February celebrates American Heart Month and nurses everywhere have tools at their disposal to continue adding to their vast knowledge of heart health throughout the year. Whether you’re a nurse who specializes in cardiac care, one who works in other specialties, or a nurse considering making a career move into the cardiac field, many resources will help you find more information.
Nurses talk about heart health with patients because it has an impact on so many other health conditions and on a patient’s general quality of life. A healthy heart is critical to keeping the body functioning properly, and nurses are especially interested in helping healthy hearts stay that way. That might mean sharing education and resources so healthy patients are motivated to keep their blood pressure and cholesterol in check or in increasing their movement to keep their heart muscles strong. It also might entail assisting and educating patients who have any kind of cardiovascular disease or who have a genetic predisposition to it about lifestyle habits and medications that can help them manage and control their conditions.
How does cardiac care influence your nursing practice? If you’re interested in finding out more information to help your patients or to keep your own cardiovascular health on track, you’ll find resources that benefit your professional and personal life.
Here are a few heart-focused organizations that offer valuable resources.
Nurses who work with patients living with heart failure will find the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses to be a necessary connection. If you work with patients experiencing and managing heart failure, this professional organization will offer the kinds of resources, professional development, and networking that will simultaneously build your knowledge base while connecting you with nurses in the same specialty. Because folks living with heart failure face distinct challenges, AAHFN promotes the best care outcomes while continuing to advance nursing care progress.
The American Heart Association has many groups dedicated to cardiac health and the Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing (CVSN) is for nurses who work in the cardiovascular care field. Nurses who are interested in policies, educational change, industry advocacy, and groundbreaking research will find this organization’s wealth of information of great use. The CSVN offers guidance and resources directed toward many nursing needs–from nurses who want information to help patients improve their cardiac health to those who are looking for a mentor. It also offers clinical symposiums and potential funding resources for nurse scientists who are doing research.
If you work with patients who are impacted by cardiovascular disease, you can look to certification to help you provide the most current cardiac care. The Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (CV-BC™) is for nurses who have an RN and who want to increase their understanding of cardiovascular care. This certification is good for five years and, as with other nursing certifications, signals to the wider community that you have a commitment to your nursing practice and that you are equipped with cutting-edge knowledge of the best practices.
Cardiovascular health impacts patients on all levels–from prevention to disease management. Nurses who specialize in the field have a wide community they can learn from and share knowledge with during American Heart Month or at any time of the year.
No matter where you live, the depths of winter tend to bring out the armchair traveler in all of us. As new year’s resolutions to “do more” or “be better” begin to lose their luster and work or school responsibilities grind on, the idea of going somewhere–anywhere– becomes particularly appealing.
Even if you can’t get away right now, it’s never a bad time to begin planning where you might want to head to when the opportunity arises. Studies have shown that taking a vacation is good for your mental health, butplanning a vacation also has its own benefits. When your brain switches to planning ode–or armchair travel mode–anticipating where you’ll go, what you’ll do, and even just thinking of being in a different setting can all flip a switch in your brain and get you out of the rut you might be in.
Why take the time to plan a vacation that’s far off or that you might never actually go on? Planning travel helps your brain imagine new places and motivates you to learn about other areas, other cultures, or other foods. It gives you an opportunity to see how others live and what’s important to them–all of which can inspire change in or gratitude for your own life.
Have you always wanted to spend a week exploring a mega city like New York, London, or Paris? What about a new place like Dubai? Would you rather dive deep into the history of Athens or Beijing? Or does something like the big sky of Montana or Canada hold an appeal? Any of those places can get you out of your typical pattern and learning about a place different from where you are.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a noticeableuptick in Twitter searches that included the words coastal, beaches, and escape. From the New England shipping ports like Portsmouth where you can take aharbor cruise to learn about the area’s maritime history to days spent exploring theNewport mansions and envisioning the lives of America’s barons, the possibilities for learning rich history focused on what interests you feeds the escapist need. Looking into staying in sunny Hawaiian islands or envisioning the blue Caribbean waters can actually serve to bring your stress levels down. Frequent studies show that getting out in nature is good for your health and you might notice your heart rate slows down a bit just thinking about it.
If you’re thinking of a place but don’t think you’ll get there soon, armchair travel helps you create the adventure at home in ways that are fun and let you feel a little escapism. Involve all your sense to heighten your experience. Try out local foods from the place you want to visit. You can try your hand at a new recipe or, if you’re lucky enough, you might have different restaurants nearby that offer different cuisine choices. Watch movies or shows based in the location you have in mind. Listen to music from the area or in a different language. Check out the endless choices of travel blogs, tourism websites, and books to find out about the cultures, traditions, and history.
When you’re ready to hit the road on your next adventure, you’ll be well prepared with information and excited to embark on something that’s new but not completely unfamiliar. In the meantime, all your armchair travel will have managed to give your mind a break and your mental health a boost.
Critical Care Transport Nurses Day on February 18 brings attention to the vital work done by nurses in this specialty. Working on a flight or ground vehicle adds complexity to this fast-paced career, and the nursing industry is helping these nurses stay informed and educated throughout their careers.
Critical care transport nurses provide medical care to ill or injured patients as they are transported by flight or ground to facilities where they will receive additional care. The distinct environments require different training and certifications to meet the needs of transport nurses. This July will mark the 30th anniversary of the Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN). Ground transport nurses began taking the Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN) certification when it was introduced in 2006.
“This is a rigorous, scientific process done in consultation with a panel of ground and flight transport RN experts,” says Schumaker. “This process ensures the exams reflect current practice and roles for nurses in each specialty. So everything on the CFRN exam content outline is flight specific and everything on the CTRN exam content outline is ground specific. And now there are separate test item banks, too.”
The recent BCEN survey showed how critical care ground transport nurses work within incredibly complex environments and that they take great pride in their capabilities. What surprised you most about the findings (or perhaps reinforced what you already knew)?
The responses to [the survey] really underscored ground transport nurses’ pride and sense of accomplishment in being board certified in their specialty—and rightly so—and the significant ways certification contributes to their ability to be the best nurse they can be. Chief among these is how CTRN certification contributes to their critical thinking, confidence, clinical knowledge, and ability to provide expert care for their patients in the very dynamic and highly technical ground transport setting.
Ground transport nurses and their clinical partner, typically a paramedic, care for high acuity critically ill patients, sometimes over long distances, relying on their joint expertise and experiences and what’s in their specially-equipped truck until they get to their destination. They have to be at the top of their clinical game and prepared to provide life-sustaining and even life-saving care, and also know how to keep their patient and their team safe—all while they are on the move.
Nurses gave feedback about having wanting more specific CE content and BCEN responded by creating the BCEN Learn CE platform. Why is this so important for transport nurses’ ability to keep their certifications current?
CTRN- and CFRN-certified transport nurses, like all nationally board-certified nurses, make a commitment to know and stay abreast of the latest trends, advances, and best practices across their specialties. And that is no small feat.
Emergency, trauma, and transport nurses had been telling BCEN for some time that they wanted and needed more advanced and specialty-specific continuing education content to support their commitment to lifelong learning and help meet their certification renewal requirements. In response, we developed and launched the online (and now, award-winning) BCEN Learn platform in 2020 and offered our first regional, in-person CE conference, BCEN Learn Live, in 2022. The 2023 conferences will be held in Dallas in May and Charlotte, NC in November.
There are now 90 high-interactivity CE courses designed by and for nurses practicing across the emergency spectrum including in transport settings on the BCEN Learn platform. There are also more than two dozen free CE webinars, with a new title debuting each month.
Nurses interested in or practicing in transport settings can earn one free contact hour by listening to these free transport-specific webinars:
The shift in separating the credentialing exam content outlines and test item banks into ground- and flight-specific shows how dynamic critical care transport nursing really is and how important it is for nurses’ continuing education opportunities to keep pace. What is the biggest factor in the changing landscape for critical care transport nurses?
New clinical knowledge, new techniques and technologies, new equipment, evolving professional issues, and public health challenges are all influencing factors. The separate CFRN and CTRN exam content outlines and separate test item banks, underline the distinctions between the ground and air transport settings.
While board exam questions are updated and new ones are added on a rolling basis, BCEN conducts a highly scientific role delineation study (RDS) every five years to make sure the content and relative emphasis in our credentialing exams are accurate, current, and relevant with respect to the roles and responsibilities of nurses in a given specialty. Our most recent transport nursing RDS took place in 2019, and I fully expect the new knowledge, advances, and experiences that came about during the coronavirus pandemic will be apparent as we go through the 2024 transport nursing RDS.
In addition to transport-mode specific updates to major sections of the now separate CFRN and CTRN exam content outlines, mental health was added as a category of the CTRN certification because mental health issues are becoming more common in the ground transport environment, for example. In the CFRN certification program, the emphasis on resuscitation and “special populations” were both increased due to greater volumes of high acuity patients transported by air and to adequately address essential knowledge regarding the special needs of obstetrical, neonatal/pediatric, geriatric, and bariatric populations.
The increase in critical care transport certifications over the last three years is impressive. What factors influenced that increase, and what does that tell you about transport nurses’ commitment?
It is! The number of CTRN-certified nurses surged 19 percent in 2020, 29 percent in 2021, and 24 percent in 2022. We think several factors may have contributed including a growing recognition of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are unique to the ground transport environment and the volume of patients being transferred to facilities offering a higher level of care or specialty care (a trend seen long before the pandemic).
A solid 50 percent of the CTRNs surveyed reported doing more ground transports during the pandemic. Certain patients with COVID-19 needed to be transported by ground and not air and patients needed to be transferred to hospitals with available beds when local facilities were full.
Additionally, nearly two-thirds said having the CTRN credential contributed to their ability “to deliver the best possible care” for their patients with COVID-19. And that really speaks to a third, and maybe the biggest driver, which is a deeper appreciation of the benefits of nursing specialty certification to nurses, healthcare teams, and, above all, patients and their families.
What we know for certain is that CFRNs and CTRNs are highly committed to critical care transport nursing and their patients, and we couldn’t be more proud of their remarkable contributions.
Each year, PeriAnesthesia Nurse Awareness Week is celebrated in February (this year from February 6-12) and highlights the nursing care and work provided by perianesthesia nurses.
Perianesthesia nurses work alongside a patient as they are preparing for or recovering from a procedure that requires sedation. Nurses in this specialty are dedicated to patient safety and are responsible for monitoring and assessing patients as they move through the preparation and recovery processes.
Patients are often nervous when they’re having any kind of procedure and some are particularly anxious about anesthesia. As they conduct their range of duties, perianesthesia nurses are gathering medical and personal information from the patient, working with the team on the sedation process, and also working one-on-one with the patient to connect with them and keep them as comfortable as possible.
Knowing the entire process will be easier for the patient and the healthcare team if the patient is as relaxed as possible, the nurse will use communication skills to find subjects that a patient wants to talk about and will continually steer the conversation to those areas. Does the patient love to fish or have vacation plans they want to talk about? Maybe they have a habit like knitting or skateboarding or writing the next great novel–perianesthesia nurses will use questions they fine-tune over their years of experience to find that out. As the patient goes under sedation, that conversation will be calming. And perianesthesia nurses are already looking ahead to the patient’s period of recovery post-procedure to once again revisit those familiar topics. As the patient begins to come out of sedation, the perianesthesia nurse will be there with them and assessing them head-to-toe for any potential problems. As they are checking vital signs and looking for signs of pain, they will be talking with the patient to bring them to a more alert state.
As perianesthesia nurses are keeping a conversation going (even if it’s one-sided for a while), they will check to make sure the patient is breathing properly and that their vital signs are as expected, but they also use an extra level of awareness to look at everything from skin tone to muscle twitches to any indications of discomfort. Each patient will respond to anesthesia in a different manner, so these nurses will need to be aware of emotional changes or confusion as well as physical reactions including nausea or pain.
During pre- and post-procedure times, perianesthesia nurses must also extend that awareness to the entire area. As the patient’s advocate, they will be constantly monitoring equipment, surgical sites and dressings, and the patient’s comfort level.
And even though many people don’t realize the intense level of care they receive from a perianesthesia nurse, the care impacts their entire experience. Perianesthesia nurses will work after a procedure to communicate with the healthcare team about medications, recovery pace, or complications. They will need to conduct a comprehensive hand-off to the next nursing team if their shift ends before the patient is out of their care.
Perianesthesia nurses also communicate with families before the procedure to explain the process and what they can expect as the patient moves through the procedure and then they will communicate with them about post-procedure care, home care guidance, and expectations for recovery.
Once again, the nursing profession tops career lists that use metrics as varied as trustworthiness, salary potential, and job growth to come out with high marks.
Continuing its long-running streak, nursing ranked at the top of the most trusted professions for the 21st straight year in a recent annual Gallup poll. According to Gallup, those in the healthcare industry garnered the top spots overall, but the nursing profession beat out all other professions on the list with 79 percent of respondents voting nurses the most trustworthy. Medical doctors came in second with a 62 percent rank, and pharmacists came in third with 58 percent. Since 1999, when the Gallup poll began producing the rankings annually, nurses have appeared at the top of the list (except 2001 when firefighters earned the top spot).
The latest results find nursing’s numbers are down slightly from last year’s 81 percent and 2020’s record high of 89 percent, which reflects an overall decline in the top scoring of many of the listed healthcare professions. Despite the change, nurses everywhere should be proud of these poll findings. Poll respondents felt that nurses rated high or very high in areas such as ethics and honesty, and those numbers are significantly greater than the rest of the top industries.
And in a recently released U.S. News & World Report 100 Best Jobs list, jobs within the nursing profession earned high placement based on job demand and median annual pay. A nurse practitioner earned #2 spot in the best jobs list based on the high salary ($120,000) and the projected job growth. Registered nurses earned the #17 spot on the list for similar qualities. According to the list, RNs earn a median salary of $77,600 with a projected job growth of nearly 200,000 jobs opening up in the next xxx years. A nurse anesthetist role came in at #25 with a high median salary of $195,610 and an expected job growth of just over 5,000 new jobs.
As the nursing industry goes through varying changes for academic requirements, staffing issues, and workplace changes and challenges, nurses say patient care remains at the forefront of every day. The continuing need for nurses in healthcare facilities and home care settings remains high, as does the need for nurses in administration and government who will take leadership roles and help shape the policies and guidelines that will impact nurses’ working conditions and patient care.
Because of their on-the-job work, nurses know what other nurses need to thrive at work and to take care of patients in the best way possible, so bringing a diverse, experienced, and dedicated group of nurses into these kinds of roles is essential to nursing’s future.
As these statistics show, a career in nursing is one that is admired and respected and also offers professional growth and a high financial return.