Monday, May 30, 2011

Clearing Up Misconceptions Regarding Nursing Assistants: Balancing a Family and a Career

A Guest Post from Pamelia Brown...

Clearing Up Misconceptions Regarding Nursing Assistants: Balancing a Family and a Career

If you currently have a family or kids on the way, a job as a full time nurse may be more demanding than you think. Many people believe nursing assistants are women or men who are solely incapable of becoming RNs, This is a very inaccurate generalization. A job as a nursing assistant can be fast-paced and fulfilling. Additionally, nursing assistants can usually work less demanding hours than full-time RNS. This is one of the main reasons people choose this career path, not due to their incompetency in any sense. As a mother of three, I have found this career choice to be the perfect fit for me. I am still in touch with the field of medicine, and my job allows me to help people with everyday tasks. However, I still have time to attend my son's basketball games or my daughter's ballet performance. Below, I would like to clear up three common misconceptions I hear regularly (regarding the career of a nursing assistant).

Nursing Assistants Have No Formal Training in the Medical Field
A common misconception regarding nursing assistants: they have no training in the medical field. This is an unfair, inaccurate assumption. In addition to obtaining a high school degree or GED, prospective assistant nurses must also enroll in a 6-12 week certification program. Most certification programs require nursing assistant students to take courses in subject such as: anatomy, physiology, nutrition, infections, safety control, and bedside nursing skills. Additionally, nursing assistants must pass a certification exam after they finish their respective programs.

Nursing Assistants Get Paid Hourly
This is another misconception that bothers me. Many nursing assistants are hired full time, and they get paid salaries in addition to qualifying for benefits! According to most career websites, the average salary for a nursing assistant is $21,000. Although $21,000 may not be enough for a whole family, it can still be substantial additional income for a family of 5!

Nursing Assistants Solely Engage in Housekeeping Tasks
Although nursing assistants do have to take care of some mundane housekeeping tasks, they definitely engage in medical related work too! Nursing assistants often have to brief nurses or even doctors about the condition of certain patients, and with additional training set up x-ray machines, and draw blood when necessary. After a few years of experience and training, nursing assistants may become more involved in other more important tasks. After all, everyone has to start at the bottom of the food chain to some extent. You have to prove your competence and work your way up!

This guest contribution was submitted by Pamelia Brown, who specializes in writing about associates degree. Questions and comments can be sent to: pamelia.brown @

Monday, May 9, 2011

What Nursing Shortage?!!

As "graduation season" approaches once again, another class of nurses will be looking for jobs and many will be disappointed that there seem to be no jobs available which is not what they expected when they became nursing students.

For years we have experienced and heard about this terrible shortage of nurses and if you want to walk out of school and write your own ticket, go to nursing school. And then theses students began to graduate and found they need six years of experience to get a job!

What happened to the nursing shortage? Why can't new nurses find jobs? Well in a simple explanation, the recession stalled the nursing shortage. But as the economy recovers, the nursing shortage is expected to be worse than ever before.

According to Peter Buerhaus PhD, RN a leading researcher into trends in nursing at Vanderbilt University, there are currently over 900,000 working nurses in the U.S. who are over 50 years of age. By 2008 the total number of RNs had risen to 3.1 million.

When the economy tanked beginning in 2008, many retired and semi-retired nurses were forced to return to the workforce and essentially took up the available jobs. In the recessed economy, non-emergent and non-essential healthcare all but vanished causing employers to freeze hiring. Those who were hiring only wanted experienced nurses.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 37,000 new jobs became available in healthcare in March 2011 alone. In fact so far this year, 283,000 new jobs have been created and many of those jobs have and will go to RNs with or without experience.

As the economy recovers, we may well see a mass exodus of older nurses who came out of retirement or passed on retiring for the time being. And as these nurses age, they will join the masses of a growing and aging population which is going to demand more and better health care. Combining all of the nurse grads who have not been able to find jobs, there will still be a considerable and growing shortage of nurses.

Buerhaus encourages new grad nurses to be patient and in the course of the next few months or year expect to find multiple opportunities. Those who take the time to continue their education and obtain advanced degrees while they wait may even find themselves much better poised to find even better career choices.

For the present, new grads need to be open to relocating. Many less populated and less popular locations do have job openings where larger metropolitan areas that can attract more candidates will most certainly be more picky and looking to get experienced nurses for fewer job openings.

In predicting the need for more nurses, the economic downturn and the effects of the recession were not part of the thought process. And as the economy normalizes, the nursing shortage will definitely return and with a bang.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Photos courtesy

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Help Support National Nurse Act for 2011

In celebrating National Nurses Day and Nurses Week, we need to advocate for our profession and for our patients. A National Nurse would help us to promote the wellness model and move away from the sick care model of health care. This would bring about a healthier population and one focused on prevention and wellness. In turn this would help to reduce the costs of health care.

One of the ways we can ALL help to make a National Nurse become a reality is to contact our legislators and ask them to sign on to support, and then help pass HR1119 through the House of Representatives. We also need to get our Senators interested in this issue and bringing a bill to the Senate.

Please remember, The National Nurse Act is non-partisan.  Everyone is encouraged to help support this cause to promote the nursing profession and public health for all.

In addition to contacting legislators, I did find that the DNC has asked for public input for issues that need to be focused on for 2012. Please consider filling in their simple online form and asking them to include the National Nurse for Public Health HR1119-the National Nurse Act for 2011 in their agenda.

I have looked high and low for a similar site for the RNC and did not find any. If anyone has information about such a site where we can provide input for the Republican party's focus, please comment below with the link. 

Follow the National Nurse Campaign on Facebook to find out more information and to stay up to date on the status of the campaign.