Can You Beat Your Family History of Heart Disease?

Can You Beat Your Family History of Heart Disease?

Of all the risk factors for heart disease, the areas you have no control over are often the ones that are especially troublesome. While you can make inroads to a healthier diet, more activity and exercise, reducing stress, and even taking appropriate medications, it often feels like there’s nothing you can do to change your family’s track record of heart disease.

 

As February is American Heart Month, now is a great time to take stock of your own heart health. Knowing that your family carries a higher risk for heart disease is actually a great motivator to keep your own heart as healthy as possible. In many cases, if you ramp up your efforts to control what you can, you can negate some of your family’s health lineage.

 

Can you change your family’s past? No – if you had a father and three aunts who died from heart disease in their 40s, you need to take that very seriously. But it doesn’t mean you will take the same path.

 

How can you beat your genetics?

 

Know Your History

 

The American Heart Association recommends gathering as much family history as you possibly can. If you are at least able to start with members of your immediate family, that will help you assess your risk.

 

Look for family members with a history of heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or congestive heart failure. Find out how old family members were when they were diagnosed and how old they were if they died from the disease. And try to notice any patterns – is the predominant problem heart attack or stroke?

 

Accept (But Don’t Give Into) Your Genes

 

There is virtually no way to change your genetic makeup. But if you carry an elevated risk, it can make you feel unsure of what’s to come. So while you can’t change your genetic cards, you can change how you live your life.

 

A lifestyle that is heart-healthy, heart-friendly, and heart-supportive can contribute greatly to your overall heart health and start to bring your elevated risk into a more normal range.

 

Talk with Your Team

 

Talk to your healthcare providers to make sure you are getting all the tests you need to uncover any early indicators of heart disease. Discuss medications and other therapies that can lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol and even get things like triglycerides into normal range.

 

Some minority populations are more predisposed to heart disease (including African Americans and Hispanics), so go over some of those risk factors. And have a discussion about any other conditions you may have that could put you at a higher risk including diabetes, depression, and even psoriatic arthritis.

 

Make Heart Health a Priority

 

No one else is going to put your heart health first, so that’s going to be up to you. Put caring for your heart at the top of your to-do list. That means taking a look at obvious things like your eating habits, your weight, your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. But it also means making sure you get enough sleep (lack of sleep raises your risk of heart disease over time) and making sure you take the time for pleasure.

 

Loneliness also contributes to declining heart health, so develop a rich social life and figure out exactly what that looks like for you. Some people want three parties every weekend and others are happiest having dinner with best friends every couple of weeks or a favorite book club every week.

No matter what story your family health patterns reveal, it doesn’t mean that’s your destiny. With some changes and lots of diligence and close observation, you can keep you heart healthy and strong.

Celebrate Perianesthesia Nurses This Week

Celebrate Perianesthesia Nurses This Week

From February 6 to 12, Perianesthesia Nurse Awareness Week will be celebrated and honored by perianesthesia nurses and the colleagues they work with.

According to Armi Holcomb, RN, BSN, CPAN, and immediate past president of the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) perianesthesia nursing is one of the most well-rounded areas of nursing. For that reason, she sees the field as exciting and satisfying for both personal and professional reasons.

Perianesthesia nurses always have to weigh several different factors when treating each individual patient.

We see people before surgery and have to know about their preexisting conditions or any medical conditions they have to make sure the surgery is safe,” she says. “We are the patient’s first line of defense.”

Perianesthesia nurses, who administer care during the transition times of pre- and post-surgery, are especially aware of the recovery room care.

Holcomb, who has practiced in many settings including med-surge and ICU, says perianesthesia nursing is her niche. “We see the whole patient,” she says. And then, she says, the perianesthesia nurses are there to help patients transition safely after surgery. “We make sure they can transfer to home, to inpatient, or to the ICU,” she says.

Perianesthesia nurses undergo a certification process through the American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc. Certification must be renewed every three years.

As medical care becomes more advanced and complex, the patients nurses see are also generally more acute. Many have coexisting conditions that can have a big impact on surgery and anesthesia. Because of that, these nurses have to always be on top of trends and research. “We have to be life-long learners,” she says, noting that perianesthesia nurses have to keep current with physical health, pharmacology, and surgical needs.

All of that weighs in and it’s critical thinking,” says Holcomb. Perianesthesia nurses never back away from asking questions and will always advocate for patients, says Holcomb. And they are a tight bunch. ASPAN emphasizes mentoring and sharing knowledge among members.

If you are a perianesthesia nurse or work with one, take time this week to reflect on all you do. Celebrate with colleagues and do something to honor your own work (Holcomb says her organization will celebrate nurses with goody bags and a luncheon among other things).

And if your state doesn’t have a proclamation for this week, you can always advocate for one. ASPAN even offers a sample proclamation to guide your efforts.

Congratulations to all the perianesthesia nurses!

How Actively Caring and Exercising Your Own Career Planning Benefits Everyone

How Actively Caring and Exercising Your Own Career Planning Benefits Everyone

Health care professionals and organizations all recognize the importance of paying attention to our health. Every day we witness the negative consequences of neglecting to cultivate and maintain healthy routines. Sickness loves to seek out the overburdened mind and body. With today’s frantic pace of life and the speed at which we all must make decisions about where and how to invest our time and energy, it is not surprising but yet ironic that health care professionals often fail to properly nurture their own careers.

The Big Picture

Professionals in the health care field now more than ever face an amazing number of enticing career options, if they are mindful of them. In an effort to meet the rising needs of aging boomers, rising “at-risk” patients, and many other challenges, the health care industry is using the latest technologies into all workplaces and seeking the most talented and passionate minds available. Prospective health care candidates, particularly those willing to relocate, have an enviable number of rewarding career paths to pursue. Recognizing and navigating those options, however, can be intimidating.

You should know that great recruiters should be keenly aware of how a job change affects not only the individual but also their families, friends and communities. Career navigation should be guided by a well-planned and thoughtful strategy that addresses both a candidate’s goals and their individual personality and strengths. As a recruiter for ThinkingAhead, I invest my time and effort into truly understanding the sensibilities and nuances of candidates I represent. My goal is to match their talents and skills not just with a position but with a work culture and environment that will encourage their professional growth and personal happiness, making the change an overwhelmingly successful one, both for the professional and their intimate circle.

Know Thyself

We’re all well beyond busy — we need to accept this as the new normal. It can seem as if there is never an opportunity to sit and contemplate who we are professionally and what we want long-term from our careers. But if candidates don’t take the time to think about their lives’ direction, they’ll end up following someone else’s lead or agenda. I personally focus on working to impress upon candidates the value of exploring the positives and negatives of their career decisions and the need to be proactive about reaching their professional objectives. This process needs to begin with an assessment of their professional achievements to date – what tangible positive imprints they have made professionally that are rewarding to them in retrospect and keep them excited about going to their offices daily.

When I’m working with candidates, I often hear that they are uncomfortable with “bragging” about what they have accomplished. When discussing professional backgrounds, candidates have a tendency to shift to discussing their roles and responsibilities, rather than highlighting the projects/programs they headed that added significant value to their organization. This supposed “humility” impedes a candidate’s ability to see the true trajectory of their careers and personal strengths and weaknesses and conceals their own truths. Careers, like lives, are defined by actions and deeds, not titles and roles. An honest evaluation of an individual’s accomplishments—and how we feel about those successes— can provide a detailed career profile for candidates who have difficulty defining what about their job fulfills and frustrates them.

Embrace Synergy via Technology

Adeptly using technology is part of the new bedside manner. Candidates and clients in the health care industry are at the forefront of figuring how technology can change the way we work, heal and live. The data garnered through devices and systems throughout the health care industry can often improve everything from patient care and satisfaction to the financial performance of an organization. Data is becoming increasingly integrated into every health care job and organization. Data drives decisions from how hospitals invest money to what demographics and geographic areas are most in need of proactive care.

Technology is the catalyst behind the synergy that is morphing traditional health care jobs into dynamic, modern positions that require an appreciation for data. Technical and operational responsibilities are no longer siloed. As an example, my clients value IT professionals with a clinical or operational background as well as clinical experts with technical acumen. This merging of duties can often means that a chief nursing officer is most valued if they have informatics and optimization skills or that a CIO must show a strong success in working with the clinicians at their organizations. Candidates who are willing to embrace technology and understand how it impacts health care from every angle are poised to lead the industry into a new and inspiring era of care for everyone.

So be true to yourself and understand your passion and strengths to lead you to continued success in your profession!

5 Signs You Might Be in a Job Rut

5 Signs You Might Be in a Job Rut

Of all the professions available, nursing offers one of the most flexible and diverse set of opportunities to people with similar training. One of the reasons so many people stay in nursing the because they are able to stretch their professional skills and try new roles. With additional training or certification, a nurse can move into a specific cardiac specialty or try something as broad as travel nursing.

 

Even with so many options, nurses can easily get into a job rut. There are a few ways to tell if you’ve reached a point where you feel like you’re stagnating. If any of these signs feel familiar, it’s time to take a step back to reassess what you’re doing in your current role. You might be able to change things up by talking to your supervisor about taking on new responsibility or it might just be time to seek out something else.

 

How can you tell if you’re in a job rut?

 

1. Are you happy to go to work?

 

You don’t have to leap out of bed ready to get right to work with a smile on your face. It’s not that kind of happy. But if you genuinely dread going to work or, worse, if you are feeling real physical symptoms from job stress, it’s time to reconsider what you’re doing. Your job shouldn’t give you headaches, stomach aches, feelings of panic, or an overall sense of hopelessness.

 

2. Do you feel challenged?

 

If work feels like you’re just biding your time, then your time is probably best spent in some other role. Your job should offer you enough new tasks or put you in different roles so you’re learning new skills. Whether it is a new technology at your organization or a new management skill, adding to your skill set is important for your overall job growth. If you aren’t getting that, you’re missing out and also hurting your long-term job prospects.

 

3. Do you feel your skills are being used well?

 

If you have expertise, it should be highlighted and used to your and your organization’s advantage. Your skills should help every professional around you do a better job and do it more efficiently and safely. You might have to point it out and find ways to make sure your expertise is used to its full advantage, but don’t let it stagnate.

 

4. Are you satisfied with your work environment?

 

Working with people isn’t always easy, but it can bring about life changing results. If your work environment feels toxic, whether from a bullying situation or from management that doesn’t support nurses, then it’s time to move on. And, of course, if you don’t feel safe in your environment, that’s a red flag that it’s time to move on immediately.

 

5. Are you always reading job boards?

 

Everyone looks, but if you’re looking and thinking how much a new job would improve your life, you might be right. If you want a bigger salary or better benefits and you can get that somewhere else, it’s time to polish up that resume.

 

Honest job dissatisfaction shouldn’t be ignored. If your current role is holding you back, eating away at your spirit, or preventing you from learning new skills, then it’s time to reassess and consider moving on. You shouldn’t be stuck in a job rut.

 

Encouraging Diversity in Nurse Anesthetist Field

Encouraging Diversity in Nurse Anesthetist Field

During this year’s CRNA Week (#crnaweek), there are many nurse anesthetists who are remembering why they got into the profession, and even more are reflecting on how the face of the profession is changing.

John Bing, BSN, CRNA, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Region 6 director, and national AANA board of directors member, says one of his steadfast missions is to make sure the field continues to attract top nurses, but that it is especially welcoming to aspiring minority nurse anesthetists.

Bing knows first-hand how hard it is being a minority in the field. When he first started out, he was often the only African American in the OR, he says. At times, people assumed he was part of the housekeeping staff. Although he laughs about it now, Bing has made it a direct part of his mission to attract more minorities into this field.

He even takes on leadership positions with the primary goal of making sure he is representing the minorities in the field. “You need to see that in leadership,” he says. “If others don’t see that, they won’t see a place for them. I make sure they see it.”

Many times you would go in and you were it,” he says of when he started out. “Maybe you were the only one in the hospital or the department. Now you go in and you see a fair amount [of minorities].”

As a president of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentoring Program, Bing also makes sure his students know why he enjoys this profession so much.

One of Bing’s specific approaches is to make sure he talks to patients as the anesthesia takes effect. He finds out what they like so they can chat about it—sports, cooking, books, kids—anything that helps them relax. “That’s like a sedative,” he says. “It calms them down and they remember that.”

And while he’s monitoring a patient, Bing does exactly what he teaches his students—he assesses his patient over and over and over. “You must rely on your instinct,” he says. During travels with students to countries like Nicaragua, Bing teaches students that not every machine is calibrated the same or even correctly.

The machine is a guideline,” he says. “You are ultimately responsible for anything that happens. You can’t blame the machine for anything. Look at the patient.”

Bing says that while he’s checking blood pressure every five minutes or so, he is constantly “circling the block,” as he calls it. All the machines are incredibly helpful, but they should only confirm what a nurse anesthetist is seeing, hearing, smelling, and touching.

And getting stale in this profession is not an option, he says. “I say to my students, ‘Tell me how this patient could die today,’” he says. That forces students to look at the big picture and not just look for complications, but to look for other factors that could impact that patient on that day.

Bing clearly enjoys working with his students, but he understands first-hand how sometimes they are not the ones who chose the profession. “The last thing I thought I would be was a nurse,” he says with a laugh. As an African-American, there were few role models that looked like him.

A chance look at a jobs list that revealed six pages of nursing jobs, convinced Bing, an athlete in high school and college, to take a look. Bing says he turned to his buddy he was working out with and said, “We get to be around girls and have a great job!” But he still didn’t expect to land in this field. Eventually, nurses in the recovery room where he worked nudged him to give it a try.

Now, Bing’s mission is to attract minorities into nurse anesthesiology. He speaks to kids in schools, paying special attention to making the field appealing to boys and young men. As it is, 49 percent of nurse anesthetists are male, he says, which is a high number considering less than 10 percent of all nurses are male.

But Bing lets kids know that there are chances to be out on a helicopter go team or even in the midst of trauma situations. “Men like that kind of stuff,” he says and it certainly gets the attention of younger kids who don’t know those possibilities exist.

Add in the good salary, the camaraderie, and the fair amount of autonomy, says Bing, and a career as a CRNA shows kids who might not initially consider a nursing career that the path is open to more possibilities than they ever imagined.

Celebrate Nurse Anesthetists with CRNA Week

Celebrate Nurse Anesthetists with CRNA Week

From January 22 to 28, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is sponsoring National CRNA Week to honor nurse anesthetists.

John Bing, BSN, CRNA, AANA Region 6 director, and national AANA board of directors member, says most people don’t quite understand what a nurse anesthetist does and, in fact, there are not very many of them.

Many people believe a nurse anesthetist puts them to sleep, leaves, and then returns to wake them. Far from it, says Bing. “The job of a nurse anesthetist is always assessing,” he says. They are with the patient all the time, from the moment they greet the patient, through the entire procedure or surgery, and when they are brought out of anesthesia.

The job, says Bing, is like no other. “We are there pre-, inter-, and post-op,” he says. But he understands why the job is mysterious to some. Even Bing’s mom thought he just gave people a pill to make them go to sleep, he says with a laugh.

But nurse anesthetists appear happy with their jobs. On the just-released 2017 U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs list, a nurse anesthetist’s job placed fifth on best health care jobs and placed sixth on the best jobs overall. The reported salary median salary is $157,140.

Bing says he appreciates being able to develop a relationship with a patient in such a short amount of time. Being present through the entire procedure gives nurse anesthetists the ability to monitor every nuance of the patient’s reactions and behavior, he says. And the interactions before the anesthesia is administered means nurse anesthetists have the chance to build up trust and get to know a patient as a person. The patients remember that, says Bing, and you get to know them as a person.

And this field rarely gets stale, he says. CRNAs have to be recertified every four years, so continued learning is mandatory. One of the special draws for nurse anesthetists is the ability to work with people from the moment they are born until the day they die, says Bing. These nurses work with all ages and have to know the intricacies of how the human body reacts to the anesthesia at each age and with virtually any condition. “We get everybody,” says Bing. “And it is all acute.”

As a group, nurse anesthetists stick together, says Bing. With as high as 89 percent reporting approval for their job satisfaction, he says, they enjoy the work. And the AANA doesn’t encourage sub groups, he says. The group acts as one. “Eighty-five percent of our professional nurse anesthetists belong to our parent professional organization,” says Bing. “We don’t want to go out and have splinter groups. We are better together.”

The AANA is urging nurses to spread the word during National CRNA Week and suggests things like career days in schools, inviting legislators to a breakfast or coffee gathering, or even casual and formal public speaking opportunities to let people know about the profession. And use #crnaweek to spread the word o a wider audience.

It’s also a good time to celebrate what nurse anesthetists do. “In this country 100,000 people give anesthesia,” he says. “That means there are 3.5 million people per anesthetist. That makes [them] pretty special.”

Celebrate IV Nurse Day on January 25

Celebrate IV Nurse Day on January 25

On January 25, IV Nurse Day celebrates the infusion nurses who complete the high-tech and exceedingly patient-sensitive process of infusion care.

The 2017 theme, “IV Nurses: Outstanding Skills. Outstanding Care.” gives acknowledgment to the specific skills IV nurses bring to a care team. Sponsored by the Infusion Nurses Society, this day has been an annual international event since 1980, says Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI, CAE, FAAN, and chief executive officer of the society and of the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation.

The IV Nurses Society has 7,000 members across the globe in more than 40 countries and territories outside the US. Approximately 3,500 of the members are certified as well. And they work in many settings—about half of infusion nurses work in hospitals and the other half work in alternate sites like infusion centers, physicians’ offices, or in home care settings.

The care we provide is something all patients can relate to,” says Alexander. “Patients go into a hospital and almost everyone gets an IV.”

While IV certified nurses are not the only ones who can place an IV, the additional training gives the nurse the skills and the experience to do it well, she says. To place an IV properly, nurses must asses the patient, determine the appropriate device, and the proper management of care once the IV is in place.

As some patients can have an IV for a few short hours or in extraordinary circumstances for the rest of their lives, proper placement and care is paramount to patient comfort and safety, says Alexander. Infusion nurses are also then responsible for patient or caregiver education upon discharge. They need to convey accurate information about how to care for an IV and why it’s important for the patient to have it.

It’s vitally important that clinicians are experienced and know what they are doing,” says Alexander. Because the lines bring solutions directly into a patient’s bloodstream, any complications can be life or death.

Patient safety is every nurse’s top concern, but infusion nurses also have a direct impact on patient satisfaction. Alexander says when patients are asked about their hospital stays, some surveys indicate the quality of food and the experience a patient had with an IV as the top influences of their overall satisfaction with the hospital.

IV Nurse Day recognizes all the work infusion nurses do, says Alexander. “We are all over the place,” she says, “You won’t find us in one specific place. We are an important part of the health care team when we are looking at the overall care of the patient.”

As part of the team, IV nurses can educate others on the team as well. Having an IV nurse on the team means the other team members are able to focus on their own tasks. Because of their experience, IV nurses save costs and labor because they generally get an IV placed correctly on the first attempt. That improves cost, reduces the risk of complications, and makes for a much happier patient.

If newer nurses are interested in this certification, Alexander strongly suggests getting some overall clinical experience prior to fulfilling the IV nurse certification process. And for nurses who are not yet certified, but interested, the Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice outlines some of the common guidelines for this specialty.

The more you do it, the better at it you get,” says Alexander. “It’s good to recognize infusion nurses do a fabulous job and patients appreciate what we have to offer.”

Alexander notes that while some might expect IVs to eventually be replaced by a different process, she doesn’t see that happening in the very near future. And IV nurses also bring an extra component that’s hard to quantify. “To me, it’s high-touch, hands-on caring as well as high tech,” she says. “That’s extremely important.”

 

 

Layoff Rumors? 5 Things to Do Now

Layoff Rumors? 5 Things to Do Now

Nurses today enjoy excellent career prospects with high job demand and nursing jobs opening up in many specialties. But nursing jobs tend to blossom in regions and if your region isn’t one of them, you might not be feeling a lot of job security.

If your position seems a little perilous, what’s your best plan? Always be prepared. Even if rumors of layoffs and reduced hours are just rumors, the stress they inspire in a staff cannot be understated. If you’re one of those nurses, the daily worry about if you’ll have a job or even enough hours to keep you gainfully employed is exhausting and can negatively impact your job performance.

Throughout your career, the best thing you can ever do is be ready for a job change. And that’s not always because you expect something bad to happen. You could also have an unexpected and fantastic job opportunity arise. In that case, you shouldn’t have to scramble to get your resume and your LinkedIn profile updated while also preparing for an interview panel.

Here’s how to always be ready for a change – expected or not.

1.Update Your Resume, Even If You’re Not Job Hunting

Keeping your resume and your LinkedIn pages updated and current is just smart business practice. You cannot predict what’s going to happen next, so you want to be ready for anything. And if you update everything as you go, you won’t forget a project or a skill that could be important enough to trigger an interview request.

2. Keep Learning

You might have the same job you had 10 years ago, but your skill set is different. With new technology, additional seminars, and on-the-job training, you have learned more. As a nurse, if your skills aren’t constantly refreshed, you’re falling behind. Don’t let that happen. Actively pursue an additional degree, even if it is one class at a time. Go for certifications in your specialty or a specialty you’d like to move into. Being ready for any opportunity increases your chances of success.

3. Network Every Chance You Get

When you’re actively looking for a job, networking will help you. The more networking you do, the more chances you’ll have to find a good match. But even if you aren’t looking, keeping up with others in the industry keeps your name, skills, and capabilities front and center. Someone might ask you to join a committee or to help spearhead a new campaign. Saying yes and working with peers opens up your nursing career.

4. Stay on Your Toes

Don’t get lazy when you aren’t directly working with patients and on patient care. When you’re at work or at an event with people from work, keep your professional attitude. Be someone who can make excellent and authentic small talk with everyone—from the person who delivers the packages to your floor to the CNO—and then do it.

5. Boost Other Nurses

Be the person who champions nurses and helps others understand all the things nurses do. Spread the word about nursing as a career. Enthusiasm is contagious and others will join you. You might not get a job offer, but you’ll get a great reputation as someone who is a positive force in the world of nursing.

So whether you’re wondering about layoffs or happy in your job, there are some things you should do as routine career maintenance. Being prepared helps your career whether you’re just starting out or 40 years in. And if you are worried about a career change, you’ll know you’re ready for anything.

How Can Public Speaking Help Your Career?

How Can Public Speaking Help Your Career?

You’re a nurse and you probably talk all day long. You interact with patients, colleagues, and families from the time you get into work until the time you leave. So with all that talking, do you really need to excel at public speaking?

Any professional benefits from public speaking, but especially nurses. If you want to advance in your career or just be a better nurse, communicating effectively is an essential skill. You have to sum up your thoughts, ideas, and solutions faster than most other professionals. If your job (or your dream job) requires any kind of presentation or even mingling, public speaking skills will help you.

Many nursing students have taken a public speaking class or some kind of seminar that helps them polish their presentation skills. Some organizations even offer classes where attendees can sharpen their already good skills or where novices can learn how to not only find their public speaking voice, but to use it effectively.

Even with some public speaking training, stage fright is a real thing. You might be very comfortable speaking in small groups or with people you know, but if you’re put into an unfamiliar situation or in front of many people, you freeze. While that might be common, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to overcome it.

Nurses who are at ease speaking in front of others are in high demand and this skill can open your career prospects greatly. If you’re at ease with public speaking, that means you’re more likely to volunteer to give a talk to colleagues. It might also mean your boss will turn to you to help with a conference workshop on your specialty. You might even be asked to speak by an organization. All of these opportunities get you out in front of people, make you valuable to your employer, and boost your career prospects and experience.

To get started, just look for a local class in public speaking. You can find them at local adult education centers, local schools, organizations, like Toastmasters, or even private coaches. If you think colleagues would be interested, gather some information about teachers, costs, possible times and locations, and present the idea of holding a class at work to your company. You’ll get bonus points for organization and initiative.

And by getting a little professional advice, you’ll also learn tricks and tips to make presentations easier. You’ll discover the way props like slides, photos, and videos can help you feel less pressured. And you’ll probably hear inspirational stories from people who flubbed a big presentation, recovered, and turned it into a success despite the mistakes.

The more practice you have, the more at ease you’ll be with speaking in front of others. And, as a nurse, you need to be able to speak calmly and clearly in an emergency. The more time you have invested, the less time you’ll spend on thinking about what you’ll say and the more time you’ll have to get the the heart of the matter.

Let’s Get Kids Excited About Nursing Careers

Let’s Get Kids Excited About Nursing Careers

Nurses know first hand just how exciting, unpredictable, and satisfying the career can be. No two days are the same, you’re constantly learning new things, and you have opportunities to connect with and help people in ways you never imagined.

But how can you explain all that to kids so they think of nursing as a career?

Sharing your excitement and your satisfaction over your career is the first step. And then letting them know the detailed reasons (given their ages, of course!), is the next step.

The easiest advice is to just start talking with the kids in your life. Ask them questions. What do they think nurses do? What equipment do they think nurses work with? What do they think might be interesting about a nurse’s job?

A great way to spread the word about nursing is to offer to give a presentation in a local school, library, or youth organization. You would have to tailor your words to the specific ages, but there are lots of ways to do that.

Bring relevant and approved equipment and show kids how it is used. Bring in books (Dr. Scharmaine Baker’s Nola the Nurse books are great for the younger kids) and coloring pages.

While some kids know what nurses do, many don’t have a real understanding of the job and duties. You can explain there are different types of nurses. Talk about your specialty and how you help people. Think of one or two stories that really show how your job is meaningful.

Teens will appreciate stories with more intensity, especially if they can relate to it somehow. You could even base part of the presentation on media images of nurses. The Truth About Nursing is a great resource for that topic. And everyone loves something that will make them laugh, so if you can offer up a story that shows the job is fun, that’s an attention getter.

Make sure kids know what it was like to be in nursing school. Describe what clinicals are like and how you can be out doing real work during your college years. Some kids are especially drawn to the “doing” more than the books, so if you can work in how your student nursing work really helped you and related to what your professors were teaching, it makes the idea of nursing school that much more appealing.

Lastly, think of a quick elevator pitch that can be used for kids. We all know how you should be able to sum up what you do and why it’s important in a quick elevator pitch to colleagues or at a networking event. But if you’re in your scrubs and a youngster unexpectedly asks you what you do, it’s great to have a response. Start by saying, “I’m a nurse. Do you know what a nurse does?” Then sum it up in one or two sentences.

Getting kids interested in a nursing career helps the younger generation understand nursing. More importantly, getting them interested will help ensure a steady pipeline of younger nurses to meet the real growing need for qualified nurses.