Nurse Attire: 7 Comfy Additions to Your Everyday Work Look

Nurse Attire: 7 Comfy Additions to Your Everyday Work Look

As thousands of new nurses join the workforce each year, tons of essential products are geared toward making their lives easier. But whether you’re a new or experienced nurse, you might miss out on comfortable additions to your everyday work attire that will help you work 15-hour shifts without batting an eye.nurse-attire-7-comfy-additions-to-your-everyday-work-look

If you’re ready to step up your work look and comfort game, check out the tools you need to ensure your day goes as smoothly as possible, support you as a medical professional, and keep you confident.

1. Scrub Jackets

Scrub jackets re exactly what they sound like —jackets that go over your scrubs. If you’re working in a colder city and you need a jacket to keep you warm on your way to work, or at work in a chilly hospital, scrub jackets are the answer. These stylish layering essentials look professional, match your scrubs, and add a touch of personality while keeping you warm. You can find scrub jackets in a ton of unique colors with warm materials, zippers, pockets, and other functional details.

2. Custom Scrubs

You may already have a scrub lineup that you love, but are they all monogrammed with your name or initials? Add your credentials under your name on the front pocket to take your workwear to the next level.

This is also a great way to build your wardrobe if you’re starting. Custom scrubs are about more than just your name. Most companies also help you personalize colors, patterns, details, cut, and fit to create an outfit that truly represents you and your career!

3. Bamboo Socks

You might think that any old athletic sock is good enough for spending hours on your feet — but you’re dead wrong. It would help if you had a highly moisture-wicking, breathable, and odor-minimizing sock. Bamboo socks are made of a unique, sustainable material that delivers!

You can also opt for toe-separating socks, which bring another level of comfort to your day. By separating each toe, you don’t have to worry about sweat and grime building up for hours and making your feet uncomfortable. These socks also offer compression and arch support to ensure standing all day isn’t such a chore.

4. The Right Shoes

Studies show that the average nurse walks about 8,000 steps each shift — that’s about four miles! Don’t let your bamboo socks be the only thing protecting your feet from possible diseases and all that walking. Get the right shoes for the job with specialized nursing shoes, like clogs or ultra-padded sneakers. Look for a pair that offers a lot of support for your ankles and cushions your soles to reduce strain.

5. A Carry-All Bag

Nurses need a lot of supplies to ensure they’re prepared for whatever the shift brings. While some nurses prefer scrubs with tons of pockets to carry all their essentials, there is another option. With a bag, you have something that’s easier to carry around. It also provides convenient access and more organization than the various pockets in your uniform.

You can personalize your tote to match your scrubs, broadcasting that this is part of your workwear and ensuring you always know which bag is yours. Choose the color and material before personalizing it with your name and credentials.

6. Water Bottle

In the past, a disposable water bottle would have been acceptable to keep you going throughout your shift. But, with today’s concerns about environmental sustainability and microplastics entering your body, you may want to turn to a reusable tumbler to keep you hydrated. You’ll also enjoy a bottle big enough to get the recommended 60 ounces of water daily to keep you healthy.

Forget finding a plastic disposable bottle in that size. Focus on a reusable tumbler that keeps your water cool and your coffee hot so you can rehydrate throughout your shift—even if you’re working a double shift.

7. A Blanket

Whether it’s another COVID surge or a local emergency, a crisis can strike any moment, and you may need to stay overnight at your hospital. Don’t rely on hospital materials to keep you comfortable if you need to grab a nap. Bring your blanket and set yourself up for comfort.

Choose a blanket cozy enough to ensure you fall asleep in moments and catch all the shut-eye you need right away. Even better, you can customize your blanket to match your scrubs or embroider it with your name, initials, and credentials!

Pack Up Your Gear

Do you already have all these essentials in your arsenal? Amazing! You’re prepared for anything and ready to go. But, if you find yourself missing a few things or want to upgrade your most essential accessories, use this list to start shopping.

Share this list with other nurses to guarantee everyone on your team feels their best.

The Seasons of Your Nursing Career

The Seasons of Your Nursing Career

When people in their 80s or 90s talk about their experiences, they may often refer to being in the autumn or winter of life. We can also think about our nursing careers in the same way. If you were to reflect on your career in terms of its various seasons, how would you describe where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re heading?the-seasons-of-your-nursing-career

The Promise of Spring 

Graduating from nursing school is when your career begins formulating, with taproots making their way into the fertile soil of possibility. As you achieve landmarks like passing the NCLEX, getting licensed, and landing your first job, those taproots begin to take hold.

With the accumulation of new skills or knowledge, those taproots dig deeper, and your confidence in yourself as a nursing professional grows.

In the spring of your career, your trust in your abilities and knowledge increases with each successful patient encounter. Even though you’re a novice, with each blood draw, catheterization, medication administration, or correctly interpreted ECG, things begin to make more sense, and one day, you realize that certain things have become second nature.

The spring of your nursing career feeds on the moisture, nutrition, and compost of accumulating experience and confidence.

Sailing into Summer

You practice many skills entering the summer of your career with great certainty, and you may feel ambitious about your plans.

In the summer of your career, you begin to feel like a true professional. You know what you’re doing, and if there’s something you don’t understand, you can usually figure it out using your increasing powers of critical thinking. With more experience under your belt, the summer of your career is marked by a sense of increasing belonging and ease.

We must remember that things can get stormy even in the summer. You may be challenged by something you’ve never encountered, which may lead to temporary lapses of confidence. If you’re unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of bullying or incivility, you may not be as confident as you would have been. If you’ve been employed by organizations with weak leadership or toxic cultures, these experiences may have stripped away some of the natural joy of maturing into your career.

In the best circumstances, the summer of your career means you can dig deep into what you know, apply your knowledge and experience, and be confident enough to turn to mentors for guidance when uncertain. Sometimes, being confident means knowing when to admit what you don’t know.

The summer of your nursing career may see you changing specialties, pursuing certification, or going back to school. During the summer, you’re filled with the promise of the future. If things have gone relatively well and you’ve had a majority of positive work experiences, you continue to mature and grow into your role as a nurse with each passing day.

Settling into Autumn

Autumn is a time of transition when the leaves begin to change color, and you may even encounter a certain level of decay. The autumn of your career could be when you find yourself at the peak of your powers, perhaps mentoring others or serving as a leader.

Like the autumn of our lives in our 50s or 60s, the autumn of our nursing career may be marked by a certain level of maturity and certainty as a nurse but also a sense that the summer has passed.

This might be a time when some of the slings and arrows of the past come back to haunt you, and you feel somewhat bruised and battered by the experience of being a nurse. But in the best-case scenario, the autumn of your career can translate to knowing who you are, knowing what you know, and being aware that you’re an expert in your chosen area of professional focus.

The Quiet of Winter

In the winter of your career, you may experience a sense of winding down and completion. If you’re in a strong financial position, you may decide to work part-time, take a sabbatical, or actively plan for retirement.

If your economic situation means you need to continue working, you may choose a less strenuous position. Just as in the winter of life, your physical strength and endurance may be somewhat decreased, and you may be faced with the knowledge that the most productive years of your professional life are behind you. 

In the winter of your nursing career, attending conferences, gaining more certifications and skills, or returning to school may feel much less imperative. Then again, you may enroll in a master’s or PhD program more for your personal growth than for any professional gains that another degree could bring.

These later years of your career may or may not be about resting on your laurels and enjoying the fruit of your many years of labor. After all of your hard work, no one can argue that you don’t deserve it.

To Each Season its Time

Each season of your nursing career will not necessarily match the season of your personal life. Developmental life stages and professional development do not always happen in concert.

For example, if another nurse began their nursing career in the spring of their life (her 20s, for example) and your career began in your 40s (which one might call the summer of life), your career experiences may have been radically different. That nurse in their 20s may have been single and childless, while you may have jumped into a new nursing career when your family life was in full swing with marriage and children, and possibly aging parents to care for, to boot.

Whether the seasons of your life and career are a perfect match or seem incongruous to those outside, the most important thing is for them to feel cohesive to you. No matter where you find yourself on the personal and professional continuums, your job is to find your natural place in those processes and make the best of each.

In every season, there is a time, and no matter where you find yourself, that time is now.

From Public Health Advisor to Congressional Candidate: Meet Lauren Underwood

From Public Health Advisor to Congressional Candidate: Meet Lauren Underwood

Lauren Underwood, former Public Health Advisor for President Obama and current Congresswoman from Illinois’s 14th congressional district, is featured on Springer Publishing’s new health care podcast series, Conversations About Health Care Delivery in the United States. Underwood has gone from congressional candidate to congresswoman. To get you all caught up and ready for her guest appearance, this story is a repost of her interview with Minority Nurse from 2018.from-public-health-advisor-to-congressional-candidate-an-interview-with-lauren-underwood

Last issue’s health policy column highlighted nursing’s increased engagement in the public policy arena. To continue this conversation, this column highlights a registered nurse running for Congress to help champion access to affordable health care. Yes, Lauren Underwood, MSN/MPH, RN, of Naperville, Illinois is running for Congress to represent the 14th Congressional District of Illinois.

Underwood’s Journey to Pursuing an Elected Position

Underwood is steadfast and fiercely committed to helping shape policies and programs focused on ensuring that everyone has access to affordable health care. She is a registered nurse who received her BSN from the University of Michigan and her MSN/MPH from Johns Hopkins University. Her nursing experiences include service as a health policy advisor, research fellow, senior director, and research nurse at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. Her passion for public policy was heightened while serving as a health policy advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the Health and Human Services in Washington, DC initially under the leadership of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius followed by the leadership of Secretary Sylvia Burwell. In this capacity, Underwood worked on private insurance reform, summary of insurance benefits, health care quality in the Medicare program, the Agency for Health care Research and Quality, and preventive services (free screenings, immunizations, and contraceptive coverage) for four and a half years from 2010-2014.

 Lauren Underwood, MSN/MPH, RN

Democratic Candidate for Congress, 14th Congressional District of Illinois

Tell us about working for the Obama administration.

Got a call the week that Mr. [Thomas Eric] Duncan was in the hospital in Dallas with ­Ebola asking if I would be willing to join the President’s team to help with disaster response, so I transferred over to ASPR, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, at HHS. We worked on emerging infectious diseases (e.g., Ebola, Zika Virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus, or MERS), we also did national disasters (e.g., wildfires, hurricanes, floods) and then bioterror (small pox, anthrax) and worked with drug companies to develop vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics. I stayed in the administration until the very end, the last day. And so, when the election happened in 2016 we were working on the water crisis in Flint. I was surprised, and I thought that Hillary Clinton’s team was going to win and that we were going to hand off our work on health reform and on Flint to people who cared and wanted to continue the process. And then we got the Trump team who made it very clear they wanted to do away with health care coverage. And that’s not why I went into nursing or why I did this work. So, I knew I could stay in government and help them do that. I wanted to continue the work and so I came back home to Illinois because Illinois is a state that expanded Medicaid. I got a job working for a Medicaid managed care company in Chicago as the Senior Director for Strategy and Regulatory Affairs for a company called Next Level Health.

Are you still there?

I left my job about six weeks ago. The primary campaign was about eight months. I worked full time six and a half months; you know you have to do that. I am a young person, not someone of particular means or whatever, so it was necessary. And then it was like “Lauren, you could really win if you put your time and energy into the campaign.” And so that was an easy choice to transfer to full time.

So, you are now devoting full time to the campaign?

Yes.

This reflects your journey. Describe in a few words what really made you run for an elected position.

I am going to tell you a story. Last spring when I returned home, I went to congressman Randy Hultgren’s one and only public event. It was a moderated event hosted by the League of Women Voters. And during that evening, he made a promise and said that he was only going to support a version of Obamacare repeal that allowed people with preexisting conditions to keep their coverage. That’s important to me as a nurse. I also know how critical it is for people with chronic illness to have access to medications and procedures that they need. Obviously, I worked to implement the Affordable Care Act so I read the law and I know that it works. I know that we can fix what does not work. We do not have to throw the whole thing away. Like so many Americans, I have a preexisting condition myself. I have a heart condition, SVT (supraventricular tachycardia), and it is well controlled. As you know, it is a preexisting condition, so I would not be able to get coverage under these repeal scenarios. And so, when the congressman made that promise I believed him.

And then a week to ten days later he went and voted for the American Health Care Act, which is a version of repeal that did the opposite. It made it cost prohibitive for people like me to get coverage. And so, I was upset not at the vote itself, but because he did not have the integrity to be honest the one time he stood before our community. That’s not what a representative is supposed to do. A representative is supposed to be transparent, accessible, and honest. And we deserve better. I said, “you know what, it’s on! I’m running” and launched my campaign in August and just won the primary on March 20th. I was in a field of seven—the only woman running against six men—and I won 57% of the vote.

Were you the only African American?

Yes.

I know you are concerned about overall access to care and have a deep commitment to utilizing your expertise and experience while working in the Obama administration.

I believe that health care is the number one issue in this election across the country and in our district, and we need a solution to make health care more affordable for American families. It is not enough for families to rake together money for their premiums and have an insurance card in their pockets and cannot afford the coverage.

I believe that a lot of the conversation in the last several years has been political in nature and undoing President Obama’s legacy and not on at all focused on trying to lower costs and make health care accessible for American families. That’s my objective! I want to work on drug prices. I want to work on this opioid drug crisis so that loved ones can get the treatment that they so desperately need. And so, I believe there is a lot of value in having a nurse at the negotiation tables when we are making these decisions and passing policies that will transform our health care system. I am excited about the opportunity to be a leading voice on Capitol Hill on these important issues.

What do you think are the most pressing issues impacting nursing and health care?

Affordability. Any program that is starved of resources will fail. The ACA has been intentionally sabotaged and as a result, we see extraordinary high premiums that are unaffordable for most families. That is not how the program was designed to work and so I think there are technical fixes we can do to make the program more affordable. We can do things like negotiate drug prices, it can be done, we need to take a strong position on this opioid drug addiction crisis. We need to implement reforms like how we pay for rehab and how we award funds to municipalities in order to create a pathway for lasting change. And then there are opportunities to expand coverage so we will have fewer uninsured Americans. What we are seeing now in order to resuscitate it takes 2-3 doses of Narcan because the drugs are so strong. Municipalities who have received Narcan grants are running out of Narcan. A Narcan only solution is not a solution. Law enforcement only solution is not a solution. Addiction is an illness and we need to treat it as such. We need to send people to treatment so they can have a shot at recovery. We could have an evidence-based policy solution. We know treatment can be effective.

What do you think is the most pressing issue affecting nursing today?

I think there are a few things. The high cost of our education. We have not really seen increases in funding. What we have seen are marginal increases or flat funding. I think that this is unacceptable, in particular in the context of what we are seeing in higher education more broadly. And not just at the federal level. In higher education, many states have reduced putting money into public education, shifting the responsibility to families and individuals and with that coupled with flat funding for nursing education we are seeing a generation of nursing students with significant debt. And that is going to be a barrier, I believe, to our profession being able to grow. Right now, we have an economic situation where we are not seeing the shortage that we saw ten years ago. But it’s very easy to get back to that point if the economics of going into nursing shifts when you graduate from a BSN program with $100,000 in debt and are limited in your initial salary. Loan repayment programs are not that plentiful as they used to be. The economics of it makes it tough. Because we are talking about middle class folks who are not able to take on that debt. And when it is becoming increasingly attractive to become an APRN, that is all debt to be able to get the master’s to become a nurse practitioner or a nurse midwife. We are going to need some serious advocacy and a plan to deal with the cost of our education.

What are your thoughts about safe staffing?

It is so interesting. Safe staffing has been a legislative priority for decades. We have not been able to pass these bills. I think the approach needs to be more balanced with safe staffing committees in these hospitals. Moving away from these ratios and having hospitals have safe staffing committees that would take into consideration the circumstances that facilities and the region when staffing levels. On these committees, nurses would serve so a legislative body is not dictating it. I think that this is an appropriate approach coupled with compelling Medicare participating facilities to set staffing levels and monitor outcomes.

When elected, what would you do to go about helping to ensure equitable access to health care?

That’s like the question! For me, equitable access to health care allows everyone to get health care. Health care is a human right. Human rights have been fundamental to my nursing practice. It is written in our Code of Ethics—this idea that everyone should have health care—and I think our policies should reflect that. For me, that includes fixing the Affordable Care Act to ensure affordable coverage; and making sure we have clinics, hospitals, and facilities in communities so that the burden is not on low-income people or people with transportation challenges or resource limitations so that people are able to get the care and services they need. We have so much innovation, technology, and so many improvements now in a way we are able to provide care whether it’s telemedicine or individualized health care. It is a shame if all of that innovation and all of those improvements are seen in resource communities. We need to be focused in these conversations about reform and transforming our system to ensure that it is serving everyone—rural, urban, low income, and elderly.

What advice would you give to aspiring policy advocates who may be considering a run for public office?

Your country needs you! There are too few nurses in policy positions. Seek a County Board position. The County Board supervises the local Department of Health. Run for state legislator, they address scope of practice issues. Run for Congress! There are many opportunities to serve and lead. Step forward!

Tune into Springer Publishing’s new monthly health care podcast series, Conversations About Health Care Delivery in the United States, featuring discussions with prominent experts, innovators, and leaders in the health sector available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

Building Bridges, Not Walls: Promoting Cultural Competence & Humility in Nursing

Building Bridges, Not Walls: Promoting Cultural Competence & Humility in Nursing

Given the diversity in our world today, take a moment and ask yourself: Are you a culturally competent nurse or nursing student? Do you demonstrate cultural humility?promoting-cultural-competence-humility-in-nursing

You may have explored the concepts of cultural competence and humility in nursing school, but let’s take it a step further and consider how to apply these concepts in everyday interactions with members of diverse groups and communities.

Whether working in a hospital, walking into a local store, or interacting with neighbors, cultural competence and humility are cornerstones of building strong relationships. Practically speaking, this isn’t a skill you check off your to-do list once. Instead, developing cultural competence and humility is a lifelong process and journey involving continuous reflection, learning, and unlearning. It makes the individuals and groups we interact with feel seen, heard, and valued.

What is Cultural Competence vs Cultural Humility?

Cultural competence is about equipping yourself with knowledge of diverse cultural practices and beliefs, which enables you to provide respectful and appropriate care to patients from varied backgrounds. According to the American Academy of Nursing, cultural competence includes integrating knowledge, attitudes, and skills to facilitate intercultural communication and interactions between people from different racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds. It’s understanding different cultural customs, traditions, beliefs, and behaviors and utilizing this knowledge to communicate effectively with others.

Here’s what cultural competency as a nurse might look like:

  • Using appropriate words and phrases that are familiar to the individual
  • Respecting an individual’s choices and preferences (e.g., diet, treatment)
  • Refraining from labeling an individual who comes from a particular group
  • Advocating for an interpreter to translate to facilitate informed decision-making
  • Acknowledging what is acceptable and not acceptable to say or do with an individual  from another culture/background

Cultural humility, a new concept introduced more than thirty years ago, embraces the idea that we must all critically explore and critique ourselves as the first step to learning from and about others. It’s more than being knowledgeable about other cultures and practices. Cultural humility is being ‘others-oriented’ instead of “me-oriented” and recognizing that our understanding of different cultures constantly evolves. It’s a lifelong process of critical self-reflection and an openness to learning from the experiences of others. Humility acknowledges the power imbalances, emphasizing the importance of being receptive to learning from those who may not look, act, or believe in the same things we do.

  • Demonstrating cultural humility can include:
  • Participating in cultural competency training
  • Actively listening to an individual’s beliefs and practices without judgment
  • Respecting individual autonomy and cultural values when making decisions
  • Asking open-ended questions to understand an individual’s cultural preferences
  • Customizing healthcare delivery to align with the individual’s cultural, religious, or linguistic needs

These examples above, rooted in an attitude of openness and self-reflection, can lead to strengthening and maintaining effective relationships built on trust, respect, and collaboration.

How Do I Become More Culturally Competent and Demonstrate Cultural Humility? 

Being culturally competent and demonstrating cultural humility takes time to happen. It is also not about choosing cultural humility over cultural competence or vice versa. Instead, it’s about cultivating and enabling both to work in unison.

Here’s how you can begin your journey towards cultural competence and humility.

1. Examine your ‘Blind Spots’

Start by examining and reflecting on your biases, assumptions, attitudes, and values and how they may influence your interactions with others. Identify any implicit bias that might be at play. Implicit biases are those unconscious stereotypes and attitudes you’ve learned and carried toward specific groups of people. These biases are like “blind spots”—you aren’t aware they exist unless you intentionally look!

Identifying your blind spots may involve asking yourself:

  • Am I tolerant enough to learn from others?
  • Are there privileges that I have that others don’t?
  • What do I think about other cultures that are different from my own?
  • Do I actively seek out perspectives or experiences that differ from my own?
  • Do I recognize and challenge my assumptions about people different from me?
  • Do I refrain from having deep conversations about social issues? If I do engage in dialogue, am I listening with intent or just talking?

Once we can identify our blind spots, the work can begin to address those stereotypes and attitudes. We can start unraveling, challenging, and correcting our learned biases.

2. Consider Others’ Point of View

Putting ourselves in another person’s shoes, or “shoe-shifting,” helps us begin to consider the experiences and perspectives of others. Cultural humility and competence require us to avoid being distracted by what we think we know. It’s asking ourselves whether there is anything we ought to know and framing our interactions with others as a partnership. So next time you’re interacting with someone who may appear different than you or may hold different  beliefs and values, ask yourself, “What else should I know?” instead of “What do I know?” Be intentional about incorporating humility into your interactions – listening more than speaking, feeling comfortable with not knowing or understanding everything, and demonstrating genuine curiosity. Although we know empathy and compassion are the right things to do, it can be challenging to put these into practice when faced with our stereotypes and implicit biases. Why, though? Perhaps because to truly put ourselves in another person’s shoes, we must be willing and able to remove our shoes first!

3. Get to Know People Different From You

It’s easy to get along with people who are similar to us. Seriously, think about those people who are closest to you, and more than likely, many of them will resemble….well, you! But if you want to develop cultural competence and humility, you’ve got to stretch a little and step outside your backyard. This involves active and intentional efforts to experience others.

  • Reading books (e.g., autobiographies) to gain new perspective/appreciation
  • Volunteering or participating in organizations that serve diverse communities
  • Attending community/multicultural events to promote direct dialogue and interaction
  • Listening to podcasts with hosts/guests who have different lived experiences or beliefs

When we stretch ourselves this way, we can challenge our stereotypes and attitudes toward others and begin to value their unique experiences. We can create meaningful connections built on respect, appreciation, and a deeper understanding beyond superficial interactions. These proactive strategies allow you to enhance cultural competence and humility and contribute to more inclusive and united communities.

Conclusion

As you strengthen your cultural competency and humility skills, consider yourself and the individuals you live, learn, and work with. Every interaction with an individual is an opportunity to practice, demonstrate, and enhance these skills.

Cultural competency says, ‘I’m the expert.’

Cultural humility says, ‘You’re the expert.’  

Whose expertise will you prioritize next?

References

Canada International Royal Arts College (2023). 10 Questions to challenge your implicit biases.

Gradellini, C., Gómez-Cantarino, S., Dominguez-Isabel, P., Mecugni, D., & Ugarte-Gurrutxaga, M. I. (2021). Cultural Competence and Cultural Sensitivity Education in University Nursing Courses. A Scoping Review. Front Psychol, 12(1).

Hughes, V., Delva, S., Nkimbeng, M., Spaulding, E., Turkson-Ocran, R.-A., Rushton, C., . . . Han, H.-R. (2020). Not missing the opportunity: Strategies to promote cultural humility among future nursing faculty. Journal of Professional Nursing, 36(1), 28-33.

McDaniel, V. P. (2021). Cultural Humility in Nursing Building the Bridge to. Virginia Nurses Today, 29(2), 12-14.

Stubbe, D. E. (2020). Practicing Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility in the Care of Diverse Patients. Focus (Am Psychiatr Publ), 18(1), 49–51.

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kendra Coles

Meet a Champion of Nursing Diversity: Kendra Coles

Kendra Coles, DNP, RNC-OB, C-EFM, NEA-BC, is a seasoned nursing leader with over 20 years of experience in the field. For 17 years, she has been dedicated to women’s services and has a wealth of knowledge in managing inpatient and outpatient obstetric care. She also has a knack for communication and team empowerment. Coles is known for optimizing performance and outcomes for obstetric and neonatal populations, achieved through fostering collaboration and building multidisciplinary teams.meet-a-champion-of-nursing-diversity-kendra-coles

Since 2019, Coles has been Director of Women’s & Children’s Services at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (UM BWMC). In this role, she oversees a team of 125 FTEs across various units, including Labor & Delivery, Postpartum, Pediatrics, and Special Care Nursery. Coles is responsible for strategic planning, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and developing nurse leaders. She is committed to achieving organizational goals while maintaining fiscal responsibility and ensuring the highest quality and safety standards for patients and staff.

She’s highly skilled in change management and program development, which has been critical in introducing obstetric and newborn care services. Her expertise and leadership have made her a trusted figure in the field.

Coles’ contributions to the nursing field have earned her a spot in the Champions of Nursing Diversity Series 2024. This series highlights healthcare leaders who are prominent figures in their organizations and making significant changes in the nursing field.

Meet Kendra Coles, DNP, RNC-OB, C-EFM, NEA-BC, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at the UM BWMC.

Talk about your role in nursing.

As the Director of Nursing for Women’s and children’s services, my responsibilities include the operations of obstetrics, newborns, and pediatric care. In this role, I have the honor of impacting the care that women receive during pregnancy and delivery, a newborn’s early days of life, and sick children who require hospitalization. The role requires leading health initiatives such as hypertension and hemorrhage management, safe sleep, and pediatric respiratory illness management.

As a health equity leader and advocate, I have led initiatives to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality and served on the Anne Arundel County Maternal Infant Health Task Force. I co-chair the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council at UM BWMC and train other nursing teams in leadership, communication, and staff empowerment to optimize performance and patient outcomes.

How long have you worked in the nursing field?

I have over 26 years of nursing experience and have been a nursing leader for 20 years. My clinical experiences include caring for patients in Labor and Delivery, Mother, Baby, and Nursery. I also have expertise in the operations of inpatient and outpatient care.

Why did you become a nurse?

I became a nurse because I genuinely wanted to care for others. I was raised in a family of five kids and watched my mom always care for someone in the home or family. Nursing is a noble and humbling profession that allows interpersonal reward.

What are the most important attributes of today’s nursing leaders? 

Resilience, compassion, innovation, and grace. Today’s nurse leaders must be resilient as they face daily changes in healthcare. Compassion is needed to care for the patients, but it is also required for the care of the staff caring for others. Nursing leaders must develop and embrace new technologies and advances in clinical practices in a rapidly evolving healthcare system. As the nursing leader supports innovation, it’s through grace that you allow forgiveness and create an environment where learning occurs for team members. Grace can also be given to patients who desire to improve their health status and may not always have the resources to make the healthiest choices. We offer our patients new opportunities to be informed and empowered in their care through grace.

What does being a nursing leader mean to you, and what are you most proud of?

As a nursing leader, my task is helping others to help others. Nursing leaders can ensure our patients have the best outcomes by leading a team of professionals to their highest potential and encouraging their growth as caregivers. Nursing leaders drive changes that change lives. I’m most proud of starting an obstetric program at UM BWMC in 2009 and participating in its ongoing growth to improve maternal and newborn care in Anne Arundel County.

Tell us about your career path and how you ascended to that role.

My nursing career started in 1997 at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the University of Maryland Medical Systems’ academic hospital in downtown Baltimore, serving in Labor & Delivery. I simultaneously worked at another hospital in the region in the Mother Baby Unit. I found myself excited about the nursing profession and joined a nursing agency where I took on a variety of nursing contracts caring for obstetric and newborn patients. My interest in leadership began as a charge nurse at UMMC and grew into a senior clinical nurse role. I was offered an opportunity for frontline leaders to obtain a Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership & Management. I completed my Master of Science in Nursing in 2009 as UM BWMC started recruiting for their new OB program leadership and staff. As a brand-new manager, I recruited a phenomenal team to open the Pascal Women’s Center. In 2018, following the retirement of the director at the time and a national recruitment effort, I was chosen to advance into the Director of Nursing role.

What is the most significant challenge facing nursing today?

The most significant challenge facing nursing is staffing shortages. Like many industries, especially health care, COVID-19 changed the workforce. Nurses experienced compassion fatigue, burnout, and difficulty finding work-life balance. They began to leave the bedside, searching for a less stressful environment or more profitable opportunities. Subsequently, the nursing shortage grew, and we continue to rebuild the nursing workforce.

As a nursing leader, how are you working to overcome this challenge?

Developing and introducing new nurses into the profession is an ongoing challenge. As a nurse leader, I have embraced programs such as the Academy of Clinical Essentials, an initiative developed and spearheaded by the UMMS Chief Executive Officer, which allows nursing students to partner alongside one of our experienced nurses and have early exposure to the art of nursing. We have modified our nursing preceptor program to enable our most experienced nurse to focus on a core group of new hires. We have customized our nurse residency program for the OB, Neonatal, and Pediatric specialties. We have integrated simulations as a core training component in team building and communication skills in high-risk situations. To help our teams address fatigue and burnout, we offer flexible staffing, relaxation rooms, and RISE support resources.

What nursing leader inspires you the most and why?

Rose L. Horton, MSM, RNC-OB, NEA-BC, FAAN, the Founder and CEO of #Notonmywatch Consulting Partners, inspires me. She is a Women & Infant health care executive leader at Emory Decatur Hospital, who believes nurses can change maternal morbidity and mortality. Horton called nurses to action by encouraging them to use their voices to support and advocate for others. She has been a strong influence for improving care during her tenure as the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) president and while serving on the Synova leadership Board of Directors. I’m really inspired by her dedication to raising awareness about issues compounding black maternal health and how she successfully advocates for change.

What inspirational message would you like to share with the next generation of nurses?

No matter how hard your shift may seem, never forget why you became a nurse. Take every opportunity to serve and care for someone else because you never know the difference you make.

Nursing Certification: Achieving Excellence and Professionalism

Nursing Certification: Achieving Excellence and Professionalism

In the world of nursing, certifications and their corresponding designations carry with them the concepts of excellence, professionalism, and focused dedication to career growth. Not all nurses pursue certification during their years of service in healthcare, but many hear the call and take inspired action to achieve such a goal.nursing-certification-achieving-excellence-and-professionalism

Making an effort to become certified in your nursing specialty is like doubling down on your skills and knowledge. Doing this takes discipline and forward-thinking, demonstrating that you care enough to show the world that nursing excellence and professional mastery matter.

Every year on March 19th, we celebrate National Certified Nurses Day to honor the nurses who take their careers to the next level by becoming certified. This celebration encourages us to take a moment to acknowledge the role that certification plays in strengthening the nursing profession while improving care and patient outcomes. Being certified is meaningful, and we make meaning by pausing for the cause of reflection and recognition of the nurses who choose this path.

Nursing Certification 101

According to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), the first nursing certification was issued in 1945 to recognize nurse anesthetists. Certification boards began to be created in the 1960s, and the number of available nursing certifications continues to grow to this day.

Many nurses choose to pursue certification of their own volition, while some employers may encourage or even require nurses in specific specialty areas to become certified. Having your employer pay for and support your certification goals can be a desirable benefit, especially if your certification process has a financial cost you’d rather not bear yourself.

The American Nurse Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers various certification pathways, as do the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation (AHNCC), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB), and numerous other nursing organizations and associations.

A 2021 Journal of Nursing Administration study states, “Nurse specialty certification is ’a mechanism for validation or formal recognition by documenting individual nurses’ knowledge, skills, and abilities specific to their specialty’. It is a form of individual credentialing above and beyond entry-level education and licensing. By pursuing specialty certification, nurses exhibit a commitment to professional growth and lifelong learning while establishing competency in a specialized area of care such as oncology or medical-surgical nursing. The intended outcome of certification in nursing is to improve safety, quality of care, and health outcomes for those using healthcare services.”

Popular certifications include:

No matter what certification you choose to pursue, rest assured that being certified is something to be proud of and to clearly and proudly document on your resume as a mark of nursing distinction and professional mastery.

Why Should You Consider Becoming a Certified Nurse

As mentioned above, certification is a demonstration of dedication to your area of specialty nursing practice. Being certified can serve many purposes and brings with it a variety of benefits, including:

  • Marketability: Being certified can make you a stronger candidate in the job market, especially if it sets you apart from non-certified applicants for the same positions.
  • Career mobility: Some employers may value nursing certifications very highly, with certified nurses more likely to advance on the organization’s clinical ladder or into positions of greater responsibility, including nursing leadership.
  • Respect and recognition: Certification can elicit in others a sense of respect for and recognition of your professionalism, expert knowledge, and skill.
  • Personal/professional pride: Certification may elicit pride in your expertise, mastery, and accomplishments as a dedicated nurse.

Certification is a feather in your nurse’s cap. It marks you as a nurse focused on career growth and expert skill and knowledge. By being certified, you benefit not only your career but also inspire others to follow in your footsteps and contribute to the improved quality of patient care, not to mention strengthen your employer’s organizational profile.

Certification Speaks Volumes

Having one or more nursing certifications speaks volumes about your professionalism and desire to develop yourself as a nurse of integrity and mastery. Being certified says a great deal about you, and your certifications can enhance your ability to advance your career in any direction you’d like to go.

Some nurses may sit on their laurels and do the bare minimum, while others may seize the day and take every opportunity to develop themselves professionally. Only you can decide if the path to certification is right for you based on your perception of the benefits of certification and the value of that process to your career.

In recognition of Certified Nurses Day, let’s acknowledge those nurses who’ve stepped up to the plate and taken on certification as a prospect worthy of their attention and hard work. And if you’re already certified, give yourself a pat on the back for going the extra mile and showing the world that you’re a nurse who wants to be the best you can be.

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