Dean Angela Amar, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is a professor, active researcher, and administrator for the UNLV School of Nursing. This nursing leader is a national expert on mental health nursing, sexual and dating violence, diversity in nursing leadership, and forensic nursing. Her research on dating violence, sexual assault, and mental health responses to traumatic experiences has earned funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Nursing Research.
Dean Amar is an important nursing leader, and we’re pleased to profile her as we celebrate Black History Month with the Black Nursing Leaders Series 2023.
The entire month of February, we’ll highlight healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and making transformational impacts in nursing.
Meet Dean Amar, Dean and Professor at the UNLV School of Nursing
Please talk about your career path and how you ascended to your role at the UNLV School of Nursing.
My Dad was very sick and hospitalized a lot when I was in high school. I admired the nurses who took care of him. I’d always liked science and wanted a career where I’d connect with people. Nursing was the perfect choice for me.
What inspired you to become a nurse?
My Dad was very sick and hospitalized a lot when I was in high school. I really admired the nurses who took care of him. I’d always liked science and wanted a career where I’d connect with people. Nursing was the perfect choice for me.
What are the most important attributes for today’s nursing leaders and why?
Nursing and healthcare are in a period of great transition. The nursing leader of today has to be able to respond to the multiple issues confronting the field. Leaders need to make employees feel valued, heard, and respected. Nursing leaders must respond to challenges with flexibility and the ability to change course as needed. Finally, they must be able to communicate a vision, work with others to plot a course, and inspire others.
What does it mean to you to be a nursing leader, and how are you making a difference?
As a leader, I use my voice to help others. My various professional roles have expanded my reach, so I sit at many tables, often as the only nurse or Black woman. In these forums, I speak out on issues and bring the voices of those I represent. Also, I mentor a lot of nurses across the country. I use my experiences to help others and learn from my mentees.
What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?
In the aftermath of the pandemic, nursing is in trouble. Our nurses are feeling burnout and fatigue. They’re not feeling valued and heard. We are headed for a shortage. Academic nursing is seeing retirements in leadership and senior faculty which makes for gaps in increasing enrollment. Further, COVID-19 exposed health inequities and racial injustice in our society and healthcare.
As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?
As Dean of the UNLV School of Nursing, one of the most diverse universities in the country, we work to prepare students as expert clinicians, scholars, and leaders who are prepared to address the challenges facing the profession. Our school of nursing also works with local nursing leaders to address the problems facing our region. I also work through my leadership in national organizations to make meaningful changes for the nation.
What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?
Just one! That’s hard. In my career, I’ve benefited from multiple mentors. I learn so much and am inspired by so many nursing leaders. Dr. Carolyn Mosely has been my mentor since I was an undergraduate student. She pushes me and many others to be our best. She has led in multiple capacities in universities, nursing and professional organizations, and communities.
What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?
Keep doing the work you’re doing to change the system. We see you. You bring a new and fresh perspective and approach that is so needed in our healthcare system. Change is hard. It gets messy, but the end is worth it. So keep working and keep fighting for change. And keep bringing new insights and perspectives. The profession needs you.
As a nursing student, I loved watching the show “Trauma: Life in the ER.” This show was based on real-life medical stories in the ER of various cities such as New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Detroit. As I watched, I said to myself that is what I want to do! I am going to be a Trauma Nurse in the ER.
In my last semester of nursing school, I requested to be in the Emergency Department, and thankfully, I was placed there for my last rotation. Well, that’s where I fell in love with Nursing. The adrenaline, fast-paced environment, and uncertainty of what will happen next kept me on my toes.
One of my clinical instructors asked me what type of nurse I wanted to be, and I told her with excitement, “I want to be an ER nurse,” and she replied, “you will never be an ER nurse.” I was shocked! I thought, wow, how could an educator be so negative and deter me from following my dream? Well, you already know my stubborn head did not listen. Watch me, I thought to myself. I am going to be a badass ER Nurse. I’m going to save lives.
I developed such great relationships during my clinical rotation that they encouraged me to apply! As a result, I got offered the ER position as a new nurse before I graduated or took my nursing boards in Canada. Hey, hey, hey! I was jumping up and down for joy when I got the offer. I got two offers, but I selected the ER with the trauma center.
Moral of the story: “Follow Your Dreams!”
I have worked in various Emergency Departments in Canada and the U.S., including level 1 trauma centers. I worked in the ER at Detroit Receiving Hospital where the show Trauma: Life in the ER was filmed and at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell where NY ER was filmed. I also became a nurse educator and TNCC instructor and taught clinicals as an Adjunct Faculty. I hold the following three board certifications for Emergency Nursing: CEN-Certified Emergency Nurse, CPEN-Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse, and TCRN-Trauma Certified RN.
These certifications can be obtained from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) once you have at least two years of experience in the Emergency Department.
My mission is to empower all nurses, especially new nurses, to follow their passion and dreams. For this reason, I decided to open up my own nurse coaching business in June 2021. I provide 1-1 coaching and group coaching to nurses. I teach you how to confidently land your dream position and be Badass Nurses too.
You, too, can become an Emergency Nurse if you want! IT IS POSSIBLE!
Was I nervous to start? Yes, but you will get a proper orientation and a preceptor to guide you along the way! Think about it, there is always an attending physician there, 24/7, nurses, charge nurses, respiratory therapists, and the list goes on! You are not alone!
5 Tips to Help You on Your Journey to Becoming an Emergency Nurse
Request your last clinical rotation/placement to be in the Emergency Department
If you are a nursing student, get any job in the Emergency Department, such as a Patient Care Tech, EKG Tech, Patient transporter, etc.
Join the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) as a student or a Nurse. (discounted price for students, access to ENA Journal, conferences, and educational content)
Get a nursing mentor and or nursing coach who can guide you along your journey (hint: contact me)
Develop your skills, build your resume, and get any certification:
Good luck on your journey to becoming a badass ER Nurse.
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.
In healthcare and nursing, there’s always so much in our career we can say no to; however, there are plenty of things we find ourselves saying yes to.
Granted, it’s always empowering to say no to things like working a double shift when you’re exhausted, accepting bullying and incivility as normal, working without adequate PPE, and unsafe staffing levels that put your license and your patients at risk. But those enlightening moments of saying yes and recognizing latent potential can open doors of perception in your mind and opportunities in your life and career.
Saying Yes to Experience
When you sit down in your first nursing class, your lifelong pursuit of building a professional network must begin. That person in the row ahead of you? He may end up being your boss someday. That other student in the back? She might be the key to an incredible opportunity when she founds her nurse-run startup in seven years.
When the opportunity arises to join an interesting committee, become an EMR super user, speak or present at a conference, or take just one more step into commitment. What we’ll call your professional maturation, you’re embracing your evolutionary growth.
If a fantastic job unexpectedly falls in your lap, but you feel reticent to take it because you don’t want your colleagues to feel “abandoned,” this is an important moment to say yes in your best interest. Remember that many of your colleagues would do the same if they were in your shoes, and most will be happy for your good fortune.
No doubt, saying yes to experience can be life-changing.
Saying Yes to Connection
In the preceding section, we mentioned joining a workplace committee. But, again, these experiences can expose you to relationships and connections you would otherwise miss out on. And going to a nursing conference is an excellent experience, especially because you’ll have the chance to meet some fabulous like-minded people.
Your professional network is like your personal brain trust, and building that network over time is an investment that can pay more dividends than you might ever have imagined.
Saying Yes to Prioritizing Yourself
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned things that are prudent to say no to a double shift, bullying and incivility, working with inadequate PPE, and unsafe staffing. Unfortunately, knowing when to say no is as much an art as saying yes.
Saying no to the above scenarios translates to saying yes to prioritizing yourself and your needs. It’s great to help out the team and pick up an extra shift if you have the energy and stamina, but not taking the shift is a win if your reason to do so would solely be guilt.
Likewise, by saying yes to civil discourse and a violence-free workplace (bullying can undoubtedly be characterized as a form of workplace violence), you’re taking a stand for your well-being, not to mention the well-being of your coworkers and patients. Telling a bully that you won’t tolerate their behavior is a resounding yes to your psyche.
Saying yes to self-prioritization is a powerful statement of self-affirmation and valuing your needs and desires. Some might call it selfishness, but you can also call it surviving and thriving.
Saying Yes When It’s Right
As mentioned, there are plenty of things to say no to in healthcare and nursing. And we have established that there’s plenty to say yes to.
Whether it’s a novel experience, a new connection with a valued colleague, or a yes to what you want and need, saying yes can be fodder for a robust, satisfying, and happy nursing career. Saying no or yes is always your right, and knowing when to do so is key to long-term success.
Minority Nurse is thrilled to feature Keith Carlson, “Nurse Keith,” a well-known nurse career coach and podcaster of The Nurse Keith Show as a guest columnist. Check back every other Thursday for Keith’s column.
Infusion (IV) nurses form a crucial part of every healthcare team. IV Nurses Day is celebrated every January 25 to recognize the work IV nurses do each day and also to thank them for their advocacy and devotion to the lifelong learning that is so crucial in their specialty.
The Infusion Nurses Society (INS) is celebrating its 50th year as the professional organization devoted to nurses in this specialty. As an international nonprofit, INS helps nurses across the globe who want to learn more about infusion nursing, advocate for nurses in the field, and find ways to improve and share their skills and knowledge.
IV nurses perform at a fast-paced level providing the infusion work that many patients require as they undergo tests, procedures, or therapies requiring any kind of infusion through intravenous access. IV nurses are a primary resource for the start-to-finish process of administering medications and transfusions through an IV line or port. They follow meticulous procedures to prevent infections and also help their patients understand the importance of caring for the area, particularly if a line remains in place.
IV nurses work with patients of all ages and may choose to focus their eventual work with one particular age group. They may choose to work in a children’s hospital, for example, or primarily with older populations in nursing homes. Depending on the work environment, IV nurses may see different patients throughout the day or they may begin to form lasting relationships with patients they see for long-term care or for routine care of chronic illnesses and conditions. Nurses in this specialty can work in their choice of settings including medical offices, infusion centers, patient homes, hospitals, and mobile centers. This opportunity for variety or stability means that nurses are able to focus their career on the path that most suits their goals, aspirations, and lifestyle.
Patience is a particular skill of infusion nurses. They are often working quickly and sometimes with patients who are fearful or upset by the IV process (children and adults alike). As they are working, they also must be reassuring and calm to help patients manage the process. IV nurses are exceptionally accomplished at finding access quickly and with as little discomfort to the patients as possible. They need to be able to reinsert lines that have come out and to monitor the medications, fluids, or products that are being used in the infusion process.
IV nurses will continue to provide the best care possible by obtaining a certified registered nurse infusion (CRNI) credential. With certification, nurses gain additional knowledge and skills needed to provide high-quality, evidence-based care in an industry that continues to see rapid changes in technology.
Certification also signals to patients, peers, and industry leaders that nurses are committed to the best IV care and to obtaining current information. As an IV nurse, being linked into professional organizations, such as INS, builds connections with nurses who are equally committed to the career path. It’s a great way to be inspired by the work of peers and to inspire others with your own work.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) work collaboratively with healthcare teams or independently. They administer or assist with administering anesthesia for patients undergoing procedures in various healthcare settings. CRNAs can be present for planned surgical procedures, in emergency settings, in pain management clinics, in dental offices, and in birth centers to name a few.
Nurse anesthetists are responsible for caring for and monitoring a patient’s anesthesiology needs during a procedure, but their work pre- and post-procedure are critical. They will gather medical history, medication information, and assess the patient’s physical and emotional condition when possible. They are constantly looking for and identifying any potential issues that could interfere with plans for anesthesia.
As with other nursing specialties, CRNAs have taken on more responsibility and needed to master increasingly complex healthcare conditions and tech-based equipment. Because of this, changes to the practice entry requirements now require all nurses entering a CRNA program to exit with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or a Doctorate of Nursing Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) . Practicing CRNAs aren’t required to return to school for this additional advanced degree if they already have a master’s degree and have been in practice. Although it’s not required, some nurses may find that employment parameters are changing and that the DNP might be a requirement in a new place of employment.
CRNAs have careers that are dynamic and exciting. They can work directly with patients or they may choose to work in administration where they can have an impact on the conditions for patients and nurses. CRNAs also have options to work in government settings or to become active within committees to help shape the policies that surround CRNA work and career expectations. As CRNAs take on more leadership roles, they can use their direct real-world experience to inform the nuances of proposed changes.
As in all nursing specialties, time spent on the job is an excellent way to build skills and empathy for patients. CRNAs will want to continue learning about the rapid changes in the field with certification through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Certification, which needs to be renewed to stay current, helps you remain informed on the latest developments that impact the duties you perform in your work. By staying up-to-date on the most current techniques and developments, you’ll be able to offer high-quality patient care that will result in better outcomes for your patients and the best performance by your team. Certification is a way to learn about everything from patient care to technological changes in equipment that can change your process.
Celebrate the CRNAs on your team this week and if you’re a CRNA take time this week to reflect on the work you do with your patients and your healthcare team. Be proud of the change you make in each patient’s life as you perform a critical task within the process.