Marking Orthopaedic Nurses Week

Marking Orthopaedic Nurses Week

National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses logoOrthopaedic nurses know that when problems with joints and muscles strike, they can impact the quality of life in a significant way. Nurses in this specialty are there to diagnose and treat patients who have conditions ranging from an injury needing a short-term recovery to longer, chronic conditions including osteoporosis.

This week, orthopaedic nurses around the world are celebrating a week devoted to highlighting their nursing specialty with Orthopaedic Nurses Week. From October 30 to November 2, nurses can use this extra attention to promote this career path and to help educate the larger public about what orthopaedic nurses do.

As nurses in this career know, the duties of an “ortho” nurse are varied. From where they practice–in physician’s offices, hospitals, surgical care or outpatient centers–to the conditions they treat–from joint-replacement preparation and recovery to surgery to repair broken bones–ortho nurses have many career pathways to choose from.

Ortho nurses work with patients across the lifespan and whether they are working more closely with pediatric patients or elite athletes, they find the focus is similar. Joint and muscle issues can cause patients to experience pain and discomfort, can interrupt their activities of daily living, and can require new ways to adapt to performing tasks. Ortho nurses are particularly adept at helping their patients recover as they can share best practices to help move recovery forward or tips on managing what could be symptoms of chronic disease.

Orthopaedic nurses must be experts in the skeletal and muscular system, so they know how a problem with one joint could have a widespread impact on other areas of the body. Nurses who are especially fascinated with these areas will find a natural fit for orthopaedic nursing and will find gaining experience will help them build on the foundation they received as nursing students. Professional ortho nurses will find excellent resources through the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses.

The Orthopaedic Nurses Certification Board offers three separate credentials for nurses who want to attain more expertise in their specialty. With the ONC®, OCNS-C®, and ONP-C®, nurses will achieve the most up-to-date knowledge and practice in musculoskeletal health. Certification in any specialty is a professional credential that signals to the public and to peers that a nurse is dedicated to gaining the top skills and knowledge related to a specific area of nursing. Ortho nurses work in a fast-paced environment and so continuing to stay current on the latest developments and guidelines around conditions, equipment, and practices will only help them provide the best patient care possible.

If ortho nursing interests you, spending some time shadowing or working on an ortho unit will offer an understanding of the day-to-day challenges and joys of this line of work.

Why Financial Planning Matters to You

Why Financial Planning Matters to You

a stack of pennies with a small leafy plant growing out of it for financial planningFinancial planning takes time and effort, but the end results of a good financial plan can be life changing. Planning for your financial future–both immediate and long-term–might not be as fun as planning or other things  in your life, but the investment in your time will reap real dividends in both money and stress reduction.

Pablo Oliva, a wealth advisor with Northsight Wealth Management, LLC, says that financial planning isn’t something that only wealthy people need. “In short, everyone needs some kind of financial planning,” he says. “I always think of financial planning as having a game plan for every dollar you touch. Knowing where your money is going and how it can be used in a future date to buy a home, pass on a legacy, or pay for college are all parts of the financial planning process.”

Oliva, who frequently works with nurses, says that financial planning is not a one-and-done task, and that it can change depending on your own path. “Financial planning is a multi-step process that involves investments, risk management, estate, and tax planning,” he says. “The complexity of the financial planning process increases as our family dynamics change, assets grow, and needs change, but the fundamentals remain the same.”

And a financial plan isn’t always an intricate or involved process, but it will take some thought so you can consider what you’ll need funds for–with  retirement planning, college and higher education planning, debt management, and estate planning some of the common topics in financial planning.

The first place to start, says Oliva, is with a budget because that familiarizes you with how your savings, spending, and income all converge. “Knowing how much money comes in and how much money goes out is the foundation for creating a positive cash flow,” he says. “Sticking to a budget creates healthy money habits, which translates to saving for a big purchase, saving for retirement in a 401(k) or IRA, and planning for the unexpected, amongst other goals.”

Does even thinking about a budget unnerve you? As Oliva says, knowing about your own money is better than not knowing. “I am a firm believer in self-education,” he says. Sometimes, a cultural aversion to talking openly about money can have a huge impact on how folks think about financial planning. If you don’t feel up for the challenge, then getting professional help, even just to get you started, is probably helpful. It’s important to find the best professional if you choose that route. “Financial planning is something that anyone can do, but most elect to partner with someone to ensure all topics are covered,” he says. “As clients, we should all conduct due diligence on whom we entrust our financial futures and sometimes our life savings.”

Once everything is documented, you might be surprised to see where you are. “Most clients we work with are in a better position than they think,” he says. “Realizing the need to plan for 20+ years in retirement can be mind-boggling, but with the help of the right professional, most guesswork can be removed and realistic goals and expectations set. We understand that everyone sees money differently, and most changes are broken up into smaller, realistic goals over a reasonable period of time.”

If getting your financial life in order seems entirely out of reach, take some tips from  how you’d plan a trip. You don’t just walk out the door and go somewhere–you plan the time of day you’ll travel and the route you’ll take while adding in time for unexpected stops or weather snafus. You’ll probably look for the most efficient and cost-effective route. Then you might think of the expectations you have for the trip.

“A good financial plan is a roadmap to achieve what is important to each individual,” says Oliva. “The plan should also consider roadblocks and delays along the way and require periodical updates. Each financial plan is different based on the individual or family needs and should also change as their needs change with time.”

A legal disclosure from Northsight for this interview: Investment advisory services are offered through Northsight Wealth Management, LLC (NSMW), a Registered Investment Advisor. Northsight Wealth Management, LLC will only provide investment advisory services in jurisdictions where it is registered as an investment adviser or exempt from registration. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents. NSWM does not provide legal or tax advice.

Retirement Planning for a Secure Future

Retirement Planning for a Secure Future

white paper with "Retirement Plan" on it, on a deskWhen’s the last time you thought about your retirement finances? Busy nurses can’t be blamed if the answer is, “It’s been awhile.” But ignoring or paying little attention to your financial life before and during retirement will only shortchange you. Nurses, in particular, have situations such as per diem or travel contract work that can impact their savings and retirement plans. And for some nurses, talking about money is something entirely unfamiliar on a much larger level.

When Pablo Oliva, a wealth advisor with Northsight Wealth Management, LLC, was growing up, financial planning was not dinner-table conversation. “I am a first-generation immigrant, and we did not discuss money growing up,” he says. “Like many immigrant families, I did not learn about money until I started working in financial services in my early working years.”

Oliva says that he has a particular affinity for those who want to learn how to save for retirement and plan for life events, but who may not have an understanding of financial planning best practices. But someone without a complete understanding of financial tasks is still able to learn. Educating yourself about your financial standing is necessary, and getting help when you don’t understand something is essential. “After all, we all want to get to retirement and not have to worry about funding the following 20 to 40 years in retirement,” he says.

Starting conversations about finances can certainly feel awkward. “Growing up not talking about money allows me to empathize with others and help them open up about money,” says Oliva, who frequently advises nurses. “Seeking professional help for money-related issues should be second nature, such as visiting the dentist for a toothache or a mechanic for an oil change.”

No matter where you are in your career or in your retirement path, Oliva is optimistic about taking steps, any steps, toward a better future. “It is never too late to start,” he says, dispelling a common misconception. “I have often been told by individuals that they feel it is too late for them to start saving for retirement.” It’s true that the earlier you start, the more time you have to attain your long-term goals, says Oliva, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever too late to put money away.

Setting aside time is part of the process, so you can learn what tools and options are available to you. With long shifts and overtime, nurses often just want to enjoy the time off they have and don’t want to sort out a financial plan. But there’s lots on the table they also don’t want to let slip by including any options for matching or investing that their employer may offer. They also want to take advantage of their workplace benefits, which can include everything from financial advice to reimbursement for fitness costs.

And retirement planning is constantly changing based on life events or even global events. For instance, student loans have become front and center again because of recent changes. “Now that the COVID-19 federal student loan payment deferment has ended, most individuals will receive a higher payment than in pre-pandemic years, mainly due to higher earnings,” says Oliva.

As you think about your retirement plans and what actions you have taken or that you need to take, Oliva has some advice. “If you have not started saving for retirement, start today,” he says. “Most 401(k) or similar retirement plans offer a match component. Some employers still offer pensions and ancillary benefits such as a 401(k) student loan match.”

And if you decide to investigate anything that could impact your financial outlook, Oliva says caution should be your first reaction. “I recommend seeking a second opinion,” he says, “especially if something sounds too good to be true.”


A legal disclosure from Northsight for this interview: Investment advisory services are offered through Northsight Wealth Management, LLC (NSMW), a Registered Investment Advisor. Northsight Wealth Management, LLC will only provide investment advisory services in jurisdictions where it is registered as an investment adviser or exempt from registration. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents. NSWM does not provide legal or tax advice.

Infection Prevention Is Essential for Nurses

Infection Prevention Is Essential for Nurses

a graphic naming the various points of infection prevention including hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting, vaccination, PPE and injection safety

Infection prevention is one of the standards of nursing practice. Keeping infections from starting or from being passed along through contact is essential to keeping nurses and patients healthy. International Infection Prevention Week (this year marked on October 15-21) is an annual event to highlight the best practices to prevent infection and to bring awareness to the issue of infection prevention.

Infections are largely preventable, Marie Wilson, MSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC, an infection preventionist in the Quality Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and a chair of the communications committee for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). Wilson says her career path was determined in part by her time as an ICU nurse. “I saw too many patients become afflicted with infections as a result of the disease process or from care,” she says.

Education, says Wilson, is one of the top ways to help stop infection from spreading. “We saw a glimpse of this in the beginning of the pandemic,” says Wilson. There were constant reminders of hand washing, social distancing, and covering your face to prevent the spread of disease. “Those are all things we became very familiar with,” she says.

Hand hygiene continues to be one of the most important actions in infection prevention, says Wilson. For nurses, hand washing is a focused, professional step in patient care. What is important to remember? “Taking the time to observe the five moments of hand hygiene when you are interacting with patients and washing your hands at the right time,” says Wilson. When nurses do this, they model the right behavior for peers, patients, and their families as well.

But putting the best approaches into practice isn’t always perfect. Misinformation can work against infection prevention, even despite the best intentions. For instance, Wilson says there’s no need to reuse personal protective gear or masks when there’s not a shortage. Now, she says, supplies are available, so using new items is the best option. And wearing two masks, like a mask over an N95 that has been fit tested, can actually worsen any infection prevention as the top mask can negatively impact the fit of the N95.

Sometimes Wilson says she sees gloves used as a replacement for hand hygiene which is not effective for infection prevention.

And in a chaotic environment, nurses can forget to wash their hands. Or they might use an alcohol-based hand rub out of eyesight of a patient who then asks the nurse to wash their hands for reassurance. “Be receptive to feedback,” says Wilson. And although there seems to be debate about alcohol-based hand sanitizer versus soap and water for effectiveness, Wilson says they each are excellent–the biggest issue is to just use them. “In a healthcare setting, alcohol-based hand rub is preferable,” she says. “It’s easy to do and effective. When the hands are visibly soiled, use soap and water as the hand rub may not penetrate the heavily soiled areas.”

In addition to hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting areas with proper disinfectants keeps germs from spreading. But, says Wilson, be sure to know what you are using so it is the most effective cleanser and be extra careful to never mix cleaning agents. This is a great safety rule for nurses to pass along to patients, as the fumes created from mixing solutions that contain bleach and ammonia can be deadly.

Vaccines are also a top way to prevent disease and infection for individuals themselves and for the greater public. “They are so highly effective and protect people,” says Wilson.

Infection prevention has some basic actions, but the layers of it are complex and require constant attention. Wilson says she is grateful for all nurses do to help control infection and their persistence through the hardship, staff turnover, and burnout nurses have endured in the past few years. Their work continues to make a difference in infection prevention.

Hershaw Davis, Jr. Talks About Emergency Nursing

Hershaw Davis, Jr. Talks About Emergency Nursing

Early in Hershaw Davis Jr.’s career, an assignment to work as a floater in the emergency department changed his entire nursing career outcome. Now Davis MSN, RN, an emergency nurse at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and clinical faculty in the Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, is an established emergency nurse and says his career is an ideal fit.headshot of Hershaw Davis Jr. for emergency nursing

This week’s celebration of Emergency Nurses Week strikes a chord with Davis, who is also the co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of the Emergency Nurses Association. He has found a meaningful career in emergency nursing and is committed to helping the next generation of nurses succeed.

Early on, though, nursing could have passed Davis by. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says, “and didn’t see many male role models in nursing.” At the suggestion of a friend’s mother, he became a Certified Nursing Assistant and that’s where he first worked in the ED. “One day, they floated me to the emergency department and that’s all she wrote,” he says. “It was my speed and challenging and interesting. It was something that can keep me interested for long periods of time.”

Davis followed that by enrolling in an EMT program and then becoming an ER technician in a community hospital. Nursing school was followed by a nurse residency at Johns Hopkins’s emergency department which gave him the foundation he needed, the trauma center experience he wanted, and the opportunity to work in the community where he grew up.

As Davis progressed through his career a couple of things became obvious–his commitment to helping and serving his hometown community and the importance of mentoring the next generation of nurses through sharing his expertise, while teaching and guiding them.

Davis currently practices and teaches which, he says, gives him a needed balance of clinical practice, working with student nurses and peer faculty, and making an impact on the industry at a local and international level (thanks to Johns Hopkins’s global reach).  “I am blessed to see both worlds,” he says. “It gives me a wide variety of experiences and helps me give back to the state and city I grew up in.”

The emergency department at Johns Hopkins, all 10,000 square feet of it, is exceptionally busy and includes urgent care, triage, and one of only two Level 1 trauma units in the state. “When someone hears the name of my emergency department, they say, ‘Oh, God bless you,'” he says with a laugh.

Despite the hectic days, Davis says the pace is what keeps him so passionate about his role.

“You walk into the ED and you never know what you are going to get,” he says. “For me going to work, it’s like being a medical detective.” Davis says emergency nursing requires top-notch assessment skills, a great deal of flexibility, and a collaborative approach with all the disciplines involved in patient care. “I meet a lot of people, and I work with phenomenal colleagues,” he says. “You just form a connection.” And at Johns Hopkins, he is in the heart of an academic medical institution, so there is a constant flow of new research to learn about as well.

With his teaching role, Davis trains a lot of students, some of whom go on to work with him as nurses. The circular nature of that role is inspiring and gives Davis pause. “One day, it will be time for me to lay down my stethoscope, and they will take over,” he says of the nursing students. “Hopefully, they will have learned what I have imparted to them.”

Throughout his career, Davis says he was often the only Black male nurse present at a meeting or taking care of a patient. Diversity is a pressing issue in nursing, but it takes more than policy to make a change, he says. “It’s one thing to say you want diversity,” he says, “but people need to see a living, breathing example of it. I am straight from East Baltimore. They see me and they know they can do it too.” But to get there, you need to be able to open doors and take a seat when decisions are being made. Davis helps educate younger nurses about what’s needed to change outcomes, to influence their career trajectory, and show them what they can accomplish.

And while Davis acknowledges that progress around diversity in nursing is slow, the fact that conversations about it are even happening shows forward momentum. “What people don’t realize about diversity is you can’t force change,” he says. “That’s what keeps me committed to this work. It’s about the next generation.”

As an emergency nurse, Davis says his involvement in the Emergency Nurses Association has made a big difference. At the annual conference, he builds his network, and he remains constantly inspired by seeing all the different things nurses do and that they excel at. “It helps you refocus why you do what you do,” he says. “Your work isn’t contained to a hospital or even to a community. It lets you know you are part of something bigger.”