Thursday, June 25, 2009


What a day! RIP Farrah and Michael. There are some nasty rumors of other deaths today too, and I certainly hope they are just nasty rumors. It has been enough. And Ed McMahon just days ago. As many hospice nurses will note, the bus comes and many usually go within hours or a few days. This has always been a Hollywood superstition, and this week we lost some really great people and stars!

May they be at peace and their loved ones full of happy memories to keep them alive forever.

How is the Recession Impacting Your Career?

Cathy Duchamp is an award winning freelance radio reporter who is looking to interview a few nurses for an upcoming story on NPR (National Public Radio) for their Marketplace program. The topic is the impact of the recession on the nursing shortage. For example, is the Great Recession temporarily slowing down the nursing shortage?

If anyone fits one of the following categories and would be willing to be interviewed for this program, please email Cathy Duchamp at cathyduchamp at

Here are the categories of nurses Cathy is looking for:
  • an *experienced* nurse who's coming back to the field from retirement or one who's decided to delay retirement due to the shaky economy
  • a new nursing school grad still job searching
  • a PT nurse looking for a FT permanent job due to the economy

Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ready for the Next Level in Your Education and Career?

Nurses who are looking to take their career and education to the next level may be interested in online learning and degree opportunities., one of our sponsors, has provided some interesting information in an article entitled "Resuscitate Your Career with an Online Nursing Degree."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Just taking a moment to reflect on my dad, grandpas, and all the men in my life who are dads. Wishing everyone a very Happy Father's Day!! Enjoy!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


After the disaster of Nurse Jackie on Showtime, it was a relief to see nurses being portrayed as strong professionals who have human issues to deal with, but aren't always drugged up, whacked out, sex addicts!

Jada Pinkett Smith portrays Chief Nursing Officer Christina Hawthorne RN who is a strong patient advocate and mentor to a staff of nurses who are representative of many of the nurses we have all known from new grads to the cocky ones who get themselves into trouble trying to buck the system. Hawthorne is on TNT on Tuesday nights at 9/8 C.

"Am I going to cry everyday?" asks the young new grad. Hawthorne and her best nurse, Bobbie, played by Suleka Mathew, respond without hesitation in unison, "YES!" How true, new grads will often find themselves reacting with emotions to the events of the day. It will take a good year to become confident and feel like those nursing shoes fit.

Many nurses may not want to watch the show because they live this everyday, and want to be entertained by television. But at least to those who aren't nurses, Hawthorne does try to fairly represent the nursing profession.

It's not without faults however. When nurse Ray Stein withholds the sliding scale insulin until he can confront the physician about a dose he feels is wrong, it takes quite some time to get an answer from the physician. Sliding scale insulin orders have come into question in recent years as being more of a convenience to physicians and not really the best medicine for patients. The dose tends to chase glucose levels instead of managing them. So taking issue with this may be all well and good....but.....

Is 6 units really completely out of line for a blood sugar of 230 in this particular patient? Perhaps not. And the physician may win out on this one despite the fact that the patient coded.

I also would have expected to see Ray be more careful and re-check that blood glucose level again before he gives the insulin as it may well have changed in the supposed hours he waited to give it while waiting for the doctor to respond. After all, he almost became a doctor.

Another point I take issue with is that if the nursing staff is going to fight this one, then let's get some real technical direction and give the insulin with an insulin syringe, and not a 3 cc syringe with at least a 1 inch needle.

Looked like Stein gave the patient about 1 cc of insulin and that would have killed a horse! And then he recapped the needle!!! YIKES!!!!! Anyone familiar with insulin is going to catch this one, not just a medical professional. So let's be realistic, and a bit more socially responsible...please!!! (photo by Kathy Quan RN BSN)

What did you think about this show?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is a Second Career in Nursing Worth the Wait?

Nursing as a second career is a terrific choice. Of course my opinion is biased, but anyone giving nursing a chance deserves to be respected.

Those who choose nursing today must also be very patient people. There are no shortcuts to becoming a nurse, and most nursing schools have long waiting lists.

No, there are NO online programs to become a nurse. There are thousands of ads and teasers on the Internet which can literally tie you up for hours searching for that program they promise. If you do find it, I assure you it isn’t accredited and you’ll waste your time and money because you cannot become licensed unless you attend an accredited nursing school. You must have actual HANDS ON experience with real patients to become a nurse.

Some nursing schools do have some online classes and use virtual labs, but not an entire nursing program. There are online programs for nurses to expand their education, but none to become a nurse in the first place.

If this is a second career, do you have a college degree already? If you have a BA, BS or perhaps even a Masters degree in some other subject, you can apply to an accelerated nursing program to get your BSN or MSN. For instance, there are spectacular graduate nursing programs in PA, and you don’t need to start all over with an Associate’s degree.

There is also an active list of nursing schools which have no waiting lists.

For all nursing schools you will have to complete some prerequisites and this will help fill the 1-2 year waiting time. These include college level algebra, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, psychology, and sociology. Some may require statistics as well. Check with the school(s) you are applying to or attending for specifics. For example, not all anatomy and physiology courses will fulfill the requirement, and chemistry is another that may be very specific.

Many schools require prior experience in the medical field. A semester course at a community college or adult education school can fulfill this by becoming a CNA or an EMT. Some hospitals offer on-the-job training for unlicensed patient assistants. These opportunities can provide you with a real insight into patient care, and some will open up other avenues of education. For instance, EMT’s who go on to become paramedics can bridge to nursing later on and that can be done online.

In all of this pre-nursing course work, be sure to put forth your best effort and earn the highest grades possible.

There is a tremendous shortage of nurses, and that also means there is a shortage of nurse educators. During the Clinton administration, Congress determined that funds to help support nursing education and pay for nurses to become nurse educators would need to be exponentially increased every year to meet the growing demands for more nurses. During his eight year administration, President Bush chose to cut those funds each year rather than expand them, and today we find ourselves in a real mess.

Every year nursing schools turn away thousands of qualified candidates because they don’t have enough teachers. As a result, schools have instituted a point system to evaluate applicants. Grades and experience can give you an advantage.

The Great Recession has forced many nurses out of retirement, and caused others to delay retirement. This has helped to ease the shortage, but it is only a temporary fix. Once the economy recovers, there is expected to be a mass exodus of nurses who have reached or surpassed “retirement” age.

To those waiting in the wings, the opportunities will be there by the time you complete your coursework. As a result of the economic crisis, many people are looking at having to work well into their seventies and nursing is a profession which can offer that opportunity. Working 12 hour shifts in the ER, ICU or even a very busy floor may not be ideal for aging nurses, but nursing offers many diverse options for employment away from the bustle of hospital bedside care.

And so my answer to those in their forties and fifties looking to become second career nurses, it IS worth being patient and forging ahead.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Nursing Assistants Day!

It's time to say THANKS to all the nursing assistants who help to make our days and provide such terrific care to our patients!!!

Happy Nursing Assistants Day as Nursing Assistants Week begins and runs June 11-18, 2009. This year's theme is Yes WE Can! Teamwork.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

IMHO Nurse Jackie Fails Big Time

Nurse Jackie premiered on SHOWTIME last night. Did you see it? What was your opinion? Personally i thought it was WAY off the mark! There was a lot of potential for some really good story lines and some talented performers such as Edie Falco, but once again Hollywood chooses to trash the nursing profession!

SHOWTIME calls it a dark comedy and it's supposedly from the journals of a real ER nurse with a bad back and drug problem.

But hey...where can you find a hospital like that one to work for? Nurses get to go to lunch at a real restaurant, and take a long break in the chapel to contemplate the events of the day with a co-worker no less??!!! When was the last time you got to do that on the job????!!!

If you didn't see it, has a link on their site. In my humble opinion, it's not worth subscribing to SHOWTIME to watch, but you can catch the pilot episode over there. And they have a section of the Forum dedicated to discussion. I was asked to write a review for them and it should appear sometime this week.

(UPDATE: June 12: here's my review. )

So what's your opinion?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's Graduation Season

Welcome new nurses! May and June are traditionally graduation season although most nursing programs admit and graduate nurses year round, May and June are traditionally when graduation ceremonies are held.

Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for a job well done! Next comes the NCLEX and you'll need to do some prep work for that. Many schools give routine tests to prepare nurse grads for this, but even so, you will need to do some review work. Get together with some of your fellow grads and form a study group.

Then as you take your place as a new nurse in the ranks, remember these thoughts:

1) You didn't learn everything you'll ever need to know in school. This is a lifelong learning adventure. Don't try to bluff your way through something new. Ask for advice and help. Do your homework... read up on anything new you faced each day and things will fall into place.

2)Remember that it's going to take you about a year before you're going to be comfortable and confident in those nursing shoes. About six months from now you may find yourself doubting yourself more than ever and wondering if you made a huge mistake. Give it TIME. work through it slowly and you will succeed!!! Every new nurse goes through this... whether they'll admit it or not.