Saturday, March 26, 2016

Documentation Help for Nurses and Home Health Professionals

Documentation is a common issue for many nurses. It's an absolute necessity wherever you practice. And we all learned in Nursing 101 that if you don't chart it, you didn't do it! It's a legal issue and it's a nursing issue for continuity of care.

How often have you gone in to follow another nurse and felt uncomfortable because it isn't clear in the chart what was done, what was given and/or what education was provided; never mind what the outcomes were?! 

Patient safety is left at risk. Precious time is wasted re-inventing the wheel in a system where a shortage of staff can not afford to waste any time! Concise, accurate, effective documentation is an absolute to providing and improving quality patient care.

Yet documentation always seems to be left to the end of the day to record all that transpired and exhausted nurses simply cannot give it their best efforts. That's just not acceptable!

Yes, the hands on care and teaching you do with every patient is essential to making a difference, but documentation is the glue that holds the case all together. It doesn't have to be a novel. It just has to tell the story of who, what, when, where, why and how. And that doesn't have to be complicated.

My specialty is home health and hospice. Recently I published a course on to help skilled home health professionals improve their documentation through a process that makes it easy to identify key elements that MUST be in the documentation.

The course includes information about the Basic Requirements and how to ensure they are met. And then there are 4 case studies to review for examples to learn the process. It can be taken as an individual or an annual fee basis is available for agencies to use as part of their staff education curriculum. I hope you'll check it out and find it helpful in your practice.

Watch for more courses coming soon.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Staying Safe at Work

Staying safe in the workplace is important to maintaining your personal health and longevity in your career. This can be particularly challenging in health care environments where there are multiple hazards that workers face every day. There are numerous issues that can occur during one shift of nursing or other health care work activities. Here are a few reminders of how you can maintain your safety in the health care workplace.  
Basic Steps You Can Take
There are a variety of ways you can stay safe in the work environment in general. In order to prevent injuries, make sure you wear protective gear, take breaks to relax and stretch your muscles, lift items or people using safe lifting processes, check that your equipment and uniforms are a fit for your body, and ask about any health resources that are available. 
There are other general precautions you can take to prevent injury or illness, including getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress in an appropriate way, eating a healthy diet and staying active. These steps help ensure you support your body with positive health.

Good health is one of the cornerstones of staying safe at work. If you compromise your health by losing sleep and not dealing with stress, this can have a negative impact on your safety at work.

Nurses and Safety
Safety is one of the number one issues that face employees who work for a heath care organization. Because health care is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, preserving the health of this worker population is important to economic growth and development. Health care workers face a number of safety hazards, including:
·       Stress
·       Needle stick injuries
·       Back injuries
·       Violence
·       Latex allergies
The exposure to these hazards cannot be eliminated. However, strategies to avoid or reduce occurrence and limit the impact of these safety issues can be adopted. Be sure to follow your facility or agency policies carefully, and be proactive in suggesting improvements. Nursing staff face the highest risk for exposure to these conditions and issues. Nurses need to be tested for TB yearly, and be trained to protect themselves from these hazards. This training should be an annual event and include:
·       How to avoid musculoskeletal injury and other soft tissue injuries
·       How to use safe lifting procedures and mechanical lifting devices
·       How to advocate for safety measures to curb any potential violence issues in your facility
·       How to safeguard against needle sticks
·       Why wearing gloves is an important protection measure
·       What consistent safety procedures are required, for example, a yearly flu shot
Protect Yourself
Health care workers and nurses in particular face a number of safety hazards on the job. Protecting yourself from these hazards is essential to continued career longevity and reduced injury. Measures should be adopted by organizations that help to prevent injury and support health care workers at they try to stay safe at work. 

Jennifer E. Landis
Health Journalist

Thanks Jennifer!


Friday, March 4, 2016

Why 2016 is the Perfect Time to Start a Nursing Career

By Linus Minick

There has never been a better time to become a nurse! While you have probably already heard of the current nursing shortage throughout the world, this trend is predicted to continue into 2016. Studies show that about 233,000 additional jobs for registered nurses will open in 2016, but only 200,000 candidates passed the Registered Nurse licensing exam in 2015. While this is putting more demand on current health care staff, this also means that getting an education in nursing is highly employable. In fact between the years 2012 and 2020, employment for nursing is expected to grow by 19%.

The increased demand for nurses is multi-faceted, including an aging baby boomer generation, greater same-day care, financial pressure on hospitals to discharge patients sooner and stretch staff, and the need to replace a retiring generation.

Aging Population Increases Demand for Nurses
An increase in the aging senior population correlates to a rise in chronic conditions that will need extended, regular care. Patients who have chronic diseases with growing complications are expected to need more medical attention than the average patient with a curable disease. Multiple admissions to a hospital, for longer periods of time, is going to further stress the current shortage of nurses.

Better technology now allows for more procedures to be done within a doctor’s office, on the same day you have an appointment. Instead of your family practice sending an order to your hospital to complete a procedure, the procedure will be done in the same family office where you met your primary care physician. The inflation of same-day procedures is going to lead to a higher demand for skilled nurses in the private medical sector as well as in hospitals.

There are also financial pressures on hospitals to discharge patients quickly, which in turn has lead to admittance in long-term care facilities. Again, with more patients needing long-term care, this affects the demand for medical staff, nurses particularly. All of these factors, along with a large section of the baby boomer generation retiring or reducing their workload, leave an ever-increasing demand for registered nurses.

Nurses Salaries Increase With Education
Statistics aside, nursing also has fewer quantifiable benefits. Not only do nurses help people and save lives, there are many specialties within nursing to choose from. Each career choice a nurse makes comes with its own unique challenges, perks and income. The average salary of a registered nurse is $65,470, however with advanced degrees and training, salaries can easily reach six figures. While this of course varies depending upon the region where you are employed, you can rest assured that you will be earning a comfortable wage. In this way, you can choose a specialty that works best for you.

So if all this wasn’t enough to convince you that nursing is one of the most employable careers in the coming decade, think about the more serious consequences of the nursing shortage. The lack of skilled nurses is literally costing lives. Lower nurse-to-patient ratios coupled with longer time spent with patients, increases the quality of healthcare and reduces patient morbidity. Not only will you be saving lives as a nurse; you will enter a career that offers unbound opportunities for fulfillment and advancement.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Technology and Nursing: How Tech Savvy Should Nurses Really Be?

Technology continues to scale globally in every sector, and healthcare is no exception. From online job applications and software/computerized orientation education to electronic patient charting, technology is already a key component of healthcare even before the nurse gets to a patient’s bedside.

Technology and the generation gap
As healthcare continues to become more intricate and demanding, it is important that health care centers establish a strong, competent nursing team that works cohesively to provide patient-centered care. But this is not a very easy process, considering that today’s workforce comprises four distinct generations with a diverse age-group: traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X, and generation Y. Each age bracket offers a unique set of traits, values, and work views, and while the older generations (traditionalists, baby boomers, and generation x) were required to mentor the new, novice nurses, technology has changed the scenery.

Everyone acknowledges that advancement in technology in healthcare is necessary to streamline and hasten the process of information retrieval. The generation Y nurses are already comfortable and tackling technology with gusto, but many older nurses feel undermined and intimidated by the new requirements that involve electronic medical records, significant use, and other technologies in the workplace.

To help them become more technologically informed, empowered, and healthy, these seasoned nurses have to call on the expertise of the younger generation. So, the tech-savvy nurses are taking up a mentoring role to ensure smooth implementation of new technologies in the workplace. By mentoring their co-workers, the younger staff members feel valued, more respected, and self-assured. Seasoned nurses respect and appreciate the technical expertise of generation Y, and are more willing to exchange their knowledge for mutual growth.

Bridging the gap between technology and healthcare
Technology in healthcare is advancing rapidly as government incentives encourage institutions to implement and upgrade medical electronic records. A traditionally humanistic art, nursing is being pushed into a technologically dense atmosphere, which may become a stressor for the seasoned nurses. For nurses to stay ahead of the curve, some registered nurses are opting to specialize in IT and convert to nurse informaticists, whose roles include:
  • Nurse communicators – work hand-in-hand with other nurses to assist in the implementation and training of computer programs, and also identify and attend to computer system needs
  • Nurse programmers – they write, modify, and upgrade computer programs used by nurses
  • Nurse managers – administer or manage information systems  
  • Nurse vendor representatives – demonstrate systems to prospective customers
Healthcare facilities are opting to work with nurse specialists as opposed to IT professionals, because they have knowledge or experience with the nursing practice. But you cannot simply get training in nursing informatics without first completing nursing training, since informatics is a nursing specialty requiring an advanced degree.

IT is an inevitable part of clinical care, and nurses need to prepare for the changes. They need to be flexible and open to what is coming, remain educated on changing trends, and work with professional organizations and their co-workers to adapt to the new demands.  
This is a guest post from Marian College. Marian College is a nursing school located in California, providing students the opportunity to begin a successful career in vocational nursing. Marian College currently features 2 campus locations: Los Angeles, CA and Van Nuys, CA. Start a career in nursing!

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