Keeping Up with Changes in the Health Care Industry

Keeping Up with Changes in the Health Care Industry

As nurses, you know that health care is always changing. Nursing is not the same profession today as it was when you started five, ten, or twenty years ago. Part of these changes steep in a better or evolved understanding of what it means to care for patients, but others are out of nurses’ control and reflect changes both in the health care industry generally and in-patient populations.

The introduction and expansion of new tech in the health care setting combined with the rapid rate of change in patient populations mean that nursing is more dynamic than ever before. And you need to keep up.

What are the most pressing changes nurses are facing right now? These are a few of the things that will change the way you practice your profession over the next few years.

Nurses Will Need to Balance the Hands-on/Hands-off Approach

Nursing is, by definition, a very hands-on practice. Care requires a nurse to be wholly present with a patient. But some of that is already changing, and the rate of change could grow substantially over the next few years. Why? Because the Internet of Things (IoT) and all its sensors are gaining ground in hospitals and clinics.

Wearable tech and smart sensors have the ability to record and remotely transmit health data from patients directly to care providers. Everything from vitals to movement is now trackable with current tech, and nurses are increasingly responsible for patients who use it.

The implications are huge for nurses. On one hand, nurses can spend less time on rote tasks, which will make a difference in daily activities and relieve a small amount of pressure as nurses deal with a continued labor shortage. At the same time, it will also change the way nurses care for patients: how will nurses provide bedside care if they no longer need to attend to patients at their bedside?

Nurses Will Find New Colleagues to Work With

Nurses work as a team with physicians, specialists, and administrative staff to keep their organization functioning. However, the continued introduction of new technology in the health care industry will demand nurses to work more closely with two emerging groups: IT professionals and medical coders.

New technology in hospitals means organizations will require an influx of IT professionals to keep all the tech up and running. For nurses, it means working with this group when they find issues with the tech used on the ground.

At the same time, the growth of IT professionals in clinical settings offers an opportunity for nurses. They will help nursing staff stay at the forefront of tech and learn how to balance patient care with technology in a way that’s effective and safe. Working closely with IT teams can also help nurses better protect vital health data and avoid HIPAA violations by avoiding simple mistakes and identifying vulnerabilities.

Patient Self-Advocacy Will Continue to Grow

The role of the nurse as an advocate will also be challenged over the next few years. Already, patients have benefited from advancements like AI and wearable tech. However, as more and more companies insert themselves into the American health care system, the role of the patient as a self-advocate will also begin to grow because they have new resources outside the hospital and clinic system.

Improved self-advocacy is good news for patients and nurses alike. Nurses do their best to encourage patients to ask questions, seek answers, and share their health goals. A more educated and self-empowered patient population benefits everyone, and self-advocacy is a key indicator of patient satisfaction.

However, you can expect to also see it challenge the role of the nurses. Self-advocacy is also empowering non-health care businesses to get involved in certain items. For example, Amazon now allows customers to use their Health Savings Account (HSA) funds to pay for certain items. Nurses will need to adjust to the potential of patients taking on more of their care outside the purview of a clinic. And Amazon isn’t just interested in selling diabetes supplies: you could see giants like these trying to insert themselves into catastrophic disease management and treatment.

Patients Will Be More Diverse in Almost Every Way

Already, nurses need to have a strong understanding of caring for diverse patient populations. However, the changes in demographics, social systems, and epidemiological patterns will only continue, and nurses need to prepare themselves to care for increasingly diverse patients and learn to navigate the ethical challenges that can come with adapting to new patient populations.

Nursing in a diverse context means doing more than providing interpreters and using intake forms in multiple languages: though, these things are vital first steps. It also means learning about the most prominent patient groups and to gain a better understanding of their social, cultural, and religious contexts.

For example, if caring for an elderly Hindu woman, a nurse may find that they need to be specific when they require the woman to fast. In Hindu culture, fasting is part of a religious practice but it can allow them to eat fruit and drink water. Nurses need to be specific about what ‘nothing by mouth’ means. The difference is important and could dramatically impact a patient’s outcomes.

How Will Nursing Challenge You?

These upcoming changes in the health care industry will change the way you practice nursing once again. The addition of new tech, changes in the shape of self-advocacy, and shifts in patient populations all present both opportunities and challenges for both nursing and health care as a whole.

Most importantly, these changes can help you and your colleagues be better, more dynamic nurses and contribute to improved health for your communities. So, don’t fear these changes. Embrace them. If anyone can meet the challenges facing health care over the next few years, it’s nurses.

Recognizing Critical Care Transport Nurses on February 18

Recognizing Critical Care Transport Nurses on February 18

Critical care transport nurses work to keep patients stable and healthy while they are being moved, and every February 18, their work is honored. The day recognizes how critical their work is to the healthcare organization.

Critical care transport nurses work in diverse and constantly changing conditions. They might be Med-Flighting a critically injured patient from a car accident or they may be moving an ill elderly patient from a nursing home to a medical facility. Those two fairly typical scenarios show just how prepared critical care transport nurses must be for whatever situation a day at work brings.

Founded nearly 40 years ago, the Air & Surface Transport Nurses Association (ASTNA) is the professional organization for nurses in the field and sponsors this recognition day. According to the ASTNA, this career path is one that relies on skills build from a solid foundation of education and practice around nursing and trauma care.

The ASTNA offers the following education and experience requirement guidelines to become a critical care transport nurse:

  • Registered nurse standing in the state you’ll practice in
  • Two to three years of critical care/emergency experience or applicable acute care nursing environment
  • BCLS – Basic Cardiac Life Support
  • ACLS – Advanced Cardiac Life Support Certificate
  • PALS – Pediatric Advanced Life Support Certificate
  • NRP – Neonatal Resuscitation Program
  • A nationally recognized trauma program such as TPATC (Transport Nurse Advanced Trauma Course (TPATC), BTLS (Basic Trauma Life Support), PHTLS (Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support), TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum)
  • Certifications such as Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN), Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN), Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN) may be required within six months to one year of hire
  • Some states may require nurses to have EMT-B or EMT-P (Paramedic) certification.

These requirements show the broad knowledge critical care transport nurses must have as they can be called on to use each skill at any given moment. They could be treating patients who range in age from newborn to centenarians. Their trauma skills need to be current and precise, and they also have to develop the ability to provide critical care in a moving vehicle or in flight. That means critical care transport nurses need to be able to react with exceptional speed and in with a calm and controlled manner.

If you’re a student nurse thinking of this role, know you’ll need to have an agility to simultaneously assess

  • the situation (a neighborhood with a mom who is in labor to a dangerous industrial accident site)
  • the patient (taking into account the location could be a home, highway, medical facility, office building, forest, or even a battlefield for military nurses)
  • the conditions (normal, blizzard, hurricane, flooding)
  • the transport vehicle (ambulance, helicopter, medical transport plane)

The work is exciting and satisfying for nurses who are willing and able to work in many layers of changing conditions. Critical care transport nurses often bring a sense of calm and relief to a patient who understands someone is now there to help them, provide care, and bring them to safety.

Critical care transport nurses deserve the recognition they get today – thank a critical care transport nurse in your life!

 

4 Quick and Effective Job Interview Tips

4 Quick and Effective Job Interview Tips

Do you ever wonder what makes one job candidate stand out enough in a job interview to actually get hired?

Being the best job candidate you can be takes time, effort, and a lot of preparation on your part. Now is the time when you have to raise your game so you become the job prospect who gets hired. Truth be told, you probably feel a little worn out after submitting your resume to many job openings and you’re just ready to get through this final step. Maybe you think your grad experience or your resume and exceptional work experience should speak for themselves—you know you’ve got what it takes to be part of their team.

The job interview has many layers. Yes, it’s about making sure you would be a good candidate who can do the job well. Any organization wants to know they have hired someone who is qualified, reliable, and professionally competent. But another layer of the interview is to see if you would fit in with the culture and mission of the organization.

Nurses know each workplace has a slightly different environment and work culture. Depending on the unit, the shift, and the established work guidelines, nurses will find they thrive better in one organization than another. That’s a natural part of any workplace and finding the right fit is something that can’t be found on a resume. Interviewers hope they can ask questions to understand how your background, personality, work expectations, work ethic, and training will help advance their team and provide their patients with the best care.

How can you prepare for that kind of pressure?

  1. Find Out More

Do a little investigating of your own before heading to a job interview. Understand the culture of the organization and find out how the teams work. Look at LinkedIn profiles, check out social media posts, and read up on the place’s history. Find out all you possibly can. No interviewer wants to explain a company to an interviewee. They expect you will come with an understanding of what they do and why.

  1. Understand What You Can Do for Them

If you’re applying for a job, an organization knows it can help you fill that immediate need. As an interviewee, you’re in the position where you need to sell yourself. Successful job candidates know you can’t just sell yourself by relaying all your accomplishments. Telling your interviewer about everything that’s on your resume isn’t the best use of anyone’s time. They have your resume—now they want to find out what you can do to help them. Where will you fit in and why will that help that healthcare organization be better? That’s what any interviewer wants to know. Don’t make them dig for that information in a job interview.

  1. Don’t Throw Away Your Shot

If you think you have only one chance to get something right, you’ll do your best. Well, this is your one shot to get it right. Today’s job interviewers don’t have time to coddle an interviewee. They want you to be prepared, to be dressed appropriately, to have any materials you need, to have references ready to go, and to be ready to answer their questions thoughtfully and thoroughly.

  1. Don’t Leave the Obvious Unsaid

You might think your five years on NICU will help you land this new role in a similar unit. You might be right, but do you want to leave that to chance? If two interviewees have the same experience, be the one who can demonstrate with anecdotes and proven results. Choose a few of your accomplishments in your last role and be ready to talk about how those results helped your last organization and also how it helped you professionally. Don’t assume your resume tells your story. The resume is the headline—the interview is the rest of the story.

Before you head to your next job interview, take some time for preparation and see what kind of a difference it makes in your interview process.

Nurses Spread the Word About Heart Health

Nurses Spread the Word About Heart Health

February is designated as American Heart Month and lots of recognition days help bring attention to heart health. Nurses who specialize in cardiac care (and who might be celebrating Cardiovascular Professional Week this week) are in especially good roles to help people who are coping with heart disease, and they are also excellent educators to help prevent heart disease in the first place.

A recent survey by the Cleveland Clinic revealed the majority of Americans don’t know heart disease is the number one killer of women. While women might typically fear breast cancer or even the random violence that is so prominent on the nightly news, heart disease actually is the most lethal condition. The survey revealed 68 percent of respondents thought something other than heart disease was the leading cause of death. In fact, heart disease is prevalent for both men and women and actually kills one out of every four Americans.

The Cleveland Clinic study also highlighted a deep lack of understanding about heart disease, its causes, and how it can be prevented. The study showed that while “90 percent of heart disease is due to modifiable/controllable risk factors, only 8 percent of Americans know that.”

Millennials, who need to start practicing heart-healthy habits right now, are especially in the dark, according to the survey. Eighty percent couldn’t identify heart disease as a leading killer of women. The same number or respondents didn’t know people should begin cholesterol checks in their 20s.

Heart disease is often called the silent killer for the symptoms that are easy to dismiss, unrecognizable, or even not present until too much damage has been done. This is why nurses are such essential patient advocates. They can help educate patients, family, friends, and community members about how to prioritize their heart health.

The Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association (PCNA) is an excellent resource for nurses who want to help patients stay heart healthy. Because so many other conditions contribute to heart disease including diabetes, depression, and inherited genetics, there are many people who might not think of heart disease as an issue. Lifestyle factors also play a significant role as the cause of heart disease and the prevention of it.

Some health conditions are things people have no control over, but what nurses can do is help them understand what steps and modifications will help reduce risk. Someone with diabetes, for example, needs to pay extra attention to managing that condition with proper medications but they can also manage that condition and help prevent heart troubles with extra efforts toward heart health.

One of the best ways to begin educating people is to make sure patients have accurate information about everything from diet to high blood pressure. With correct information they can begin making changes that will work. For instance, the Cleveland Clinic survey showed that many people don’t understand that a Mediterranean diet is the most helpful for heart health or that an aspirin a day will not prevent heart disease. And with the dangers of vaping becoming more defined, and more urgent, people need to know vaping isn’t a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes.

If heart health is especially close to your professional interests, you might want to take your expertise to a higher level with the Cardiac Vascular Nurse Certification. If you work with cardiac patients, this qualification is especially important, but it also helps in a more general practice role. With so many people at risk of heart disease, helping patients with prevention can save lives.

Honoring PeriAnesthesia Nurses Week

Honoring PeriAnesthesia Nurses Week

The first week of every February is designated as PeriAnesthesia Nurse Awareness Week, a week to raise awareness of and appreciation for the nurse in this specialty.

As with many other areas of nursing, population changes and national health trends are shifting this specialty. Perianesthesia nurses are a patient’s advocate and guardian during any procedure that requires anesthesia. As the largest generation, the baby boomers, continues to swell the population of seniors, the need for perianesthesia nurses who are skilled with older adults is critical. And as some healthcare shifts away from hospital settings, perianesthesia nurses can expect to find more job opportunities in ambulatory surgery sites.

Nurses in this area are with a patient before, during, and after anesthesia, so they provide essential medical care while also using their understanding about personality and the human condition to make the process as easy as possible for patients.

Before anesthesia, a perianesthesia nurse will help a patient prepare for whatever procedure they are having. The nurse is responsible for educating the patient about anesthesia and answering any questions they or their family members might have. As some people are hesitant about anesthesia, may have had a bad reaction to it before, or are nervous about being sedated, nurses need to be able to offer factual advice that addresses the needs of each person. They are also there to let the patient know they will be with them the entire time, even when the patient is under anesthesia and not aware. Sometimes, just letting a patient know they are not alone is a huge relief.

During surgery, perianesthesia nurses shift their focus from a fully awake patient to one that is now under anesthesia and unable to advocate for themselves. This is when the focus shifts to the details that can be almost imperceptible. Nurses watch for any changes in vital signs that could signal a patient is in distress. But one of the biggest skills perianesthesia nurses are well-known for is their ability to watch a human body for small changes. Changes in skin tone, breathing, or muscle movement are of critical importance for the perianesthesia nurse. And because they will care for patients of all ages, knowing what is expected and what is not at each age is essential.

As the patient moves into recovery, the perianesthesia nurse is still at bedside, but this time with a dual focus—on the patient who is adjusting to the anesthesia wearing off and on those same body signals which now change with the patient coming out of a sedated state. People react very differently in this phase of recovery, so again the perianesthesia nurse has to know what to expect and how to help guide a patient through this initial phase.

Minority perianesthesia nurses are especially needed. A nurse who understands a patient’s language, culture, and customs will be much more in-tune with what the patient might be concerned with. If they are frightened, speaking in their first language will be easier, and having a nurse who can communicate easily with them will eliminate stress and confusion. When they are in recovery, the same kind of communication is beneficial to the patient and to the rest of the healthcare team as well.

As an advocate for patients when they are unable to be their own advocate, perianesthesia nurses have a significant role in patient care. This is a great week to honor all they do.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Nurses Need to Know

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Nurses Need to Know

Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What Nurses Need to Know

Acupuncture, aromatherapy, supplements, and the like—more and more people across the nation are using these therapies. Because a number of these people will be your patients, it’s important for you, as a nurse, to know complementary and alternative medicine and about how to get more education if you’d like to implement them into your practice.

First, let’s make some distinctions: while “complementary” and “alternative” both represent the same types of therapies, they are different. Both words refer to non-mainstream treatments such as aromatherapy, meditation, massage, etc. However, when a health care provider uses complementary medicine, it’s used in conjunction with common, Western medicine. When the provider uses alternative medicine, it’s used in place of common, Western medicine.

Within this article, we will use the abbreviation CAM, which stands for complementary and alternative medicine. The focus here is not on if it’s used with or without Western medicine, but how it is used with patients at all.

Why Learn About CAM?

If CAM isn’t used yet at every health care facility, then why should nurses learn about it? “Patients are using them. Time and time again, research finds that the majority of the population is using integrative health products, and this rate is much higher for patients with higher socioeconomic status and/or patients who suffer from chronic health conditions,” says Jessie Hawkins, PhD, director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences. “Without guidance from their care providers, patients are left to self-educate through online sources. This results in reduced efficacy at best and injury at worst.”

With so many patients using CAM, Mollie Aleshire, DNP, MSN, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, DNP program director and clinical associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Nursing says, “It is essential that nurses have knowledge about common CAM and obtain information to elicit use of CAM therapies from the patient history.”

“It’s important to help patients get information from reliable sources and to know if a suggested alternative treatment, such as herbal supplements, may interfere with the medications they are currently prescribed or may be detrimental to their health,” says Tina M. Baxter, APRN, GNP-BC, president and CEO of Baxter Professional Services, LLC.

“Patients are now looking for alternative therapies. A lot of people don’t want to go with pharmaceutical drugs anymore,” says Jennifer Burns, NMD, founder of Burns Integrative Wellness Center. “It’s nice to have other modalities to help the patients.”

“It’s important for nurses to learn about alternative therapies because they offer patients new avenues that may improve their conditions and overall health,” says Linda Steele, PhD, MSN, BSN, APRN, ANP-BC, program director for Walden University’s nurse practitioner programs.

The Most Commonly Used CAM

According to Baxter, there are eight most commonly used CAM therapies in health care: acupuncture, aromatherapy, hypnosis, massage therapy, meditation, Tai Chi, therapeutic touch, and vitamins/herbal supplements. These, she says, are the most researched and studied.

“For example, aromatherapy oils are now used post-op in some hospitals to reduce anxiety and pain after surgery so that patients will require less pain medications. Meditation has been used in psychiatry through progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindfulness meditation to augment the practices of cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectic behavioral therapy. Tai Chi has been shown to improve balance and flexibility for older adults and thereby reducing falls in long-term care and community settings,” explains Baxter. “Herbal supplements such as CBD oil have shown some efficacy in reducing seizures, pain, and anxiety. Hypnosis is a treatment that is offered for smoking cessation and obesity treatment. Massage therapy and acupuncture have been demonstrated to be beneficial in addiction treatment. Therapeutic touch has been demonstrated to help with pain in some instances by manipulating the energy fields that surround the body.”

Audrey Christie, MSN, RN, a self-employed holistic wellness practitioner, says that CAM has become more common because of evidence illustrating their benefits. “Things like aromatherapy in labor and delivery units, as well as mindfulness and meditation or Reiki-style practices, are becoming more and more mainstream,” Christie says. “They can help with pain reduction, mindset, relaxation, anxiousness, and many other aspects of the body-mind connection. In recent years, science has been beginning to catch up to what we have known intuitively for years.”

Hilary Erickson, RN, BSN, a labor and delivery nurse and creator of Pulling Curls says that if patients are pregnant with breech babies, she will often recommend that they see a chiropractor, as she believes that a skilled practitioner may help prevent them needing a C-section.

Christie makes another good point: “All therapies were once considered alternative—even antibiotics. We know that there is far more to healing than just applying a chemical compound or mechanical procedure to the human form—that intrinsic mind and spirit aspect can be a real determining factor in whether or not a patient gets better.”

Getting Educated

Don’t be like your patients and simply look up information about CAM online. If you want to implement it into your practice, it’s necessary for you to get some kind of formal education.

“Integrative health is a concept that is rapidly growing and expanding worldwide. Sales of dietary supplements are up year after year, and the industry itself is a multi-trillion-dollar global market. Patients are using alternative therapies, and that use is increasing,” says Hawkins. “Continuing education in integrative health is one of the best career investments a nurse can make.”

But there are other reasons to study CAM. “Nurses should be skilled in the therapy before providing it, and it should abide within hospital policies so that they can maintain the standard of care the hospital wants them to provide—and so that they are protected,” cautions Erickson.

A number of our sources recommend that nurses first look to the American Holistic Nurses Association for educational opportunities in CAM. The organization offers certification as well as online training programs.

“There are some complementary certificates available, such as the two-year program with alternative therapies expert Dr. Andrew Weil,” says Steele. “Many nurses also get certified as a licensed massage therapist or acupuncturist.” Steele also notes that some conferences, like the annual one offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, may offer CAM single sessions and in-depth training.

“We train nurses to become board certified health coaches, herbalists, and aromatherapists. We focus on these specific areas because they are the dominant integrative health fields in nursing practice,” says Hawkins, speaking of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences.

“These therapies complement a nurse’s practice by providing additional tools that can be used to boost overall quality of life as well as patient compliance with wellness programs. For example, much of the research on aromatherapy is specific to pre-procedural applications such as anxiety relief before a surgical intervention. For many applications of herbs and essential oils, there is high quality evidence supporting its use,” explains Hawkins. “Sometimes this evidence also clarifies its use. For example, recent research we conducted found that children with an autism spectrum disorder respond differently to pre-procedural aromatherapy than the general population. This helps to demonstrate not only that these interventions work, but with which populations they are found to be effective.”

Most nurses can streamline their training at Franklin because they have general health education. Nurses train via interactive distance learning—so they can still work—and most complete their programs within a year.

While many institutions teach CAM, Christie advises nurses to use caution: “Only spend time and money on accredited schools. The kind of education they need depends entirely on the state in which they are practicing.”

“Medicine is evolving, as is the state of health. It’s critical to explore options and be at the forefront of new therapies. In fact, most nurses took an oath to continue educating themselves,” says Christie.

CAM and Patients

While many patients will be using some form of CAM, you may encounter some who aren’t. As a result, you’ll need to explain it to them to make them comfortable.

“Never force them,” says Christie. “I try to come from a place of explaining it on their level. If you think of something like a breathing technique and work from there—often in conversation and assessment—you can find a connection to discuss with the patient and make them comfortable. If they never get to comfortable, I try to send them with some education to learn more about the therapy on their own time.”

Steele suggests that nurses begin by giving basic tips to their patients to improve their overall health and wellness. “Ask the patient to identify what types of therapies they have heard about and what their level of comfort with them is. Always assure them that they will have access to different medical recommendations, including alternative therapies, if and when they are ready to take that step,” says Steele. “Stress the idea of complementary medicine and nursing as a blend of both Western traditional medicine and Eastern modalities, which are more than 2,000 years old. Patients become much more comfortable when they realize they have choices in their health care.”

Baxter says that she explains to patients that there is research and evidence for the prescribed therapy as well as how the therapy may benefit them. “I would be very careful, as some clients are concerned about promoting a specific religion when you talk of medication and Tai Chi. I encourage the clients to think of it as learning to ‘quiet your mind’ and ‘learning to move your body to promote healing’ as opposed to supporting a particular ideology,” she says.

Cautions to Keep in Mind

With any kind of health therapy, there are cautions to be aware of. For example, just because vitamins and other supplements are sold over the counter, that doesn’t mean that they are safe at all times. Steele says that there are still precautions nurses should take. “As with any medical or physical therapy, all have side effects and can cause potential harm or injury to the patient,” she says.

“Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Like medications, what works for one person may not work for another. I have clients who do not respond well to aromatherapy but may respond better to some acupressure,” says Baxter. “I would make sure that if I am recommending any treatment, I would first research it for the evidence that it may be effective and make sure that you are qualified to provide the service that is offered. For example, Tai Chi is of great benefit to older adults, but I am not a certified instructor. I do know some basic moves from a video that I will often demonstrate to the other health care providers to show them the movements, but I refer clients to a certified instructor if they want to take the class.”

Hawkins stresses that nurses need to know if their individual state or facility where they practice allows alternative therapies. Some don’t. But they also need to know how the therapies, if allowed, will affect their patients as well.

“Nurses should be aware that alternative therapies are not free from risks and contraindications. Many of these therapies interact with conventional medications or treatments, and many others pose risks to patient health,” says Hawkins. “There are also restrictions on how these therapies should be used, even on otherwise healthy patients. For example, some essential oils can slow breathing in infants. Others can cause someone who does not typically burn to get a sunburn. Studying integrative health provides the framework needed to keep patients safe.”