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,

Paying off Student Loans: Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche?

Paying off Student Loans: Debt Snowball or Debt Avalanche?

Repaying nursing school loans can be a daunting task, especially if you have several loans carrying large balances. If you add in additional debt such as credit card debt and car loans, it gets even more complicated. Which loans should you pay off first? What’s the fastest way to become debt-free?

There are two popular methods for debt repayment – the debt snowball and the debt avalanche, and they both come with pros and cons.

Let’s say you have three outstanding debts – two student loans, plus a credit card. We’ll call them A, B, and C. With both the debt snowball and debt avalanche, you would:

  • make the minimum payments on all three loans each month
  • cut back and/or eliminate discretionary expenses (e.g. cable TV, eating out) so that you have extra money to pay towards your debt
  • use any extra money in your budget to pay down your loans

For example, when you pay off loan A you would roll that payment into your payment for loan B until it’s paid off. Once loan B is paid off you would roll your payments for both A and B to pay off C. Eventually you will build a huge snowball or create an avalanche in loan repayments.

But the two methods differ in their approach in one key way: the order you repay your debts. Let’s take a look at examples of how each strategy works.

The debt snowball strategy was made popular by personal finance radio personality Dave Ramsey. With the snowball, you would list your debts from the smallest to largest balance and then pay them off in that order, one-by-one until all debts are paid.

For example, if loan A is $3,000, loan B is $5,000, and loan C is $12,000, you would pay them in that order, regardless of the interest rates. So even if loan C has a higher interest rate than loan A, you would still aggressively pay loan A until it’s paid off before focusing on loan C.

The theory of the snowball method is that by paying off the smallest loan first, you will gain momentum and experience success along the way. How awesome would it feel to pay off a student loan? With the snowball method you get to experience paying off the $3,000 loan much quicker than you would pay off the $12,000.

Many people have successfully paid off their loans using the debt snowball. But many others think the debt avalanche is the smarter way. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you have those same three loans, but the one for $5,000 happens to have the highest interest rate. You would start your avalanche by paying the minimum payments on all three and then throwing any extra money at the $5,000 loan since it carries the highest interest rate.

The debt avalanche is all about the math. You could save thousands of dollars in interest payments using the debt avalanche. But again, you may have to wait quite a while before you experience any repayment victories.

Since personal finance is indeed personal, you should choose the method that you will stick with. If you choose to do a debt snowball you may end up paying higher interest, but if that’s the strategy that will keep you focused, it’s the best one for you.

Conversely, if you’re the type of person who is good at delayed gratification or you’re more motivated by saving money on interest, the debt avalanche would work best for you.

The key is to remember the importance of repaying your student loans and other consumer debts so that you’re free to make career and life decisions without being tied down by debt.

A Nurse’s Summer Bucket List

A Nurse’s Summer Bucket List

Summertime brings thoughts of slower days, languid days at the beach, and vacations filled with sunshine. Nurses don’t always get to match the ideal vision of a lazy summer, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t take advantage of this fleeting time of year.

Here are a few simple things to add to your summer 2017 bucket list..

Treat Your Feet

Your feet take a pounding – literally. Pamper them with a reflexology appointment, a pedicure, or just a good soak in bubbly warm water. Slather on peppermint foot lotion you stash in the fridge for extra relief. Spritz a cooling spray on your legs (make your own with water and essential oils). A barefoot walk on a sandy beach can also make your feet feel terrific.

Relax Your Neck

Your neck and shoulders probably feel like steel and nearly frozen in place with all the movement your day requires. Buy a heat pack you can warm up in the microwave or make your own with a long sock and some unhulled barley that you can pick up at the supermarket. At the end of a long day, it’s instant relaxation.

Be a Goof

Summer is made for letting loose a little. Skip with your kids, build a sandcastle at the beach, or rent kayaks and splash in the water for the day. Draw with sidewalk chalk. Have a picnic and bring hula hoops and a football to toss around.

Get Extra Sleep

A siesta is always refreshing and the restful effects can last for days. If you can spend extra time in bed in the morning or can hit the sheets a little earlier, you’ll boost your attention span, your mood, and your overall health.

Learn to Unwind

Nurses are never really off the job, so it’s sometimes tough to really relax. On those hot and humid days, grab a book or pop in some music and head to a cool spot. Be still and quiet and appreciate how different it feels from your typical work day.

Eat Seasonally

Summertime food is special. Juicy fruits and plentiful veggies in all hues are at every corner farmer’s market. Pasta salads, potato salads, fresh salsa, and cold soups taste even better eaten outside. A flaming-hot grill waiting for all kinds of seafood, meats, and veggies (even watermelon can be grilled) can keep your kitchen cool and inspire you to try lighter foods. Take advantage of the bounty of summertime. And whenever you can, eat alfresco.

Get Outside

Don’t let the season go by without enjoying some quality time outdoors. Take a beach yoga class, walk with your friends or by yourself, take in an outdoor concert, watch fireworks, learn a new bike path, try a new swimming hole, or climb a mountain. Whatever you do, just being free of four walls is refreshing and inspiring.

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Thriving as a Nurse in Underserved Communities

Thriving as a Nurse in Underserved Communities

Many rural and urban communities face a shortage of qualified health professionals to meet the population’s needs. These underserved communities face unique challenges and nurses working in these areas need unique skills to meet those challenges.

What’s it like working as a nurse in an underserved community? What skills and qualities should nurses have in order to succeed in this area?

Amanda Buccina, BSN, is an RN for the Street Outreach Nurse Program for WellSpace Health in partnership with Sutter Health. She says that nurses should have a passion for working with underserved communities, possess strong coping skills, and understand the importance of self-care. She also notes that nurses working with underserved populations should be interested in and willing to make deep connections with people from all walks of life.

If you are thinking about pursuing a career as a nurse in an underserved area, these tips will help you succeed.

Understand the Culture

Erin G. Cruise, PhD, RN, NCSN, associate professor, Radford University School of Nursing, who has worked in public health and school nursing in rural areas and small hospitals for more than 10 years, says that nurses wishing to work in rural, underserved areas, and/or with vulnerable populations need to have a good foundation in clinical skills, organization, and communication. Cruise also emphasizes the importance of understanding the cultural dynamics of the community.

“Small hospitals and community agencies generally found in rural areas are often part of a close-knit community,” says Cruise. “People know each other and they want to know the nurse caring for them on a more personal level.”

Cruise says that new rural nurses can be taken aback by the expectation of openness. “Some nurses are not comfortable with having their personal lives become an open book,” she says. “It can be a thin line between patients just being friendly and curious and the nurse feeling that he/she lacks the privacy and anonymity found when working in larger agencies and big cities.”

People in rural or small town communities are also more likely to ask questions about private health information regarding their neighbors. “While neighborly concern and curiosity are usually quite innocent, nurses in these settings must be very careful and familiar with HIPAA and their own hospital or agency policies on confidentiality to avoid sharing that information inappropriately,” warns Cruise.

Build Strong Patient Relationships

A typical day for Buccina includes walking and driving around Sacramento, CA, meeting with patients on the streets, without the convenience of a full clinical facility. She works hard at building trust with her patients.

“A lot of my job is relationship building,” says Bucinna. “I work to build trust and rapport with my clients so even if they don’t need me in that exact moment, we have a relationship and familiarity with one another. I’m there when clients do want and need support, like medical advice, an advocate at a doctor’s appointment, help getting into an alcohol or drug rehab program, or just general wound care.”

Provide Judgment-Free Care

Cruise notes that many vulnerable people lack the resources that allow them to manage their health effectively, and nurses should be prepared to meet these patients right where they are, without judgment.

“They may have low literacy, live in poverty, live in environments that are polluted, run down, or crime-ridden; and work in jobs with low pay and dangerous conditions,” says Cruise. “People in these situations will pick up on a disapproving attitude by the nurse and shut down, shut the nurse out, and be less likely to follow his or her health care directions. Nurses should adopt a caring approach. While not condoning negative or criminal behaviors, accepting clients as they are and demonstrating concern for their health and well-being are more likely to motivate them to listen to the nurse’s advice and make positive changes.”

Jan Jones-Schenk, national director of Western Governors University’s (WGU) College of Health Professions and chief nursing officer for WGU, encourages nurses working with underserved populations to avoid making assumptions about their patients.

“Don’t label or assume individuals who don’t follow prescribed advice are non-compliant,” says Jones-Schenk. “There may be financial, social, physical, or cultural reasons why individuals do not follow the advice given. In such cases, the problem can easily be that it’s the wrong advice for that patient. Taking a patient-centered approach means the advice given has to be something the patient thinks makes sense too.”

Jones-Schenk advises nurses to remain open to listening carefully to understand the barriers and limitations individuals may be facing.

Gain Mental Health Experience

Buccina says that her best advice for nurses considering working in underserved communities is to gain some experience in mental health in order to understand human growth and development from a psychological perspective, and to become well-versed in social issues in order to avoid judgment and approach the population from a place of knowledge and compassion.

Practice Self-Care

Finally, Cruise advises nurses working with vulnerable populations and/or in rural areas to find the time and space to take care of themselves.

“Because these communities are close-knit and vulnerable populations, they may mistake the nurse’s caring approach for a desire to have a more personal relationship. The nurse will have to set boundaries in a way that is kind and not perceived as rejecting of the client, yet allows the nurse to be seen as a professional and not just a friend,” says Cruise.

Nursing Careers Beyond the Bedside

Nursing Careers Beyond the Bedside

When many people think of a nurse, they most likely picture someone wearing scrubs and working directly with patients in settings such as hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. But there are nursing careers that don’t focus on providing direct patient care, but still greatly impact the health outcomes of communities.

If you’re a brand new nurse, a few years of clinical experience can be great training ground in gaining valuable first-hand knowledge of the issues, challenges, and best practices that nurses can only learn in the field. But keep in mind that there are many rewarding careers outside of clinical settings.

Here are a few careers to consider to take your nursing career beyond the bedside.

Leadership Roles

Nurses in leadership roles perform a wide variety of duties and need many skills beyond providing patient care. Positions in nursing leadership include nurse manager, health care administrator, or care manager. These roles are more administrative and require strong leadership, financial and strategic planning skills.

Nurses working in leadership positions manage nurses, create budgets for their departments, and develop, plan, and implement programs and procedures for improved patient outcomes.

If working in a leadership role interests you, be sure to develop your leadership skills early. Get involved with nursing associations and seek out leadership roles whenever you can. And be sure to look for opportunities to mentor other nurses. If you’re still in school, look for leadership opportunities within your student nursing association.

If you’re serious about a career in nurse leadership, consider earning an MS in Nursing Leadership degree.

Nurse Educator

If you are interested in one day teaching the next generation of nurses, consider a career as a nurse educator.

Nurse educators teach nursing to college students and practicing nurses in academic and/or health care facilities.

Nurse educators develop curriculum and must have a high level of nursing experience and expertise. You will be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, be an RN, and complete a graduate-level nurse educator program to succeed in this specialty.

Health Policy

If you have a passion for advocating for legislative change, a career in health policy may be for you. Health policy nurses work on a variety of public health issues such as tobacco control or care for the aging.

According to DiscoverNursing.com, health policy nurses work to create an overall healthier society through advocacy, research, and analysis. They work in health service research firms, legislative offices, health care provider associations, or hold elective office.

In order to succeed in health policy, you’ll first need to obtain a master’s degree in nursing and complete a 10-week health policy program. You’ll also need strong leadership, communication, and analytical skills.

Gain experience by getting involved in nurse advocacy as a volunteer. The American Nurses Association is a great resource to get started in advocacy work.

Nurse Recruiter

Transitioning from direct patient care to nurse recruiting can be a fast-paced and exciting career for nurses who are interested in the human resources side of health care.

In a nutshell, nurse recruiters screen, interview, and recommend candidates for open positions in the health care industry. Recruiters also provide career guidance to candidates, negotiate job offers and stay up-to-date on the latest job search trends.

Nurse recruiters possess strong communication and sales skills. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as a strong clinical background to gain entry into this field.

Thinking about career options beyond patient care can open up many opportunities for nurses and may just be the perfect fit for you.