Seven Mistakes for Nursing Students to Watch Out For Part I

July 29, 2011 at 8:43 pm

If you’re reading this, the chances that you are in a BSN degree program are pretty high. Since you’re probably a nursing student, heed the advice of the many nurses who have gone before you and learn from their mistakes and successes; there’s no reason why you should recreate the wheel!

On ScrubsMag.com, there was an interesting article for new nurses to consider when entering the field. Here are seven mistakes to avoid in your nursing career:

1) “Rushing into becoming a nurse” – Quite frankly, does anything good really come to fruition if you rush into it? Marriage, real estate, family planning and career choices all need to be well thought out. As with any major decision, talk to people who have walked down that path and for potential nurses, consider volunteering at your local hospital or medical center. It’s better to learn the truth now before you invest countless hours and dollars into something that isn’t a right fit for you.

2) “Changing specialties too many times” – “Switching nursing specialties can be a great way to learn what you really have a passion for, but changing areas too quickly or too many times can cause burnout or hurt your career. You might begin to feel like you don’t have a place in nursing and potential employers might wonder why you haven’t committed to one area for very long… Give each specialty you enter a chance before you take off for something more enticing. Talk to nurses who are currently working in the area you are considering as well as nurses who have left that specialty. They can give you the nitty gritty details on what that area is really like.”

3) “Not changing specialties enough” – If you love a certain area such as the ER, don’t drop everything just to try something new. However, if you’re staying in a certain specialty just because it familiar, really think about where your passion is and where you’d be the most fulfilled. Here’s the pickle: when do you leave something that you like to take a risk for something you’ll love? How do you know that you won’t end up in a worse situation? You don’t, and that’s what makes life so hard! Ask for people’s opinion, scope out a new area and research the new placement. If you’re in an online RN to BSN degree program, then you probably are a risk taker and you want a better life. Do your homework and then go for it!

Come back on Monday for mistakes 4-7. Happy weekend!

To read the article mentioned in the above post, please visit
http://scrubsmag.com/7-mistakes-to-avoid-in-your-nursing-career/

Good Nurse Bad Nurse

July 28, 2011 at 7:32 am

If you’re in a BSN program, LVN course or simply considering nursing as a career, there are several things you have to seriously think about before entering the field. One of these sounds simple enough, but needs to be investigated fully: do you really want to help people? Most people will say yes, but some students in BSN programs and LVN courses may be fooling themselves. Convinced that nursing is a stable and lucrative profession, they don’t take the time to really consider their ability to commit a lifetime to helping others.

While many nurses are constantly playing heroic roles, helping and saving lives even when they don’t have to, some are doing just the opposite. Today’s post is about two incredible stories on opposite sides of the moral spectrum.

Last week, nurses aids at Prentiss Center Nursing Home in Cleveland were caught abusing a 78 year old patient. The patient’s son, suspecting abuse, set up a hidden camera in his mother’s nursing home room and was shocked to see that his worst suspicions were real. Cleveland-based news station, 19 Action News, is currently investigating this story and reports that the video reveals nurses aids tossing his mother around “like a rag doll.” At one point a nurses aid throw a gown onto the patient’s face and pulling bed sheets out while she is still inside them. The nurses aids are also caught screaming and hitting the patient. One of the nurses aids has been charged with felony assault.

While the Metro Health System has issued a statement addressing and apologizing for the crime committed by their employees, their words do little to console. A helpless patient has been harmed and her son struggles to regain trust for nursing facilities meant to care for their patients.

On the other hand, some nurses never let themselves off duty.

Danielle Orr, of the Gazette, reports that on June 17, two off-duty nurses were lounging by the pool when they heard pleas for help. A four-year old boy had been rescued by a lifeguard but was blue and unconscious when the two nurses arrived at the scene. They sprang into rescue mode and began CPR. The boy began to cry just as the ambulance arrived to take him to a nearby hospital.

What we have here are two stories that exemplify the best and worst kinds of nurses. On the one hand we have nurses who truly fulfill their commitment to caring for those in need, and on the other we have nurses who demonstrate some of the worst kind of behavior that goes on in healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, cases such as the latter do happen and need to be combated.

What could possibly motivate healthcare workers to mistreat and abuse their patients is beyond my capacity to reason and understand. Students in BSN programs, LVN colleges, and those merely considering nursing, if caring for people isn’t something you enjoy or feel compelled to do, don’t bother becoming a nurse. Nursing takes a level of commitment that most jobs don’t. To be a nurse you must always cater to the needs of your parents, no matter how difficult it may be.

To read more on the stories mentioned above, visit: the Gazette and 19 Action News.

Online Degrees Help in High Demand Healthcare Industry

July 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Healthcare jobs continue to be on the rise and that’s great news for anyone who is in an RN to BSN program. Plus with the need for people to fill these positions, online degrees are looked upon as a great option for students and employers alike.

According the FierceHealth.com writer Alicia Caramenico, “The healthcare industry will experience some of the fastest job growth through 2018, with home health aides and personal and home care aides leading the pack at 460,900 new jobs and 375,800 new jobs, respectively. In fact, half of the 20 fastest growing occupations are in healthcare, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data… The BLS also predicts that roughly 26 percent of all new jobs created in the U.S. economy will be in the healthcare and social assistance industry.”

Due to an aging population, longer life expectancy and an increasing nurse-to-patient ratio, medical assistants and LVNs are some of the fastest growing jobs available. Caramenico writes “Such an increased–and extensive–healthcare workforce could be encouraging news for hospitals as they try to find ways to deliver care amid a looming physician shortage and increased demand under health reform.”

Reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Laura Raines, also brought to light the positive opinions that are being shared concerning online degrees. With the need for health care workers on the rise, many are turning to this option to pursue a higher education. “’We do require the degree come from an accredited institution, and we verify that, as well as look at what the school offers,’ said Megan Graham, vice president of workforce strategy and planning for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. ‘We know that more and more colleges are offering courses online — and I think online education is upping its game. I believe we’ll see more online degrees in the future.’

“A recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and commissioned by eLearners.com agrees. It found that 87 percent of 449 randomly selected HR professionals viewed online degrees more favorably than they did five years ago. Seventy-nine percent said that they had hired a job applicant with an online degree in the past 12 months,” explained Raines.

If you are a student in an RN to BSN completion program, the future looks bright as more jobs are being offered. Online degrees can play a vital role in earning you a successful career.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit

http://www.ajc.com/business/more-employers-value-online-1026735.html

and

http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/healthcare-add-4m-jobs-through-2018/2011-07-19?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

Nurses Taking Action Against Healthcare Cuts

July 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

This post is a late follow-up to my previous posts on government healthcare cuts. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is for everyone in working in medicine to stay up to date on news and issues in healthcare. For those of you in healthcare career training programs and vocational nursing schools, staying up to date will give you a better outlook on the circumstances surrounding your future jobs. This post will interest students California and Bay Area nursing schools in particular.

Last month we discussed proposed cuts to healthcare services, namely Medicaid and Medicare. Serious consequences would include smaller staff sizes, higher co-payments, and more people going without basic care. The proposed healthcare cuts are a concern for everyone, but for nurses and low-income earners in particular. Low-income earners who are already struggling to make payments will find it even more difficult to pay for healthcare, and nurses, who make up the vast majority of healthcare workers, will be hardest hit in the form of pay cuts, fewer jobs, and smaller staffs. Students in healthcare career training programs and vocational nursing schools have reason to worry because these cuts could mean more challenges in trying to find jobs.

As state budgets continue to wobble, working nurses are already suffering the pressures of cost-cutting programs. In response to the recent proposed cuts, nurses across the nation are taking action and letting their local government leaders know that they will not stand for further cuts in healthcare. Just this past week nurses in California have launched an array of events to bring attention their position. I list a few of them below as reported by National Nurses United:

Yesterday, in Northern California’s East Bay and Peninsula, RNs at two large Sutter Health hospitals hosted a bake sale and rally from 1:00 PM to 5:00PM. “Sutter has chosen to propose massive employment cuts for over 2,600 nurses, including to professional standards, benefits, and safe staffing, at both Alta Bates Summit and Mills-Peninsula.  It is especially disgraceful, say the RNs, that its cuts overall are clearly aimed at services for women and a workforce that is more than 95 percent female.”

Last Thursday, in Escondido, California, RNs at Palomar Medical Center hosted a candlelight vigil which featured a speech by DeAnn McEwen, RN and co-president of the California Nurses Association. “Nurses already see broad declines in health status among patients and their families that are directly linked to unemployment, lack of healthcare coverage, housing and nutrition crises, and the many cuts in services that have already been made. These cuts would put the health and lives of millions at risk,” McEwen warns.

Also last Thursday, more than 100 registered nurses, joined by community activists in Orange County, held a noon speak out and rally in Irvine to call on Congress and the White House to stop any cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid.

Theses events come as Washington “moves closer to an agreement to raise the national debt ceiling at the expense of what many expect will be devastating cuts in basic services, especially those that serve seniors and the disadvantaged.”

If you’re a student in a healthcare career training program or a vocational nursing school, please keep track of what nurses are doing to fight against healthcare cuts. And if you can, join them. They’re fighting for your careers and your patients. Stay tuned for updates and please visit NationaNursesUnited.org for more information.

Nurses Need Balance Between Work and Home

July 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I don’t know if it’s a female thing or if it’s based on each individual, but I can’t leave my work at work. If I have a bad day I ponder every detail of it and try to analyze what I could have done differently. I talk about it, I think about it, I dream about it and I drive everyone around me crazy asking for their opinions. On the other hand, my husband can clock out and work is behind him. Unless something drastic happens, he closes the door on work and thinks about the task at hand. As nurses it’s so important to find that balance of work life and private life, especially since being an RN to BSN nurse is extremely stressful.

So with that intro, I am obviously not going to give you tips on how to find a happy medium on balancing work and home. Fortunately Megan M. Krischke, contributing writer for Nursezone.com found some great advice given by some leaders in the health care industry.

“’When I am in balance, I am focused, I can accomplish a lot and I can work 10- to 12-hour days with ease, I am able to stay in a positive frame of mind, I sleep well and I feel that I am managing my schedule, rather than my schedule managing me,’ said Colleen Hallberg, MSN, RN, FACHE, chief nursing officer at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz.

“To keep her sense of balance, Hallberg said she focuses on her priorities, delegates when possible, says no when needed, and works to be efficient and to quickly tie up loose ends when she is at work. When she isn’t working, she focuses on her well-being: exercise, diet, sleep and relaxation.

“’I believe very strongly in the importance of taking vacation time and getting away–not just taking a week at home where you end up working around the house the whole time. I try to take multiple trips a year, even if they are short,’ she remarked. ‘I also joke that people should have a pet, and the more dependent on you to feed it and take it out, the better. Sometimes people need a reason to leave work and get home at the end of the day.’”

Being in a RN to BSN completion program is a lot of work and infinitely stressful. Before you can take care of others, you need to take care of yourself!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/more-news/Nurse-Leaders-Offer-Wisdom-on-Achieving-Work–Life-Balance_37400.aspx

Food for Nurses

July 23, 2011 at 9:56 am

If you’re working in a hospital, studying in a vocational nurse school or BSN program, you’ll notice that many of the nurses around you are often so busy that they forget to eat. Most people with stressful jobs have the problem of overeating, but nutritional experts are quick to point out that the biggest problem with nurses’ eating habits is actually the opposite. It’s not that they eat too much, but that they don’t eat.

So many nurses skip meals while working that they don’t get the essential nutrients they need to function. This lowers glucose levels which can harm the brain and the body. Cathryn Domrose, writer for Nurse.com, reports that low glucose levels can affect concentration, short-term memory, and the ability to retain information, which can affect performance at work. That’s why it’s imperative that nurses eat and get enough nutrients during the day.

This problem is compounded by the fact that as caretakers. Nurses often put themselves last as they run around caring for everyone else. It’s not completely your fault if you let this happen, you can’t be a good nurse without being compassionate. But you do need to keep in mind that if you don’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of anyone else.

Kristen E. D’Anci, PhD, a researcher in the department of psychology and nutrition and neurocognition laboratory at Tufts University, comments on the effects of skipping meals, “If you’re not able to pay attention, you’re going to miss things, and it’s critical for nurses not to miss things,” she says. She adds that hunger has an effect on mood, making people irritable and less equipped to handle stressful situations, she says.

Nurses in hospitals definitely aren’t the only ones who are too busy to eat sometimes. Nursing students in vocational nurse schools and BSN programs are also very familiar with having full schedules and eating on the run. The key to being a healthy and able nurse, or nursing student, is to eat, and to eat right. Here are a few suggestions from nutritional experts outlined by Domrose in her article Food for Thought:

  • Keep a stash of nutrient-dense snacks in your purse, pocket, car, drawer or locker. Cans of tuna, string cheese, packets of whole-grain crackers, trail mix, fresh and dried fruit, and containers of yogurt provide portable servings of sustained energy to help keep the body and mind going strong throughout the day. Just be careful not to snack too much lest you end up overeating.
  • Eat breakfast, the most important meal of the day. After 10 or 12 hours without food, the body needs energy.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water or unsweetened tea throughout the shift. But keep away from soft drinks. Sugar in liquid form not only spikes glucose levels and provides empty calories, it doesn’t fill you up, not even for a short time
  • Consider working together to make sure everyone is eating for optimal energy. Rather than hold a weight-loss competition, co-workers can remind each other to eat during the day; ask colleagues if they’ve had breakfast; take turns stocking a cupboard with nutritious snacks; and agree to bring in healthful treats such as fruit baskets, limiting the days they bring in sugary foods, or pitching in for a massage therapist to give neck rubs instead of a takeout food feast.

I’d like to emphasize this last point for everyone. Since we nurses tend to think of ourselves last, try to think of each other. If you’re working on the job or through a vocational nurse school or BSN program, remember to take care of your colleagues in addition to your patients.

Cost Cutting Trends that BSN Students Should be Aware Of

July 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Like almost every industry, the medical field is closely analyzing budgets and cost cutting options. Executive think tanks are working overtime to determine what efforts create the best results with the lowest amount of dollars spent while having lowest amount of patient readmissions. Here are some trends that RN to BSN nursing students may be interested in knowing.

On the Kaiser Health News website, staff writers Marilyn Werber Serafini and Mary Agnes Carey reported about some important trends that are impacting the health care industry. “As President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill lawmakers scramble for ways to cut federal spending, changes to federal health entitlements have been a key negotiating point. Separately, hospitals, physicians and other health care providers are already moving forward with their own efforts to aggressively test a variety of initiatives to rein in costs… Emerging models include vigorous consolidation, better coordination of care, new financial arrangements among health care providers, and greater use of medical data to identify practices that lower costs.”

Serafini and Carey analyzed several interviews from top professors and executives in the health care industry and here are some important trends to watch for.

“There is a chance that you could arrive [in Massachusetts] 10 years from now and there are three organizations to negotiate with, and every physician and hospital is affiliated with one of the three. There are mergers, consolidations, groups merging with larger groups, so when negotiations come, there are going to be very large players, even larger than the systems that most people envision,” explained Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis, Harvard School of Public Health.

Alissa Fox, senior vice president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association comments that “Blue Cross Blue Shield plans across the country have a whole series of different types of initiatives under way: patient-centered medical homes, providing primary care physicians with additional tools to coordinate care, and accountable care organizations, where we are partnering with hospitals and doctors to really change the way care is delivered.”

“The most interesting conversation going on right now is in Rochester, N.Y., where they are indeed focused on reducing [hospital] readmissions and unnecessary admissions for conditions that probably would not have led to an admission if the person had gotten proper primary care” stated Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University.

This is an interesting time to be in an RN to BSN online completion program. What worked in the past doesn’t always seem to hold the answers for the present. A large portion of cutting costs while improving patient care lies in the hands of the nurses on duty.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/July/20/Round-Robin-On-Curbing-Health-Care-Cost-Growth.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+khn+%28All+Kaiser+Health+News%29

RN to BSN Nurses Should Consider HCAHPS Scores

July 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Common sense says that more money spent equals higher quality products and services. Not so says a recent study by Penn State researchers. Patient satisfaction is based on more than a hospital’s budget and something those in an RN to BSN nursing program should consider.

In a press release sent out by Fierce Health, it was reported that “’By focusing on improving the efficiency of operations, hospitals can contribute to hospital performance while also getting the most out of the financial investments they make toward support services,’ said Deirdre McCaughey, assistant professor of health policy and administration, who led the research team.”

The study found that there was little relationship between how much money was spent on the cleanliness of the hospitals verses how patient’s rated their experience at the hospital. “The results were not at all what we expected,” McCaughey said. “We thought that spending more money would lead to better scores, but we actually found that a balanced value equation really helps drive better performers. That is, we conclude that it is not in the best financial interest of a health care organization to just spend more money to improve HCAHPS [The HCAHPS survey is the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients' perspectives of hospital care. In the survey, patients are asked to rate the cleanliness of their room and the overall cleanliness of the hospital] scores, but rather to think about how that money is spent. Having a balanced value equation means organizations gain greater value by investing financial resources into operational efficiency.”

HCAHPS scores are also vital when it comes to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursing hospitals for patient care. “In theory, more money should lead to better HCAHPS scores. But instead, we found a matrix with data points clustering in four quadrants, and with each quadrant reflecting a different level of expense spending in relation to HCAHPS scores. Our unique finding was that the quadrant representing high HCAHPS scores and relatively low expense had the second highest value, not the first highest as we had expected. This suggests that it is more than the amount of money spent that is necessary to achieve strong HCAHPS scores. Operational processes and the service provided behind them are more important in achieving strong HCAHPS scores,” said McCaughey.

So why should those in an RN to BSN program online care about HCAHPS scores? These ratings are yet another factor to help you decide where you would like to work. A low HCAHPS score could mean a dirtier hospital therefore leading to a higher infection rate, sicker patients, and more intense workload. The more informed you are about the place you want to work at, the higher chance you have at finding a job that you can stay at long term.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/press-releases/efficiency-not-cost-drives-value-hospital-environmental-services?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

California Hospitals Add Higher Skilled Nurses

July 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Every now and then we post about current hiring trends in nursing. This post is particularly for those of you in California who are considering nursing as a career. If you’re looking into nursing, you probably already know that there are several ways to break into the field. You can become a nurse through four main paths: by getting a BSN degree, getting an ADN degree, going through an LVN course, or going through a licensing program through a hospital. The advantages and disadvantages for each path depend on your situation. The way California nursing schools operate vary on a wide scale. You’ll need to weigh your decision on how much money you can spend on schooling, how much time you can dedicate to studying, and how soon you want to be a nurse.

One important thing to consider when deciding which path to take is the hiring trend in your area. Find out which nursing licenses have more weight in the hiring process. It varies by state and even by county. According to a recent study, California, in suit with several states including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, is hiring more higher-skilled nurses. This means that graduates from California nursing schools with higher education degrees such as BSNs, are being preferred during the hiring process.

Kathy Robertson, writer for the Sacramento Business Journal, reports that ever since former Governor Gray Davis signed the measure to increase nurse to patient staffing ratios in an effort to improve the quality of healthcare provided in California, hospitals have responded by hiring more higher-skilled nurses. This hiring trend has been a surprise to many who expected the number of lower-skilled nurses to go up. Instead we’re seeing just the opposite and the results have benefited patients across the state. With the law in place, more patients are getting direct care from RNs and increased nursing staffs have helped decreased burn-out.

Robertson writes, “There was a notable increase in staffing in California hospitals — from 6.44 hours per adjusted patient day in 2004 to 7.11 hours per adjusted patient day in 2008 — the implementation period for the new law. Staffing went from 5.75 hours to 6.22 hours in the comparison hospitals over the same period.”

Further, Deborah Burger, a registered nurse who is co-president of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association, states that “The safe staffing law has improved the quality of care in California hospitals; ensured that RNs have more time to spend with patients and respond to patient care incidents, and reduced the nursing shortage by keeping experienced professional RNs where they belong, at the bedside.”

The preference for higher-skilled nurses is actually becoming a national trend as hospitals across the country raise their standards in an effort to provide better healthcare. Hospital staffs that used to have a majority of nurses from ADN degree programs and LVN courses have become more mixed with the recent addition of more nurses with higher degrees.

So when deciding on which California nursing schools are right for you, do take hiring trends into consideration. In the past it was enough to make the cut after having gone through an LVN course or showing up with an ADN degree. These days, as healthcare standards go up along with worker expectations, we’re seeing more hospitals giving preference to nurses with BSN degrees.

Creating a Culture of Health

July 19, 2011 at 8:21 am

In between fast food chains, video games, and work-related stress there isn’t much room in this country to be healthy. Doctors and nurses are all too familiar with the effects of our unhealthy habits. So are BSN and all nursing students, for that matter. It’s one of the reasons we start healthcare career training – to heal disease and teach people ways to be healthy.  One way to combat disease and unhealthy habits is to create a culture of health. Culture begins within communities. If we start to see changes within our communities, others will follow.

A great place to begin, of course, is the hospital. Hospitals can take the lead within their communities to set an example for healthy living. You might be thinking, “Well duh, doctors and nurses are always telling us that we need to healthy,” but I’m referring to the hospital site itself. If you peak at the way hospitals operate, you’ll see that they aren’t necessarily the best health centers in our communities, any nurse or doctor can attest to this.

Thus, if we change the way the healthcare system works by replacing wasteful and stressful operations with more efficient and beneficial programs, we’ll have better, healthier, outcomes. Some areas we can focus on are administrative/employee interactions, patient health programs, and environmental sustainability.

The American Hospital Association has created a report on the role of hospitals in creating a culture of health among their employees. They’ve recently issued some recommendations for hospitals to take into consideration when working on improving wellness programs. Nurse.com lists of a few these recommendations which I post below:

• Serve as role models of health for the community. Hospitals can work with local employers to build an integrated, regional approach to health and wellness that shares both risks and rewards.

• Create a culture of healthy living. Health and wellness indicators can be included in board dashboards and executive compensation can be linked to meeting health and wellness program objectives. Hospitals can eliminate environmental inconsistencies, such as unhealthy food at meetings.

• Provide a variety of program offerings. Hospital wellness programs can include a health risk assessment, a biometric screening and at least one intensive coaching activity, based on the risk and health status of its employees.

• Provide positive and negative incentives. Hospitals can expand the use of incentives to improve participation levels. As participation levels increase, hospitals can begin to shift toward more outcomes-based incentives.

• Track participation and outcomes. Hospitals can track participation and outcome targets such as overall participants, number completing an HRA, number enrolled in a smoking cessation program and number with cholesterol improvement.

• Focus on sustainability. Hospital boards, CEOs and full executive teams can communicate wellness as a long-term priority for the hospital and ensure that wellness programs have dedicated resources.

To read the AHA’s entire report, click here.

However, hospital workers aren’t the only ones who need to stop being health hypocrites. Nursing students and those of you in healthcare career training know all the best ways to stay healthy because you have to teach them to your patients. Don’t forget that to participate in creating a culture of health you need to practice it yourself. BSN and other healthcare career training programs don’t emphasize leading by example enough. Take the initiative and follow your own advice. Your patients and your community will appreciate you for it.