With a respiratory virus pandemic surging through the world’s populations right now, the goals of the Great American Smokeout are as important and timely as they’ve ever been.
The COVID-19 virus can strike smokers and those with impaired lung functions especially hard, so the present is absolutely an important time to quit or to help your loved ones, colleagues, or patients with their quitting journey. The World Health Organization (WHO) offered this statement on its website, “Smoking any kind of tobacco reduces lung capacity and increases the risk of many respiratory infections and can increase the severity of respiratory diseases.”
Here are some facts about smoking from the American Cancer Society:
- About 32.4 million American adults still smoke cigarettes.
- Smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.
- Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.
- More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.
- Once you quit, your body begins to recover and returns to a healthier state.
Whether you’re a smoker or are just interested in how to help someone you know who is quitting, giving up smoking is one of the most important steps to committing to a healthy lifestyle. In addition to reducing the risk of cancer that is inherent with smoking, those who quit are able to reap the many benefits of giving up smoking–from better heart health to saving money on nicotine products.
Here’s what you need to know about quitting smoking.
“It’s Not Easy” Is an Understatement
Those who have quit say it’s one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. Smoking is physically addictive, and it’s also emotionally addictive. People who are trying to quit are breaking their body’s real craving for a substance that it depends on. But they are also breaking an ingrained habit that may have been used to fill a void whether it is to soothe, energize, distract, or relax. Tackling both of those at the same time is challenging, but millions of people have proven it can be done.
If You’re Trying to Quit
Talk to people who have quit to find what worked for them and then explore every option. Look at your habits so you can identify your triggers and be ready to deal with them. There are support groups, medications, and resources that can help—the WHO even has an AI approach to quitting. Find someone who can help motivate you and keep you going when it’s hard—whether that’s a friend, loved one, or a professional. Accept that quitting smoking is going to be as difficult physically as it is psychologically. You’re giving up something that is part of your daily routine.
If You’re Trying to Help Someone Quit
The decision to quit is a deeply personal one. You can offer support and distraction and can be a buddy, but it’s not up to you whether the person you’re supporting succeeds. If you’re trying to help someone who is quitting, talk about what will aid them the most. Do they want you to check in with them at certain times when the urge to smoke might be strongest (when they wake up, during work breaks, after meals) or do they want to be the one to reach out? Would it help if you set up times to go for a short walk or could find a few fidgets to keep their hands busy? Remember, if they don’t succeed the first time they try to quit, they aren’t alone. It takes most smokers more than one try to quit for good.
Taking the first step toward quitting is significant. Stating your intentions is half the battle—then it’s finding and following the best process to success. Join others during the Great American Smokeout and start your path to a healthier life.
One of the most appealing aspects of the nursing profession is the wide choice nurses have when deciding on a specialty. Depending on personal interest or experience, educational goals, or opportunities, nurses have the ability to work in virtually every location and with every population.
Nurses who choose the forensic nursing specialty are driven to offer medical and emotional care while also helping law enforcement. Forensic nurses specialize in treating patients who have suffered injury and trauma due to intentional violence or neglect.
According to the International Association of Forensic Nurses, forensic nurses treat those who are in physical and emotional pain and who are traumatized by what happened to them. Patients they see may have suffered domestic violence, sexual assault, or have been victims of random violence or a catastrophic event. They might have experienced severe neglect leading to health problems and emotional pain. Some nurses work with the perpetrators of violence and work with criminal offenders in a psychiatric forensic nurse specialty.
Because of the criminal nature of the injuries inflicted, law enforcement officials are often involved in these cases. Patients in the care of forensic nurses need compassionate and careful medical attention, and they are often asked to work with law enforcement to bring justice. Even if they want to provide details and tell their side of the story, doing so can trigger new trauma for patients.
Forensic nurses work with their patients to help them heal and recover, but they do so with a careful approach that never loses sight of the patient’s experience. While nurses provide care, they are also collecting evidence that can be used to help bring those who abused or harmed the victim to justice. Forensic nurses are often called upon to provide testimony about the care they gave, the injuries they saw and recorded and other details that may help investigating law enforcement and a legal team.
If this specialty is something that appeals to you, becoming a registered nurse is your first step. Many forensic nurses go on to earn nurse practitioner credentials and certification as well. And as a forensic nurse, there are many opportunities for you to continue to advance your education so you can help your patients most effectively. Since 1976, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nursing program has helped victims of sexual assault by offering compassionate healthcare while also collecting essential evidence. States implement their own programs, like this SANE program in Massachusetts and this SANE certification program in Texas.
Although no nursing specialty is easy or free from seeing trauma, a forensic nurse’s role sees significant trauma on a daily basis. To continue to offer the best nursing care possible, forensic nurses should be particularly mindful of their own mental health so they are able to cope with the impacts of violence and neglect they see every day.
Forensic nurses serve a vulnerable population that depends on the life-changing care they provide. If you’re motivated to help patients and have a commitment to justice, this is a good career path to explore.
Perioperative nurses are an essential part of any surgical team. This week’s Perioperative Nurses Week spreads awareness of this career path while also educating the public about this vital operating room role.
Nurses in this role fill a pre-op and post-op need while also remaining with the patient during a procedure. According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), they are the eyes and ears for the patient while a procedure is going on, but they are also helping prepare the patients emotionally and physically beforehand and helping them during the immediate recovery. They impart a sense of calm and caring while using precise nursing skills to constantly assess what’s happening with the patient.
In this role, nurses simultaneously gather vital patient health information, communicate effectively with the patient and the patient’s loved ones, and continually monitor the patient during all stages of pre-to-post op for a smooth and safe surgery. Periop nurses may do many tasks at once, but their focus on the patient must remain absolutely unwavering.
Because they are charged with monitoring the patient as they are going though surgery, periop nurses have to have a keen ability to know when something has changed. They remain alert for fluctuations in heart rate or blood pressure that will appear on the monitors. But they also must watch the patient to notice any signs of distress or change that monitors may not pick up like a subtle change in the patient’s breathing pattern or skin tone or muscle activity.
Periop nurses are the advocate for the patient at a time when they are most vulnerable and unable to advocate for themselves. An acute sense of perception and a dedication to patient care and advocacy are hallmarks of nurses in this role. Nurses who are with patients throughout a surgical procedure must also have excellent critical thinking skills and have the confidence in their professional skills to act immediately and not second guess what they are noticing.
If you’re a nursing student and thinking of this as a career, you’ll need varied hands-on nursing experience so you can develop your skills. Taking swift, decisive, and accurate action is part of the job and something the medical team and the patient depend on. If you think this career path matches your goals, you can begin building your nursing skills with this as a focus.
Aside from exacting medical skills, periop nurses also have a special ability to connect with people so they are able to help them through any anxiety about what’s happening. They have an innate sense topics that people want to talk about and that will help both soothe their nerves while also giving valuable information about who they are and what their lives are like.
This might seem like chit-chat, but it helps the nurse in a couple of ways. The answers to questions can give the nurse a few things to talk about as the patient is coming out of anesthesia and needs something familiar to grasp in conversation. A patient who told a story about a spouse or a pet will likely be happy to do that again in post-op.
Answers to other questions might also offer insight for the nurse as treatment plans are being figured out. Maybe a patient is concerned about getting medication or doesn’t understand some previous instructions. Periop nurses know how to get important information from patients that will help them recover faster and improve their outcomes.
Periop nurses have a valuable skill set that balances professional excellence with unsurpassed interpersonal communication. If you have periop nurses on your team, celebrate all they do this week. And if you’re a periop nurse, notice how your hard work makes a patient feel more relaxed while you know you are offering excellent care.
The week of November 8-14 honors nurse practitioners with National Nurse Practitioner Week. Nurses who achieve this professional status have plentiful and rewarding career opportunities to explore. As a nurse practitioner (NP), nurses have the flexibility and options to focus their practice in specialties that are most meaningful to them.
As nursing students consider their career paths, becoming a nurse practitioner is often a goal for nurses who want a degree of autonomy and who might enjoy the challenges of making many decisions in treating patients.
Because becoming an NP requires at least a master’s of science in nursing and a doctorate in nursing is encouraged, becoming an NP takes dedication to earning advanced degrees. If you’re considering becoming an NP, you don’t need to follow a direct educational path but you do need a commitment to earning those degrees.
Working as a registered nurse while you continue your studies to an NP gives you opportunities to find the niche of nursing that most appeals to you. Throughout your different roles, whether those are your early clinicals as a student or your first jobs after you graduate with a bachelor’s degree and assume a registered nurse (RN) role, you’ll explore many different specialties to find a good fit. Planning out your professional path helps you take steps toward each goal.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners is a national organization that supports NPs ability to practice independently. In some states, NPs are able to practice entirely independently in a solo practice if they choose. Other states require NPs to work under the oversight of a physician. NPs and physicians are able to diagnose patients and treat them as they consider the patient’s health and additional factors that may impact their treatment plans. Like a physician, nurse practitioners’ required education and advanced training allow them to become licensed to prescribe medications to patients, something RNs aren’t licensed to do.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, NPs should expect to bring in a higher salary that aligns with highly specialized nurse anesthetists or nurse midwives. A nurse practitioner makes an average salary of $115,800 (2019) which reflects their additional education and training. A registered nurse’s annual salary for the same year is $73,300. A licensed practical nurse earns an average of $47,480.
Within a NP path, nurses can choose a specialty that appeals to them. Many NPs become family practitioners and treat all ages and conditions. Others may specialize in the mental health and psychiatric specialties and others may choose to focus more on a specific age group (older adults or pediatrics). As you become more experienced in your career, you’ll develop important relationships with your patients, many of whom you’ll treat over a long time.
This week, celebrate your accomplishments and the changes you have made in the lives of your patients.
This year’s Urology Nurses and Associates Week raises awareness about the caring and compassionate work urology professionals do every day. Urology nurses provide medical care and act as a resource for patients going through a range of medical diagnoses and treatments.
Urology professionals help care for patients who have various conditions and diseases relating to the urinary tract and often the reproductive system as well. They may treat conditions that impact bladder control or those that are extremely painful, like kidney stones. Urology nurses also treat forms of cancer that involve the urinary tract or the reproductive organs that may be involved such as bladder cancer or prostate cancer.
Urology patients are sometimes reluctant to openly discuss their symptoms are they relate to topics many societies consider more private, such as incontinence or sexual dysfunction. Urology nurses are able to care for the patient with their medical skills, but also must work carefully to assess the patient and understand the full story of how their condition is impacting their daily lives. Even though kidney stones aren’t life-threatening, the repercussions in daily living can be far reaching and hard to cope with.
One of the ways urology nurses are able to build trust with their patients is by understanding their discomfort and helping them feel less alone. Many people aren’t going to discuss urinary or sexual symptoms with their family and friends, but someone who has become incontinent from surgery or a medical condition is experiencing a huge change in daily living.
As nurses begin to help the patient with pressing emotional and physical symptoms, they are also able to take on the role of educator for the patient and the patient’s family. They need to know what to do, what treatment options are available, and how they can cope with this new change.
Because urology nursing professionals complete extensive and targeted training, they are able to use their knowledge to help patients in the most crucial ways. They can deliver accurate information about the patient’s condition, the prognosis, and the current treatment plan. Because they work with patients in this area, they can also steer patients toward resources, products, or life hacks that can help them manage this stage.
As a professional urology nurse, certification is going to help you provide the absolute best nursing care you can by giving you extra information and keeping you current on the latest evidence-based practices. Organizations such as the Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates (CBUNA) provide this training and professional skills advancement. Nurses who are interested in this field may also choose to join a professional organization such as the Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates. Through this kind of organization, nurses find a community of like-minded professionals and a trusted resource for information and career guidance.
As Urology Nurses and Associates Week comes to a close, celebrate your professional career choice!