Mindfulness and Wellness Programs for Patients

Mindfulness and Wellness Programs for Patients

Nurses, like other health care professionals, have been hearing the buzz about mindfulness. Technology corporations, like Google, are instituting mindfulness programs, as are health care and wellness-related workplaces. Lifestyle magazines like Oprah and Yoga Journal are covering the topic, but surprisingly, so are Harvard Business Review and other business publications.

Perhaps you’re wondering what the term actually means, and whether it’s been proven effective in treating patients and those who want to be proactive in warding off illness and disease.

In this article, nurses and mindfulness experts will explain their unique approaches and how they help patients with health challenges. You’ll learn about the evidence behind the practice, so you can comfortably introduce it to your patients. You might even want to incorporate it into your own work and personal life.

What is Mindfulness?

Simply, mindfulness means that you direct your mind to the present versus having it wander aimlessly. You practice an awareness of your thoughts, and a focus on the here and now, not the past or future.

The opposite state, “mindlessness,” is what happens when you drive home at the end of a 10-hour shift, suddenly arrive at your front door, and can’t remember how you get there.

 

Are You Interested in Trying Mindfulness for Yourself?

The mindfulness and health site, DrJud.com, offers a free online course for health care professionals. The seven-module video course answers common questions about the practice and the evidence supporting it.

Continuing medical education (CME) credits are available through Brown University.

To learn more about the course and sign up, visit www.drjud.com/health-care-provider-course.

Though mindfulness meditation is thousands of years old, with its roots in Buddhism, today’s mindfulness practices are often not spiritually centered. Scientifically-based mindfulness programs are meant to be used by patients of all faiths (or none).

That awareness may help boost patient emotional well-being and help strengthen their immune system. One example of the benefits of mindfulness, the Cleveland Clinic reports that 20 randomized trials reviewed in 2011 show improvement in overall mental health.

Mindfulness is a drug-free tool that can help optimize neural processing, boost immune system function, address the epidemic-level of chronic pain, reduce insomnia, and even caregiver burnout.

In new research, mindfulness shows promise in reducing the incidence of physical diseases or managing existing conditions. Examples are diabetes and hypertension. Mindfulness can also be an aid in breaking unhealthy habits, such as smoking, and averting the associated risk of disease.

One Nurse’s Research on Mindfulness and Hypertension

Eunjoo An

Eunjoo An, MSN, RN, a PhD candidate in nursing at UCLA, studied ways to reduce hypertension, which is the number one risk for stroke, she says. As a nurse, An knew that simply telling people what to do—eat right, exercise, etc.—wasn’t enough. She suspected that mindfulness training along with a health promotion program could have beneficial results.

Earlier research showed that mindfulness has a calming effect on the fight or flight response, leading to blood pressure and heart rate reduction, An says. “The difference in my research is that it’s looking at not only blood pressure but habits; most patients have difficulty changing diet and exercise,” she explains. “Mindfulness brings focused attention to body. During those times you’re more likely to say to yourself: ‘I should eat better,’ and then that translates to that behavior. No study has taken that to the next step.”

An used the UCLA mindful awareness program beginner’s course, which is not as extensive as some approaches, but more approachable than others, she says. The mindfulness group was told to practice at home. She hoped that the training would help calm patients and that reduced stress would translate to behavior change.

Her research was applied to hypertension in an independent living facility that is primarily African American. She was the instructor for the health promotion group, using the six-week program modules on a government website. Both groups received information about healthy diet and the importance of exercise.

The results? “The mindfulness group, with stage 1 hypertension, reduced their systemic blood pressure to normal range at the end of the 12-week study,” she says. While blood pressure did go down in both groups, “in the mindfulness group it dropped into the normal range whereas in the health promotion group it stayed in the high range.” Mindfulness practice was beneficial in helping patients to eat and exercise in such a way that their blood pressure dropped 40%.

To learn more, watch An’s three-minute presentation about her research on the benefits of mindfulness available on YouTube.

Beyond Mindfulness for In-Patient Care

Menna Olvera Feder

The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) program brings mindfulness plus yoga, Reiki, essential oil therapy, and contemplative end-of-life care to patients and providers. Started in 2009 by fashion designer Donna Karan in New York, it soon expanded nationwide with the launch of the UZIT teacher training program.

“UZIT-trained therapists provide a variety of care, in a wide range of settings, to patients, staff, and caregivers, plus the community,” explains Menna Olvera Feder, UZIT acting program director.

Services can be accessed through a number of hospitals, rehab centers, senior-care and hospice facilities, as well as yoga studios offering drop-in stress-management class.

Research has been conducted at multiple facilities, including Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and Wexner Heritage Village in Columbus, Ohio, showing significant health benefits. Patients experienced fewer symptoms of pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and didn’t require as much medication for relief from those conditions.

When a UZIT-trained nurse “sees a patient isn’t breathing well, or is in pain, or is exhausted, they have what they need in their toolbox to address it,” says Olvera Feder. The UZIT protocol “adds a level of care to nursing that drew the nurse to be a nurse to begin with.”

The holistic program is used in health care environments with a diversity of patient populations. “We want to attract people of different cultures and those who are bilingual. We’re always looking for nurses who are Spanish-speaking or who speak Chinese,” says Olvera Feder.

Simple, clear terms are used to introduce the care modalities to patients and their families. For instance, “yoga,” is explained as “mindful movement to address respiration, digestion, and circulation,” Olvera Feder says. “Because when you’re in bed, you’re not doing downward dog.” Mindful movement in that case may mean that pillows aren’t stacked too high, and the patient is positioned in simple supported postures to bring them into a more comfortable state.

Anna Dermenchyan

The UCLA Health has a number of UZIT trained health care professionals, among them is Anna Dermenchyan, RN, MSN, CCRN-K. An Armenian American, Dermenchyan was an ICU nurse before transitioning to a quality role in 2013, with the aim of improving patient care. She is also pursuing her PhD in nursing at UCLA School of Nursing.

“Urban Zen is meant for patients who feel pain and anxiety—that’s pretty much any patient in a hospital—they feel so much better after,” she says. One of the moving examples of UZIT’s effectiveness was when Dermenchyan sought to help a family say their final farewells to a brain-dead patient. “We provided Reiki and essential oils to them and a sad experience was made less painful,” she recalls.

Though always aware of stress in the health care workplace and how it affects nurses and patients, “I realize now how stressed everyone is, including physicians and administrators, and how vulnerable they are to fatigue and burnout,” she adds.

Mindfulness Class in Your Pocket

Mark Mitchnick

Not every organization has a mindfulness program available for patients, and not every patient has the money or time to attend formal training sessions. That’s where digital mindfulness apps come into play.

“We consider ourselves the leader in evidence-based, digital therapeutics for mental health,” says Mark Mitchnick, MD, CEO of MindSciences, Inc. “It’s pretty easy to put an app out in the health care space, especially in mental health, but do they have evidence behind them? We get grouped with some very scientific, rigorously researched” companies, and some that are not.

Currently the company offers three apps: Eat Right Now to address emotional eating, Unwinding Anxiety to relieve anxiety and stress, and Craving to Quit for smoking cessation. They are based on the work of Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, a leading mindfulness researcher, $11 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and input from thousands of users in clinical trials, and later as subscribers.

Many users first learn about this brand of apps because their health care provider recommends them. “It’s offered to individuals through organizations and insurance providers, such as Humana,” he explains. “We wanted to offer [mindfulness] as something scalable and very affordable—and today that’s an app.”

For example, MindSciences is “working with coal miners in Appalachia, using our smoking app in a pulmonary clinic,” says Mitchnick. “Folks are enrolled in a clinic but still smoke.” Using a hybrid model of delivery—digital app plus the participation of health care professionals—they aim to help patients kick the smoking habit.

Similarly, they’ve started working with bariatric surgery clinics to help patients avoid regaining weight lost after surgery. “We’re not a willpower-based system,” he says. “In the case of eating, you have to separate out ‘I’m feeling hungry’ from ‘I’m feeling anxiety,’ and find a more appropriate behavior for that.”

Interested individuals can independently download the app, try it out free for three days, and later subscribe. In the case of Craving to Quit, the program is $24.99 a month, which includes the mobile app training modules, an online support community, and weekly live expert video group coaching sessions. The program has been shown to be twice as effective as a leading smoking cessation treatment, and it’s backed by a limited money-back guarantee.

Mindful Yoga-Inspired Tools for Patients

Kimberly Carson

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon, offers a number of mindfulness programs to its patients and staff members. Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT, E-RYT, is a mindfulness educator and yoga therapist. She is considered a leader in the therapeutic use of mindful yoga for people with medical challenges.

Carson offers an ongoing drop-in class, Breath by Breath, as an introduction to mindfulness-based stress reduction methods. The class is free of charge to OHSU patients and any interested members of the community.

“Breath by Breath is a combination of mindfulness practices and yogic tools,” she explains, for cardiac, oncology, chronic pain, and other patients, plus their caregivers. “Sometimes people come once, sometimes a few times, or sometimes for years.” The class is held twice a week, for hour-long sessions, in conference rooms offered by participating departments.

Along with instruction in a variety of relaxation and mindfulness practices, Breath by Breath incorporates yoga-inspired adaptive movement, “We don’t take people to the floor,” explains Carson, “these movements are appropriate for most people—the postures are skillful to a medical or aging physiology.”

Group discussions and sharing make up an important component of the session. “At the beginning of the class, “I use what I call the ‘quickening question,’ which is totally spontaneous, such as ‘What inspired you today?’” she says. “The question helps give voice to people’s experience.”

She also facilitates Mindful Yoga for Chronic Pain, a five-week, drop-in series, “which is more asana heavy,” she explains. Gentle postures help patients develop mindful awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions in this evidence-based intervention.

Beyond classes, Carson offers “bedside mindfulness” in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit to address pain, agitation, insomnia, and existential distress. “I go in and lead patients through a mindfulness process,” she explains. “It quiets the nervous system, so they get relief right then. We do a body scan and breath awareness exercise. That’s the face-to-face introduction to the skill, to give them a taste of what’s available.” Later, patients can access more training modules on “the mindfulness channel” via OHSU’s digital education platform.

Mindfulness for Minority Communities

Jeffrey Proulx

Jeffrey Proulx, PhD, is a Native American who has been studying mindfulness as a way to reduce psychological stress and improve physical health in underserved communities. A K99/R00 award from the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is currently funding his contemplative-based program to reduce diabetes in Native communities. He has also done culturally based mindfulness research with other ethnic minority communities.

Proulx believes that psychological stress needs to be viewed in a wider context that includes historical oppression. “They wanted to wipe Native Americans off the face of the earth, and African Americans were enslaved,” he explains. “So, for these populations, daily stress is compounded by historical stressors.” But instead of focusing on cultural trauma and the associated poor health behaviors, he works with communities to explore their resiliency and strength.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction [MBSR] is the landmark evidence-based program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in 1979. Many health care mindfulness programs and health apps are based on this intensive, eight-week training series. Proulx has facilitated these classes for patients and health care providers at OHSU, as has Carson.

“But MBSR isn’t really geared to address cultural trauma, intergenerational trauma, people getting sicker from generation to generation,” he explains. “I’m approaching it from another way. The bigger, overall issue is how people carry on.”

One way Proulx makes sure his offering is culturally competent is by using the term “stress reduction” rather than “mindfulness.” That only goes so far, he warns: “You can call it different things to sand down the edges,” but it doesn’t change the basic shape, and what he’s trying to create “is a program to get at stress in your community, not just the upper class white community.”

The development process is long for his years-long studies in these communities who may be suspicious of him or medical professionals generally. To head off prejudice, he enlists the endorsement of community leaders (e.g., the tribal council or church pastor) and forms a small advisory group for guidance and assistance.

Proulx aims to create a safe, open, and accepting environment among community members. “You do that by learning about the history of the community, the culture, and becoming part of the neighborhood,” he says. “It’s an effort to develop trust, show trustworthiness, and embody trustworthiness.”

Their own culture then informs how these involved community members experience his mindfulness and stress reduction training. “‘Oh, it’s like Proverbs,’ I often hear,” says Proulx. “Or ‘It’s like Christian charity and compassion.’”

Underserved populations can also be a source of future trainers and greater diversity in the mindfulness field. “I encourage people in those communities to become teachers,” he explains. “Brown University is paying for that training.”

Explore a Career as a Pediatric Nurse

Explore a Career as a Pediatric Nurse

If a career in pediatric nursing interests you, now is a good time to explore this option.

As Pediatric Nurses Week wraps up, there’s reflection on how this field impacts the youngest patients and their families. If you are a dedicated lifelong learner, pediatric nursing is an excellent specialty. The advances in childhood diseases—from childhood cancer to flu responses in children—are rapid and ever changing.

As a nurse who works in pediatrics, you’ll need to be on top of all these developments so you know the latest information to help your patients. And because families have such frequent interaction with pediatric nurses, you’re also seen as a reliable and important resource for questions about the smallest diaper rash to the most severe injury or illness.

The Society of Pediatric Nurses offers information about the career for those who have been in practice for decades and for those who are just considering the path. The Institute of Pediatric Nursing, “an estimated 180,521 RNs provide patient care in a hospital setting to a pediatric population, including newborn, neonatal, pediatric, and adolescent.”

These nurses provide care in various settings that might include physicians’ offices, hospitals, home care, schools, outpatient, and ambulatory care settings. With each setting comes a different set of responsibilities and levels of interaction. Where some offices might provide more routine well-child care others, like school nurses, will have a different kind of care routine.

As a pediatric nurse, you’ll be a registered nurse, but can also continue on to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Certification is, as always, an important option to consider in this career, just to keep up with all the developments in newborn to adolescent health. The credential is a Pediatric Nursing Certification (RN-BC).

As the populations in the country continue to change, minority pediatric nurses are an essential component in the health of children. Whether in a rural or urban setting, nurses that look like the children and families in their patient population, speak their language, and know their culture, beliefs, and traditions (especially those surrounding health and medical care) will have a positive impact on understanding and follow up care.

As more minority nurses continue on to earn a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree,  the opportunities for having a greater impact on patient populations and the nursing industry as a whole is more significant. Nurses are excellent gauges of shifting health issues within their patient populations and can help advance critical early notifications of anything from vaccine compliance of newborns to vaping use in adolescence.

If a pediatric nursing career interests you, your advisor is a first stop for information. If you’re already a pediatric nurse, take some time to reflect on the patients and families you have made an impact on.

Side Hustles to Try as a Nurse

Side Hustles to Try as a Nurse

As a highly specialized skill set, nursing is in high demand. As such, nurses can make a lucrative career by their full-time work alone, and by supplementing it with a variety of nursing side hustles. For those entrepreneurial spirits, there is seemingly no limit to the possibilities.

Home Health Care

There are certain areas of nursing where per diem work is more abundant. Many specialties within the hospital, such as critical care, emergency, surgery, and telemetry, require specific skill sets that the only nurses who fill in are already trained in that specialty. This is because per diem work comes with the expectation that minimal training is required.

There are however, some areas where skills do translate from one area of nursing to another.  This is especially true outside the hospital. For example, adult inpatient nurses can work as a home infusion nurse, or in other home health care work, such as overseeing ancillary nursing staff, doing intensive assessments, and advocating for patients with their providers and insurance carriers.

Home health care is a growing field of opportunity as it benefits the patient by allowing them to maintain quality of life in their home; it can also help reduce the logistical strains on the health care system to provide inpatient care.

Aesthetic Nursing

For nurses with an eye for beauty, aesthetic nursing offers a wealth of opportunities. As technology advances, there are more and more non-surgical procedures with anti-aging and aesthetic benefits. Nurses are increasingly able to perform or assist physicians with such procedures in medical spas and dermatology clinics.  Furthermore, often this work is available as part-time or per diem. This allows nurses to build up a clientele through a side hustle that works with their schedule and is generally high-paying. Qualifications and credentialing for work as an aesthetic nurse vary by location, but frequently nurses go through certification programs in order to attract employers for this type of work.

Teaching

Working as adjunct faculty is the side hustle of the teaching world. Many nursing schools offer opportunities to instruct a limited number of courses per semester on a part-time basis. This allows nurses with specialized knowledge or skills to disseminate what they know to the next generation of nurses. There are opportunities for both online and classroom teaching today.  Requisites for teaching vary by state, school, and specific courses. For example, many nursing schools require five years of experience in a given specialty or an advanced degree in nursing, in order to teach.

Coaching

Coaching is another growing field for nurses. For coaches who are nurses, they mostly function as health coaches or career coaches to other nurses. In the former role, nurses work with clients to mobilize them in the direction of their own personal and health goals. This is done through motivational interviewing, establishing accountability, goal-setting, and most of all-empowering the client to be experts on their own lives and bodies.

This role does not involve medical oversight and instead draws on the nursing skill of patient education combined with the holistic approach to patients that is fundamental to nursing. Nurse career coaches are often experienced and successful nurses who have built lucrative and fulfilling careers in nursing and coach other nurses or aspiring nurses to do the same.

Legal Nurse Consultants

Legal nurse consultants (LNCs) serve as expert nurses that work in medical-legal matters. LNCs are usually experienced nurses that can address technical matters specific to nursing, which a layperson may not know. They may work in law offices, HMOs, hospitals, risk management, workers’ compensation, and so on.

The legal nurse consultant utilizes their clinical and logistical expertise to extrapolate or clarify matters related to medical-legal cases. There are many full-time legal nurse consultants but it is incredibly valuable as a side hustle because it allows the nurse the opportunity to simultaneously work clinically, honing expertise and skills, while contributing the value of such real-time experience to their work in legal matters.

Nursing is a growing field for many reasons, not the least of which is that it offers a multitude of avenues by which to obtain a high income and a fulfilling career. For the nurse who wants to branch out beyond what they specialize in full time, there is certainly no lack of side hustles in nursing for them to explore.

Today Marks the 30th Anniversary of Emergency Nurses Day

Today Marks the 30th Anniversary of Emergency Nurses Day

Today marks an important milestone for emergency nurses across the country—the 30th anniversary of a national Emergency Nurses Day. The day falls in the middle of national Emergency Nurses Week which runs October 6-12 this year.

The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) started the tradition back in 1989, long before many of the medical advances in emergency medicine that we take for granted today. But a few things haven’t changed in 30 years. Emergency nurses’ dedication to high-quality patient care in a turbulent, fast-paced, and unpredictable environment remains the foundation of an emergency department’s success.

ED nurses are the ones patients see when they are least expecting it. A trip to the ED is often the most unplanned healthcare situation and is scary for many patients. Emergency nurses use all their nursing skills to assess, diagnose, and care for people who could be in their care for anything from severe trauma from an accident to an injury from a fall to trouble breathing from flu symptoms. They must assess quickly and accurately patients of all ages, demographics, and even those who may be unable to communicate what’s wrong. The pace is rapid and constant.

According to the ENA website, 43,000 members of the association are vocal advocates for emergency department care. They are trained in “triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care.” Emergency nurses are RNs and they can also obtain credentials as an emergency nurse practitioner certification (ENP-BC). The American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners also offers excellent resources for nursing students or anyone interested in this career path.

Emergency nurses care for patients in their care, but what they do has wide impact. They are also persistent advocates for policies that will protect their patients and also protect those in the profession. In a time when workplace violence against nurses is rising and adding another level of complexity to being an ED nurse, policies and protections are essential to letting nurses continue to offer the level of care their patients need while keeping themselves safe from harm.

Because of the higher levels of stress and the endless trauma they deal with, ED nurses are at particular risk for burnout, stress, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Healthcare organizations that promote wellness and self-care and that make mental health care a priority for nurses in workplaces that routinely deal with trauma cases will build a healthier nursing staff.

But ED nurses also take great satisfaction from being able to help ill or injured patients and offer resources and comfort to their families. They keep their entire suite of nursing skills in use throughout each shift, because they never know what each day will bring. To say the job is never dull is an understatement.

So for all the emergency nurses, this week it’s all about you and all you do to help patients get through their medical emergency and for the ways you offer support to your colleagues in the ED.

Hope Force International—Helping Others in the Face of Disaster

Hope Force International—Helping Others in the Face of Disaster

Natural disasters are scary, devastating, and sometimes fatal. There are many organizations that jump in to help when disasters occur, and Hope Force International is one of them. Tina Busby, FNP, RN, works for a group of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers, called NOAH-Neighborhood Outreach Access to Healthcare, part of Honor Health, a larger medical system in the greater Phoenix area, made up of multiple medical group practices and multiple hospitals.

She and her husband also volunteer with Hope Force International, a Christian-based disaster relief organization that, as Busby says, “works nationally and internationally to provide disaster services as well as services to help communities rebuild after disaster. It uses volunteers, both professionals and nonprofessionals, from multiple nations.”

Busby answered questions about her work with the organization.

Tina Busby in NepalHow did you become involved with Hope Force International (HFI)?

My husband and I have known the founders of HFI, Jack and Cheri Minton, since 2000 while serving with them in another faith-based ministry, Mercy Ships International. Since their conception of HFI, we have both had a desire to be involved, and we were finally able to complete our training and become HFI reservists about 6 years ago.

How does volunteering work? Are you put on alert or called in at certain times? How are you able to get time off from work?

When there is a disaster, HFI sends out a text message followed by an email to all reservists putting them on standby for possible deployment and asking them to pray and assess whether it is the right time for them to go and serve.

Because I have always been a part of a medical team, I have more notice and have not served with HFI immediately after a disaster. For the last few years, I have been a part of medical teams returning to both Haiti and Nepal. These HFI teams work with local community partnerships to show the love of Christ and advance His name. Since completing my education as an NP, I have felt a strong call from the Lord, that my skills and talents are to be used for His glory. Thus, I have tried to work in situations that allow for enough flexibility in my schedule to be able to serve others in this way.

Because we have a large family that is spread out all over the nation, finding a NP position with enough time off for both is almost impossible, and so, for the last seven years I have worked in a Per Diem or On Call position. Basically, I have an irregular schedule, and I fill in the open provider slots in multiple clinics, so that I am able to have control over my schedule and time off.

What do you do as a volunteer with HFI? How many times have you worked as a volunteer?

As a volunteer with HFI, my role has been to be a medical provider on multiple medical teams in both Haiti and Nepal, where I’ve traveled three times each with HFI. I have wanted to also help in other capacities, such as immediately after a disaster such as the recent hurricanes in Texas, Puerto Rico, and now the Bahamas. But at this point in my life, my resources (time and funds) are limited, and I also have a part-time job to keep up.

What did you enjoy most about volunteering for HRI?

I enjoy the people, all created in the image of God, both my teammates and those we are serving. I love seeing God work in so many different ways. I love meeting and making new friends and having the opportunity to serve alongside old friends. Having the luxury of going back to the same communities over the last few years, I love seeing how people’s hearts are becoming more responsive to Him and the great love He has for them.

What have been your greatest challenges?

My greatest challenge currently is that my husband, also a nurse, hasn’t been able to travel with me the last few years, due to his work schedule. Keeping my work and personal schedule flexible enough to serve, along with having the financial resources to serve, are always challenges. Some of the travel, long flights, and exciting bus rides, can be challenging for me as well.

Tina Busby in Nepal 2017What have been your greatest rewards?

Some of my greatest rewards have been the bonding of teammates and feeling the pleasure of God. I often personalize Eric Liddell’s quote to read, God gave me a compassionate heart and made me a healer. When I serve the least of the least, whether that’s at home or abroad, I feel His pleasure.

What would you say to someone who was considering volunteering for Hope Force International?

I would say, attend a Reservist Training and then go as God leads you! If you’re a nurse, we could really use you! We’ve just had to recently cancel an upcoming medical team to Haiti because we did not have enough nurses able to go.

Once you go, your life will never be the same and you will be “spoiled for the ordinary!”

Tips for Becoming a Better Nurse Writer

Tips for Becoming a Better Nurse Writer

Even when a nurse is satisfied with their job and skill set, there are many nurses who are talented in areas outside of their work. For those who are writers, there is a growing opportunity where they can combine their expertise in nursing with their talents in writing. The best nurse writers can translate nursing practice into interesting, sensitive, and effective language that informs and influences readers.

Know Your Audience

An essential component of nurse writing is to write for the reader. It won’t be effective to write a piece about disease using jargon if the audience consists of novices or laypersons. Similarly, it is wasteful to elaborate on the meaning of fundamental language when the audience consists mostly of experts. A nurse writer discussing heart disease would write a different way if their audience consists of nursing students vs. writing for cardiac nurses. Fortunately for nurse writers, the publisher will make clear who will be reading it.

In addition to adjusting the language to the audience, there should be a specific tone of the writing. Most textbook publishers would not appreciate content written in a conversational tone. On the other hand, blogs, including informative blogs, should not be written academically. A successful nurse writer will write in accordance with the context.

Know the Content

It may not be wise to accept assignments that cover topics outside of one’s expertise. However, when covering a topic that they do not specialize in, a nurse writer can consult with experts, and if possible, develop the content in the format of an interview. For example, a labor and delivery nurse asked to write about heart disease should consult with outside sources. In some instances, it is best to turn down work when a nurse is not qualified to cover the subject and does not have adequate resources.

Furthermore, as every nurse is well-versed in applying the evidence-based practice, nurse writers should be well aware of the quality of their sources. The type of citation will depend on the character of the content; but no matter the context, any technical information discussed or claims made should be supported by valid sources. Most nurses have access to academic databases, particularly if they work for teaching hospitals; therefore, they should favor this resource over basic web searches whenever possible.

Know Your Limitations

In order to be effective, nurse writers have to navigate deadlines, the politics of writing, internet trolls, and stringent fact-checking and sourcing. In addition to their own lives, which may include full-time work as a nurse and a family, the time needed to write must be available to meet deadlines and create articles worth publishing.

Nurse writing at its best is a joyful extension of the practice of nursing. For those nurses who are enthusiastic about their work and talented in writing, nurse writing can be a fulfilling channel of creativity and income that allows them to combine their talents. Nurse writing enables nurses to extend their knowledge and experience beyond patients to readers.

Get Ready for the Diversity Nurse Virtual Career Fair!

Get Ready for the Diversity Nurse Virtual Career Fair!

It’s almost time for the Diversity Nurse Virtual Career Fair on October 23rd, and we have plenty of tips and insights for nurses planning to attend.

The Advantages of Attending a “Virtual” Career Fair

A recent Forbes magazine article by Georgene Huang suggests that a virtual career fair (VCF) is as suitable for veterans as for novices. VCFs also allow great flexibility for nurses with family commitments, as you can work your way through the fair while the kids are asleep.

Also important, your physical appearance can’t affect first impressions one way or another (it’s up to you whether you choose to have face-to-face chats), so there can be a far more level playing field. And finally—very apropos for us—companies who are seeking to hire under-represented groups tend to be drawn to VCFs. “You may even be able to turn a virtual chat into an email conversation or phone screen interview if you handle the situation well,” Huang adds.

Prepare Yourself!

Rasmussen College suggests you prepare yourself before the fair, not AT the fair. Do research on the employers attending the VCF and compose some intelligent questions for them about their companies and open positions. Also, tune up your resume early; make sure it’s in the best possible shape for what you want to get from this particular virtual career fair.

And be sure to practice your “elevator speech” (a short and sweet account of who you are, where you’re from, the type of position you are seeking, and what you can bring to a company—all in the time span it takes to reach your floor in an elevator). Think about these points in advance of the fair so it is clear to employers that you’re well prepared and organized.

Make Your Best Impression on Employers

Just because it’s a virtual career fair don’t assume it’s okay to wear an old Tee-Shirt with uncombed hair and have your music blasting. And if you plan to engage in face-to-face chats with some employers, make sure the room you are working from is clean, quiet, and well-lit and that you are wearing professional attire (at least from the waist up!).

Also, choose your VCF device with care! A shaky hand-held phone (if your employer wants a face-to-face chat) is annoying and looks amateurish. If you can, use a laptop or a propped-up tablet instead.

At the Virtual Career Fair

Be calm and confident in yourself. Reach out to employers instead of hovering in the background. Offer your resume to employers, and make sure you receive contact information from them and ask about next steps—such as applications and interviews—before you leave.

When asking your carefully prepared questions or answering employers’ questions, stay on your toes and use standard professional grammar and spelling. Yes, you may be communicating via text chat, but careless typing, slang, and emoticons just aren’t suitable in this environment (another reason for wearing professional attire: with a businesslike blazer on your body instead of your favorite old PJs, it’s easier to operate in Professional Mode). When you engage in video chats, again keep in mind the importance of making a good impression: sit up straight and look your interlocutor in the eye as you speak.

After the Virtual Career Fair

Reach out to the contacts you made the next day after the fair. Thank them for their time, remind them that you are interested in working for them, send the link to your LinkedIn page, and remind them of what you can bring to their team.

To register for the Diversity Nurse Virtual Career Fair, click here. Good luck!

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

As a minority nurse, you know diversity and inclusion means much more than what the people in your organization look like and where they have come from.

Diversity and inclusion is absolutely focused on creating a nursing workforce that more closely mirrors the different populations in a given area. But diversity and inclusion also means more because the culture of a workplace needs to feel comfortable to the people who work there.

If you’re a nursing leader you hold a responsibility for hiring the right people, and also for creating an environment where employees feel like they can be their authentic selves. When employees feel like they are able to bring the things that make them different to work—whether that’s their affinity for studying languages or for making cat toys for shelters or for four-wheeling in their spare time—it’s up to the organization to honor what they bring to your organization.

The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) offers resources for making sure your workplace is not just diverse on the surface, but also goes deeper to be welcoming to employees.

What can you do to make sure your working environment is inclusive to all your employees?

Find the Right People

Make hiring high-quality workers who are similar to the populations you serve a priority. The more diversity you have, the more perspectives you’ll have. That only results in better care for your patients.

Understand the Concerns

Assess the culture of your workplace with open forums and anonymous comment boxes and bring your talent management team in on the results. Ask your employees for feedback about what feels right and what makes the workplace uncomfortable or unproductive for them.

Listen and Respond

Your team wants to be heard. They have voices and experiences that can make your unit stronger, more efficient, more effective, and more in tune to the needs of your patients. Make sure what they say matters, so listen to their concerns and work with them to develop meaningful solutions.

Keep It in the Open

Whatever changes you make probably won’t make everyone happy, but they should address an identified problem that will move your organization toward its goal of inclusivity. Each solution might look different. Sometimes, education about how different cultures make healthcare decisions will dispel misunderstandings. Sometimes it might be a direct policy that will address blatant mircroaggressions against people on your team. Many times, it is an open and honest celebration of they differences among your team members that will make them feel like they have found a place where they can flourish.

Look at the Outcome

In the end, a diverse workforce is essential and will meet many or your organization’s goals. But being an inclusive team is what makes employees committed to where they work and focused on the job at hand.

The outcome is better patient care, longer employee retention, an increased reputation as a fair employer in the community and the industry, and nurses who become ambassadors for your organization.

Suicide Prevention Month: Know the Warning Signs

Suicide Prevention Month: Know the Warning Signs

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Suicide is one of the most pressing health issues in the country today, but it’s also one many people are reluctant to discuss openly. With September designated as National Suicide Prevention Month, this is a great opportunity to help shed the stigma around suicide.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) one in five adults will experience a form of mental illness this year. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the 47,173 suicides in 2017 makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the nation. But the problem is even more pervasive than even those alarming numbers. NIMH reported that in 2017, 10.6 million adults aged 18 or older reported having serious thoughts about trying to kill themselves.

Those numbers are staggering and reveal a deep level of anguish among the people in this country. Many of those people do not get any kind of professional help and many don’t even tell another person they have had thoughts of harming themselves. That’s why it’s so important for others to recognize, and act on, signs of trouble.

How You Can Help

As a nurse, you have a level of interaction with so many different people every day, so noticing subtle signs is important. It’s essential to know the warning signs of someone in crisis.

Depending on your specialty and your typical workday, your nursing career might not bring people in obvious mental health crisis into your day. That doesn’t mean your patients aren’t struggling. Friends and family might also be hiding their serious despair, so knowing what to look for and how to listen and interpret is helpful.

Warning Signs

Suicide Awareness Voices for Education offers the following behaviors as warning signs that someone is in danger and needs help:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

If you notice something is worrisome, for instance a friend’s social media posts have started to mention that “the world would be better off without me” or a struggling colleague’s behavior with drugs or alcohol is increasingly reckless, it’s okay to ask about it.

It’s Okay to Say Something

Saying something in a nonjudgmental way is best and helping that person find a professional to talk to is going to be helpful. Call a crisis line for immediate help or bring them to the ER, especially if you think they are in imminent danger of hurting themselves. It’s also probably going to be awkward and may not be met with affection, but generally those behaviors are the way someone might ask for help without really asking for help.

In your workplace, see if you’re able to post crisis hotline numbers, so others can have immediate access to the information—either for themselves, their patients, or someone they are concerned about.

How to Educate Patients About Keeping Healthy Cholesterol Levels

How to Educate Patients About Keeping Healthy Cholesterol Levels

September is National Cholesterol Month, making it a great time for nurses to revisit tools for educating patients about maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

Nurses learn in nursing school about the two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein cholesterols, or “LDLs”, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or “HDLs”. Some cheeky nursing professors might teach their students that LDL’s are lousy, while HDL’s are happy, or the good and the bad cholesterol, respectively.

The goal for many patients is to elevate their HDL and lower their LDL levels, and nurses can play a big part in helping them achieve this. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is essential to well-being, and the consequences of not doing so can cause a great detriment to one’s quality of life and even death. The most notable sequelae of high cholesterol are a heart attack and stroke.

The Value of Patient Education

Many nurses take pride in their more technical skills such as phlebotomy, insertion, management of venous catheters, medication administration, and the development of nursing diagnoses and care plans. In many ways, however, patient education is a nurse’s most important task because it can prevent the need to carry out those more technical tasks that treat disease. Patient education instead is wellness-promoting. When it comes to cholesterol, it is a nurse’s greatest asset in assisting patients to avoid the potentially devastating consequences of unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Individualized Lifestyle Patient Education

Perhaps the most obvious factor to focus on regarding cholesterol is diet. For every fad diet, new superfood, and fasting regimen, there is a simple solution suitable for each individual patient. In order to effectively educate a patient about diet, the nurse must be armed with a straightforward understanding of where the patient is both physically and emotionally.

This means the nurse must know the patient’s existing dietary restrictions and needs based on physical conditions, such as carbohydrate restriction related to diabetes mellitus and salt restriction for heart disease. Emotionally, the nurse must also have an understanding of the patient’s dietary preferences and level of willingness.

A patient who claims to hate vegetables is unlikely to comply to eating a healthy cholesterol diet that is predicated on heavy vegetable consumption. This patient might do better if directed toward other dietary sources that support healthy cholesterol levels like oatmeal, berries, and other foods high in soluble fiber. Similarly, if a nurse works with a patient who makes clear that they are unwilling to stop eating fast food, the nurse might suggest a bowl of soup, a large glass of water, or a generous slice of watermelon helps hydrate before a meal. Hydration offers a wealth of health benefits besides relieving thirst, which many dehydrated patients confuse for hunger.

Stress management is not only a tool for a more pleasant daily life, but it is also an essential component of healthy cholesterol levels and overall wellbeing. Chronic stress can throw off our bodies’ cortisol release cycle, and there is a clearly defined relationship between abnormally elevated cortisol and high cholesterol.

Again, individualized patient education is key. Relaxation, sleep, and exercise are three fundamental components of managing cortisol and its effect on cholesterol. This doesn’t mean that every patient will be willing to start meditating, following a strict bedtime, and running marathons. By meeting with the patient and learning about their hobbies, the nurse may discover the patient loves to knit, dance, and read. For this patient, the nurse may recommend knitting to relax, dancing to music for fifteen minutes a day, and going to bed with a good book rather than watching the news.

The Role of the Nurse

Patient education is the nurse’s greatest asset in helping patients to establish lifestyle measures that support healthy cholesterol levels. In order to do this effectively, nurses must establish a rapport with a patient that engenders trust and understanding. This allows both the nurse and the patient to create a plan for the patient that is both effective and feasible to promote a patient’s cholesterol levels. Use September as a time to remind patients they are worth it!

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