A critical part of treating patients is identifying exactly what injuries and ailments they are struggling with. To that end, medical professionals rely on a great many diagnostic tools to help them accurately identify patients’ health conditions. Some of the devices are multipurpose, while others are more targeted—but all are important tools in a clinician’s diagnostic kit. Here are nine essential diagnostic tools that all clinicians in scrubs should have.
No clinician can be without their trusty stethoscope. These devices allow medical professionals to listen to the heart, lungs, and other vital organs, helping them give more accurate diagnoses and better treat patients. There are many different types of stethoscopes available for every budget. If you’re looking for something more technologically advanced, you can also look into getting a Bluetooth stethoscope, which offers capabilities such as audio amplification and recording clips. Bluetooth stethoscopes are an especially good choice for providers who have hearing impairments or loss, and thus struggle to use a traditional stethoscope.
2. Pulse Oximeter
Once an afterthought in some circles, pulse oximeters are now experiencing a time in the spotlight due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Low oxygen levels are an early warning sign that medical intervention may be needed in COVID-19 patients who otherwise seem to be doing well.) Pulse oximeters measure the percentage of blood hemoglobin carrying oxygen by passing a beam of red light through the fingertip and assessing how much light is absorbed. You should absolutely have one of these diagnostic tools in your nursing bag, especially if you work with patients who are likely to have COVID-19.
Speaking of tools that can be used to diagnose coronavirus, you should definitely have a thermometer on hand as well. There are many different types of thermometers available. The fastest and most accurate is a digital thermometer, which uses a metal probe to take the temperature, which it displays on the digital screen readout. However, infrared “no touch” forehead thermometers are also getting a lot of attention these days, as they cut down on the risk of transmission. Whatever type of thermometer you decide on, make sure that you thoroughly clean it before and after each use, even if it doesn’t actually touch the patient.
4. Reflex Hammer
The humble reflex hammer can be used to diagnose joint reflexes as well as bone fractures in the joint. Go with the classic triangle-head Taylor hammer, or choose from several other designs, such as the Buck and Babinski hammers. Most hammers cost only a few dollars apiece, so there’s really no excuse for not having one among your clinical supplies.
5. Blood Pressure Cuff
Blood oxygen levels aren’t the only thing about the blood that can help you diagnose health conditions. Blood pressure is also an indicator of heart disease and stroke risk. Combined with a stethoscope, a traditional blood pressure cuff will help you measure both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Alongside a stethoscope, this is one of those diagnostic tools that you should never be without.
Another affordable yet essential diagnostic tool, penlights are used to assess pupil response and check for injuries such as a concussion. They can also be used in a pinch to look into cavities, such as the ears and throat, though dedicated diagnostic tools are more convenient for that. Most pens come with a pupil gauge on the side to help clinicians quickly assess pupil size. If you tend to lose your penlights, look for one with a clip that will help it stay put.
An ophthalmoscope is a specialized light that allows you to look directly into a patient’s eyes—or rather the back of their eyeballs—which can be used to assess the health of the retina, optic nerve, vasculature, and vitreous humor. This specially designed light lets clinicians examine the eye without blinding the patient. Ophthalmoscopes are often sold in a set with otoscopes. These two devices should not be confused for each other, despite the similar names. Otoscopes should not be used in place of ophthalmoscopes and vice versa, as the eye is a very delicate organ that needs to be examined carefully.
An otoscope is a specialized light that clinicians use to examine the ears and sometimes also the throat. The light is focused using a disposable plastic tip, which also helps protect the light from unsanitary ear wax and other substances. Using an otoscope, clinicians can look directly into the ear to assess the health of the eardrum and ear canal, as well as check for any blockages or injuries. Make sure to change out the disposable tip after each time you use the otoscope to keep yourself and your patients safe.
9. ECG Machines
Historically, ECG machines have been large, clunky and expensive. However, thanks to technological advancements, ECG devices are now shrinking and becoming more portable and affordable. One especially exciting development is the Eko DUO Stethoscope, which combines the benefits of a digital stethoscope with the functionality of an ECG machine. With the DUO, you can listen to your patient’s heart and lungs and then immediately take a reading of their heart’s electrical signals. As technology continues to improve, we will no doubt see more and more accessible devices such as the Eko DUO stethoscope come onto the market for clinicians.
Diagnosing a patient isn’t always easy, but diagnostic tools can help aid the process and give more insights into a patient’s state of health. Whether you’re new to the medical field or a seasoned clinician, you should definitely include these nine diagnostic tools among your clinical supplies.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, telehealth visits conducted via video calls are becoming more common than ever, and more insurance companies are covering them, too. The annual physical you once had in a doctor’s office may now be taking place over your webcam instead. You may be wondering how you can make the most of your telehealth appointment and make it easier for your nurse, doctor or other professional in cotton scrubs. Here are seven things that you can do to improve the experience on both sides.
1. Know what you want to talk about.
Just as with an in-person visit, you should come to your telehealth appointment prepared to discuss your health concerns. Make a list of everything that you want to cover, and prioritize them from most to least important. If you’ve been exhibiting symptoms, track them in the weeks leading up to the appointment and keep a log of them so you can note any trends over time. Have your notes with you, as well as a working pen or another way to jot down things during the appointment. This will maximize your appointment time and help your doctor or nurse treat you more efficiently.
2. Test the telehealth service beforehand.
If you’ve never had a telehealth appointment before, download the software or create an account and log in before your appointment begins. You won’t be able to actually video chat your provider until the appointment starts, but you can familiarize yourself with the platform and make sure that your camera is working. Depending on what service your provider uses, you might also be able to message your providers, schedule an appointment without having to call and more. If you have any trouble with the platform, contact tech support and try to get it resolved before the day of the appointment.
3. Get a strong internet connection.
Video calls require a strong internet connection, so run a speed test to ensure that your internet connection can support your video call without dropping. If your internet connection is weak, you might need to ask other people in your household to refrain from streaming videos and other activities that take up bandwidth when you’re in your telehealth appointment. If your Wifi is still weak and you’re the only person on it, you might need to look into upgrading your plan, getting a better router or installing a signal booster to extend the range of the Wifi.
4. Choose a quiet room.
Selecting the right room is equally important to having a good internet connection. Choose a quiet space with a door that can close so you won’t be interrupted. If you have pets, put them in their kennels or a separate room for the duration of the call. Let your partners, roommates, and children know that you’ll be on a call and that they shouldn’t interrupt you. Make sure that the room is clean, double-check that the background behind you is plain and professional (a blank wall is fine) and confirm that you have good lighting so your provider will be able to see you clearly.
5. Log in early.
Don’t wait until the last minute to log into the platform in case you have any unforeseen technical difficulties. Five to 10 minutes before your appointment is supposed to start, get set up in your room and go ahead and log in. There may be a virtual waiting room where you can chill. If not, you can just sit on the platform. Try not to get distracted by social media or other websites. You don’t want to miss the start of your appointment! If you have any medical devices your provider will need to look at, set those out on the table so you can easily access them during the appointment.
6. Volunteer to offer feedback.
Many health care providers have only recently installed telehealth platforms, and may still be working out the kinks. You may receive a survey after your appointment asking you how the telehealth visit went. If you’d like to help your providers improve the platforms, be sure to fill that out and let them know how it went from the patient side. If they aren’t sending out a survey, you can suggest the idea to them, or offer to provide more informal feedback via email or another way. After all, the whole point of health care is to improve patient outcomes–so as the patient, your opinion matters.
7. Know when you need an in-person visit.
Telehealth is a great technology, and it offers many advantages over in-person visits. However, sometimes you simply need to see a medical professional in person. An emergency is an emergency, so if you have sudden chest pain, weakness on one side of the face or body, or sudden difficulty breathing, you need to go to the emergency room or call 911 immediately. Your doctor may also prescribe some in-person visits, such as bloodwork and other tests, that cannot be conducted virtually. Use common sense and schedule an appointment in the office when it can’t be taken care of virtually.
A nurse can’t listen to your lungs with their stethoscope via a telehealth visit, but there are many positive aspects of virtual appointments. Telehealth keeps both providers and patients safe from a contagion, and increases access to care for patients who have trouble leaving the house for one reason or another. If you’re new to telehealth, or just looking to have a good experience during your next appointment, follow the seven tips outlined here. Your provider will appreciate all the prep work that you did and you’ll be way more likely to have a positive telehealth appointment.
As if nursing wasn’t already tough enough, male nurses have to contend with a lot of negative, gender-based stereotypes whenever they don their cotton scrubs. These stereotypes make it more difficult for male nurses to do their jobs well, especially if patients are suspicious of their competence just because they’re male. Here are six male nursing stereotypes that need to be shattered.
1. All nurses are women.
While it’s true that women make up a very high proportion of active nurses, there are some men who work as nurses, too. Approximately 89 percent of nurses are women, and 11 percent are men. While this isn’t a high number, it does prove that not all nurses are women. Other numbers make it clear why nursing is an attractive profession regardless of your gender. The 2019 median pay for registered nurses was $73,300 per year, much higher than the median annual wage for all workers, which was $39,810. If you’re a man looking for a well-paying and fast-growing career in health care, nursing might be the ticket.
2. Nursing is an inherently female role.
Men are expected to be ambitious and career-driven, while women are expected to be caring and nurturing. As a result, caregiving activities are often associated with women’s roles. This includes child care, cooking, household chores, and tending to the sick. Some patients may assume that men lack the nature and bedside manner to be good nurses simply because of their gender, which just isn’t true. This stereotype is most apparent in OB-GYN specialties, since many female patients are uncomfortable with having a male nurse and don’t believe they can provide the care that they need.
3. Male nurses are failed doctors…
Since most nurses are female and most doctors are male, some people make the leap to conclude that any male nurses must have tried to make it as doctors, but couldn’t cut it. This stereotype is harmful because it treats nursing as inferior to being a physician, when, in fact, both roles are necessary to patient care. Without nurses to actually take care of patients and execute the day to day duties, doctors would be able to heal a lot fewer patients. Maybe a few people decided to enroll in nursing school because they couldn’t get into medical school, but the vast majority of nurses—both male and female—have deliberately chosen nursing.
4. …or studying to become doctors.
Some patients will also assume that any men wearing stretch scrubs must be doctors in training, a corollary to the above stereotype. They may ask male nurses how long they’re planning to work as a nurse before they become a doctor, or ask when they will be going to medical school. Again, this stereotype is fueled by the belief that nursing is inferior to practicing medicine. If patients make these kinds of statements, try to use it as a teaching moment to educate them about how nursing is not a gender-specific field and explain why nursing is just as legitimate as being a physician.
5. Men become nurses because it’s easier.
This stereotype is also related to the idea that being a doctor is superior to being a nurse. In this case, people believe that being a nurse is easier than becoming a physician and, therefore, assume that any male nurse was too lazy to try for a more rigorous health care career. Of course, as all nurses know, nursing is a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding career. No matter your gender, it takes resilience and toughness to make it as a nurse—and it is not automatically easier than any other health care profession.
6. Male nurses are a joke.
Media is to blame for this stereotype. Male nurses are either not shown at all, or they’re portrayed to be the butt of the joke. For instance, in the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents, Greg Focker (played by Ben Stiller) is a male nurse, and there are running gags throughout the movie that center on making fun of Greg precisely because he is a male nurse and doesn’t work in a more “masculine” profession. Treating male nurses as a joke, rather than taking them seriously, further contributes to stereotypes and undermines the serious work that nurses of all genders do.
These male nursing stereotypes harm male nurses and the patients they’re trying to treat. Help to do your part to dispel these myths by working to educate people whenever they express these stereotypes.
Whether your classes were newly moved online due to coronavirus, or you’ve been enrolled in an online class from the get-go, nursing students all over the world have suddenly found themselves taking classes remotely. To help with the adjustment, here are our nine top tips for acing your online nursing classes.
1. Don’t assume online is easier.
Just because you can wear sweatpants, it doesn’t mean that online classes are a walk in the park. Plus, if you dress the part and wear your nursing scrubs, you’ll get into the nursing mindset. Some people make the mistake of assuming they can coast through an online class, believing that it will be easier than an in-person class. While online classes are certainly different from in-person ones, they’re not easier, just hard in a different way. Believing that you can slack off in your online classes purely because they are online will quickly lead to a failing grade. Taking it seriously from the beginning is the best recipe for success.
2. Get the equipment you need to succeed.
No, we’re not talking about clinical supplies. Take stock of what technology you currently have and what you might need to invest in. You’ll most likely need a reliable computer and other tools such as an external monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard as well. Test your internet connection and make sure that it can handle steaming lectures, video calls, and other high capacity tasks—the last thing you want is your internet cutting out in the middle of a quiz. If your internet isn’t up to the task, you might need to upgrade your plan or get a new router.
3. Embrace the possibilities of technology.
Online classes may be new and exciting territory for many people. They offer many fantastic possibilities for interactive learning that simply aren’t possible inside a physical classroom. In fact, many in-person classes still assign work that must be done online prior to class because the interactivity element of online programs can’t be reproduced. Online classes also allow you to connect with a much broader range of people from many different geographic areas, expanding your nursing network.
4. Participate digitally.
The words “class participation” probably conjure up images of raising your hand in class and speaking out loud to the group. While participation is definitely a part of online classes, it takes a different form. Usually, it means group forums where students host discussions on specific topics. It’s not the same as talking in person, but this format can actually be advantageous for quiet people who hate having to come up with comments on the fly. Due to the asynchronous nature of these message boards, you can read the discussion, take time to think it over, and post your comment when you’re ready.
5. Create a work from home space.
Even if you like to work from coffee shops or libraries, odds are that you’ll end up completing at least some of your classwork from home. If at all possible, try to create a work from home area outside your bedroom (you don’t want to associate schoolwork with your sleeping space). If that’s not possible, then at least set up a desk and chair so you’re not working from your bed. Try to place it near a window so you can take advantage of natural light. Be sure to set up some additional lamps, too, in case you end up working a lot at night.
6. Manage your time well.
Time management is one of the trickiest things for students to master during an online course, especially if the classes are pre-recorded and can be watched on-demand. Some people are distracted very easily, especially when working at home. They have every intention of watching that anatomy lecture and then end up spending an hour cleaning the house and folding laundry. Set aside blocks of time to work on your online classes and mark them off in your calendar, just like you would with an in-person class. Let your roommates or family know that you’re in school and ask them not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
7. Aim to turn your assignments in early.
Speaking of time management, turning in assignments early can help a lot with that. For in-person classes, you have to wait for the appointed day to turn in a physical paper. That’s not as much of a consideration for online classes. It’s a good idea to set a goal for yourself to turn in each assignment 1-2 days in advance. Even if you fall behind, which will happen eventually, you’ll still have that cushion built in so your assignment won’t truly be late.
8. Back up your work.
You should be doing this regardless of whether your nursing school classes are online or in person, but it’s doubly important for digital classes. Each week, if not each day, back up your work to an external hard drive as well as a cloud storage service such as Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive. If you must fill out quizzes or essays online, consider writing it in a separate document and then paste it into the field so you don’t lose your work if the submission doesn’t go through.
9. Ask for help.
Just because you’re physically alone in your house while you watch lectures doesn’t mean that you don’t have resources available to help. Your instructors should be able to help you via email, phone, or even video chat, and you also have your classmates to lean on. You might want to consider forming an online study group that meets regularly during Zoom calls to keep each other accountable. Don’t forget to explore any other resources offered for your classes, such as digital libraries.
Whether you’re taking online nursing classes by choice or not, digital courses are a new reality for today’s nursing students. Follow these nine strategies to knock your online nursing classes out of the park.
If you hadn’t heard of telehealth before the coronavirus pandemic, you probably know about it now. Medical providers are trying to move as many of their appointments to virtual means as they can. While telehealth options have been around for years, this is the first time it’s been implemented on such a wide scale. Since many people want to know exactly what telehealth is and how it works, we answer all your telehealth FAQs. Ever wonder about security concerns and how providers diagnose symptoms like the coronavirus via video call? We’ve got you covered.
What types of telehealth are available?
There are three main types of telehealth interactions that you might have with your provider. They are:
Live consultations, which are usually held over video conferencing.
Asynchronous messaging, where you send your provider text or pictures and they respond as they are able.
Remote monitoring, when the patient uses at-home devices to measure vitals such as blood glucose and then sends them to a provider for an examination.
A telehealth appointment usually refers to the first option, i.e. scheduling a video call with your provider (white lab coats and nursing scrubs not required), but your telehealth interactions will usually span all three categories.
Is telehealth secure?
Given all the privacy concerns surrounding technology, many people are understandably concerned about the security of their virtual visits. The security will vary depending on the service(s) that your provider uses. If your doctor is part of a larger hospital network, they may contract with a major telehealth provider or use a proprietary system, which should be more secure. Smaller practices may use more general-purpose virtual meeting software, such as Skype, which usually have looser privacy restrictions. Investigate the privacy policies of the services that your provider asks you to use, and you can also ask your provider about implementing security features such as encrypted data transmission.
Is telehealth covered by insurance?
This depends on your insurance, your provider, and the telehealth system they use. In general, telehealth services provided directly by a doctor or a hospital are more likely to be covered, though not always. Even if the virtual visit is covered by insurance, patients may still have a co-pay or another charge. If it’s not covered, patients can choose to pay out of pocket for the entire visit. Common per visit fees range from $50 to $80, while other platforms charge an annual membership fee. If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, thanks to some recent changes, Medicare will cover telehealth services and Medicare Advantage plans may waive or reduce cost-sharing.
How can I find a telehealth provider?
If you already have a provider, check with them first to see if they have existing telehealth or upcoming telehealth options due to coronavirus. Depending on what insurance you have, you might also be able to filter your provider search on the insurance portal to only show providers that provide telehealth options. Some telehealth service websites, such as Teladoc Health and MD Live, will let you search for providers on their website. If you find doctors via the latter route, you’ll need to contact their offices to see if they accept your insurance before you make an appointment.
What are some advantages of telehealth?
Telehealth offers several benefits over regular appointments. For one, it protects both patients and providers from the transmission of germs (very important in the age of coronavirus). It also eliminates the need to secure transportation and elder or child care. Plus, it reduces the time spent in waiting rooms and on the road. Telehealth appointments save patients and providers money as well as time. They also give providers more flexibility to set their own schedules and schedule appointments when it’s most convenient for everybody involved.
What are some disadvantages of telehealth?
However, telehealth does have some drawbacks. Obviously, some visits simply need to be completed in person. Patients can’t just grab a stethoscope and listen to their own vitals. There can also be issues of access, as not everyone has a smartphone or laptop and a stable internet connection, which are necessary for video consultations. The inconsistency of insurance coverage for patients and reimbursement for providers can also cause headaches and complicate what would ordinarily be a simple visit.
Can I get a prescription via a telehealth appointment?
Yes, doctors can use telehealth to write or renew prescriptions. If you just need a refill on an existing prescription, you might be able to request it by messaging your doctor and eliminating the need to book and pay for an appointment. If it’s a new prescription, or you’re not sure what medication you need, you’ll probably need to book a quick appointment for a diagnosis. They’ll still have to call in the prescription at a local pharmacy, so you’ll have to venture out to pick it up or arrange to get it delivered.
Can coronavirus be diagnosed via a telehealth appointment?
Because the symptoms can vary so widely from patient to patient, and also overlap somewhat with those of other common infectious diseases (including the flu), the only way to confirm that you definitely have coronavirus is to get a test that involves taking a swab in person. However, you can use a telehealth appointment to discuss your symptoms with your doctors and determine whether you need a test or if you’re just suffering from allergies. In fact, many hospitals have set up a coronavirus hotline specifically for this purpose. Your doctors can also talk you through quarantine best practices and how to keep those around you safe.
If you need to talk to your doctor right now, odds are that you’ll be making your visit virtually via telehealth services. Keep these FAQs in mind to make sure that your visit is covered by insurance and your privacy is secure. Welcome to the future of medicine!