Nurses Strike at Oakland Children’s Hospital

April 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Oakland Children’s Hospital is an important place to my family; my aunt has worked there for several decades, my nephew has visited there every six months for a difficult medical condition and my daughter is having a minor procedure done this summer at a satellite office. The staff is incredible and the difference they make in children’s lives is phenomenal. That is why I’m so concerned about this upcoming strike that is to take place next Thursday.

RN to BSN students not only need to know procedures and patient care, but politics and policies. Patient rights are at the peak of importance, but nurses’ rights are also vastly important. It seems like every month there is a group of nurses going on strike, and it’s important to know the issues before nursing students enter into employment.

Reporter Sandy Kleffman writes in the Contra Costa Times that, “A union representing 750 registered nurses at Children’s Hospital Oakland has announced it plans to strike for five days beginning next week.
“The hospital will bring in temporary nurses and remain open during the walkout, which is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. Thursday and end at 7 a.m. May 10.”

The main issue involves a change in health benefits. “The latest hospital proposal would give nurses three options: a Kaiser Permanente plan, a high-deductible PPO, and a PPO plan that would require nurses to pay nearly $4,000 a year to help offset rising premiums. The Kaiser plan would not require an employee contribution, but many nurses prefer a PPO plan so they can have a greater choice of doctors and continue to have their kids cared for at Children’s Hospital… co-payments for prescription drugs and office visits would also rise, and that the employee cost for premiums would increase every year.”

As I was talking to my aunt who works at Oakland Children’s Hospital, I wondered what her opinion was concerning the strike. After more than two and a half decades of working there, she basically felt that the strikes in the past haven’t accomplished much, “but I’m sure not going to cross the picket line!”

If you are in an RN to BSN program, learn as much as you can in and out of the classroom. Research the different hospitals and clinics in your area and see how the current nurses like their place of employment. Now is the time to do your research!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_17943868

 Nursing Programs Experiencing Growth in Higher Education and Advanced Degrees

April 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

If you’re a current BSN student, chances are, you chose to go the RN-BSN route because you value the open career opportunities that come with a BSN degree.  If you’re looking to eventually move up through the ranks in the healthcare industry, or do medical/scientific research, then RN-BSN may be the best route to take.  Also, having a higher education background in nursing will also prepare you for advanced nursing degree programs — which we’re starting to see more of — if you decide to take your education further.

According to recent data released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), enrollment in doctoral nursing programs increased significantly last year, indicating strong interest in both research-focused and practice-focused doctorates. Final results from AACN’s 2010 annual survey confirm that enrollments in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs continue to trend upward.

“Bringing more nurses into master’s and doctoral nursing programs must be a priority given the critical need for nurses to serve as scientists, faculty, primary care providers, specialists, and leaders within the healthcare system,” said AACN President Kathleen Potempa. “In response to calls for a more highly educated nursing workforce, our nation’s nursing schools are taking decisive action to expand programs that prepare expert nurses to deliver high quality, cost-effective care in a healthcare system undergoing reform.”

For a graph showing the increase in the number of doctoral nursing programs over the past five years, see http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Media/pdf/Docprograms.pdf.

This increase in the baccalaureate student population is welcome news given calls by AACN, the Institute of Medicine, the Tri-Council for Nursing, and other authorities to encourage academic progression for all entry-level nurses. In a 2009 report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Dr. Patricia Benner and colleagues stated that “profound changes in nursing practice call for equally profound changes in the education of nurses.” The authors found that many of today’s new nurses are “undereducated” to meet practice demands across settings and voice their strong support for high-quality baccalaureate degree programs as the appropriate pathway for individuals entering the profession.

We’re seeing that as standards for providing healthcare goes up along with demand, higher and advanced education is becoming more of a priority. Quality healthcare advocates as well as employers are looking for professional nurses who will be able to adapt to these challenges. Getting your BSN degree will thus better prepare you to work in our constantly evolving health industry.

For more information on this current trend in nursing, please visit the article referenced in this post: http://nursing.advanceweb.com/editorial/content/editorial.aspx?cc=214570

Resume Necessities for Recent Nursing Grads

April 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

If you’re a nursing student and are currently finishing up your BSN degree, you’re probably going to be filling out new grad applications pretty soon.  That means you’ll need to spruce up your resume to make yourself out to be a great candidate.  This is where your work experience and all your other qualifying factors become especially important.

Want to know what exactly you should put on your resume?  Ani Burr recently posted some great advice in Scrubs Magazine. Here some of her 5 of her 10 must-haves for nursing grad resumes:

1.       Your basic information.  This seems like a no brainer, but you need to be smart about it, it’s the first thing your potential employer will see.  Use your full name, NO nicknames.  List one phone number your future employer can contact you at. If it’s your cell phone, make sure your voice mail is appropriate, and if it’s a home number, make sure everyone at home is prepared to take a professional message for you when you’re away.  Also list your address and your email address. Don’t use your “hottchicka91@google.com.” If you don’t have a professional email address from your school (make sure it’s one you check), then it’s time you login in to gmail or yahoo or hotmail and make yourself one. Just use your name or initials and last name. Remember, you’re representing your last three years of hard work!

2.       Education – Let them know where you’ve been. If you’ve only been to one college, and high school was right before that, you can list your high school as well. But if you’ve transferred colleges a few times, or it’s been a while, high school isn’t necessary. Include the FULL name of your school (ex: “California State University, Los Angeles” – NOT “CSULA” or “Cal State LA”).  Also include the city and state, and the years you attended. If you graduated from that school, include the degree earned. If you are proud of your final GPA from that school, go ahead and include that too!

3.       Clinical Experience – This is something new I was told to add. Hospitals want to know what types of clinical rotations you’ve been through, and where you did them. For example:  “Medical-Surgical Nursing  I, JoeShmoe Memorial Hospital  -  Los Angeles, CA.” Some students have opted to include the grade for each rotation as well, but only do so if you are REALLY proud of it, and be consistent. Don’t include a grade for one and not for another. Remember, they will be looking at your transcripts too, so they’re going to see it anyway.

4.       Work Experience – Have you been working as a nurses aide? Put it here! Even if you haven’t been working in a hospital related setting, include your work experience here.  Many jobs outside of nursing involve skills that can help you. If you’re a host or server at a restaurant, you’ve got people skills, prioritizing skills, and time management skills under your belt. Emphasize the fact that you’ve held down a job while in school. Include a brief job description that includes these traits that will help you as a floor nurse at the hospital.

5.       Certifications – As a student, you may not be a licensed nurse yet, but you are CPR/BLS certified! Include that on there, along with the name of the company who issued the certificate and the expiration date. If you’ve had to take a fire-life safety class, or first aid, include those as well. If you’re a licensed CNA (meaning you took the class) that counts too!

To see the rest of Ani’s list, please visit: http://scrubsmag.com/top-10-new-grad-resume-necessities/

Nursing Demands Affect Patient Outcomes

April 27, 2011 at 8:05 pm

In any job stress can greatly affect the performance of an employee. In health care, this condition is only exacerbated by the fact that the stakes can be impossibly high. A new study by the University of Maryland School of Nursing has some hard facts that show how stressed nurses influence the outcomes of their patients.

Its tough being in an RN to BSN program and once you get your BSN degree, it’s still tough. Don’t get me wrong, nursing is an amazing career and the good that can be done far surpasses the hardships. But with every job, there are mountains to climb and battles to fight.

According to InfectionControlToday.com, “Several troubling trends in patient outcomes surfaced as researchers analyzed survey data from 633 nurses in 71 hospitals in North Carolina and Illinois concerning patient outcomes, says lead investigator Alison Trinkoff, ScD, FAAN. For example, pneumonia deaths were significantly more likely in hospitals where nurses reported increased psychological demands and more adverse work schedules. Trinkoff says they measured high psychological demands by very fast work, lack of time to complete work, excessive required work, being slowed by delays from other workers, and frequent interruptions. Another trend was that patients were more likely to develop deep vein thrombosis after surgery in hospitals where nurses reported high psychological demands. Staffing also was controlled in the analysis, so that the effects occurred independent of staffing.”

With budget cuts, health care reformation, and an aging population, the work load doesn’t seem to be subsiding. Health care workers are in demand and a big question that keeps popping up is whether there are enough nursing students to keep up with the demand. Many hospitals are also requiring their RNs to get their BSN degrees to get magnet status. With this new requirement, more stress and less staff seems to be inevitable.

“They found that deaths from heart attacks were associated with nurses frequently working with awkward postures and heavy weekly burdens… Patients were more likely to experience postoperative hemorrhaging when their nurses were frequently interrupted. And, where nurses reported a lack of time away from the job, patients were significantly more likely to develop respiratory failure and infections… Positive aspects of the practice environment, such as peer and supervisor support, did not offset, or balance, the adverse impact of these demands… Hospitals where nurses reported a focus on patient safety were less likely to have such complications or adverse patient outcomes of hospitals where patient safety was not a stated focus.”

As students in an RN to BSN program, it’s important to learn now how to handle stress and stay healthy. Also, it’s never too early to research hospitals and clinics where you may want to work. Finding the right working environment is vital.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2011/04/tough-demands-on-nurses-adversely-affect-patients.aspx

Nurse Interactions: Nice or Nasty?

April 27, 2011 at 6:59 am

If you’re a BSN student, hostility in the workplace is something you need to be aware of before entering a sometimes not-so-hospitable environment.  If you’re a working nurse, you may be all too familiar with nasty nurse interactions.

Grif Alspach, RN, MSN, EdD of Critical Care Nurses explains the issue of lateral hostility in the workplace: “lateral (or horizontal) hostility refers to a variety of unkind, discourteous, antagonistic interactions that occur between persons at the same organizational hierarchy level and are commonly described as divisive, infighting, backbiting, and off-putting… the issue is characterized as “bullying” and is considered both a serious and pervasive problem throughout each country’s national healthcare system.”

Between nurse hostility is actually becoming an international phenomenon as nurses in the U.S., Canada, and Hong Kong calling out this problem. Last year, a nursing journal website asked visitors if they had witnessed any nurse treating another nurse inappropriately in the last six months and 55% of the respondents replied yes.

Why are nurses being so nasty toward each other?  It’s not a secret that stress plays a huge factor in the lives of nurses, affecting their emotions and daily interactions with one another.  However, experts believe that the real source of horizontal hostility trickles down vertically from the new corporate structure of managed healthcare that changed the very function of nursing nearly 30 years ago.

Kathleen Bartholomew, MN, RN attributes the hostility to change healthcare’s value system, “Our virtues are killing us. The facts that we adapt incredibly, work so hard and never complain are no longer compatible with the healthcare system,” she says. “The values have changed. Healthcare now is a business. We’re the only country in the world that uses the word ‘industry’ in conjunction with taking care of people. The implications of that are profit, loss, productivity, business and technology; all the things that, at their core, have nothing to do with nursing.”

Bartholomew believes that the first step nurses should take in regaining control over the situation is by reclaiming their voice. “She must speak her truth at all times,” she says, “Particularly to the person she’s experiencing the hostility from.” This may sound like a step on confrontation but repressed feelings only lead to passive aggression which is how the trouble often starts. Healthy release of hurt feelings keeps them from brewing into anger.

“It helps to describe what she’s experiencing, explain why it offends her,” Bartholomew says, “State what she wants to change and make clear what the consequences are if it doesn’t.”

Here are more of Bartholomew’s suggestions for preventing work hostility elevating the nursing profession to its rightful place:

1.       Assertiveness training for all nurses.

2.       Be aware of cliques, incident reports constantly filled out by the same nurse and absenteeism as symptoms of department hostility.

3.       Stand up for absent co-workers.  Silent witnesses are accomplices to horizontal hostility.

4.       Adopt a zero tolerance policy in the workplace.

5.        ”RN” when introducing yourself to rebuild the professional nursing image.

6.       Educate patients about the nurse’s specific role in their plan of care.

7.       Don’t apologize when calling a physician.

“Nurses need to start demanding the respect they deserve, beginning with other nurses,” Bartholomew stated. “It’s time to stand up and say, ‘No, I’m not coming to work and being treated like this. The work I do is too important.”

For more information on nurse hostility and how to deal, please visit the articles referenced in this post: http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/content/27/3/10.full
http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Article/Odd-Nurse-Out.aspx

Been There, Done That: Study Tips from Former Nursing Students

April 25, 2011 at 8:09 pm

By now we all have certain techniques that we use to study and know what works well for us in our arsenal of study habits. However, there’s no harm in getting a few words of advice every now and then. Who knows, you may just find a tip that makes test taking a breeze and helps you remember the periodical table of elements as easy as reciting your own phone number. Okay, so there are no magic tricks to passing your RN to BSN courses, but here are some things that you may want to consider to help you on your road to nursing.

On Medi-Smart.com, an article was posted which summarizes Angela Pearch’s STUDY HELPS publication, which she developed from the public posts of SNURSE-L. There are some valuable ideas that can help you get the most from your classes.

1) Get the Most From Your Books – “Read nursing journals and magazines. Often current articles will compliment your text and make the information more easily understood.

“Use individual sheets of paper or large index cards to make a file of disease/conditions and their treatments. List etiology, signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests, interventions, etc. and keep them in a binder for future reference as well as present study

“Turn course objectives (as found in the beginning of each chapter or from the course syllabus) into questions – instant study guide!”

2) Thrive in Clinicals – “Study your instructors. The more you know them the more likely you are to understand them and what they are expecting from you…

“If you don’t know how to do a procedure, look it up, check the protocols, ask for help. Instructors would rather be ‘bothered’ walking you through the procedure than fixing the mess or hearing the complaints if you do something wrong.”

3) Ace the Test – “If you need to take issue with the instructor over a point on a test, do it privately. To dispute a mark in public will embarrass them and make them want to be proved right. And bring it up in the context that you need the correct information, not that you’re going for that one little point.

“When the instructor and the text conflict, offer both answers on the test when possible. If not (as in multiple choice), most instructors will allow you to approach them quietly during the test. You can display your knowledge and ask which answer is being requested.

“Ask former students about an instructor’s testing style before taking that first exam.”

It’s difficult completing an RN to BSN program, but you’re not alone! Listen to advice from those who have gone before you and use all the resources that are made available. Why make things harder if they don’t need to be?

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.medi-smart.com/study-tips.htm

Suffering from Compassion Fatigue

April 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm

If you’re a working nurse, or a BSN student just starting out, you should be aware of the toll your career can take on your emotional and physical health.  Stress and physical fatigue are often mentioned in discussions about working too hard in the health industry.  However, there’s a particular kind of fatigue all care givers should be aware of: compassion fatigue.  Think you have it?  Then there’s a very high chance that you do.  Compassion fatigue is what it sounds like, chronic (emotional and physical) stressing resulting from giving care.

In fact, people who are attracted to care giving often enter the field may already be compassion fatigued. Leading traumatologist Eric Gentry explains that this is possibly because of a strong identification with helpless, suffering, or traumatized people or animals. These people have been taught to care for the needs of others before caring for their own needs. Authentic, ongoing self-care is absent from their lives.

Every day, healthcare workers struggle to provide care to others in difficult environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges. Over time, the mission of every sincere care giver – affecting positive change in society – becomes perceived as elusive, if not impossible. Workers often accept this as a painful reality.  This, coupled with first-hand knowledge of society’s flagrant disregard for the safety and well being of the feeble and frail, takes its toll on everyone working to support their patients. Eventually, negative attitudes prevail.

The first step in coping of course, is awareness.  A heightened awareness can lead to insights regarding past traumas and painful situations that are being relived over and over within the confines of your symptoms and behaviors.

CompassionFatigue.org states that accepting the presence of compassion fatigue in your life only serves to validate the fact that you are a deeply caring individual. Somewhere along your healing path, the truth will present itself: You don’t have to make a choice. It is possible to practice healthy, ongoing self-care while successfully continuing to care for others.

Nurses and nursing students can find more information on how to cope with Compassion Fatigue at http://www.compassionfatigue.org/index.html

Take Time to Relax

April 22, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Being an RN to BSN student is tough; not only do you have to spend hours studying, but most students have another job and a family to take care of. With everything that is on your plate, relaxation is the furthest thing from your mind. But for your physical health and mental well being, taking a much needed time out has countless benefits.

MedCityNews.com writer Renee F. Rodgers-Frank, RN, MSN has posted some valuable tips for distressing after a hard day. Until more hours are added to the day, this just might help you to slow down and feel better in the long run.

1. Take Breaks – There is always something to do and never enough time to do it. However, studies have shown that taking breaks helps you to focus better when you return to work. I can’t think of a job that requires more focus than one in health care!

2. Dress for Comfort: Most of the time you get what you pay for, and since nurses are on their feet most of the time, invest in a quality pair of shoes. Back pain and knee pain can be alleviated with the right foot wear.

3. Have a Good Support System: “It’s no mystery that nurses can see some pretty tough situations throughout a given day; seeing patients plagued with ailments, incurable diseases or worse, death. Nurses should have a great support system during their day that they can rely on when the tough get going… Research confirms that primary nursing does result in a higher quality of nursing care than team nursing and that nurse retention is improved in primary nursing. In addition, this study shows that, both directly and indirectly, primary nursing reduces costs when compared to team nursing.”

After work, you also should focus on taking some time for yourself. Rodger-Frank reminds us that, “Exercise has been proven to relax the body and mind, burn fat, improve cardiovascular system function, bring more oxygen, reduce the chance of diseases, lower blood pressure and the list goes on and on.” Also, don’t forget to enjoy your days off; you’ll appreciate it when you start your shift again.

Being an RN to BSN student is hard work but you have to take care of yourself if you want to take care of others.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.medcitynews.com/2011/04/relaxation-tips-for-nurses/

Obama’s New Effort to Cut Medical Errors

April 22, 2011 at 5:44 am

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, it’s important for BSN students and soon-to-be nurses to be informed about news and current trends in the health industry.  One of the newest government initiatives to improve the quality of care is President Obama’s plan to cut medical errors and reduce the percentage of hospital acquired infections.

Over the past decade we’ve seen growing concern over medical errors and the dangers of hospital-acquired infections.  Understandably, these concerns have fueled fears that hospitals are not as safe as was commonly believed.  These fears however, are backed by evidence.  Fatal medical errors may not be very common, but they do happen.  Realizing this, the Obama administration has teamed up with private insurers, business leaders, hospitals and patient advocates to devise a new initiative designed to reduce these errors and hopefully, save lives.

The campaign, funded by the healthcare overhaul signed by the president last year, aims to cut the number of harmful preventable conditions such as infections that patients acquire in the hospital by 40% over the next three years.  It also seeks to cut readmissions to hospitals 20% by encouraging better care for patients after they leave the hospital.

The plan is to improve care by financially rewarding hospitals and physicians that meet higher quality standards, including lowering hospital readmissions that result from poor care.

The Obama administration also plans to give $500 million in grants to community based organizations that partner with hospitals to develop programs targeting patients immediately after they are discharged from the hospital. This program is informed by research that has shown that the right follow-up care can prevent complications that result in costly and potentially dangerous readmissions.

Another $500 million will be spent to test models for reducing nine types of medical errors, including surgical site infections, pressure ulcers and complications from childbirth.

Critics may warn against the amount of spending on a largely experimental healthcare plan, however, administration officials have been working to build a broad coalition of healthcare providers to support the new quality initiatives, which many believe will ultimately save billions of dollars.

It’s a big goal but nonetheless achievable.

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, a leading patient advocacy group, said Tuesday that the quality initiative was particularly important at a time when some in Congress are pushing to slash billions of dollars in federal support for healthcare programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“It’s initiatives like this that get to the root of the problem … not cutting services,” Ness said.

To read the full news story, visit: http://www.latimes.com/health/sc-dc-0413-medical-errors-20110413,0,2117754.story

Electronically Tracking Nurses

April 21, 2011 at 1:57 am

If you’re a BSN student or a working nurse, here’s something you may find interesting: a new, potentially controversial electronic devise has recently come out and will be put to use by Sentara Princess Ann Hospital in Virginia Beach when it opens in August.  The electronic devise will track nursing activity in an effort to see how much time caregivers spend with their patients.

Some nurses may take this as an insult to their abilities and their pledged commitment to their patients.  Nursing students and current RNs, what do you think about this new device?

HamptonRoads reports that hospital staffers will be issued badges with tags that are scanned when they enter and leave a patient’s room. Different tags will be assigned to different workers, and colored lights outside the room will indicate who is inside, for example: blue for a physician or green for a nurse.

The information will be stored on a computer, so workers can better monitor the frequency and duration of the visits.

Equipment, such as portable X-ray machines, can also be tagged and tracked through the system.  This is a product of Rauland-Borg, a Chicago communications technology company.

Stephen Porter, president of the Sentara Princess Anne campus in Virginia Beach, said this and other new technology at the hospital will help ensure that patients are getting enough attention. The system also will alert more hospital workers if a patient’s call bell remains unanswered for a certain amount of time.

In an age where technological communication can take the place of human contact [think of the tracking devise doing the job of the supervisor who oversees task completion], it seems like a practical move to employ these devises in an effort to improve patient care.  After all, supervisors can only keep track of so much.

The concept behind the devise is obviously pro-patient, which is good, but the practice of tracking nurses while they work is nonetheless intrusive.

“It’s not so much that we’re trying to be Big Brother,” Porter said. “We’re going to be able to provide an environment that allows our staff to be at the bedside more.”

We’ll have to see how nurses take the idea of being tracking while working, and if the practice is actually effective in improving patient care.

To read the full news story visit: http://hamptonroads.com/2011/04/virginia-beach-hospital-have-hightech-tracking