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.....