Honoring Radiology and Imaging Nurses

Honoring Radiology and Imaging Nurses

The April 12 celebration of Radiologic and Imaging Nurses Day (also known as Radiology Nurses Day) honors nurses who specialize in areas of radiology nursing. Sponsored by the Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing (ARIN), this event helps raise awareness of this role and offers an opportunity for nurses to celebrate their accomplishments in this fast-paced, complex field.

In 1981, ARIN was founded to represent and advance the role of nurses in radiology. According to the ARIN website, nurses in this specialty work in areas as varied as neuro/cardiovascular, interventional, ultrasonography, computerized tomography, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance, and radiation oncology.

Minority Nurse recently interviewed Martha M Manning BSN, RN CRN, and president of NEC-ARIN 2020-21, the New England chapter of ARIN to find out more about this nursing specialty.

What led you to your career as a radiology nurse?

My mother was a nurse and loved it. It was a career she chose to give up to raise her family of nine children but she kept up with her nursing journals and her colleagues still in the field. She always loved it. I believe nursing is a gift and helping people was a driving force in becoming a nurse for me. I graduated in 1984 from Middlesex Community College with an associate’s in nursing. I began my career at Lowell General Hospital in 1985 and started in the Radiology department in 1997. I earned my bachelor’s of science in nursing from Rivier University in 1995. Earning my degree has equipped me to be a better nurse. After all of those years and all of the experience, I had I still had things to learn.

Please tell me a little about the diversity on your team and why that’s important for your team and your patients.

I began as one of the first nurses in radiology. I was floated down from our surgical day care unit and saw a need for nursing presence. Joint Commission was noticing radiology departments and the need for continued nursing care for inpatients in the area. I fell in love with the people of radiology, the work they did and have never looked back.

As we expanded from a team of one to a team of ten we’ve organically become more diverse through our focus on providing the best patient care. Our hiring is aimed at providing an excellent patient experience, which has naturally led to diversity in experiences, backgrounds, races, ethnicity, and gender. Our diverse and well-rounded team is an outcome of our process of hiring the best candidates to serve our patients.

It sounds like nurses need experience in varied areas before they take on a role as an imaging nurse. What are some of the complexities imaging nurse’s work with and how does prior experience prepare nurses for this work? 

Interventional radiology is an extraordinary field, and imaging nursing is growing with it. The acuity of patients that are on the procedural table now requires an experienced critical care nurses education and background.

The team can be called in to stop bleeding from a hemorrhaging splenic arterial bleed or a post-partum hemorrhage. Everyone needs to know their role, critical and accurate nursing assessments are vital to the success of the cases. It takes time to develop cardiac rhythm and hemodynamic monitoring skills and assessments that need to be second language to the IR nurse. Compassion is so important too! Consensus on hiring is important to our culture of respect and professionalism.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am currently the clinical manager of the IR and imaging nurses at Lowell General Hospital. I do love making a difference. Sometimes it’s with patients and now it’s often with staff, too. Good management makes for a good team. Mutual respect enables us to practice in an environment that supports growth and looks for opportunity to improve.

How has your involvement with NEC-ARIN helped you professionally and personally?

Yes. I believe membership to a local or national organization as well as certification in your specialty improves professional practice. Position statements, scope, and standards of practice are important pieces of our growing practice.

You will find IR and imaging nurses in every hospital today. We are in IR suites, in radiology waiting rooms, CT rooms, and US. We are here to support the radiology departments and the inpatient nurses who send their patients from their rooms for procedures and exams. We comfort, educate, and assess people of all ages and background…and we love what we do!

WOC Nurses Manage Complex Cases

WOC Nurses Manage Complex Cases

Today begins Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) Nurse Week which runs April 11to 17 this year and brings a focus to WOC nurses who care for patients with a wide range of wounds and conditions.

Sponsored by the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN),  this week promotes the work WOC nurses do in their daily interactions with patients and as policy influencers on a local, national, and global scale. As nurses who care for those with incontinence (fecal or urinary), ostomies, or wounds that are non-healing, WOC nurses must rely on their ability to think critically, pivot when things change unexpectedly, and remain committed to lifelong learning for the best patient outcomes and the greatest career satisfaction.

WOC nurses fill many roles as they act as advocates for their patients, educators for patients and their loved ones, resources for their healthcare teams, and leaders in the areas of policy and protections for patients with these varied conditions. Because wound, ostomy, and continence nurses understand the conditions and the physical and emotional challenges all wounds bring, they are able to create meaningful and lasting change in the healthcare system.

Nurses can participate in all levels of advocacy to help patient outcomes and also to protect nurses in the industry. The WOCN suggests writing to a legislator, spreading awareness through social media channels, or meeting with representatives to inform them of concerns or challenges facing nurses and patients in this area. WOC nurses can also act as resources for their local communities by offering educational seminars about healthcare conditions, assistance options, and even current research and progress.

WOC nurses who value the constant learning their jobs provide are able to find different avenues to advance their expertise. As with other nursing practices, becoming certified as a WOC nurse is essential to providing the best patient care possible. The Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Certification Board offers information on how to begin. As a WOC nurse, certification is available in several areas depending on your specialty and focus including  wound, ostomy, and continence care; foot care; advanced practice wound, ostomy, and continence care; and recertification that’s needed every five years. Options are also available through the National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy and the American Board of Wound Management. As with most certification paths, you’ll need to have experience in wound care before you apply for the certification exam, and it’s helpful to have general nursing experience in a related area as well.

Wound care expertise is in high demand, and nurses in this specialty will treat all kinds of complex wounds from a tube to a burn to diabetic wounds to surgical wounds to pressure wounds. Nurses help patients and their healthcare teams manage the care of their wounds so the body can heal properly and prevent infection.

The patient burden for coping with wounds, which are sometimes exceptionally painful, can’t be understated. Nurses will also navigate through the emotional and psychological supports of wound management so patients will be able to have healthy outcomes where risks of infection and pain are as minimal as possible. They will work closely with patients and often form close bonds as they help treat long-term or chronic wounds and conditions.

If you’re a WOC nurse, take this week to celebrate your strong influence on your patients and to even spend some time learning something new in your field through a seminar, a new journal, or a discussion with nurses in your network or members of a professional organization.

Poison Control Efforts Are Important for Home and Work

Poison Control Efforts Are Important for Home and Work

As spring makes its arrival across the nation and motivates some spring cleaning, this week’s National Poison Prevention Week is a good time to reassess your living and working space. The third full week in March calls attention to the changes everyone can make to prevent poison control accidents.

 

National Poison Control Hotline 1- 800-222-1222

 

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), preparation is the key to preventing accidents and knowing what to do if they do happen. As a nurse, you can help those around you and spread the word that calling poison control and emergency help is the best first step in any suspected poisoning. Even if you have a question, calling poison control will put you in touch with experts who can help.

The National Capital Poison Center says young children are particularly at risk for accidental poisonings, but it can happen to anyone. Batteries are a particular threat to young children and are often overlooked.

Safe at Home

Home safety checks are one of the most important steps people can take to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. If you periodically run through your home with poison control safety in mind, you’ll be able to remove potential hazards that are often unnoticed. If you have small children at home or who visit your home, paying special attention to smaller objects or less obvious threats is critical.

Store these potentially hazardous items out of reach of small children:

  • medications, both prescription and over the counter
  • all household chemicals (laundry, cleaning, ironing, workshop, etc.)
  • personal care products including nail polish remover, sunscreen, hair products, contact lens products, mouthwash
  • bug spray, lawn chemicals, plant food
  • hand sanitizer and wipes
  • batteries
  • alcohol and tobacco products, vaping items

Make sure any bags containing these items are also out of reach.

Safe at Work

As a nurse, you’re around potentially hazardous products throughout your working day. Try to be an advocate for poison control safety for your colleagues and for patients as well. Rigorous safety protocols are often in place for patient care and medication storage and delivery, but periodic assessment of processes is always worthwhile.

At work, cleaning chemicals are a potential problem, so it’s important for your staff to know that mixing chemicals can cause fatal vapors quickly.

First Aid

As a nurse, you’re familiar with first aid and poison control safety measures. But do your friends and family know what to do in an emergency? Equipping them with some basic guidelines can help them know the proper way to act if they’re ever in a possible poisoning situation.

The Health Resources & Services Administration offers these tips to familiarize people with what to do in an emergency. Because poison can be ingested by swallowing or inhaling or by absorption through the skin or eyes, it’s essential to know what to do to prevent causing additional harm. There are even instances when people should not administer any first aid themselves and should wait for professional care.

If something happens, you don’t want to have to search for the number to call. Post the Poison Control Hotline number 1-800-222-1222 in prominent places in your home, where you work, and notice if it’s posted in any daycare, elder care, camps, schools, or clubs where you or your loved ones frequent. You can also text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your mobile phone.

GI Nurses Promote Health, Awareness & Prevention

GI Nurses Promote Health, Awareness & Prevention

As GI Nurses and Associates Week begins on March 21, GI nurses are reflecting on the past year and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their practices. Sponsored by the Society for Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA), this week helps honor the nurses in this specialty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a direct impact on GI nursing and SGNA has resources to help nurses. While many initially thought COVID-19 was an acute respiratory virus, the year has revealed many patients presenting with severe gastrointestinal symptoms, some of which persist long after the initial recovery. GI nurses are also managing the safety concerns for themselves and their patients. And many GI procedures were delayed due to the pandemic’s impact.

Within this nursing specialty, gastrointestinal nurses can find many subsets of the field that interest them. There are opportunities for nurses to work with pediatric patients and the elderly. They can focus on cancer treatment and care or on endoscopy and surgical practices and procedures. And they are able to work with patients in inpatient and outpatient settings for conditions including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis or GERD and other digestive disorders.

As a GI nurse, you may even opt to pursue an academic or research role to help find new treatments and discoveries to help GI patients. These options allow nurses to work in an area that really interests them and where they feel they can make a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life.

This week occurs during a month devoted to Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a disease that directly impacts the work GI nurses do. As colorectal cancer cases in young adults increase, GI nurses are excellent advocates for their patients to learn how to manage the diagnosis and treatment while living with the emotional and physical impacts of this disease.

Gastroenterology nurses can use many available resources during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to begin conversations with their patients. They can talk about warning signs and symptoms, family history and other risk factors, the critical timing of screening, and the importance of a healthy lifestyle for everyone, but particularly those at a higher risk for colon cancer.

You’ll be an essential member of many teams that will depend on your clinical expertise in gastroenterology and your knowledge of the patient. As with any nursing specialty, gaining certification in your area of specialty will allow you to increase your knowledge and then put that into practice to offer the best patient care.

As a certified GI nurse, your leadership will be an asset to your organization as well and may inspire other nurses to follow the same path. Your certification brings you expertise that will help you work for policy change that can make life easier for GI patients, help bring improved safety for GI nurses, or raise awareness of GI disorders.

GI nurses also hold a special empathy for those in their care as they hear stories of pain and discomfort and the indignities GI patients sometimes deal with. As a caring provider, you know your nursing practice will help you develop close bonds with your GI patients. Those bonds provide the kind of meaningful connections that give GI nurses a great deal of job satisfaction.

March 19 Celebrates Certified Nurses Day

March 19 Celebrates Certified Nurses Day

On March 19, nurses around the nation are celebrated for earning a nursing certification distinction in a specialty field. Each year on this day, the American Nurses Credentialing Center supports Certified Nurses Day recognizes the dedication of nurses who pursue additional training in their area of expertise so they can provide the best patient care possible.

Certified Nurses Day falls on the birthday of Margretta Madden Styles, RN, EdD, FAAN, a nurse leader and educator who is considered the driving force in nursing certification. Styles was a pioneer in drawing attention to the importance of nurse certification and what is means for high-quality nursing practices and  improved patient outcomes. A 1954 Yale graduate, Styles, who was known as Gretta, eventually served as the dean of the School of Nursing for the University of California San Francisco, and gained international acclaim for her advocacy for certification to advance the nursing practice. Styles died in 2005, but her legacy continues to inspire the certified nurses in the United States to this day.

Nursing certifications improve nurses’ skill sets, expand their employment prospects, raise their salary potential, and also elevate the nursing industry as a whole. Individually, nurses who are certified are recognized for the additional time and effort they spend to gain more knowledge in their specialty. And nurses are able to obtain many certifications—they are not limited to just one. Certification helps bring you the understanding you’ll need around practices and processes in whatever area you choose. For instance you may decide to obtain certification in adult gerontology, oncology, nurse leadership, gastroenterology, med-surg,  wound care, or diabetes care. The dozens upon dozens of choices available will likely meet whatever interest or specialty you’d want.

To become certified, you’ll need to be a licensed RN. Depending on the certification you are going for, other prerequisites vary by program and by state. In some instances you’ll need to have an advanced degree or a certain number of practice hours in that specialty. Each certification will cost a fee to take, and some employers will cover this fee, or part of it, if you ask. And because certification is based on the idea that having up-to-date knowledge is crucial to excellence in nursing, you’ll need to renew your certification periodically (and that also varies with the specific certification).

Lots of nurses worry that certification is a long process or that they could suffer professional backlash if they don’t pass the exam. As a nurse, you can choose to seek certification without your employer knowing your plan, so you won’t have to worry about telling your supervisor the results. On the other hand, oftentimes the encouragement you’ll receive from your colleagues can inspire you to continue on this path and get through the hard times. And lastly, when you are taking a certification exam, you’re being tests in areas that are already familiar to you.

As a nurse, certification boosts the knowledge you already have and sharpens your skills so you’ll improve your own nursing practice on a daily basis. In the larger picture, as a professional, you’ll gain specific expertise in your area of practice and thus you’ll be looked to as a leader in that area. As you gain a higher professional standing, more opportunities for additional responsibilities and leadership positions may open up for you as well.

On this year’s Certified Nurses Day, celebrate the efforts of nurses who have become certified and have improved their work and their patient outcomes each day. If you’re thinking of becoming certified but are delaying starting the process, the best time to begin is now.