When you’re thinking of career development and professional advancement in a nursing career, becoming a certified nurse sets you apart.
With today marking 2019’s Certified Nurses Day, certified nurses in every specialty can appreciate and understand the benefits gained from certification. From critical care to various women’s health to oncology, certification is available is a wide range of specialties.
Nurses become certified when they continue their nursing education with additional studies that culminate with passing a certification exam. Many nurses will try for certification when they have worked in a specialty or sub specialty and have a desire to learn more. They may also choose to become certified if they want to advance in their careers, gain more professional standing, or to better serve the patients and families they work with every day.
Although the exam might be a little easier if you already work in the specialty and understand the complexities of the standards and procedures, many nurses also choose to become certified in areas where they work only occasionally. Nurses may obtain as many certifications as they want, but choosing carefully to help enhance your job performance, your patient base, and your desire to know more about a certain topic will reap the biggest gains.
One of the biggest issues nurses might find with certification is the exam itself. But, as many certified nurses will say, your basic knowledge and extra studying on the most current updates will likely be enough to help you pass. If you are going for a certification that is just outside your normal area of expertise, you’ll need to put in more effort and extra hours studying, but the end result will be worth it. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of this particular nursing practice, and you’ll also elevate your professional standing. In addition, certified nurses show they care about their jobs and their careers enough to become better nurses with this extra effort.
As nurses progress through their careers, gaining certification reaffirms the reasons why they entered the profession. Nurses, even those who have been in practice for decades, know there is always something else to learn. As technology and medical advances continue at a rapid rate, certification helps provide that national standard of nursing care and expectations of practice.
If you’re interested in obtaining certification, begin looking at the American Nurses Credentialing Center for more information about how to prepare, how to get started, and what to expect. If you are already certified in a specialty (or more than one!) congratulations on joining an expert army of nurses who have gone beyond requirements to become the best possible nurses.
Enjoy Certified Nurses Day!
Going back to work after a disability can be tough for anyone, and especially for nurses whose jobs are incredibly demanding. Returning to work can seem like an insurmountable obstacle on bad days, but don’t think about hanging up your stethoscope quite yet. There are plenty of legal and social resources for you to fall back on if you’re a nurse with a disability. Read on to discover seven strategies for nurses with disabilities who wish to return to work.
1. Know the Americans with Disabilities Act well.
Passed in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in a variety of settings, including jobs, schools, and transportation. (Additional amendments went into effect in 2009.) Many different conditions may qualify as a disability if they significantly impair your ability to engage in one or more major life activities. Categories of disabilities include neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, immune, circulatory, lymphatic, skin, endocrine and more. In the U.S., the ADA is the single most important law for dictating how employers can treat employees during and after the hiring process, so study up on the ADA and get intimately familiar with what it means for you.
2. Learn your employer’s benefits package.
Beyond the ADA, your employer might also have certain benefits or protections that are relevant to employees with disabilities. For starters, see if your employer offers any short-term or long-term disability insurance. Your employer might also provide Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or stay-or-work or return-to-work policies in the context of employees with disabilities. If you have questions about what your employer does and does not provide, the HR department should be able to answer your questions. If you need accommodations in the workplace as a result of your disability, such as the use of a wheelchair, you’ll also need to discuss that with HR (they have a responsibility to work with you on accommodations under the ADA).
3. Seek out other nurses with disabilities.
No one will be able to understand your challenges quite like another nurse with disabilities. Even if they have a different disability from you, they’ll still be able to empathize about issues such as working with an employer to get necessary accommodations or understanding the ins and outs of the ADA. Ideally, you’ll be able to find an experienced nurse or two who can serve as a mentor and help guide you through the transition of returning to work with a disability. Even if the nurses aren’t experienced enough to serve as your mentors, you will still benefit greatly from building connections with others who know what you’re going through.
4. Build a support network for yourself.
Your connections shouldn’t stop with other nurses with disabilities. Other nurses, especially your immediate coworkers, can be a huge help as you transition back to your job. Of course, this depends on how supportive your company culture is, but your coworkers might be able to help you brainstorm small changes that you all can make together to make your return to work more seamless. (And if you need any accommodations or other changes, you’ll need to discuss them with your supervisor for sure.) If you have a spouse, partner or roommate, they can also help you with non-work tasks—like cooking and cleaning—to make your return to work less stressful as well.
5. Keep your license and certifications up to date.
State boards vary in terms of what certifications they require from disabled nurses, so look up your state’s guidelines and make sure that you’re in compliance with them. Wherever you leave and whatever the state requirements are, make sure that you renew your nursing license while you’re on active duty and that you keep up with any and all continuing education requirements. Keep in mind that sometimes additional training or refresher workshops may be necessary before you can renew your nursing license. Keeping your license current is important because you don’t want anything to jeopardize your standing with your employer and everything that goes with it (insurance, paycheck, etc.).
6. Get involved in professional organizations.
There are many professional organizations available for nurses, including the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND), which works to promote equality for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions in nursing through education and advocacy. Beyond NOND, there are plenty of other associations for just about every nursing specialty and issue available, so there’s bound to be something that connects with your interests. Participating in these organizations will help you build your network and advocate for nurses with disabilities within the profession. This network will be critical if you decide that you need to make a career change because of your disability (see the next tip).
7. Explore new specialties to find your niche.
No matter how accommodating your employer is, after returning to work with a disability, you might decide that it’s in your best interest to make a career change. If that describes your situation, start exploring other options. Perhaps you can find a job where you don’t have to be on your feet as much, or you can transition to a lower-stress unit that won’t cause your symptoms to flare as often. Reach out to your fellow nurses, especially those who also have disabilities, and ask them about the pros and cons of their positions and how accommodating their employers are. If you don’t feel like you have the right experience to make the career change you want, you can also consider going back to school for additional certifications or even an advanced degree to help you make the leap.
Putting on your scrubs and returning to nursing work after a disability can be daunting, but thankfully there are resources available for nurses in this exact situation. Do as much research as you can about the ADA and your employer’s policies, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it. Plenty of nurses with disabilities do meaningful work and take care of their patients very successfully, and even if you need accommodations, we know you can do the same.
If you are one of the many Americans whose savings plan has been impacted by a smaller-than-expected tax refund this year, it might be a good time to consider changing your financial planning approach.
Lots of people consider the tax return windfall they get every spring as an unofficial savings bonus. In reality, it’s a poor way to save money. The government ends up having your money until you file your taxes. That money does nothing for you while the government holds it. It’s not earning any interest, and it’s not being used to invest in any kind of growth fund.
A more sustainable plan is to make a better estimate of your tax withdrawals so you can retain control of that extra money. You can decide how to invest it so you earn money. Even if you are only earning a small amount, the funds are gaining something they otherwise would not.
Whether you are a new employee just signing up for your withholding or a long-term employee ready to make a change, it only takes filling out one form, the Employee’s Witholding Allowance Certificate or W-4, to change your withdrawal amounts. If you are unsure of how many deductions to claim, you have lots of options to learn about how to handle your money.
Organizations like the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors offer consumers resources to help find what they need. You might just need some advice on how to use your money wisely instead of getting a lump-sum tax refund. Or maybe you’d like to know your options on how to do that and also use your latest pay raise to start or add to a retirement plan. Often a fee-only advisor, who will not earn any commission on products or services, will discuss the best options for your personal situation.
The Financial Insdustry Regulatory Authority website contains valuable information about investing, understanding certain financial brokerage processes, and the difference between financial products and professionals. Websites like The Motley Fool, Kiplinger, or Bankrate give both novice and advanced consumers information they can use. Whether you need information on multiplying your savings for retirement, figuring out how much you can afford for a mortgage, or consolidating your credit card debt, you can get reliable, accurate information if you know where to look.
Once you are armed with information, you can decide if hiring a professional is your next best step. Generally a few hours with a fee-only advisor will pay for itself several times over. They can help you save thousands of dollars while also showing you how to take steps to grow your money, too.
While that boost of cash at the end of tax season is welcome, with a little planning, you can make it even better. And the more control you have over your own money, the better off you will be.
The PeriAnesthesia Nurse Awareness Week is celebrated this year from February 4-10 and is a time when nurses in this specialty are recognized for the work they do. The week also allows an opportunity for education about the specialty and the type of care these nurses deliver.
The American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses (ASPAN) is an important resource for nurses who work in the perianesthesia realm and those who are considering this specialty. Many people know perianesthesia nurses as part of the essential surgical team, but they are also intricately involved in pain management procedures that involve anesthesia.
Perianesthesia nurses are present during all aspects of anesthesia care. They work with patients during pre- and post-operative care. They also monitor and advocate for patients during procedures. As a perianesthesia nurse, one must remain vigilant for any signs of difficulty in the patient, so nurses are constantly monitoring vital signs and breathing.
Because of the careful and meticulous preoperative care, these nurses also know how to monitor visually to make sure the patient is tolerating the procedure well. If there are any problems, nurses are there. When patients are recovering from a procedure, the nurse continues to monitor their recovery as the anesthesia wears off. They are a professional medical presence and a calming personal presence as well.
As with other specialties, certification is important for perianesthesia nurses as the challenges of medications, patient health, and procedure can make for a complex situation. All ages of patients undergo anesthesia, so nurses need to have training and experience with every age from newborns to the very elderly.
Conditions can make people more frail and the potential for an allergy or a bad reaction to anesthesia is always present. Remaining educated with the latest information and evidence-based practices is critical in this specialty.
As a perianesthesia nurse, time is especially important during patient interactions. They have a short window of time to assess a patient, put that person at ease, and find a common thread or conversation point that can be used during postop care. Often perianesthesia nurses will try to find an interesting detail about the patient and use that as a conversation point to help orient patients after procedures.
Some perianesthesia nurses work in pain management, helping patients and monitoring them closely as they receive different anesthesia, some of which is not entirely sedating, for pain. In this case, they act as advocates as patients manage the procedures and the effects of the anesthesia.
If you’re a perianesthesia nurse, celebrate all you do this week. If you have perianesthesia nurses on your team, give them recognition for the essential role they play in your organization and in patients’ lives.
From a student nurse deciding on a career path to a seasoned nurse looking to advance into administration, each step along a nurse’s career is filled with questions. Fortunately, mentors in the nursing industry are becoming a more visible presence.
The Nurse Mentorship Program at Stanford Health Care is one such valued and valuable mentoring program. Introduced in 2004 for graduate nurses, the program now encompasses a range of nurses in different areas of their careers.
Minority Nurse spoke with associate chief nursing officer for inpatient services and magnet program director at Stanford Health Care at Stanford University Anita Girard and with Stanford’s program manager of nursing excellence Kevin Tsui about the distinct benefits of this kind of program.
Girard and Tsui say many nurses seek mentoring for varied reasons. They might seek leadership advice or they might want guidance for switching specialties. Still others may be looking for assistance with specific tasks such as writing or giving a top-notch presentation at a conference.
Any nurse can gain from a mentoring relationship, says Girard, but a specific benefit is one that will help a nurse professionally and personally. “The biggest benefit is the networking nurses have being in a mentoring program,” she says. “Mentoring opens you up to a whole new world.”
Tsui agrees and notes the satisfaction nurses reap from establishing a firm footing in their careers and having someone who can help guide them. The resulting good feelings lead to happier nurses, and the benefits stretch far. “Those mentoring connections streamline goals, build positivity and retention, and nurses feel a sense of control,” he says.
Nurses, says Girard, can feel siloed. Despite being in the same profession, nurses have varying specialties and may not have opportunities to hear from nurses in different areas. Mentoring includes both the one-on-one discussions and the larger access to others in the industry that becomes available. “Mentoring gets you out of that box,” says Girard.
So how does a mentoring relationship benefit the nurses and their organizations? According to Tsui, “It’s crucial. By sharing an organization’s mission, vision, and values, it makes transparent the format for mentoring,” he says.
Nurses in a mentoring relationship within the same organization are working within the same culture, so are able to set clear goals and create objectives that are going to be important to the nurse’s career within that organization and in the larger industry. Often, says Girard, mentors will give guidance based on what they already know about the organization. They will be able to help a nurse put priorities in order for certification, advancement, skills development, and personal improvement.
Mentors are also able to be objective about a nurse’s path, so they can help nurses align their goals and use their own knowledge to help a nurse achieve those goals, says Tsui.
A mentoring relationship is definitely a give and take, says Girard. “You really need to make an effort to understand why you want to get into a mentoring relationship in the first place,” she says. And mentees need to make a solid commitment and understand that any mentoring activity needs to be given top priority, she says.
Mentees are responsible for reaching out, setting up clear timelines, and even using tools to streamline online tasks such as emails and calendar appointments. Any communication should have an agenda with clear and succinct ideas and questions. By doing this, the mentee shows the mentor clear goals and intentions mean they have a goal for mentoring and that it will be productive.
Tsui says that sometimes mentees are not clear about the process and expect the mentor to initiate or complete tasks for them. Instead they need to keep in mind they need to be committed to change and driven to use the guidance of the mentor to advance their goals.
At Stanford Health Care, the mentoring program satisfies a magnet hospital requirement, but the benefits have been extensive. “We are driven to excellence,” says Girard. “It is a journey of innovation and inquiry and what we can do to make things better.”
On January 25, IV nurses around the country will once again be recognized with a day in their honor. Since 1980, the Infusion Nurses Society has sponsored IV Nurse Day has called attention to the nurses who specialize in infusion nursing.
This year’s theme “It’s About Us. It’s About Infusion.” highlights IV nurses’ dedication to their professional careers and their commitment to their patients’ health and safety.
Infusion nurses are drawn to the specialty for various reasons. Many enjoy the direct patient care and their essential place in a medical team. They are able to offer patient and family education for those who are seen in offices and centers and to those who require infusions out of a clinic or hospital setting. And they are also able to remain current on innovative practices and medication management.
IV nurses must know how to properly place infusion equipment to reduce pain, increase accurate placement, and prevent infection. They need to understand what medications (antibiotics to chemotherapy) and fluids (blood to saline) they are administering and keep tabs so they know which medications might interact. Infusion nurses keep track of infusion sites for any signs of infection, poor placement, or discomfort.
According to Salary.com, infusions nurses make anywhere from $78,550 to $94,136 annually. IV nurses who want to remain at the cutting-edge of the industry and who want to provide the best possible patient care should become certified as a CRNI (Certified Registered Nurse Infusion). Certification requires extra training and a deeper dive into the details of this specialty. Obtaining certification means you have the latest tools to help your patients.
While infusion nurses are masters at the task of establishing a line or a catheter with minimal discomfort and excellent placement, they are also doing it all while talking with and often comforting a patient and any present loved ones. They are able to distract with words and actions, to establish a trust and connection with their mannerisms, and reassure with their knowledge. All of this direct patient care is what makes an IV nurse’s job different every day.
Take the time today to thank the IV nurses in your life!