NYC Marathon Volunteer

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The 2014 NYC Marathon
Medical volunteer
For the first time
At mile 15
In Queens

Keep those cramps and aches at bay…
PT to the rescue!
Massage, massage
Ice, ice
In 3, 2, 1
Off you go

Don’t drink too much water otherwise
You’ll get hyponatremia
Eat some salt!
Drink Gatorade to replace electrolytes!

Vaseline for chaffed thighs

Tylenol 650, not Advil
And only once
red dot
drink it down
Off you go again

Too cold
Warm up
Sit in the warm ambulance
Keep going!

Blisters
New bandaid

Ankle hurts
Wrap, wrap

And of course,
Scan in, scan out,
The fastest documenting ever

Inspirations abound
Spirits high

Let’s go!!

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How I Studied for the GRE

GRETo be perfectly honest, I really didn’t want to take the GRE. I am not one of those people who love standardized tests. But after speaking to one of my good friends, I was decided to take the exam. Although there are plenty of graduate nursing programs that do not require the GRE, there are schools that require the GRE.  To reach the highest academic level of nursing (PhD, DNP), majority of programs require the GRE.

I did well! Here are the tools I used to study at home and at my own pace.

1. Magoosh GRE 

I highly recommend using Magoosh, especially since the entire study program is online. There are detailed videos on how to answer math, verbal, and the writing section. There are over 1000 questions ranging from easy, medium, hard and very hard. The format and types of questions is nearly the same as the actual GRE so you’ll get plenty of practice from day one. And yes, you do get use a onscreen calculator, a pencil and scratch paper for the real exam.

They also have apps for the iPhone and Android so you can practice vocabulary on the go and watch videos!

2. 5 lb. Book of GRE Practice Problems

5lb book of GRE practice problemsThere is a verbal and a math diagnostic test to take to find out your weaknesses. Then I did every third question in the math to get through the book thoroughly. While it’s huge, I highly recommend getting the paperback copy.

3. Manhattan Prep: Reading Comprehension & Essays GRE Strategy Guide

51r7AA89kUL._SL160_This is great for reading comprehension and especially the writing portion. There are 2 sections: one is creating an argument and the other is to take apart an argument. This text is great with the general topics to break down. The GRE actually has every possible topic that could show up on the exam on its own website. The Magoosh blog has shortened the list to something much more manageable that you should practice brainstorming prior to the exam. Personally, I bought the kindle version and thought that it did the job.

I spent about 2 months studying while working full time. If you’re thinking about taking the GRE, go for it!! Let me know if you’re planning on taking it or need any help.

Also, this is my first time linking products from Amazon. If you enjoy reading my blog, at no cost to you, it’d be great if you could buy anything from Amazon through my link. I’d earn a small commission and really appreciate your help! Thanks.

Compassion Fatigue and what you can do about it

compassion fatigueToday I went to a journal club meeting on compassion fatigue. What does compassion fatigue even mean? Why is it important? And how can we combat it?

First let us define a few words.
Passion means an intense emotion.
Compassion means you’re intensely aware of others’ suffering and you have the desire to do something about it.
Sympathy is when you feel sorry for others.
Empathy is when experience others’ pain.

As a nurse, you probably will feel all of these emotions for your patients. You understand the patients’ suffering and you’re willing to do something about it. You feel sympathy for these patients. In fact, your entire unit probably feels sympathy. And your goal is to alleviate suffering.

However, empathy can be emotionally taxing and draining. You have to be careful not to be too empathetic for each patient  as doing so will drain your emotional capacity.

But what happens when there’s too much compassion? What is the opposite of compassion?

Indifference. You stop caring. It’s too much and you’re not satisfied.

What does this look like?

People may lash out at others. Others isolate themselves. People will often call out sick because they feel overloaded. They feel scared that they will make a mistake that could cost them their license or worse, a patient’s life. Nurses will feel burnout and eventually drop out of nursing. That is not good for the profession.

What can you do to combat compassion fatigue?

1. Set small and obtainable goals (SMART goals).

This applies to any setting, but especially in the critical care setting where there are chronic patients and dying patients who may make little difference everyday (either positively or negatively). The goal may not be curative but rather for comfort. If the patient is in pain, your goal could be to provide comfort.

Sometimes family members will have unreasonable goals for their loved ones because they are unfamiliar or are in denial of the serious condition. They may think that their loved one is going to go home being the same way they were before arriving at the hospital. In this case, your goal could be to alleviate the family’s fears and to be honest with the patients’ condition.

Setting your own small and measurable goals for the patient for those 12 hour shifts will allow you to feel good about the care you give.

2. Taking care of yourself.

The stability of your personal relationships at home will affect how you handle yourself at work. If you’re stable and confident with yourself, you will come away believing in yourself that you’re doing the best you can. Having enough time for yourself is crucial. Exercise, eat healthy, and building a positive network.

3. Work as a team.

Lastly, remember that you’re working as a team and not in isolation. Your coworkers also feel compassion for you and your patients. The more senior coworkers may have had experiences similar to the one you’re currently dealing with and can suggest goals for you.

Giving the same good, evidenced based nursing care for each patient is something my unit does consistently, no matter what condition the patients are in. In some cases, the patients get better. In other cases, patients get worse or stay chronically ill. By treating everyone in the same way, we feel that the patients’ destiny is not in our hands, but is determined by something higher up.

First float as a critical care nurse

fear vs courageI feel that anytime you float to another unit, there’s some anxiety because you’ll call different providers, things are in different places and there’s usually a different patient population. Since I came off of probation, I have to float now.

My first float was at the SICU. While there, I had 2 medical patients, so at least I was used to that. Here are a couple of things there made me feel comfortable.

  1. A list of numbers for the MLPs (the critical care PA, vascular PA, and surgical PA), respiratory therapist, med cart code, nurses lounge. If the float unit is nice, then they will already have these on a sheet prepared for you. If not, then ask the charge nurse or the secretary for this information.
  2. Bringing my own SBAR form. The float unit may not have the same form as your home unit.
  3. A quick orientation of the unit. Having an idea of where everything is will give you the tools you need to succeed!
  4. Remembering names. Introducing yourself to the nurses next to you and to the axillary staff and remembering their names will make it much easier to get help (or help them!) and get the job done.
  5. Ask questions. As always, feel comfortable asking questions! Anything from, ‘Where can I find a 3cc syringe?’ to a patient’s deteriorating condition to ‘can I have a boost?’

Although I had a pretty good first float, I’ve heard other stories from my coworkers stating that they had too many patients. You should be able to get the same ratio of patient population as you would normally. Good luck on your first float! 🙂

Why Not Volunteer as a nurse?

USNS Comfort Navy Hospital Ship

USNS Comfort Navy Hospital Ship

Has it been difficult for you to find your first nursing job after finishing nursing school? Recruiters often say, “You need to get a year’s experience.” How are you supposed to get the year’s experience if no one is willing to take a chance on you?

Courtney Lenberg, RN, from www.fromnewtoicu.com, guest posts about her volunteer nursing experience prior to getting a paying job.

The most impressive thing that I did to beef up my resume was volunteer! I had always wanted to go abroad and help those less fortunate. Luckily for me I was able to get nursing experience that helped me professionally as well!

I tried to use my license in any way possible, even if I wasn’t getting paid for it. During my future job interviews, this showed that I was motivated to get my first nursing job even though it was difficult.

Volunteering on a Navy Hospital Ship

I volunteered for five months as a nurse through LDS Charities on the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship that travels to Central and South America giving free services to the local people. The main activities I helped with were surgeries onboard the USNS Comfort; medical clinics with general practitioners, pediatricians, optometrists, and dentists; and education. Education topics included neonatal resuscitation, public health, water purification, amongst other health issues.

One of my most rewarding experiences was shared by LDS Charities: “In Colombia, Lenberg helped 12-year-old David with massive burns on his hands, face, arms, legs, and back; he also had a massive infection on one hand and contractures (shortenings of muscle, tendon or scar tissue that cause deformity) in his fingers on the other hand. Lenberg said she tried “so, so, so hard” to get the boy in for surgery the next day, but was unable to do so because the surgical area was overbooked.

To Lenberg’s surprise, David was the first patient admitted the next morning for surgery.

‘My eyes instantly welled up with tears because I was so thankful that this little boy was able to get his much needed surgery done,” Lenberg said. “I don’t know that I have ever felt so much intense gratitude in my entire life as I felt in that moment. David’s dad said that I was David’s angel because I had tried so hard to get him the surgery that he needed. It was such an amazing experience to feel such intense love for someone that I had only know for such a short time.’ ”

Volunteer Opportunities

Operation Smile

Operation Smile

What an amazing and rewarding experience this was for me! One of the other most prominent charities to provide volunteer nurses on the USNS Comfort was Project Hope. Project Hope provides many opportunities to educate those less fortunate in foreign countries; the next trips are scheduled for Haiti, the Dominican Republic, India, and more.

Another organization called Operation Smile is one of my favorite charities! They provide free surgeries for children in need of cleft palate or cleft lip repairs. Their mission trips are less than a month in length; they travel internationally to countries including China, Morocco, and Russia.

If you want to help with disaster relief in the United States, the American Red Cross is a good option for you. Other local opportunities can be found if you look search around your community. Talk with your public health department or local nursing homes.

If looking for volunteer opportunities lasting for longer amounts of time, the US Peace Corps provides “life defining experience in more than 60 countries.” These assignments last for approximately two years. Nurses volunteer in a variety of ways, but most missions revolve around educating and empowering people in poor communities. The Peace Corps Response is another alternative for nurses who cannot volunteer for quite as long. These assignments are approximately 3-12 months and are for nurses who have 10 or more years experience.

There are so many neat opportunities for medical professionals! These experiences will not only help you to grow individually, but it will help your resume to grow as well. If you are feeling stuck in your nursing situation whether it be as a new graduate RN or as a charge nurse of the same unit you’ve been at for a while, then try volunteering for a change of pace! Nurses change the world one person at a time!

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Courtney, RN from www.fromnewtoicu.com, guest posts to talk about her struggle getting her first nursing job and how she overcame it – she volunteered! Now, she works in the medical ICU. I personally thought that this was a great idea and wanted more people to know about it.

Her website is great too — its goal is to make finding nursing school information as easy as possible. This will make it faster for both high school students and high school counselors looking for nursing school requirements, such as the GPA requirements, tuition information, prerequisite classes and more. Go check it out!

Get a Costco Membership at a discount!

costcoCostco Membership at a discount!!!!

If you’ve wanted Costco but haven’t taken the plunge, here’s your chance to get it at a discount with Living Social for the next 6 days! You get $20, a free chicken (yes, you read that right lol) and apple pie! 

When I emailed Dan, who’s a Costco fan, to ask if I should get it, here was his reply: 


YESSSSS!!!! THIS IS THE DEAL WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR. You don’t even need to “pay off” the cost of the card because the cost of the card is already pretty much paid off with this deallll!!! DOOO EETTTTTTTT.

Dan

This membership is good for any US location. So don’t delay, get it today!!

What order do you put BSN and RN?

bsn rnHow to Display Your Credentials

When you graduate from nursing school, do you ever wonder where you should put your new credentials? And what order it should be in? I know that I wanted to know!

First things first. As a nurse, you will have to get licensed first (this is your RN). After you work a year or two, you can then pass an exam to get your specialty certification (medical surgical nursing, etc – thus becoming a RN-BC). You can find the different certifications at the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). There are also Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification for who go back to school for their masters. Another national certification is the CCRN – Critical Care Registered Nurse.

According to the ANCC, the preferred order is:

  • Highest earned degrees (BSN)
  • Licensure (RN)
  • State designations or requirements (FNP)
  • National certifications (RN-BC, CCRN)
  • Awards and honors (FAAN)
  • Other recognitions (EMT)

So after you graduate and you pass the NCLEX, you want to write your title like this:

Your Name, BSN RN

And whenever you’re signing anything in the healthcare field, sign your name as such:

Your Name RN

Now you can be confident when you write your name.

Finally off of my critical care probation!

sim manYesterday marked the last day of my critical care probation. So what did I do to pass? Instead of being at the hospital, I went to the simulation lab with Mr. Sim Man.

While I did sign a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the specifics of the lab, I can briefly state that it was similar to being at work in the hospital. When you receive a patient, you do a Head to Toe assessment, and determine the next step in care. Is he stable or unstable? If the patient doesn’t respond to your care, what is the next step?

It’s exciting to be off probation now, considering that I’ve been on the unit since December 2013! Now I will have to float to the SICU or CTICU, stepdown, PACU and ER. I’m a little scared to not know everything is (again), but it should be ok!