Sunday, July 6, 2014

5 Volunteer Opportunities for RNs

5 Volunteer Opportunities for RNs

ScrubbedIn_Volunteer_WEB Volunteering may be the spark that reignites your old flame for nursing. The ability to do the kind of work you want to do, the number of hours you’d like to devote, and to help people in a way that sometimes isn’t possible in a paid job. Being a nurse volunteer is also a great way to make connections, learn new skills and network. You never know what might lay ahead — volunteering is a way to test the waters and allow your confidence to soar.
5 Volunteer Opportunities for RNs
The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross relies on 15,000 nurses (both paid and volunteer) to provide services, education, supervision and leadership throughout the organization. According to their website, “Nurses have always been the cornerstone of the American Red Cross.” A variety of opportunities await, from Disaster Action Teams to health fairs to CPR and First Aid classes to local and national board member positions.
Project Hope
Aboard the ship SS Hope — a floating hospital — doctors, nurses and medical volunteers work in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, “as well as land-based missions,” to help people around the world who are in need of health education, medical care and humanitarian efforts. You can search Project Hope’s website for current volunteer opportunities or add your professional information into their volunteer database for future need.
RN Rescue Network
RN Rescue Network is a California-based nonprofit organization that organizes a national network of registered nurses and coordinates missions to disease-stricken areas when needed. RNRN started in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and has since deployed nurse volunteers to disaster-stricken countries including the Phillippines, Haiti and Japan.
Hospital Nurse Volunteer
Bay Care Health System in Tampa, Fla., offers a volunteer nurse program specifically designed for retired nurses or those who are taking a breather from some of the demands of a clinical world. The program boasts some of the special aspects of nursing that sometimes get missed on the job: the time to reinforce teaching, offer companionship and comfort measures.  See if a hospital in your area offers a similar program.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Although maybe slightly out of the box in terms of your professional background, your nursing experience will not fail you in this endeavor. Big Brothers Big Sisters has been serving youth for more than 100 years, helping children grow in confidence level, develop healthier relationships with their families, and become less likely to participate in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use, and skipping school.
Your turn!
Do you volunteer? What kind of volunteer work do you like to do and why?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Educating the Next Generation of Nurses: Online

 By Kimberley Ensor, RN, BSN, PHN

Looking for a new challenge in your nursing journey? Being an online educator may be the avenue for you.

The American Nurses Association reports that the nurse shortage is alive and well and with more than 50% of the nurse force closing in on retirement, a growing population of individuals over the age of 65 and ever changing healthcare reforms, the need for nurses and health professionals will increase (ANA, 2014).  With a need for more nurses, this means there will be a need for more educational resources and options to produce well trained and well prepared nurses.
Nurse educators are on the brink of a unique opportunity and if ready for a transition in their career being an online educator may be just the change they desire.  Warning online teaching is nothing like the days of old, where hairspray, big hair, neon clothes and badly done videos were the norm.  Technology has dramatically changed and with it the way that students engaging in learning and want to be taught has also changed.  This forum is not for the faint of heart.  Online education and web based classrooms cannot be regurgitations of the traditional classroom.  Educators must have a new skill set and an ever increasing awareness of the online environment and the unprecedented challenges.  Educators must be will and able to engage students and maintain high quality. 
In a case study that describes the experiences of faculty at one institution and the effort to learn about online teaching, researchers identified six related themes: plugging in; peer sharing; modeling and community building; multidimensional learning; role-shifting and meta-learning; paradigm shifting; and sustained momentum (Paulus, Myers, Mixer, Wyatt, Lee & Lee, 2010).  Each of these recommendations were meant to prepare faculty for the task of teaching online and ensuring that the quality of nursing education continues. 

So you want to teach online?  Prepare to work a little harder than your traditional faculty counterparts.
So now the question is how to make that happen.   Not having face-to-face interactions does not give the instructor license to disappear into cyberspace.  Students are looking for more socialization, a sense of community, and discussions that encourage critical thinking (Roehm & Bonnel, 2009).  Online faculty will have to not only initiate and facilitate discussions, but also evaluate what students are learning and the quality perspectives of the discussion.  In a study done by the National Study of Student Engagement’s where undergraduate students were surveyed about their online experiences, researchers discovered that most viewed online courses positively and had more active learning and collaborative experiences in comparison to classroom based courses (Gallegher, Reilly & Killion, 2009).  Online educators will have to be cautious of the literature choices, how the class is structured, the amount of required participation and the technology necessary to have a successful course.  Continuous server crashes or outdated information will quickly be turned off by a problematic site.  Since distance education is here to stay and will continue to grow by leaps and bounds, educators must create an online environment that will increasing reflect the range of issues that permeate the nursing community at large, pedagogically, ethically, technologically and philosophically (Gallegher, Reilly & Killion, 2009). 
Along with have the evidence based practices presented, current literature and advanced technology, students are also looking for instructors who care and exhibit behaviors empathy and concern in the online environment.  Online faculty also found great success when grade rubrics and electronic grading were used.  Student report thorough feedback and clear indications of availability on when to expect responses to inquiries aided in convey a caring environment in the online classroom (Mann, 2014). 
Finally educators must make sure they are meeting relevant professional standards.  For example the Seven Principles of Good Practice which include encouraging contact between participants; developing reciprocity and cooperation; encouraging active learning; giving prompt feedback; emphasizing time on task; communicating high expectations; and respecting diverse talents and ways of learning (Paulus, Myers, Mixer, Wyatt, Lee & Lee, 2010).
Ready to begin the adventure of online teaching?
                So if you are truly ready to be an online instructor and navigate your way to guiding and molding the next generation of nursing students here are some things to consider as you get started:
1.       Make sure to thoroughly investigate the institution you will teach at.  It is imperative that faculty have support from their institution and that the curriculum meets all relevant professional standards as well as accreditation.
2.       Faculty must be committed to be life-long learners.  Technology will continue to change and advance.  Current research and EBP will be necessities as well as nursing literature that is reflective of course objectives and professional nursing standards.
3.       Feedback, feedback, feedback.  Poling of students found that faculty scored low in areas  such as creating a sense of community, feelings of aloneness, and trepidation when it comes to answering online questions (Gallegher, Reilly & Killion, 2009).   When educators provided thorough and consistent feedback, students felt validated and supported in their course work.
4.       Embrace technology.  “I ain’t got time for that,” will have to be excised from the nurse educator’s dialogue and language.  The next generation of learners are immersed in technology and if the online environment is going to engage these students, faculty will also have to enfold technological advances in their teaching approach and style.  The online class  can occur at any time and at any place and the instructor must be prepared to answer questions that may be technology based during the course.
5.       Engage!  No this isn’t Captain Kirk telling the Enterprise to launch into warp, but online educators will have to make engaging students a regular part of their course curriculum.  When the instructors seemed more as a guide and facilitator, students found greater success and interactions in the online environment was increased (Roehm & Bonnel, 2009 ).
Ready? Set, Teach!
                Okay so now the moment of truth has arrived.  You’ve worked through what you don’t want to do and made lists of the characteristics of teachers you did not enjoy while in school and vow not to be like that.  Now you must make sure that spend time and thoroughly know your curriculum  presenting relatable online discussions, current studies and opportunities for socialization are important components to motivating learners toward desired goals.  A well facilitated online classroom will provide learners with the opportunity to extend and enhance their learning

American Nurses Association (2014). Nursing Shortage.  Retrieved from

Gallagher-Lepak, S., Reilly, J., & Killion, C. (2009). Nursing student perceptions of community in online learning. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal For The Australian Nursing Profession, 32(1-2), 133-146. doi:10.5172/conu.32.1-2.133

Levitt, C., & Adelman, D. S. (2010). Role-Playing in Nursing Theory: Engaging Online Students. Journal Of Nursing Education, 49(4), 229-232.

Mann, J. C. (2014). A Pilot Study of RN-BSN Completion Students' Preferred Instructor Online Classroom Caring Behaviors. (Cover story). ABNF Journal, 25(2), 33-39.

Paulus, T., Myers, C., Mixer, S., Wyatt, T., Lee, D., & Lee, J. (2010). For faculty, by faculty: a case study of learning to teach online. International Journal Of Nursing Education Scholarship, 7(1), doi:10.2202/1548-923X.1979

Roehm, S., & Bonnel, W. (2009). Engaging students for learning with online discussions. Teaching & Learning In Nursing, 4(1), 6-9.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shiftwork and Healthy Eating

Shiftwork and Healthy Eating

By Holly Carpenter, BSN, RN
Ann is a 23-year-old registered nurse (RN). Since her graduation a year ago, she has been working the night shift in the pediatrics unit at General Hospital. During this time, she has gained 30 lb, moving from the high end of a normal body mass index (BMI) to the low end of an obese BMI. With the hospital cafeteria closed during her shift, Ann faces unhealthy vending-machine choices, with only fast food restaurants and greasy diners open after her shift. Patients offer Ann cookies and candy, and hospital events provide fruit punch, soda, pizza, cake, and donuts. Ann is ravenous and exhausted after her shift; she eats a large meal and then goes to bed. She feels she has no time to shop for healthy food or prepare nutritious meals and has limited access to fresh produce. Ann is frustrated by her weight gain and frightened about her health.
Unfortunately, Ann's situation is not unique. Nurses struggle with their weight like anyone in the general population. The U.S. had 21 million shiftworkers in 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and research demonstrates that rotating shiftworkers and night shiftworkers have a greater likelihood for obesity than those who work day shift. Studies show that disruption of the normal circadian rhythm as experienced by shiftworkers can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and weight gain. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that shiftwork stress can aggravate digestive disorders
RNs can make a difference in reversing the trend. Broadly, ANA's Code of Ethics for Nurses addresses being a healthy nurse and role model in several statements: "The nurse owes the same duties to self as others." "For the nurse, virtues and excellences are those habits that affirm and promote the values of human… well-being, …health…." And finally, "the nurse…fosters healthy lifestyles and participates in institutional and legislative efforts to promote health." Specifically, ANA's 2008 House of Delegates resolution "Healthy Food in Health Care" asks nurses to promote nutritious foods to improve patient and public health. Nurses and employers can take the actions below.
  • Pack healthy foods for meals and snacks, such as fruits, vegetables, and salads; proteins, such as roasted turkey, chicken, or fish; whole-grain breads; and low-fat cheeses and yogurts.
  • Use quick, easy meal preparation. For example, use a slow cooker, use only three to five ingredients, and freeze extra portions.
  • Pack nutrient-dense foods, such as kale, blueberries, and salmon.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Practice portion control.
  • Avoid fatty, fried, high-sodium, and processed foods.
  • Say no to cookies and candy.
  • Advocate for healthier foods in the workplace.
Shiftwork employers:
  • Provide healthy foods during all shifts.
  • Offer healthy foods in vending machines.
  • Provide free, accessible drinking water for all shifts.
  • Serve healthy foods and beverages at events.
  • Offer weight-loss programs and support groups.
  • Start an on-site farmer's market or a community garden.
  • Supply the cafeteria with healthy options at equitable prices.
  • Mark calorie content on menus and menu boards.
Ann knows that as a nurse, she is a role model, advocate, and educator for health and wellness. So she minimizes her intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, because eliminating just one can of soda daily saves 10 lb per year. Ann researches foods that increase energy and satiate hunger. Using recipe websites, she prepares large quantities of healthy entrees weekly and freezes portions for later use.
She then approaches her employer. Working with her hospital's purchasing committee and employee wellness department, Ann gets fresh and dried fruit, low-fat yogurt, and nuts added to vending machines. Healthy bagged meals are now available from the dietary department, since the cafeteria still closes at 8 PM. Once a month, a farmer's market sets up in the hospital's courtyard in the morning as Ann leaves her shift. She loads up on nutritious produce at a great price.
Join Ann in her healthy lifestyle. To learn more, visit

Saturday, March 15, 2014

20 tips for nurse noobs by Sean Dent

20 tips for nurse noobs

szefei | iStock
szefei | iStock
Stepping out of your student nurse shoes is much tougher than your teachers lead you to believe. Upon completion of your nursing program and successfully passing your national certification exam, you would think things might get a littler easier? Nope. Sorry.
Starting that very first nursing job brings a whole new set of challenges. Here are 20 brief tips I think every nurse “noob” should read as they start their nursing journey:
  1. Get used to being scared; it’s your best ally.
  2. Ask more questions than you answer.
  3. Don’t ever fake it. If you don’t know something, tell someone. It’s OK.
  4. You have to earn respect; don’t just expect it.
  5. Avoid all gossip. If you want to gossip, go back to high school.
  6. If you’re not early, you’re late. Timeliness is next to godliness.
  7. Write everything down. You will forget 80 percent of what you hear. (“What you do not keep in your head, you will keep in your feet.”)
  8. When you want to run: Stop, walk and listen. If you hurry, you will make a mistake.
  9. Put your own mask on first. Take care of yourself before you take care of others.
  10. Learn how to say NO to overtime. Learning your job does not require living at your job.
  11. DO NOT rush orientation. Make your mistakes with your preceptor.
  12. It’s OK–in fact, it’s expected–that you make mistakes. Don’t dwell on them; learn from them and don’t repeat them.
  13. Find a mentor. Your mentor may NOT be your preceptor.
  14. Surround yourself with people who love your profession. Don’t let the naysayers ruin it for you.
  15. The grass is NOT greener on the other side. Don’t be too quick to play the job hopscotch game.
  16. Grow a thick set of skin, and do not back down when advocating for your patient.
  17. Become a premiere team player. You cannot and will not survive this job otherwise. Play nice in the sandbox.
  18. Thank all those who help you, including the transporter, the aide, the secretary and the housekeeper. Remember your TEAM.
  19. Never apologize for doing your job…and that includes calling a physician in the middle of the night.
  20. Never stop learning something new, ever. Seek it out. Pursue knowledge and career advancement. Contribute to the growth of our profession.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

10 Ways You Know You're A Night Shift Nurse

10 ways you know you’re a night shift nurse

Not to say that night shift nurses are a totally different breed, but you do tend to relate to the werewolf thing!
10 ways you know you’re a night shift nurse
1. Caffeine is a basic food group.

2. Any light of any kind hurts!

3. You completely dread lawnmowers.

4. When a patient asks you why you’re still awake, you wonder the same thing.

5. You can say, “I’ll try to let you rest” to a patient while thinking, That’s really hard to do at night.

6. You completely get the werewolf thing.

7. You love that the traffic is so much less.

8. Breakfast specials…need I say more?

9. The sun comes up and you get restless.

10. The thought of leaving the best shift ever makes you feel like you’re going to die.

This list is by Christine Blair, Staff Nurse.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Acute Physical Rehabilitation

Acute Physical Rehabilitation nursing is a branch of the nursing field which is focused on providing care to patients who have been incapacitated by injury or illness. The goal of the nurse is to participate in a treatment program which will allow the patient to regain as much normal function as possible, thereby improving quality of life for the patient. Rehabilitation or rehab nurses can be found working in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, clinics, residential care facilities, and home health care environments, and compensation in this field is quite varied.
These nurses may perform many basic nursing tasks, like cleaning wounds, administering medications, assisting patients with bodily functions, charting, and coordinating with a medical team, but they also perform tasks which are specifically related to rehabilitation. For example, a rehabilitation nurse might help a patient learn to walk, eat, talk, write, or perform other tasks after an injury or illness which has impaired these skills.
Rehabilitation nursing also includes patient education and empowerment. If a patient appears to be permanently consigned to a wheelchair after an accident, for example, a rehabilitation nurse will help the patient learn to use the wheelchair, and provide the patient with education which helps him or her live as independently as possible. Rehabilitation nurses also assist patients as they grow accustomed to prosthetic limbs, ventilators, and other assistive devices which may be required.
As part of a patient's care team, rehabilitation nurses work with other rehabilitation professionals to address the patient's specific condition and issues, and to develop a treatment plan which is appropriate for the patient. Some rehabilitation nurses choose to focus on a specific aspect of rehabilitation nursing, such as helping patients regain motor skills or assisting patients who need adaptive devices. Others in the field of rehabilitation nursing practice more generally, working with an assortment of patients and on a variety of cases.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Technology That Helps Nurses Cut Down the Steps

Technology That Helps Nurses Cut Down the Steps


nursing technologyA study commissioned by Herman Miller Healthcare showed that nurses walk up to four miles a day on their shift. Much of this is due to supplies not being readily available and the need for better communication, like keeping tabs patient location. Technology is beginning to make the job of the nurse easier by giving them better information, leading to less steps.

Real Time Locating Systems

Real Time Locating Systems, also known as RTLS, uses small tags attached to devices, making them easier to find. For example, a typical scenario finds the nurse walking from room to room to locate a blood pressure machine for use in their rounds. With an RTLS tag, the nurse can locate the machine on a dashboard at the nurses station. They may still have to walk to the end of the unit to retrieve the machine, but it will be a direct route.

Patient Locators

Similar to RTLS are devices that patients can wear to indicate their location, according to Villanova University. Tracking down a patient can be time consuming on a busy nursing unit. A nursing aid that has taken a patient to physical therapy and radiology calls up for the patient to come down for a test. The locator tags can prevent the hunting down of people who know where Mr. Johnson is by indicating that he is in PT.
Another use suggested for these locator tags is in monitoring patients who may wander out of their rooms and be difficult to track. Mental health units, neurology units and Alzheimer's treatment centers benefit from these devices.

Tools in Your Pocket

With smartphones and tablets, you can have a number of tools in your pocket to help you get through your day easier.
The Pocket Pharmacist is available for your iPhone, and gives you a drug reference list with interactions. Calculate by QxMD uses current clinical decision trees to determine the best course of treatment.
Other tools to help you with your nursing career include a wage calculator by Intuit to help you precisely calculate your time and paycheck amount, which is handy for those extra shifts and holiday hours you're asked to work. ShiftPlanning is a nursing shift scheduling tool that the charge nurse will find useful for tracking time and adjusting schedules.

Mobile Devices and EHR

Electronic Health Records (EHR) became mandatory as of January 1, 2014, notes USF Health. Institutions must begin making patient records available online. A study by American EHR on more than 800 health practitioners showed that 33 percent with access to EHR used a tablet to access patient information.
As tablets and mobile charts become more available on nursing units, the constant walking back and forth between patient and their information is reduced. Devices such as the iPad EHR by drChrono allow bedside status updates to be made once vitals and other observations are completed.

Patient Workflow

Nursing Critical Care highlights a software system used in a Pennsylvania hospital that helps save steps during a patient's discharge. When the patient is ready to be released, the nurse uses a workflow panel to contact the transportation department to pick up the patient. Once they have arrived and are leaving with the patient, they use the panel to contact the cleaning crew. Once the room is clean, they use the panel to contact the admitting patient, to tell them the room is ready. This keeps the nurse from walking to the room to see the status, so they can report back to admitting that the room is ready for the next patient.