Monday, May 06, 2013
For Tena Knight, one of the best lessons she learned in nursing came when she was a patient in 1999.
“It really changed my outlook on how I care for my patients,” said Knight, a registered nurse at Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan. “I wish I could have been a patient earlier. I think it would have changed the way I cared for my patients earlier on rather than four years after I got into the profession. I started looking at my care through my patient’s eyes instead of just as a nurse.”
When people come into the hospital as patients, they’ve already lost a sense of control in their lives and are vulnerable. Anyone who has ever been hospitalized or has had a loved one hospitalized understands the difference a nurse can make in the experience.
According to the American Nurses Association, there are 3.1 million registered nurses, or RNs, in the United States. Of that total, 2.6 million RNs are actually employed in nursing with more than 60 percent working in hospitals.
National Nurses Week is celebrated each year from May 6 – recognized as National Nurses Day – through May 12, which is the birthday of British social reformer Florence Nightingale, considered the pioneer of modern nursing. Both Southeast Alabama Medical Center and Flowers Hospital have events planned this week.
After three years as a nurse, Claire McClenney has found a balance in her job in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Flowers Hospital.
“You do have to have a heart,” McClenney said. “I’ve cried with patients and families, but then sometimes you just have to be real strong. There’s a healthy balance between getting close to the family and the patients and just having to do your job and do it well.”
The Headland native spends a 12-hour shift working with post-surgical heart patients who come to the unit directly from surgery, still with their breathing tubes in. It’s hard work, but McClenney said she likes being one on one with patients.
“It is a big responsibility,” she said. “You do learn leadership skills – I definitely have. You learn to work as a team. We wouldn’t be able to do it if we didn’t have a team … You do rely on everyone else up here, it’s not just you.”
Flowers Hospital employs 570 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, or LPNs. There are approximately 900 nurses employed at Southeast Alabama Medical Center, or SAMC. Along with the two hospitals, there are the multitude of medical practices, nursing homes and urgent care facilities in the Dothan area that employ nurses.
McClenney eventually wants to return to school to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Her career choice as a nurse has come with more flexibility and potential for career growth than many people might realize.
“I like taking care of people,” she said. “I like being independent and knowing that in the medical field there’s a never-ending job opportunity … It doesn’t just end with your bachelor’s.”
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Good Monday morning,
Not feeling confident about your resume leads to a lot of wasted days like these:
Writing your resume. Saving it. Worrying about it later at the ballpark. Going home, re-writing it.
Getting nervous about your resume while you’re picking your daughter up at summer soccer camp. Going home, re-re-writing it.
Feeling confident about the way you described that internal promotion a decade ago. Sharing your confidence with your friends. Discovering that none of them agree. Going home and re-re-re-writing it.
Printing it on kinda fancy paper. Taking it to an interview. Discovering with horror that you’ve written “form” when you meant “from” (spell-check doesn’t catch goofs like that). Going home and re-re-re-re-writing your resume.
Feeling like perhaps you ought to explain a bit more about your college activities because maybe your time as Club Vice President really is a bit more indicative of your leadership capabilities. Re-re-re-re-re-writing your resume. Discovering, three hours later, that everything you’ve written isn’t as good as the original. De-re-re-re-re-re-writing your resume.
And on and on and on and on…
Re-re-re-re-re-re-writing your resume is a waste of time that can go on forever.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Usually knowing someone at a company where you’re seeking employment is a good thing. But dropping their name without any tact could rub a human resources official the wrong way and it might even cost you the job. “HR folks can sabotage a search if they feel one-upped,” said career coach Kelley Rexroad, a former human resources executive with more than 25 years of recruiting experience. “It is an ugly but true fact.”
Name-dropping is a technique that might seem smart during an interview, but experts say that most good hiring managers will see right through it and the ploy could backfire drastically.
“I have a saying given to me years ago by a friend: ‘You can’t unring a bell,’ “ Rexroad said. “Don’t name-drop until you need to. You could see the person you know in the hallway when you interview. If he (or) she speaks to you, you will get big points for not name-dropping.”
Chad Oakley, president and chief operating officer of the Charles Aris recruiting firm, has personally placed hundreds of people in 100K-plus jobs, but he says that some have missed out because of name-dropping. “If it’s done inappropriately, it can come across as egotistic and pretentious and can backfire,” he said.
However, in some fields your most valuable attribute could be who you know. In these cases, it’s not inappropriate to mention your contacts — just do it directly. “If you’re a salesperson and you have a world-class Rolodex, that’s an asset that should be discussed,” Oakley said. “If you want the person on the other side of the table to know that you know someone, you should just say it. Don’t name-drop it.”
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
As a travel nurse, you may feel like your schedule is packed - You’re always running off to ensure another patient’s needs are being met. With all the demands that are made of you on a daily basis, it can be hard to remember to breathe, let alone take the time during your shift to refocus your attention and practice mindfulness and awareness. As busy as you may be it’s important to stay aware and mindful in order to be the most effective travel nurse you can be.
Once you’ve mastered these skills, you may find that you are better able to communicate with your patients and feel more productive than ever in your role. Here are some tips to live in the present and make the most out of every day on the job:
Learn to control your thoughts
In order to become mindful and aware, you must learn how to control your thoughts – to an extent. Massachusetts General Hospital recommends starting this first thing in the morning when you wake up. Instead of remembering events that happened the day before or listing the many tasks you have before you today, focus on your breathing. As thoughts come into your mind, take note of them, but then imagine them floating right on past.
With this practice, you can eventually learn to release things that are out of your control and develop a sense of gratitude for what is occurring in the present. Your patients are sure to take note of the more positive, focused attitude you bring to the job when you start to practice some mindfulness techniques.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
When you begin a travel nursing career, you may be eager to get your assignment and get to work. You might feel this eagerness again and again as you move around and serve in a variety of exciting nursing roles. “Waiting is the hardest part,” as the saying goes, but there are a few things nurses can do to speed up the placement process and get assignments more quickly. Keep these tips in mind next time you start lining up your next assignment:
Obstacle #1: Incomplete file
One of the most common issues agencies come across when trying to process a travel nurse’s assignment is an incomplete file, according to Healthcare Traveler. To avoid this stumbling block, you will want to make sure you keep all of your credentials – licensure, past experiences, letters of recommendation and more – in one place. It might be a good idea to keep paper copies with you in a folder, but also scan the documents onto the computer and have a digital copy ready just in case it is needed. Keep your digital files organized in one folder on the desktop of your computer.
Remember to keep your CV up to date and organized in the proper format, too. According to Nurse Uncut, your CV should be brief and professional, but should also give your future employer an idea of who you are. It should include your name and all contact details, as well as your qualifications and the dates you got them. List any professional affiliations, your education, specialties, employment history and any publications or presentations you have completed.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Any travel nurse who has visited a different country may be aware of a phenomenon known as “culture shock” – that is, a feeling of unease resulting from the drastic shift in how a society operates. Although most of your travel in this type of nursing role will likely be domestic, it is still important to be aware of cultural differences that could play a significant role in your life on the job.
In our diverse society, understanding different religions and the many cultures of the patients you are treating is often critical when you are providing care. Medical treatments can be largely personal and an individual’s religion and culture may play a major role in where their comfort zones lie. At the same time, it’s important for travel nursing professionals to be aware of cultural differences from region to region, state to state and even city to city within the United States. The culture in Austin, Texas, for example, is not the same as that in New York City, and travel nurses must be aware of these differences in order to best adapt to a new workplace and understand and communicate with patients from unfamiliar regions.
Cultural compassion allows flexibility
Any nurse or medical professional knows how important it is to be flexible to best meet a patient’s needs and requests. Understanding a patient’s culture can reveal a great deal about their behavior and may clue you in to some needs that you can meet without them even asking. For example, some nurses have encountered Hispanic patients who prefer no ice in their water because they believe it has no therapeutic value, while others have learned that terminally ill Hindu patients may want their beds moved so their heads face the East, Healthcare Traveler reports.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Your title is “Nurse” or “Health Care Assistant”, but you are so much more than that. And I know who you are! Among all nurses, yes, I know you!
It was you who gave quality nursing care for my dying husband with such amazing kindness and compassion. It was you who helped me to see things that I couldn’t see - or perhaps didn’t want to see. It was you who sat with me after tending to his needs - sat in silence when there were no words to express our shared grief. It was you who prayed with me and dried my tears. You touched my hand and comforted my spirit with your understanding heart.
Yes, I know you!
At first, your help was received with apprehension. There was reluctance on my part to give up my caregiving role to a stranger. And my husband - well, he totally rejected your services even though you brought gifts of compassion and understanding. He was so stubborn! No one was going to lift him from the bed but me! And certainly no one was going to bathe him!
But you persisted. Each day, after his blood pressure check and your nursing documentation of his physical status, you proceeded to create a bond, to open the door of his heart which had been tightly closed because of fear and regret. You became his friend, listening to stories I had heard a thousand times, but they were new to you.
Slowly but surely, you gained his trust. He finally gave in to your gentle persistence and allowed you to bathe him and tend to his personal needs.
Several months went by and your presence in our lives became a priceless gift. Because of you, I was able to relinquish some of the care giving tasks that had fatigued me over the previous two years when I was the only caregiver. Because of you, I could rest a bit and restore my body and my spirit. Because of you, I was confident that my husband was being cared for with dignity and respect. Because of you ...
Soon you began to occupy a very special place in our hearts - a place of high honor. Perhaps I shall call you “angel.” Yes! “Angel of Mercy” - “Angel of Compassion” - “Angel of Love.”
And then one day, in a serious and somber voice, but still in a whisper because of his weakness, my husband told me that he was in love with another woman! My heart sank. In that moment, I totally forgot that he was completely bedridden and unable to accomplish even the most simple of tasks for himself. He certainly was unable to leave the house and become involved with someone else! I was confused.
Then he looked at me with an impish smile and confessed that the “other woman” was you, our Angel of Mercy, our Angel of Love.
Over the days and weeks that you tended to my husband’s needs and gave me a much-needed respite, he had fallen in love. Your eyes had met at first on the level of stranger to stranger, then caregiver to patient, then friend to friend. You both were devoted to making the best out of what was happening - his decline, his movement toward the end of his journey.
On that last day, when you looked at me with tears in your eyes, I was able to know without words that the end was near. Because of you I was able to spend those last moments with him before the coma engulfed his spirit, knowing that the two of us - my husband’s “new love” and I - had cared for him in an exceptional way.
Yes, you were my caregiver friend. My husband and I were walking along a road not of our choosing. You gave us strength when our hearts were so strained. You nourished us with gifts of love and compassion. You listened to our cares and concerns. You touched my shoulder. You gave a knowing smile, a nod of understanding.
My heart was uplifted because of you. We became kindred spirits, you and I, upon the road unknown and I am so much better for having known you.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Nurses in the night shift gets a bad rap, which I think is undeserved. Out of all of the shifts, I have enjoyed this one the most. I love my co-workers for their camaraderie and I actually get to be a nurse without all of the “skirts and suits” hanging around. However, it is a tough shift to work in the nursing practice. You are literally working against the rest of the world as far as sleep and a social life are concerned.
Also, there is a lot of information available discussing how hard it is on the human body to work in a night shift. At some point, it has some serious implications for all of us nocturnal folks. In response, I have a few pointers, some gleaned from the nursing literature, others from co-workers and my own experience:
Working nights may have a “carcinogenic” effect on the body, but if you start and stick to an exercise regimen and eat healthy, you will stay healthy! That is all there is to it. I even managed to lose weight and feel great just by taking better care of myself.
Make your home as dark as possible, including your bedroom. Sunlight wakes your body up, starting with your brain. Don’t send it conflicting messages. Tell your body, “I am going to bed now” by decreasing the amount of stimulation it receives through light. Wear dark sunglasses on your way home to get your body ready.
Find a hobby you can bring with you, particularly one that is mentally engaging and that you can set down. Some people knit, others do crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Reading is, of course, always a good idea. In fact, I went back to nights so that I can do a lot of this as I complete my Masters.
Make sure that you have a set schedule. In my first night shift nursing job, I was all over the place with single days off randomly scattered everywhere. As a result, I used up quite a bit of sick time. Be assertive and tell your scheduling person that you need at least a couple of days off in a row to recuperate.
Keep to your dental and medical check ups. Working nights is linked to increased risk for cancer and even cavities. Make sure that you know where you are at physically and keep healthy.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Doing your best to keep the extra pounds off during middle age may not only keep your body healthy, but your mind fit, too. A new study shows that being severely overweight well before your senior years may have a deteriorating impact on your mind.
While the health consequences of excess weight in terms of vascular disease and joint pain are well documented, for the first time, researchers appear to have found a direct link between obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Obesity at midlife may increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life,” noted the study authors.
Moreover, if one’s obesity is coupled with high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, as it often is, the risk for Alzheimer’s is six times greater than that of a healthy individual.
For the study, published in October 2005 in the Archives of Neurology, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden recruited 1,449 middle-aged men and women and measured the participants’ body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Approximately 20 years later, a follow-up exam was given in which the participants’ cognitive abilities were measured.
The researchers found that almost 17 percent of those who were obese at middle age—defined by a BMI greater than 30—developed either Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, compared to 5 percent who were of normal weight for their height. After taking other risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol into account, the risk of future mental decline was still twice as high from being overweight alone. There was no notable difference in risk between men and women.