WOC Nurses Week Highlights Specialty

WOC Nurses Week Highlights Specialty

Wound, Ostomy, and Continence (WOC) Nurse Week runs from April 14-20 and brings attention to this nursing specialty and the expertise WOC nurses bring to patient care. logo saying WOC Nurses Rock for WOC nurses week

As a member of the Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurses Society™ (WOCN®) for 31 years and now its president, Vicky Pontieri-Lewis, MS, RN, ACNS-BC-CWOCN, says the field is exciting and ever changing. This kind of dynamic professional learning environment brings a career satisfaction that keeps her advocating for nurses in the specialty while also appreciating the continual work they must do to stay current of WOC developments.

Pontieri-Lewis shared some of her thoughts with Minority Nurse about the career path and the excitement of being in the broader field of WOC nursing.

How did your career as a WOC nurse begin and evolve?
After graduating from nursing school in 1983, I had the opportunity to work on a surgical unit with patients who underwent cardiac surgery in addition to patients who also had abdominal surgery, with an ostomy. The unit had an Enterostomal Therapy (ET) nurse, now called a Wound, Ostomy, and Continence nurse, who consulted primarily to patients with an ostomy. I noticed when the charge nurse was making daily patient care assignments, none of my colleagues wanted to care for the patients with ostomies. So, I always volunteered to have the ostomy patients within my assignment.

I worked with the ET nurse at the time to ensure in her absence that I would provide the ostomy patients with the right education. Later that year, my grandmother who lived in a very small remote town in the mountains, was diagnosed with colon cancer. She underwent surgery and as a result had a colostomy. I went to visit her and was appalled by the lack of access she had to any type of ostomy pouching system. At one point she was using a plastic bag! I tried my best to get her access to what we used in the United States so she could have some quality of life.

When I returned, the ET nurse at the hospital announced that she would be leaving. After the experience with my grandmother, I knew I wanted to pursue the role of an ET nurse. I went to my administrator to inquire if the hospital could assist with the finances to attend ET school. After I wrote a proposal for financial funding, the hospital agreed to send me to ET school for 6 weeks, and in return I signed a contract that I would stay at the hospital for one year after becoming certified.

Thirty-eight years later I was still at the same facility, and it became a major academic university trauma medical center. I developed the full scope of the WOC nurse role at the facility and then the advanced practice role. I had no idea at the time how the roles would expand to consulting so many patients with ostomies, wounds of all types, and continence needs. Going to ET school was the best path I took in my nursing career. I have dedicated most of my nursing career to being a WOC nurse, and I absolutely love what I do!!

What attracted you to this specialty?
As I shared above, I have a “love” for caring for patients with an ostomy. My grandmother was my inspiration and I always have the memory of her on my shoulder when caring for patients with an ostomy. Caring for patients with different types of wounds was ever-evolving as new technologies and products were being developed. It was almost like baby boomers, but “wound care boomers.” Each time I attended a conference there was something new and exciting being presented.

As the role of the WOC Nurse continued to grow and develop in healthcare systems, so did the WOCN®, the largest and most recognized professional nursing community dedicated to advancing the practice and delivery of expert healthcare to individuals with wound, ostomy, and continence care needs. The WOC nurse conferences began to include more evidenced-based lectures and presentations, more research was being done, and notably­, products were being developed across the specialty.

What would inspire nursing students to consider this specialty as a career path?
Nursing students across the country would be inspired to pursue a career path to be a WOC nurse by simply talking to and spending time with a WOC nurse. Nursing students today are thirsty for knowledge on how to manage wounds and skin integrity, and to educate patients with an ostomy.

Spending a day or two with a WOC nurse can provide a realistic insight into the scope of the role. Nursing students will undoubtedly be dazzled by the wealth of knowledge and expertise that WOC nurses possess, and the extent of how that knowledge and expertise contributes directly to patient care and quality outcomes. The role of the WOC nurse can be in an inpatient or outpatient setting, allowing one to work independently, and be innovative in the care delivered. Overall, the impact of the role is inspiring and rewarding and it can be a lifelong career filled with continuous learning and professional development.

What might surprise people about your role, all you do, and your connections with your patients?
The role of the WOC nurse is very rewarding. WOC nurses can work with all members of the healthcare team to improve the outcomes of patients. Since the scope of practice is very specialized, WOC nurses are viewed as the experts and are consistently relied on not only by the healthcare team, but by patients as well.

I had the opportunity to form an in-depth connection with patients from providing support and guidance, to sometimes just lending an ear to listen to their concerns and healthcare needs. Overall, the in-depth connection, the breadth of education that is provided, and the ongoing support is the most satisfying—especially when you can see the impact that you have had on someone’s life.

Honoring Radiology Nurses Day on April 12

Honoring Radiology Nurses Day on April 12

Radiology  Nurses Day, also known as Radiological and Imaging Nurses Day, is celebrated annually on April 12 and was established to recognize the work that nurses do in the specialties of radiologic and imaging nursing. blue background with Radiology Nurses Day in yellow

The work of radiologic and imaging nurses is not only important for an accurate assessment and diagnosis, but it is also a skill set increasingly in demand. As radiology and imaging services such as MRI, CT scans, and ultrasounds are required for more careful diagnosis, the expertise of a radiology nurse becomes critical to accuracy. And as the technology for such imaging become ever more advanced, radiologic and imaging nurses need to remain up-to-date on using the equipment and assessing the resulting data.

The Association for Radiologic and Imaging Nursing (ARIN) leads the day honoring nurses in this specialty. Radiology nurses are an essential component of a holistic patient care team. Radiology nurses become skilled in preparing patients for and guiding them through radiology procedures. These tasks include explaining the procedure clearly, possibly administering an IV for medications or dyes, monitoring them and assisting them as they undergo a procedure. Some patients may need to ingest medications by mouth as well for monitoring digestion, for example.

Radiology nurses are able to keep patients informed of each step of a procedure and to let them know what is happening and why. For instance, an MRI’s loud banging noise and small space that can cause jitters. Because they can work with patients of all ages and with those who are coming for a routine screening or a serious illness, they need to be agile in navigating the details of medical conditions and the emotional stress patients might have.

As they use high-end, sensitive equipment, radiology nurses must develop highly specific skills to use the machines for the best results and in the safest manner for patients and team members. They have patient safety as a goal at all times, so must be aware of everything in their surroundings that could impact how an imaging procedure could go. For instance, the magnetic power of an MRI machine requires that no loose metal be nearby and that patients have removed all jewelry or metal. Radiology nurses will ensure that they ask patients all required questions to help ensure their safety. If they are working with a patient having a series of X-rays, they will need to position the patient properly while also ensuring they are protected from any unnecessary radiation. 

To stay current, radiologic and imaging nurses will want to consider certification in their specialty. With certification, they will have the latest evidence-based practices to provide the best care possible. They can also read the Journal of Radiology Nursing and attend conferences to connect with other radiologic and imaging nurses and professionals.

Radiologic and imaging nursing is an exciting specialty and one that only promises to increase in complexity. If you are a radiologic or imaging nurse, celebrate today to honor your important work.  

Unlocking the Power of Your Personal Brand: Why Nurses Need to Take Control of Their Professional Image

Unlocking the Power of Your Personal Brand: Why Nurses Need to Take Control of Their Professional Image

Whether you know it or not, you have a brand. Like it or not, YOU ARE THE BRAND! One way to check out your personal brand is to google yourself and see what pops up. You may be surprised. If you do not create your brand, it may develop on its own.unlocking-the-power-of-your-personal-brand

Research demonstrates that 94% of recruiters will search for a candidate online. Career Builder found that 70% of employers said they use social media to screen their candidates and are less likely to interview a candidate they cannot find online. There are many definitions of a brand. However, the simplest explanation is how people perceive you. To sum it all up in one word, brand is your “reputation.”

What do you want to be known for? And why should you care?

Nurses should prioritize personal branding as it allows them to distinguish themselves in a competitive job market, enhancing their visibility and desirability to employers. A strong personal brand communicates professionalism, expertise, and dedication to patient care. The reality is a brand can assist nurses in attracting rewarding career opportunities and advancement prospects.

Nurses can cultivate trust among patients, colleagues, and healthcare organizations by strategically shaping a personal brand. Personal branding can lead to greater career fulfillment and success in the dynamic nursing field. Are you ready to learn how you can shape your brand?

Here are 5 Steps to Create a Standout Personal Brand for Nurses

1. Define Your Unique Value Proposition

  • What sets you apart from other nurses?
  • Reflect on your strengths, skills, experiences, and passion in nursing.
  • Determine what makes you unique as a nurse.
  • What attributes do you want to be known for? (empathy, communication skills, clinical expertise, or leadership abilities)
  • ]What is your purpose?

2. Create a Professional Online Presence

  • Establish a strong presence on professional on LinkedIn!!
  • Optimize your profile with a professional photo, compelling headline, and detailed summary highlighting your expertise and achievements.
  • Engage with other healthcare professionals and join relevant groups to expand your network.

3. Develop a Consistent Brand Image:

  • Ensure consistency in how you present yourself both online and offline.
  • Dress to impress or at least have a stand-out style
  • Be yourself as much as possible so people will be able to recognize you in person when they meet you and remember YOU!

4. Showcase Your Expertise Through Content Creation

  • Demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership by creating content related to nursing topics.
  • Write articles/blog posts, record educational videos, or host webinars on topics that align with your expertise and interests.
  • Establish yourself as a trusted authority in your field.
  • Just Start! Do not worry about the equipment or lighting! Get out of your head!!

5. Seek Opportunities for Professional Development/Recognition

  • Invest in professional development by pursuing advanced certifications and attending conferences/ workshops.
  • Showcase your expertise, such as speaking engagements at conferences, guest lectures at nursing schools, or writing articles for publications.
  • Seeking recognition and advancement within the nursing profession, you can further enhance your brand and position yourself as a leader in the field.

Are you ready to shape your brand?

Advancing Your Nursing Career Through Certifications

Advancing Your Nursing Career Through Certifications

When you earn a nursing degree — an ADN, BSN, MSN, or beyond — you signal to the world that youre a professional who values education and advancing your career. Consistently reaching for increased expertise is a goal for individuals working in almost any discipline, and nurses are no exception.advancing-your-nursing-career-through-certifications

Beyond your formal education, you have other opportunities to expand your knowledge, and certifications are one such avenue for demonstrating dedication to having the most up-to-date, evidence-based information possible in your area of nursing practice.

Why Get Certified?

If you havent yet pursued nursing certifications, now may be the time to consider the possibility. Certification can serve many purposes, each of which holds value for you and your career.

Validated commitment to mastery: Your potential capacity to grasp the subtleties of your chosen nursing specialty is limitless. Theres no end to how much you can learn by digging deeper and deeper into the nuances of a particular branch of nursing and the clinical judgment that comes with it. Many certification processes are no walk in the park, and if you want validation of being the best you can be, certification can accomplish that goal.

Enrich your marketability and earning potential: In the job market, you need every advantage to stand out from the crowd. Certification shows a potential employer that you’re serious about your career and have gone above and beyond. Being certified could be the thing that gets your resume noticed. You may also enjoy increased earning potential.

Augment your sense of pride and empowerment: Some nurses rest on their laurels, others keep learning, and your accomplishments say a lot about your ambition to be the best you can be. As you gain knowledge, skill, and expertise, you can be proud of who youve become, and having those extra letters after your name is something you earned by going the extra mile.

Other benefits of certification include the respect of your colleagues and the benefits experienced by patients in the care they receive.

Popular Certifications

Theres an enormous and growing list of certifications available to nurses. Remember that to sit for certification exams, youll need to have logged a certain amount of clinical experience in that specialty, so research is essential.

Here are a few popular certifications for your consideration:

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) can be attained through the American Heart Association, the Red Cross, and several other organizations.

Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) is available through the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN). Two years of emergency experience is recommended but not required.

Critical Care (CCRN) from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) is geared towards those working as intensive care and critical care nurses. There are specific clinical hour requirements in direct critical patient care before sitting for the exam: 1,750 hours during the previous two years, with 875 of those hours in the most recent year, or 2,000 hours in the last five years, with 144 of those hours in the most recent year.

Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) requires a minimum of 2,000 hours of adult oncology nursing practice (clinical, administration, education, research, or consultation) in the previous four years, two years of experience as an RN, and 10 hours of continuing education in oncology in the last three years.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (PMH-BC) offers specialized expertise and knowledge. Applicants must be an RN with at least two years of experience, 2,000 hours of psychiatric-mental health experience in the last three years, and 30 hours of specialized continuing education in the previous three years.

Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES) is a specialization that gives the successful applicant the tools to work with patients facing the challenges of life with diabetes. Applicants must have two years of RN experience, at least 1,000 hours providing diabetes care and education in the previous five years, with 20% of those hours in the most recent year.

At this point, its important to note that all areas of advanced nursing practice (family nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, adult-gerontological nurse practitioner) are considered specialty certifications, and NPs trained in one area of practice can take an exam and receive post-graduate certification in another advanced practice discipline at their discretion.

Its also prudent for nurses to note that newer nursing certifications are periodically introduced. Board Certified Nurse Coach: NC-BC and Board Certified Holistic Nurse: HN-BC are relatively recent additions.

The Certification Train

Since many certifications require significant experience in the designated specialty to sit for the exam, some employers will support and pay their nurses to become certified once they have sufficient experience. Certain employers may even make pursuing certification within a set period a part of your contract.

Of course, paying for your certification and recertification is a significant benefit, although paying for the process yourself wouldnt be the end of the world. Nothing stops you from getting the certification if you want to demonstrate your commitment and sharpen your expertise. Train yourself in the interest of your professional development and career.

The nursing certifications list is long, and you can decide what makes sense for you. The validation of your expertise that certification confers is real, as is the increased marketability. Certification is a powerful avenue to accomplishing that goal if you take pride in your nursing specialty and want to take your knowledge and skill as far as you can.

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Recognizing GI Nurses and Associates’ Work

Recognizing GI Nurses and Associates’ Work

This week honors GI Nurses and Associates Week, the annual tribute to GI nurses that the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (SGNA) has celebrated for more than a decade.Eileen Duaz, GI nurse

Gastroenterology (GI) nurses treat and often diagnose patients who have symptoms and conditions related to the entire digestive tract. The spectrum of GI symptoms is nuanced and can have a big impact on quality of life for patients, so GI nurses listen carefully to help patients most effectively. They are also emotional sounding boards and supports for their patients as they cope with navigating their conditions.

SGNA Board President Eileen Dauz, BSN, RN, CGRN, CFER, CER recently shared some of her thoughts on being a GI nurse with Minority Nurse. In addition to her SGNA leadership, Dauz is a clinical nurse manager at  Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.

How did you choose a career path as a GI nurse?
I knew from the time that I was very young that nursing was something I wanted to do with my life. However, it was not until about10 years into my nursing career that I found my niche in Gastroenterology (GI) and Endoscopy nursing. The catalyst for this change was after I observed a well-seasoned endoscopy team seamlessly and effectively work together to treat a patient profusely bleeding from a ruptured esophageal varix. This brought back memories of my childhood years living in a remote region of a developing country where people die from lack of access to advanced medicine. Upper gastrointestinal bleeding was one of the common culprits. This team ensured their patient would have a different outcome and saved his life. This experience inspired me to become a GI/endoscopy nurse.

What is especially fulfilling about being a GI nurse?
Being a nurse is one of the most challenging jobs someone could do. It is physically and mentally demanding at times. However, at the end of the day, I feel a sense of fulfillment and pride, knowing that I have influenced someone’s life for the better. It does not have to be patients all the time. It may be a patient’s family member, a colleague, or a visitor. The best part of it all is that I get many opportunities to repeatedly provide the best care every day that I work. Nursing is a calling. I love the culture of nursing in my endoscopy unit. Everyone is working cohesively together in an atmosphere of mutual support.

What are some of the latest developments in GI nursing that are exciting?
The technological advancements in gastroenterology and endoscopy have opened up new ways of achieving better patient outcomes in our field, effectively and efficiently. Our instruments and tools are becoming more innovative, allowing more minimally invasive procedures to be performed in the Endoscopy suite. An example is peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM). This is a non-surgical procedure to treat swallowing disorders caused by muscle spasms in the esophagus. POEM uses an endoscope that is inserted through the mouth to cut and loosen muscles in the esophagus, preventing them from tightening and interfering with swallowing.

What do people not realize about this specialty?
We play a crucial role in maintaining our patient’s digestive health and addressing various gastrointestinal disorders from the mouth to the rectum. We are not pigeonholed into doing just one role in the GI specialty. In the hospital setting, you have the opportunity to work in the different phases of care. In some practice settings, nurses also assist the endoscopist directly with tools and gadgets during a procedure.

Do you have any advice for nurses who are considering the GI nursing career path?
My first and foremost advice for nurses who are considering the GI nursing career path is to do your research to learn more about what this specialty entails. GI nursing is not for the faint of heart. If possible, network with GI professionals in your Endoscopy unit and seek opportunities to shadow a case or two and follow a patient through the different phases of care. Some facilities offer GI nurse internships or residencies.

How has your SGNA membership helped your career?
My return on investment for the membership fees that I have paid SGNA has been exponential. SGNA has invested in my substantive leadership growth starting in the regional arena many years ago as chapter president, to where I am today as the national president. As a subject matter expert in this specialty, I was a nurse participant in the international endoscope expert hygiene meetings held in Amsterdam (2022), Baltimore (2023), and in Ireland for June 2024. As a clinical nurse manager, SGNA has empowered me to stay up to date on current evidence-based practices. Through SGNA, I have access to practice documents, educational and professional development resources that I can use for team on boarding, training, and learning events.

More importantly, my SGNA membership allows me to connect and network with approximately 5000 GI nursing professionals, associates, and industry representatives dedicated to improving their practice and advancing the GI specialty.

How Can Your HR Department Help You?

How Can Your HR Department Help You?

Nurses help people all day long. Whether it’s a colleague who needs a hand or a patient who needs support, a nurse will evaluate what’s needed and find a way to make that happen.

But when nurses need something, they are frequently reluctant to ask for help. But a nurse’s human resources (HR) department can help with professional help and often has extensive assistance available. One of the most important tasks a nurse can complete professionally is to have a thorough awareness and understanding of what an HR department offers. a stethoscope over a face mask and with a graphic heartbeat image for HR week

Here are a few things to consider when you need help from HR:

Know Your Benefits
Benefits are much more than health insurance and vacation time. Benefits encompass everything from short- and long-term disability to wellness reimbursements to parental leave policies. The HR benefits manual or explanations your organization has on file are worth reading and understanding. There could be hidden discounts that you aren’t aware of or nuances to emergency time off that you should familiarize yourself with. Your benefits can help you pay for additional education and might have excellent professional development resources you weren’t aware of.

Understand What Happens in an Emergency
Nurses know that life can change in a second. So if something happens in your own life that can impact your job attendance or performance, you shouldn’t have to scramble to find out what you need to do. Does your company have a waiting policy before you take any kind of disability? What happens if you need time to recover from a health emergency? If a family member needs your care, does your organization have any time available for you to take off to help? You’ll want to know about bereavement time as well.

Determine the Complaint Process
No one likes to have problems at work, and it’s a frequent reason that employees leave companies. Whether it’s a problem with a colleague, a supervisor, an annual review process, salary questions, or a scheduling issue, resolving it to your satisfaction is important. It might not always be possible, but understanding how your HR department deals with complaints is good information to have.  Is there an ombudsperson or a neutral mediator in your organization who can help?

Figure Out Retirement Options
Good retirement options are a key part of any benefits package, but it’s up to you to know what it includes and how it can best apply to your own situation. No matter how close to or far away from retirement you are, having a good understanding of what is offered will pay off in the long term. Does your company offer a retirement plan? Is there a retirement match and is there a minimum employee contribution required? What happens if you need help with making decisions? All of these are questions you can pose to HR to find out how any of the offered benefits can increase your own retirement savings. And if you are close to retirement age, it helps to understand the process for when you want to retire. If there are timelines involved or steps you will need to take as you ready for retirement, you will need to work with HR for a smooth transition.

HR departments offer so much information that employees might not be aware of. Take the time to find out what might be available for you.