Creative Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills While in Nursing School

Creative Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills While in Nursing School

Have you discovered that you have leadership potential, and are now interested in developing your leadership skills? A significant part of becoming a great leader is to motivate yourself to strengthen the skills that are needed to become an effective leader. An abundance of opportunities exists all around you, and it is up to you to reach out and explore what your options are. Listed below are a few recommendations on how you can begin to build your leadership skills and tap into your capabilities while you are in nursing school. These options are some of my personal favorites, because they were beneficial to me as I progressed during my undergraduate nursing program. The skills that I acquired from those experiences helped to shape my goals and overall career aspirations that I have set for my nursing career.

leadership skillsThe National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)

One of the earliest commitments you can make to the nursing profession is during your undergraduate experience by joining the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA). This association is committed to the development of nursing students as they work towards their undergraduate nursing degree. A great way to develop as a leader using this platform is to become an active member. One way to do this is to become an engaged member in your school’s chapter of the NSNA. Develop the leader within you by serving in a specific role or becoming involved on a special projects committee. There is a range of leadership opportunities, such as serving as chapter president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary, or projects chairperson. There is also an opportunity to serve as a delegate or spokesperson at the annual NSNA convention.

Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

Sigma is committed to scholarship, leadership, and service efforts. High achieving nursing students are invited to become members based on their academic performance while in an undergraduate or graduate nursing program. Licensed nurses can join the society based on their demonstrated leadership efforts as a professional nurse.

Toastmasters International

It is imperative for nurse leaders to speak effectively. Nursing students and professional nurses oftentimes find themselves in a position where they need to present information. At some point during your education experience or while on the job, you will be expected to stand in front of a group of people to give a presentation. Just the thought of presenting in a classroom in front of peers, a boardroom in front of a group of nurse leaders, or to a large audience at a conference, is sometimes enough to spark a feeling of anxiety or even fear for some. It is during nursing school that you should begin to practice the art of speaking. Improving your communication skills will help to alleviate the anxiety and fear as you advance in your education and career. Toastmasters International is a reliable source that many successful people have deemed to be very effective. First, I recommend that you explore the national website to read about the features and benefits of the program. Next, find a local group close to you and make a guest visit. Third, commit to the program and take advantage of the special leadership development activities that they offer.

Omicron Delta Kappa

Do not be afraid to venture outside of nursing as you seek leadership opportunities. To give you an example, the National Leadership Honor Society (ODK) is an organization that is designed to support the leadership development of students. A national convention is held annually to expose members to further leadership and development opportunities. Check to see if your university is affiliated with this national leadership platform.

Campus-Wide Leadership Opportunities

Do not limit yourself. Another way to tap into your leadership potential is to explore campus-wide opportunities. Many universities have a campus life center that offers leadership and volunteer programs that will get you engaged on campus and within your surrounding community. Some creative examples include taking part in the student government association, or even committing to the Greek life by joining a sorority or fraternity. Participating in volunteer activities is a strategic way to build leadership skills. The great news is, if you cannot find anything that suits your talents and interests, many schools and universities will allow students to create a special interest group of their own.

So, there you have it. I have shared with you some of my best ideas that I believe will help you develop into the nurse leader that you aspire to be.

Are For-Profit Nursing Schools a Good Choice?

Are For-Profit Nursing Schools a Good Choice?

Students across the country say they have been shamed by for-profit colleges promising a great education and career prospects. Here’s what nursing students should know before enrolling in any degree program to ensure it is a wise investment.

Imagine spending years in nursing school only to learn that a degree from the college you’re attending won’t actually qualify you for the nursing job of your dreams. Unfortunately, this can be a devastating reality for many students across the United States who attend for-profit colleges.

For-profit colleges have received a lot of negative headlines in recent years. There have been several cases of for-profit colleges shutting down without notice to enrolled students—leaving them without options for continuing their education. Others have faced lawsuits by students claiming they were shamed and their degrees are worthless in the job market.

Many for-profit college programs advertise flexible class schedules, accelerated learning, and high job placement. However, with so much controversy surrounding these colleges, it’s smart to thoroughly investigate if the college you are considering will provide you with the education and job prospects you seek.

A growing number of nursing students have found out the hard way the true cost of some for-profit colleges. They are left with massive student loan debt and useless degrees that won’t get them a job. And to make matters worse, traditional colleges and universities won’t accept their transfer credits.

A November 2017 study published by The Century Foundation found that for-profit college students accounted for a staggering 99% of applications for student “loan relief from students who maintain that they have been defrauded or misled by federally approved colleges and universities.”

Like many students, you may be enticed by what some for-profit colleges offer in terms of flexible class schedules, online learning options, accelerated degree programs, and less competitive admissions requirements. Public colleges and universities are more competitive, and a for-profit program can seem like an easier path.

For-profit colleges are known for targeting nontraditional students who desire more flexible education programs and want to enter into a certain field or industry such as nursing. But some college advisors steer students away from such colleges.

“Our general advice about for-profit colleges is to avoid them if at all possible,” says Evelyn Alexander, founder/owner of Magellan College Counseling, an independent service that helps students with the college admissions process.

The first step to a successful nursing career is to do your research for any degree program you are considering prior to enrolling. It’s smart to do due diligence to ensure you are making a wise investment of time and money in your education.

Here are some tips to help you determine if the college you’re considering is a good choice for a successful nursing career.

Know the Status

You should always know upfront the status of the college you’re considering. Colleges and universities can be state, nonprofit, or for-profit. This is the first thing to know when deciding on a nursing program.

“I started poking around several college websites, and it’s very difficult to determine if a college is for-profit, because they generally don’t announce it,” Alexander says. “I think the best way to deal with this is to ask, upfront, immediately, if the college is nonprofit. Just come out and ask, and if it is not nonprofit, see if there are other options available to you.”

Alexander notes that a private college can be either for-profit or nonprofit, while public colleges/universities are publicly owned and always nonprofit. Alexander almost exclusively guides her clients toward nonprofit colleges and universities.

Seek Out Accredited Programs

One of the major problems that many for-profit students encounter is that their college program doesn’t have the industry-recognized accreditation that employers want. Many students find this out only after they have spent time and money on a degree and begin job hunting.

While most for-profit colleges do have accreditations, they may not be the specific accreditations employers look for in nursing job candidates. In addition, without the right accreditations, your credits won’t transfer to another school.

For nursing programs, look specifically for schools with Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accreditation. Also, look for nursing school programs that are regionally accredited (e.g., accredited by a state board of nursing), as this is an indication that other colleges/universities are more likely to accept transfer credits. Beware of nursing programs that don’t meet these criteria.

You can also contact other nonprofit/state colleges/universities in your area and ask if they accept transfer credits from the college in question. You want to keep your options open for transferring to another college in case it is necessary. So, it’s best to know from the start if your credits will transfer.

Don’t Fall for Pressure Tactics

One common complaint about for-profit colleges is that admissions staff pressure potential students into enrolling or don’t offer sound admissions and financial aid guidance. If the admissions reps are using pressure tactics or making big promises about job prospects, beware. Admissions reps should be enthusiastic about what their school has to offer, but they shouldn’t be like a pushy car salesman.

For-profit colleges usually have an easier admissions process than nonprofit/state colleges and often do not require test scores such as the SAT/ACT, a certain GPA, or the like. This makes enrollment easy; especially for nontraditional students or those working full-time. However, nursing programs with the proper accreditation will likely have a more competitive admissions process—and that’s a good thing.

Reputation Matters

Do graduates of the nursing program you’re considering actually get nursing jobs in your area? An easy way to start researching actual job placement success for a college is to utilize online resources such as LinkedIn to search for graduates of the program you’re considering and take note of their job history. Are graduates working for reputable health care organizations in your area? Or do they have non-nursing jobs? While this is anecdotal research, it’s a good way to get an idea of job prospects.

While you’re online, do a Google search for the school and read student reviews and ratings. Are there a lot of complaints or low ratings? Your online search may also bring up news articles that mention the college, which could ­provide information about pending lawsuits filed by previous students. You don’t want to enroll in a college in legal or financial jeopardy.

If there are no red flags from your online research, pick up the phone and call large employers, such as hospitals and clinics in your area, to speak with an HR representative to see if they consider graduates from the college for job openings. Or attend a local job fair and make a point to speak directly with health care recruiters to ask if they regularly recruit or hire graduates from the college you’re considering. Don’t just take the college admissions advisor’s word that employers hire their graduates.

Already Enrolled in a For-Profit Nursing Program?

What if you are already enrolled in a for-profit program? If you’ve already started a program it’s not too late to check on the school’s accreditation and reputation among employers. You may discover that your school meets the industry-recognized criteria for nursing education such as ACEN and has solid regional accreditations.

If you do find some red flags with your current college, first assess what exactly is causing you alarm. For instance, is the only red flag some negative student reviews online? That in itself should not be cause for much concern. However, if you find your college isn’t ACEN and regionally accredited or there are rumors about the school closing or facing legal action, you should reconsider what your realistic job prospects are going to be if you continue with the
program.

Alexander says if one of her clients was enrolled in for-profit institution she would likely advise them to start looking for another program. “They may run into a problem ensuring that all of their credits transfer to another institution; but I would say it’s probably better to get out in the middle than to wait until they finish, when they may hit a barrier in finding a job.”

Choose Wisely

Choosing a good nursing school is vitally important to your nursing career. All students should be knowledgeable about industry education standards and not rely on admissions representatives who have enrollment quotas to meet and don’t always have your best interest at heart. And if a program sounds too good to be true, it may lead to major disappointment down the
line.

“What seems like a good idea for certain reasons may be overshadowed by much larger drawbacks,” Alexander warns. “This is why we advise against for-profits. It’s not really a good investment if your degree doesn’t get you a job or if you end up owing money on student loans, you haven’t finished your degree, and the next school you attend doesn’t recognize your credits.”

Why Prospective Students Should Consider Nursing

Why Prospective Students Should Consider Nursing

As the school year starts up again, we thought we’d share why nurses love what they do to help inspire prospective students to pursue this rewarding career. We asked each nurse why it’s great to be a nurse right now and they gave us many different reasons, but they all agree on one thing: being a nurse rocks!

Here are seven reasons prospective students should consider nursing.

“2018 is a great time to be a nurse. I’m a Clinical Nurse Educator for patients with chronic granulomatous disease, a rare disease that only 20 people in the U.S. are born with each year, and my job takes me around the country to meet with them in person—but we can connect virtually as well. I’m able to build great, personal relationships with my patients—and, having four children myself—being able to be there for patients like that means the world to me. Additionally, the resources available are incredible: connecting my patients and their caregivers with online social communities and others in the rare disease community who understand their experiences is so helpful in ensuring that they feel less alone. Witnessing this positive impact on their outlook on their condition is extremely rewarding.”
—Brian Coyle, BSN, MBA, RN MSCN, Clinical Nurse Educator at Horizon Pharma

 

 “Nursing is future proof. A complex computer algorithm meant to replace nurse anesthetists like me for endoscopy procedures was recently pulled from the market, because robots can’t do this job. The ethical and bureaucratic hurdles have never been more challenging, so nurses feel useful and irreplaceable.”
Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN

 

“The best part about being a nurse in 2018 is having access to the best education, technology, and resources available, which allows us to pinpoint clients’ needs and help them achieve their daily goals and a better quality of life.”
Eronmwon Balogun, RN, BSN, Skilled Home Care Nurse, BAYADA Home Health Care

 

“I’ve always had an overwhelming sense that I needed to help anyone I felt was in pain either physically or emotionally. I truly believe it’s within my soul—an innate gift. When I was an Army medic, I was in constant awe of my fellow soldiers—whether a medic, nurse, or MD—the camaraderie was powerful. I knew I wanted to pursue nursing as a career.

When I graduated nursing school, I began my journey in Oncology. Twenty-seven years later, I am still fortunate enough to be caring for the Oncology population. To this day, I still have that feeling in my heart and gut—the sense that has allowed me to become part of so many lives, and to help countless patients and families.”
—Kevin Flint, RN, BSN, MBA, OCN, Nurse Director, Vernon Cancer Center, Newton-Wellesley Hospital

 

“Today’s world is fueled by powerful women, and this is very evident in the nursing profession. You are never limited as a nurse because you can work anywhere you want—in a school, hospital, or even home setting. Nursing is an empowering profession that is in demand and can take you nearly anywhere you want to go.”
Pamela Compagnola, RN, Clinical Manager, BAYADA Home Health Care

 

“In our high-tech world, as a nurse I love that I am still able to give a personal human touch to people in need of care. For me, the person-to-person connection is why I went into this field and brings me simple joy every day.”
Lannette Cornell Bloom, BSN, RN, author of Memories in Dragonflies, Simple Lessons for Mindful Dying

 

“Nurses today have endless possibility and opportunity to really make a difference. We need to believe and be empowered that we do make a difference and that we are a big part of the health care system.”
—Rodilyn Glushchenko, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS, NE-BC, Nurse Director ICU, Hemodialysis and Cardiovascular Center, Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Neonatal Nurses Day Focuses Attention on Nurses Caring for Babies

Neonatal Nurses Day Focuses Attention on Nurses Caring for Babies

Does a career working with the tiniest infants appeal to you? Working as a neonatal nurse is celebrated today and is an excellent time to find out more about this branch of nursing.

Spearheaded by the National Association of Neonatal Nurses, (NANN), Neonatal Nurses Day is marked around the country on September 15 and honors those nurses who work with newborns. Typically, these nurses are working in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) helping babies who have illnesses or health problems right after birth. Neonatal nurses might also care for older babies if their health condition necessitates longer-term care.

Neonatal nurses will care for infants who are born full-term and those who are born prematurely, sometimes months early. The babies might also have been born with a genetic condition or birth defects or who may have developed an infection.

Because the babies are in such fragile health, a neonatal nurse will call on a range of skills and will require excellent critical thinking and decision making. Working in an environment where a baby’s condition can change rapidly, neonatal nurses must cultivate a steady approach and devote time and effort to developing excellent interpersonal and teamwork skills.

An integral part of what is generally a large team of nurses, physicians, specialists, social workers, and staff, the neonatal nurse’s role is defined, but requires an awareness of how all the different parts operate as a team. Newborns under the care of a neonatal nurse often have complex conditions and their age and oftentimes underdeveloped body systems put them at risk for additional complications.

Families are a big part of neonatal care. Parents, extended family, and friends are anxious about the baby and the unfamiliar equipment and setting only heightens that anxiety. A neonatal nurse also works with families and must be able to do so in the face of all kinds of outcomes.

The impact neonatal nurses make on the infant in their care and the infants’ families often links them for life. Families depend on nurses to provide care and also to fill them in on treatments, procedures, facts, and tell them what’s going on in a manner they can understand when they are coping with so much stress. As a neonatal nurse, you’ll develop strong bonds that will make the babies as memorable to you as you are to them.

And as medical advances progress at a rapid rate, it’s imperative that neonatal nurses are lifelong learners who will continue to gather information, knowledge, and get certified. They need to understand the developmental variations of these babies to help inform treatment and care.

If you’re a neonatal nurse, take today to reflect on the way you change the lives of the babies you care for and how you are an important partner with their families. If a neonatal nurse has been a big part of your life, be sure to celebrate the job they do in this inspiring career.

Never Give Up

Never Give Up

Over the past few months there have been several postings of nurses that have passed their Board or certification exams. Congratulations to you all.  Unfortunately, there have also been nurses that have not passed and have been discouraged. This is a message to you to “never give up.” You are not a quitter, you have taken the initiative to choose a rewarding field and have studied long and hard for two to four years.

You made it through course work and clinicals so don’t let this defeat you. Everything happens for a reason, even though we may not understand it. Take this time to step back, regroup, and refocus. Most people do not realize that failure can be a stepping stone to success. During this time you learn about your life, goals, and other things that make you who you are. Failure will actually make you stronger and wiser. You will have more knowledge and will find ways to achieve your goals and success.

There have been several people that failed, but never gave up: Take Bill Gates, at an early age his first computer company failed, but he did not give up and he made billions and gave us Microsoft, Windows, Excel PowerPoint. Colonel Sanders failed at almost everything, but at age 65 he developed his famous chicken recipe that was rejected by over 1,000 restaurants, but was finally accepted by one. Dr. Seuss wrote his first book and it was rejected 28 times, but he did not give up. At the time of his death he had sold over 600 million copies of his books.

Although these people were not nurses, it shows you that even though they failed, they did not stop. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), you can retake the exam 45 days after failing and up to 8 times a year.

The real FAILURE is never trying again, so NEVER GIVE UP!!

4 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills

4 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills

With a necessary focus on technical skills in nursing school, nursing students can’t forget the importance of mastering soft skills.

Nursing students’ days and nights are consumed by learning every technical detail of nursing school, so they can easily neglect the soft skills, like communication and interpersonal skills, that just can’t be learned in a book. But becoming proficient in these will make you a better nurse.

Communication skills are a combination of how you write, what you say, the way you listen, and how you interact with other people. Here are a few ways to boost your communication skills while you are in school.

Observe Closely

An easy way to develop communication skills that will help you become a better nurse and make you a more effective team member is to watch others. Do you notice other nursing students who seem to have a way with people? Do some of your supervisors in your clinicals get along with students while commanding an undeniable respect? If you see people who have traits you like, watch what they do and how they do it. You can also notice people who have traits you don’t like or that appear unprofessional so you can avoid those.

Listen Carefully

Communication isn’t all about what you say. When you interact with others, listen to what they are saying. Whether it is a patient, a professor, a nursing student, or a supervisor, listen carefully to their words before forming your own opinion. People want to be heard and that can only happen when you are listening to them. Don’t interrupt and do hold back on offering your opinion until you know that’s what they are really seeking. You can learn more from listening than from talking.

Speak Respectfully

Almost as important as what you say is how you say it. Be careful to say what you mean. If you have a request, state it plainly. Don’t assume others will know or should know what you want or need. Try to rise above any previously formed feelings (for instance, if your professor has forgotten a set appointment again) so that your voice remains neutral. You can be irritated, but part of mastering soft skills is learning how to speak in control of each situation.

Write Clearly

Clear written communication takes work and it takes practice. In a professional world (that includes an academic world), certain rules must be followed. Start practicing as a nursing student. When you need to write to someone, use a proper greeting and a proper closing. Triple check to make sure you have spelled names correctly. When writing a note, a memo, or an announcement, use complete sentences and spell out each word. Professional communication is much different from the quick texts we are all so used to. But when you write clearly and professionally, you’re perfecting your communication skills and forming an important cornerstone in your reputation.

Nursing school is an ideal time to practice your communication skills. Ask for feedback from professors, mentors, supervisors, friends, and other students. They can offer great insight to nuances you might not even be aware of. It’s a great start to a career in nursing.