Nurses Battle to Fight Opioid Addiction

Nurses Battle to Fight Opioid Addiction

It seems like we see articles and hear news reports about opioid addiction on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many of these stories are no exaggerations.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2015 World Drug Report, it is estimated that 32.4 million people around the world struggle with opioid abuse. Additionally, results from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimate that 1.9 million Americans struggle with addictions to prescription opioids and 435,000 more have addictions to heroin, an illegal opioid.

Opioid abuse is clearly a problem in the United States and abroad. Different organizations, institutions, and agencies have taken different approaches to combat this problem, as have individual rehab centers across the country. Several of these approaches involve nurses.

Treating Addictions

If the opioid epidemic is a war, nurses are serving on the front lines. Emergency room nurses often treat people who have overdosed or are suffering from the ill effects of opioids, other drugs, and alcohol.

Nurses work at rehab centers to treat opioid abuse and other forms of abuse. They work at clinics and hospitals that provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT). They work in a wide variety of health care settings to help people recognize and treat their addictions. They also work to educate others about substance abuse and hope that such preventative measures can help people avoid addiction in the first place.

State Efforts

At Boston Medical Center, doctors do not administer programs that treat opioid abuse. Instead, nurses administer such programs. This tactic allows the clinic to see more patients (and ultimately treat more patients). Other health centers in Massachusetts and across the United States are utilizing nurses to administer such programs.

Other programs might provide specific training that relates to addiction. In 2016, the U.S. federal government awarded a grant to train student nurses at the College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts. This program trains nurses in SBIRT, which stands for screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment. The program aims to diagnose addictions early and help people find treatment for them.

National Efforts

National organizations are also tackling addiction. The American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and others have pledged to provide more training for people who prescribe opioids. The ANA has also pledged to encourage more health care providers to register with their states’ drug monitoring programs.

The ANA has also pledged to launch a campaign to raise awareness of opioid addiction. It has already established resources about opioid addiction and other forms of substance abuse. Additionally, ANA provides resources that can help nurses with their substance abuse problems if they are addicted themselves.

Government Efforts

The government has also joined nurses in the fight against opioid abuse. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created and published guidelines regarding the prescription of opioids. Several nursing schools across the United States have pledged to teach these CDC guidelines, many of which address the use of opioids for long periods of time.

State boards of nursing have also created similar recommendations. The Michigan Board of Nursing, for example, has issued guidelines for nurses in regards to using controlled substances to treat pain. These guidelines recognize that nurses need to effectively treat pain. They also recognize the potential danger of certain medications.

There are also other government efforts relating to opioid abuse and nurses. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 is a federal law that permits nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine to patients who are addicted to opioids. It also allows doctors to see higher numbers of patients who need such drugs.

Speaking of government action, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. During this event, people bring unneeded prescription drugs to designated areas. DEA agents and other law enforcement agents take these drugs and educate the public about drug abuse. During one such day in April 2016, authorities took back almost 447 tons of prescription drugs.

Nursing Efforts

Nurses educate the public about Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. They also play a vital role in other government efforts to end addiction by participating in community-based opioid overdose prevention programs (OOPPs). As their name indicates, OOPPs work to prevent substance abuse problems from ever occurring. Other nurses and nursing organizations are interested in government matters as advocates. They encourage other nurses to take political action or support candidates who take particular views on health care matters.

These efforts demonstrate that while the opioid epidemic is huge, different organizations, institutions, government bodies, rehab centers, and people are committed to helping fight it. Nurses have played—and will continue to play—a vital role in this battle.

Hey, Can We Talk? Improving Workplace Communication

Hey, Can We Talk? Improving Workplace Communication

A nurse’s training takes years of school, years of on-the-job experience, and years of adjusting emotionally to a job that can be as draining as it is exhilarating.

But even if you perform your nursing duties above exception, you still might find the toughest part of your job is communicating with your peers and colleagues. In a career as high-stress and fast-paced as nursing, developing a positive and effective communication style is essential.

If you think your style could use some work, taking steps to improve your communication skills helps in many different ways. People will understand what you’re trying to say faster, and when there’s less friction with others, your job becomes easier. The positive results reduce stress for everyone.

How can you fine-tune your communication style?

Be Aware

Do you know you have a reputation for being difficult or hard to work with? Do you know why? If you’re in charge of a staff of 15 emergency department nurses, you have to be exacting, precise, and demanding and that might come across as tough on people. But lives depend on it. Problems crop up when colleagues see your expectations as unrealistic or your approach as disrespectful.

Lead with Confidence

Effective leaders trust the people who work for them to do their job as expected. Micromanaging employees who have proved to be skilled, dependable, and excellent nurses should be allowed to do their jobs within the established framework. If your need to get involved is overshadowing others’ abilities to do their jobs, look deeper to see if there’s a valid reason. If there is, bring it up and talk about it openly with the employee.

Work Together

Would you want to work with you? Some people joke about being difficult and they know part of the reason is they speak impulsively or are quick to accuse because that’s the way they have always done it. Learning how to state expectations clearly, ask for what you need directly, and speak only to the people you are having trouble with is necessary.

Don’t Assume

Your coworkers are not mind readers. If you are tired of one of your colleagues continually leaving a messy workstation or not being fast enough to respond to a request, your frustrated cold-shoulder treatment isn’t going to help. Communication is a two-way street, so you need to communicate your frustration and give your coworker time to reply. Just because you are unhappy doesn’t mean they know why.

Take Stock of Yourself

When you feel yourself getting defensive or just abrupt or you sense others are reacting negatively to you, take a minute to reassess. What’s your tone like? How is your body positioned? Are your words matching what you’re trying to get across? Taking stock lets you identify triggers. If your voice is getting raised, lower it. Adopt a purposefully neutral physical stance. Listen to what others are saying without interrupting.

Practice Communicating

It might be embarrassing, but ask a couple of trusted coworkers about your strengths and weaknesses in communicating. By giving them a chance to identify both, they will be more likely to share their honest opinions. And don’t get defensive about the bad stuff or too proud of the good stuff. Take it all and figure out how you can use the information to become a better communicator.

Guys Speak Out: Why I Became a Nurse

Guys Speak Out: Why I Became a Nurse

While the nursing field is still comprised primarily of women, the male percentage has continued to grow over the years. Minority Nurse interviewed four men, including one nursing student, to ask why they chose this profession. Here’s what they had to say.

Changing Majors

After high school, Jesus Adaniel, RN, CRNI, CCHW, wasn’t planning on being a nurse. He joined the military and became an Army Reserve enlisted personnel and trained as an operating room technician. While there, Adaniel discovered that he loved caring for patients, and between that and the influence of his adopted mom, who is a nurse, he changed his college major from pre-engineering to nursing.

Today, Adaniel is the director of nursing and co-owner of BrightStar of Delray Beach as well as an assistant nurse manager for the Trauma Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Delray Beach, Florida. “Caring for patients is my calling,” he says. After graduating from nursing school, Adaniel became a commissioned officer in the Army Nurse Corp. “I always wanted to work in the critical care and trauma area early on in my career,” he says. “I love the feeling of excitement and the fast-paced atmosphere.”

But it’s not all about how nursing makes him feel. “I am passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of my patients by ensuring and delivering the best care possible,” Adaniel explains. “[Being a nurse] is what I want and love to do. I bring a lot of passion and inspire a desire to make a meaningful change in someone’s life. I value each of my patients as individuals with unique needs.”

Adaniel isn’t the only nurse who came to the field by changing majors. Daniel Satalino is currently a nursing student at Seton Hall Nursing School in South Orange, New Jersey. Satalino began college as a biology-PT dual degree major. But after one semester, even though he did well, he knew nursing was for him. His peer advisor was a nursing student, and he encouraged Satalino to make the switch to nursing. Satalino is glad that he did.

“The thing I love most about nursing is the wide range of opportunities available for you. Whether you love bedside nursing, research, documentation, or want to take it a step higher and become a mid-level provider, there are many specialties that are fit for different personalities, which makes nursing a very diverse field,” says Satalino. “The greatest thing about the profession I have chosen is the ability to help people even if the help may seem minor. The patient will always remember who was at the bedside during their hospital stay.”

Changing Careers

Bobby Lucia, MA, RN, LCPC, CT, thought he had found his calling in life. After earning a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, he worked as a pediatric counseling specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, providing counseling services to patients and families affected by chronic and terminal illness. “I loved that counseling had a strong teaching component, and I was able to spend one-on-one time with people,” recalls Lucia.

While working in this hospital setting, he says he was really exposed to nursing. “I liked the unique role that a nurse serves as a care provider, educator, counselor, role model, and advocate,” Lucia says. “The more I became exposed to the nursing profession, the more I knew the nursing profession was my calling.”

About four years into his career as a counselor, Lucia made the decision to become a nurse. He attended Methodist College in Peoria, Illinois, and earned his BSN in the school’s Accelerated Second Degree BSN program.

Lucia now works as the RN clinical coordinator for the Pediatric and Adult Cystic Fibrosis Center at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. “I love that I work with a variety of people—both patients and medical professionals. I get the opportunity to work with pediatric and adult patients in both the inpatient and outpatient settings,” says Lucia. “I love the critical thinking involved with nursing. Taking care of complex patients is like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are in front of you, but you have to figure out how they all fit together.”

In addition, Lucia loves his co-workers. “I have a great supervisor and fantastic core team,” he says. “I think that having a good support system at work is essential to be successful as a nurse.”

Like Lucia, Ryan Pettit, DNP, CRNA, says that his first career wasn’t nursing either. In fact, he worked in commercial real estate finance and development. So what made him make the change?

“My mother received incredible nursing care during her battle with esophageal cancer. It was then that I realized I wanted to do something in health care,” says Pettit. “Seven years later, I finally took a leap of faith and went back to nursing school. I was attracted to the many opportunities within the nursing profession. My ultimate goal was to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).”

Pettit achieved that goal and now works as a CRNA at both Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, Texas. “I love being able to take care of people during surgery. Anesthesia is a scary thing for most people, and I have the unique opportunity to care for someone during this vulnerable time and allay some of their fears,” says Pettit. “I also do obstetric anesthesia, where I have the privilege of making women more comfortable during their vaginal deliveries by managing their pain.”

He adds, “Taking care of people is incredibly fulfilling. Each shift, nurses have the opportunity to make a difference in their patient’s lives. We have the opportunity to be there during a baby’s first breath and a dying person’s last breath. Not many people can say that.”

Continuing Education and Training Gaining Greater Emphasis As Need for Case Managers Grows

Continuing Education and Training Gaining Greater Emphasis As Need for Case Managers Grows

A study conducted by the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC) cites increasing demand for certified case managers. The CCMC’s 2014 Role and Function Study also found that employers are willing to pay higher salaries for professionals whose education, training, and certification demonstrates a higher level of knowledge, skills, and overall competency. Further, the study revealed that 40.2% of employers are now requiring their case managers to be certified. Contrast this figure to the 25.9% of employers requiring certification in 2004. The CCMC’s conclusion regarding a growing demand for well-trained and credentialed case managers is supported anecdotally by the actions of many health care organizations.

Clearly, case management presents a strong career path for nurses and even greater opportunities today. The opportunities can be even greater for minority nurses, including African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Filipinos, and Native American and Alaskan nurses, for which there is already a concerted effort to recruit so that they can bring their cultural competencies to our nation’s increasingly diverse patient population. However, continuing education and training are musts for any nurse who truly wants to make a difference in his or her patients’ lives while also realizing his or her full professional potential and earning power. The education starts by understanding how the market is driving increasing demand for case managers and, the educational resources available to help them become key catalysts for the delivery of better health care in America.

Not Just a Personal Choice–Employers Demanding Higher Skills

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) raised the bar on expected standards of care and paved the way for increased demand for case managers, market conditions were already driving the need up. The graying of America, coinciding with the increased incidence of chronically ill patients of various ages succumbing to diseases of the 20th and now 21st century (e.g., obesity, high blood pressure, and chronic pulmonary obstruction disease) all have placed greater demands on health care providers. This, in turn, prompted many to increase their hiring of case managers—also being called care coordinators, patient advocates, and a host of other titles. For example, back in 2012, the UCLA Health system in Los Angeles began hiring full-time care coordinators to work with doctors serving in its primary care clinics. By 2015, UCLA had 24 “Comprehensive Care Coordinators” serving in its ambulatory primary care clinics.

Other health care organizations across the country, including hospitals, accountable care organizations, managed care firms, and insurers were and are actively increasing their case management staff. Some examples are: Advocate Health Care, Bon Secours Health System, Banner Health, Mercy Health Select, Partners Healthcare and the University of Michigan Health System. Based on the CCMC’s figures, by 2015 there were 37,000 certified case managers serving in U.S. health care organizations versus 20,000 in 2010. An estimated 89% of the certified case managers are registered nurses. The balance is comprised of social workers (4.4%), vocational rehabilitation counselors (2.3%), and others.

Despite the growing demand for case managers, the profession is not without its challenges. Of the over 100,000 professionals involved in case management, their average age is estimated by various surveys to be 53 years old. The transfer of knowledge from these experienced professionals to their younger counterparts is essential as demand rises and many of the field’s most skilled are entering the retirement years. Through continuing education, training, and mentoring of newer case managers by experienced case managers, some of the deficits in skills and knowledge can be addressed.

The federal government is acutely aware of the importance of training for RN case managers. In fact, the government has established a fund of $20 million for training, specifically in the areas of data collection, reporting, and practice changes to help smaller health care practices improve. Many minority nurse case managers serve in smaller health care practices, in addition to large urban hospitals, so they may very well be beneficiaries of this federally-funded training. Employers too are hosting more educational and training programs for their case management staff and encouraging their personnel to participate in continuing education programs, not just for licensing compliance purposes, but for their own skill development and career advancement.

Based on current PayScale data, Certified Case Managers with the title of Nurse Case Manager are averaging annual salaries of between $60,514 to $89,132, depending on the employer and region of the country. Directors of Case Management are commanding average annual salaries within the range of $75,978 to $145,177, and those with the title of Registered Nurse, Utilization Management, are averaging annual $61,545 to $98,197.

Most RN case managers can aspire to become leaders in their departments, assuming they have earned their CCM designation and are committed to being continuous learners. Knowing the options in continuing education case management training programs and resources available and how to select wisely is tantamount to building best practices in case management and assuming leadership roles.

Continuing Education and Training Resources

StateCE, a part of Vista College, reported that nearly 76 million adults in the U.S. are enrolled in some form of continuing education. Many human capital development experts believe that training from outside continuing education providers offers a distinct advantage over in-house training programs. It is their contention that this education helps individuals gain a deeper level of knowledge—both theoretical and practical, as well as enhancing their problem-solving and collaboration skills. In addition to gaining higher-skilled employees, employers gain the added benefit of continuing education promoting staff retention. A study by Spherion Atlantic Enterprises reported that 61% of employees who receive continuing education remain with their current employers for at least five years.

Continuing education (CE) resources include independent organizations, colleges/universities, professional organizations, and internal training departments. Their offerings range from onsite CE-credit seminars and certification workshops, webinars, and various long distance e-learning programs. The best continuing education programs and resources for case management have certain traits in common. They are:

  • Developed and provided by credentialed professionals with both clinical and business experience;
  • Goal-oriented, whether the goals, for example, be: certification, gaining best practice skills, gaining knowledge about a specific medical condition and/or patient population, learning how to manage a case management department, or learning what it takes to start your own case management firm; and
  • Have specific learning objectives clearly conveyed regardless of whether the program or educational resource involves an instructor or self-learning.

Along with meeting these criteria, there are other specifics which seem to be important in the effectiveness of a continuing education program. For instance, data uncovered in 19 studies and discussed in a Nurse Education Today article titled “Review of continuing professional education in case management for nurses” found that the “most appropriate program length appears to be at least 16 hours.” Further, the findings were that a combination of interactive lectures and small group discussions were associated with the most positive learning outcomes. What we know is that each type of continuing education program or resource has a valuable role to play.

Different Benefits of Different Educational Formats

Following are some examples of different continuing educational offerings, their various formats, and the benefits they deliver:

Onsite Seminars. These seminars are presented by qualified instructors with both clinical and business experience and are ideal for engaging case managers, giving them a direct line to an experienced professional whose insights into processes and nuances are without a doubt vital to professional growth and advancement. These events also give case managers an opportunity to share their experiences with and learn from their peers. On that level, they help to boost morale, build professional camaraderie, and instill a sense of professional pride.

CCM Certification Workshop. This workshop has a specific purpose in helping a case manager prepare for their certification exam. These workshops, especially those backed by the CCMC, deliver education and up-to-date information about best practices in today’s case management, while also imparting need-to-know information regarding the eligibility requirements and application process for the gold-standard case management credential—the CCM®—and how to prepare for the exam.

Setting-Specific Educational Programs. Setting-specific programs, such as a Hospital Case Management Seminar, are customized for a specific hospital’s needs and designed to help a hospital case management staff achieve improvement across key quality metrics, as well as overall health care efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Because the program is hospital-specific, it also has the residual benefit of instilling in each participant a renewed passion for their role and commitment to their organization.

Agency-Specific Educational Programs. These programs are for case managers serving with the Veterans Administration system or Indian Health Services organizations; both of which encounter very unique challenges both from a patient and administrative perspective and thus require continuing education that recognizes and helps case managers function at their best within the constraints of these settings.

Patient Population, Medical Condition, or Challenge-Specific Educational Programs. These programs, such as those tackling pediatric case management, obesity, our nation’s multiculturalism, the aging population, or health literacy problems, delve deeply into a specific topic to give case managers a broader, more comprehensive understanding of a medical condition or challenge they are likely to be handling already.

Seminars on DVD. These offer the best of both worlds. Case managers can gain access to a great seminar, perhaps being conducted in a city too far from their location, by simply purchasing the seminar on DVD. This gives the case manager a virtual seminar experience right from the convenience of their own home or office. It also enables case management department supervisors to have a “refresher course” right at their fingertips for easy access to continuous learning, and to provide to new staff members. Many of the profession’s best seminars on DVD come with handouts, video clips, and some even offer a phone consultation with the program instructor.

Seminar e-Workbooks. These are also ideal for case managers who can’t attend a seminar but recognize the importance of their learning the information presented at the seminar. Often, these e-Workbooks are provided on convenient flash drives and include PowerPoint presentations, case studies, and other resource materials.

Textbooks and Related Home Study Programs. These are perhaps the perennial continuing education resource for case managers. Every case manager’s personal library and every health care organization’s training room should be equipped with the profession’s best textbooks. Today, some of the most prolific authors, whose textbooks are used by nursing schools worldwide, also offer companion home study programs to their books and associated continuing education tests approved for CE credits. For instance, The Case Manager’s Handbook Home Study Program offers a continuing education test, which has been approved for 80 CE Credits. It can be taken online to prepare for the CCM exam or to help case managers meet their CE credit requirements.

Learning Management Systems. These are another option for personal learning growth and career advancement. They are typically module-based to make for easy, convenient learning and are organized in a sequence that promotes the best building of knowledge and acquisition of skills.

Closing Remarks

Continuing education should not be viewed by case managers as a necessary evil for maintaining their professional license, but rather as a valuable tool worthy of their investment. Continuing education is essential for building knowledge and skills, helping case managers become better patient advocates and better employees able to support their employer’s quality of care, risk management, and fiscal objectives. Moreover, through continuing education accessed through a multitude of options, case managers can take control of their own careers and position themselves for optimum advancement opportunities, salary gains, and potential leadership roles. It is incumbent upon minority nurse case managers to recognize that the investment they make in their continuing education and continuous learning is a clear path to gain a greater voice in our nation’s health care system. Through continuing education and the greater opportunities, it affords, they are in a better position to raise awareness of the value of high-quality case management, and in turn, make a greater difference in the lives of all patients across all communities.

New $50 Million Initiative at Yale University Will Build On Faculty Diversity and Excellence in School of Nursing

New $50 Million Initiative at Yale University Will Build On Faculty Diversity and Excellence in School of Nursing

A new $50 million initiative to build on the excellence and diversity of the faculty at Yale University was announced last fall. The initiative, backed by the Provost’s Faculty Development Fund, will provide up to half of the salary for three years to support faculty who enrich diversity or an aspect of strategic importance at Yale.

Provost Ben Polak and Professor Richard Bribiescas, deputy provost for faculty development and diversity, have provided a recent update on the ongoing initiative. The inaugural year of the initiative supported 26 faculty members and a number of schools at Yale including Nursing and Public Health amongst several other fields of study.

Yale’s goal for the initiative is to recruit and retain the best faculty and several deans at the university have already said that the initiative significantly contributed to their recruiting efforts over the past year. Ann Kurth, Dean of the Yale School of Nursing (YSN), wants to develop a nursing faculty with a range of diversity and expertise. YSN believes that a diverse and inclusive faculty is the answer to a strong and productive culture in its school and a healthier society overall.

The Diversity and Excellence Initiative will also expand beyond faculty recruiting to support a diverse student body. A new Dean’s Emerging Scholars Program will select 15 incoming PhD students as Emerging Scholars Fellows and 10 PhD students to receive Emerging Scholars Research Awards. Yale will also be launching a new faculty program, Diversity & Education Series: Inclusive Pedagogy in Action, which promotes inclusive teaching.

We Want You! How to Recruit Male Nurses

We Want You! How to Recruit Male Nurses

While nursing still has many more women working in it than men, more and more men are entering the profession each year. Minority Nurse spoke with some men working in the field to find out what they believe could be done to help recruit more men to work in this great career.

Eliminate Misconceptions

Overall, one of the first things that those in the profession need to do, some say, is eliminate the misconceptions about the field. Daniel Satalino, a nursing student at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, says that there aren’t as many men in nursing because of an ongoing stereotype that nursing is solely a feminine field. “Historically, caregiving was thought to be a primarily female responsibility because the female in the family would nurture infants and be responsible for childrearing, while the male would be responsible for hunting,” says Satalino. “However, many men also participated in caregiving as shamans and spiritual healers.”

Satalino also explains that the roots of nursing come from the Catholic Church and the expansion of the Roman Empire where both nuns and monks alike assumed nursing roles in the hospital setting. Likewise, he says, as the plague spread throughout Europe, the Parabolani—a group of men who assumed nursing roles—were the primary nurses for infected people.

“Despite this, many people proclaim that the rise of nursing came with Florence Nightingale, a well-known English nurse who founded standards for nursing care in the mid-1800s, which are still used today. Nightingale also provided education for nurses. However, no males were allowed to enter the profession at this time,” says Satalino. “An influx of males into modern nursing came during and after the second World War, where male nurses were primarily needed in field hospitals and in psychiatric nursing.”

It’s important to know this history, Satalino says, because men have assumed nursing roles in the past, and they can provide great care like their female counterparts. “There have been many campaigns to increase female participation in STEM fields; however, there have been little-to-no campaigns to increase male participation in nursing,” he explains.

Another misconception is the “old school” view that nurses are physician helpers who give baths and hand out medication, says Larry G. Hornsby, CRNA, BSN, senior vice president of operations for the southeast division of NorthStar Anesthesia in Birmingham, Alabama (the company’s home office is in Irving, Texas). “[It] is simply inaccurate and misleading to what this profession has to offer,” he explains. “It is hard to convince the public of the opportunity that exists today with a degree in nursing and the tremendous variation of work choices and the varied job opportunities that exist.”

Besides getting the word out about men working in nursing and what nursing offers, what else can be done to encourage more men to enter the field?

Early Education

Recruiting more men into nursing begins with educating them. And the earlier, the better.

Carl A. Brown, RN, BSN, is director of patient care services for BrightStar Care of Central Western Riverside County in Menifee, California. Brown has been in nursing for 27 years, having started as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman and a CNA. “It all starts with education. The younger we approach males about choosing nursing as a career path, the more likely they will consider it,” says Brown. “It should be known that nursing is not a female-only career choice. To counteract this notion, I think more male nurses need to participate in community events, career days, or job fairs. More of us need to be out in our communities advocating on behalf of this profession for males. Furthermore, there should be national campaigns launched by nursing organizations to help create more incentives—like a scholarship—to entice more males into the field.”

Matt George, CNA, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, agrees. “The nursing field could attract more men by such measures as having a mentorship program for male high school students—allow high school students to shadow male nurses. This way, they can see what a male nurse does,” he says. The same thing could be done for freshmen at college. In order to attract more males, they need to see males working and achieving in the field. The only way to get more men interested in nursing is by reaching them at a young age and showing them this is a career where men work and can be great at it.”

Hornsby also agrees that reaching high school students would help. Aggressive marketing to the male population is needed as well. “Certainly, the growing need and the autonomy for advanced practice nurses is exciting news that everyone, including men, should hear,” explains Hornsby. “Salaries and benefits have improved over the years, and the opportunities for special work are ever-expanding.”

Explain the Benefits

Another way to help recruit men to nursing is to have male nurses explain why they love being in this type of work. Learning from someone doing the work already can be quite influential.

“For me, the greatest thing about nursing has been my ability to be successful outside the ‘traditional’ role of a nurse. The ability to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist and practice to the full scope and licensure in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and physician offices afforded me a tremendous challenge, opportunity for professional growth, and great personal satisfaction,” says Hornsby. “Then moving into a business role and a managing partner/owner of a successful anesthesia management company allowed me to acquire new skills and knowledge, but the opportunity to remain grounded in my nursing roots. Patient care is always at the top of a nurse’s education, clinical training, and a top priority each day. These helped carry me through the business decisions. Other men should really look at the variation of practice roles and how they could fit into an exciting career with growing opportunity.”

Brown has already spoken with a few men who have asked him why he is a nurse. “I tell them that because of my military training, I learned the value of human life and protection our soldiers and sailors. Without those available to fight our enemies, we could not fight to protect those at home,” he says. “In turn, as a nurse today, I tell them that nurses are the most trusted profession there is—more than police, fire fighters, clergy, and educators. We are responsible for ensuring that a father or mother gets back to their children or grandchildren…that we are responsible for ensuring that a family is relieved of the stress of watching their family member pass in distress. Nursing is a field that provides the satisfaction that you have made a difference in someone’s life every day.”

Halt Infections During International Infection Prevention Week

Halt Infections During International Infection Prevention Week

With International Infection Prevention Week upon us, take the time this week to reassess your own health practices and to share advocacy tips with your patients.

Why is infection control so important in health care settings? Controlling the spread of infection cuts down on unnecessary illness and infection in patients, family members, nurses, and physicians. No one wants to acquire or have to treat an infection that could have been prevented.

According to the National and State Healthcare Associated Infections Progress Report that was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this year, there’s good news. Infections are down in many areas, but that doesn’t mean there’s no problem with infection control. Considering the devastating effects one infection can have on a person’s life, eliminating all chances of spreading infection is a top priority for nurses.

Washing your hands so frequently all day long becomes so rote and so routine that it’s easy to remember to do it when you are having a routine day. But a nurse’s day is never routine, so being aware of always washing your hands before touching a patient, equipment, or food is crucial.

According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), even protective equipment like gloves and masks won’t stop the spread of germs if they are not handled correctly before and after use and used correctly during wear. Even removing protective equipment needs to be done with care and within guidelines to prevent contamination.

And, of course, nurses need to protect not only their patients but also themselves from infection. The APIC recommends keeping your vaccinations up to date and to review and carefully follow guidelines for handling sharp instruments, needles, and syringes. Being vigilant with these implements can prevent a terrifying, and potentially health threatening, needle stick or laceration.

While every nurse encounters patients who are well versed in infection control, it helps to have open conversations with them to remind them to be vigilant with their own care. Encourage them to make sure hospital staff are following proper procedures. When they are leaving the hospital, emphasize the importance of a clean environment at home while they recover and the importance of insisting that caregivers know and follow guidelines for clean hands and sterile equipment.

In your off-work hours, do your best to get rest, good nutrition, and exercise as all will help boost your immune system and keep you healthy in an environment where lots of germs are present. The APIC also recommends washing your work clothes separate from any other clothes and using hot water and a hot dryer to kill any lingering germs and bacteria.

A few small but consistent habits can help stop spread infection incidents.

6 Tips to Get Going as a Nurse Entrepreneur

6 Tips to Get Going as a Nurse Entrepreneur

Nurse entrepreneurship is a growing segment of the health care industry right now. If starting your own business or expanding your nursing talents into an innovative new product is something you’re interested in, now is a good time to start.

As a previous post mentioned, there are many courses, seminars, and certificate programs for nurses who are serious about entrepreneurship. But if you aren’t sure if now’s the time to leave your current nursing job to go it on your own, what can you do to get the process started?

Get a Thick Skin

Learn to accept criticism. If you’re going to try your hand at an entrepreneurial venture, you need to know people are going to poke holes in your foundation. Learn from what your critics say because they may be pointing out some valuable and potentially career-saving vulnerabilities. Do not react to negativity—learn from it.

Gather Information

Before you spend any time or money on a new product or new idea, start reading everything you can about nurses who run their own companies and what it’s like to start your own business. Learn about the education or training they received, the financial investment they made, the return on investment they received, and the time commitment it all took.

Assess Your Strengths

As you gather information, start to turn a critical eye toward your own skill set. What do you think would make you succeed at this kind of venture? Are you especially passionate about fixing a problem you have identified? Do you have the time in your own life to devote the sometimes extraordinary hours to start a business? What are you especially good at? Whether your specialty is patient care, financial work, organization, or a specific health issue, this is a good avenue to explore.

Find Associations

If, after gathering information and assessing if you can take on this kind of work, go out and talk with people who know how to do it. Just as you wouldn’t buy a car without some investigating, you should never start your own business without some outside perspective. Associations like the National Nurses in Business Association is an excellent resource for nurses interested in business as well. Experts here can help guide you in everything from legal to presentation perspectives.

Get Educated

Once you have made the commitment toward innovation, you need to get some kind of training. Take seminars and classes and find a nearby certificate program on innovation and entrepreneurship. If you can find one specifically for nurses, it will be that much more relevant, but if you can’t, see what else is out that that most closely matches what you’re seeking.

Investigate the Market

A formal course or seminar will teach you how to investigate the market for what you have in mind. You might have a great idea, but if it is not something the market will support, you won’t have much of a chance at success.

A lot of factors come together to make a nurse entrepreneur successful. You won’t ever know until you try, so don’t be dissuaded by naysayers. But don’t tackle entrepreneurship completely without information either. There are lots of resources to help get you started—use them.

Nurses Show Growing Interest in Entrepreneurship

Nurses Show Growing Interest in Entrepreneurship

Nurses are on the front lines of health care, so they know exactly what tools and systems they need to do their jobs. With all that experience and knowledge, nurses realize they have a definite advantage when it comes to creating products their peers and colleagues will use.

The health care industry is experiencing a boon as a nationwide focus on entrepreneurship develops, and nurses are catching on to the upswing. As health care evolves and moves away from a model of diagnosis and into a model that also focuses on improving health either with or without the presence of disease, there is space for a lot of innovation.

Nurses are becoming business savvy as well and taking classes and seminars that are focused specifically for nurses who want to find out more about the entrepreneurial side of the nursing industry.

These kinds of programs get nurses thinking along the entrepreneurial path, but they also help nurses refine a product or service. Lots of nurses have excellent ideas, but if the product or solution costs too much to make, if it only appeals to a very small subset of nurses, or if it isn’t presented correctly to potential funders, it won’t become a marketable product.

Nurses should pay particular attention to entrepreneurship studies if they have an idea they know will help others but are unsure how to make that idea a real product or service. Because nurses work in the environment they are trying to improve, they know the areas that are most problematic and often work around any issues. But, frequently, many know ways to fix the problem.

The entrepreneurial courses popping up around the country reflect the trend. The Ohio State University College of Nursing has an entrepreneurship program for nurses, and Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers an MSN degree with a Nursing Innovation concentration. And the National Nurses in Business Association is an excellent resource for nurses interested in business as well.

These programs target two different kinds of nurses. There are nurses who are interested in becoming business leaders and who want to start a company or launch a product to cover a wide base. There are also nurses who want to stay in their nursing careers and do not have any interest in starting a company, but they have an idea for making something more efficient, less costly, or as an improvement in care.

A nurse who wants to delve into entrepreneurship and innovation might want to create a product that will help all nurses – like a particularly effective piece of clothing or equipment. But nurses who are less focused on the business and more on the day-to-day improvements, might have an idea about how to make patient care better with a case manager who can facilitate handoff from the hospital to the primary care physician.

Sometimes nurses know exactly what they need, but don’t have time or knowledge of how to actually bring a product to a marketable state. These kinds of classes can help nurses develop that kind of business sense. Even if they do not bring a product to market, they might develop something else along the way.

And courses or seminars where nurses are expected to pitch their product are especially helpful. Pitching a product to investors is a combination of proving the product’s excellence and uniqueness, showing a market need, and fine tuning the persuasive power of your actual pitch. And the more nurses can work with other disciplines (engineers, for example) the greater the chance for creating an technically accurate and wholly marketable product.

Nurses considering these programs or certificates should look into the programs to find out what it offers and to make sure it fits expectations and potential career goals.

California Minority Nurses Gather to Discuss Patient Advocacy in Fresno

California Minority Nurses Gather to Discuss Patient Advocacy in Fresno

Last Saturday, as part of a program called “Minority Nurse Leadership in the 21st Century,” about 100 minority nurses from all around California met at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno to discuss the role of nurses in patient advocacy and leadership. According to statistics, 40 percent of the California population are Latino while only 7 percent of the nurses statewide are Latino, proving the need for more minority nurses in California.

A 2014 Board of Nursing report from the California State Board of Registered Nursing reported that Latinos will continue to be underrepresented and become even more underrepresented in the nursing workforce in the future. African American nurses are also expected to be underrepresented until 2030, while all other racial groups continue to be overrepresented compared to the general population.

The number of white nurses in the workforce has declined from 77.2 percent in 1990 to 51.6 percent in 2014. This decline leaves the most highly represented nonwhite group of nurses as Filipinos at 20.3 percent of the workforce, with non-Filipino Asian nurses at 8.5 percent, and black nurses at about 5 percent.

Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, a member of the California State Board of Registered Nursing and director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State, says the purpose of the minority nurse meeting in Fresno was to get more minority nurses into leadership positions so they can serve as role models and mentors to minority students who want to go into nursing but don’t see a realistic way to get there.

Kimberly Horton, chief executive officer at Vibra Hospital of Sacramento, says that nursing is an opportunity that many Latinos have never thought about so nursing programs need to be marketed to that population, and using minority nurses to educate their peers about the nursing profession is a great way to get started. Horton is an African American registered nurse and she was one of five speakers at the Fresno meeting.

Minority nurses can be wonderful advocates for patients, bringing a special understanding of health beliefs that are ethically, culturally, and religiously based and that can have a real effect on patient health. By including nurses who represent ethnic groups in the development of patient health care plans, health care teams can better develop logical plans for treatment that won’t negatively impact the health of minority patients due to common misunderstandings or misperceptions that patients have about their health and treatment.