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New Nurses Tend to Stick Close to Home

December 16, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I’m a homebody. I live about five miles from my childhood home, my parents and sisters live within 20 minutes of my house, and I’ve been attending the same church for 23 years. Apparently I’m not alone in digging roots in one area. Many students in an RN to BSN nursing program like to do the same.

Reporter Gretchen Wright discusses in the Kern Valley Sun some amazing statistics on the mobility of new nurses in a study conducted by the RN Work Project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “More than half (52.5 percent) of newly licensed RNs work within 40 miles of where they attended high school. Even more nurses reported working in the same state in which they attended high school. Nearly four in five (78.7 percent) of the nurses surveyed who held associate’s degrees and more than three in four (76.8 percent) of those with bachelor’s degrees practiced in the state they had attended high school.”

For rural areas, areas that don’t provide nursing programs, and those communities that don’t have many students who want to enter a nursing program, this can cause a serious shortage. “Given the strong tendency for nurses to practice close to where they attended nursing school and to attend nursing school near where they graduated high school, it’s not surprising that parts of the country with few or no schools of nursing are struggling to find nurses,” said Christine Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the College of Nursing, New York University. “We did not investigate the reasons for nurses’ lack of mobility, but this reality suggests that more needs to be done in areas with few nursing schools in order to meet the health care needs of those communities.”

Fortunately, there are some great online RN to BSN programs that students can enroll in regardless of where they live. With the convenience of working from home and around busy work and family schedules, this is a viable option for many students. Many offer financial advice and support while providing an education equal to more traditional schools.

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

The Well Rested Nurse

December 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I’ve decided to continue with this theme of “Nurse Health” that I started last Friday. After reading about nurses facing burnout and not getting enough sleep, I realized that this is a real problem for many people. If you can’t take care of yourself, it makes it that much harder to care for others. As a nursing student in an accredited online RN to BSN program, you may need this information more than anyone!

With the demands of life seeming to increase and with only 24 hours in the day, how in the world can anyone possibly get everything done on their to do list? There are so many things to do from maintaining a family and household to caring for patients on your ward to Christmas shopping and delivering gifts, slowly the time for sleep keeps getting pushed back later and later. If you’re not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, you’re going to pay for it during the day.

I thought it interesting that the Sleep Foundation found that between 1952 and 1992, the average middle aged adult decreased their hours of sleep from 8-9 hours to 7-8 hours per night. Currently, about 30% of adults get less than 6 hours of sleep per night. The study also found that if you get less than 4 hours of sleep over 1 to 2 nights, heart rate and blood pressure increase, hunger increases, and the risk for hypertension increases.

So how do you ensure that you’ll get a good night’s sleep and avoid additional health issues (not to mention irritability and hindered cognitive performance)? Marijke Durning provides some valuable tips on ScrubsMag.com: Develop a bed time routine and be consistent, don’t eat two hours before bedtime, exercise early in the day, check your medications to see if they will cause wakefulness, don’t bring work into the bedroom, make sure your room isn’t too hot or cold, and adjust your bedding or get ear plugs if you have a partner who has a different sleeping temperature or snores loud enough to rattle the windows. I would also like to add that noisy puppies and kids in the bed are also not conducive to REM sleep.

As a student in an RN to BSN nursing program, you have a lot of things on your plate. Feeling well rested and well prepared are probably the best things you can do for yourself and for a successful future.

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

Avoiding Burnout on the Job

December 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm

In my last post I wrote about how a lot of nurses are facing job burnout and I can’t seem to get that out of my head. With the proper planning, attitude and care of self, so many people could avoid those feelings of desperation and exhaustion. Here are some ways to prevent burnout when you get your RN to BSN degree:

1) Research where you work – I mentioned this in my last post but I think it still deserves a top spot. We all have bad days and have to deal with tough circumstances, but it helps to avoid a bad environment from the get go. Get a realistic perspective on the place and the patients you’ll be working with before you apply for the job. Research on the internet what people have to say about the hospital and ask friends and family members if they know anyone employed there that you can talk to. Is the management good? Are the nurses constantly deciding whether or not to go on strike? Is the hospital clean and organized? These are all clear signs for your future happiness.

2) Get plenty of rest – Okay, so as a nursing student you are probably running on fumes most of the time as you try to juggle studying, a job, taking care of a family and just reading your e-mail. However, I think that being tired is one of the biggest impacts on our attitude. When you’re tired you can’t think clearly and problems seem to be bigger than they really are. When you wake up refreshed, it’s much easier to face the day.

3) Balance – In my opinion, families are way too busy these days. Kids are in ten activities and parents are shuttling them from here to there like a cat chases a mouse. Plus with the holidays coming up there are a bunch of new tasks to fulfill like shopping , wrapping gifts, sending out 50 Christmas cards, baking endless amounts of cookies, etc. Choose what’s most important and prioritize what really matters. When you’re overextended and have a list ten miles long of things to do, you feel defeated before you’ve even started.

4) Focus on the positive – When you’re well rested and not burdened with a ton of outside demands, it is so much easier to focus on the positive. “I have a job… I’ve been able to make a difference in people’s lives… I have great people I work with…” Perspective makes all the difference.

5) Take time for you – Use those vacation days to relax! Do fun activities. Leave work behind those sliding glass doors.

Burnout is something that just about everyone faces in every career. It’s how you deal with those lows and take life one day at a time that gets you through them. You’re getting an online RN to BSN degree to fulfill your dream. Hopefully these steps can help you have a happy career.

Nurses Around the World are Facing Burnout

December 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

We all have those mornings when the alarm goes off, we hit snooze, pull the covers over our head and pray that time would stop just so we could recharge a little. The thought of crawling out of bed, fighting traffic and battling another long day at work can feel completely overwhelming and daunting. Trust me, you are not alone! Rarely does anyone pop out of bed like a piece of bread out of the toaster ready and rearing to go to their place of employment. However, it seems like nurses around the world have a tougher time facing the day with the demands and stresses of their jobs. As a student in a BSN degree program, it’s important to learn from the get go how to handle the pressures of work to prevent burnout.

There was a new study in which the results were posted in a press release that states that many nurses around the world are suffering from job burnout. The study was conducted by the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research which interviewed 100,000 nurses in nine countries.

“The percentage of nurses reporting high burnout was over a third in most countries and decidedly higher in South Korea and Japan, near 60 percent in both countries,” said lead author Linda Aiken, PhD, RN, director of the Center of Health Outcomes and Policy Research at Penn Nursing. “Job dissatisfaction varied from 17 percent in Germany to around a third of nurses in most countries and a high of 60 percent dissatisfied in Japan. Almost half of nurses in all countries, except in Germany, and many more than half of the nurses in a few of the countries, lacked confidence that patients could manage their care after discharge,” said Dr. Aiken.

So how can you avoid becoming one of the dissatisfied masses? Well, I think finding the right place of employment is key. If you research a variety of hospitals to work at and most of the employees look dower, the chances are they are unhappy and you will be too. Ask other nurses if they like their place of employment, if they have reasonable people in management and if they get along with their co-workers. The study shows that, “Hospitals with better work environments had lower burnout, lower likelihood of job dissatisfaction and a decrease in reports of little or no confidence in discharge readiness of patients.”

I can’t help but notice that the countries with the highest burnout and lowest nurse satisfaction rates do NOT include the United States. Fortunately we have strict nurse to patient ratios, better benefits and more options for recovering patients.

Prevention is key to avoiding burnout and knowing what to look for is vital for students in an accelerated RN to BSN program.

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

Drug Shortages are a Problem Nurses May Face

December 7, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Drug shortages seem to be a growing problem in the medical world. From manufacturers discontinuing less profitable medications to ingredients being difficult to obtain, certain patients are suffering from not being able to acquire the drugs that they need for their ailments. As a nurse with a BSN degree, it can be difficult to know what your patient needs are and not being able to provide the answer.

On NurseZone.com, contributor Debra Wood reported on the increasing problem of drug shortages that is affecting nurses and patients alike. “Often shortages remain off the radar until a nurse goes to give the drug, and it is not available. The nurse may call the pharmacy to track it down and learn about the national shortage. The nurse then notifies the physician to try to obtain a different order. Meanwhile, the patient waits.”

“Every day something different comes up, and it’s hard to predict [what won’t be available],” said AnnMarie Papa, DNP, RN, CEN, NE-BC, FAEN, president of the Emergency Nurses Association, adding that “the biggest thing for nurses is the frustration.”

Wood also explains the dangers of drug errors when a doctor tries to replace a medication for one that isn’t available. “When the morphine shortage began, the 2 mg. strength was not available and pharmacies stocked higher dosages. The nurse expecting a 2 mg vial might not recognize it really is 10 mg and could administer an overdose. Eventually, even higher strengths of morphine became unavailable and hospital pharmacies switched to hydromorphone, which is seven times stronger than morphine. Some physicians inadvertently ordered the same number of milligrams, and nurses administered it, resulting in patient deaths. Likewise, different strength epinephrine led to overdoses of that drug.”

The FDA reported that drug shortages are increasing in current years. There were 61 shortages in 2005 which then jumped to 178 in 2010. Of the 127 in 2011, 80% are administered by sterile injection, primarily for oncology patients. “Injectables present more complex manufacturing processes, and most have only one manufacturer that produces at least 90 percent of the drug, according to facts released by the White House,” writes Wood.

As a student in an online RN to BSN degree program, there are many frustrations that lay ahead. Listening, being knowledgeable and having compassion are the best ways to help your patients when things are out of your control.

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

How iPads Could Change the Medical World

December 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Every Apple store I pass by (when I get that rare chance to browse through a mall) is filled to the brim with people. Whenever a new product comes out, Apple seems to be on the news for its amazing technological advances and the mass of people who want to own this little piece of the future. When my brother-in-law, a financial analyst, started a new job a few months back, he was required to get one to stay connected with his co-workers and how they managed their tasks. Those in the medical field obviously are never left behind when it comes to technology and iPads are becoming part of the routine for countless doctors and nurses with their RN to BSN degree.

As a child of the 80’s, I remember Apple computers lining tables in my elementary school computer lab. These big, bulky, light tan grey monstrosities had a black screen with neon writing. The cursor was called a “turtle” and the big excitement was trying to make a square by typing the correct coordinates. Word process and making a simple shape were all that they were good for; oh how far they’ve come!

Now iPads have the amazing capacity to change the lives of millions of patients and make the jobs of doctors and nurses a little simpler. Larger than an iPhone and easier to maneuver through than with a plethora of apps, this is a practical tool for everyday job use. Abbie Smith writes on Health Care Global that iPads are changing the way medical staff does business.

“iPads could easily be used in healthcare to replace patient charts and medical history records… During the intake process a medical assistant could use the tablet to make a note of the patient’s vitals …In hospital settings, nurses and medical assistants could keep track of patient history and other daily records that the doctor could access at their convenience, helping them to prepare for patient consultations and hospital rounds,” writes Smith.

Other practical uses could be that medical explanations could be used in layman’s terms and doctors could show videos or charts to help aid patient understanding. Next, instead of toting around a ton of textbooks, medical dictionaries, etc., an iPad can store all the information that a student studying to enter into the medical field could ever need. With this technology, doctors could also access patient x-rays and charts, write prescriptions, keep track of current medications and cause fewer mistakes to be made.

Technology continues to make our lives easier and can make a difference in patient safety. Nurses in a BSN degree program have access to more information and technology than ever before.

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

Nursing Shortage Still Looming

December 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

The nursing shortage is not a new issue or new story by any means. We all know that Baby Boomers make up almost 25% of the population and as they age, more medical care is going to be needed. Also with health care reform pending, more patients may be served. Finally, technology and new medications are keeping people alive longer which causes patients to require more medical attention. With these growing numbers, those in an accredited online RN to BSN program are going to continue to be in high demand.

JoAnne Young writes in the Lincoln Star Journal about the nursing shortage in Nebraska and how that state is planning on addressing this issue. Although this article is focused on one individual state, by no means is this just a Nebraska issue and their solutions are applicable across the nation.

“A Tuesday hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services and Appropriations committees was part of an interim study (LR285) on what to do about the nursing shortage, which threatens to worsen over the decade,” writes Young. “There are ways the state can help to alleviate the shortage, said Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, who sponsored the study… Solutions include recruiting and retaining nursing professors, addressing infrastructure needs, improving access in rural and underserved areas and addressing health care reform issues.”

A lack of educators still is one of the main problems that contributes to the nursing shortage. In higher education institutions across the nation thousands of nursing students are being turned away because universities can’t supply professors to meet the demand. However, online programs are going strong and are a viable option to those who are turned away from a traditional program or need a more flexible schedule to fit into their life.

Young explains that having adequate medical care is vital. “Sebastian said researchers have found the ratio of nurses to patients is related to quality of care, patient mortality, hospital infections and falls, and the ability to save a hospitalized patient’s life when he or she experiences a complication.”

Students getting an RN to BSN degree are in high demand and the need seems to be getting stronger. While many are being laid off in this precarious economy, nurses are one of the few career options that is thriving.

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

Should States Step in to Aid Failing Hospitals?

November 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I just read a couple of articles about how some states are discussing how to take over floundering hospitals that are in a mass amount of debt. Hmmm… I must say that I am rather conflicted over whether this is the right thing to do: on one hand, if the management is incompetent and patients are at risk due to poor decisions, then something definitely has to change. On the other hand, our country is based on free enterprise and minimal government intervention. If the government steps in now, what will limit it from other industries? How will this impact us as taxpayers and as nurses with a BSN degree?

According to the Wall Street Journal, reporters Joseph De Avila and Jacob Gershman explain, “A New York state panel called Monday for sweeping changes that expand the state’s authority to assume control over troubled hospitals and also recommended the mergers of several troubled Brooklyn medical centers.

“The report was the culmination of a six-month effort by the state Department of Health to assess the finances of Brooklyn hospitals that have taken on staggering amounts of debt to remain open. The hospitals serve mostly the poor who use Medicaid insurance and patients who overly rely on costly emergency services for basic medical care.”

I think state intervention would be beneficial in this situation since most of the funding comes from Medicaid which is government dollars. However, I wonder if changing from a private hospital to a government run one would affect medical staff’s benefits, overtime, work schedules, etc. Also, are taxpayers going to have to foot the bill to get their local hospital out of major debt? These are already in financial strapped areas with people who don’t have extra cash to spare. Where is this additional government money going to come from?

Nina Bernstein reports in the New York Times that, “No hospital would simply be bailed out, the report said, but all would have to apply for support based on new patient-centered delivery models being promoted by the government to reduce Medicaid costs and improve outcomes. Support could include forgiveness of long-term debt, which could be controversial if private investors play a role.”

Now I know that this is happening in New York (and Arizona), but I’m guessing that every state has it’s distressed hospitals in low income neighborhoods. This may be the first state to intervene to save some hospitals, but I doubt it will be the last. RN to BSN bridge program students may have to decide if this is a viable option for employment and watch how this plays out across the nation.

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

Retail Clinics Growing in Popularity

November 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Tomorrow I have two doctors appointments and I must confess, I am not looking forward to the waiting process. I know I’ll check in and spend at least a half hour in the waiting room and then another half hour in the exam room. (Thank God for my Kindle or else I’d be forced to read expired magazines detailing the break-ups of stars I really don’t care about.) Fortunately, many patients feel the same way I do because retail clinics are gaining in popularity. As a nurse with an online BSN degree, this might be a workplace for you.

There are many trends in the medical field and retail clinics just may be the newest one on the cusp. Less costly than an emergency room visit and less waiting time than a routine hospital doctor’s visit, many patients are turning to this alternative. In a press release sent out by the Rand Corporation, it was explained that, “Use of retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other retail settings increased 10-fold between 2007 and 2009, according to a new RAND Corporation study… The determining factors in choosing a retail medical clinic over a physician’s office were found to be age, health status, income and proximity to the clinic. No link between availability of a primary care physician and retail clinic use was found.”

Many people were willing to visit these clinics for minor ailments such as an ear infection or the flu. The study also found that, “The strongest predictor of retail clinic use was proximity. Other key predictors are gender (females were more likely to visit clinics than males), age (retail clinic patients tended to be between the ages of 18 and 44; those over 65 were excluded from the study), higher income (those from zip codes with median incomes of more than $59,000 were more likely to use retail clinics than lower income groups), and good health (those with a chronic health complaint were less likely to use retail clinics).”

This makes me think of the convenience that many retail pharmacies are adopting in offering flu shots. No appointment. No waiting. Put getting a flu shot on your shopping list right under picking up milk and eggs.

These are exciting times to be in the medical field. The opportunities for those in an RN to BSN program continue to grow. With the right training, resume and interview skills, you can find a job that suits your personality and schedule.

To read the complete press release mentioned in this post, please visit

Specialists Help More Patients Via Robotics

November 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm

The medical world is and will be short staffed for quite some time. I’ve read countless articles pertaining to the nursing shortage and also the lack of doctors. Specialists are also hard for patients to get a hold of due to distance and rarity in certain areas. Robotics is slowly starting to eliminate these problems and may be something that nurses with an online RN to BSN degree will see on their wards on a daily basis.

This is interesting: a few weeks ago I wrote my post about how Toyota has developed nurse robots to aid in routine patient maintenance tasks. The reality of these machines working daily in hospitals seemed years away. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case according to an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Pulse editor Laura Raines writes that stroke patients at Northside Hospital-Cherokee use a Mobile Access Consultation Services (M.A.C.S) to access the skills of a specialist without that doctor being on sight.

“When a patient with stroke symptoms enters the emergency department, physicians can call a designated number to consult the Atlanta neurology team,” explains Raine.

“Instead of taking 30 minutes or more to drive to the hospital, I can log in within one or two minutes of the call,” said Dr. Keih Sanders, with AcuteCare Telemedicine. “I’ve even been able to pull over and work from my car.”

“Using a laptop, joy stick and headset, the physician drives the robot to a nurses’ station or a patient’s room to perform a stroke evaluation,” states Raines. With stroke patients, it is obvious that time is of the upmost importance. A specialist can evaluate the patient within minutes of the patient’s arrival to the hospital, use his access to the hospital data base to pull up CAT scans and blood reports, and then contact the ER doctor with the appropriate action that must be taken.

“We had to be comfortable with it in the room so that we could make our patients comfortable with it,” said Karen Newman, RN, BSN, emergency department nurse clinician at Northside Hospital-Cherokee. “When the physician beams in, his face is the same size it would normally be, and he can talk with the patient in real time. Once they get over the mouth-hanging-open surprise and the doctor starts talking, most patients forget about the machine.”

Technology amazes me and it seems like nursing students in an accelerated RN to BSN program are in for a lot more surprises.

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