing will be subject to editing. You will be given an opportunity to review the edited version.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nurses are Calling for Change

The economy has quickly risen to the top of the list of issues facing the U.S. candidates running for office this year from local levels all the way to the Presidential candidates. No doubt that is a major issue on the minds of everyone regardless of their political party preferences. It is something that has to be addressed and fixed, and the sooner the better!

But we can't let the health care crisis be lost in the process of trying to remain afloat financially. In fact the economic downturn directly affects the health care crisis. If we thought Americans couldn't afford health care before they started losing their homes and savings in banks that are going under, they certainly can't afford it now!

The shortage of nurses certainly isn't going to improve as long as Congress continues to ignore the need for funding of educational opportunities. And unless we address the shortage of nurses, the health care crisis is not going to improve. Nurses and proper patient education are key to the success of any (improved) health care program.

Nurses and the Public Say It's Time for a Change
, a collaborative article by Teri Mills, MS, RN, ANP, CNE and several colleagues looks at the health care crisis and the shortage of nurses and discusses this need for change. It's a must read for nurses, and please be sure to voice your opinion in the poll in the second section. (You will need to register at Medscape Nurses if you aren't a member already, but it's FREE.) A National Nurse for America is a concept to explore and to grasp. Get the facts and voice our opinion.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Did You Feel That?

We were rolling and shaking this morning here in Southern CA. Fortunately it was just a "moderate" earthquake, and we have laws governing structures so that we don't experience the level of damage a 5.4 quake could cause elsewhere in the world.

At the same time, we are reminded that there is a 5% chance that this can be a pre-quake to a much larger one within 24 hours and that makes for some serious nerves. It is also always a "drill" for a much larger disaster. We know that the BIG one will come someday.

As everyone jumped on their cell phones, we soon found the circuits jammed and access unavailable for at least 30 minutes. We haven't had a strong jolt like this for a very long time here and that has allowed too many people to become complacent about emergency preparedness.

How prepared are you for a natural disaster in your area? Take a few minutes today to review your plans and examine your disaster kits for outdated materials.

Monday, July 28, 2008

R.I.P. Randy Pausch

On July 25, 2008, Randy Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. But he left his family and the world a wonderful legacy in "The Last Lecture," a beautiful piece about how to really live your life to the fullest everyday.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Thank you Randy Pausch for such a great battle and for bringing attention to the battle too many people face each day with pancreatic and other cancers.

Rest in Peace!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Take Care of You to Avoid Burnout

Nursing is extremely challenging. It’s a physical job and emotionally draining. It’s also a profession that requires constant replenishing in order to keep going and giving. The rewards can be the best, but sometimes you have to dig deep to find them.

As we know, patients are not at their best. They are more concerned with getting well than with saying “thank you” to those helping them along the way. Families and friends are usually too stressed to be grateful either. It isn’t even likely to occur to them that the nurses would appreciate being thanked.

Today more than ever before, patients are going home earlier and sicker. Nurses are less likely to see the patient get well as a result of their efforts. Even home health nurses may not see the patient all the way through to wellness either. This takes its toll on feeling rewarded. Patients are expected to assume responsibility for their own health status and this often makes them even less likely to credit nurses for helping them achieve their goal.

In addition to being short handed and overworked, nurses may not always have a clear cut feeling of accomplishment. It’s important to pay attention to the little things. What did your new diabetic patient learn today? Did your patient with chronic pain actually have some relief today from your massage? How many hands did you hold? How many fears did you listen to and try to explain away? How many tears did you wipe dry? How much hope did you offer?

Being a nurse requires giving each and every day. In order to continue giving, nurses must replenish themselves. One way to begin this process is to spend a few minutes each day on your way home to review and take credit for the little things you did that made a difference for your patients today. Don’t berate yourself for what you didn’t do, but take stock of how you can improve tomorrow. Go home with a sense of accomplishment.

Once you get home, take a few minutes each day to do something for you. Take a few deep breaths, take a virtual mini vacation to your favorite spot, take a relaxing bath or shower. If you walk straight into a household and family with all sorts of demands, be sure to take a couple of minutes alone before you go in the door.

Be sure to take time for yourself, eat right and drink plenty of liquids. When you’re really stressed, arrange for a day off just for you. Take your vacation time off even if you don’t go anywhere. You need a break periodically. Take care of you so that you can continue to give to your patients!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to Prepare Your Nursing Resume

The research shows that there is a huge increase in demand for nurses in this country. The shortage should not give you, the prospective nurse or job-jumping nurse, a false sense of security. You still have to bring your A-game when applying for jobs after finishing up your studies or if you’re already established in the industry. This means that you need to have the most impeccable resume you can prepare. Make sure you remember that nursing shortage doesn’t lower standards. Unfortunately, your resume (typically a one-page document) is your foot in the door so you want to make the best impression possible. With that being said, here are a few ways to make sure your resume is up to snuff:
  1. Pay attention to your education. Be sure you spotlight any honors, achievements, fellowships and GPA (if it’s worth bragging about) in the education section of your resume. This is the place where you would give your licensure information (state in which you’re licensed and date achieved). Don’t give out your license number to preserve privacy. Further along the hiring process the hiring manager will obtain a copy of your license.
  2. Show them what you’ve done. Hiring managers want to know what you’ve accomplished and what areas you’ve specialized in your career. If you’re a new nurse then highlight unpaid internships and practicums. You want to make yourself stand out when your resume crosses their desk. Explain what the facility was like where you worked and what sort of caseload you were responsible for.
  3. Provide keywords. This is especially important if you’re submitting your resume electronically. If you compile a list of special skills in bulleted fashion with keywords like pediatrics, IT skills, etc. you will be more apt to be looked at. This gives prospective employers an even more cursory glance at what you’re made of than your one to two-page resume.
  4. Present a statement. It’s a good idea to lead off your resume with a section detailing your purpose or goals as you conduct your job search. You can make this a narrative and be a bit more descriptive than the normal resume outline allows.
  5. Keep the focus on your nursing background. If you’re shifting careers then we recommend you obviously put the stronger emphasis on your prior nursing career. You can do this by separating your experience portion of your resume into two sections: related experience and additional work experience.


This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of Salaries of Nurses. She invites your feedback at

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get Organized and Reduce Your Stress

Organizational skills are essential to nurses. In some areas they can be even more so such as for travel nurses, home health nurses, and advanced practice nurses with independent practices.

Paper work is a huge nemesis and nurses who are not organized tend to struggle with the paperwork more than others. Paper work and documentation is a fact of life and the sooner you stop fighting it, the easier life can be. The better your organizational skills, the easier the paper work can be as well.

The nursing process can help to organize nurses. Learning to prioritize tasks and patient needs is an excellent format for organizing the day’s work. This however, is a challenge for most nursing students and many new nurses.

Physical needs almost always trump psychosocial. Tasks with specific times such as wound care that is to be done several times a day, IV antibiotics, etc., take precedence over other tasks and general patient care.

Setting and following a schedule and utilizing a notebook or PDA can help to keep tack of information to be documented in the patient’s chart.

Anticipating the fact that when you are most stressed and busy, something will generally go wrong or interrupt your schedule can help to reduce the overall stress.

Don’t procrastinate with the things you don’t like to do. Get them out of the way as soon as you can and you’ll find that your stress level is reduced as well.

Seek out the organized nurses among your colleagues and observe them to see what they do to keep themselves on track. Be a sponge and soak up as many tricks as you can to help get yourself organized and your shift will be much more enjoyable.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Empathy is What Nursing is All About

Kim over at Emergiblog has a great way with words!! And this time she is reminding us that nurses need to provide empathy because it's what our patients expect from us. If we don't, we are likely apathetic and God help us all if we get to that point in our professional careers or life.

Thanks Kim for a great posting. We all need a pep talk now and then and this one bring home the point loud and clear.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Salute the Troops

As we all celebrate the birth of our nation, take a few minutes to salute and remember the men and women who have fought the many wars to gain that independence and to keep us free. Happy Independence Day!

photo: U.S. Army; U.S. Gov't. Printing Office

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 4th!

Wishing all of you here in the U.S. and territories, a very happy and safe 4th of July!

Summer vacation is well under way and if you're going to be a senior in high school in the fall, I hope you have your college plans in motion. You will need to be sending out those applications very soon. Nursing schools often have waiting lists so be sure to apply to more than one school.

You might want to consider going to a junior or community college for a year or two and getting all of your general education courses and nursing pre-requisites out of the way and then apply to the BSN program.

You can find more tips about How to Become a Nurse at The Nursing Site.

Monday, June 30, 2008

What If Nursing Isn't For Me???

If we are to be honest about the nursing profession, it is not for everyone. There are times when nursing students realize that nursing is just not for them. Nursing is one of the most demanding professions both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately many times nurses burnout and in order to maintain their own sanity, they leave nursing. But what do you do with all of that education? And how do you compete in the job market today? There are many alternatives in the allied health science field to consider.

In a job market much different than in years past, new graduates are fighting to find employment at all, let alone in their chosen specialty. Luckily, Clinical Laboratory Science or a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, as well as many other medical degrees still have excellent employment opportunities and high placement percentages. Pharmacists’ earnings are very high – a base salary of $107,403 in 2007 according to Modern Medicine Online - but are sometimes expected to work unusual or long hours.

Clinical Laboratory Scientists can expect base salaries in the lower $30,000s with positions as Forensic Scientists, Laboratory Managers, Medical Sales Representatives, and many others. According to Health Guide USA, the Healthcare industry is expected to add 3 million jobs, or 20% of all wage and salary jobs added to the economy, between 2006 and 2016, the most of any industry. What good news for anyone interested in allied health sciences! In a world where graduates are afraid they will struggle to find careers, students with CLS, PharmD, and similar degrees can rest assured their search will be much easier.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Research Online Programs Carefully

When looking for an online nursing education program you need to do some research. Of course it needs to be an accredited program. There are several accrediting agencies such as the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Some online programs require on-campus attendance as well as completing online courses. Others have cooperative agreements with clinical facilities and preceptors for you to complete clinical components. Others allow you to find your own qualified preceptor who is then approved by the school to supervise your clinical practicum.

Other considerations include whether you can take a part-time course load or must you make a full-time commitment? Tuition costs vary and financial aid issues should be investigated. Admission requirements can vary as well. Some want several letters of recommendation. Some have stricter GPA expectations from previous course work.

Programs can vary in the type and number of previous course credits that will transfer. Those who received their ADN many years ago should investigate whether courses will transfer. In most cases they will, but some individual classes may not.

The Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing offers an online nursing degree which is accredited by the NLNAC as well as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges. One of the unique graduation requirements of this program is the completion of 30 hours of community service. Students can find their preceptor and no on-campus attendance is required. Contact the school for more specific information.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RN to BSN Offers More Opportunities

There has long been a debate about the ADN vs the BSN also known as the 2-year vs the 4-year RN programs. Most of the hospital diploma nursing programs have faded into history although you can still find a few.

For years there have been rumors that the ADN or two-year programs would be eliminated, or that graduates from these programs would not be “real” nurses; only the BSN nurses could become RNs. Throw the LPN/LVN into the mix and you can start a war! Then along comes a nursing shortage and these rumors fade in favor of staffing needs.

All of these programs teach the basic nursing skills. BSN programs offer more theoretical nursing education, critical thinking skills and preparation for management. Therefore, most facilities require a BSN for a management track, and prefer MSN prepared nurses for middle and upper management positions.

No doubt, nursing is a lifelong learning experience. Continuing education is required for ongoing license renewal every one to three years depending on the state or particular license.

Facilities base pay scales and nursing responsibilities on experience as well as education, and most provide some sort of tuition reimbursement to encourage nurses at all levels to expand their education.

Online RN to BSN programs offer nurses a great way to earn their degree at their own pace. The University of Saint Mary in Kansas offers one such accredited program (CCNE) with five start dates throughout the year, and no on campus requirements. Diploma and ADN prepared nurses are eligible for this program. Nurses educated outside of the U.S. should inquire about admission requirements.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Women's Health & Midwifery Offer RNs Career Growth

As we all know, nursing is the largest health care occupation in the U.S. and the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that this trend will continue well into the next decade. The shortage of nurses will also continue to grow as Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) begin to retire.

As health care costs have shifted, nurses and especially NPs have begun to play a much larger role in patient care. The field of Women’s Health has expanded tremendously in the past few decades and will continue to grow far into the future. Nurse Midwives (CNM) and Women’s Health nurse practitioners (WHNP) will be in much greater demand.

With the added ability to write prescriptions and to manage patient care independently in most states, the popularity of this nursing field has grown. Recognition and reimbursement by insurance companies has changed the face of nursing and as Medicare and Medicaid begin to follow suit, nurses will gain even greater respect and recognition.

Advanced education opportunities can be difficult for nurses. Online education is one option to consider. While online education is not an option for non-nurses, advanced education is. One such program is available from the The University of Cincinnati. This program offers an online Masters of Science in Nursing with options in Nurse Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.

Courses can be completed on your own time even in your PJs. A qualified local preceptor of your choosing assists you with your clinical practicum. The programs are accredited b the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). Graduates of the WHNP are eligible to sit for the NCC (National Certification Corp.) exam for WHNPs.

According to the BLS, CNMs and NPs can earn $50,000 to $90,000 annually with an average salary of $70,000.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summit to Discuss Nursing Shortage and Faculty Shortage

On June 26 and 27, 2008, AARP, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Labor will hold a summit at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, VA to discuss the shortage of nurses and the shortage of nurse educators. The goal is to find solutions to the shortage of nurses and to improve nursing education capacities throughout the country.

Every year thousands of qualified nursing students are turned down by nursing programs across the country due to the shortage of nurse educators. Many schools have long waiting list for nursing students.

It will be very interesting to hear what ideas and solutions they come up with. Salaries and benefits for nurse educators have to be examined carefully! In most instances, a nurse can make much more money and have better benefits working in the field than working for a college or university.

Nurse educators have to be dedicated to educating new nurses. Colleges and universities cannot possibly attract the best nurses to fill their positions without being able to offer competitive salaries and benefits!

As soon as I have more information, I'll post it here. Stay tuned....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Are You Registered Voter???

I learned something very disturbing today at Healthcare United. Did you know that one in four health care workers is NOT registered to vote?!

There are over 10 million health care workers in the U.S. Twenty five percent of them are not registered to vote. That's 2.5 million potential votes!!!

The shortage of nurses and physicians is not going to be fully addressed until we elect a President and a Congress that understands the health care crisis and is willing to DO something to fix it.

Ten million health care workers united towards a goal of providing the very best health care possible is a force to be reckoned with, but we need every single person to REGISTER and to VOTE! We won't all agree on one political party or one particular candidate, but we must put forth a united front to stand up for our industry and our patients and demand that those we do elect work towards fixing this broken system.

I know that one of the reasons people don't register to vote is that the jury system pulls names from the voter registration lists. But most states use the DMV lists as well, so unless you aren't a licensed driver either, that's a really lame excuse to not register and vote! Jury duty is your civic duty, but let's talk about that another time...

Help get the word out at your facilities this year and make sure your co-workers register and VOTE!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Online Nursing Education

One of the most common questions I get is how to find an online nursing program. If you already have your LPN/LVN or RN and are looking for a BSN or MSN program, there is a comprehensive list (and links) available from our sponsor, (see their ad at the top of the right hand column).

However, for those of you who have no nursing education, an online program is NOT an option. Why? Well you simply cannot learn how to become a nurse without hands-on clinical experiences and that you cannot get from the Internet.

All students have an option to take some of the general education courses such as English, history, social sciences and even some math or physical sciences online. Anything with a lab component such as chemistry, is going to require an on site classroom experience. It is possible to complete many courses online.

Some nursing programs do offer a few of their nursing theory courses online for non-nursing students, and in the future this may catch on even more due to the shortage of nurse educators, but lab and clinical classes require hands-on, physical presence.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Some Must Read Blog Posts for Nurses

Mother Jones RN over at Nurse Ratched's Place has a very interesting blog post for this episode of Change of Shift. Check out those uniforms and nursing caps from some "old school nurses" as she relates our nursing predecessors to the challenges we face today as nurses. It's a great blog post!! Be sure to read the linked blogs as well.

Many thanks to Jana at Reality RN for asking me to guest blog!! (Staying When All You Want to Do is Quit.) I hope it's a timely piece for those of you just entering the profession. It's going to to take you about a year to get comfortable in your new role as a nurse. Give yourself time, and try not to run screaming from the building (and profession) when things get bumpy that first year. It will get better!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Attention New High School Seniors

School may be out and all you can think about is hitting the beach, but if you're a high school student who is thinking about a career in nursing, there are some things you should be thinking about while you're enjoying the summer sun.

Most nursing programs have waiting lists. Did you know that? Well you do now. There are some that don't but they may not be nearby or where you have always dreamed of going to college. So you're going to have to do some investigating and serious thinking about your plans. You might have to go somewhere else or you may have to plan on an extra year or maybe two in school to get your nursing degree.

A lot of nursing schools have a point system for their admission criteria. In addition to terrific grades and the SAT or ACT, you will probably have to pass an entrance exam such as the NET or TEAS. You may also have to have some experience in the health field either as an employee or volunteer. Some schools require that you become a CNA. Some will give you credit or points if you have worked as a candy striper or in a clinic or physician's office.

You may also have to write an essay about why you want to become a nurse.... and it should say more than just because you want to help people. You may need to know a bit more about nursing to accomplish this. Think about what you would say and start writing now. You can find a lot of the answers and information you need on The Nursing Site in How To Become a Nurse.

There are a lot of scholarships and special loan programs available to nursing students especially men and minorities, so start your search now! A nursing education can be expensive and you may not have time to work while you're in clinicals so you're going to need some assistance.

Applications to colleges will be due in the early fall if you'll be a Senior, and you shouldn't wait until the postmark date to get your thoughts and information together! Enjoy your vacation, but spend a little time each day working on your future too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Preparing for the NCLEX

Now that school is over and graduation is or will soon be behind you, it's time think about that dreaded NCLEX! Many recent grads report phenomena such as waking suddenly from a sound sleep with a panic that they have forgotten everything they learned in nursing school.

BREATHE!!!!! It's all still there. You have graduated. Therefore you must have passed. Calm down and relax, you will pass your NCLEX too!!!

Many programs have students taking practice NCLEX exams all throughout the program to prepare students and ensure a high passing rate. How did you do on these?

Take moment to regroup and figure out a plan. You just need to study a bit and you'll find that you do remember it all.

What you don't want to ever do is get burned out on nursing, leave the profession and let your license lapse!!! Then if you find yourself in a situation where you need to go back into nursing you'll have to take the NCLEX again....that can be an anxiety attack waiting to happen!!!

Take your ceus and keep your license up to date.

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer you is to.....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Safe Staffing Poll Results

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has compiled the results form it's Safe Staffing Saves Lives survey. The results are unfortunately not surprising ad nurses are encouraged to continue to contact their legislators to support the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act of 2007.

Over 10,000 nurses took part in the Safe Staffing survey. Here are just a few of the results:
  • 73% of responders report that they believe that staffing is not sufficient on their shift or in their unit.
  • 59.8% say they know someone who has left nursing because of fears about safe staffing.
  • 48.2% said they would not be confidnet about having a loved one care for at their facility due to insufficient staffing.
  • 36% rarely or never take a full meal break.
You can read more about the ANA survey and the results here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Congratulations New Grads!!

Welcome to the world of nursing! The best advice I can give you is to find a job where you have a long orientation. If you can find one that offers a new grad residency program, go for it.

This is a new model in new nurse orientation and is beginning to appear in hospitals all around the country. It's a year long program designed to support new nurses through the ups and owns of their first year as a nurse.

Most orientation programs are six months or less, and usually about six months is when new nurses suddenly feel overwhelmed and stupid. And just at the point where they need even more moral support, they get thrown into the real world to sink or swim. Unfortunately, too many times they give up.

Whether or not you are lucky enough to find such a program, do remember that you need to give yourself a WHOLE YEAR before you're going to begin to feel comfortable in your new role. Somewhere about six months down the line you'll really feel like this has been a mistake. Don't listen to that little voice!

Give yourself credit for what you have accomplished and time to feel comfortable. About nine to twelve months into it you will begin to find your confidence again. And you will see that you ARE a good nurse!!!

Research has shown this to be the case with the majority of new nurses so you are not alone! This will be the time to really seek out a mentor or to go back and review some of your text books. This will help you to realize that you do KNOW what you are doing.

Remember also that nursing is a lifelong learning experience. There will always be new things to learn how to do and procedures that change. You will have to leave your comfort zone often. But in doing so, you are doing something that makes a difference in someone's life everyday. Take stock in the little accomplishments everyday!!! You are a NURSE!

photo: Justas Cekas

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tips for Documentation

Documentation is such an important part of nursing. Yes, I know, you'd rather be spending that time with the patient, but communication is an important part of nursing. Documenting the care you gave, the patient's response and your observations is vital to optimum care.

Stop thinking about it as a chore and think of how what you write will help improve the quality of care and the patient's outcomes. It has to be done just like any of the other procedures you put off till the last minute. Learn to do it well and it'll be much easier.

Here are a few important Do's and Don'ts for you to remember when you sit down to chart.

photo: Zeth Lorenzo

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nursing Schools With No Waiting List

Far too many students have received rejection letters recently from their choice of nursing school. Nursing programs are overcrowded and most have long waiting lists. Each year they turn away hundreds of qualified students due to lack of funding, and a lack of nurse educators.

Sadly, the shortage of nurses also affects the number of nurse educators. Low salaries and poor benefits add to the problem. The Title VIII Nurse workforce Development fund is always a victim of budget cuts and nurses have to fight just to get the same funding as the previous year let alone an increase that would help resolve a nursing shortage!

There are however, a few schools without waiting lists and some may even still have openings for Fall 2008. Johnson & Johnson's Discover Nursing has a comprehensive list of these schools. Check out the list and get your application in. Don't let any nursing program go without a full list of students each and every term!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Newsletter Service

I am changing the newsletter service. The old service was way too cumbersome to sign up. Sorry I didn't know that. This one is simple. Enter your Email address in the box in the right hand column, and then respond to the email confirmation in your mail box.

Anyone who was already signed up has been transferred to this new service. If however, you don't receive the newsletter tomorrow, please be sure to sign up again. It's easy this time I promise.

The newsletter is in HTML format and is sent every Wednesday morning (10 Am PST). If your Email program cannot read HTML mail, you'll see a link to go to to read the newsletter.

Monday, May 12, 2008

It's International Nurses Day

Wishing nurses everywhere a Happy International Nurses Day. May 12 is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale who is often referred to as the founder of nursing for her contributions to the nursing profession.

One of the things Ms. Nightingale is credited with is bringing infection control measures to the battlegrounds of Turkey during the Crimean war. Many lives were saved as a result of her efforts to teach about improving sanitary conditions and clean techniques.

Many oppose using Ms. Nightingale as a representative of the nursing profession for being out of touch with today's nurses. Yet oddly enough, today we still battle those issues of infection control.

All nurses are relevant and deserve thanks and recognition. Happy International Nurses Day!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Have a great weekend, and Happy Mother's Day to all of the Moms out there!!

Monday (May 12) is International Nurses Day and will mark the end to Nurses Week here in the U.S. Enjoy the rest of this yearly celebration of nurses.

photo © Kathy Quan

Thursday, May 8, 2008

How to Administer Heparin and Lovenox

How to administer heparin or lovenox is another popular how to procedure I have just republished on The Nursing Site. There is also a link to some of the latest information about the heparin recall. Similar to insulin, heparin and low molecular weight anticoagulants should be double checked by two nurses before administering. Care should be taken to verify the patient’s medication order and the concentration of the medication being used.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Nurses Day!

Happy Nurses Day and Nurses Week!
In the U.S. today is Nurses Day. International Nurses Day is May 12, the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

Celebrate being a nurse... Even if no one has done anything to acknowledge Nurses Day or Nurses Week. Let's face it, some people are just not good at planning parties, events or even saying Thank You! All too often, those are the people who are the administrative staff, managers, supervisors etc. who should be in charge of marking this event. Next time, you need to step up and take charge so something gets done.

Meanwhile...whatever is or isn't planned today....celebrate YOU. You make a difference in someone's life everyday!!! Stop and say thanks to yourself. Do something for you today.

And tell another nurse, thanks for being a nurse too.

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