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 Take a few minutes today to review your plans and examine your disaster kits for outdated materials.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 heatherjohnson2323@gmail.com.

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.