Retirement Security Risk and Minorities

Retirement Security Risk and Minorities

A recent Trends in Retirement Security by Race/Ethnicity study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College showed what many minorities already know: as a group, minorities are less prepared for retirement security.

The report studied how different groups have fared financially since the recession of 2008. The study examined the wealth holdings and the medial household earnings of white, black, and Hispanic households. It revealed that while all groups saw their funds decline significantly, white households have rebounded better than black or Hispanic households, with Hispanics faring the worst.

According to the study, in 2007, white households held a median net wealth of $183,100 with median household earnings of $63,900. Black households held $39,00 in median net wealth with $39,100 in earnings. Hispanic households held $59,300 with income of $44,000.

By 2016, white households had $132,100 of net wealth with $67,200 in median earnings. Black households had $18,300 in net wealth and $37,000 in median earnings. Hispanic households held $24,400 in net wealth and median earnings of $38,000.

The significant drops in both total net wealth and median household earnings means minority families have less money to pay for everyday costs and little if any income left to save for retirement. And although the study did mention that at the moment Social Security will up the replacement rates for low earners, that’s little comfort for families who aren’t able to save for their futures right now.

The study estimates that half of all households in the United States are at risk for being prepared for retirement, the figures are different for each group. About 48 percent of whites, 54 percent of blacks, and 61 percent of Hispanics are at risk of not having enough to fund their retirement years. And if you are a caregiver to someone and a nurse, you have a distinct challenge.

What does that mean for retirement security and making good financial decisions? Saving any money at all is better than saving nothing. Taking a hard look at where your money goes now is a good first step. Then set a goal. If you want to save $50 a month, you’ll either need to reduce your spending or make more money. That could mean eliminating some things like buying take-out food or drinks. Coffees, sodas, and iced teas are rarely worth the price away from home. Packing meals and snacks to bring to work or to tide you over for a long day of clinicals and classes also makes a difference. Examine your cable bill, your phone costs, your entertainment expenses, and clothing expenses. Keep only what is absolutely necessary.

If there’s little space to reduce your expenses, think of ways to bring in a little more income and put it aside for retirement. Whether it is selling clothes online, tutoring nursing students, or taking a short-term consulting job, extra income can make a big dent in retirement goals.

Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short. You are saving for your own future, and that alone is worth making it a priority.

Heart Health for Busy Nurses

Heart Health for Busy Nurses

February is American Heart Month — what better time to reassess how well you are taking care of your heart health?

Know Your Risk Factors

As a minority nurse, you probably know certain minority groups have higher risks for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, African Americans, American Indians/Native Alaskans, and Hispanics have an increased risk of heart disease and its associated problems like high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Other risk factors include hereditary factors (others in your family have heart disease), smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet.

Know the Signs

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a few heart attack signs and symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

Women also tend to have symptoms that are different from men and, therefore, aren’t always immediately considered as heart trouble.

Watch for these unusual signs:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Feelings of unease or anxiety

Heart disease isn’t called the silent killer for no reason. If you feel something is off, whether that’s occasional chest pain with exercise or under stress, heart palpitations, or off-and-on chest discomfort, always be cautious and get it checked.

Reduce Your Risk

If you have risk factors for heart disease, you should monitor your blood pressure, your cholesterol, and your blood sugar. Try to reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough physical activity, being sure to rest, staying connected with loved ones, and trying to keep your stress levels in check.

With the hectic pace of a nurse’s day, getting any time to bring your stress down a notch is a struggle. But one simple way to help with stress reduction is to step outside. Plenty of research backs up the idea that more time outside is better for your health. A few minutes walking at lunch, parking far enough away in a parking lot, or even just getting a few breaths of fresh air on a break can have huge benefits on your physical health and your mental health. Getting into nature can clear your mind, lower your blood pressure, and help you clear out the mental clutter enough to focus better when you come back to work.

Heart disease is the number-one killer of men and women in the United States, so paying attention to your own heart health is one of the best preventative measures you can take.

Jackie Webb’s Journey to Success as a Family Nurse Practitioner

Jackie Webb’s Journey to Success as a Family Nurse Practitioner

Like many minority nurses, Jackie F. Webb, DNP, FNP-BC, RN, associate professor at Linfield College School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon, had to overcome many challenges on her career path to becoming a family nurse practitioner.

Webb is the daughter of immigrants to the United States and is a first-generation college graduate. Her parents worked hard to provide for their family and instilled the importance of going to college. It wasn’t until Webb got a job in a nursing home that she set her sights on becoming a nurse.

“I did not start out college knowing I wanted to be a nurse,” says Webb. “It was the experience of working in a nursing home and meeting an incredible nurse who exposed me to the challenges of nursing that convinced me to major in nursing. Looking back, I realize the time this nurse took to help me see the power and art of nursing, and her support is what gave me the belief I, too, could be a nurse.”

Webb initially thought she wanted to work as a critical care nurse, but soon realized she was most interested in preventing patients from ever needing a critical care unit.

“Working as a public health nurse opened my eyes to the challenges of seeing patients in their own homes, without fancy equipment but my stethoscope and a BP cuff, and my ability to really listen and take a thorough health history.”

This experience motivated Webb to go to graduate school and become a nurse practitioner where she learned how to manage chronic illnesses and how to incorporate cultural beliefs into the patient’s management plans. She has been a family nurse practitioner for more than 30 years.

Like many minority nurses, along the way Webb had several challenges to overcome.

“Not having role models, not having parents who knew how to navigate the world of college applications, finances, scholarships, etc. Additional challenges for me included not having good writing skills, not having a rich vocabulary, and not having experiences like so many of my friends.  My parents didn’t take vacations, they didn’t belong to book clubs, they didn’t have dinner parties nor did they have their brothers and sisters or any family member close by. They both had to work long hours to afford a roof over our head. The isolation of being a first-generation immigrant was at times difficult.”

Webb believes that there are ways for colleges and universities to help immigrant and first-generation college students overcome the unique challenges they face.

“Colleges and universities who work with immigrant students and/or first-generation college students need to know that these students are for the most part willing to work harder than any other student population,” says Webb. “For some they see how hard their parents work to just keep food on the table, they don’t take anything for granted. These students are grateful for any type of assistance and will overcome amazing barriers to obtain their college degrees. Many of these students end up inspiring other students and take on challenges many students are fearful to take. Many students value their college community and will take on various leadership roles.”

So what advice would Webb offer to minority nursing students today? “I would tell them to value their personal stories,” says Webb. “Value your history and that of your family. Be proud of the hard work your family has gone through to get to where you are now. The passion, the self-reliance, and support students have will get them very far.

Webb also encourages minority students to reach out for support. “For many students of color they are the first to attend college. This is an incredible journey they are undertaking and they cannot do it alone,” says Webb. “It is so important that they find a mentor or advisor so they can feel comfortable asking how to navigate this new journey. Use every available resource so you are able to be successful. Don’t be afraid, embarrassed, or feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I believe it is absolutely the reverse: asking for help is a definite sign of strength as it shows you are ready to do the work.”

California Minority Nurses Gather to Discuss Patient Advocacy in Fresno

California Minority Nurses Gather to Discuss Patient Advocacy in Fresno

Last Saturday, as part of a program called “Minority Nurse Leadership in the 21st Century,” about 100 minority nurses from all around California met at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno to discuss the role of nurses in patient advocacy and leadership. According to statistics, 40 percent of the California population are Latino while only 7 percent of the nurses statewide are Latino, proving the need for more minority nurses in California.

A 2014 Board of Nursing report from the California State Board of Registered Nursing reported that Latinos will continue to be underrepresented and become even more underrepresented in the nursing workforce in the future. African American nurses are also expected to be underrepresented until 2030, while all other racial groups continue to be overrepresented compared to the general population.

The number of white nurses in the workforce has declined from 77.2 percent in 1990 to 51.6 percent in 2014. This decline leaves the most highly represented nonwhite group of nurses as Filipinos at 20.3 percent of the workforce, with non-Filipino Asian nurses at 8.5 percent, and black nurses at about 5 percent.

Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, a member of the California State Board of Registered Nursing and director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State, says the purpose of the minority nurse meeting in Fresno was to get more minority nurses into leadership positions so they can serve as role models and mentors to minority students who want to go into nursing but don’t see a realistic way to get there.

Kimberly Horton, chief executive officer at Vibra Hospital of Sacramento, says that nursing is an opportunity that many Latinos have never thought about so nursing programs need to be marketed to that population, and using minority nurses to educate their peers about the nursing profession is a great way to get started. Horton is an African American registered nurse and she was one of five speakers at the Fresno meeting.

Minority nurses can be wonderful advocates for patients, bringing a special understanding of health beliefs that are ethically, culturally, and religiously based and that can have a real effect on patient health. By including nurses who represent ethnic groups in the development of patient health care plans, health care teams can better develop logical plans for treatment that won’t negatively impact the health of minority patients due to common misunderstandings or misperceptions that patients have about their health and treatment.

Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Top 5 Tips for Graduate School Success

Top 5 Tips for Graduate school

So, you are thinking about completing your Master’s degree.  You may be just graduating with your bachelor’s, established in your career, seeking career advancement, or an overall career change.  You should commend yourself wherever you currently are in your professional journey.  Graduate school is essential for career progression and as daunting as the challenge may be it is feasible and worthwhile.  However, there are certain things that I wish I had known previously to enrolling in my first graduate courses that would have saved me a ton of grief on this grad school journey.

Learn the APA Manual

Do you briefly remember being introduced to this in your undergraduate English and Research classes?  You know, the blue book that you couldn’t wait to toss as soon as you completed those courses!  Well, don’t get too excited and toss that manual out just yet.  The APA manual will be your bible at the graduate level.  It is best to not only familiarize yourself with it but read it cover to cover.  In all seriousness, there will be no mercy for APA formatting issues at the graduate level, and failure to comply will hinder your ability to graduate.  Let’s be honest; graduate school is very expensive so do not lose points over APA errors and get your bang for your bucks when it’s time to cash in on that top G.P.A.

Proofread

Grad school will push your writing capabilities to the maximum.  When I first started, I went in under the false pretenses that I was a decent writer.  After all, my highest scores were always in English and Language Arts.  However, never underestimate the power of proofreading your document, or having someone else review it.  It is important to remember that you are not supposed to be writing as if you are talking in scholarly writing.  Read every single thing you submit out loud at least two times before turning it in.  You will be surprised at some errors you will find in your documents once you hear it out loud. I swear by Owlet Purdue, Grammarly, and PERRLA to assist with the completion of my papers.

Don’t Break

One of the biggest mistakes that I made during my Grad school journey was “taking a break”.  Apparently, life happens to everybody, but if you can help it, you should stay on the course to graduate on time.  While taking a leave of absence is certainly an option, there are some universities have a time limit on the amount of time you can spend on the completion of your master’s degree.  Taking a leave of absence sounds a nice break until you return and you are under even more pressure to complete your degree.  Stay on track and graduate on time.  Put yourself out of grad school misery.  Try not to prolong it.

Find Balance

My zodiac sign of a Libra makes finding balance very high on my priority list.  Regardless of your sign, it is essential to find a way to balance everything you have going on in life.  Many of us are career focused, have spouses or partners, children, and community obligations.  There are going to be some times that you will simply have to say no to others as well as avoid taking on too many additional duties.  You have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.  Do not feel guilty about taking a step back or going on a much need hiatus to keep everything together.  Remember that this is temporary, and there will always be opportunities to restock your plate once you have graduated.

Cost vs. Reputation

This has been an ongoing debate for such a long time.  I will give you my honest opinion and say that it is best to go for value in regards to selecting a school to attend.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with investing yourself, but please do not break the bank along the way.  Try your very best to avoid debt, save up, and develop a reasonable budget that you can use to finance your educational goals.  If you are shelling out a ton of money, ensure that the institution has a reputation that fits your tuition bill.  Student loan debt is a serious problem.  Remember that you will need to pay that money back, and if this degree does not make a high paying job seem promising to you it may be necessary to scale back.  Remember, grad school isn’t cheap!

Wrapping it All Up

I hope that you avoid the pitfalls that I incurred during my grad school journey and that these tips will help ease you in your transition and prepare you for entry into grad school.  A graduate degree is totally obtainable; it’s just a different academic dynamic.  I’ll see you on the other side!

graduation photo

 

 

 

To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be

“ Once you know yourself, in this living stillness, there is nothing in this world that is greater than you”

One of the elements of discovery is “stillness”… I am sure you are thinking, ” What does that really mean? As healthcare professional, how can I incorporate STILLNESS into my life when I have been trained to move and move fast because it is the difference between life and death?”

Guess what, IT IS POSSIBLE! Let’s break this down a little bit more.

Many people see the word “stillness” and automatically think it means to have no movement which is true to a certain point, but from the perspective of discovery, “stillness” is the state of being or being one with yourself. Not thinking about the kids, what you have to cook for dinner, the bills you need to pay, but can’t… the job you dread, the co-worker or friend that gets on your nerves, etc. I mean you DO NOT think about any of that, just simply BE!! In the state of being is where we really and truly get to “know thyself” and not what everyone else tells us about ourselves. In stillness we allow the voice of the holy spirit, which is our GPS navigation system, to guide us through the streets called life. In stillness we learn to quiet the mind and not allow anything that is going on around us affect us. So when you are in a state of stillness, it doesn’t mean that things are not going on around you, it means that they are not going on within you. Let me make it a little clearer for you, you can be at work on a 35 bed med-surg unit with 10 physicians and 3 respiratory therapist on the unit, family all over the place, a supervisor who is screaming at staff, and a co-worker who scrolling through her social media timelines chilling while you have 10 outstanding task and not let ANY, I mean ANY of it affect you internally. The key is to create an intention of stillness which can be achieved by having some intentionality about how you are carrying yourself in a given moment and focus on what is within your control.

Now that we have what stillness means from the perspective of discovery out of the way, I can hear you saying “ Nicole I don’t have time for that”, I have to take care of my family, walk the dogs, manage all the household chores, manage the financial accounts, and I am sure that the list could go on and on but guess what you CAN practice stillness through all of this (I am not telling you what anyone told me but what I know)!! And to be honest if you want to live a life purposefully as a healthcare professional according to Gods’ will then it is a non-negotiable.

So let me share 4 tips that helped me to begin my practice of stillness and make the practice of stillness a ritual in my life.

1. Deep Breath- Yep simply deep breath! I hear you saying “and what is that going to help”? When we take deep breaths it induces the parasympathetic system and slows down your heart rate, which leads to a state of relaxation  (use this one when you have trouble going on all around you so that it is not going on in you).
2. Schedule Time to Be- Look lets keep it real we all live busy life’s that pull us in 50 directions and many us live by a Google calendar which tells where to be and when. Well guess what place your “Be Time” on there too. It has been proven that anything we do for 21 days becomes a habit.
3. Get off Social Media- Yep I said it!! Get off Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. stalking pages and looking at fairytale lives that often don’t exist and practice just “ Being” (I was once guilty of this one, LOL). With the hours we spend on these sites weekly, we can really get to “know thyself” and find our purpose as a healthcare professional.
4. Find a Location that brings you Serenity- Know I know I said the state of being can happen when trouble is all around you which means we can have stillness anywhere but to get to a place where we can do this, we can get practice by doing it in areas where we find peace. So that may be by the water, outdoors with the birds chirping, a certain room in your home, etc. Practicing stillness in a location that brings you peace prepares you to be able to do it anywhere.

These tips are the very tip of the iceberg for practicing stillness because stillness goes much deeper but I wanted to start with building a foundation for you to build upon.

 

Remember in Psalms 46:10 we were told to “ Be still and know that I am god”.

Living purposefully,

 

Nicole Thomas