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Health Coaches New Role for Nurses

January 9, 2012 at 6:26 pm

The longer I write this blog, the more amazed I am at the variety of options there are out there for nurses with an RN to BSN degree. I’ve come across a ton of specialties from oncology to pediatrics to gerontology to insurance advisors and now there is a new one that has caught my interest: health coaches. I believe that there literally is a niche in nursing for every personality type and lifestyle. What other occupation can boast of that?!?

On PennLive.com there was an interesting article distributed by the Associated Press that highlights the new position of health coach. There is a nonprofit organization called Femtique Associates Inc. which was started by Judith Beaulieu. This Web-based company, headquartered in Coatesville,PA offers health coaching and patient navigation services provided by registered nurses.

“While physician care is important in diagnosing medical issues, some people also need a different kind of help to address the lifestyle changes that go along with them. Some of the lifestyle changing issues that might spark women to contact Femtique include pregnancy, post-partum depression and breast feeding. Medical conditions that motivate lifestyle changes such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart attack might also be addressed, as well as weight loss and addictions.”

The focus is truly on lifestyle changes. “You’re not a patient. You’re a client to us. You’re a person looking for a lifestyle change,” Beaulieu said.

This option would be great for a nurse who wants to avoid the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital or chooses a more preventative approach to health care.

These nurses are specifically assigned to a particular patient; the patient first contacts the organization through their website, explains their concerns, and a nurse then contacts the individual online or with a phone call armed with a written out plan for their issue. “The health coach works with the client to identify their goals, and then helps them make the lifestyle changes they need to meet them.”

With all of the options available to students in an online RN to BSN program, I can see why nurses continue to be in high demand. The role of nurses is ever evolving and the specialties that are available and are being created are vast. The possibilities seem limitless!

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


Health Care and Business Collaboratives Reduce Costs and Improve Patient Care

January 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm

We’ve all heard that high administrative and medical costs are greatly effecting hospitals causing higher nurse-to-patient ratios, a decline in patient care, and various cutbacks. However, there is a new plan that cuts costs AND can improve patient care. This system may even help nurses with a BSN degree on the job.

Harris Meyer writes in Kaiser Health News that an unusual collaboration has been constructed between a company, a health care system and an insurance provider that reduces the bureaucracy for patients to get access to the aid they need. By reducing time it takes for patients to get seen, their costs have been reduced by approximately $2 million and the cost per patient has greatly reduced between 10 to 30 percent.

“Experts say employers, hospitals, physicians and health plans increasingly are willing to work together because cost and quality problems have reached crisis levels. The goal is to carve out health-care spending that’s wasteful and doesn’t help patients,” explains Meyer. “Collaboratives help physicians and hospital leaders see employers and patients as customers whose expectations, such as rapid access to care, must be met.”

There are some major roadblocks that prevent collaboratives from becoming the norm. Meyer writes that, “It’s often difficult to get traditional competitors and antagonists to collaborate, including sharing proprietary medical and financial data. Some employers are reluctant to get directly involved in how health care is delivered. Critics warn about rationing of care. And some physicians complain about interference with their professional autonomy… Perhaps the biggest roadblock is the predominant fee-for-service system, which pays providers to deliver more services, rather than better, more efficient care. Health-care payers, including private insurers and Medicare, have been slow to change their payment models to reward outcomes rather than volume of care. That sometimes puts providers in the position of losing revenue by doing the right thing for patients.”

It seems that this idea will take time to catch on. Although those who have participated in this health care experiment are pleased with the financial savings and patient approval ratings, the old equation of dollars and cents cannot be applied to this model.

As a nurse in a BSN degree program, it is important to research what trends are being implemented at the hospital that you potentially want to work at. Not only is there the stress of patient care, but also the twisted mass of bureaucracy that influences the attitude of the hospital.

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

Avoiding Compassion Fatigue

January 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Nursing is a demanding field. Not only do you have to care for the physical needs of your patient but also the emotional stress they carry along with the family members who are concerned for their loved one. Caring for the heart, mind and soul is just as important as caring for the body. With this in mind, all these factors can contribute to “compassion fatigue.” As a student getting an RN to BSN degree, it’s important to know how to stay caring without causing yourself to burn-out.

Blogger Laura Landro focuses on this issue in the Wall Street Journal and presents some interesting facts and solutions concerning those in the nursing field. First of all, “according to a primer published last year by the American Nurses Association, compassion fatigue is ‘a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with caring for patients in significant emotional pain and physical distress,’” explains Landro.

There are several causes for compassion fatigue, but the most disruptive is when a nurse is faced with a moral dilemma like not being able to fully help a suffering patient or is conflicted when the decision to disconnect life support from a patient has to be faced. With compassion fatigue, not only the nurse but patients suffer from the effects of this ailment. Landro writes, “a 2009 analysis conducted by the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine found that compassion fatigue was linked to decreased productivity, more sick days and higher turnover among cancer care providers. In numerous studies, higher turnover and understaffing among nurses has been linked to worse patient outcomes and higher mortality rates.”

There are many factors that contribute to this mental stress. When a hospital or ward is understaffed and the nurses are overworked, the type of specialty can cause an intense and emotionally draining environment (such as working in a cancer ward), and if a nurse doesn’t learn how to separate work from home. Retreats, support groups and proper staff levels can help nurses prevent or ease compassion fatigue.

As a student in an RN to BSN college it’s important to know the highs and lows of your pending occupation. There are great benefits to being a nurse, but you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. Learn the pitfalls to avoid before you have to climb out of them.

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

How to Study More Effectively

January 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm

It’s a brand new year and there is nothing as refreshing as starting over with a clean slate. Whether you were dwelling on failed diets, dust covered exercise equipment or a stack of bills as high as the Empire State Building, there is something wonderful about the beginning of a New Year and the possibilities that come with it. As a student in an online RN to BSN nursing program, the New Year also usually brings with it a new semester of learning. Here are a few tips that may help you achieve your resolutions to study more effectively and use your time more wisely.

On ScrubsMag.com, Sean Dent shares some of his ideas to keep your mind fresh and sharp when you study. What student couldn’t use more tips on this subject?!

1) Make a plan – How much information do you have to cover and how much time do you have to focus on studying? Dent calls this his “study budget.” Avoid cramming all of your information in at the last minute. You’ll just be wasting time because you probably won’t remember much of it. When you are relaxed and focus, you can digest the information more readily.

2) Create a study area – Keep all of your notes, books, reference materials, etc. in one place so everything is easily accessible when you need it. There is nothing worse than getting up from your desk to retrieve something only to be distracted by dishes in the sink, a magazine tempting you to browse through it or a pile of folded laundry to be put away.

3) Distraction free zone – My husband can study and retain information while sitting on the couch with the TV on and our toddler playing on the floor. Not me. I need quiet alone time. Create a place in your home where you can fully concentrate on your studies. If that is impossible, retreat to an out of the way coffee shop or library. It may seem selfish, but your future will benefit everyone in your family.

4) Be proactive – I’m so glad Dent mentioned this point in his article. We both seem to be office supply geeks who are obsessed with highlighters and Post-It notes. Make your learning interactive and tactile by highlighting important points and color coding different topics. The more you get involved, the more likely you are to remember the information.

5) Switch it up – Every time you go over your information, switch the order that you study your topics in. It will give your brain better flexibility in using the information.

Being in an accelerated RN to BSN program is tough but once you have the tools to make studying more effective and easier, you can conquer this mountain of information. This is your new start for a bright future!

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

BSN Nurses are Taking Over the World

December 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Well, maybe BSN nurses aren’t taking over the world, but they are sure going back to school in droves and making a difference in countless patient lives. The word is out that there is a nursing shortage and many are heeding the call to help those with ailing health. Now more than ever is the best time to enter an RN to BSN bridge program.

Elizabeth G. Olson, contributor for CNN.com, reports about the amazing comeback the nursing profession is having and that higher education is the key to getting the prime job positions. “In the last decade, the number of young people (most of them women) between 23 and 26 years old to enter the field jumped by 62%, says David Auerbach, a health economist at RAND Health in Boston… Currently, those who earn a nursing baccalaureate — meaning four years of college — have more than a 60% hiring rate at graduation, which is almost 2.5 times the rate of general college graduate hiring, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The bottom line is that with the Affordable Health Care Act in process to include those who haven’t previously been insured and with Baby Boomers entering their senior years, there is a huge number of nurses that are going to be needed in the very near future. More importantly for the nursing student, hospitals are hiring. Olson writes, “Last year, 55,000 qualified applicants were turned away from entry-level baccalaureate programs, up from 16,000 in 2003, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. That occurred despite a hike in the number of educational slots in the past decade, to 65,000 last year, compared to 45,000 in 2000.”

Furthermore “in a January 2011 report on the future of nurses, the Institute of Medicine urges that nursing education needs to be reformed to reach the goal of 80% of four-year degreed nurses. More also should attain masters and doctorate degrees, to improve patient care and ‘to succeed in this complex and evolving health care system,’ the study recommends.”

It is obvious that now is the time to pursue an online BSN degree. Patient needs are increasing, patient numbers are increasing and more hospitals are hiring nurses with a higher education. BSN nurses, now is your time to thrive!

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

Latex Gloves Aren’t Impenetrable; Hand Washing is Vital

December 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Latex gloves are as much of a part of a nurses’ uniform as wearing comfortable scrubs and white tennis shoes. They feel like an impenetrable wall between you and the germs and fluids that may make you terribly ill. However, this false security is causing many patients to contract infections. Here is what students in an RN to BSN college should know about wearing Latex gloves.

On Nurse.com there was an interesting report about a study that was performed in the U.K. pertaining to Latex glove and medical staff hand hygiene. It was found that many workers assumed that since they were wearing gloves they did not need to wash their hands before or after contact with a patient.

“Although gloves can reduce the number of germs transmitted to the hands, germs can sometimes still get through latex. Hands can also be contaminated by ‘back spray’ when gloves are removed after contact with body fluids,” states the report.

“British researchers, led by Sheldon Stone, MD, of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, observed more than 7,000 patient contacts in 56 ICUs and geriatric care units in 15 hospitals in the United Kingdom, making this one of the largest and most detailed studies on gloves and their impact on hand hygiene.

“Overall, the study found that hand hygiene compliance was ‘disappointingly low’ at just 47.7%. Compliance was even lower in instances where gloves were worn, dipping to just over 41%.”

Today my daughter has a routine doctor’s appointment and I’m going to closely watch whether the medical staff washes their hands before and after they examine her. I think the hard part as a patient is speaking up, though. If they don’t wash their hands, I would feel really uncomfortable requesting that they do so. My daughter is getting a flu shot also and I know the Medical Assistant snaps her gloves on, but I don’t recall ever seeing her wash her hands after administering the other vaccinations from past visits.

As a BSN nurse there are many aspects of the job that are important to review to make sure that you not only keep your patients healthy, but yourself. Proper hygiene is so important and although latex gloves may protect you to a certain extent and hand sanitizers can kill a lot of germs, nothing can replace proper hand washing.

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

Partnership for Patients Initiative to Improve Patient Care

December 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm

One of the best ways to study is with a fellow nursing student to share experiences, knowledge and accountability. Now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is doing something similar by having bigger hospitals with high patient care ratings share their methods for success with struggling hospitals. This could create better working environments and safer procedures for nurses getting their online RN to BSN degree.

On NurseZone.com it was reported that, “As a part of the Partnership for Patients initiative, a nationwide public-private collaboration to improve the quality, safety, and affordability of health care for all Americans, $218 million will go to 26 state, regional, national, or hospital system organizations. As Hospital Engagement Networks, these organizations will help identify solutions already working to reduce healthcare acquired conditions, and work to spread them to other hospitals and health care providers.”

Hospitals in these “Engagement Networks” will “be required to conduct intensive training programs to teach and support hospitals in making patient care safer, provide technical assistance to hospitals so that hospitals can achieve quality measurement goals, and establish and implement a system to track and monitor hospital progress in meeting quality improvement goals,” states the website.

I think it’s great for hospitals to collaborate so that each one doesn’t have to spend time or money and risk patient health and nurses’ sanity to find out what works and what doesn’t. However, I didn’t see any comments as to how to the weaker hospitals are chosen or whether or not the hospitals being helped are in low income areas. I bring this up because I think it’s easier for a large, profitable hospital located in an affluent area to have a lower patient readmission rate and greater success due to patient education, safer neighborhoods and healthier personal bank accounts. Will success at one of these hospitals equal success at a hospital serving primarily seniors or low income individuals? (Or maybe I’m just a cynic…)

This program boasts that “Achieving the Partnership for Patients’ objectives would mean approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries to patients in the hospital, saving over 60,000 lives over three years, and would mean more than 1.6 million patients to recover from illness without suffering a preventable complication requiring re-hospitalization.”

Going to an RN to BSN college means that there will always be new procedures to learn, new skills to employ and new strategies to be educated in. It will be interesting to see if this one sticks and reaches it’s goals.

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

How to Survive Working on Christmas

December 22, 2011 at 9:56 pm

No one wants to work on Christmas Day (well, except maybe Santa but that’s just in the early morning.) It can be really depressing having to get up early to go to work knowing you’re missing all the festivities at home. When you have your BSN degree, sometimes working holidays is just part of the job. Here is how my family deals with working holidays.

1) Celebrate on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas Day – My husband is a nurse and unfortunately this is his weekend to work. Over the years we’ve learned that this is the nature of his job so my pouting and sadness have been thrown out long ago with the dead, brittle Christmas trees. On December 23 we are celebrating the holiday with his side of the family. For Christmas Eve after work we are going to church, we’ll pick up a to go dinner and then open all of our gifts. Christmas morning my daughter and I are going to go to my sister’s house in our pajamas to open a few more gifts and have a nice brunch. After my husband gets off work we are going to go to my parents’ house for a delicious meal. Yep, it takes a lot more work and planning, but he won’t miss out on a thing. (And it certainly helps that our families are in driving distance.)

2) Make it special for your co-workers – Your fellow nurses want to be there about as much as you do. I’ve made three trays of Christmas cookies for each of the nursing shifts to share. It’s not much, but it’s something! I also made homemade jam from our peach tree over the summer and wrapped it with a cute kitchen towel for my husband to pass out at work. (Okay, so not everyone makes homemade jam and cookies, especially when they are in nursing school and working. These are just ideas….)

3) Make it special for your patients – Your patients want to be there about as much as you do. Although you won’t be handing them sugary treats or little gifts, your smile and cheerful attitude probably mean more than these trinkets. Dress in brightly colored scrubs or put on a stupid button with Rudolph’s light up nose. Ask them what their favorite Christmas movie is. A little cheer goes a long way.

Being a nurse sometimes means having to sacrifice, but your attitude makes all the difference. Graduating from an RN to BSN bridge program may mean that you have to work some holidays, but you can bring a little bit of joy to patients stuck in a hospital bed. You just may be their best gift.

Are Strikes Necessary in the Nursing World?

December 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm

As another huge nursing strike is pending in California, it has me wondering if past strikes have made much progress. It seems like contracts are always in negotiations and that both management and staff have difficulty on coming to a mutual agreement. Is this the tide that nurses with an RN to BSN degree have to ride through the duration of their career?

In Southern California and San Francisco, approximately 6,000 nurses are planning a walk out on December 22, 2011 unless an agreement can be made. Carole Ditosti sums it up nicely on Technorati.com: “The problem for the nurses: staffing shortage strains, increased burdens, decreased health benefits. The problem for the hospitals: Medicare and Medicaid cuts, pressures to cut costs because of changes in health care financing. The problem for patients: how not to get sick during the walk out, and if one does become ill, how to select another hospital that doesn’t seem to be impacted, even though hospitals are reportedly contracting for strike-replacements at double the wages usually paid.”

My husband works for the county as a nurse and this week we were also given a bomb: 2% paycuts, we’d have to pay an additional $200 to $300 for our medical insurance and the state is no longer contributing to retirement funds. Ouch! Now one of these issues wouldn’t hit so hard, but combine all three with the cuts from last year and now it’s starting to really hurt. No strikes are planned at my husband’s work, but the nurses are getting increasingly frustrated. I can understand that the state is in a financial crisis and needs to make cuts in many areas, but hurting hard working individuals who are struggling to make it doesn’t seem like the best solution (and on a side note, neither does cutting funds for education and law enforcement.)

Ditosti also presents some scary statistics about when nurses go on strikes. “A recent study (for the National Bureau of Economic Research) of 50 nurses’ strikes in New York State between 1984 and 2004 showed that patient mortality was almost 20 percent higher during the strikes. To extrapolate in understandable numbers, for every 280 people admitted during the strike, one more person died than would have if there had been no strike. And of the people who were admitted, initially, 6.5 percent were more likely to come back and be readmitted within 30 days because they weren’t completely healed.”

So are strikes really necessary and will nurses with an online RN to BSN degree always have to battle management? Well, it sure seems that way. But with every job you have to take the good with the bad, and nursing is an amazing and fulfilling career to help others who desperately need you care.

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

A Year in Review: A Patient’s Point-of-View

December 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm

This has been one crazy year for my family. From a patient’s point-of-view, we’ve had more surgeries, doctor’s visits and physical therapy appointments then all the previous years combined. With my husband being a nurse, we’ve also seen a lot of changes this year and there are plenty more coming in 2012. This is what I’ve learned from both sides of the hospital gown and I hope it helps students in an RN to BSN program gain another perspective on the medical field.

2011 was a tough one on my family. In February my middle sister had a breast reduction, in May my mom had wrist surgery, in June my daughter had corrective ear surgery, in July my nephew had rods put in his leg to lengthen his bones and in September my oldest sister had gastric bypass surgery. Needless to say, their experiences and recovery times were as various as the procedures themselves.

I must say that the hardest part of this year was dealing with my nephew and his leg surgery. What was supposed to consist of two operations and three months of wheelchair time and recovery has taken over seven months and five operations. Between multiple infections, not cutting the rods properly, a fractured bone and misinformation, this poor 11 year old has been through the ringer. He was at a nationally renowned hospital with the country’s best children’s orthopedic surgeon, and yet I was surprised at how bad the care and communication was.

As a patient (and patients’ family member), this year I’ve learned to be more patient, more grateful and more understanding of what nurses go through. Though my nephew had a bad experience, the rest of us had amazing care and capable, skilled nurses to attend to our various needs. I don’t know how many times I’ve said this on this blog over the year, but the experiences and opportunities for nurses are as varied as the specialties they pursue. For example, a crowded children’s hospital is going to be a lot more stressful and demanding than a small outpatient clinic.

From a nurses’ perspective, this has been a challenging year. My husband is a nurse at a county detention facility and limited overtime, benefit cutbacks and pay cuts are here with more on the horizon. I’m so grateful he has a job, but I’m encouraging (aka nagging) him to get his BSN so the cuts won’t be quite so painful.

With all the trials and ups and downs of this year, we’ve come out stronger and more appreciative for our health, each other and the quality care that is available to us. Our country has the best nurses and the best care in the world and it’s amazing RN and BSN nurses that make our medical system strong. Thank you for making a difference!!!