Friday, November 26, 2010

Road Map for a Successful RN Career

The Following is a Guest Post

Chris Urbano has been a registered nurse for over 30 years with broad experience as a school nurse, ICU nurse, nurse educator, legal nurse consultant, and now as director of nursing at a long-term residential facility.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Arts (MA) in Community Psychology. Ms. Urbano consults with BrainTrack on its nursing schools section.

While my years of experience in nursing have exposed me to many successful and happy nurses, I have also encountered many colleagues who regretted studying this career and many others who felt “stuck”. So to avoid disappointment, I suggest you consider the following while building your career road map:

  1. Check your reasons for becoming an RN. Some call this profession a calling and I do believe there is some truth to this. You need to have a desire to help others and be able to deal emotionally with all you will encounter. There are amazing days of hope and positive outcomes which balance out the sad days. I read many patient satisfaction surveys and for the vast majority of positive experiences, it was always a nurse who made the difference.
  2. Get experience before you commit. I would recommend spending time in a health care setting to see how you adjust. You must feel comfortable with all the sights, smells and sounds you will encounter. Some people just can’t work in this environment and you might as well figure that out before all the hard educational work begins.
  3. Select your path to getting licensed. You can choose a two-year AAS (Associate in Applied Science) degree or a four-year BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree. In addition, there are many bridge programs for transitioning from RN to BSN or MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), many of which are available online. Your decision will depend on availability of programs, personal choice, time commitment, and finances.
  4. Choose your specialty carefully. All degree programs will expose you to Medical, Surgical, Psychiatric, Maternal/Child, and Pediatric Nursing as these are the basis for the licensing boards. As you experience these rotations, pick an area that fits your personality. This may take time, but it is worth it in the end. For example, I could not work in Pediatrics because I was too emotional to be of much help to my patients and/or their families.
  5. Keep learning to advance. Most hospitals offer tuition re-imbursement and you should leverage this benefit. You can take courses over time and as you complete each level, you will be qualified for advanced practice. This will open doors to advancement, such as management and education positions.

If you like direct care and shift work (weekends, evenings and nights) then you will probably be satisfied with an Associate’s degree and there is always a need for this level of care.

But if you want to expand your options, you need to obtain an advanced degree. Most managers in hospital settings have their BSN or MSN. To teach nursing, you need a minimum of a Master’s Degree but a PhD is required to teach at the Master’s level. Nurse researchers typically hold a Master’s or a Doctorate degree.

I started with an Associate’s Degree and over the years added to my education, providing many opportunities that have made for a rewarding career. I have never regretted my choice to pursue nursing and I wish you the best as you continue along your career path. I hope that you will feel as satisfied as I do, even after all these years.

Thanks Chris for an excellent article!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone in the U.S. a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tips for Assessing Pain

How much do you know about pain assessment? Pain is the fifth vital sign and should be assessed at least once each shift in facilities, and at each visit fro home care and hospice patients.

It's not always easy to assess pain in patients with cognitive deficiencies. Portraits in Pain offers you several tips to help assess your patient's pain level and teach caregivers and loved ones how to do this too.

I often hear from people upset with hospice care, or those who don't understand hospice, that their loved one has or had no pain and yet they were given medication for pain. My response to them is to ask the nurse: WHY haven't you taught me about my loved one's pain assessment?!And what is it that tells you s/he is in pain? 

Pain affects quality of life and the ability to cope with other conditions. It needs to be taken seriously and understood by the nursing profession.  Please take the time to understand pain and pain assessment.


On the subject of pain, please note that brand name drugs Darvon and Darvocette (generic propoxypene) are being taken off the U.S. market. Advise your patients accordingly and update your drug info.

Continuing Professional Development in health and social care at Middlesex University, London.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nurses: Tips for Eating Healthy on the Job

This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics of accredited online schools.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez
Tips for eating healthy on the job
Nursing students typically learn about good nutrition and eating habits in college, but the second they graduate and start to work in a real healthcare facility, even the simplest nutrition practices fly out the window.
It's no surprise. The combination of an intense schedule and a hectic atmosphere of a hospital can make "eating right" a very difficult challenge. But there are ways to ensure that that while you're busy saving lives, you're helping to keep yours in tip-top shape as well. Below are some easy and effective ways to eating healthy during your shift.
Drink Lots of Water
Sometimes that tumbling in your belly occurs because you're thirsty, not hungry. Before you rush off to grab a couple of cookies, drink water. Consuming the standard 6 to 8 glasses a day will not only help ensure you have a stable diet, but will also hydrate you, which will in-turn make you more alert during the day.
Snack Regularly
Despite what you think, experts say eating more is good. So it's imperative that you don't skip any meals. Just be aware of portion-sizes (keep them small). A good way to stay full and prevent yourself from indulging in a heavy meal come dinner time is to snack regularly throughout the day. Healthy snack choices include fresh fruit, nuts such as almonds, carrots, dried fruit, yogurt or a granola bar. Fruits, like apples in particularly, are known not only to satisfy your hunger cravings but also restore energy. This is because fruits are more easily digestible than many other foods and can give you the instantaneous fuel you need to keep going. Need a pick-me-up but don't have an apple on hand? Try a fruit smoothie instead.
Despite the convenience, avoid vending machines and fast food
If you have no other choice but to grab a quick bite from the vending machine, make sure to choose low-fat and whole grain options and be cautious of serving portions (a bag of chips can actually be two servings, not one).Here are some of the more healthier options to select: turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread, baked chips (especially sweet potato or veggie), nonfat yogurt, unsweetened tea and water.
Make wise food choices in the cafeteria
This includes adding fresh vegetables, fruit or a salad to your meal. But remember that just because you opt for a salad doesn't automatically make it a better choice. Choose lower calorie dressings if the option is available. Creamy dressings like ranch, even if low calorie, are usually not the best options. Try to go for vinaigrettes. Pass on the croutons and take it easy on the cheese. Also, avoid salads with dressing already in them.

Thanks Alvina!
photo: Michala Kobakov/

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanks for the Listing!

Many thanks to Shawn Fisher for mentioning The Nursing Site Blog on the post: 50 Resources for Students Attending Online Nurse Practitioner Schools. (We're #19- Nurses Health) Many terrific articles here. Great reading!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Keep in Touch With Your Legislators

Now that the election is over, time to contact your legislators with your ideas for the new Congress. Unfortunately we have become so dependent on instant gratification that we often lose sight of the fact that some things can take a long time to fix.

Lets just hope the new Congress can actually find some common ground and work on fixing things together.

Nurses have a strong voice and should always make their opinions heard. So please don't go silent. Make your voice heard loud and clear throughout this term. And if you don't like what's being done....don't hesitate to remind them, they too can be voted out of office!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't Forget to VOTE!

It's election day in the U.S. It's mid term for President Obama and many congressional seats are expected to shift parties. Please be sure to VOTE. Everyone's vote counts. And if you don't believe me, look up the 2000 presidential race. Remember that Freedom Isn't Free, and so very many have given their lives in wars since the Revolutionary War to see to it that we remain a free nation and we each have the RIGHT to VOTE. Women have only had that right to vote since 1920. With rights come responsibilities. Be an informed voter. Know your candidates and the issues. But VOTE!!!!!

Nurses have a huge influence in many political races across the country, and need to vote and have their voices heard.