Every year, February 18 is designated as Critical Care Transport Nurses Day to bring attention to this nursing specialty. Minority Nurse asked Lisa Pruitt, RN, BSN, C-NPT, and a board member of the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association about her career in this field, what makes her devoted to her work, and how nurses interested in this field can get started on this career path.
Please tell me how you found this nursing specialty and why it appealed to you.
I started my nursing career in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I knew from the time I was a small child I wanted to be a pediatric nurse. I felt right at home in the setting of critical care. I loved the challenge, the critical thinking, and attention to detail involved. But, most of all the reward of helping these children and their families during quite possibly during the worst times in their lives, is an honor. Some of the nurses I admired most and learned from and aspired to be like, were critical care transport nurses. I was drawn to critical care transport because I wanted to be a part of a team that could give these patients the chance to receive the necessary care they needed. A critical care transport for many of these patients can mean the difference between life and death and to be able to offer that service to a child/family in need is inspiring.
What kind of nursing training did you complete for your current role?
I worked several years in pediatric critical care (PICU) before applying/accepting my first critical care transport position. My training prior to my current role included years of critical care experience in a high acuity PICU and an extensive orientation to pediatric and neonatal transport. This training included several advanced certification classes, simulation, didactic, OR, and other department rotations led by physicians as well as operational, safety, and survival training in each of the three modes of transport (fixed wing, rotor wing, and ambulance).
What makes this nursing path different from other nursing specialties?
The scope of practice and skill set for a critical care transport nurse is much more expansive than other nursing specialties. Being proficient with advanced procedures (endotracheal intubation, central line placement, needle chest decompression), critical thinking and decision making in an autonomous setting is what sets the transport nurse apart from other nursing specialties. We don’t necessarily have a diagnosis when we arrive to transport a patient, and we must rely on our previous experiences and knowledge. We are the eyes and ears for the provider (physician). Ensuring our attention to detail is spot on and anticipating and executing a plan of care is quite different than relying on and carrying out a plan of care already developed (as it is in an inpatient setting).
How do critical care transport nurses adapt to working in such varied environments?
Being adaptable is how I always say critical care nurses “earn their money!” There are no two transport situations ever the same, and often the transport environment can lead to a lot of unplanned situations (unfamiliar diagnosis or illness, unexpected weather, equipment malfunctions, mechanical issues). Contrary to working in a hospital, the transport environment offers less resources—people, hands, equipment, diagnostics, redundancy, etc. Transport nurses are the “MacGyvers” of nursing. You might have a child’s life in your hands, and you and your partner (usually a Paramedic/RT/RN) have to utilize your critical thinking, decision making, and limited resources to adapt to any situation and literally function as a mobile ICU. Often, what we are told en route to a patient is entirely different when we walk through the door and meet our patient, so we have to avoid tunnel vision, change our mind set, and adapt to the new situation we are presented with. This becomes easier as we gain more experiences in our career.
Transport nursing is not black and white; it’s all very gray, and you quickly learn if this career is suited for you!
How has COVID-19 impacted your work?
How hasn’t it?! It seems everything has changed—process, procedures, and (what used to be) routines. The stress and burden of COVID-19 has affected everyone at some level both personally and professionally. That in itself has weighed heavily on many of us. In an already stressful environment, COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to the mix. With, we are reusing what used to be one-time-use masks. We are making the difficult decisions about whether or not we should or can bring the parent with us. [We ask] where do these patients go? Do we have the right supplies (and what are those?) to protect us, the health care providers, from COVID-19. And what about our own family members who are battling COIVD-19 and/or lost their battle to COVID-19, but we still put ourselves on the front line? How are we caring for ourselves?
Transport nurses are a certain type of person. They tend to carry a lot of weight on their shoulders. So when does that weight cause us to fall? Not for a long time, but when it does, it can be devastating. We are really good at taking care of everyone else, but not ourselves. I have seen the weight/burden/stress of COVID-19 firsthand unfortunately be the cause of that fall. With all this change, I do believe whole heartedly, we will come out of this closer to our partners/colleagues, and be stronger and more resilient. I believe some the processes that have been instituted since COVID-19 will actually continue in our practice, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Our infection control practices are on point! And that will continue to benefit all patients and ourselves as health care providers. A lot of good has and will continue to emerge.
What kind of patient interaction tips could you share, especially given the added layer of moving patients from one area to the next?
Communication is key! Making sure our patients and families always know what is going on and what our plan is can offer a patient and/or family the reassurance they need to move forward on possibly the worst day of their life. I also believe strongly (as long as safety is never compromised) that bringing a parent or loved one along on the transport is so important. We can’t ever make promises that an outcome will be what they always want, but I ALWAYS make one promise to every single patient I transport: I will always do my best and I will promise to take care of their baby/child the exact same way I would take care of my own.
If nurses are considering moving into a critical care transport nursing path, what would you like them to know?
Transport nursing is the BEST! When you get jet fuel in your blood, it never goes away! If transport nursing is something one is interested in exploring, then do a ride along. Most transport teams offer a comprehensive ride-along program to potential transport nurses. See firsthand if you could see yourself doing it. It is not a career for everyone, but if it is, then go for it! Establish a strong foundation of critical care nursing experience in an ED or ICU. Take every opportunity to advance your education and skill set. Join professional organizations like ASTNA and network with transport professionals, read transport scholarly articles like those published in the Air Medical Journal, and ask questions. Words of wisdom from my six-year-old daughter London, “Picture it. Do it. Never Give Up.”
Conferences have moved to a virtual format and will likely remain that way for a while. Traveling to and spending days at conferences in rooms and events full of people might be one of the last “return-to-normal” business practices we see.
But professional nurses still need the education, networking, and exposure to new ideas that make conferences so valuable. You can still gain a lot from a virtual conference, but it takes some preparation and a new set of expectations.
Understand the Platform
Virtual conferences will use some of the most state-of-the-art platforms to help attendees form and keep the personal connections that make conference learning and networking so easy. Download any needed software ahead of time and then spend some time exploring the conference’s site so you’re able to confidently move from an event to a working group to a panel discussion.
Pay Attention to Your Own Surroundings
You might be home, but a conference is no time to look like it. Wear business-appropriate clothes that you would wear to a typical conference. It’s better to be a little over dressed than to look too casual. If you find other attendees are dressing down, you can always change if that would make you more comfortable (and that’s one of the positive aspects of attending a conference from home). Be aware of your surroundings, too. It’s not always easy to find a well-lit, quiet, neutral background space when you’re in your house (one of the negative aspects of attending a conference from home). Look for a plain wall or one with just a few items on it or find a neutral virtual background. Use headphone to reduce noise distractions. Don’t eat while you’re on video.
Before you sit down, make sure you have all the supplies you would need at a traditional conference. Just like taking an online class, have your laptop or pens and paper ready for note taking and try to limit distractions as much as possible. And because business card swapping is less likely to happen, practice a good elevator pitch—you’ll need it. Have a brief summary of who you are, your professional role, one or two personal points to discuss, your organization and how it relates to the industry and this conference, and what you’re hoping to get from the conference. You’ll use these pieces of your elevator pitch throughout the conference as you talk with others in breakout sessions or in networking sessions. Practice ahead of time as you would for an in-person event so your delivery is polished and succinct—you need to leave time for others to talk. Then prepare a few questions so you can ask people about themselves. Others might not be as prepared, so asking about them makes the virtual interaction less awkward.
Ask questions, attend as many breakout sessions as you can, connect with others through the conference’s social media channels, and offer your insight. You might not be attending in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fully present. Really listen to the speakers and get as much out of the virtual conference as you can. It’s likely that sessions will be recorded, so take advantage of that bonus to attend all the sessions relevant to your goals. Talk to other attendees through any additional platforms—you’ll find Slack is used by many—so you can participate and also tune into the top-of-mind topics others are asking about or discussing.
After the conference, follow up with people you met and want to keep in touch with. Virtual conferences will become more common, but there will be a time when you might get to meet these new connections in person. You want to make a good impression and build on the strength of your initial meeting—just like when you meet someone face-to-face. Other nursing professionals are navigating uncharted waters right now and are looking to share and gain information on how to proceed. They want to know how the pandemic has impacted nurses, patient care, the nursing industry and the larger healthcare industry, and how they can make improvements. And with virtual settings being the current norm, you’ll be able to meet up again without having to wait until the next conference.
A virtual conference isn’t the same as in-person and can lack the buzz of excitement and potential so many attendees enjoy at a traditional conference. But there are big benefits to virtual events, and they offer opportunities that in-person events don’t. Instead of thinking of a virtual conference as a second choice, think of a few opportunities you’ll have thanks to this new format. That change of perspective gives you a head start on enjoying this new experience.
NEW YORK, Dec. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is excited to announce the launch of two new major campaigns for its members under its new wellness initiative, NBNA Resilient Nurse Resource™. RETHINK, launched yesterday, was created to build awareness around the importance of vaccinations, with a focus on influenza and pneumococcal. The goal of RETHINK is to debunk common myths surrounding vaccines and to inform Black nurses and the Black community on the benefits of vaccinations. The website features an interactive ‘Test Your Flu IQ’ quiz to test participants knowledge and understanding on the flu and vaccines. There is also a flu and pneumococcal vaccination locator to assist with identifying providers in nearby serving areas. Anyone interested in learning more about vaccines can visit www.nbnaRETHINK.com.
On December 15, 2020, the NBNA will also launch its mental wellness campaign, RE:SET. This new initiative offers members FREE counseling services, education webinars, wellness podcasts and more, to aid them in maintaining their mental wellness throughout the current COVID-19 crisis. The free counseling services are only available for existing and new NBNA members, and their families.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma in the Black community surrounding mental health. This, in addition to the lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and culturally competent providers, contributes to only one-in-three African Americans receiving mental health treatment.
To provide the best patient care, nurses must be able to reset and recharge from the daily pressures and renew their resilience and strength. Creating tools for renewal and increased resilience is especially important as nurses have a high prevalence of anxiety and depression. With this comprehensive resource, NBNA members will receive holistic tools and resources designed to give nurses the boost they need to promote mental wellness and wellbeing.
“We know how difficult this year has been for nurses everywhere, especially Black nurses who are faced with both the pandemic and the current racial uprising,” states Dr. Martha A. Dawson, NBNA President. “It is crucial that we protect our nurses’ physical and mental wellbeing during such an unprecedented time in our country. With RE:SET we are able to provide them with the tools necessary to recover from the daily stresses of exhausting working conditions and challenges. It is essentially PPE for their mental and emotional health, which will help to impact their physical health.”
RE:SET provides NBNA members and their families with easily accessible options for mental wellness – including:
RE:SET Support Line: Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, members who need in-the-moment support, are connected with licensed clinicians for no-cost, confidential guidance and resources.
Free, Confidential Counseling: The RE:SET program provides up to five free sessions with experienced and licensed clinicians. This service removes the cost, access and privacy hassles of getting professional emotional support when NBNA members face a problem or situation that is difficult to resolve.
Text Coach®: Also known as ‘text therapy’ is available to NBNA members via mobile phone or desktop computer to help with non-acute concerns. Licensed clinicians will help nurses and their families boost emotional fitness and wellbeing by exchanging text messages, voice notes, tip sheets, videos and resource links.
To learn more about the RE:SET FREE tools and other resources, visit, www.nbna.org on December 15th.
To become a member of the National Black Nurses Association and to gain access to the FREE counseling services, visit www.nbna.org.
About National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) Founded in 1971, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) is a professional organization representing 308,000 African American registered nurses, licensed vocational/practical nurses, and nursing students in 108 chapters and 34 states. The NBNA mission is “to serve as the voice for Black nurses and diverse populations ensuring equal access to professional development, promoting educational opportunities and improving health.” NBNA chapters offer voluntary hours providing health education and screenings to community residents in collaboration with community-based partners, including faith-based organizations, civic, fraternal, hospitals, and schools of nursing. For more information, visit nbna.org. #NBNAResilient
Embarking on a job search is often an exciting, and yet exhausting process. Beginning a new role, especially one that matches your professional and personal goals, reminds you of why you started a career in nursing and can restart your passion for what you do.
But a job search takes a lot of work, so some preparation before you begin will save you time and will help you find a good match for your skills and your own needs (a higher salary, a shorter commute, a new location).
Q: Should nurses do any kind of self-evaluation or career evaluation before they begin a job search?
A: Yes. Self-reflection is always helpful. It is important to spend time thinking about why you think a job change may be needed or desired. Are you stuck in a place without opportunity? Is the company you currently work for unstable? Is there an unanticipated career opportunity that is too good to pass up? Once you determine your motivation for doing a job search, ranking the following areas in order of importance can be helpful in narrowing your search.
New level of responsibility
Opportunity for growth within the new company or new job role
Pay and benefits
Q: What is the best way to get organized and think about a job search?
A: Ask yourself what you have enjoyed doing most throughout your career, what you’d prefer never to do again, and what areas of career growth opportunities you may have identified. This self-exploration should help you to picture your ideal role more clearly.
Browse job postings for the different types of roles that align with your identified career goals. Are the responsibilities described in the postings appealing and do you meet most of the qualifications?
Edit your resume so that prospective employers will understand what type of position you are seeking and how your experience aligns. You may need to edit the content depending on the job you are seeking. Highlight accomplishments and experiences that are most transferrable, listing the most recent and pertinent to the posting at the top of your resume.
Create a one-page cover letter template that identifies the position you are applying for and clearly demonstrates that you have done research on the company–for example, mention a recent company accomplishment or news story. This template can easily be customized to each job role you apply for. Address the letter to the hiring manager, recruiter, or human resource representative at the company.
Identify 3-5 people to be your references and ask them if they would be willing to speak to your skills. Consider present colleagues, professors, or supervisors.
After participating in a job interview, write an amazing thank you note within 24 hours of the interview.
Q: What are the best tools to use in a job search and what makes each one distinctive — for instance LinkedIn, networking, job boards, alma maters.
A: First, consider all your resources: General nurse recruiting websites or agencies, and nursing specialty job boards like AAACN’s Career Center, or those offered by the Organization for Nurse Leaders. Networking is, of course, one of the best ways to find a new position. I’ve heard our AAACN nurses say they found a new job after they joined one of our Special Interest Groups (SIGs), and I see job discussions frequently in our online community. Such new connections can help a nurse discover an area of practice they didn’t know about or had never even considered.
Second, create or optimize your LinkedIn profile. It should be an extension of your resume and cover letter, and should include a professional profile photo and engaging summary that highlights your skills, career achievements, and accomplishments. Also, include volunteer experience as appropriate, as well as education and professional certifications. Maintain your presence by regularly posting and commenting so you appear active and engaged.
Social media can also be a positive platform if used to contribute to conversations regarding timely health care topics. Ensure that you refrain from engaging in conversations that could be considered controversial. Also, make sure your profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are set to private.
Q: Should recently graduated nurses conduct a job search in a different way from a more experienced nurse? Are there better approaches for nurses in different stages of a career?
A: While knowledge, skills, and attitudes are important, a positive attitude and ability to communicate flexibility in the acceptance of job assignments is key for the new grad. Content and processes can always be taught, but a positive attitude in an employee can sometimes be hard to find. Take full advantage of job fairs that are organized by your nursing school as well as healthcare systems recruitment events. Employers who offer nurse residency programs as part of orientation and onboarding are committed to hiring new graduates and investing in them as long-term employees.
Q: Is there anything about this time when so many processes are remote, that can impact a job search positively or negatively?
A: The biggest impact is the uncertainty of the impact from COVID-19 on the job market. Many organizations have suspended hiring and have temporarily furloughed nurses. That said, facilities that offer remote work such as nurse call centers have been vital to providing virtual clinical support to vulnerable populations and have expanded during this unprecedented time in health care.
We’ve seen this trend reflected in a jump in demand for AAACN’s telehealth resources and the networking among our AAACN members who practice telehealth. I think telehealth is going to continue to grow significantly in coming years because its value will remain even when COVID-19 has been tamed.
Q: How can a nurse prepare to use this time as an advantage?
A: Self-educate and develop skills that support patient engagement, mutual goal setting, and motivational interviewing that promote patient self-care management. AAACN’s Care Coordination and Transition Management (CCTM) resources can assist in developing these skills and competencies. These skills are especially critical when working with patients virtually but can translate to any work environment to ensure improved disease management and quality outcomes.
Milestones are a big deal, and they are often times of celebration. Throughout July, that’s exactly what the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) has done. This month marks the 40th of the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) as well as of the emergency nursing specialty certification. What makes this all even more significant is that the CEN was the first emergency nursing specialty certification offered anywhere in the world.
“As emergency medicine was becoming recognized as a specialty, emergency nurses formed the Emergency Department Nurses Association (today’s Emergency Nurses Association) and in the mid- to late-1970s recognized the need for a certification program for emergency nurses. Thanks to the forethought and efforts of the association and some extraordinary nurse-pioneers, the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN) came into being and several years after its creation was purposefully separated from the professional association to become a fully independent certification body,” explains Janie Schumaker, MBA, BSN, RN, CEN, CENP, CPHA, FABC, the Executive Director of BCEN, which is based in Oak Brook, Illinois.
Taking that first CEN exam was much different than it is today. “During BCEN’s first full year of operations in 1980, the very first emergency certification exam was offered on July 19 at over 30 sites around the country, including Alaska,” says Schumaker. “More than 1,400 RNs took the four-hour, 250-item, pencil-and-paper exam. After waiting several weeks for notification by mail, 1,274 nurses received the news that they had passed and became the first RNs to earn the Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) credential.
“While BCEN has operated independently from ENA for many decades, we support each other and strongly believe professional membership and board certification are both important for RN success and to advance nursing excellence across every nursing specialty.”
Two years later, in 1982, that number of nurses who held the CEN had increased to 6,000. By 2005, 23,000 nurses held a CEN. By the end of 2020, BCEN expects to have 40,000 CENs.
“As the years went by and emergency nursing knowledge and patient care needs evolved, for instance with the introduction of medevac flights and taking into the consideration the unique physiology of pediatric patients, BCEN developed and introduced certification programs for flight nurses, the Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN®) in 1993, the Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN®) in 2006 for critical care ground transport nurses, and the Certified Pediatric Registered Nurse (CPEN®) in 2009. BCEN’s newest certification, introduced a little over 4 years ago (in 2016) is the Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN®) for nurses who practice across the trauma continuum from prehospital care to rehabilitation and including injury prevention. This is our fastest growing certification program, which is not surprising given that trauma is a major public health issue affecting people of all ages,” says Schumaker.
And BCEN keeps making sure that nurses can learn more. This past May, it began offering its first certificate program BCEN EDvantage.
Schumaker, a certified nurse, says that she is sure the skills she learned through becoming certified saved lives. “Once the connection between my knowledge, the care I was providing, and the correlation to studying for the Certified Emergency Nurses exam was clear to me, I became a lifelong certification advocate. I have since become certified in other areas of practice that have been a part of my career. Certification has helped ensure I have the knowledge and expertise to do the best possible job in my given role,” says Schumaker. “To me that is huge because I want to be a strong contributor and make a difference.”
Advance Your Career and Become a Certified Emergency Nurse!
As a certified emergency nurse, you will work in a fast-paced hospital-based or standalone emergency department, providing urgent care to patients who need immediate medical attention for a variety of conditions including injury, trauma, or illness.
Nurses across the globe are working together as a united front against the COVID-19 pandemic and as a much-needed support for each other. Today’s International Nurses Day honors that dedication with the motto of “Nursing the World to Health,” a theme that’s spot-on appropriate for the times.
Sponsored by the International Council of Nurses (ICN), a federation of more than 130 nursing organizations throughout the world, International Nurses Day is always held on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, long considered the founder of today’s nursing profession. The day honors nurses for all they do and helps spread the importance of support for the nursing industry all over the world.
Because nurses work with all people and treat a range of short-term and chronic conditions and health problems, they are the caregivers who address the global health problems from the very front lines. Whether it’s in the most state-of-the-art hospital facility or in a patient’s living room, nurses provide care, education, emotional support, and resources. They do this in the most dire circumstances and within the safety of structured organizations, sometimes worried about their own health and safety.
The Nursing the World to Health theme highlights some of the challenges nurses face every day across the globe. The incorrect ideas that they aren’t leading, active participants in healthcare or some of the discrimination they face on and off the job are addressed in the ICN’s report for International Nurses Day 2020 Resources and Evidence.
Promoting the lifesaving work nurses do, how involved they are in healthcare leadership, and their vital role in reshaping progressive healthcare policy worldwide is all essential to helping the public understand the value and relevance of the nursing industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world exactly how dedicated nurses are to their patients—even risking their lives, and some losing their lives—to provide care to people who need it. It has also shown clearly that nurses need more support and that the world needs more nurses. The shocking reports that healthcare staff ran short of personal protective equipment shows glaring faults that exist and put nurses directly in harm’s way. Nurses are also called to navigate the systems in different countries that place healthcare on varying levels of importance and relevance to the greater good. And they also must work within the confines of the resources available to them where they are.
THE ICN sees hope in the growth in nursing leadership and influence throughout the world. As each nurse works to provide the best care, to maintain or exceed the nursing standards, to commit to lifelong learning, and to support their fellow nurses and healthcare teams, the nursing industry will see positive change.