4 Tips for Passing the NCLEX

4 Tips for Passing the NCLEX

For nursing students there is one final hurdle after graduation to becoming a nurse – passing the NCLEX. The National Council Licensure Examination is the standard state exam that all graduating nurses must pass in order to start their career as an entry-level nurse.

It can be a stress-inducing time for a young nurse. But there are some things you can do while you’re still in nursing school to lessen the stress on exam day.

Follow these tips to prepare for test day.

1. Study All Through School

First and foremost, don’t wait to begin studying. Use your time throughout nursing school to prepare. “NCLEX tests safety competency and is not a test you can cram knowledge in a short period of time,” says Dr. Joanna Rowe, interim dean of nursing at Linfield College in McMinnville, OR.

Dr. Rowe says there are several study programs available including Kaplan, HESI, and ATI.

Another resource Dr. Rowe recommends is a PassPoint, which can be purchased for $100 for use on your phone or computer. “Students can design their own tests and they can select areas for the program to generate a test. Also, the National State Board of Nursing has an NCLEX study plan they can download that is very inexpensive.”

2. Practice

Dr. Rowe advises students to take practice tests in an environment similar to the one you’ll take the real NCLEX. That means no music, headphones, noise, or anything to drink or eat. Take your practice tests in a quiet, uncluttered space and take the whole practice test in one sitting.

3. Take Time to Review

“Review each question on the practice test even if you got it correct. Look at why you got it correct,” says Dr. Rowe. “Did you know the answer or guess at the answer and does your rationale match the rationale offered? If you got it wrong, why did you get it wrong? Did you not know the answer, read too fast, misread the question, knew parts of the answer but not in depth?”

Taking the time to review after your practice tests will offer key insights that will help you ultimately pass the NCLEX.

4. Take the NCLEX Right After Graduation

Finally, Dr. Rowe advises students to take the NCLEX within six weeks of graduating from nursing school. “The statistics are clear that students who take NCLEX within the first six weeks of graduation have a significantly higher pass rate,” says Dr. Rowe.

Nursing Assistants Are Essential Team Members

Nursing Assistants Are Essential Team Members

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Nursing Assistants Week and brings with it a great time for healthcare teams to reflect on how all the members of a team help it run smoothly.

This year’s theme for National Nursing Assistants Week is “Specialists in the Art of Caring,” and the theme is one that resonates with nursing assistants. Nursing assistants are essential members of the team and often work especially closely with patients who are disabled or elderly and live in long-term care facilities or are in rehabilitation facilities. They often spend their days caring for patients who may have very limited mobility or have severe dementia or other conditions that may prevent them from performing tasks for themselves. The hands-on care they provide helps people feel better and also provides the comfort of companionship.

Many nursing assistants are so devoted to the caregiving role that they will become certified in their field. The National Association for Health Care Assistants is also joining in the celebration by honoring certified nursing assistants who have taken the extra step toward professional development and education to become certified.

With nearly 1.5 million nursing assistants in the national workforce, the field is one that is growing and in need of additional professionals. With a high school diploma, prospective nursing assistants can gain additional training and certification through many local sources including community colleges and often the Red Cross. Nursing assistants have a physically demanding workload. They frequently move people all day long and so have to be especially careful about proper movement, getting help instead of hoping they can lift or move someone, and using available equipment to assist them in the physical tasks of the job.

Despite the rigor of the typical day, nursing assistants are especially devoted to the people in their care and strive to give them understanding and dignity at a time when they are especially vulnerable. The conversations they provide, even if they are one-sided at times, are an important and uplifting part of a patient’s day. Conversations about everything from the day’s weather to the political state of countries half a world away to comparing family traditions, all help take care of the whole patient, not just their physical needs.

This week is a time to call out the nursing assistants in your organization or on your team to thank them for the caring job they are doing. They are an essential part of making a team run, and because of what they do, the licensed nurses and physicians are able to take care of the pressing medical needs of the patient better, knowing the patient is comfortable and their needs have been met.

Honor this important direct care role by saying thank you to the nursing assistants in your organization and by holding events throughout the week to let them feel appreciated. Flowers, gift cards, a surprise coffee and cake or unexpected refreshments for them, and signs marking the week help make the week special, but can also start some important conversations about the essential teamwork and high-quality caregiving that goes on thanks to this important role.

Help for Dealing with Negative Patients

Help for Dealing with Negative Patients

Dealing with negative patients is never easy. They can monopolize your time, make you angry, and frustrate everyone they come into contact with. What can you do?

According to a number of experts, quite a lot.

“I approach patient interactions using the nursing process of assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation. These steps are taken with patience and understanding,” says Cynthia Rochon, MBA, BSN, RN, Director of Nursing, Behavioral Health Services, Largo Medical Center. “In order to assist with a problem, you first have to understand the root cause. Never make assumptions because that can lead to more negativity. After gaining a clear understanding of the problem or patient care need, you provide an explanation of how the nurse can assist to remedy the problem or facilitate access to the resource who can provide further assistance. The last step is evaluation—validate that the patient has a clear understanding of how to follow up on directions that have been provided. Patient education is an important component of nursing care. When communicating with empathy, the patient experience will usually change from a negative experience into a positive interaction.”

Oftentimes, patients become negative because they are scared, says Jodi De Luca, a licensed clinical psychologist working in the Emergency Department at Boulder Community Hospital in Colorado. “Firm empathy and compassion are an example of setting structure and limitations. Be kind, respectful, and validate the patient’s feelings, but remain professional and clarify unacceptable behavior and/or unrealistic patient expectations.”

“Although it’s true we deal with these patients in the same manner we would other patients, it does take a lot of listening on our end to determine where the negativity is coming from,” says Debra Moore, RN, Director of Nursing of the BrightStar Care Edmond/Oklahoma City as well as the Midwest Region Nurse of the Year for 2017. “They could feel mad because they’re sick, missing a spouse from a recent death, or they may have just heard some bad news or had a frustrating experience in some other area of their lives. After we determine the cause, we talk with the patients and reassure them that we are going to care for them as much as they will let us. These patients may also need a lot of education on their diagnosis and what we can do to help. While it may take time for them to trust us, they will see that we are there for them and that they still have free rein over their lives. We honor them. It will take them sitting back and observing exactly what great care we can provide them. This will, in turn, help them relax and trust us in the end.”

Kristin Baird, RN, BSN, MHA, president and CEO of the Baird Group, is a consultant who coaches and trains nurses and nurse leaders. She shares two of her training points:

1. Suspend judgement and assume a neutral position.

By doing this, you position yourself for great empathy. Empathy is portrayed more through non-verbal behaviors than verbal, but both matter. When a patient feels you are showing empathy, they will have greater trust.

2. Use empathy statements and body language that will diffuse anger.

Try sitting by the patient, touching his/her arm or hand, and saying something like, “You sound upset.” By validating them with your words and showing compassion with touch, you are demonstrating that you care.

Pfizer Program Helps Hispanic Patients Get Access to Medications They Need

Pfizer Program Helps Hispanic Patients Get Access to Medications They Need

With a constantly evolving healthcare environment in the US, patients and their advocates have become concerned about their ability to access the drugs and medications they need. Pfizer has been offering assistance programs to help eligible patients gain access to the company’s medications for over 30 years. Their current Pfizer RxPathways program connects patients to more than 90 Pfizer medications for free or reduced prices.

To remind patients of the benefits available to them, Pfizer has posted company announcements on their social networks. The Pfizer RxPathways program has been put in place to connect eligible patients with a full range of assistance programs including insurance support, co-payment assistance, and free or discounted medications. Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo says,

“We’ve launched a national digital ads campaign to raise awareness of the support options we offer. We want to reassure Hispanic patients that, despite any changes in public health care policy, Pfizer is here to help them access their medications.”

From 2012 to 2016, Pfizer assisted over 1.6 million patients in receiving Pfizer prescription drugs for free or reduced costs. Patients can contact the call center to speak with Spanish-trained counselors who will address their individual needs and guide them to the appropriate programs and resources. Castillo is standing by her belief that, “Everyone deserves access to quality health care, and medicines are among the most powerful tools for curing, treating and preventing illness and disability in patients.”

To learn more about Pfizer’s RxPathways program, visit here.

4 Things to Do Before Your Job Interview

4 Things to Do Before Your Job Interview

One of the most exciting aspects of your nursing job search is receiving an invitation to interview. You impressed the hiring manager with your resume and cover letter. Now it’s time to impress them during your job interview.

Job interviews are nerve-racking for sure. But you can calm some of your anxiety by doing these four things before your interview.

1. Company Research

Reading through the job posting isn’t enough to prepare for an interview. Dig deeper and read through the organization’s website and any social media pages they have. Spend some time perusing their press releases to learn about new initiatives the company is working on.

Some companies also have an HR section on their website where they publish their employee benefits information and employee handbook. These documents will give you insight to help you determine if the company is a good fit for you.

Finally, be sure to read their annual reports from the past several years if they are posted online. These reports will give you a glimpse into the company’s financial health as well as key milestones achieved throughout the year.

2. Review Potential Questions

Don’t “wing it” when it comes to preparing for any job interview. It will pay off to spend some time thinking through the possible questions you will be asked as well as how you will answer them.

Be sure you can answer questions about:

  • Your education and work experience
  • Your strengths and weaknesses
  • Your patient care philosophy
  • Work/school challenges you have faced and how you worked through them
  • Your short and long-term career goals
  • Why you want to work for this company/organization

3. Prepare Your Questions

There will usually come a time during your interview when you will have the chance to ask some questions of your own. Be smart and have a few questions prepared. It shows that you’re invested in learning more about the job and company.

These questions will get you started:

  • What is the training/orientation process?
  • What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?
  • What shift(s) will I likely work?
  • How long do most nurses work on this unit?
  • What career growth opportunities do nurses have?
  • Describe your management style and/or management philosophy.

One warning: Don’t ask questions about salary or benefits during your interview. Save those questions for after you receive a job offer. At that point you know they want you for the position and you’ll be in a much stronger position to negotiate your starting salary and benefits.

4. Do a Test Run

One of the worst first impressions you can make is to be late for your interview. Mitigate the risk of being late by asking for directions to the interview site, including parking instructions. It’s wise to also do a test run a day or two before the interview so that you can gauge the time it takes to get there and park.

These tips will save you some stress and help you shine during your next job interview.

Use Men’s Health Month as a Springboard for Good Choices

Use Men’s Health Month as a Springboard for Good Choices

There are lots of health tips that men and women can both benefit from. Getting enough sleep and exercise and eating a well-balanced diet are some good all-around health tips everyone can use. But the genders have some pretty diverse health challenges. For example, did you know men die, on average, five years sooner than women?

Whether you are a man looking into your own health concerns or a woman with men in her life, Men’s Health Week (June 12 to 18) is celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year and comes right in the middle of Men’s Health Month. If you’re a nurse and a man, use this opportunity to talk to your male patients about the specific health problems men face and what to do to help prevent them or cope with them.

How can men make sure they are doing the best they can for their own health? Here are some pointers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and MensHealthMonth.org.

Get Screenings

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to get regular screenings for diseases and conditions that can be detected and therefore treated, early. Get an annual checkup so you can stay on top of your blood sugar levels, your weight, your cholesterol, and your blood pressure. Get a colonoscopy if you’re past age 50— earlier if you have a family history of colon cancer or if you have certain conditions that could increase your risk. Be sure a prostate screening is part of your annual exam and examine your testicles at least every month to notice any changes or lumps and bumps. Check your skin regularly for new moles or those that seem to have changed size, shape, or color. If you notice any unusual changes on your body, bring it to the attention of your physician.

Play Hard, But Play Safe

Whatever your interest—biking, running, flying, rock climbing—make sure you practice basic safety rules. Use proper protective gear and equipment. If you’re swimming, go with someone. If you’re hiking or camping, let people know where you’ll be. Bring along extra provisions and proper weather gear. Basic safety considerations can go a long way toward keeping you healthy.

Be Social

Men tend to let their social relationships slide when life gets busy. With work and family obligations, it’s tough to carve out time with friends. But social connections and solid friendships can help ward off many health problems including depression, heart disease, and even dementia.

Make Healthy Choices

All the basic health tips hold true because they work. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and plant proteins. Ease up on meats, cheeses, butter, fried foods, and treats like full-fat ice cream. Get daily or near-daily exercise. Get enough sleep. Keep your vaccines up to date. Use protection during sex. Don’t smoke anything, ever. Drink alcohol in moderation. Wear sunscreen. Protect your heart health (and keep inflammation down) by keeping your stress under control. Find help for your stress if you can’t manage it on your own.

Wear Blue to Start the Conversation

The Friday before Father’s Day is traditionally a Wear Blue Day, when anyone concerned about men’s health can wear blue clothing or blue ribbon pins to show support of Men’s Health Month. You can also give a shout out on social media with #MensHealthMonth or #ShowUsYourBlue.

Spread the word about men’s health during the month of June. You never know what kind of lasting impact a few words of wisdom might have,