As 2021 dawns fresh and new, lots of nurses worldwide feel like they are dragging to the top of the calendar. The COIVD-19 pandemic changed almost everything about the way nurses work, interact with their patients, collaborate with each other and their teams, care for their families, and see their profession. As the pandemic continues to surge through the world, leaving 2020 behind is welcome, but it also brings uncertainty.
January’s typical challenge to commit to and work toward New Year’s resolutions seems tone deaf right now. Just making it through the trauma of 2020 is a victory and maybe the best resolution right now is to change the theme. After all, it is a new year and with that comes new hope, especially as vaccines have begun to roll out across the country. You can honor the calendar change but skip the pressure.
Here’s how to make resolutions work for you this year.
Make Resolutions to Let Go, Not Add
Resolutions don’t always have to be about you doing better, doing more, or taking on additional responsibilities or new habits. Resolutions for 2021 can focus on letting go of the things that you once thought were working for you or that were worthwhile but really aren’t.
Do you have a friend who makes you feel bad about yourself, a goal that was really someone else’s dream for you, or near impossible standards you set for yourself? Is holding onto these things helping you move forward in any way? Letting go of what drags you down will free up time and energy that you can use for what really matters to you.
Focus Where It Counts
You need sleep, nutritious food, connections with loved ones, fresh air, and plenty of water to be the best and most focused nurse you can be. Focus your energy on getting the things that bring you that goal. Maybe 2021 isn’t going to be the year you begin an ambitious fitness or weight loss plan. If you can hardly keep your head above water right now, don’t pressure yourself to start your grad degree, write that book, buy your first house, or land that new job. The world might look different in a few months, so don’t give up on your goals—just make sure they are realistic.
Make Small Changes
This time isn’t going to last forever. Things will change and they will get better. Keep your goals in sight, but take the time to refine them, decide why you want them, and map how to achieve them in small manageable steps. Are you trying to save money? Start cutting out small expenses. Do you want to be more fit? Start with 25 squats or jumping jacks every day or try 15 minutes of yoga three times a week. If you’re delaying an advanced degree, find a couple of webinars to keep you moving forward toward your goal. Clear out one catch-all drawer instead of tackling the whole kitchen. Those small successes lead to bigger ones.
Care for You
Nurses find this to be one of the hardest tasks on their lists. There is always something more important to take care of, more pressing to fix, or more demanding to pay attention to. What makes you feel cared for? As 2021 dawns, it’s going to be essential to find that and fit it into your life in a way that makes sense and doesn’t put more demands on you. It could be as simple as adding a few houseplants to clean the air and offer restful greenery to look at. Maybe it’s having the softest socks to slide into when you get home or finding a funny (or scary or spiritual or just interesting) podcast to lift your spirits. It could be spending quiet time in nature or perfecting your kickboxing moves—you’ll know it when you want more of it in your life. Listen to that and make it happen whenever you can.
Ever wonder what the most popular types of nurses are? As we get ready to ring in the new year, it might seem like frontline workers in health care are the most needed and most popular. Nursing students who will soon be headed out into the workforce may want to know what facets of the field have the most needs looking ahead into 2021.
We spoke with Dina Neilsen, Senior Manager of Learner, Career, and Alumni Services as well as the Emergency Committee Co-Chair at Nightingale College to find out about the most popular types of nurses in 2020.
When you say “popular,” what does this mean? The types that have the most nurses working in them? The types that nurses want to work in? Please explain.
This breaks down into a couple of answers—a prospective nurse might want to know what specialties are in highest demand, while others might want to know which are better paid, and which levels of education would need to be completed to work in a desire field.
Each job comes with its distinct set of responsibilities and has particular attributes: some pay better, others are less stressful, while some have the highest growth potential. To make the most out of a nursing career, each individual must decide which aspects are more relevant to them and pursue the position that best fits their aspirations.
Because of the pandemic, have frontline workers become one the most popular types of nurses in 2020? If not, why not?
While there isn’t much data given how recently the pandemic hit, it’s likely that there has been a surge in frontline medical workers. However, the pandemic itself will likely not change the overall top nursing careers.
What are the top popular types of nurses in 2020? Why are they? What has changed in the field to make the more popular if they weren’t in the past?
The top 20 nursing careers, based on salary and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are:
- Registered nurse
- Pediatric nurse
- Nurse practitioner
- Oncology nurse
- Emergency Dept. nurse
- Clinical nurse specialist (working in specialized units focused on a particular area of medicine)
- Nurse case manager
- ICU nurse
- Nurse educator
- Travel nurse (short-term assignment)
- Certified dialysis nurse
- Operating Room nurse (Perioperative nurse)
- Surgical nurse practitioner
- Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner
- Cardiac/cardiovascular nurse
- Nurse researcher
- PACU nurse
- Home health nurse
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist
- Certified nurse midwife
These are the specialties that are sought after by most hospitals, especially in the conditions of the nursing shortage looming ever-so-intensely over the United States.
In a year when nurses are on the frontlines of a deadly pandemic, it can’t be a surprise that nurses have once again earned the most-trusted top spot on the annual Gallup poll of the professions with the highest honesty and ethics. This year, nurses landed firmly in the top spot with 89 percent of respondents rating nurses as high or very high on honesty and ethics. The results are higher than ever before, as in 2019, nurses earned a still-outstanding 85 percent.
If you’re a nurse, take pride in knowing the survey results showed an appreciation for the care and professionalism that nurses provide every single day. And that appreciation is based in a public trust that is overwhelming. Since the Gallup poll began in 1999, nurses have earned the top spot as a most trusted profession in all years but one (in 2001, firefighters earned the top spot with a 90 percent rating).
Rounding out the top three spots of the Gallup poll are medical doctors, who earned 77 percent, and grade-school teachers with a 75 percent ethics rating. At the other end of the list, members of Congress received an 8 percent rating (down from last year’s 12 percent), and car salespeople also received 8 percent.
With a divisive political climate permeating the country, the poll seems to unite both major political parties in the way they see specific professions. The majority of respondents in both groups rated nurses, medical doctors, and grade-school teachers in the high/very high categories. Nurses were rated high or very high by 87 percent of Republicans and 91 percent of Democrats.
The survey results reflect a summer 2020 survey of confidence levels in various institutions that found similar rising rates of respect in medical institutions and public school systems. Public school systems enjoyed a rise in confidence levels to 41 percent (12 points higher than last year). Medical institutions received a 51 percent level of high confidence, sweeping past the previous level by 15 percentage points.
The way nurses have handled the emotional, physical, and spiritual load of the pandemic is not lost on the public. These high results are likely based, in part, by the expertise, dedication, empathy, devotion, and professionalism shown by nurses everywhere throughout the difficult last year. As nurses have reported this year, people are finally getting to see the real work of nurses and they are filled with respect for what they do on each shift.
Earning the top spot in the most-trusted survey results is another point of pride for nurses and the nursing profession nationwide.
If your job offers an employee benefits package, it’s likely that there are some benefits you aren’t taking advantage of. In every job, the benefits package is almost as important (or sometimes equally important) as the salary you’re offered. Benefits cover everything from your health insurance to your vacation time. But in between those common benefits are some that you may overlook because you aren’t quite sure how much of a benefit they really are to you.
As 2020 nears to a close, take a few minutes to review what your organization gives you as part of your employment package. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits can add close to another one-third of the employee’s compensation costs.
Employee Assistance Program
Commonly called an EAP, this option allows you to talk to a counselor when you need some guidance getting through a period of personal or work-related stress. Commonly, the EAP covers a set amount of free counseling sessions for each different issue you want to discuss (family members may also receive this same benefit for the same amounts of time). If, after the three sessions, you and the therapist feel like you would benefit from longer-term treatment, you can find those resources. But you may just have needed a new perspective and this benefit gives you that for no cost.
If you have a retirement plan, you might have access to financial counselors as well. They can give you some guidance on your finances, steps you might need to take for a more secure retirement, or some guidance around saving for a home, educational costs, or a long-awaited vacation. And if your company offers any kind of retirement match, be sure you are taking full advantage of that benefit.
Organizations offer employees all kinds of additional insurance as employee benefits options. If you’re looking for life insurance or long-term care insurance options, you may be able to get it through your company. If you want the security of short or long-term disability insurance, find out what your company offers just so you’ll know if you need it. The amounts you are likely to pay through your insurer will be competitive (some organizations may offer life insurance for free up to a certain amount—take advantage of that) and it’s helpful to know you’re protected.
Wellness Reimbursement and Activities
Do you have a membership at the local gym? Do you take lunchtime yoga at work (a nice benefit in itself!) or use acupuncture to help with a sore neck? All of those services may be reimbursed or compensated in part by your benefits package. You may get a set dollar amount per quarter for health classes or gym memberships. More companies are also offering reimbursement for therapies and practices that were preciously not covered—for instance, chiropractic visits with designated providers. Your employer invests in these benefits because healthy employees are better employees. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, in 2019 employers shelled out an average of $15,000 per employee for health insurance benefits (that’s in addition to your annual costs), so keeping employees healthy keeps that number down.
Pull out your benefits package before the end of the year and commit to using at least one benefit you haven’t taken advantage of yet. You could save money, boost your wellness goals, and plan for a more secure future. Don’t let those benefits slip by you.
In 2020, COVID-19 has made a lot of changes. So as the holidays are rolling around, it’s not surprising that it would change how they are celebrated.
Oftentimes, nurses would have potlucks during various shifts at work, hold present exchanges, and play games. But life has changed.
We reached out to get some tips on how nurses can hold safe holiday celebrations while at work.
From Jenna Liphart Rhoads, PhD, RN:
- Have a toy drive for children in need: in exchange for bringing in a brand-new toy for a child in need, nurses could be given a raffle ticket to win something like a massage, an extra 8 hours of PTO, or a gift certificate for a new set of scrubs.
- Staff nurses could bring in an ornament to help decorate the unit Christmas tree
- A snowman decorating contest: nurses could anonymously color or decorate a snowman (or snowwoman). Staff could then vote on their favorites, and a winner gets a prize.
From Alaina Ross, BSN, RN:
- On the floor of the hospital where she works, the nurses are having a catered lunch from a local restaurant. “[This] reduces the risk you’d get with a potluck of 20+ different dishes being cooked in 20+ households. The lunch comes from a clean and safe kitchen at a restaurant—and has the double bonus of supporting a local business,” says Ross.
- Secret Santa Gift Exchange: “The Secret Santa style gift exchange reduces exposure and interpersonal contact, as there isn’t a large group get-together like you’d have with a white elephant exchange or party. It’s just one person secretly delivering a small gift to another by leaving it in their locker.”
From Thomas Uzuegbunem, BSN, RN:
- He also suggests that instead of having a potluck to order from a restaurant that does individual servings (for example, Chinese food, etc.). “One person can take responsibility for ordering, and everyone can reimburse that person through PayPal or Venmo,” Uzuegbunem says.
- Play Fantasy Sports or a unit game on smartphones: “These are good options to get a group of people involved while still social distancing.”
- Digital Secret Santa: This is like regular Secret Santa—except for the large gathering. “You’ll pair people up and then the purchases will be either digital or mailed to their homes.”
Have a wonderful holiday season!
The contributions of a nurse in today’s crisis – stricken society are countless, especially in the midst of this pandemic. For that reason, thorough explanation of the nurses’ role is imperative for greater appreciation. Nurses have well known responsibilities including but not limited to recording medical history, vital signs and symptoms, patient advocacy, monitoring patient health and administering medications and/or treatments. Nurses collaborate with members of the interdisciplinary team for better patient outcomes and educate patients and their families about the management of illnesses. In academic settings, we educate aspiring nurses and propel them to achieve their goals in the midst of challenging life circumstances. As they say, nurses wear many hats, and as a result, nurses are burning out.
A nurse must advocate for patients beyond the health care environment while utilizing a holistic care approach; a patient may be admitted to a hospital or other health care setting for a particular ailment. However, the nurse must question this patient’s ability to care for themselves on their own, and if incapable, ensure that adequate support is in place upon discharge. Nurses also care for patients’ families. Often times, difficult conversations must occur and nurses are challenged to interact with those on the receiving end. Nurses are usually the first to notice irregularities due to the first phase of the nursing process – assessment. Nurses are the punching bags for the frustration of others on a daily basis. While nurses ought to possess qualities of resiliency, they are also human, and if empathic in nature, easily carry the stress of others on their shoulders. Hence, while taking work load, work environment, and coping mechanisms into consideration, nurses are at increased risk for burnout.
Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. It has many physiological effects. In a recent study conducted by Salvagioni et al (2017), burnout was a significant predictor of the following physical consequences: hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hospitalization due to cardiovascular disorder, musculoskeletal pain, changes in pain experiences, prolonged fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, severe injuries and mortality below the age of 45 years. Specific to nurses, in a 2019 study, 14.4% were found to be unengaged with their work, 41% of those respondents reporting feelings of burnout. Due to the physical and emotional demands of the job, nurses ought to be cognizant of the warning signs of burnout (anxiousness, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and frequent illness) because they are putting their health in jeopardy. Please take into account that these statistics are not reflective of the impact COVID-19 has had in the nursing industry. Therefore, in 2019 – 2020, these statistical figures are presumed to be more alarming.
In September 2018, I recall being transported by an ambulance from a clinical setting to the hospital. Runs of atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia flooded the heart monitor as I struggled to maintain my strength, oxygenation and my life. “Look! You can show these rhythms to your students!” said the EMT as life threatening rhythms printed from the monitor. My usually jovial self immediately thought, “Did he really have to say that and could this get any worse?”
At the time, I was a nursing education supervisor for a technical school. The program grew exponentially and I was expected to supervise both day and evening programs. This not only meant overseeing and executing the curriculum’s development and application, but also subbing for instructors as necessary, which was quite often. I was a single mother in need of more support. My divorce was recently finalized. Ageism and racism were also my contenders in the work environment. I was challenged when giving direction to a group of women, my staff, who were older and looked different from me. I was expected to provide hope for my students who had lost hope in themselves due to extenuating life circumstances. Inadvertently, I experienced the warning signs of burnout such as anxiousness and chronic fatigue, but ignored them, leading to my experience in September 2018.
In the year of 2019, I went on a quest to find a work environment that was more holistic and welcoming. The familiar saying, “Nurses eat their young” resonated within me. My mental health suffered as I experienced feelings of being unappreciated and belittled. Nonetheless, in the midst of all of this rain, the sun did shine again. I decided to return to my home district as a school nurse, which gave me an opportunity to give back to my community and encouraged healing for my broken soul.
As a survivor of burnout and the consequences that came with it, I feel the need to bring awareness to the fact that nurses need to be nursed. So, who nurses the nurse? If possible, nurses must nurse themselves by doing the following:
Evaluate Your Own Personal Life.
Ask yourself, have I recently experienced life changing events and have I taken enough time to ride life’s emotional rollercoaster? Trying to balance work and these emotions can lead to a very bumpy ride (burnout). One may need to request time off from work or even take a leave of absence. Taking these actions does not mean that you are weak. It just means that you are taking a step closer to healing.
Identify Sources of Support.
As John Donne said, “No man is an island. No man stands alone.” It is impossible to navigate through these difficult times in solitude, so finding a trusted confidant is important. It may be a family member or a close friend. For some, it may involve getting help from a licensed therapist. Once having adequate support systems, you will come to the realization that you are not alone. This notion generates healing thoughts and behaviors.
Ask For Help.
Nurses have a tendency to practice autonomy and often forget about asking for help. We always give but do not want to receive.
Diet and Exercise.
You are what you eat, therefore in order to promote feelings of wellness, we need to eat foods and participate in activities that support wellness. Overall, one should base their diet on whole grains, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and reduce fat, salt, and sugar intake. We should also aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.
Watch Your Water Intake.
Men and women need approximately 3 liters of fluid daily, however water requirements vary depending on weight. As it pertains to burnout, water can help maximize physical performance. Water also significantly affects energy levels and brain function.
Make Time For Hobbies.
Do not forget about your interests. Make time for these activities. It could be as simple as listening to music or watching an interesting TV show. I’ve always loved dancing. Since my experience in 2018, I joined a ballroom dancing/social community.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation.
This is the practice of actually being present in the moment which in turn trains you to become more mindful throughout the day, particularly during stressful situations. There are an abundance of mindfulness meditation exercises that can be found on the internet. I do these exercises daily.
Get Enough Sleep.
We need at least seven to nine hours of sleep daily to function at our best. If you are having a hard time achieving this, talk to your doctor. You can consider non-pharmacological methods such as teas and lavender oils. According to the National Sleep Foundation, obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health, improving productivity, and overall quality of life.
Watch Your Appearance.
If you think you look good, chances are you will feel good too. Participate in practices that enhance positive feelings about personal appearance. Do a facial. Get your eyebrows waxed and your hair done. Do you!
The above recommendations highlight the importance of self-care. I urge each and every nurse to take part in such practices before it is too late. The disease processes that result from lack of self-care are probable, but preventable. So before you become dependent on a caretaker due to illness, remain independent by being your own best nurse.
Special Thanks: Desmond & Lillieth Gayle; The Wong Family; Nayomi Walton, PhD, RN; Therelza Ellington, RN; Anisa Cole, LCSW; Bloomfield Public Schools