From January 22 to 28, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is sponsoring National CRNA Week to honor nurse anesthetists.
John Bing, BSN, CRNA, AANA Region 6 director, and national AANA board of directors member, says most people don’t quite understand what a nurse anesthetist does and, in fact, there are not very many of them.
Many people believe a nurse anesthetist puts them to sleep, leaves, and then returns to wake them. Far from it, says Bing. “The job of a nurse anesthetist is always assessing,” he says. They are with the patient all the time, from the moment they greet the patient, through the entire procedure or surgery, and when they are brought out of anesthesia.
The job, says Bing, is like no other. “We are there pre-, inter-, and post-op,” he says. But he understands why the job is mysterious to some. Even Bing’s mom thought he just gave people a pill to make them go to sleep, he says with a laugh.
But nurse anesthetists appear happy with their jobs. On the just-released 2017 U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs list, a nurse anesthetist’s job placed fifth on best health care jobs and placed sixth on the best jobs overall. The reported salary median salary is $157,140.
Bing says he appreciates being able to develop a relationship with a patient in such a short amount of time. Being present through the entire procedure gives nurse anesthetists the ability to monitor every nuance of the patient’s reactions and behavior, he says. And the interactions before the anesthesia is administered means nurse anesthetists have the chance to build up trust and get to know a patient as a person. The patients remember that, says Bing, and you get to know them as a person.
And this field rarely gets stale, he says. CRNAs have to be recertified every four years, so continued learning is mandatory. One of the special draws for nurse anesthetists is the ability to work with people from the moment they are born until the day they die, says Bing. These nurses work with all ages and have to know the intricacies of how the human body reacts to the anesthesia at each age and with virtually any condition. “We get everybody,” says Bing. “And it is all acute.”
As a group, nurse anesthetists stick together, says Bing. With as high as 89 percent reporting approval for their job satisfaction, he says, they enjoy the work. And the AANA doesn’t encourage sub groups, he says. The group acts as one. “Eighty-five percent of our professional nurse anesthetists belong to our parent professional organization,” says Bing. “We don’t want to go out and have splinter groups. We are better together.”
The AANA is urging nurses to spread the word during National CRNA Week and suggests things like career days in schools, inviting legislators to a breakfast or coffee gathering, or even casual and formal public speaking opportunities to let people know about the profession. And use #crnaweek to spread the word o a wider audience.
It’s also a good time to celebrate what nurse anesthetists do. “In this country 100,000 people give anesthesia,” he says. “That means there are 3.5 million people per anesthetist. That makes [them] pretty special.”
On January 25, IV Nurse Day celebrates the infusion nurses who complete the high-tech and exceedingly patient-sensitive process of infusion care.
The 2017 theme, “IV Nurses: Outstanding Skills. Outstanding Care.” gives acknowledgment to the specific skills IV nurses bring to a care team. Sponsored by the Infusion Nurses Society, this day has been an annual international event since 1980, says Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI, CAE, FAAN, and chief executive officer of the society and of the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation.
The IV Nurses Society has 7,000 members across the globe in more than 40 countries and territories outside the US. Approximately 3,500 of the members are certified as well. And they work in many settings—about half of infusion nurses work in hospitals and the other half work in alternate sites like infusion centers, physicians’ offices, or in home care settings.
“The care we provide is something all patients can relate to,” says Alexander. “Patients go into a hospital and almost everyone gets an IV.”
While IV certified nurses are not the only ones who can place an IV, the additional training gives the nurse the skills and the experience to do it well, she says. To place an IV properly, nurses must asses the patient, determine the appropriate device, and the proper management of care once the IV is in place.
As some patients can have an IV for a few short hours or in extraordinary circumstances for the rest of their lives, proper placement and care is paramount to patient comfort and safety, says Alexander. Infusion nurses are also then responsible for patient or caregiver education upon discharge. They need to convey accurate information about how to care for an IV and why it’s important for the patient to have it.
“It’s vitally important that clinicians are experienced and know what they are doing,” says Alexander. Because the lines bring solutions directly into a patient’s bloodstream, any complications can be life or death.
Patient safety is every nurse’s top concern, but infusion nurses also have a direct impact on patient satisfaction. Alexander says when patients are asked about their hospital stays, some surveys indicate the quality of food and the experience a patient had with an IV as the top influences of their overall satisfaction with the hospital.
IV Nurse Day recognizes all the work infusion nurses do, says Alexander. “We are all over the place,” she says, “You won’t find us in one specific place. We are an important part of the health care team when we are looking at the overall care of the patient.”
As part of the team, IV nurses can educate others on the team as well. Having an IV nurse on the team means the other team members are able to focus on their own tasks. Because of their experience, IV nurses save costs and labor because they generally get an IV placed correctly on the first attempt. That improves cost, reduces the risk of complications, and makes for a much happier patient.
If newer nurses are interested in this certification, Alexander strongly suggests getting some overall clinical experience prior to fulfilling the IV nurse certification process. And for nurses who are not yet certified, but interested, the Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice outlines some of the common guidelines for this specialty.
“The more you do it, the better at it you get,” says Alexander. “It’s good to recognize infusion nurses do a fabulous job and patients appreciate what we have to offer.”
Alexander notes that while some might expect IVs to eventually be replaced by a different process, she doesn’t see that happening in the very near future. And IV nurses also bring an extra component that’s hard to quantify. “To me, it’s high-touch, hands-on caring as well as high tech,” she says. “That’s extremely important.”
Nurses today enjoy excellent career prospects with high job demand and nursing jobs opening up in many specialties. But nursing jobs tend to blossom in regions and if your region isn’t one of them, you might not be feeling a lot of job security.
If your position seems a little perilous, what’s your best plan? Always be prepared. Even if rumors of layoffs and reduced hours are just rumors, the stress they inspire in a staff cannot be understated. If you’re one of those nurses, the daily worry about if you’ll have a job or even enough hours to keep you gainfully employed is exhausting and can negatively impact your job performance.
Throughout your career, the best thing you can ever do is be ready for a job change. And that’s not always because you expect something bad to happen. You could also have an unexpected and fantastic job opportunity arise. In that case, you shouldn’t have to scramble to get your resume and your LinkedIn profile updated while also preparing for an interview panel.
Here’s how to always be ready for a change – expected or not.
1.Update Your Resume, Even If You’re Not Job Hunting
Keeping your resume and your LinkedIn pages updated and current is just smart business practice. You cannot predict what’s going to happen next, so you want to be ready for anything. And if you update everything as you go, you won’t forget a project or a skill that could be important enough to trigger an interview request.
2. Keep Learning
You might have the same job you had 10 years ago, but your skill set is different. With new technology, additional seminars, and on-the-job training, you have learned more. As a nurse, if your skills aren’t constantly refreshed, you’re falling behind. Don’t let that happen. Actively pursue an additional degree, even if it is one class at a time. Go for certifications in your specialty or a specialty you’d like to move into. Being ready for any opportunity increases your chances of success.
3. Network Every Chance You Get
When you’re actively looking for a job, networking will help you. The more networking you do, the more chances you’ll have to find a good match. But even if you aren’t looking, keeping up with others in the industry keeps your name, skills, and capabilities front and center. Someone might ask you to join a committee or to help spearhead a new campaign. Saying yes and working with peers opens up your nursing career.
4. Stay on Your Toes
Don’t get lazy when you aren’t directly working with patients and on patient care. When you’re at work or at an event with people from work, keep your professional attitude. Be someone who can make excellent and authentic small talk with everyone—from the person who delivers the packages to your floor to the CNO—and then do it.
5. Boost Other Nurses
Be the person who champions nurses and helps others understand all the things nurses do. Spread the word about nursing as a career. Enthusiasm is contagious and others will join you. You might not get a job offer, but you’ll get a great reputation as someone who is a positive force in the world of nursing.
So whether you’re wondering about layoffs or happy in your job, there are some things you should do as routine career maintenance. Being prepared helps your career whether you’re just starting out or 40 years in. And if you are worried about a career change, you’ll know you’re ready for anything.
You’re a nurse and you probably talk all day long. You interact with patients, colleagues, and families from the time you get into work until the time you leave. So with all that talking, do you really need to excel at public speaking?
Any professional benefits from public speaking, but especially nurses. If you want to advance in your career or just be a better nurse, communicating effectively is an essential skill. You have to sum up your thoughts, ideas, and solutions faster than most other professionals. If your job (or your dream job) requires any kind of presentation or even mingling, public speaking skills will help you.
Many nursing students have taken a public speaking class or some kind of seminar that helps them polish their presentation skills. Some organizations even offer classes where attendees can sharpen their already good skills or where novices can learn how to not only find their public speaking voice, but to use it effectively.
Even with some public speaking training, stage fright is a real thing. You might be very comfortable speaking in small groups or with people you know, but if you’re put into an unfamiliar situation or in front of many people, you freeze. While that might be common, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to overcome it.
Nurses who are at ease speaking in front of others are in high demand and this skill can open your career prospects greatly. If you’re at ease with public speaking, that means you’re more likely to volunteer to give a talk to colleagues. It might also mean your boss will turn to you to help with a conference workshop on your specialty. You might even be asked to speak by an organization. All of these opportunities get you out in front of people, make you valuable to your employer, and boost your career prospects and experience.
To get started, just look for a local class in public speaking. You can find them at local adult education centers, local schools, organizations, like Toastmasters, or even private coaches. If you think colleagues would be interested, gather some information about teachers, costs, possible times and locations, and present the idea of holding a class at work to your company. You’ll get bonus points for organization and initiative.
And by getting a little professional advice, you’ll also learn tricks and tips to make presentations easier. You’ll discover the way props like slides, photos, and videos can help you feel less pressured. And you’ll probably hear inspirational stories from people who flubbed a big presentation, recovered, and turned it into a success despite the mistakes.
The more practice you have, the more at ease you’ll be with speaking in front of others. And, as a nurse, you need to be able to speak calmly and clearly in an emergency. The more time you have invested, the less time you’ll spend on thinking about what you’ll say and the more time you’ll have to get the the heart of the matter.
Nurses know first hand just how exciting, unpredictable, and satisfying the career can be. No two days are the same, you’re constantly learning new things, and you have opportunities to connect with and help people in ways you never imagined.
But how can you explain all that to kids so they think of nursing as a career?
Sharing your excitement and your satisfaction over your career is the first step. And then letting them know the detailed reasons (given their ages, of course!), is the next step.
The easiest advice is to just start talking with the kids in your life. Ask them questions. What do they think nurses do? What equipment do they think nurses work with? What do they think might be interesting about a nurse’s job?
A great way to spread the word about nursing is to offer to give a presentation in a local school, library, or youth organization. You would have to tailor your words to the specific ages, but there are lots of ways to do that.
Bring relevant and approved equipment and show kids how it is used. Bring in books (Dr. Scharmaine Baker’s Nola the Nurse books are great for the younger kids) and coloring pages.
While some kids know what nurses do, many don’t have a real understanding of the job and duties. You can explain there are different types of nurses. Talk about your specialty and how you help people. Think of one or two stories that really show how your job is meaningful.
Teens will appreciate stories with more intensity, especially if they can relate to it somehow. You could even base part of the presentation on media images of nurses. The Truth About Nursing is a great resource for that topic. And everyone loves something that will make them laugh, so if you can offer up a story that shows the job is fun, that’s an attention getter.
Make sure kids know what it was like to be in nursing school. Describe what clinicals are like and how you can be out doing real work during your college years. Some kids are especially drawn to the “doing” more than the books, so if you can work in how your student nursing work really helped you and related to what your professors were teaching, it makes the idea of nursing school that much more appealing.
Lastly, think of a quick elevator pitch that can be used for kids. We all know how you should be able to sum up what you do and why it’s important in a quick elevator pitch to colleagues or at a networking event. But if you’re in your scrubs and a youngster unexpectedly asks you what you do, it’s great to have a response. Start by saying, “I’m a nurse. Do you know what a nurse does?” Then sum it up in one or two sentences.
Getting kids interested in a nursing career helps the younger generation understand nursing. More importantly, getting them interested will help ensure a steady pipeline of younger nurses to meet the real growing need for qualified nurses.