Twitter for Professional Use

Twitter for Professional Use

Many have spent time addressing the misuse of social media by health care professionals. True, there are dangers of using social media without a policy in place, but my guess is that there is no lack of policy at your facility. Please review your facilities’ policy before starting to engage in social media for professional use, even if the use is under your own name. In my opinion, the time spent on the dangers of social media use has not been equal to the time spent speaking to the value of social media for professional use. This is unfortunate, as many influencers are in this space waiting to hear from you! Additionally, there is a generation who uses this platform almost exclusively as their preferred communication tool. There are many members of the public who need the knowledge you have, but e-mail and phone are not the best way to reach them. I’d like to share how I have found Twitter to be useful for me.

How to Start

Signing up for a Twitter account is very easy. You do not have to use your real name. You can always change your username later; just choose something that could be used on a resume, as this platform will reflect you professional brand. Start with a review of the Twitter feed of a nurse or disease association that you would like to follow. Take a look at the type of content they produce or curate. You can even go behind the scenes and see who this association is following for their information. Be sure to look at who they respect enough to follow for valuable information—you can learn a lot from this alone. You may wish to follow similar people or companies since you will now be feeding on the same information as this huge association. However, try to be selective about who you follow as your news feed may get cluttered with personal stories of others, which will not help with professional growth. An alternative to this would be to create a list of people who produce valuable content so you can always refer to this list for a quick update from time to time.

Listen Before Speaking

Spend time listening to conversations first. Notice what these associations or other influencers of your field are sharing with the public in terms of their content and tone of voice they are using. Twitter is not a place to vent or engage in negativity. Doing so will quickly detract from the brand you are establishing on this platform. One way to find relevant conversations is to use this platform as a powerful search engine. If I search for a topic in Google, the results may have broken links, or the information may not be up-to-date. Twitter yields more specific, up-to-date results. Peer-reviewed journals are very easy to find here as well. You may even be able to interact in real time with the authors or publishers of the journals.

Twitter as a Ear to Even More Conversations

Take the term value-based care. It is interesting to take a quick glance on the latest on this developing topic. Once you sign into Twitter, in the upper-right hand corner, search “#valuebasedcare” and look at who is speaking to this issue as well as what other topics they have tweeted about. Do you feel you have something of value to add to the conversation? This is an open conversation so there is no need to wait to be invited to the table. Some people still feel as though they need a more formal invitation. For that, participate in a Tweet chat. Find a relevant conversation with the Healthcare Hashtag Project. Select a topic that will highlight your expertise and join in the conversation! You can easily build profitable professional relationships, establish thought leadership, and demonstrate expertise on this social media platform.

Nurse Speaker?

Say you are a nurse speaker and you are curious about a particular nursing conference. You can easily find the name of the conference, the hashtags for that conference, and start learning! Often, conversations around the conference hashtags carry on months after the conference is over. For example, search for #AONE, which was used for the American Organization of Nurse Executives conference. You can still interact with any of these tweets.

I invite you all to take a moment to stop looking for an invitation to join the conversation, pull up a chair, and share your value.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Student Loan Debt

5 Ways to Reduce Your Student Loan Debt

While student loan debt has become a real problem among American adults, a recent study from the Urban Institute shows that college debt falls disproportionately on borrowers of color. In fact, 42% of African Americans ages 25 to 55 carried student loan debt from 1989 to 2013, compared to just 28% of white adults.

Experts offer various explanations for this unfairness, including the fact that African Americans are more likely to attend for-profit schools—not to mention, the general wealth disparity that affects families of color.

The growing costs of college also play a role at a time when the return on a college degree has stagnated due to frozen wages and high costs of living. Add in the ridiculous financial costs of earning a graduate degree, and it’s easy to see how all borrowers—and especially borrowers of color—have gotten into this mess.

Real Answers for Nurses With Real Debt

On the flip side, there is some good news to report. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that registered nurses should see 16% growth in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. That surge should add 439,300 new jobs nationally over the course of a decade, which will make it easier for nurses, and especially minority nurses, to enter thriving careers that will make loan repayment possible.

Those looking for a way to escape their debts quickly will find plenty of ways out as well, although some repayment plans will take longer than others. If you’re looking for real ways to get out of student loan debt, consider these five options:

1. Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation and Forgiveness

Federal Perkins Loans were created as a meaningful aid option for low-income students. If you have Federal Perkins Loans to repay, you could potentially have 100% of your balances forgiven after working full-time as a nurse for at least five years. To qualify, you must apply through the school that disbursed the loans or through your student loan servicer.

2. NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

The NURSE Corps Loan Repayment offers another option for nurses willing to meet certain criteria. This program is available to nurses who are willing to work at least 32 hours per week in a critical shortage facility. To qualify, you must register for the program and work full-time at a facility with a high level of need. After two years of working there, you can have up to 60% of your loans forgiven. Add on another year and you can have an additional 25% of your loans forgiven.

3. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Commonly referred to as PSLF, this is yet another program geared at nurses who are willing to jump through a few hoops to get their loans forgiven. Through PSLF, nurses can earn total forgiveness of their Direct Loans after working full-time in a public service position and making consecutive, on-time payments for 10 years. To be eligible, you have to work at least 30 hours per week for a public service health agency.

4. State-Based Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Plenty of states offer their own version of loan forgiveness for nurses, although the requirements and stipulations vary quite a lot between each program.

5. Student Loan Refinancing

While nurses would have to give up government student loan protections like income-driven repayment, forgiveness, deferment, and forbearance when they refinance federal loans with a private lender, the payoff for doing so can be huge. If your loans are currently at a high interest rate, you can potentially save thousands of dollars on interest and potentially pay your loans off faster by refinancing into a new loan with better terms and rates. Of course, it’s crucial to run the numbers and weigh the pros and cons of this option before you dive in.

The Bottom Line

As a nurse, you’re able to help people overcome some of the biggest struggles of their lives. But, as a student borrower, you’re on your own.

With nearly $1.3 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt, it’s possible that most people you know are struggling with this issue. The key to finding a way out is to research as many programs and plans as you can until you find one that makes sense for your situation.

Protecting Nurses from Malpractice: 7 Things You Need to Know

Protecting Nurses from Malpractice: 7 Things You Need to Know

Every year more than 400,000 serious injury cases are reported in the United States due to clinical malpractice, according to the Journal of Patient Safety. Nurses are an essential part of the health care system and patient support structure; however, given the occupational demands and possibility of errors in records or care methods, they are often subject to legal malpractice suits.

If you are a nurse in the United States, what can you do to help protect yourself against the risk of malpractice? We discuss seven things you need to know to avoid professional or personal liability.

1. Be Present to Your Patient

With hospital and private practice waiting rooms getting more packed, it can seem difficult to give every patient the individual attention that they need. But when patients are lined up, and nurses and health care professionals are attempting to expedite service, mistakes or omissions that may not normally occur can, exposing a nurse to a malpractice suit.

Despite pressures to see as many patients as possible, part of the clinical workflow of a nurse or a licensed vocational nurse is to determine how many patients can be scheduled, and how many can be seen. A symptom missed, or a question that should have been asked about allergies, lifestyle, or health history, can create a serious or even fatal health care error. Be present to each patient and foster a positive, long-term professional relationship with them.

2. Explain Consent and Health Information Exchange

While the benefits of electronic health information exchange are revolutionizing the quality of care that patients receive, sharing and accessing health records (however encrypted and safe the data may be) is still a bit unnerving for the average patient. While electronic health records are far more secure than the historical paper file method (and more accurate), when it comes to personal health conditions, lab results, or health concerns, people like to keep their information under wraps, and cyber theft of patient information is a problem, as are the liabilities for care organizations who access those records.

Even if an individual seems to understand the nature of giving consent for care providers to share electronic health records, it is important to have the patient review and formally sign consent to participate in the local health record exchange. Eventually, all Americans will have the ability to share their results, lifestyle, and health procedural information with care providers, regardless of the state they live in or where they travel to. For now, however, it’s important to carefully review the terms of electronic health records, including how they will be used and who can see them.

3. Engage in Additional Continuing Education Training

The college of nurses for each state provides a minimum number of continuing education training hours required by every nurse, every calendar year. The continuing competency requirement reflects the minimum amount of learning that a nurse should expect to complete in order to remain current with procedures and other changes to the profession.

However, to enhance performance, nurses are recommended to seek more than the basic annual requirement to further their skills, and also to help protect them against the liability of a malpractice suit. A nurse who has engaged in extensive annual continuing education and training is able to defend his or her expertise better in a malpractice suit.

4. Never Wait to Refer a Patient

Emergency room nurses experience this on a frequent basis. When someone appears to be having a mild emergency or uncomfortable symptom, it can be easy to misdiagnose the problem. However, any small delay in seeking a referral to a specialist, or a consultation with a doctor, can place nurses at risk for malpractice, particularly if a symptom was ignored (or misunderstood) and the condition or emergency escalated into a life-threatening circumstance.

5. Remember to Document Thoroughly

The human brain can process and remember from 10 terabytes to more than 100 terabytes of memory. However, when you mix the demand of emergency situations, multiple patients, and long continental shift work, it’s not hard to imagine missing a detail or two on your report.

For nurses, the file and procedural documentation offers an advantage. First, it assists doctors to help determine an accurate diagnosis, allowing them to create a treatment care plan. The second reason is to provide legal documentation regarding methods, observations, tests, and results in the event of a malpractice liability suit. Without the documentation, it can be hard to prove in court that all reasonable measures and investigations were conducted, which is why accurate reports and files are so important for medical professionals.

6. Avoid Talking Shop on Social

Social media is not the place for any medical professional to be sharing about their workplace, the nature of their work, or using patient names or details that are otherwise confidential. Sharing about your day is natural, but sharing health records, patient pictures (without their consent), or clinical observations publicly can land you in court.

7. Measure Twice, Dispense Once

Medications for patients in a hospital or long-term care facility can change on a daily basis. Anything can impact the accuracy of prescription medications, including mislabeled drugs, faulty intravenous equipment, and more. That is why it’s important to double check charts for changes and clarify when prescription medications do not align with other treatments. Nurses are the first line of defense to prevent drug interactions, and they should use extra precaution when dispensing medications.

While it is estimated that nursing malpractice suits account for only 2 to 4% of annual legal problems for hospitals and private clinics, recent shifts in malpractice law mean that patients can receive compensation from doctors and nurses involved in their treatment or care. When malpractice limits or caps have been reached in terms of the doctor’s medical coverage, patients may also be able to pursue compensation for damages through the nurse’s insurer.

Therefore, the best protection is consistent vigilance and adherence to care procedures on a daily basis, helping you avoid legal liability and malpractice suits.

Nursing Students Love What They Do

Nursing Students Love What They Do

Ask nursing students how they spend their free time and you’ll likely be met with quizzical looks. Nursing students don’t actually have much free time and the little they get is often shoehorned into a few minutes between odd working or clinical hours, class times, study time, and the short blocks they spend sleeping and eating because they have to.

Despite the hectic schedule, there’s a lot to celebrate about being a nursing student, says Liana Lo Chau, president of the Nursing Students’ Association at the University of Texas at Austin. “Nursing in general requires a special type of person,” she says. “We are very Type A and have an ambitious mindset. We want to do well, not necessarily because we are competitive, but because we want to do what we do best.”

But the fits and starts of a nursing student’s school years and earliest work experiences are tough.

I think the most challenging thing for nursing students is time management,” Lo Chau says. “Our schedules are very different from regular college students. We have weird hours.” Some classmates work night clinicals and others are up at 5 am to head to day clinicals. Then there are days devoted only to hospital work and other days in the simulation labs.

According to Lo Chau, an organized schedule and the discipline to follow it is a nursing student’s best friend. “We have to figure out a time to set aside for hanging out with friends,” she says. “I keep a really, really detailed planner.”

Lo Chau says she records activities and tasks nearly hour by hour. Some days, she will pencil in a few minutes for something fun in between the time scheduled to study for one class and the new block of time to study for another class. “It’s hard to plan because there’s so much stuff,” she says. “You just have to work with whatever you have.”

And being a working nursing student has it’s own challenges, too.

One of the biggest challenges is a lack of experience and feeling incompetent at times and needing guidance,” Lo Chau says. As a new nurse or a soon-to-graduate nursing student, the fear of making a mistake weighs heavily, she says. “It’s just not feeling confident and trusting in your skills. As time goes on, you will gain more confidence and believe what you are doing is correct.”

Once you’ve graduated, there’s time to shift into a new role in your nursing path. After being monitored so closely for so long, new nurses often feel a little uneasy with the unfamiliar autonomy, she says.

The ideal, she says, is for nursing students to consider getting work-like experience during their school years. That might be the competitive externships or residency programs that many hospitals now offer to new nurses and nursing students, says Lo Chau.

Because there are certain situations in a clinical setting that you can’t prepare for unless you’ve had the direct experience, these opportunities give you those opportunities with a little more supervision so you can gain your confidence. These programs cater to student nurses and newer nurses and allows them a little bit of monitoring with some breathing room to come up to speed.

With the intense education that nursing school requires, Lp Chau says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “If you enjoy doing something, it’s not really like work,” she says. “We like caring for people, and it’s something we want to do.”

Assumptions About Self Care Can Cause Harm

Assumptions About Self Care Can Cause Harm

Some of the biggest barriers human beings have in dealing with each other are all the assumptions we make. Have you ever been shocked when a neighbor who seemed so pulled together with her beautiful clothes, nicely behaved children, fantastic job, and loving spouse has the most acrimonious divorce? Did you assume her life was perfect because it appeared that way to you?

Nurses, who see all walks of life each and every day, are less apt to assume each person has the life they appear to have. After all, nurses see people in what is often their most vulnerable and often most unhappy times.

But, according to Margaret Erickson, PhD, APRN, CNS, AHN-BC, executive director of the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC), there is one area where nurses’ assumptions can get in the way of caring for a patient on the level the patient needs.

Making assumptions about self care, she says, can be a problem for patients because self care means something vastly different for each of us. What fuels your soul might not be what makes your colleague happy. What makes you physically, emotionally, and spiritually whole is not going to be the same for your patients.

I believe people know what they need,” Erickson says. “Our job is to be supportive of that knowledge. Don’t presume what self care looks like to you. Modeling isn’t showing them what to do.”

For some people, a 10-mile run, healthy eating, and getting a solid night’s sleep not only means they are taking care of their bodies, but also nourishing their souls. But for some people, it’s an afternoon of sappy movies or an hour reading People magazine. Are they the same on the health scale? Maybe not. But as a nurse, giving your patient permission to care for themselves in the way they know they need is part of figuring out how they will care for themselves when they leave your care.

The trick, says Erickson, is active listening. Listen without an agenda. Listen without waiting for your turn to speak. Listen without forming any comeback statements. You might be surprised at what you hear. Erickson practices using the Holistic Nursing Theory of Modeling and Role-Modeling (MRM; Erickson, Tomlin, and Swain) which gives guidance on combining both listening to the client’s story and using the art and science of nursing to facilitate the greatest well-being for the client, she says.

Erickson recounts the story of a man who for 15 years had been labeled as difficult and non-compliant. A diabetic, he was not following proper self care and had health complications because of it. Only through careful listening and noticing some nonverbal clues did Erickson find out some stunning information. For instance, the glazed look he got when his nurse talked about fruits and vegetables? When Erickson gently asked about it, he said he lived on a reservation and fruits and vegetables were delivered just once a month. If you were not there in time, you didn’t get any. So he had virtually no access to the fresh produce his care team said he needed.

He also mentioned that he tried hard to comply and use his insulin. But the medication had to be refrigerated and he did not have a refrigerator. For 15 years, no one knew that. No one asked about his living situation, and he didn’t mention it. But no one ever asked about how he took care of himself. They only told him what to do, says Erickson.

When we are limiting with our world view, we put up a barrier,” she says. “We don’t talk about engagement with clients or colleagues.”

Instead of saying, “I am here to help you feel better,” nurses might consider saying, “How can I help you feel better?” says Erickson. “In order to plan interventions to be most effective, you have to see their world view,” she says. “We tell patients what to do for self care and then we wonder why they don’t participate in their own self care. It’s because it was never their plan.” With more focus on the person and less focus on the tasks at hand, the patient-centered care comes to the front. “Otherwise care becomes a cookie-cutter approach versus care individualized to each unique person,” Erickson says.

So when you find yourself wondering why a patient can’t seem to follow your instructions, seems uncomfortable with a plan of care, or seems puzzled, indifferent, or even resistant, dig a little deeper to find out what they think they need.

Our goal is to facilitate clients to do self care actions,” says Erickson. “If we don’t plan care and engage the client in that care, harm can be done. Try to remember, ‘It’s not about me, it’s about them.’”

Tell Your Story in a Job Interview

Tell Your Story in a Job Interview

No matter how new or how experienced you are as a nurse, keeping your skills current and transferable is one of the best ways to stay relevant in today’s job market.

But what exactly does it mean to have skills that transfer? And how do you get that across in a job interview? Whether you are looking to make a lateral move or to move up with a new position in another organization, you have plenty of skills that will make you seem like a better fit for the job even without direct experience. But you have to make sure your interviewer hears those stories.

So you’re a newly graduated nurse with plenty of clinical experience, some work experience, and lots of assorted employment not in health care. If you are going for a med/surg position, how can you get across to your interviewer that you know you can do the job?

In a job interview, you have to do more than say you can do the job, you have to prove it. To do that, think of lots of relevant stories from any employment you’ve had that can show your skills. Did you receive an employee of the month award for your dedication or for your customer service skills? Mention the award was for your customer service position in a big box store, but back it up by explaining how your award was based on a specific positive interaction you had with a difficult customer.

Did a customer send your boss a note when you were teaching nursery school? Did your lab manager praise your meticulous attention to safety and detail when you worked as a lab assistant? All those accolades, although they may not seem related to the position you are interviewing for, are especially important when you use them to show solid details of your work ethic, your dependability, your attention to detail, your honesty, or your positive work with the public.

Any hiring manager is looking for those exact qualities in a new nurse—you just have to show, not tell, how those qualities reflect your own work history.

What if you’re a more seasoned nurse looking for a career shift to a new unit or a whole new aspect of health care? All your years of experience do count for something, but just like a new nurse, you have to tell your story. Three decades of nursing experience is impressive, but won’t get you hired unless you can show how effective you were as a nurse for those 30 years.

What do hiring managers look for? They want to see that you helped the organizations you worked for, so it’s up to you to tell them. You can’t assume they will take all those years of work as a nurse and consider you a shoo-in for the job.

But it’s especially tough for veteran nurses to promote themselves because in all those years of work they have likely seen everything and went above and beyond the call of duty almost every single day. That’s what nurses do.

You need to think outside the box a little and tell your story with details about how you saved your hospital money by implementing a new structure to crash carts that saved nurses time and made your floor more efficient. Did you head up a mentoring group for new nurses? Did your commitment to patient safety cause you to be the catalyst for a new approach to preventing falls and make your organization’s safety record improve?

Hiring mangers then interpret all those vivid and very relatable stories into skills their organization needs. You might see your actions as normal activities that any good nurse would do, but you need to promote them so the hiring manager sees you as an excellent nurse that their organization needs as an employee.

Even if your perfect GPA or your years of experience are on your resume, you cannot let your resume speak for you. You have to speak for you if you want the job. At your next interview, tell your story, explain your skills with examples, and show how you belong in their organization. Even the best resume can’t do that for you.

Using Personality Tests to Work Smarter

Using Personality Tests to Work Smarter

You thought you were all prepared for your latest job interview. You looked professional, had your resume and references ready to go, and had practiced plenty of possible questions and answers. What you didn’t expect was that personality test–how can you tell if that helped or hurt you?

Personality tests are a hiring tool and have been around for decades. They can help employers figure out if a candidate is a good match for the company culture or in a specific role, they can help teams work more effectively together, and they can help individual nurses assess what their strengths and weaknesses might be.

But can you pass a personality test? Not really.

It’s true that some companies rely on the personality tests because they can indicate a good fit for a new hire. But many of the tests are designed so you can’t try to beat the system and give only answers the company wants. Practicing for these tests isn’t really an option, so fretting about it won’t boost your chances at a job.

But knowing a little about your own personality can help you in your current job or even help prepare you for a job search.

A test like the Myers-Briggs personality type test can give you insight to how you work best, but isn’t necessarily the best indicator of how you will perform professionally. Are you someone who likes to lead a group or do you prefer to work behind the scenes to take care of the details? Do you like to learn by listening or by doing?

Taking the tests can also help you work better within you team if you take a good assessment of your true strengths and your weaknesses as well. Knowing your own personality points can also help when you interact with patients and their families. If you are aware of things that make you tick or of situations that irritate you because of your natural personality style, you can work to overcome or compensate for your own bias and focus on how your patient might work best.

For instance, you might work best pushing through something like intense physical therapy by drawing on your own inward strength and focusing that way. A patient might prefer to have a coach or a family member always pushing them along and offering constant vocal encouragement. If you can understand your basic differences, you’ll focus on offering the needed encouragement, rather than telling your patient to look within for strength.

If you can convince your colleagues or even your close family members to take the test, it might reveal a few surprises. If nothing else, knowing how other people perform best is something that can only help in the fast-paced nursing environment or in your day-to-day home life.

Personality tests have a place in some hiring and employment strategies, but you can’t really figure out how to pass one. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn a lot from finding out how you work at your optimal level and discovering what makes you tick. Doing so can improve relationships and your on-the-job performance.

Top 10 Reasons to be a Home Care Nurse

Top 10 Reasons to be a Home Care Nurse

When you see a hospital nurse they are really busy, usually very serious, and more than a little bit harried. Home care nurses, on the other hand, are always smiling. Why is that?

1. The Independence
No one is looking over my shoulder. That may sound like a bad thing when you’re a new nurse, but it wasn’t. I may not have done things perfectly right on the first try, but I figured things out. Coming to the solution on my own was very satisfying and exciting as a new nurse. Eight years later, I still enjoy the autonomy.

2. The Flexibility
I don’t just see patients in their homes. I have done new employee orientation, home health aide classes, chart audits, quality control, community lectures, staff education, and competencies. My schedule is flexible. This means that I can use a bathroom or eat lunch (which nurses get to do that?). It also means that I could schedule doctor appointments for myself or my kids and plan my patients around that appointment . . .or my kids’ school play, a teacher conference, or a trip to the mechanic to get an oil change. How do other working mothers get things done?

3. The Patients
I can sit with my patients and talk about the photographs on their walls, the numbers on their arm, what they’re cooking on the stove, the work they did “before,” the origin of their last name, their garden, their dog, their paintings, or their piano. Of course, I discuss their medical history, but only after we have made friends. Why would I do it any other way? If I do a good job and I ask the right questions, most of my home and health assessment has been completed before I ask any of the questions on my nursing assessment.

4. Their Stories
My patients share the stories of their lives with me. Stories of immigration, illness, happiness, and tragedy. They trust me with the stories that make them who they are. These stories don’t just shape their lives, they shape mine as well.

5. The Money
The money is comparable to hospital nursing and the opportunity for overtime is usually available depending on the type of agency you work for. Even if your agency does not have overtime availability, you can work for other home care agencies per diem while you are working full-time for another.

6. The Nursing
I have treated a wide variety of health issues. No matter what you may hear, home care IS real nursing. Wounds, staples, trachs, PEGs, foleys, sutures, vents, amputations, and many more.

7. The Respect
I have always been proud to be a nurse. Even when the work is hard and the time is short, I have always known that I am serving humankind when they are the most needy. My patients are always happy to see me. How could any other profession be more important or satisfying?

8. The Fun
This is hard to explain if you aren’t a nurse, but take my word for it. Getting the foley in on the first try, getting the IV in on the first try, healing a wound, teaching someone a new skill, seeing a patient get better, or bringing comfort to a patient or family member. Because my relationship with the client is long-term I often get to see the “whole picture.” The amazing thrill I get when I help someone, whether it was something big or small, is almost unmatched in my personal or professional life. I am often so excited that I want to shout from the rooftops.

9. The Experiences
I have met so many different people living completely different lives than my own. It is easy to live life in your small circle of friends and family and not realize that there are so many types of people on this planet that you may never get to meet or experience. I am so grateful for what I have. When I see how terrible peoples’ lives are, it is impossible not to gain perspective.

10. The Stories
I have a story for every disease you have ever heard of and several you haven’t. Want to scare your kid into wearing a helmet? Not using drugs? Wearing a seat belt? Using sunscreen? Yup, got a terrible story for every scenario. Need a feel good story? Got that too. Miraculous recoveries? Sure thing. Just let me know what you’re in the mood for and I will provide the entertainment or the inspiration, whatever you’re looking for. Because I am in the patient’s home I am privy to details of their illness that may not be otherwise shared with an overworked hospital nurse who is in a rush to see her next patient.

The Evolution of Telehealth Nursing

The Evolution of Telehealth Nursing

Telehealth has been around far longer than most people think. In 1879, the Lancet featured an article on the use of the telephone to reduce unnecessary patient visits to a doctor’s office, according to Tracy Lustig of the Institute of Medicine and author of The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment: Workshop Summary. While the basic practice of using technology to connect with patients is the same, telehealth nursing is one area that has evolved over the decades, opening doors for nurses to enhance their careers and help improve patients’ overall health care experiences. Telehealth services can support the coordination of care, enhance patient experience, and decrease overall health care costs.

Telehealth nursing has rapidly evolved into a role that is a key member of the patient care team and a meaningful career with opportunities for growth. Today, telehealth nurses work with cutting-edge therapies and support patients in a variety of rare disease states, giving nurses the opportunity to pursue an area they’re passionate about, and be a resource to patients throughout their therapeutic journey. To do this, telehealth nurses need a deep understanding of clinical specialties and therapies. In support, many companies that employ telehealth nurses offer trainings and continued learning programs so nurses can expand their knowledge, earn accreditations, and elevate their degree.

While telehealth nurses certainly rely on telephones to connect with patients and providers, different forms of technology are increasingly a part of the career. With on-the-job training, nurses can learn new digital platforms and skills to help patients through side effects and adherence barriers. New programs may be computer or mobile-based and provide telehealth nurses with differentiating knowledge and expertise as health care becomes more digital-friendly.

Telehealth nurses have the opportunity to impact patients in new and exciting ways while developing strong one-on-one relationships throughout the health care journey. When I hung up my stethoscope and transitioned over into a telehealth nurse educator role, it allowed me to combine my love for teaching with my clinical expertise. As a telehealth nurse educator you are an advocate for the patient while educating them at the same time. As an integral member of the patient’s health care team, telehealth nurses offer vital perspectives to health care providers, such as how a patient is responding to treatment or what barriers to therapy might exist. In today’s technological environment, a patient’s health care team can and should be constantly connected. Telehealth nurses are essential to the coordination of care and can provide patients with support when they need it most, influencing adherence and delivering successful outcomes.

Telehealth nurses have opportunities to advance into leadership and managerial positions. These roles require nurses to lead programs and team members, giving nurses the chance to stretch their skills and take on new management challenges. While one-to-one interactions with patients may be scaled back, nurse leaders and managers are critical to overseeing processes and initiatives that positively affect patient lives.

In the current health care landscape, being a telehealth nurse does not mean you simply answer calls and questions, it means you have the ability to provide necessary information to patients during a time of need. Additionally, you have the ability to further your career through continued education while seeking leadership positions that may not have been traditionally available. Telehealth nursing is a unique but rewarding job that allows professionals to work with a variety of rare disease states to ensure patients are receiving the proper support from their health care team. Telehealth nurses deliver on the needs of their patients, cultivate new skills and experiences, and deepen their medical knowledge to continue to improve patient care.

5 Ways to Prepare for an Active Threat

5 Ways to Prepare for an Active Threat

Safety at work isn’t just about being careful with sharp instruments or watching out for objects on the floor. With the news constantly bringing frightening reports of school bomb threats, workplace shootings, and other reports of violence, you have to make sure you are prepared for an active threat scenario.

If a threat happened at your school or your workplace, would you know what to do?

Here are a few pointers.

1. Get the Alerts

Many schools and workplaces offer an alert system to people in those communities. Contact the local security office or police to get your cell phone number, your home phone number, and your email address put on a list so you’ll be alerted to any immediate threat. Load any police or security phone numbers into your autodial as well.

The sooner you have that kind of information, the more time you have to get to safety. Don’t ever assume an alert isn’t your top priority. Take each one seriously.

2. Know the Plan

What is the plan if you’re at school or work and are under an immediate threat or security alert? Do you know how to evacuate or to shelter in place? Again, many places have emergency plans for an active threat.

Familiarize yourself with your organization’s plan so you know what to do and continue to refresh your memory by reading the plan every month or so. When you are in a classroom, a lab, a lunchroom, an office, a gym, or even in a parking garage, constantly look around to plan your escape route. Will you take the stairs? How many doors are nearby? Where is the closest exit to get out? Eventually, the thought will become your instinct in case you ever need to move quickly.

3. Take the Training

If your workplace or school offers a safety plan training session, take it. If they offer self defense classes, sign up and do it, even if it takes time you don’t have. Being prepared is all about thinking ahead and knowing what to do. Active threat trainings often prepare you by getting you to consider all your options and introduce some you didn’t even know you had.

4. Stay Alert

Being aware of your surroundings at all times is just plain good advice, but it doesn’t mean you are always looking for danger. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the faster you’ll notice when something appears off. Maybe it’s a person who has been hanging around an entrance or appears especially agitated. Maybe it’s a backpack without an owner that seems odd. Or maybe it’s just that your gut feels like something appears out of place.

The more familiar you are with the norm, the quicker you can pick up on something that’s not quite right. Then call that information into the authorities.

5. Share Your Information

Encourage your classmates or colleagues to be prepared as well. When a threat happens, an organized, orderly group response will keep everyone safer than a panicked reaction. Talk about the best steps to take and the plans everyone should know about.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to think about an active threat in anything more than a “what if” scenario. But if something happens, your safety can depend on your preparation.

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