Take Ownership of Your Nursing Knowledge and Skills

Take Ownership of Your Nursing Knowledge and Skills

Nurses are invaluable members of the healthcare workforce, and when you’re proactively building a nursing career that you can fully embrace and be proud of, there are plenty of strategies and mindset hacks to consider.

One of the greatest assets you carry as a nurse is the many skills you’ve worked hard to acquire. So, if you want to boost your self-confidence and make the most of your nursing career, it’s wise to humbly take full ownership of the many things you know and the incredible skill sets that make you the outstanding nurse (and human being) you are.take-ownership-of-your-nursing-knowledge-and-skills

Knowledge is Power

It’s been said since time immemorial that knowledge is power. The things you know — including how to leverage the soft and hard skills you have under your belt — are central to what makes your nursing mind tick, and articulating what those are is crucial.

In nursing school, you studied and read like a madperson, wrote care plans (sorry to bring that up), learned to apply the nursing process (you may be sorry I brought that up), and turned your non-nurses mind into a nurse’s mind. I bet there are things your professors said that you still hear in your head, and some of those may be helpful. “If it wasn’t documented, it never happened” was one truism I heard repeatedly during my nursing education, and I never forgot it. What sticks with you?

After the crazy nursing school journey, the rubber hits the proverbial road when you start working as a nurse out in the real world. Some skills and knowledge were entirely theoretical during school, of course. But when you’re working as a nurse and solely responsible for the care of your patients, you can bet that those wheels are turning, and the smoke is coming out of your ears as the pieces fall into your mind.

If you’re a generalist (e.g., med/surg, internal medicine, primary care), you may not delve deeply into cardiac arrhythmia, chemotherapy regimens, or other specialized areas of knowledge and practice. But you’ll need to know a little about everything since you never know what will walk through that door. A generalist may seem from the outside like a jack of all trades and master of none, but you can rest assured that these nurses know their stuff and have all sorts of knowledge that makes them amazing. 

As for nurses who specialize in diabetes, stroke, cancer, labor and delivery, trauma, critical care, or other areas of hyper clinical focus, their knowledge is going to run deep about some very specialized concepts, treatment regimens, and diseases, and that knowledge is worth more than we can say.

Knowledge is power, so acknowledging and expressing what you know is a skill in and of itself. And if you’re job-hunting, being able to write and talk freely about why you’re fantastic is part of the sales pitch that will help you land the position of your dreams.

Your Multifaceted Skills

When we think of nursing skills, we often think of so-called hard skills like venipuncture, rhythm interpretation, wound debridement, or ventilator management. We also need to remember that the 21st-century nurse has computer skills, including using EMRs and other technologies.

In the interpersonal realm, there are skills related to communication, including emotional and relational intelligence, counseling, and active listening. We can also point to patient and family education or the education and training of other nurses (e.g., precepting or mentoring).

Meanwhile, we can’t forget all-important leadership skills, whether as a charge nurse, a director of nursing, or a chief nursing officer. Leadership can also be a skill we naturally demonstrate on the job, even if we don’t have a title beyond “staff nurse.”

You might also have skills in medical writing, grant writing, research, sales, case management, or other areas where you find yourself. Many nurses do important non-clinical work, and their knowledge and skills are equally valuable.

The list of skills and knowledge that a nurse’s mind holds is like an ever-expanding encyclopedia.

The Humble Brag

Whether you’re gunning for a promotion, interviewing for an awesome job, applying for a grant or fellowship, or being interviewed on a nursing podcast, your confidence comes from your ability to own what you know and what you can do, as well as the overall value of your “nurseness.”

If you’re feeling glum about your nursing career, pull out a sheet of paper and try to list every piece of helpful nursing and medical knowledge you have in your head. Chances are you’d need to fill page after page with every tidbit of knowledge you can claim as your own. And if you also included a list of your many skills, you’ll likely fill an entire notebook.

You can proclaim your value, assertively list your knowledge and skills, and still live and work in a place of humility. Being humble doesn’t mean you can’t take ownership of what makes you who you are. It means you don’t have to boast about it or lord it over others. The “humble brag” will serve you just fine: state it as a fact without emotion, and you can get your point across without fuss.

Rejoice in your nurse’s mind and everything it holds, and enjoy the clear knowledge of the value of your numerous skills. You’re a valuable member of the healthcare community, and owning your worth is a powerful place to be.

Career Moves: From Shift Nurse to Leadership

Career Moves: From Shift Nurse to Leadership

You’ve been working as a shift nurse for a few years. You love it, and you love caring for patients. But there’s always been something else calling to you: leadership.

How do you start? What steps should you take? Do you need more education?

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

Making the Shift to Leadership

“Think about how you want to influence the health care system at large,” says Rachel Neill, MSN, RN, CPPS, Founder of InnovatRN Consulting, Chief Clinical Advisor for HealthEdGlobal, and a Clinician Advocate at Vivian Health. “Leadership roles often provide opportunities to affect change at higher levels and support health care teams across disciplines.”

If you’re not certain that leadership is for you, Ophelia M. Byers, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, NEA-BC, CPXP, CDE, Chief Nursing Office, Overlook Medical Center, and Associate Chief Nurse Executive, Atlantic Health System says “it’s important to gain knowledge that will inform decision-making.” Read nurse leadership textbooks, journal articles, and books by or including nurse leaders. She suggests Fast Facts for Making the Most of Your Career in Nursing, edited by Dr. Rhoda Redulla.

Once you’ve decided to move to leadership, Byers says you need to determine your track. “There are two formal leadership roles: supervisory/managerial and non-supervisory/functional. In supervisory or managerial leadership, the leader has direct and indirect reports that comprise a team and is responsible for the care of those people and the operation, e.g., staff on a clinical unit. In non-supervisory or functional leadership, the leader does not have any reporting team members but rather is responsible for overseeing a specific function (e.g., Nurse Educator) or program (e.g., Magnet Program Director),” she explains.

Find a mentor, says Desiree Hodges, MBA, RN, CCRN, NE-BC, The Vice President of Care Services at the ALS Association North Carolina. “Having someone in your corner is truly key. I recommend having a trusted source give you a 360 evaluation, taking personality surveys, etc. We all have blind spots when it comes to communication, which allows you to recognize your bias,” she explains.

Know about the tasks you may be doing that you aren’t doing now. “You may oversee budgets, organize staff training, and otherwise ensure that nurses follow the right procedures and protocols,” advises Kelly Conklin, MSN, CENP, SVP, Chief Clinical Officer for PerfectServe.

If you don’t have that experience, you may need to earn a higher degree than the one you hold and/or obtain certifications. “Know your organization’s requirements, reach out to your current leader and discuss your plans to obtain the necessary degrees or certifications,” says Hodges. “The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has an online course designed just for nurses new to leadership roles that cover the basics of finance, human resources, safety, and quality, as well as the leadership skills to be successful in the role of nurse manager.”

Trust your instincts as well, Neill says. And don’t forget your experiences as a nurse at patients’ bedsides. “When moving into a leadership role, it is important to have a direct leader and health care system that will support you as you navigate this transition. In addition, the nurse leader serves as the first-line advocate for the nurses doing the daily work. You cannot support the nurses adequately without a team/system to support you as a leader,” she says.

Conklin says that no matter what you choose to do, “Don’t cut yourself off from opportunities—whatever they may be—that challenge your thinking and bring you to a higher knowledge.”

Nursing Job Growth Remains High

Nursing Job Growth Remains High

A career in nursing is a reliable and meaningful way to make a living; it’s also one that continues to have exceptional industry growth.

The job site Indeed recently released its list of the top 10 hottest jobs of 2022 and two of the spots went to nursing. In the U.S. News & World Report’s 100 Best Jobs of 2022, nursing roles occupied two of the top 12 spots and reflected excellent nursing job growth.

Nursing jobs offer the kind of high salary and job demand that make them especially noteworthy. In the Indeed list, a registered nurse (RN) earned the top spot for its strong salary potential (listing an average base salary at $84,074) and the 34 percent increase in job postings from 2019-22. For every one million job postings in the survey’s timeframe, 619 of those were for RNs. U.S. News & World Report gave an RN role the number 12 spot of best jobs for its low unemployment, longevity of the career, and meaningful work.

A nurse practitioner role, which requires more education, landed in the number eight spot with an average base salary of $128,105 and an impressive 100 percent job posting growth rate over the past three years. U.S. News & World Report gave the second top spot to a NP role (it earned the number one spot in the organization’s Top 100 Healthcare Jobs), mentioning the high salary and the low unemployment rate of 1.2 percent.

The Covid pandemic sharpened an already growing need for nurses, so the growth rate for these kinds of jobs isn’t surprising. It does speak to the job security of a nursing career; nurses often don’t have to go far to find an open position in the field. And if they aren’t able to find the exact job they want, they have many other options to keep them gainfully employed while they continue their job search.

Other sources support the Indeed findings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds the potential for nursing roles in an upswing. With a national average annual salary for RNs listed at $77,600, RNs across the country have salaries that will vary. RNs in Alabama, for example, earn an average of $60,000 while nurses in Massachusetts earn an average of nearly $95,000.

Hidden within the statistics is the potential for nurses to find the jobs that work for their professional  goals and personal needs. They may want a job that allows them to move between roles or specialties and to have a career that is relevant on a global level. Nurses are able to move into different units in their local area or find jobs at healthcare organizations in rural areas and densely populated urban centers alike. They can work as a travel nurse to gain experience while also living in varied locations or they can acquire experience to pursue advocacy roles. Nurses have flexibility if they are seeking jobs with scheduling options or if they want to work in particular areas or with specific populations of interest to them.

With a high demand for skilled nurses–in patient-facing roles and in administrative roles–the trend of nursing job growth means nurses are in an excellent position to find the job that suits them best.

How Can a Health Care Recruiter Help You?

How Can a Health Care Recruiter Help You?

Nurses are in high demand across all health care settings right now, and health care recruiters are an excellent resource to help nurses find the best job. With excess strain on resources from the pandemic and nurses leaving the profession from retirement or burn out, many organizations are anxious to fill empty positions. A health care recruiter can be the link that connects qualified nurses with the right opportunity.

Theresa Mazzaro, RN, CHCR, RACR, and senior talent acquisition specialist with Johns Hopkins Healthcare LLC,  is president of the National Association for Health Care Recruitment and says health care recruiters have the experience to know what nursing qualifications and attributes will work best for specific organizations and their job opportunities.

Because of the tight job market, health care recruiters tend to reach out to nurses right now, rather than being sought out by nurses. Whether a nurse is contacted by or is reaching out to a recruiter, Mazzaro offers some suggestions to make the experience better and raise the chances of nurses finding just the right role.

Mazzaro says a health care recruiter will talk with job candidates to find out how their skills will fill the organization’s needs, and they also want to know what a nurse is looking for in a job. They are the first step in the hiring process, and so are an excellent resource for nurses to find out if things like pay and benefits or shift opportunities will meet their expectations. She even invites nurses to join a LinkedIn group specifically for job-seeking nurses.

Apply If You Have the Needed Skills

“If you see a job you want to do, apply for it if you’re qualified,” she says. But if the job description says you need five years of experience and you’re a new nurse, don’t send in a resume. “Read the job posting and be respectful of what’s written,” she says. If you write a cover letter, make sure you have the proper organization and names in the letter. Mazzaro says she’s received letters in which a competitor organization was listed. That lack of attention to detail will immediately disqualify you.

Give All the Details

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, says Mazzaro. If you provide all the necessary and accurate details it will save time in the hiring process. Some organizations calculate pay based on years of experience, so if you’ve been a nurse for 30 years, say so. Be clear and specific about what type of unit you work on. List your specific accomplishments and describe the types of patients you work with.

Understand the Job

If you are moving from one nursing responsibility to another, have an understanding of what the job means for you. Knowing the job’s typical duties is essential so you know how your skills will help you succeed and how you’ll help the organization. But also understand other details such as if you are moving from a night shift to a day shift, the pay rate might change. And if you’re moving from a staff nurse to an administrative role, you’ll be expected to have different hours and benefits. If you’re coming off a travel contract in particular, being realistic about the salary you’ll make as a staff nurse is essential, says Mazzaro.

Be Honest with the Recruiter

“Do some research and talk with the recruiter,” says Mazzaro. “The time to talk about salary and benefits is with the recruiter and not when you’re interviewing with the hiring manager.” And also be open about your needs. Do you want a traditional schedule or do you really need three 12-hour shifts to accommodate your life? How far are you willing to commute? And Mazzaro says she always asks nurses why they are looking for a new job. “I want to find out what’s important to them,” she says.

A health care recruiter is an excellent resource for nurses who want a new job. Because nurses are in such demand, you might hear from one about opportunities you didn’t know were available. For the best results, be honest about your needs and wants in a job. With the right information, a health care recruiter can place you in a new role that will advance your career and benefit the organization you’re joining.

Careers for Nurses Who Like Working in the Community

Careers for Nurses Who Like Working in the Community

Hospitals remain the top employers for nurses, but they are certainly not the only places where nurses can find a fulfilling career. Some may find that their true passion is in helping others outside the confines of an inpatient setting. And luckily, that is possible. There is a great need nowadays for compassionate and skilled nurses who can serve people in the community setting. Listed here are just a few examples of specialty areas in community health that nurses may want to consider.

Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing

Hospice nurses provide comfort-focused care to patients who have a life expectancy of six months or less. Palliative care, though sometimes used interchangeably with hospice, is slightly different in that patients do not necessarily have to be in the terminal phase of their disease process. Palliative care nurses care for seriously ill individuals who are dealing with discomfort as a result of chronic diseases or treatments used to manage these diseases. Regardless of the technical differences between them, both hospice and palliative care nurses specialize in symptom management. Rather than focusing on curing patients, hospice and palliative care nurses promoting comfort, which may involve managing chronic pain, respiratory distress, or nausea, among other things. While some hospice and palliative patients are cared for in hospitals, many also receive care in their homes.

Infusion Nursing

If you are skilled with IVs, then you might consider working as an infusion nurse. Infusion nurses start and maintain various kinds of intravenous lines. Not only do they administer medications, but they also provide monitoring for their patients to make sure that treatments are effective and are not causing any adverse effects. Those who have had a lot of experience with IVs in the hospital setting might find this type of nursing appealing. Many companies, including home health agencies and pharmacies, are hiring skilled nurses who can provide infusions to patients in the community.

Wound Care Nursing

Wound care nursing is a specialty area for nurses who have a passion for helping patients afflicted with wounds, some of whom have chronic and debilitating injuries that put them at high risk for infections. Among the people who require the services of wound care nurses include bedbound patients, diabetics, patients with chronic circulation problems, and patients who have had accidents or surgeries. If you are interested in this kind of nursing, you may also want to consider getting some type of certification in wound care nursing. Your expertise will be valued by many organizations and you may see patients in their homes as a traveling consultant for durable medical equipment companies and healthcare agencies that specialize in wound treatment.

Worker’s Compensation Nursing

Getting injured at work can affect one’s life in many ways. Depending on its severity, workplace-related injuries may affect more than just one’s physical health. Losing the ability to work can also cause mental and financial strain. As a worker’s compensation nurse, you will have the opportunity to help these individuals get their life back on track. You will have the role of a case manager who will ensure that your patients get the high-quality treatment necessary to restore them to their highest level of function.

Nurse Educators

When you think of an educator, you may picture someone who is in a classroom, lecturing and scribbling notes on a chalkboard. While nurses do teach in academic settings, there are also nurse educators who work in the community. These are nurses who may work for pharmaceutical or medical equipment companies that are selling highly technical products. The job of nurse educators, in these cases, is to assist other health care providers in understanding how these products work so that they can be safely utilized in clinical settings.

Public Health Nursing

Public health nurses wear many hats. They may go out and educate communities about preventing the spread of certain types of diseases. They may go into clinics to provide vaccinations. Other times, public health nurses may visit people in their homes to ensure that they are living under humane and sanitary conditions. In some cases, they may also function as medical case managers for underserved individuals in the community. Whatever they do, the main role of public health nurses is to safeguard and promote the health and well-being of the communities they serve.

One of the beauties of the nursing profession is the sheer diversity of available opportunities. Inpatient settings, like hospitals, are just one of the many places where nurses can share their talents and make a difference. Nurses have a lot of freedom in shaping the course of their careers and if you are looking for a change of pace, now could be your chance to do so. Who knows, you just might find your calling as a community health nurse.