Advancing Your Nursing Career Helps Everyone

Advancing Your Nursing Career Helps Everyone

As many new and experienced nurses all know, there are plenty of things to learn to be a competent and successful nurse. There are the basics, such as administering medication and filling out charts that every nurse should have a solid understanding of. Then there are the more subtle skills that the best nurses have such as bedside manner and an ability to make visitors feel at ease.

Of course, there are also plenty of things to learn that can also help you to advance your nursing career. Taking courses that allow you to specialize as a nurse are great examples of moving your career forward. Likewise, learning how to incorporate new technologies or focusing on integrating new systems is another way to strengthen your resume.

Though you may not immediately realize it, all of the advancements you are making and all of the knowledge you are gaining help more than just you. Taking forward strides in your nursing career impacts everyone you interact with positively. From your nursing coworkers and doctors that can depend upon you for more to your patients that can sense the breadth of your knowledge, advancing your career helps everyone else.

Improving Hard Skills

Perhaps the most straightforward way to move forward with your nursing career is to focus on improving your hard skills. These are steps like refining your clinical judgment during your first year as a nurse or working towards a specialized certification that allows you to take on greater roles and responsibilities. In general, hard skills are tangible educational advancements in your career.

Hard skills can also include things that are necessarily directly tied to improving the health of patients. For instance, it could include something like learning how to use a new patient tracking software. Technologies are exploding in health care fields, and any efforts to learn the latest and greatest are sure to have a positive impact on your workflows.

The general idea of boosting hard skills is that you are becoming more confident and competent in your nursing abilities. You are learning new concepts and ideas that allow you to take on more responsibility and improve efficiency. These can be pretty obvious benefits to your career, to your supervisors, and to the patients you work with.

Boosting Soft Skills

Equally important to improving hard skills is giving your soft skills a boost as well. This can be a bit more complex than hard skills because soft skills are … well, soft. They aren’t as tangible or easily defined and the benefits, though incredibly valuable, can be more subtle and hard to tease out. However, these are the skills that could prove to make the most significant difference in patient lives.

Empathy is one of the most highly valued soft skills, especially in nursing. It is essentially the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes and sympathize with their situation. For nurses, having well-developed empathy skills allows for better bedside treatment, the anticipation of needs, and a more caring demeanor when working with difficult or emotional patients and visitors.

Cultural competence is another soft skill that is important for nurses to have. Cultural competence is the idea of being able to help and treat patients from different backgrounds in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way. It is having the wherewithal to recognize that there are differences in lived experiences between different ethnicities and anticipating how these differences may play out in a healthcare setting.

Benefits for All

There are many, many benefits to be seen from advancing your nursing career. Some of them are going to seem small but will have significant lasting impacts. For instance, maybe you took a class on health insurance policy. You could find that suddenly, you’re in a better position to increase the health literacy of your patients by helping them understand what certain procedures mean and what their health insurance is likely to cover the cost of.

Or maybe improving your hard and soft skills has given you a new perspective on nursing as a whole. The knowledge could put you into a position to be an advocate for better nursing or bedside conditions in your hospital or state. You could find yourself empathizing with a greater number of concerns and becoming an advocate for nurses on a much larger scale.

Your efforts to advance your nursing career could earn you the respect of many of your colleagues and put you into a position to take on greater leadership roles. You may quickly realize that with your new skills you will qualify for a higher paying position. All of these advancements could greatly improve your reach as a nurse, allowing you to positively impact more lives.

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There is a never-ending list of new things to learn as a nurse. Working towards building on your knowledge and expanding what you already know can be a great way to improve your career. It can also be a meaningful way to benefit your hospital, coworkers, patients, and community.

How An Attitude of Gratitude Helps Us

How An Attitude of Gratitude Helps Us

Not only during the holiday season, but all year long, we keep being told to be grateful. But did you ever wonder why gratitude is so important?

According to Emma Giordano, MHC-LP, of Empower Your Mind Therapy in New York City, gratitude helps us physically and mentally. “Gratitude can lower your blood pressure and increase happiness, improve interpersonal relationships, and build self-confidence,” she says. “Gratitude also helps you adjust your mindset from one of lacking to one of abundance and thankfulness.”

Sometimes it seems easy to be thankful or grateful around the holidays. But there are reasons to enact this practice all year long. “Gratitude helps practice empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. This skill is important all year long to be able to care for others and show up for them the way they might need us,” says Giordano.

“Be sure to check in with yourself all year long and make sure you are grateful for the positive things in your life. Often times, especially with health, we don’t realize what we have until we see someone else without it. It’s also important to remind yourself to think about the positives in life regularly, because people tend to get caught up in the negative and what ‘needs to change’ to become happier. Those ‘needs’ are probably not important in the grand scheme, and are usually influenced by seeing what others might have.”

If you’re not sure how to practice gratitude, Giordano has some tips:

  • Keep a gratitude journal or notes in your phone of things you’re grateful for each day
  • Photo journal – taking photos of things you’re grateful for to scroll through any time
  • Meditation scripts and podcasts are also helpful for quick moments of reflection

“When we talk about the power of gratitude, we can’t overlook its connection with other important aspects of psychological self-care like empathy, recognition, connection, integrity,” she says. “Start by taking a moment to give yourself gratitude for all you do and how hard you work.”

Is Crisis Nursing the Right Job for You?

Is Crisis Nursing the Right Job for You?

If you consider yourself highly empathetic, adaptable, and patient, crisis nursing might be the right field for you. This ever-growing nursing niche involves administering care to patients experiencing issues with mental health, substance abuse, trauma and co-occurring disorders. Each day, crisis nurses hop into action to help de-escalate and diffuse crisis situations while providing essential medical care, proving that some heroes wear scrubs, not capes. But we already knew that!

Before you determine whether this is the right nursing job for you, you want to figure out what crisis nursing is all about and do a deep dive into some of the things these patient professionals do daily. Read information on crisis nursing and discover some of the key skills, traits, and qualifications below to help you determine if you should become a crisis nurse.

What Is a Crisis Nurse?

To put it simply, crisis nurses work in situations of emotional turbulence and disturbance, such as when a person is depressed, suicidal, grieving, or displaced from their home. Additionally, crisis nurses are often asked to travel to provide care after natural disasters and health care emergencies, such as during a particularly destructive hurricane or during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These nurses are adaptable enough to fit in where needed and can help address some of the unique challenges of patients suffering through a crisis, from grief and suicidal thoughts to traumas such as job loss and homelessness. Like standard travel nursing assignments, crisis nursing jobs typically last for 13 weeks, but they can be anywhere from eight and 26 weeks long, depending on the specific needs of the area.

Yes, It Pays More

So does crisis nursing come with a monetary incentive? Yep! Because of their willingness to adapt, travel, and work in turbulent situations, crisis nurses earn a higher salary than nurses who work in non-crisis environments. In fact, many nurses in these roles earn something called a “crisis rate” or “crisis pay” which can be up to $20 more per hour than the standard rate for the hospital.

This makes crisis nurses among the highest-paid nurses. But higher pay doesn’t automatically mean a better situation. As we learned from the measurable spike in nurse burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic, crisis environments can take a serious toll on health care professionals. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re willing to hop in where needed and know how to manage feelings of burnout, the additional pay may be worthwhile.

How Do You Become a Crisis Nurse?

The required qualifications of crisis nursing vary widely from one system to the next, but all employers require you to start out by obtaining your registered nurse (RN) degree and license through an accredited nursing program. From there, you may be required to complete at least a year of related work experience in a role within psychiatric, addiction, or mental health. You’ll also want to prepare yourself for the potential of periodically relocating and how that could affect your personal life and housing.

Qualities Required of a Crisis Nurse

All RNs know that even non-crisis nurses occasionally face crises in virtually every health care environment. It just comes with the territory of working in medicine and no one should become a nurse without understanding that. With that being said, crisis nurses are specially trained in things such as de-escalation, passive non-compliance, and trauma-informed care. Some of the key personality traits required for these skill sets include:

  • The willingness to be ready for anything. Because of the aforementioned crisis pay, these kinds of nursing positions are highly competitive and get snatched up quickly. One of the key characteristics of a successful crisis nurse is his or her ability to drop everything and spring into action to fill a vacancy.
  • Empathy. Crisis nurses can’t just be in it for the money. They have to be willing to relate to what patients and their families are going through in order to provide adequate care. Empathy is key for nurses because it helps them build trust with patients and in turn strengthens communication, which is extremely critical during those essential crisis moments.
  • Interpersonal skills. Knowing how to communicate with others—especially those who are in states of crises—is crucial to helping people in these scenarios because it helps with de-escalation, motivation, and understanding key indicators of broader issues. Plus, like having empathy, it helps patients and their family members trust you so that you can provide adequate care.
  • Physical fortitude. All nurses need to be able stay on their feet—and their toes—for long shifts, but a good pair of comfortable nursing clogs are designed to help those working in crisis scenarios. This field puts nurses in the most demanding and busy workplaces, so physical endurance is key.
  • Adaptability. One of the many things we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is that health care systems require extremely flexible and adaptable staff during crisis situations. For example, as many individuals opted out of elective surgery, the demand for critical care nursing grew and nurses had to hop into the chaos wherever they were needed.
  • Good judgment. Things move fast in crisis scenarios, and providing successful patient care requires nurses who are able to think critically on their toes, making good decisions along the way. They need to know how to respond and when to bring in additional resources.
  • The willingness to support your coworkers. Being a team player is absolutely essential in crisis nursing when things are changing rapidly and there isn’t always enough support. The willingness to dive right in and assist where needed is especially important in situations where you’re brand-new to the environment and your coworkers may not automatically be comfortable leaning on you.

 

A Rewarding Nursing Niche

You already know that our communities are facing a large, looming nursing shortage, and it’s likely that the shortage will involve a lack of nurses trained in crisis and trauma. For nurses who want to work directly with the community and make a measurable difference in their patients’ lives each day, crisis nursing is a fantastic opportunity!

Three Qualities Every Great Nurse Should Possess

Three Qualities Every Great Nurse Should Possess

As an individual who holds himself to a high professional standard, I have grown to recognize three distinctive qualities that I believe every great nurse should possess: compassion, integrity, and perseverance.

Compassion is not merely the sympathy you show toward a friend or family member in need, but rather the empathy that drives you to act on an inner desire to help those around you. In the summer of 2008, I was fortunate to take part in a medical mission trip overseas serving the underserved populations in the Philippines. During my time abroad, I was inspired by the amount of compassion the nurses and medical staff exemplified in the clinical setting. As a volunteer, I was astonished not only by the sheer magnitude of homelessness that has stricken the country, but also by the positive impact that I was making on a daily basis. By allowing myself to be immersed in the service of others, I have grown to appreciate the many blessings that God has given me, and develop an unyielding compassion toward others that I believe is essential in today’s rapidly growing society.

The second quality that I believe a great nurse must possess is integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. During my tenure as an emergency room nurse, I was assigned to care for a little girl complaining of a headache. The father confided in me that her symptoms began after she was inadvertently hit in the head with a soccer ball. The medical doctor on staff quickly dismissed the girl as having a “minor headache” and told the father that ice and rest was all that she required. As a nurse of integrity, I did not feel comfortable sending the little girl home after she confided in me that she never had a headache this painful before. Seeing her grimace in pain, I urgently requested the doctor to have a computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan prepared for the patient. Despite the doctor’s initial objection and reluctance, he finally agreed, and upon evaluation of the final results, we discovered a small intracranial hemorrhage that was beginning to form. Seeing the tears of gratitude the father displayed allowed me to recognize the importance of doing the right thing even in the midst of adversity. It was this realization that has continued to fuel my innate desire to remain truthful and transparent in all aspects of my nursing care while fostering the deep interpersonal relationships that I form with my patients.

Lastly, the quality of perseverance plays a vital role in determining an excellent nurse. When I first began nursing school, I was completely unprepared for the academic expectations that were required of me. Due to my immaturity, my grades suffered immensely during the early stages of my academic career and I was humiliated and rejected from numerous nursing schools. Despite the constant vilification and dejection that seemed to surround me during this tremendously dark period of my life, I remained optimistic knowing that I had a purpose in this world. Within the next couple of months, I decided to make a conscientious effort to become more academically driven and was eventually accepted into West Coast University’s nursing program where I excelled scholastically, receiving numerous awards such as the Perennial Dean’s List, the Kaiser Permanente RN Scholarship, and ultimately culminating to my successful graduation in 2013.

As I look back on what I have accomplished over the years, I feel extremely blessed to have been surrounded by amazing individuals who inspired me to be the nurse that I am today. And it is because of this realization that I have come to recognize that being a great nurse is not measured by how intelligent you are but rather your commitment to providing indelible and compassionate care to those who seek it.

The Art of Empathy

The Art of Empathy

Mental illness is a growing epidemic in today’s modern society. Due to the prevailing societal stigma that exists for this vulnerable population, there is often a huge disparity and lack of empathy present in the care provided for individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders.

As a psychiatric-mental health nurse, I have worked closely with patients suffering from a wide gamut of psychosomatic disorders ranging from schizophrenia to bipolar disorder, and I have discovered that the art of empathy is often a necessity to ensure quality patient care is maintained at all times.

Last month, I was caring for a young girl suffering from major depressive disorder. Based on the report I received from the previous nurse, I discovered that the girl was noncompliant with all her medications as well her treatment at the hospital. When I first met the girl, she appeared extremely depressed and exhibited little to no motivation to participate in her plan of care. Upon closer inspection of her chart, I was surprised to discover that it was her birthday, so I decided to collaborate with my team members to see if we can possibly bring a cake for her to enjoy on her special day. When the cake arrived, I noticed that we did not have any candles so I decided to be creative and use a crayon instead, which worked perfectly since it was also made out of wax. When we went into her room, she was pleasantly surprised to see us standing there with a cake in our hands singing “happy birthday.” Witnessing her smile for the first time brought a tear to my eye because it illustrated to me the importance of treating all patients with the same dignity and respect regardless of their mental illness or diagnosis. After that encounter, I noticed a significant difference in her overall demeanor and we ultimately established a rapport that enabled her to take the medication and treatment she needed in order to regain her sense of well-being.

As a nurse, I have come to realize that patients do not solely rely on medications to get better, but rather on the bond and trust formed between themselves and their designated health care provider. As a result of this realization, I try to make a concerted effort every day to continue to develop not only creative approaches to my nursing care but also empathetic techniques that ensure patient safety and satisfaction is achieved across the patient gamut.

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