Why clinicians are not on social media

This is so true.

Eric Levi

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This is a recurring question I get asked by patients, communication officers and other doctors. Why are clinicians not on social media? What are the barriers to getting clinicians on to Social media?

Many of the reasons and excuses can be summed up to these 3 F’s:

1. False understanding of the purpose of Social Media

Many clinicians think that it’s a frivolous waste of time with selfies and food photos. Others think that it’s about marketing and self-promotion. Some others think that it’s a place where patients slam you and rate you.

Those things are not the primary use of social media in health care. Social Media is my medium of education, my personal network of learning. As a surgeon, I engage with other surgeons, and clinicians who are not within my specialty. I learn lots from anaesthetists, Family Practitioners, paramedics, nurses, Speech Pathologists and other craft groups. We…

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Blizzard of 2015: Sleeping overnight at the hospital

Fortunately so far I was usually home when a storm hits. But not this time. On Sunday, the news started to spread that there was going to be 20-30 inches of snow across NYC and Long Island from Monday until Tuesday midnight. And I was scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday.

So I got myself ready… Just in case I was going to stay over. Another pair of scrubs, toothbrush, toothpaste, other toiletries, and pajamas.

I went to work Monday. Watching the news, I saw the weather get worse. I probably would make it home but my small car probably wouldn’t be able to make it back to work. My nurse manager asked if I was going to stay. I said yes– I just need a sleeping area. She said she would arrange one, don’t worry.

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After work, I went to the cafeteria. They were nice enough to give out sandwiches, cookies and water for those staying over. Many of my coworkers came in early the night before. Dedication!

I went back to my car to drop off my lunch supplies and pick up my bags. I was considering sleeping in the car but by the time I got to my car, I thought it was way too cold. I headed back inside.

When I was working the night shift, we put sleeping mats in the shower because we didn’t have anywhere else to store them. I thought that the shower was pretty useless and nobody was ever going to use it. Funny how I ended up using it that night. I just wish I brought my sandals!

I slept on a mat in the conference room. It wasn’t too bad, except that the ground was hard so I had to reposition myself every few minutes haha. I put my phone on airplane mode to conserve battery.

It was actually kinda nice not to have to travel to and from work. Extra sleep time 😃 It was nice to wake up and find out that four other nurses also stayed overnight. One patient care assistant (PCA) worked the 3-11, slept, then 7am-3pm. Another PCA did 11pm and ended at noon. Another one did 3pm-7am. Thank goodness for them!! 😀

They offered a $2.50 credit for breakfast. So that was nice.

But we started with 7 nurses when we usually work with 10 so it was a rough start to the morning. Most of us started with a triple! As the morning came, two more nurses came in so it felt a lot better.

Anyways I am glad that there was a mandate for no cars on the roads overnight so the trucks could plow most of the snow away. And I am glad that I didn’t have to drive through bad weather by staying inside.

We don’t have mandatory overnight stays so we don’t get paid to sleepover. I believe that at some other hospitals that in a state of emergency that they do this to keep enough staff on duty. Do you think that nurses should get paid to sleep overnight or during the day or that it’s a waste of money to do so? Or does short staffing cause unsafe patient situations? What is more important?

I submitted my grad school application– yes!

I finally finished my essay after several drafts so I submitted my grad school application online. It really makes you think about why you want to go into a career and forces you to be certain about what you’re going to do in the next few years.

I did share my blog in the personal statement essay. In this 21st century, I hoped that was ok. After looking at Twitter, I found that the school also had a WordPress blog. Perhaps they will see what blogging can do for someone… And help many people!

It’s been somewhat of a relief to finally be done with applying for grad school. I went to two information sessions, studied and took the GRE, took the PALS classes, studied and passed the CCRN, made sure recommendation letters are completed and in (and thanked those who’ve helped me), got my Michigan license… It’s been quite a few things to coordinate. Having a timeline helped but it’s mostly been studying, studying, studying. While I welcome the break, I know that I’m going to be itching to do something again.

My (I mean, my boyfriend’s) First Computer Built From Scratch

So building this computer from scratch was super exciting for me because I had never seen the inside of a computer. Ok, maybe I did see it once but none of it really made sense to me. In fact I thought it was terrifying because I was afraid I was going to break something.

For someone who mostly consumes technology rather than produces it, I thought it was a great learning opportunity. Plus it was a Build-It-Yourself Computer birthday gift for Dan, my boyfriend. 🙂

If you have a Microcenter close to where you live, I highly recommend going there if you’re interested in making a computer. The tech support was really helpful in making decisions and they price match with all major retailers (such as Amazon and NewEgg). One opened up in Queens, NY, driving distance from my residence.

img_0471_FotorAs you see in this photo above, there are several boxes with labels. In the green text, you will see:

These are the things that you see outside of a computer. I remember when I was younger I thought that was the computer. But alas I was wrong.

The computer is really the stuff marked in blue text.

  • CPU or the Computer Processing Unit. This is the ‘brains’ of the computer. In this case, it is the Intel i5. While it includes a fan to cool, we also bought a separate CPU Cooler.
  • Motherboard. This is literally the body of the computer and where everything attaches to make things work. It’s the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 here.
  • Graphics card or the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). This determines how pretty and how fast the pictures are on the screen. It’s the EVGA Geforce GTX 970.
  • Power Supply. You need something to power up the computer! It’s the Corsair RM 750 here.
  • CD and DVD drive. Because a desktop computer should have at least one. It’s $15.

Now onto memory (because what’s a computer without a storage area like the human brain?):

  • RAM or Memory. We initially forgot to buy it so it is not pictured here. This is the ‘short term’ memory for the computer to run everything once the computer is turned on.
  • Solid State Drive (SSD). This is a fast access ‘long term’ memory. With no moving parts, the storage is written directly on the SSD and will less likely fail, also generating less heat and using less electricity. Many small portable laptops such as the MacBook Air uses a SSD. It’s recommended to put the Operating System (OS) such as Windows on here for faster boot up time. Here we’re using the PNY SSD 240 GB.
  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD). This is a slower than SSD access ‘long term’ memory. It involves a spinning disk where information is magnetically written on and read by an arm in the drive. It takes time to spin up the drive and access the information. This is perfect for storing movies and pictures! And we got 1TB to spare (that’s 1024 GB!!).

One of the great things about building your own computer is that it is very easy to add more memory (SSD and HDD). So let’s say in a year I run out of 1 TB. Then it’ll only cost $80 for a 2TB HDD. That’s much cheaper than having to buy another computer all together.
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In the above picture you will also see the computer case: the Fractal Define 5. It’s the latest case and it has sound dampening in the case. It is super important to keep the computer cool so some fans in the computer is recommended. This case will keep the computer running whisper quiet. Also I’m a fan of Finding Nemo so he’s on top. The panda is from San Diego Zoo and the Despicable Me Minion was a winning prize from the Las Vegas Circus Circus Hotel.

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First things first. Prevent static shock otherwise you’ll fry the motherboard. We took off our socks and shoes and touched the metal inside of the case to ground ourselves before touching any parts. And grab a bowl to place the screws. And a screwdriver.

Notice the white slots on the side. That’s for the memory (SSD and HDD).

Take out the case and the motherboard.

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Take out the CPU and put it inside the hole.

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Attach the included CPU cooler or the optional one bought separately.

Also attach the RAM memory (usually 2 places).

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Now it’s time to place it (as in the motherboard, CPU, cooler and RAM stick combo) inside of the case.

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Screw it in (8 to 9 little screws).

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Place the power supply inside (the Corsair RM 750 shown here).

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Attach the power supply cords to the motherboard. This particular one is called ‘modular’ meaning that you can pick and choose which cords you need. In some more simple power supply have a ‘non-modular’ cord, which means you’ll have additional cords that you probably won’t need. Having extra wires in a computer is not good for circulation since you want to have as much airflow through the computer as possible to keep it cool.

Screw on the SSD and HDD each separately onto a white slot.  Connect it to the motherboard and power supply.

Connect the Graphics card inside.

Majority of the wires are threaded into the back. Tie up all the wires so it’s not a mess.

Close up the computer. Connect it to the monitor, keyboard, mouse and power. Turn it on for the first time. Congratulations!!

I have to thank Linus Tech Tips on YouTube. We watched his video during our installation process and it made it easy. So thanks!

 

 

What It’s Really Like to Care for a Dying Parent

It’s really tough to decide the best course of action for someone who is dying, especially in our society where life, any sign of life, is prized, and not necessarily the quality of life. It’s truly difficult to make a decision for someone’s life especially if you love them.

But the better question is, would you want to live in that fashion?

Talk about death decisions with your loved ones so they know what to do in case something happens. This will save time and grief among the family and friends. The health care proxy doesn’t have to be guilted into making that hard decision that no one is willing to make.

As for organ donation, if someone willingly signed up to be an organ donor, I would assume any organ is ok as long as it’s usable and that I don’t look completely mutilated after the process. I mean, in the end an organ is an organ. If it can help save another life and I’m already dead, why not help out someone else?

CCRN: How to Pass The First Time

I passed the CCRN last week! Yay!!! The CCRN is a certification exam for critical care nurses. It basically verifies your knowledge about critical care concepts after working 1750 hours in the last two years. The benefit of getting the CCRN means getting a pay raise or a bonus. Or intellectually, it solidifies your basics. But if you’re reading this, you probably already know that. You have the more important question — how do I pass the CCRN?

Before I studied, I also searched the internet for the best way to study for this difficult exam. There were two things that stood out to me.

  1. Listen to Laura Gasparis’ videos.
  2. Do all of the questions from PASS CCRN®.

I got all of the material from a friend, from another friend.

I listened to all of the videos and wrote down notes the first time around so I wouldn’t have to listen to it again. It meant I had to pause the video sometimes to write notes. There were 6 videos about 2 hours long. So roughly 12 hours. I did 2 videos each week while working full time. It took 3 weeks to complete.

Then I did all of the questions from Pass CCRN. Don’t read the book. Doing the questions will inadvertently make you go through the important concepts and details. I gave myself the goal to complete either a complete section (for shorter, easier sections) or a certain number of questions each day. Cardiac (20%), pulmonary (18%), and ethical (20%) are the most heavily weighted sections. For the cardiac and pulmonary sections, it initially took me about 2-3 hours to complete 30 questions because I would read the rationale and write a flashcard for the material. There are over 300 questions on cardiac alone, and there’s a good reason for it.

I felt the most important things about cardiac are:

  • The different medications (pressors, vasodilators, diuretics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, ARBs), how it works, side effects, and how it affects afterload, preload, and contractility (which comprises of stroke volume (SV)).
  • How does SV and heart rate (HR) affect cardiac output (CO)?
  • In different disease states, what is lacking, and what do you need to fix the problem?
  • How does the intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) help? Complications?
  • What does the pulmonary artery measure, what do those values mean, and what do you do when you see a value out of wack? What are physical assessments would you find?
  • What are the different types of murmurs, where do you listen, what typically causes stenosis vs regurgitation?
  • Different types of chest pain, MI.
  • 12 lead EKG — this took some time for me since at work it’s only required to know how to read a lead II EKG. But since I started studying, I’d look at 12 lead EKGs at work and it’s kinda fun.

For pulmonary:

  • ABG interpretation (compensated vs uncompensated; what would breathing too fast or too slow cause? How would you treat different values?)
  • Ventilator settings – which ones affect respiratory rate? What does PEEP do? How does that relate to the V/Q ratio?

As I did the questions, I used a flashcard program called Anki. It’s a fantastic memorization tool using the concept of spaced repetition. And the best part is that it’s free to download on the computer or laptop and to use over the internet. It’s $25 to download on your iPhone or Android but it’s worth it.

Basically, I did the questions on one side of the screen, and had Anki opened on the other side. Anything I didn’t know or wanted to review, I either copy and pasted questions or answers, or paraphrased the concepts. It’s easy to put too many things to memorize on one card and that’s the last thing you want to do. When you’re reviewing the card, you don’t want to think, “oh I got half of the card correct… so do I choose that I got it right or wrong?” You want to be decisive and pick whether or not you got it correct.

I have the flashcards that I created for the CCRN that is easy for you to download, although you should probably create your own or edit mine to make it easier for you. Comment below or email me if you’re interested!

And good luck in your endeavor.

Just 89 out of 150 questions to pass. So you can do it! 25 are for research. Only 125 actually count. You have up to 3 hours to take the exam.

The exam is $225 if you’re a member of AACN. You’ll go to goamp.com to see the test sites and register for the exam. You’ll get 3 months to take the exam. Once you pick, you can change the test date once for free. Majority of the test sites are in the HR Block. How nice of them!

I took mine in Astoria, NY. I was the only one and it was quiet. Good experience.

Anyways, go for it. 😃

How to Memorize Anything

I wish I knew about this program when I was in nursing school — it would’ve made memorizing anything possible. But it’s been a couple years out and I learned about this amazing program.

It’s called Anki.

It’s flashcards. On steroids.anki

And the best part is that it’s free to download. Unless you decide to download it on your phone (iPhone / Android).

You know how you cram everything in for an exam, only to forget in a few hours or days later? Yeah, that won’t happen anymore.

This flashcard system is based on science of how people remember and forget things. It uses a spaced repetition system so that the card shows up right before you’re about to forget the information on that card.

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The great part about these flashcards is that you won’t have to review every single card every single day to remember. It spaces itself out depending on how well you’ve remembered the card. You will look at the card, decide on an answer, click on the card and see the answer. You will choose whether or not you got the question wrong (leading you to seeing the card sooner), or right. You can pick how easy or difficult it was for you to remember the answer. If it was easy, then the card will show up days later. If it was difficult, the card will show up sooner. If it was ‘just right’, then the card will continue down its algorithm.

While initially the Anki was created to remember languages, it can also be used to memorize nursing concepts. I used it personally to study for the CCRN, the certification exam for critical care nurses. So I know that this works.

It may look seemingly difficult but it’s actually easy to use.

You have to commit to it, and Anki will be there for you.

Don’t hit nurses

People should not think that it’s ok to hit anyone, especially nurses. Even if you’re mentally crazy or angry or whatever you’re feeling, it doesn’t give you the right to hit nurses. Violence is not ok and should not be tolerated. Hospital administrations should support nurses and those closest to the patients.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/epidemic-of-violence-against-health-care-workers-plagues-hospitals/?WT.mc_id=SA_HLTH_20150106

Top 5 Posts in 2014

Happy New Year’s!

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.

5. SBAR – How to Give a Good Report

4. Is NYU Nursing worth it? How I paid off my loan

3. Med-Surg to ICU Interview Questions

2. NYU Nursing Accelerated 15-Month Program FAQs

1. How to Get a New Grad Nursing Job in NYC

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.

2014 in review

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.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Flu season is back

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!

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!