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!

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!

Which Nursing Journal is good? — the Impact Factor

thinkingIn Off the Charts, the official blog of the American Journal of Nursing, it states that 71% of bedside nurses use Google to search for Evidence Based Practice to better their practice (and here’s how to do it better). However, how do you know about the quality of a journal? There are 100s of nursing journals. One of the best ways to evaluate a nursing journal is through the Impact Factor (IF).

The Impact Factor tells the reader that how often the articles in that journal have been cited in other journals. The higher the number, the better it is. On this website, it has links to nearly all of the nursing journals and has a impact factor written next to it, if it has one at all

The American Journal of Nursing has a impact factor of 1.319, which places it at #18 out of all of the nursing journals for 2014. A couple of the ones I’m interested in are the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing (1.431), American Journal of Critical Care (1.656), and Critical Care Nurse (1.077). While each article may not be the best, the journal as a whole tend to produce quality information. 

Now, in order for these journals to make money, they charge for the articles. But there are a few ways to get them for free.

  1. Join the Nursing Association that is associated with the journal. For example, joining the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurse Association (PCNA) for $75 includes the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing (normally $129/year) for free. Plus, by joining the PCNA, you’ll also receive other resources, discounts on meetings, etc. Another great organization is the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), which also includes the American Journal of Critical Care and Critical Care Nurse.
  2. Go to the Nursing Center. They have updated new and free journal articles. Even better, they offer a free journal for you to look through every twice a month.
  3. Go to your college’s library website. Part of your tuition goes into purchasing these journals for students to use (because they can get very expensive if you bought them on your own!). If you are attending NYU, go to library.nyu.edu, go under find resources, then click on journals. Or go to getit.library.nyu.edu. Be sure to log in to read the journals!

I hope that by understanding what the Impact Factor is, you can make better decisions on which Nursing Journals you should read or even buy. Maybe you’ll even join a nursing organization! Keep updated on the latest and greatest in this constantly evolving field. And share what you learn with other nurses. Maybe it’ll even make a difference.

What mean, demanding patients want – poem

20140903-091612-33372622.jpg
He so in control, even when he’s ill
Demanding that the TV’s on
as he rolls into the new room
“Sir I need to make sure you’re breathing”
“No, the TV will keep my sanity”
Even when he can hardly breathe

Nothing’s my way
only his way
“But dad when you do it their way
you get better
and you do it your way
and you’re back in the hospital
So just listen to them”

No I don’t want that
then what do you want
I want what’s best for me
what is best for you?
I don’t know you tell me
let’s keep this on
Okay

He wants control, his decisions
because slowly but surely
he’ll lose one thing at a time
So he’s demanding
and mean

I get it
but what do I do?
How do I deal?
Just wait for 12 hours to be over?

How to get a Michigan RN License from Out of State

Fonature pathr a number of reasons, we travel to a new state, such as Michigan, after we’ve already obtain our first nursing license. Since I plan on working in Michigan, I have to get my Michigan Nursing License first. Here’s how I’m doing it and the related costs.

Ease – Easy
Time to Invest – 2 days
Time to Completion – from 1 to 3 months
Total Cost Minimum / Maximum – $146.50 / $181.75
This does not include the cost of an envelope and stamp to mail. If possible, use credit or check to pay. Otherwise getting a money order may cost more.

Step 1 Go to the Michigan Nursing License website and download the RN by Endorsement Application. Fill it out, attach a check for the State of Michigan ($54 or for $10 more, you can get a temporary license first for those who currently have 2 licenses), and snail mail the form.

Step 2 Decide if you will get your fingerprints done in Michigan or Out of State. If done in Michigan, go to www.identogo.com. Pick a location, book an appointment (date and time — it’s suggested to schedule your fingerprints 7-10 days AFTER you’ve submitted the RN by Endorsement Application), fill out your information, and submit $62.50 with credit or pay at the site with a check. After your fingerprinting appointment, keep the Livescan Fingerprint Request Form and receipt as it will contain the TCN Number.

If done Out of State, go to your local police state, get a hard stock fingerprint card (in New York State, it’s $25), and mail in the fingerprint card WITH the Livescan Fingerprint Request Form (page 11) and check of $62.75.

Step 3 Have your nursing license verified through www.nursys.com. They will send the verification for you for $30.

Step 4 Wait for the State of Michigan to process your application. After about 3 weeks, you should receive a Application Confirmation containing your customer number, which you can use to check your status online at www.michigan.gov/appstatus. According to others on allnurses.com, if it’s been over 8 weeks, contact your local rep or senate with your complaint. Typically, they find that the application is completed shortly after that.

Edit (12/31/14):

Step 5 If after 8 weeks, you can call them (I waited 25 minutes!) or email bhcshelp@michigan.gov with your TCN number that is found on it Livescan Fingerprint Request Form, and your customer ID number. They emailed me 2 days after stating that they found my fingerprint and they will forward it to the processor. 2 days after that, I got my license. I hope your experience is smooth.

Jess

It’s time to be a Strong Nurse

I was about to ‘boost’ a patient up in the bed with a colleague and I noticed how strong she was. I hardly did anything! Later that night, a patient coded and she started CPR. I noticed that she could do it for such a long time with so much force. She’d take a break just for a few minutes before she took over again.

When I took over, I realized how little endurance I had. I was wiped out after a minute.

After the code, another colleague mentioned how she heard pumping noises right before the code was called. She knew that it was that strong nurse doing CPR.

After I went home for the day, I felt my abs hurting.

This made me think about all the strong nurses there are. Especially in the ICU. Especially her. So she’s my strong nurse idol. I want to be a strong nurse.

I bought new running shoes and workout clothes yesterday from Adidas. I haven’t had a sports bra since high school (I’ve been swimming instead). I have to build my endurance. Do free weights. Etc.

It’s time to be a strong nurse.

And I’m bringing my boyfriend along for the ride.

Strong nurse!

Talking to intubated patients make a difference

I’ve taken care of my fair share of intubated patients. But over the last 2 nights, I encountered something different. They went from calm to wild in just a few minutes. If the sedation was down, then I increased that. Normally it works pretty fast.

But it wasn’t so in this case. Both patients were ‘bucking the vent.’ One didn’t have a PRN order ready so for one I had my coworker help me get an order and prepare ativan. But in the meantime, I remember reading critical care nursing journals about the experiences of previously intubated patients. They said to always assume that the patient can hear you. They said that when the nurse talked to them about where they were, what’s going on, and what to do, in a strong confident voice, that the patients felt comforted by that. So that’s exactly what I did.

This patient kept biting down on the tube (which is a big no no because we don’t want a punctured tube!!). “You’re in the hospital and you’re very sick. I’m Jessica, your nurse. Right now you’re having trouble breathing so you have a breathing tube. I know it’s uncomfortable but you need this. Try to calm down and take slow breaths. Open your mouth. Your face is very red but calming down will allow you to breathe better.”

Once I said this, the patient did calm down and opened her mouth.

“Good, your face is looking better and you’re oxygenating better. We are going to turn you to the side to clean you because you had a little accident, ok?”

She was able to cooperate much more at this point. And this happened before giving the ativan. My coworker then came in, administered it (“we’re going to give you something to help you relax now”), and she was at peace again.

Even though she couldn’t focus her eyes and couldn’t follow simple commands, it seems as though what I said did make a difference.

 

At The New Grad Nurse Interview: Be a storyteller

how to get a new grad nurse job - be a storyteller Your interviewer loves stories. In fact, you love stories. Everyone loves stories. So it only makes sense to become a great storyteller. To secure your first job as a nurse, you have to perfect the art of storytelling. About yourself.

I royally screwed up telling the story about myself. Twice! My first interview, I wasn’t prepared at all and just said whatever came to my head. My second interview, I didn’t focus my story about being a clinical nurse and drifted off into ‘health policy’ –that was a no-no.

I got better after learning the hard way. For my third interview, I started to focus my answers and got the job at a nursing home. By the time my current employment interviewed me — my fourth and fifth interview — I had some real nursing experience and relied on that to come up with some great stories.

So what’s the difference between a tale and a story?

A tale is simply stating something that happened. People don’t usually care about what happened. However, a story has a moral, a meaning, a takeaway point to it. We care about the 3 major things – the ‘bad situation’, the ‘thing you did to make it better’, and the ‘aftermath.’

Here’s an example for a question: Tell me how you dealt with a difficult situation.

A tale: a women wouldn’t take her medications. Later she did after I convinced her.

A story: a women wouldn’t take her medications. After thinking about why she wouldn’t, I realized that she wanted more control over what was happening to her. Instead, I gave her a choice and asked her, “would you like to take your medications in 10 minutes or 20 minutes?” She replied, “in 10 minutes. Thank you.” 10 minutes later, I went back to her to give her medications and she took them like a champ. Giving her the options allowed her to gain some control but not complete free-reign. This compromise allowed me to accomplish my goal (to give her meds) and made the patient happy.

Here’s another example: Tell me about your greatest strength.

A tale: I ask a ton of questions because I always want to learn.

A story: As a new nurse, I know that I have a lot to learn. I understand that sometimes I will be asked to do something that I’ve never done before but I am not afraid to ask questions to make sure that I’m competent the next time it comes up. I wasn’t sure how to put someone on a bedpan so I asked the ancillary staff. The next time I did it with someone. Another time I wasn’t sure if I heard the breath sounds correctly so I asked another nurse to confirm what they heard. Asking questions is my strength and understand that this is key to learning fast.

Here are some common questions. Think of your clinical experiences and come up with a story for each question.

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • What made you interested in nursing?
  • What do you like about nursing?
  • What was your favorite clinical rotation? Why? (please relate this directly with the position you applied for)
  • Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to delegate.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to problem solve.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Do you have plans on going back to school?
  • Tell me about ‘x’ experience that you wrote about on your resume.

Work on becoming a great storyteller and you’ll find that you’ll use this skill over and over again during every handoff report. And hopefully you’ll get a job offer! Good luck! Let me know if you have something crafted but would like a little help looking it over.

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I wrote this article as a part of the “Most Marketable Skills” Campaign on Webucator. I have to thank Bob Cleary for letting me be a part of the campaign! While I personally haven’t utilized their resources, they look helpful! Currently they are offering a free Microsoft Word 2013 class that involves learning about advanced formatting, using Word 2013 drawing tools, creating and managing tables, and working with column layouts. Each month they offer a new free course, so check it out even after this post is long done.

In case you missed the campaign, here are some of the other blogger’s input:

Achieving Success in the workplace – What is your most marketable skill? by @cjperadilla

What makes you marketable by @amandastrav

Self Brand Marketing : Social Proof To Boost Your Career by @CustomerRivet

Preparing for the workforce: Why learning to write well is worth your while by @moses_says

The Success of Mimicking by @Lbee27

What they don’t teach you in nursing school [INFOGRAPHIC]

Thanks to Madeline from Accelerated-nursing.net, this great infographic displays the multiple things that nurses have to be and do to be successful!

What They Don't Teach You In Nursing School
Source: Accelerated-Nursing.net

Here are my 2 cents on the infographic.

Prioritizing and multitasking: Just remember ABC, vital signs (+ pain) are the most important. Try to clump tasks together so you don’t waste time running around.

Charting: It is a necessity but patient care is always comes first. Chart immediately after seeing a patient unless circumstances do not allow you to do so (e.g. when all your patients demand your immediate attention!).

Collaborate: You’ll talk, talk, talk about what’s going on with your patients with the healthcare team and put your 2 cents in!

Tough love giver: You’re the pillar of strength and kindness for your patients!

Comforter and Advice giver: I feel this part is not so easy but I try to be honest when I can, joke when things are lighthearted, serious when appropriate, and provide empathy. Some patients and family members are anxious so answering their questions and reassuring them is important.

School doesn’t teach how to deal with

  • death – this one is tough but knowing that the patient is at peace and no longer suffering helps me. Or if the death is sudden, then I’ll think of the alternative: if they had survived, their life would never be the same and their quality of life would suffer.
  • stress – I always take a break. I ask for help & delegate and don’t stop until I’m happy with the result.
  • good & quick reports – follow a format every time and you’ll soon became a great storyteller; also always look at the latest orders!
  • prioritizing – the NCLEX drills this into your brain (at least the guidelines). Now it’s just time to put it into action. If there really isn’t anything exciting happening, then just finish everything on time!
  • and ill-tempered doctors – this one I feel the younger generation are trying to change this because collaboration is really key to good healthcare. And it’s not just docs but also PAs and NPs. Personally I try to be nice, be competent, question things, and hope they come to their senses.