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.