Monday, October 17, 2016

Five Ways To Burn Fat and Tone Up at Work

Do you find yourself too pooped after work to exercise? Get in line. And it is a rather lengthy one.
About half of the adults across the nation say they fail to get the suggested 30 minutes, five days a week of moderate activity or the suggested 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times week, according to a survey by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Don’t be one of them. Start by exercising where you spend eight hours or more each day: your job. You already know that a sedentary lifestyle is no bueno. Here are five ways to work out [without advertising] while at work:
☛ Take the stairs. Ideally two at a time, several times each day. If it has been a while since you navigated floors without using an elevator, start off by walking down the stairs. Make it a goal to climb stairs in a designated time.
☛ Walk more. This classic exercise is ideal for the workplace. Split your lunch time between eating and walking. Visit a co-worker instead of emailing or calling. Or walk to a restroom or water fountain that is not nearby.
☛ Do seated leg lifts. Sit up tall in your seat. Lift one leg until it’s straight and parallel to the ground. Hold for a count of five, then lower. Repeat 10-15 times, and switch to the other leg.
☛ Try the “Wooden Leg.” While seated, extend one leg out in front of you. Hold for two seconds. Then raise it up as high as you can, and hold it again for two seconds. Repeat with each leg 15 times.
☛ Stand up and stretch your arms, legs and torso.
Increasing your activity at work provides benefits and not just for you. On-the-job exercises can boost concentration and productivity, making it a benefit for your employer.

Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at

Monday, October 10, 2016

8 Ways to Handle Criticism at Work

No one is perfect, and no matter how hard you work at your job every day, some things won’t turn out the way you planned. You might beat yourself up for making an error or saying something you didn’t really mean, but when someone else calls you on it, it takes everything up a notch.
How can you respond when someone criticizes you at work? Taking criticism is one of the hardest parts of professional life. No one likes to hear someone else say something negative about how they performed.
But is all criticism negative? Here are eight ways to deal with someone else’s comments.
1.Take a Deep Breath
Whatever comes to your mind first is not something that should come out of your mouth. Of course you are going to be defensive when your boss tells you a patient complained about your timing with medications. Maybe she doesn’t know the back story that you tried to give meds and was asked to come back after the patient’s visitors left.
Don’t expect the other person to know your side of the story, and keep that in mind when you want to reply with a biting comment. Escalating the conversation to a nasty tone will make things worse, not better.
2. Listen Carefully
All criticism is not bad. While it may be hard to hear, the meaning might not be negative in tone. If someone is telling you that you did something wrong, think about the reasons behind what’s being said.
If the comment has to do with patient safety or satisfaction and you did mess up, this is an opportunity to do your job better. If the remarks have to do with an action that’s based on a bigger, systemic problem, the criticism can open the door to discuss how to make things better for your whole unit.
3. Be Cordial
Keep your tone steady and even while you are talking. Don’t pull others into the conversation and don’t start blaming other people. If your coworkers were part of the problem, you don’t have to take all the blame, but you do need to think about how to present your information.
If you’re able to, tell the person who is criticizing you that you hear what they are saying and you want time to think about it so you can have a thoughtful discussion. Ask to return to the topic in 24 hours and then get back to them in that amount of time or sooner. If both sides are feeling defensive and heated, this time allows each of you to cool off a little.
4. Reflect Honestly
Is a coworker upset with you because you leave the nurse’s station a mess? Is a new nurse feeling overwhelmed with the patient load you have given her?
If the criticism isn’t based on completely false information, step back and assess. What role are you playing in the scenario? What did happen that caused someone else to point it out to you? What can you do to fix the problem?
5. Work on a Solution
You’ve been told there’s a problem or an issue and that you played a part in it. Now it’s up to you to try to figure out how to make things better. No matter how difficult it is to do, stepping up and accepting responsibility for your actions is important for your credibility. Your colleagues will have much more respect for you if you don’t overreact to criticism or try to deflect the blame.
6. Keep It Quiet
You might want to bad mouth your boss for criticizing you (especially if it was done in front of others), but resist that urge. Keeping a positive and professional attitude will do more for your professional reputation than getting the personal satisfaction of complaining about your boss.
7. Keep an Eye on the Future
When anyone is criticized at work, people often remember how a person reacted first. Years later, colleagues might not remember the mistake you made, but they will remember if you responded professionally and appropriately or not. As you could potentially someday report to any of those people, have an interview with them, or even become their boss, how they perceive your action can have lasting impact on your career.
8. Move On
You are not perfect and you will make mistakes. Some of those mistakes will be judged more harshly than others and not always fairly. Try to turn any criticism around so that you improve in some way moving forward. If the criticism was biting, unfair, and not based on fact, you might learn how to deliver criticism correctly when the shoe is on the other foot. If the criticism is right on target, make changes to correct whatever you can and to ensure the mistake won’t be repeated.
Whatever you do, don’t let the criticism knock you down. Learn, take responsibility, and keep moving forward.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.

Monday, October 3, 2016

5 Common Legal Mistakes That Nurses Make

5 Common Legal Mistakes That Nurses Make

Are You Prepared For a Medical Malpractice Suit?
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Medical malpractice is a form of personal injury law where the actions of a health care provider, the treatment facility, or both, have led to a negative outcome for a patient. Nurses can be named in these lawsuits if the plaintiff believes that their actions contributed to the injury. This could be a career destroying situation if you are not prepared. If you find that you have been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit, make sure that you follow all the necessary steps as outlined by your attorney.

What is Medical Malpractice?
Simply defined, medical malpractice is improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient. This could be from the actions of a doctor, dentist, pharmacist, radiologist, or nurse. In order to protect nurses and other health care providers from frivolous claims of malpractice or negligence, the law stipulates that four elements must exist in order for a lawsuit to be considered viable:
  • That a duty of care was owed by the nurse
  • The nurse violated applicable standards in care
  • The patient suffered a compensable injury as a result
  • The injury was the direct result of a deviation in the standard of care
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the burden is always on the patient to prove that all of these elements existed.

Understanding the Legal Jargon
As a nurse, your vocabulary centers around blood counts, syringe types, and vital signs. You should also know some key words related to medical malpractice:
  • Standard of Care – From a legal standpoint, the standard of care refers to what the majority of nurses would do when faced with the same circumstances that led to the claim of medical malpractice. For example, nurses monitoring a laboring patient would contact the attending physician immediately if they saw a rapid decline in fetal response on the monitors. If you fail to do that, then you have deviated from the accepted standard of care in that situation. It is not necessarily an action defined in a law book, but it is what is considered acceptable by the majority of the medical community. The patient can use other nurses as witnesses to prove how you did not meet the standard of care in their case.
  • Compensable Injury – A compensable injury is one that resulted in obvious losses to the patient. This could be in increased hospital or medical bills, loss of employment or even future employment. Simply put, the lawsuit cannot exist unless the patient can prove that they suffered some form of financial loss as a result of the injury.
  • Duty of Care – If you are named in a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is because at some point you were responsible for the care of that patient. This could be with direct contact, or indirect if you were responsible for overseeing inexperienced nurses at the time.
  • Negligence – An action (or lack of one) that leads to injury, disability, illness or death. In most cases, in order for negligence to exist, it must be proven that the defendant was aware of the possible risk associated with their actions.
Common Examples of Nurse Negligence
Any one of the following could be construed as negligence, and result in you being named in a medical malpractice action:
  • Failing to properly monitor a patient in your care
  • Not taking vital signs at the correct times
  • Forgetting to take an important vital sign
  • Failing to enter the nursing record onto a patient’s chart
  • Administering the wrong type or dose of medication
  • Giving medications at the wrong time
  • Not checking bed ridden patients for the presence of bed sores
  • Not responding quickly to a patient’s call button
  • Failing to report a symptom or complaint to the doctor
Your best defense is to always follow the accepted standards of care, and document all of your patient interactions. Charting is not only in place to monitor the condition of a patient, it is there to show proof of each action you have taken with a patient and why.

What Should You Do if Named in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Personal injury laws do vary slightly from state to state. If you are personally named in a lawsuit, whether solely or as a part of the facility you work in, you should contact an attorney right away. They will be able to help you sort out the specifics of the case in relation to the laws that govern your state.
The hospital or clinic that you work in will likely have nursing malpractice insurance to help cover any losses from a lawsuit, but this is not always enough. You could also protect yourself and career by purchasing an individual policy. Having individual nursing liability coverage will provide you with an attorney that works to protect your best interests, not those of the institution that employs you.
Nurses never mean to do any harm to a patient, but sometimes situations extend beyond our control. The best way to defend yourself in a medical malpractice suit is to always have documentation that you worked in the best interest of every patient, to the absolute best of your ability.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Making Health Habitual for Nurses

How are you doing sticking to your New Year’s self-improvement goals? According to a new book about American self-help, Promise Land, 45% of us set well-intentioned goals in January. Then all too quickly we abandon them. (Even modest goals, such as flossing regularly.) In fact, January 17th has come to be called “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day,” because that’s as long as most folks hold on.
If you haven’t given up on your goals yet, you have a good chance of being one of the lucky 8% of goal setters who succeed. There’s research that shows that it takes on average 66 days to make new habits so, well, habitual, that you don’t have to exercise willpower. (Scientist Phillipa Lally and team at University College London did the research.)
Here are some ideas about how to make sure your diet, exercise, stress-relief, or other health-related resolutions becomes effortless:
Focus on teeny tiny goals.
Big, audacious, spectacularly ambitious goals are tempting but if you attempt them you’re more likely to crash and burn out. Go for “drop 5 pounds” even if eventually you’d like to lose 15 total.
Pick a goal that is truly your own.
Maybe you like your body as-is, even though the stars on TV look nothing like you. Don’t set a goal to join a gym and get buff, then. You won’t be motivated to lift weights or do squats often enough to make a difference. You’re more likely to become one of the folks who pay a monthly fee but haven’t been inside the gym since their introductory session.
Repetition is the key.
When acquiring a new habit, such as flossing each night, it’s best to start with a ridiculously small action, such as flossing one tooth, and the next night, two teeth, and so on. That way you have no reason to skip a day, and then another, and well, you know what happens then. A break of more than a few days is enough to kill any habit forming mojo if effect.
Why does starting small and making micro-movements towards a goal work? Logistically, by starting small you can take the time to go gather supplies, figure out where to store them, get the hang of using them, etc. Example: Running shoes.
Psychologically, big goals may threaten your subconscious, and so resistance builds up. Small goals are more likely to go unnoticed by the inner-mind.
Neuroscience suggests that it takes time for new neural pathways to develop. Have you even moved a piece of furniture yet find yourself walking “around it” because your body is habituated to cruising a certain way? Ditto for new health behaviors.
 What’s working for you in making health habitual? Let us know!
Jebra Turner is a health writer in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at
Jebra Turner

Jebra Turner

Jebra Turner is a freelance health and business writer based in Portland, Oregon. She frequently contribu

Monday, September 19, 2016

Two Side Business Ideas for Nurses

Have you always dreamed of starting your own business? You don’t have to give up your nursing career or job in order to be a business owner. In fact, many people work full time and run side businesses or “side hustles” to earn extra income, grow their savings or pay off student loan debt.
Nurses have a wealth of skills and knowledge that naturally lend to entrepreneurship. Here are two businesses that nurses can start with little to no start-up costs and maximum flexibility.
Freelance Health Writer
Are you a good writer? Your writing skills combined with your health knowledge would make you the perfect health writer for websites and/or magazines. You set your own hours and have the flexibility to take on as much or as little work as you like. To land assignments, you’ll need to learn how to develop article ideas and pitch those ideas to editors. Pay varies by publication. For more information on getting started, check out Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer by Moira Allen.
Teacher/Public Speaker
If you love sharing health knowledge and teaching people about diseases or healthy living, teaching/public speaking may be a great side hustle for you. You can offer your services to community health organizations, hospitals or colleges/university continuing education programs. Pick your topic and contact the education department to see how to get started.
Those are just two of the many side businesses that nurses can start to boost their earning potential. Your side business doesn’t have to be related to your career as a nurse. If you enjoy making jewelry, you could sell your creations. If you enjoy cooking, you could offer personal chef services on your off days. The possibilities are truly endless.
Photo credit: Stuart Miles /

Monday, September 12, 2016

5 Reasons Why Nurse Coaching Is Important for Minority Nurses

For years, workers have reached out to career coaches to help them find their professional path and wellness coaches have guided weight loss and health programs. It makes sense that nurses would have the best expertise to take on the burgeoning role of nurse coach and help patients achieve their health goals on their own terms. And in a country of increasingly diverse populations, minority nurse coaches will be at the forefront of helping patients through the unique lens of cultural and ethnic traditions and approaches.
The latest attention on nurse coaching certification validates something many nurses have practiced all along, says Margaret Erickson, PhD, APRN, CNS, AHN-BC and executive director of the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation.
1. It’s Official
Nurses can now obtain nurse coaching certification credentials through Erickson’s organization. And although many nurses have routinely used coaching tools in their day-to-day practice, the recent focus on official classes and credentials shows widespread interest in the field.
2. Cultural Knowledge Matters
Coaches, says Erickson, use holistic practices of seeing the whole patient, not just a symptom. Minority nurses play an especially important role when they know the implications of cultural traditions. Yes, someone might have diabetes, but telling them to change a diet that is rich with ethnically familiar or important foods just won’t work.
3. Patients Need a Guide, Not a Director
Everyone knows what they need to do to be well, but we also know it is easier said than done. So a nurse coach won’t tell a patient what to do and won’t offer to “fix” them. Nurse coaches will help guide them in the right direction to find what works for them. Family support might be important for one patient’s plan while other cultures might reject letting everyone know your personal struggles. A nurse who can listen and hear about family dynamics and their cultural implications is a more effective guide.
4. Coaches Build Trust
Everyone wants to tell their story and not just list the different symptoms that have brought them before a nurse. Coaching helps a client define the steps that will help them meet their health goals. Minority nurse coaches can help reverse any assumptions that are made if they already know a bit about the patient’s culture.
5. Under the Wellness Umbrella
Simply put, people are ready for some guidance and for an experienced professional who sees how their health, emotional, and spiritual lives converge under one umbrella we know as well being.
The techniques and skills used with coaching (focused listening, setting and mapping out realistic goals) often overlap the practices from a holistic nursing approach. For patient-focused care, the techniques are invaluable. “Part of our story is our culture,” says Erickson.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts.

Monday, September 5, 2016

5 Ways to Boost Your Bank Account

Feeling underpaid, undervalued, and overworked? Nurses make up the largest single component of hospital staff. Even though nurses comprise the majority of staff personnel, adequate compensation remains at the top of the list of issues voiced by many nurses. With the extensive skill set and vast knowledge base that nurses hold, earning additional income doesn’t have to be hard. Earning additional income may provide you with the ability to do away with overtime, go part-time, or even achieve PRN status. This flexibility can provide you with the time to do more of what you love and spend more time with your family without sacrificing your income. Let’s explore five ways to boost your bank account.

1. Ask for What You Want

This seems easy, but you would be amazed at how many nurses don’t ask for anything (monetary) more than what they’re offered. The thought of asking for more money appears “unlady like” for some and “unprofessional” to others. But this way of thinking doesn’t have to be. If this sounds like you, start off by writing out a list of why you deserve to be paid more and memorize it. Be prepared to discuss what’s on your list boldly and confidently when you speak to your manager. Ask for what you want and most likely deserve. It’s up to you to make them see your value. Only you know what you are deserving of, no one else. Remember, if you don’t ask for it, how will anyone ever know that you want more?

2. Rental Property

Now before you go saying, “I don’t have a second or third home to rent out,” consider this: converting an extra storage space or a guest room into a nice room for a student or better yet a travel nurse! There are plenty of travel nurses, students, and business professionals who seek out temporary quarters and sublease from homeowners all the time. I know this from experience, because I’ve rented a room from a homeowner while on a travel assignment in Maryland. This option has proven time and time again to be a great source of additional income for singles, couples, and families alike. Do your due diligence as a renter. Complete full background checks and ask for references. By completing these two screening tools beforehand, it will help reduce your risks drastically. If these potential renters are who they say they are, a background and reference check won’t be a concern at all. Just make sure to have a thoroughly written out rental agreement.

3. Multi-Level Marketing

This is an EXCELLENT way to make money and have fun! I am amazed that more nurses don’t take advantage of this money avenue. A few nurses I have worked with in the past have done this with Tupperware, makeup, jewelry, and clothes. Most of these items are used by your coworkers and colleagues, so why not be their supplier? This income stream can also be used with vitamins, weight loss meals, hair products, etc. You get to decide. The best part of this option is the opportunity to meet other individuals who may assist you in new business ventures.

4. Consulting

Who better to ask about nursing-based projects, apps, and clinical development than someone who holds a ton of experience in the profession? How wonderful would it be to get paid for your insight about the profession you’ve been a part of for “X” amount of years? A few months ago, the owner of a staffing company was looking to expand by adding nurses to his roster of professionals but had no idea where to start. A mutual friend gave him my contact number and 2 days later, I became a consultant for his business. Individuals who are focused on the growth and profit of their business will not hesitate to pay for your expertise. If paying you a few hundred dollars will make them thousands in return, smart business owners will quickly and happily invest in you. Position yourself as an expert with a vast amount of experience and knowledge so that others will seek you out or refer others to you.

5. Teaching

The profession that never goes out of style. We as nurses do this every single shift we work, so why not be paid for it and teach on your own schedule? Become a BLS, ACLS, and/or PALS instructor, why not? Get certified. Focus on a specific group: maybe nursing agencies or travel nurses as your focus market. You can also reach out to rural schools and businesses to offer your teaching services. Take advantage of the fact that most places are requiring some basic knowledge of life support for employment. Make yourself a resource for these business and you are sure to always have clients. Teachers are always needed.
Tonia Chisolm, RN, BSN

Tonia Chisolm, RN, BSN

Tonia N. Chisolm, RN, BSN, author of From Broke to Bank In Nursing: Strategies for Increasing Your Income, has over 10 years Critical Care experience. Her extensive nursing career has consisted mainly in travel nursing, along with some mission work in Africa. Visit her website or join her Facebook group.