Meet Minority Nurse Scholarship Finalist Shanelle McMillan

Meet Minority Nurse Scholarship Finalist Shanelle McMillan

Minority Nurse Scholarship finalist Shanelle McMillan says nursing is a family tradition, but that she has been especially gratified to start her nursing career as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Now a junior in Winston-Salem State University’s Division of Nursing, McMillan’s five-year plan includes an RN, a BSN, and enrollment in the doctorate of nursing at Winston-Salem State University where she would eventually like to teach.

But she believes her training as a CNA gave her the most fundamental and essential introduction to nursing that she could have. In her scholarship application, McMillan called becoming a CNA one of her most meaningful achievements.

As a CNA, McMillan says she was able to see if nursing was really going to be the right career choice for her. Always the first to comfort others who are upset or in pain, McMillan says the experience as a CNA offered close work with patients where she was able to see almost immediate impact.

I believe the benefits of starting as a CNA is to get your hands and feet wet in the healthcare system and to see if you will really like nursing or not,” she says. And the daily interactions with people meant she would spend considerable amounts of time caring for patients, but also getting to know them as well.

As a CNA I have first-hand knowledge of the struggles of disabled persons and what they go through on a daily basis,” she says. “I get to interact with the client which is the most important of all because if you get to know your client, it will be easier to care for them.”

And McMillan says this is also where she saw the benefits of a diverse nursing staff. When patients see people who look like they do or have the same cultural experiences, they are more open, she says. Developing that strong bond helps with treatment.

Raised primarily by her grandmother in Richmond, Virginia, McMillan’s determination and drive come from watching her. As a nurse who worked long hours, McMillan’s grandmother always helped people, even during her off hours. That kind of role model was a huge influence.

My determination comes from my rough childhood and upbringing,” she says. “My dad always told me to be strong and tough, and my grandmother always taught me to never give up.”

As she has progressed through nursing school, McMillan says the friends she has made and the supportive professors have all helped her success. And McMillan also credits her faith with keeping her moving forward. “There were a lot of setbacks in my life getting me to this point,” she says. “And I have to give thanks and all honor to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without him, I don’t even think I would be in nursing school.”

With her progression through the various opportunities in the nursing profession, McMillan says she is especially conscious of being part of a group that is so determined in its dedication.

Some say all nurses have at least one thing in common,” says McMillan, “they want to help people. Not only do they play the role of caretaker for their patients, but in some circumstances, they can also be a friend, an advocate, counselor and teacher. It takes a special kind of person to fill all of those roles the way nurses do.”

African American Women and the Stigma Associated with Breastfeeding

African American Women and the Stigma Associated with Breastfeeding

August marks national breastfeeding awareness month, and although overall national breastfeeding rates are on the rise, breastfeeding rates for African American mothers are significantly lower than other racial groups. The benefits for both mother and baby are numerous, yet some new mothers are hesitant to do so, especially in the African American community. Why are African American women less likely to breastfeed compared to their white counterparts?

A persistent discrepancy exists between African American mothers and mothers of other races who breastfeed. African American mothers have been lagging behind their white counterparts for years when it comes to breastfeeding.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the initiation rate of breastfeeding among African Americans is 16% less than whites. Multiple factors in the African American community may play a role in these discrepancies.

Lower breastfeeding rates among African American women begin with education, or lack thereof. “You can never have too much education and information,” says Joycelyn Hunter-Scott, a mom of two young sons. When asked about a stigma in the African American community Hunter-Scott replies, “I don’t think it’s a stigma; I believe it may have something to do with the lack of education and information the mothers receive during and especially after pregnancy—especially the younger mothers.”

Hunter-Scott, who was a mother who extensively researched breastfeeding when she was pregnant, is correct regarding the lack of education during the perinatal period affecting overall breastfeeding rates. According to the CDC, some hospitals within African American communities are failing to fully support breastfeeding. In a CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, ten indicators that show hospitals are supporting breastfeeding were evaluated showing that hospitals in zip codes with more than a 12.2% African American population were less likely to implement three specific indicators. These indicators include: helping mothers initiate breastfeeding early on, having infants “room in” with their mothers after birth, and limiting what infants eat or drink in the hospital to only breast milk.

Renee Bell-Eddings, MSN, RNC-OB, whose main job function is to educate staff nurses within the Women, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) department in a community-based hospital in Houston, Texas, also knows education is the key for new mothers, but also attributes a social component to breastfeeding. “I believe the reason there is a stigma is simply [because of] the lack of education and support from family and friends. Often times we see that she is the only woman in her family that has chosen to breastfeed. We also have to understand that the family plays a big role in the choices that a mother will make concerning breastfeeding—that’s where we see the cycle of breakdown because she doesn’t have the support she needs to continue.” A new mother needs support from those closest to her when taking on the challenges a breastfeeding mother may face.

A two-time mother, Hunter-Scott breastfed both of her sons—the eldest for one year and the youngest for seven months. She credits the support of her mother, sisters, and husband during that time. “This [support] made an enormous impact on my decision to breastfeed for the timeframe that I did,” she says.

Although Hunter-Scott had the support of her family (and nearly six months of maternity leave), she can see how a mother not having support or having a short maternity leave can negatively affect breastfeeding rates in the African American community. “I think it is important that the health care staff initiate breastfeeding after birth and make sure not to give pacifiers or artificial nipples to infants. I also believe many African American women don’t have the luxury of staying home after they have their baby. Some have to go back to work within a few weeks, some a few days, so it’s quicker and easier to send the baby off to childcare with formula.”

Negative cultural influences in the African American community about breastfeeding can also play a role in breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding has been seen by some African American women as reverting to “slavery days” when feeding a child by breast was the only option. Baby formula as we know it was developed in the late 1800’s and soon gained popularity when feeding a baby with formula was seen as something only “elite and sophisticated” mothers do, regardless of race. These advertising campaigns led many women to believe breastfeeding was a choice only for lower income mothers.

Another issue that faces a breastfeeding mother is public breastfeeding and the potential shaming from others. Feeding a child in public from the breast is often seen as indecent and given a perverse sexual connotation. Being able to feed on demand is crucial for the continued production of breast milk in a lactating mother. The shaming some women endure is enough to discourage them from continuing to breastfeed even if they have chosen to do so initially. The indecency claims of public breastfeeding generalizations make it hard for any woman, let alone an African American woman, to nurture her child through breastfeeding. Negative portrayals by the media and in our own communities have a profound effect on the initiation and continuance of breastfeeding.

The societal and commercial pressures to not breastfeed or stop breastfeeding altogether before six months of age are evident through aggressive marketing campaigns of formula producers. Societal pressures include: not having a national maternity leave law, the shaming of breastfeeding in public, and not having enough dedicated breastfeeding areas in public establishments to encourage breastfeeding. Many mothers do not have the ability to stay home for extended periods of time after birth, further encouraging them to stop exclusive breastfeeding in exchange for formula. Working mothers in the United States need support to continue breastfeeding before their baby is even born by means of national legislation for established maternity leave, breastfeeding or pumping breaks when they return to work, and a willingness from their employer to provide a conducive environment to support a mother’s wish to continue to breastfeed.

With all racial and societal factors aside, breastfeeding offers both mother and baby numerous benefits—and this is why it’s vital that mothers attempt to breastfeed for at least six months. When formula was introduced it was touted as the “perfect food” for a growing baby, but nothing compares to a mother’s milk. Breast milk has everything needed to sustain an infant and promote lifelong health. Nurturing a newborn with a mother’s milk offers baby rich nutrients that have proven benefits for both mother and baby, not to mention the money saved from not purchasing formula.

Infant mortality rates are twice as high for African American babies than white babies, and breastfeeding is the key to saving infant lives. Health benefits of breastfeeding for baby include decreasing the risk of common childhood illnesses, such as upper respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma. It also provides long-term benefits for obesity and future diabetes risk, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Mothers benefit from breastfeeding by helping get back to pre-pregnancy weight sooner (breastfeeding burns up to 500 calories per day!) as well as decreasing risk for diabetes and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.

Education, education, and more education is the key to increasing breastfeeding rates in the African American community. Education has to start during the prenatal period and continue through birth and thereafter. Bell-Eddings knows knowledge is power: “Education is a big key in changing the mindset of all and allowing mom to make an informed decision.”

5 Back-to-School Tips to Motivate You

5 Back-to-School Tips to Motivate You

With summer’s end right around the corner and classes just about to start, now is a good time to start thinking of what you can do to start your school year off right.

Whether you are heading straight into nursing school from a high school environment or heading back after several years in another career, getting off to a good start is all about planning.

Here are five back-to-school tips.

1. Get Your Priorities Straight

A big part of getting off to a good start is getting your head in the game. Take stock of what you want out of the coming school year. If you’re a brand-new nursing student, are you looking for a certain GPA or knowledge in a particular area? If you’re a parent juggling many responsibilities plus nursing school, are you seeking a way to carve out time to study? Decide on what is important to you.

2. Identify Your Challenges

Now that you’ve stated your priorities, you’ll need to figure out what might get in your way. If you are worried about finding time to study in a busy household, what plans can you make to go somewhere quiet or find snippets of study time inyour day? Maybe you are planning to commute and your first class is especially early. What can you do to ensure on-time arrivals every day?

3. Never Underestimate Planning Ahead

Getting out the door isn’t always easy, so the less you have to do in the morning, the better off you are. Prep lunches, water bottles, clothes, homework, backpacks, and chores the night before. Make sure you don’t have to stop for gas. Try to eliminate as many things that can slow you down as possible. If you have to go to work before later classes, pack up extra food, and don’t forget your notes.

4. Find Your System

So you are planning and getting things ready—that’s great. But there’s going to be a lot going on, so you need to find an organizational system that works for you. Find a way to keep track of all your to-do lists and make it a method that is most convenient and easy for you. It might be an app or good old-fashioned paper. As long as it is accessible and easy for you to use, it will work.

5. Take a Deep Breath

You are about to embark on another exciting year of learning that will bring you even closer to your ultimate goal of becoming a professional nurse. Think about what that means. You might have some days when you feel overloaded, but those days will be balanced by the days you come home so energized by the idea of nursing, you can’t wait to hit the books. You are on a path with other equally passionate students. Appreciate the journey to becoming part of this incredible profession.

Start thinking about heading back to school now and you can ward off lots of unexpected surprises (not the good kind!). Put some preparation into these next few weeks and you’ll be glad with the results.

Meet Minority Nurse Scholarship Finalist Winner Nam Pham

Meet Minority Nurse Scholarship Finalist Winner Nam Pham

With very shaky beginnings as a malnourished infant in his native Vietnam, Nam Pham, one of this year’s Minority Nurse Scholarship winners, describes his challenge-filled life as an ultra-marathon.

Despite the different professional, personal, and academic setbacks that resulted from his earliest years, Pham says his outlook puts it all into perspective. As he pursues his master of science degree in nursing at the UCLA School of Nursing, he plans to use his dual roles as a health care provider and a health care consumer to become an integral part of building what he calls a working health care infrastructure. And with a focus on teamwork and collaboration, he believes the profession benefits from a diverse nursing force.

Always maintaining a steady pace and keeping my eye on the finish line, I am determined to jump over any and all hurdles to pursue a meaningful medical career and live a meaningful life,” he wrote on his scholarship application.

Pham’s family left Vietnam, but their new life in the drug-riddled Oakland, California, projects presented new challenges. But through it all, Pham says he didn’t back down from choosing a notoriously demanding career.

Success may take weeks,” he says. “It may take months. Maybe years. I don’t expect the nursing profession to be an easy one.” But with his own experience with health struggles to call on, the direct connection to patients, some of whom will face seemingly insurmountable odds, will be there.

Many patients will have year-long health care journeys,” he says, but he notes that he wants to be an encouraging and compassionate support. And just like he has seen in his own life, the road to good health is made up of both success and failures—neither of which define the whole path. So when patients are overwhelmed, he can bring it back to what counts. “We’d take it one step at a time, day-by-day,” he says.

To reflect on his comparison to life as an ultra-marathon, Pham put his beliefs into real action running 700 kilometers across Canada from Quebec to Ottawa connecting with people about AIDS and HIV issues. The run’s physical challenges were tough, but with a love of both talking and listening, it was an opportunity to connect in a way he hasn’t done before.

And after listening to the struggles of many patients, Pham says he knows how complex a nurse’s role is. “A good nurse will be able to bridge any gap between a physician and a patient, providing not only medical but also emotional support,” he says. “Reducing the gap will not always be easy and that is why a good nurse will always listen with an open ear, interpreting and analyzing the situation before speaking and integrating a plan for the betterment of the patient and/or physician.”

When asked where he might see himself in five years, with his degree complete, Pham is clear. “I will be operating a mobile health clinic on wheels in underserved communities, providing primary care to the forgotten and neglected,” he says. “It is my hope and dream to give back to the communities that provided me with life’s most basic necessities when I first came to the United States.”

Minority Nurse’s Scholarship Winner Kara Bellucci

Minority Nurse’s Scholarship Winner Kara Bellucci

Kara Bellucci, this year’s Minority Nurse Scholarship winner, never considered nursing as a potential career. Lacking the confidence to dive into hard sciences, and with a real passion for family, race, and class issues, Bellucci’s life changed when she spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, Africa.

When I came back to the States, I realized that one-to-one connection was the common thread,” she says. Bellucci began on a path to nursing that included taking some classes to prepare for nursing school and to complete requirements beyond her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of California, Davis. Now a nursing student at Columbia University’s intensive 15-month master’s program, Bellucci will launch immediately into Columbia’s 3-year-long clinical doctoral degree program upon completion of the master’s degree work.

Nursing came to me organically,” she says. “I didn’t think connecting with people was a skill I could translate into work. Nursing was reaching out to people and it’s a holistic approach. It’s about physical and emotional wellness. I didn’t know that kind of nursing existed.”

The connections Bellucci forms with people is what grounds her to a career in nursing. In Malawi, she says one of her roles was to help connect a group of women bakers with other resources in the community so they could bake and sell products. The satisfaction in helping the women, seeing them thrive, and being a part of that made a huge impact on Bellucci. “A lot of that is in nursing,” she says. “It’s connecting people with resources.”

And Bellucci has also spent time as an outreach worker for people in single occupancy hotel rooms and on the streets in San Francisco. Bellucci, who was unfamiliar with the surroundings, says she had a lot of misconceptions about the community at first. And the realization that her own bias could impact her nursing was powerful. Despite different backgrounds and lifestyles, Bellucci says she still formed connections based on common threads with the people she was helping and the goal of safety and health.

I realized that it’s going to be important through this career to check in on the different layers of my identity,” she says. The process will help her take a step back sometimes and consider how her own life experience could change how she sees something.

Eventually, Bellucci would like to go into family practice where the connections with patients often span decades and generations as well. “You can develop longevity with patients,” she says. “That’s an environment I would enjoy.” And Bellucci says she can see eventually circling back to her global experience to somehow get involved with international nursing.

For now, Bellucci says the scholarship will help her financially so she can get the skills she needs first. But it also serves as a reminder, she says, and a validation for how important nursing is.

It’s a nice affirmation to find out there are others who think there’s more diversity to be brought into the field,” she says. “It’s an affirmation and the excitement for that.”

And like most nursing students, Bellucci says she is apprehensive about the student debt she is accruing as is her family. “To tell them I got the scholarship was reassurance that other institutions believe in me too,” she says. “It’s a nice confidence vote.”

5 Things That Can Make You a Successful Travel Nurse

5 Things That Can Make You a Successful Travel Nurse

Health care facilities occasionally experience shortage of staff. In such situations, they turn to travel nurses from other locations to fill in for their permanent staff. There are several travel nurse staffing providers in the country to help hospitals/clinics to find temporary nurses and vice versa.

The United States offers opportunities to travel nurses in all specialties. At the global level, health care facilities are in a constant need of efficient nurses to manage clinical and administrative duties. Nurses who are willing to take up assignments in international locations can get in touch with companies who facilitate these programs.

As a travel nurse, you need to research the job description, organizational culture, and stay updated with important on-the-job skills. Even on the personal front, there are several factors you need to consider when embarking on a new assignment. You should be willing to adjust to a new area, use interpersonal skills to form cordial relations with new coworkers, and improve your nursing skills.

If you are a nurse planning to take up a new travel assignment in the near future, then you can make use of the following tips to make it a successful stint.

1.    Complete the Paperwork

Amidst your excitement to start traveling, do not neglect the documentation required by the travel nurse staffing agency and the assigned hospital. Do not forget to submit all forms on time with complete and accurate information. Maintaining a checklist of the required documents can help you keep tabs on the process.

You will be asked to include application forms, skills checklists, license verification, and letters of recommendation from your previous employers. You may want to consult a lawyer if you are planning to travel to another country for your assignment. They can help you know about the laws that are applicable to travel nurses.

Make sure that there is no discrepancy in the details you provide as the staffing agency will use them for arranging for your interviews, placements, and onboarding with your new employer.

2.    Be Adaptive

As the new nurse in the health care facility, you will have to make additional efforts to adapt to the new environment. It will be easier once you are acquainted with the rest of the staff. A good attitude and a positive approach can be helpful.

It is quite common for travel nurses to experience nervousness and face difficulties at some point during their assignments. Get in touch with fellow nurses and other staff members for solving your queries. The key is to treat others like you would like to be treated.

Remember that you were hired for your nursing skills, and these would remain the same across all geographical locations. So, even if you are facing initial glitches, keep your spirit up when dealing with patients.

3.    Carry All Necessary Items

As far as possible, try to keep your luggage light and easy-to-carry. At the same time, do not leave important items behind. Among the essentials to take along are a copy of all your documents and the approved scrubs/uniform for your assignment. As you’d be living in a new location, you may not know much about the cost of living. It is, therefore, better to keep some spare money, your financial records, key emergency contacts, IDs, and credit/debit cards handy.

Make sure you don’t overload your luggage with excessive clothing items. Try to stick to a reasonable number of personal items and clothing, keeping in mind the weather at the new location. You may also want to take a few favorite photos and mementos to make the new place feel like home. It is advisable to ask your recruiter for a more detailed list of items that you should carry.

4.    Let Your Learning Curve Grow

Try to use all the time you have during your travel stint to learn as much as you can. But, before heading to the new place, make sure you study about your assignment facility. You may be taken through a traveler orientation to know more on the facility’s management policies. Make sure you that you take enough notes, study procedure manuals, ask questions, and clarify all doubts.

You may be assigned a short-term mentor, who you can shadow for a few days, but make sure you know who you can contact on the floor with questions at all times. Some travel nurse staffing agencies, such as Onward Healthcare, also have clinical liaisons their travel RNs can get in touch with around the clock, if necessary.

5.    Make Use of Technology for Assistance

Technology can be a great aid for travel nurses as they can use information from the Internet to learn more about their new location. Whether you want to find the route to the local market, read restaurant reviews, or locate the nearest health care facility, your laptop, tablet, or smartphone can help you find answers to these queries.

You can even store e-books on these devices for leisure or professional reading. This way you will be more prepared to live comfortably at the new place, which can help you focus more on your professional role and adapt to the new facility faster.

To Conclude

Many nurses are gradually warming up to the idea of traveling for business. The great thing about being a travel nurse is that you can blend fun and work and make the most of your professional stint. As long as you have the above considerations in place, you can look forward to a successful and prolific career as a travel nurse.

A New Normal: Graduate Nursing Students Paying for Clinical Rotations

A New Normal: Graduate Nursing Students Paying for Clinical Rotations

Aspiring advanced practice nurses enter their prospective graduate programs each semester with the good faith of excelling at their course work and practicum. Unfortunately, that notion may be tarnished by the misfortune of not finding a clinical site. In some instances, unwarranted cancellations by a preceptor occur. Leaving the pupil to hastily find another preceptor. Consequently, if the student is unable to obtain a new preceptor their graduation is postponed for months or sometimes years.

With the advent of online advanced nursing education, the demand for preceptors has skyrocketed. Many students spend months calling around for a preceptor to no avail. Plenty of primary care clinics are, booked full of students, a year or two in advance. To offset the demand some practices and health care practitioners have begun charging students for time spent precepting in their clinics. Thus, herein lies “an elephant in the room”: is it ethical for clinics to require payment for nursing practicums? Sadly, there is no straightforward answer to this question; yet among students there are two schools of thought.

One school of thought: “It’s unethical to pay for a clinical rotation. Why would I pay for something that a person should do out of the goodness of their heart?”

Central to any health profession is service. This act of unselfish kindness and generosity bears meaning to one’s career and, above all, sustain and dignify the future of others. In this instance, a pupil in need of mentoring isn’t too lowly for the time and attention necessitating growth. Unselfish service is marked by giving freely without expecting anything in return, as explained within an excerpt from the Hippocratic Oath, “To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract…”

Second school of thought: “You’re paying for your education just as you would in a classroom environment.”

Some clinics are charging a minimum of $200 per week for a practicum experience. Which translates into $1,600 – $2,000 for an eight to ten week session. However, not all clinical sites are created equally. Some preceptors allow the pupils to independently see patients and afterwards they confer to execute a treatment plan for the individuals. Alternatively, other preceptors adopt a “hands off” approach and throw the student “out to the wolves” with little to no experience. How can schools of nursing solve this burgeoning problem?

Graduate nursing clinical rotations should be regulated by an accreditation body, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Program effectiveness, assessment, and achievement of program outcomes are addressed within CCNE’s Standards for Accreditation. Presumptive regulation of graduate nursing clinical sites should be addressed under section IV – B, “program completion rates demonstrate program effectiveness”. How effective is the nursing program if students are not graduating due to sparse clinical sites? The school of nursing should be held accountable to help their students find practicum placement. If a large percentage of pupils are unable to complete the program of study due to insufficient assistance with securing a preceptor, a mandate should be place upon the school of nursing to provide a written explanation and analysis along with a plan of action for improvement before re-accreditation is approved for the graduate nursing program.

What’s a Nurse’s Professional Image?

What’s a Nurse’s Professional Image?

Nurses know their jobs are essential, but they also know their jobs aren’t typical in any way. They don’t have 9 to 5 hours and don’t always have a set schedule. And their duties can vary greatly.

Even the standard scrubs often associated with a nursing career don’t apply to everyone. Nurses might wear a suit to work or they might wear scrubs every day. Some might work with patients while others testify in front of Congress. Often, recruiters say they hear nurses comment that they are “just a nurse” and because of that they don’t always raise the game of a professional image.

Being a professional nurse and having an image to go with that means more than having a great resume or even an impressive title. What can you do to strengthen your professional image as a nurse?

Here are a few ideas.

Get on LinkedIn

Professionals use LinkedIn to network, find jobs if they are looking, reach out to candidates if they are hiring, and present their qualifications to the business world. But LinkedIn also has something even more essential—lots of online groups that you can contribute to and learn from.

Commenting, posting, and adding your well-thought-out ideas to LinkedIn groups and forums is an ideal way to begin making connections you might not have had an opportunity to make otherwise.

Have a Business Card

Does it seem silly to order business cards when your organization doesn’t offer them? Shouldn’t you just get what your company gives you? The short answer is loud and clear – no. According to Donna Cardillo, RN, known as the Inspiration Nurse, a business card puts you on equal footing when you network professionally or even socially.

You never know when you’ll meet someone who could help you in your career at some point in the future and having the ability to give someone your card with your information is convenient and shows you are a prepared professional. Order inexpensive cards online and keep them basic. Don’t make your business card cutesy.

Join an Association

Join the local chapter of the American Nurses Association or whatever association matches your specialty or particular interest. Become an active member who attends meetings or volunteers to help with events. You’ll learn about educational opportunities, professional advancement, career tips, and meet other nurses. Attend the meetings with an enthusiasm for your field and a handy “elevator pitch” that explains to people quickly and accurately what your job is.

You might find that an association gives you a feeling of connection as well. That alone might help you get through any career bumps or detours.

Get Noticed

If you don’t have time to become president of the local nursing association or to volunteer to help with a petition drive, do something you can manage. But make sure you do something. Name recognition is important to any career, but it’s harder for nurses to get their names out in front of the public.

Write a letter to the editor about a cause that is particularly relevant to your own nursing interests and to the general public (vaccines, strikes, gun control, heart disease). Send it to several papers. Your opinion as a professional nurse carries a lot of weight, so back up your points with solid facts. Have someone proofread your letter to make sure it sounds good.

There are lots of things you can do as a nurse to bring your professionalism up a notch. And as each nurse does takes steps to do so, their efforts raise the professionalism of the field as a whole.

How to Deal With a Difficult Professor

How to Deal With a Difficult Professor

As a nursing student you know one thing for sure—no two professors are alike. The benefits of having great professors are obvious, but even the most difficult professors will teach you some valuable skills.

Even if you know you’ll learn in a course, it doesn’t make dealing with an obnoxious professor easy. How can you make the best of a bad situation?

Start Each Class With Good Communication

Sometimes, students and professors get off to a bad start that never seems to resolve itself. Professors deserve and are used to a certain level of respect, and you should approach them with that in mind. Start any communication with them by addressing them as “Professor” before their last name, until you are directed to do otherwise.

Triple check to be sure you have spelled their names correctly. Use polite language (never slang) and err on the side of being too formal. That means don’t send an email full of texting abbreviations, and always thank them for taking the time to help you.

Act Like You Deserve to be Taken Seriously

Of course, to lay a good foundation with your professors, you need to be a good student. Get to class on time, not 5 minutes late. Pay attention to what is being taught and participate in the discussions. Don’t spend lecture time on your phone or playing catch up with other students. Get your work in on time and with all the requirements. Be focused and your professor will be likely to notice and take you more seriously.

Reach Out for Help If Needed

Despite your best efforts, you might get a professor who is impossible to please, is rude, doesn’t give good lectures, and gives exams that border on out of line. If you have approached the professor for help and have gotten no where, you are not out of options. All schools have either an academic advising or a student support services office that will work with you to help you resolve any conflict or miscommunication. The Dean of Students is also an excellent resource when you are having real difficulties with a professor.

Find an Out

If you just have a really bad feeling (for instance,your professor tells you that even a hospitalization is not an excused absence), then see what your options are. Talk with your advisor and see if it’s too late to switch classes.

If you feel the professor is on a mission to fail you and you have exhausted all your options and outside assistance, you might look into withdrawing from the class. You ‘ll probably lose money, but it might impact your nursing school career less than failing a class. Your advisor will help you through this decision.

Accept the Life Lesson

Dealing with unpleasant people is difficult and can rattle your confidence. But it also makes you tougher, and as a nurse, that’s a skill that will come in handy. Learning how to cope with someone’s unflinching criticism (whether deserved or not) is good practice for anyone’s career. If your professor has pushed you to the limit, take a step back and see what you can learn from the experience and use that to your advantage in the future.

Whatever problems you might have with a professor in your nursing school years, you can turn the lessons you’ll learn from it into something useful and helpful.

10 Qualities That Make a Great Nurse

10 Qualities That Make a Great Nurse

Few would disagree that nursing is one of the most underrated professions in modern times. Being a nurse isn’t easy. In fact, it is a field that can be extremely demanding—and even unforgiving—to those who pursue it. Being around the ailing and the frazzled for long hours and dealing with them patiently day after day can be challenging, to say the least.

Nurses are required to be not only compassionate and helpful, but also capable of making difficult decisions and administering the right medical care to patients in the absence of doctors. Of course, education plays a big role in ensuring this, but there are certain innate qualities that make one nurse better than the other.

Here are 10 qualities that make an exceptional nurse.

1. High Standards of Professionalism

Nurses need to be professional in their approach towards their work. Whether it is meeting with and attending to patients, administering medication, or maintaining patient records, they need to do all of it in the most skilled and ethical manner.

As a nurse, you’re bound to deal with patients coming from different age groups, genders, races, communities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is important not to make assumptions or generalizations with respect to their appearance, and instead focus on their illness, injury, or that which ails them.

There may be times when you may have to deal with difficult patients. Do not let that experience get to you. View each patient as an individual who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

2. Never-Ending Diligence

Nurses are extremely hard working, which is why diligence is an important attribute they need to possess. While we may think that theirs is a 9 to 5 job, the truth is far from that. More often than not nurses end up working long hours, thanks to the nature of their job.

To be an exceptional nurse, you need to have it in you to work long hours and be up and running to (possibly) do it again the next day.

3. Exceptional Communication Skills

One of the most critical traits to be good at any job is outstanding communication skills. This applies to nurses as well. In fact, this skill is a necessity rather than an option. A great nurse has exceptional listening and speaking skills. The rest of his or her work depends on these two factors.

Nurses can solve problems only if they’re able to effectively communicate with patients and families. Patients expect nurses to understand their troubles perfectly well before administering any medicine. An effective nurse is one who can not only fulfill, but also anticipate patients’ needs.

4. Effective Interpersonal Skills

Apart from excellent communication skills, nurses need to have remarkable interpersonal skills. After all, they act as the link between doctors and a variety of patients. Further, they also need to work well with other nurses and members of the staff.

For patients, nurses are the face of the hospital and doctors depend on them for carrying out several tasks. A great nurse is able to strike the right balance between doctors’ and patients’ needs.

5. Attention to Detail

Good nurses realize that every step they take in providing patient care can have grave consequences. This is why all effective nurses pay careful attention to detail and make sure they do not miss any step.

Whether it is reading and understanding a patient’s chart or memorizing the details of a case, nurses take nothing for granted. In a profession where a tiny mistake can ruin another’s life, attention to detail is one quality that can either spell the difference between life and death.

6. Quick Problem-Solving Abilities

The ability to mitigate problems quickly is a must-have quality in a great nurse. An even better quality would be to anticipate and address problems before they arise. You never know when a tricky situation will arrive at the time of dealing with emergencies or trauma cases.

A nurse always needs to be prepared with solutions, whether it is speaking to patients’ families, comforting patients, or communicating with doctors and other administrative technicians.

7. Action-Oriented

Patients who come to a hospital or clinic typically need remedies that are not only effective, but also administered quickly. A great nurse understands the importance of responding promptly to emergencies and sudden incidences and is prepared for all sorts of surprises with a composed mind and a calm attitude.

8. Empathetic Disposition

More often than not, patients happen to be enduring or have endured immense pain and suffering. Remarkable nurses have empathy for them and are able to be compassionate to provide comfort. Of course, nurses can experience their share of mental and physical fatigue too, but they’re able to get past it.

The atmosphere in a hospital can be a formal one. However, nurses can add the humane touch with their kindhearted attitude. This can be instrumental in improving patient care to a great extent.

9. Solid Stamina

Nurses work long hours. Further, they’re also required to frequently carry out various physical tasks, lift heavy equipment, provide physical support to patients, stand for long periods of time, and carry out other demanding drills on a daily basis. In short, they’re always on their feet.

This is why nurses need to be energetic enough to make it through the shift, irrespective of whether they’re in a surgery or looking after a patient.

10. Sense of Humor

Finding humor in difficult situations isn’t easy, but the nurses who can do it are able to mitigate stressful situations better. It is perfectly okay to mix the elements of fun and humor into your work to be able to enjoy it better. After all, this combination will keep you going in the tough times!

As a career, nursing can be a difficult, yet rewarding one. The satisfaction of being helpful to those in need can be tremendous. All you need is the right personality to deal with the stresses that come with it and you should do well. If you aspire to become a nurse and think that you possess all of the above qualities, you should definitely pursue nursing as a career.