Nurses’ Strike Still Gaining Media Attention

September 30, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Last week’s nursing strike in Northern California is still the topic of much media attention. I mentioned the strike last week when the event took place, but I would be remiss if I failed to write about the current issues that are surrounding this event. From a patient’s untimely death to union disagreements, it will be interesting to see what changes will be made for RN to BSN degree nurses.

I’ve read numerous articles reporting on this strike which involved 33 hospitals and 23,000 nurses. Heralded as the largest nursing strike in history, the story continues as one patient’s death is attributed to the strike and the inadequate care of a replacement nurse. ““A replacement nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland mistakenly hooked the nutrient solution up to an IV for 66-year-old Judith Ming, instead of to the tube leading to Ming’s stomach, the Oakland Tribune reports… Hospital officials have acknowledged Ming, 66, died from a medical error but have not described what happened pending an investigation into Ming’s death. Police have said only that a replacement nurse gave her a non-prescribed dosage of a drug known to be lethal in the manner in which was administered, reported the Associate Press on BusinessWeek.com.

Fierce Healthcare editor Karen M. Cheung also commented on this story and notes that these issues are not just California problems. “Nurses at University of Michigan Health System and leadership have been battling over a new agreement for the past six months, and the nurses aren’t buying into the CEO’s message that the health system is committed to competitive wages and benefits… the Oregon Nurses Association and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario are stalled on reaching a contract agreement, with negotiations starting back in May, reports The Argus Observer. Nurses said that the hospital must address patient care, safety, and staffing.”

What I’m worried about is that a major nursing shortage is looming and with union disputes and administrative disagreements, hopefully future nurses won’t change their career goals and present nurses won’t look to alternative occupations. Nursing is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling jobs available and the focus sometimes gets taken off what truly is important: caring for the sick and helping those in need.

As a student in an online RN to BSN program, the issues may change and conflicts will arise, but your motivation, passion and compassion remains the same.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/why-nurses-strike-isnt-just-california-problem/2011-09-29?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal
and
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9Q1H1O00.htm

Nurses Play Important Role in Reducing Patient Readmissions

September 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm

As much as you may like some patients, you certainly don’t want to see them readmitted to the hospital. Many changes have been made to try to reduce readmissions over the past five years with little progress. Nurses who have graduated from a BSN degree program are a big part of helping patients to take care of themselves.

On Fiercehealth.com, Alicia Caramenico writes about the dilemma that many hospitals are facing pertaining to patients who are returning because they never fully recovered from their original hospital stay. “About one in six Medicare patients ended up back in the hospital within a month of being discharged, and more than half of discharged Medicare patients failed to visit a primary care doctor within two weeks of leaving the hospital. These statistics should sound the alarm to hospitals as financial penalties for excessive readmission rates begin next year…

“The findings suggest hospitals need to do a better job of coordinating care for patients across all care settings, especially after they leave the hospital. They also bolster research from the New York State Health Foundation earlier this month that indicated improved discharge processes and post-discharge support can reduce readmission rates by a third.”

“’Everyone–patients, doctors, nurses, caregivers–has a role to play in ensuring quality care and avoiding another hospital stay,’ said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a longtime funder of the Dartmouth Atlas Project. ‘This should include a clear understanding of the patient’s medical problems, a schedule for follow-up appointments, a list of medications and instructions for taking them.’”

I can’t help but wonder if these high numbers are due to hospitals releasing patients before they are ready to go home, if patients want to go home and decline the chance to stay longer, if the proper care is lacking, or if patients just don’t listen to the advice of the doctors and nurses upon returning home. I’m sure on some level these are all contributing factors.

One good thing is that “hospitals with high readmission rates will soon face a 1 percent penalty from Medicare beginning in fiscal year 2013. The penalty bumps up to 2 percent in 2014 and 3 percent in 2015. With such payment penalties at risk, hospitals should consider revamping their discharge planning processes and coordination efforts with primary care physicians,” explains Caramenico.

As a nurse with an online BSN degree, you have one of the most important roles in patient recovery. You’re the bridge between the doctor and the patient, you are the one who can see if the patient really understands the procedures they need to take on the path to healing and you are the one who may have to help them if they get readmitted.

To read the complete story featured in this post, please visit:
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/hospital-readmission-rates-stagnant/2011-09-28?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

Nursing Stats You Didn’t Know About

September 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Lately my posts have been on the more serious side, so today I thought I’d lighten things up. There are some funny, surprisingt and interesting facts that I found on Scrubsmag.com and hopefully it brings a smile to your face and makes you think. As a student in an accelerated RN to BSN program, sometimes you just need to sit back and laugh at life.

Here are some of my favorite facts:
• There are more than 5.5 million nurses and nurses aids in the United States. That’s more than the population of 30 states and 5 times the size of the U.S. Army.
• 6% of RNs are men and 85% are Caucasian
• Nurses have more on the job injuries than construction workers
• The national hourly wage for an RN is $31.31. The highest paid are in San Jose, CA with $50.19 an hour and the lowest paid live in Johnstown, PA with a wage of $20.41 per hour.
• There are more than 135,000 job openings for nurses currently in the country. By 2020, it is projected that that number will rise to one million.
• In 1846 the first hospital training school for nurses, the Institute for Protestant Deaconesses, was established in the town of Kaiserwerth, Germany.
• According to a recent World Health Organization report, the United States spends more money, as a ratio of GNP, on health care than any country, followed closely by Lebanon and Zimbabwe.
• One out of every four registered nurses works part time
• The first nursing school in history dates back to 250 B.C. and was located in India.
• A Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) takes about 4 to 5 years
• About three out of every five registered nurses work in hospitals
• If you see a nurse smiling when things go wrong, she is probably going off duty
• May 8th is National Student Nurses’ Day
• In the various U.S. Military branches, approximately one-third of all nurses are male

So did you count how many of these facts you didn’t know? There is a long and rich history to nursing, and with online RN to BSN programs available, the methods may be changing but the compassion and desire to help people remains the same.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit
http://scrubsmag.com/nursing-stats-youve-never-heard-of-until-now/
and
http://scrubsmag.com/101-nursing-fun-facts/

One of Largest Nursing Union Strikes Took Place in NorCal Yesterday

September 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm

For 33 hospitals and a projected 23,000 nurses, yesterday was a big day to voice opinions and protest for change. Northern California Kaiser and Sutter Hospitals along with independently run Oakland Children’s Hospital felt the bite of their frustrated nurses. RN to BSN nurses are taking a stand for better benefits and increased patient care.

Reporter Sudhin Thanawala breaks down these issues in the Huffing Post and relates “The focus of the strike was Sutter Health, where union officials say nurses in contract negotiations are being asked to accept thousands of dollars in higher costs for their health care… Sutter’s proposed concessions would also reduce the ability of certain nurses to advocate for patients, cut pay for newly hired nurses, and slash vacations and holiday pay, according to the union.”

I was amazed as I read the number of nurses who were involved in this particular strike. 17,000 Kaiser nurses were expected to walk off the job due to cuts in health and retirement benefits. “Thursday’s action was among the largest nurses’ strikes in recent years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In two strikes in March and May, up to 2,500 health care workers, including 2,100 nurses, held one-day walkouts at Kaiser Permanente’s flagship Los Angeles Medical Center as part of a contract dispute… The last largest nurses’ strike, according to the BLS, was in June 2010, when a dispute over nurse-patient ratios led to a one-day walkout of 12,000 nurses working at 14 Minneapolis-area hospitals.”

“We’re not just here for money,” said Vicki Theocharis, a nurse in the hospital’s oncology unit. “We want to take care of the patients, and it almost feels like we’re being penalized for doing it.” That is certainly true with the majority of nurses that I know. In this fast paced, emotionally charged profession you have to have a calling and desire to help people. The money is good, but when health benefits, retirement packages and patient care get compromised, you’re punishing the people who sacrifice to help their fellow man. As such, we applaud those nurses who are standing up to make a working environment that present and future nurses can thrive in. Those who are currently in an online RN to BSN nursing program thank you!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/california-nurses-strike-across-california_n_978131.html

 

ANA Releases Guidelines for Social Networking

September 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Social networking is a huge part of our lives and I don’t even think we’ve fully tapped into its potential. For better or for worse, I think Facebook , Twitter and its various competitors are here to stay. Fortunately for nurses in a BSN school, there are some new guidelines established to help keep you or your coworkers out of trouble. :)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am not a fan. Can you say “too much information?” I don’t want to know if you’re on vacation because then I’ll be jealous. I don’t want to know that you got a latte at Starbucks because then I’ll wonder why you’re always complaining about money. I know your kid is cute but I don’t want to view a play by play of them at Disneyland. (I sure sound bitter today. Okay, now that I’m eating some M&M’s my mood has improved a little. New thought: maybe it’s my social circle and not the whole Facebook society that is bursting with useless information….hmm…)

So basically all that ranting is to say that the American Nurses Association has created some guidelines to help nurses and nursing students maintain some professional standards. Nursezone.com posted this article from the ANA which explains, “The principles are informed by professional foundational documents including the Code of Ethics for Nurses and standards of practice. Nurses and nursing students have an obligation to understand the nature, benefits, and potential consequences of participating in social networking,” said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. “These principles provide guidelines for nurses, who have a responsibility to maintain professional standards in a world in which communication is ever-changing.”

Neatly summed up, the ANA comments, “ANA’s e-publication, ANA’s Principles for Social Networking and the Nurse provides guidance to registered nurses on using social networking media in a way that protects patients’ privacy and confidentiality. The publication also provides guidance to registered nurses on how to maintain, when using social networking media, the nine provisions of the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements; the standards found in Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice; and nurses’ responsibility to society as defined in Nursing’s Social Policy Statement: The Essence of the Profession.”

I think a lot of these principles are things that you already know, but I still think it is a valuable resource. This guide is free to ANA members on the Members-Only Section of www.nursingworld.org. Non-members may order the publication for just $3.95 at www.nursesbooks.org. As an RN to BSN student, this could be a helpful tool.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/more-news/ANA-Releases-New-Social-Networking-Principles_37850.aspx

Should Medicare Age Be Raised to Cut Costs?

September 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Our government is looking for ways to cut spending and one idea is to raise the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. With the large group of Baby Boomers in our country, this would be a large sum of money. How will this impact nurses in a RN to BSN bridge program?

On Bloomber.com, Drew Armstrong writes that “The Washington-based Healthcare Leadership Council included the recommendation in four proposals it said would save $410 billion in a decade, along with having private health plans to cover additional Medicare recipients and make people earning more than $150,000 pay for the full cost of the program’s premium.

“Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled, currently covers 47 million people and spends $519 billion a year, according to the Menlo Park, California-basedKasier Family Foundation.

“The program is a prime target for the debt panel, which is made up of six lawmakers from each party. Unless members reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from government spending, a mechanism will automatically trim 2 percent, or $123 billion, from the $6.1 trillion the U.S. is projected to spend on Medicare in coming years, according to the Congressional Budget Office,” Armstrong states.

Okay, so those numbers are so large I can’t even begin to comprehend the enormity of it. To further my limited capacity to digest those amounts, I went on an internet scavenger hunt to solidify these calculations. I found www.usdebtclock.org to completely confuse my jumbled understanding and to make my jaw drop to my knees. (Seriously, check this site out. It’s an accountant’s brain on caffeine high.)

Many hospitals are for this increase in age eligibility and have recommended increasing the age by two month increments until it reaches 67. What about those who are 65 who already are using Medicare’s services? “People who would have been covered by Medicare would have to buy policies through new marketplaces called insurance exchanges created by the 2010 health law,” explains Armstrong.

So how will this affect those with an online BSN degree? I think the decrease in costs would ease a bit of the budget crunch many hospitals are feeling therefore postponing layoffs or increasing nurse to patient ratios. I must admit that I am also about 30 years from needing Medicare and that vastly influences my opinion. However, I also acknowledge that our country needs some serious overhauling to reduce our national debt and our financial crisis.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-14/medicare-eligibility-age-needs-to-rise-to-67-health-ceos-say.html
and
http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Recent Study Reveals Top Ten Jobs for College Grads

September 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I know I just wrote about the nursing job hunt in my last post, but I think it’s a pretty important topic. I came across an interesting study that reveals what the top jobs are for recent college grads (both in and out of the medical field.) As a graduate from an RN to BSN degree program, there are a variety of different ways to use your degree.

The University of California San Diego Extension conducted a study to find out the top ten careers for recent graduates. Not surprising, three of the ten fields listed pertain to the health field and several of the others overlap into medical careers.

Nursezone.com posted this study and the number one career is healthcare case management. “Case managers are healthcare advocates who — through a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, and advocacy — help patients understand their current health status, what they can do about it and why those treatments are important. In this way, case managers guide patients and provide cohesion to other professionals in the healthcare delivery team, enabling their clients to achieve goals more effectively and efficiently. According to a January 2011 survey, the number of case managers working in hospital admissions offices doubled from 2010 to 2011.”

Healthcare information technology is the next health related field on the list at number four. “As technology increases, so does the need for health information technicians to use and maintain patient data that is vital for quality healthcare and to keep all medical records organized and confidential. Technicians are needed for emerging jobs, such as healthcare integration engineer, healthcare systems analyst, clinical IT consultant, and technology support specialist.”

The final medical career listed is geriatric healthcare. “The growing population of seniors continues to have a major impact on careers in health care. As the numbers of aging baby boomers increase, so does the demand for certain healthcare jobs and services, including nursing, personal care and home healthcare.”

Although the others are not part of the medical field, I can still see some overlap. A lot of these new jobs are going to impact current nurses. The third hottest career path involves mobile media. There a several apps out there for nurses that help to diagnose, treat and calculate medications for patient care. Sustainable business practices and going green also affects the medical field. I read an article that focused on green energy and making hospitals more cost efficient.

As an RN to BSN nurse, there are a lot of opportunities out there. It certainly is a great affirmation to know that three of the top ten careers involves nurses.

 

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.nursezone.com/Recent-Graduates/recent-graduates-featured-articles/Best-Jobs-UC-San-Diego-Study-Reveals-Top-Ten-Hot-Careers-for-College-Graduates_37026.aspx

 



 

http://www.onlinerntobsndegrees.com/blog/nursing-news/hospital-develops-program-to-greatly-reduce-infections/

 

We’ve had to go to the emergency room a couple of times for my daughter over the years and I always think “Are we going to be exposed to a virus worse than the condition we already have?” Honestly, ERs terrify me because of the variety of illnesses contained in one small room, the lack of sanitary precautions most patients take and the amount of people sick people constantly in one room. However, infections are not just a problem in the ER. Due to this risk factor, several hospitals in Ohio have developed a program to protect their patients from bloodstream infections which could help RN to BSN bridge program nurses throughout the country.

A press release was posted by the Ohio Hospital Association describing their new strategy for decreasing bloodstream infections by half. “By working together, 53 Ohio hospitals have drastically reduced central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in intensive care units by 48 percent over a 22-month period, saving lives and health care costs.

“Through collaboration with the Ohio Hospital Association, the 53 participating hospitals worked with 80 patient care units in Ohio on the CUSP: Stop BSI as part of a voluntary national effort to eliminate CLABSI using the Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP). A central line is a catheter that ends in large vessels going into the heart so clinicians can more closely monitor patients and administer medication.”

With this new development, hospitals in Ohio and two other states were able to save more than $4,558,000, they prevented 86 bloodstream infections, saved 17 lives, and saved 688 excess hospital days, according to the press release. This makes me think that Benjamin Franklin was right: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Granted, I know these studies are costly and grant money is hard to come by, but these results are quite impressive. The press release stated that their bloodstream infection rate dropped by half. I’m just thinking about what studies could be done in different areas. The financial costs, lives saved, nurses wouldn’t be overextended, and an increase inpatient health and morale could be incredible outcomes.

The purpose of getting an online BSN degree is to help people get and stay well. With these new studies on the horizon, more nurses will be able to do just that!

 

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.ohanet.org/Press-Release/Ohio_Hospitals_Reduce_Bloodstream_Infections_by_Half

Seven Ways to NOT Get a Job

September 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Okay, we ALL want a job but there are seven common mistakes that we can make to sabotage our future. As an RN to BSN student, you’ve worked so hard to get to this point. Here are a couple more things to remember.

On Nurse.com, Donna Cardillo, RN, MA writes about the seven biggest mistakes that nurses can make that can hinder him or her from getting a job.

1. Having a negative attitude – We’ve all heard that there are limited jobs out there, that it may take a while to find a job that you want or that there is an influx of nursing grads out there. Just because there are less available jobs doesn’t mean that you can’t find one. Speaking negative thoughts to yourself is like creating a self-fulfilling prophesy. You become defeated before you even try.

2. Dressing too casually – Whether it’s to a job interview or at a career networking event, many people dress too casual. Wearing a suit or a skirted suit exudes a professional attitude and leaves a positive first impression.

3. Relying exclusively on the Internet – “You cannot conduct an effective job search without active networking. Attending career fairs, recruitment events, association meetings (even as a guest if you don’t belong), social events, and conferences and conventions is a great way to get the word out about what you’re looking for and garner support and help,” explains Cardillo.

4. Failing to follow up – When I was in college I was taught to always send a thank you note after every job interview. It shows that you are gracious and a person they would want to work with. It also keeps your name in the forefront of their mind. Whether it be an old fashioned letter or an e-mail, be sure to keep in contact with the people you meet who may be a link to a job.

5. Not doing your homework – It doesn’t matter if it’s a nursing job, desk job, or fast food job, the interviewer wants to know that you have some knowledge about the company. Inevitably they are going to ask “Why do you want to work at this company?” Check out their website and ask friends about the hospital or clinic and give a well informed answer.

6. Lacking passion and enthusiasm – Smile and portray confidence. Someone with a positive and teachable attitude can be more valuable than a sourpuss with experience.

7. Being inflexible – Okay, we know that there are jobs out there but if you show that you are inflexible, the chances are high that there will be someone to take the position if you won’t compromise a little.

When you finish your online BSN degree, that’s when you open a new chapter in your life. Start out on the right page by NOT doing these deal breakers!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://news.nurse.com/article/20110502/DD01/105020102

Major Nursing Strike Planned in Northern CA

September 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Thank goodness that three strikes and you’re out only works in baseball. Once again a group of nurses are planning to strike over cuts concerning patient care and health benefits. Current nurses are fighting for the needs of patients and the rights of present and future nurses. Those getting an online RN to BSN degree have much to thank current nurses for.

A press release on Market Watch stated that, “More than 23,000 registered nurses at 34 Northern and Central California hospitals will hold a one-day strike Thursday, September 22, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United announced today.

“The strike affects two of California’s largest and most profitable hospital chains, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, as well as Children’s Hospital Oakland.”

This certainly hits home for me as a Northern Californian. My parents have Kaiser insurance, we frequent Sutter Delta Hospital for our medical care and my nephew has physical therapy twice a week at Oakland Children’s Hospital. To know that the nurses are this unhappy about the pending changes worries me.

“A centerpiece of the strike at the Sutter hospitals is Sutter’s unprecedented demands for some 200 sweeping cuts in patient care and nurses standards on top of months of widespread reductions in availability of patient care services, motivated by commercial concerns, throughout the greater Bay Area,” explains the press release.

“Children’s Oakland RNs have been in dispute with hospital managers for a year over hospital demands, especially increases in out-of-pocket healthcare costs they say are punitive and would make it prohibitively expensive for nurses to bring their own children to get care at the hospital where they work. The employer has also refused to address the safe staffing issues of charge nurses not having a patient assignment and providing break relief at times when it does not interfere with patient care needs in the professional judgment of the nurse.”

I have to admit that the part that is dearest to my heart right now is the concerns that the nurses at Oakland Children’s Hospital have. As I mentioned earlier, my nephew currently goes there twice a week and has had two surgeries over the past two months. I have visited him several times there and it honestly breaks my heart. To see the worried look of parents, the pain and fear in the eyes of the children and the understaffed, tired nursing staff is almost more than I can bear. That place needs an overhaul and a committee of nurses to lead the way.

As a nursing student in an RN to BSN program, it seems that helping people involves bedside attention and medical know how. As a nurse in the field, some battles are best fought in the picket line. We support those on the frontlines!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/national-nurses-united-announces-one-day-strike-by-23000-california-rns-september-22-2011-09-09

Nurses Remember Sept. 11

September 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm

As the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11 is approaching, many people are remembering where they were and honoring those who lost their lives in this tragic event. RN to BSN nurses also recall their role in aiding the injured and discuss how to prepare for future emergencies.

On Advance for Nurses, A. Trevor Sutton addresses how nurses have changed the way they approach and prepare for disaster situations.

“’Our hospital center is a level I trauma center and we are the region’s primary burn center. Emergency preparedness is something we have always taken seriously. However, before Sept. 11, we had barely been tested,’ said Susan Eckert, MSN, RN, who serves as senior vice president and chief nursing executive at Washington Hospital Center (WHC) in Washington, DC.
“Our response was magnificent. I was at the hospital that day; we could see the smoke from our building. We sent our helicopter to the Pentagon as soon as they were requested. I was amazed at how fast we mobilized to receive hundreds of victims. We got our burn teams ready for a surge of patients. Unfortunately, there was no surge; there were not many people that survived for us to treat,” said Eckert.

Although the local hospitals did an outstanding job responding, several changes have come about if another extreme event should take place. One “lesson learned in the wake of that Tuesday morning was the need to improve communication between first responders and hospitals; these crucial information breakdowns have placed an impetus on improving interoperable communication.” More changes include that “NYPH-WC [NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center] has added ambulances equipped with direct video feeds allowing the ED to see what is happening at the scene. On 9/11, NYPH-WC’s central control room had one computer; now it has more than 15 computers, backup generators and multiple electronic health record backups,” explained Sutton. A final change is that nurses learned not to flood the ER; with such a tragedy the care needs to be long term and so organizing shifts is vital.

Hopefully an incident like Sept. 11 will never happen again. However, the biggest lesson that those in an online RN to BSN program can learn is to always be prepared. Be ready BEFORE an emergency happens and know the proper procedures.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://nursing.advanceweb.com/Regional-Content/Articles/Emergency-Preparedness-Then-Now.aspx