I can’t believe that it’s been 2 years since I became a nurse. I remember 2 years ago, I was looking for a nursing job, and it was so difficult as a new graduate nurse. Nearly every posting I saw, it stated, “2 years of experience, preferred.” But at that time, I thought, how can I possibly get those 2 years experience if no one gives me a chance?
Somehow, I got lucky. Relatively, it’s been a relatively smooth career. I would say that NYU nurses work are all over NYC and wherever they decide to go (back home to their home state — New Jersey, Michigan, Texas, California, Oregon, etc) or they’ve gone back for their Master’s (I personally don’t know anyone who’s gone back for a doctorate degree yet).
By June this year, it’ll be the first time I renew my license. I’ll let you know how that goes.
In 2014, there has been more readers than ever — so thank you for reading my blog! Here are the top 5 posts in 2014.
For those looking for their first nursing job — my take on it is that any nursing experience is better than waiting around for the ‘ideal’ experience. Just keep in mind what you really want (where in nursing do you want to end up?) and keep heading in that direction. Opportunities open up for those who are ready and looking for them.
This year, I want to go over one evidence-based practice each month. Unfortunately, the conversion rate from science to real practice takes an average of 10 years (WHAT??). The goal is to reduce this rate and start practicing new findings sooner in practice.
For the last 2 months, I’ve been studying for the CCRN, which is a certificate offered by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) that reflects the dedication you exemplify as you provide direct bedside care to acutely and critically ill adults. It can be taken by those who’ve practiced in critical care for 1750 hours within the last year. I’ve definitely learned a lot from it, especially things that I don’t use as often. It’s been great to incorporate what I’ve learned from there into practice.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 34,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
You either get the flu shot or you don’t. If you decide not to, you must sign a waiver and then wear a mask at all times once you’ve stepped inside the hospital… At least until the flu season is over, usually sometime in the beginning of April.
This requirement is so serious that if you didn’t comply, you’d end up with leave without pay and eventually fired within a week. So hop to it!
Most people don’t want to get the flu shot because they feel more tired and ill afterwards. They fear getting the flu from the flu shot. But people are much more likely to get the flu from the community than from the flu shot.
Some have an egg allergy, or a family history of Gullian Barre. In this case, definitely don’t get it. Or if you’re body is immunocompromised from another disease. Then adding a dead strain of the flu to your body is probably not a good idea.
Anyhow, wearing a mask all the time isn’t so bad. In fact, in Taiwan majority of hospital workers wear masks, partially due to the H1N1 and SARS virus that broke out a few years ago. The only annoying thing about it is if you wear glasses, it sometimes fogs up the glass or if you have an allergy to the mask material and you break out from it.
I never got the flu shot prior to 5 years ago. I was at Employee Health to get cleared to volunteer at a Cancer Center. The nurse asked if I got the flu shot. I said no and I didn’t want it.
What she said next changed my life. She said,
It’s not just about protecting you; it’s about protecting others.
Cancer patients are definitely immunocompromised. The radiation and chemotherapy is killing off good and bad cells, unfortunately. If I got the flu, my body may be able to fight it off easily but if I cough on someone else (by accident of course), it’d be much easier for them to get the flu.
That day I didn’t get the flu shot because I had a certain pride of never getting the flu shot.
2 days later I got the flu shot. I didn’t want to be that agent to pass on the flu.
For my boyfriend, I encourage him to get the flu shot. Last year we were at a Breast Cancer event in October in Providence, Rhode Island. There, Walgreens was offering free flu shots. So he got one.
This year I encouraged him to get the flu shot again. He didn’t want to because it’s an out of pocket expense. However, at his work they were doing an experiment on ways to encourage people to get the flu shot. They offered it for free. So he got one.
Cost and fear of getting the flu are the 2 major barriers for not getting the flu shot. Protecting yourself and others are my reasons for getting it.
What’s your reason for getting it or not getting it? Comment below!
To 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.
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.
There 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.
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.
Today 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.
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.
I 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.
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.
Bringing my own SBAR form. The float unit may not have the same form as your home unit.
A quick orientation of the unit. Having an idea of where everything is will give you the tools you need to succeed!
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.
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! 🙂
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?
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.’ ”
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!
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!