Have you found your niche in nursing? If not, is it so bad?

I always envied other nurses in school, who started and knew right then what they wanted to do as a nurse. There was team ER, ICU, Pediatrics, Surgery, and Psychiatry to name a few. I knew that I wanted to be a nurse, but I never was extremely pulled one way or the other. I hoped by the end of nursing school I would find that coveted niche I longed for. Well, I have graduated from nursing school 3 times (LPN, ASN & BSN) and never found it. I was discouraged at first, but when I look back at the diversity of my nursing positions, and how each one helped me grow as a nurse I am thankful. So in a sense, I have never been type casted. I am the jack of all trades and master of none, which is okay! If your lucky enough to find an area of nursing and love it, congrats! It’s not that I don’t like being a nurse, I just haven’t found that one speciality that makes me go a-ha! This is it! So here are some positives if your like me, and are a tumbleweed blowing in the wind, maybe just maybe, that’s our niche!

1) You will work with some amazing people!

One positive is by working in different specialties, you will work with some very passionate people! They love everything about their specialty and most are willing to teach you about it. It is really inspiring to work with these individuals! If your willing to learn from them, then you will be so much better for it.

2) You will learn so much!

Be open to learning! This is almost a prerequisite for not having a niche. Because everytime you start a new area in nursing, you almost feel like your starting out as a new nurse again. If your open to learning then as a nurse and a person, you will grow and be able to use your knew acquired knowledge for your clients!

3) You are more comfortable with change and the unexpected!

Because you haven’t found your niche yet, your used to change. So when changes come about in your work, it’s a lot easier to accept. Plus, your always on your toes. So when something unexpected happens, like a change in a clients condition, you just might be the go to person! Maybe it’s something they haven’t seen before, but you have!

4) You will continue to grow as a nurse!

Haven’t found your niche yet? If not, is it so bad? Because you haven’t claimed a niche or found one that suits you. The sky is still the limit! Because I couldn’t find my niche, I kept going back to school to increase my education. I was able to learn and observe many different areas of nursing. It’s really not something I think about until someone ask me where I have worked. Over the 12 years I have been in long term care, a physicians office, medical surgical, acute care, and community health nursing! I am thankful for each one of these experiences!

5) You will become a valuable resource!

Another positive is when something different happens on the unit or a new medication is prescribed. You just might have encountered it before and become the resource! Because you are the jack of all trades, this just might be your time to shine!

As you find yourself going into different nursing professions, try to stay positive. It can be really upsetting when you just don’t find that one area that your extremely passionate about. It could be your niche is just learning along your journey in nursing. Never stop looking for that unicorn of a niche. The journey will be amazing if you let it! Keep your head up and know it’s okay if you don’t have a niche. There is a place for everyone in nursing including our niche less selves! So the next time someone says to you, have you found your niche in nursing? Stand tall and tell them I don’t need no niche, I am a niche! Or something like that, ha!

 

 

 

Your guide for improving bedside manner, nursing edition!

My brother has been in the hospital for a little over week. He was in one hospital and then transferred to another one. Most of the nurses, cna’s, and doctors have been real good! There are a few though that has inspired this post! Why is bedside manner important in nursing? It helps you to establish trust with the patient and their family. Usually, when you think of bedside manner, nurses tend to think of doctors. It is just as important, if not MORE important, that we are practicing what we preach! Nurses are with the patient way more than the doctor, and you are their advocate. This doesn’t let doctor’s off the hook, but we are talking about nurses. Sometimes we just need to  have a reminder on how to better our bedside manner. Bedside manner can be forgotten with the fast pace we are having to keep, and the amount of patients we care for, but it is still important! So this is your guide to improving bedside manner, nursing edition!

  1. Listen! In our fast pace environment and patient loads we can simply forget to listen to our patients and our families. They are a treasure trove of information if we just listen. For example, my brother is down syndrome. When he is in the hospital we always have one family member at his bedside. My brother is non-verbal. He has trust issues. There are certain things you can do to get his trust and a special way to communicate with him. He uses sign language for certain things, and different mannerisms for others. The family in this scenario are the experts. It doesn’t matter how many initials come after you name, LPN, RN, RN-BSN, MSN, or PhD! The family and client are the more knowledgeable ones when it comes to themselves and family. I’m not saying that they always know best, but it helps to listen, and gain trust, before coming in slinging mud.

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2.  Use everyday language to explain things. This is an easy one to forget, because in the medical field we have our own language, and we use it all day long. It is extremely important that patients and families understand what you are trying to communicate. If you told a patient that they needed to take their medicine PRN and PO (as needed and by mouth), they might shake their head like they understand, when they really don’t. A lot of times they will not speak up because they don’t want to sound dumb, or like they don’t understand. We can get in a hurry and the medical language we use every day can just slip out. So it is important to make sure they understand by having them repeat back or teach back!

3. Don’t Judge! In our everyday life we tend to make snap judgments of people. It is important that you understand this and make sure they are not coming out in the way you communicate. This includes the spoken word and body language. It is important that judging comments do not come across in the teaching or advice you give patients. There is a whole life and background of information that you don’t know. An recent example of this, a nurse scolded my husband over the fact my brother drinks cokes. He is a borderline diabetic. What she hasn’t seen is the years my brother has had this habit, and the effort he is and we are trying to cut them back. The way she stated it to my husband was really judgmental.  Tone is just as important in communication!

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4. Be present. Before you enter the room clear your head of the other 10 million task you need to complete, and concentrate on this patient. If you don’t then you will appear distracted, and your client will notice. Patients know if they are being rushed. Like asking if they need something as your running out the door. If you have the time, try and have a seat by the patient and be at eye level. There have actually been studies that show the patient is more satisfied when this occurs and also feels that the nurse spent more time with them. Even though the same amount time was spent sitting as was standing. Sometimes it is just the little things!

Sometimes we all just need a good reminder to be professional and watch our bedside manner. When we are taking care of many clients and have multiple things we need to do. It can be easy to skip over bedside manner, but it is important that we make ourselves present, listen to patients and their families, don’t be so judgmental, and finally use everyday language!

What should you know about non-compete clauses!

Oh, the things you wish you knew yesterday! This will fall into this category for me! The non-compete clause. I always thought this was for doctors or maybe nurse practitioners. Wrong! They are showing up for nurses and even certified nursing assistants.

 

What is a non-compete clause mean for nurses?

 

The non-compete clause is something as nurses we should be aware of. It is something now I will ask about, and read what I am signing. Employers will not always point out in the 30 pages your signing of new hire paperwork, that there is a non-compete clause included. They should tell you, but if you sign something saying they did, then you can see it will be a hard argument to make that you didn’t know. It is up to you to read, and decide if you want to sign it.

 

What is a non-compete clause?

 

If you haven’t ran into one yet then look out! They are becoming more frequent. When you sign a non-compete clause then you are basically agreeing to not compete with your former employer for a length of time, and within a certain geographic area. So, an example would be, you are working for a nursing agency, and they have a non-compete clause that states you cannot work for the facility itself, or any other agency that is staffed in the facility if you leave this agency. This is to protect the employer from their employees jumping around to different agencies and facilities, because they want to be paid also. They also have a business themselves they are trying to keep open. It is a contract for you the employee to follow. So please read it! It can specify all sorts of things, and you want to be sure you know exactly what your signing.

 

Should you sign one?

 

Well, that is a question only you can answer. If you don’t then odds are they are not going to hire you. So, if you’re really wanting to work at this particular place, or really need the job you might have to. It is still something you might be able to negotiate or not. You never know until you READ and ask. I signed one and knew I did, I just didn’t really take time to read all the details. Well, that was a mistake! The facility I was contracted, ended up being sold, and due to my non-compete contract, I will not have a job in a few weeks. At the time it didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but I really wish now I would have done my homework. There were other agencies in the same facility that did not have these non-compete clauses.  Learn from my mistake READ!

 

What happens if you break it?

 

There can be many things, the number one being they will sue you! That can mean a big pay day for the employer, and major damage to your wallet!  If you are stuck in one of these contracts, then you can talk to your agency to see if they will let you out of your contract. Be sure to get this in writing. The other option is getting legal representation. Depending on what you signed this might be an option, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble just reading, and knowing what your signing. For me, they won’t let me out of the contract, so I am on the search for a new job!

 

 

 

I am not a lawyer, I am a nurse. Of course, I can’t give you legal advice! I’m just merely suggesting read what you sign. That’s actually good advice in most areas of life. You live you learn I suppose! If in doubt then obtain legal advice. Good luck!

13 interview tips for your next nursing job!

I figured this was a good subject considering, I am about to find myself having to interview. My contract where I am ends November 3rd, and so I am on the look out! (Look for an article about non-compete clauses in employment contracts coming soon)! And of course it is Friday the 13th, so we have to do 13 tips! So here we go!

1. Relax!

I know this is easier said then done! But in an interview you really want to be confident. Being to nervous can come across as your not confident. It is okay to be a little nervous, but mostly you need to appear relaxed. Interview’s don’t have to be scary! Most interviewers know they are going to have nervous candidates. Just don’t get yourself so worked up you can’t answer  questions!

2. Do your homework!

If you are applying for an organization look up their mission statement. Does it align with your idea of a company you would want to work for? If not, then move on. If so, then work it into some of the questions they might ask. For instance, Why do you want to work at ____ &______? This would be a great time to tell them how your ideals match the companies. Bonus points if you look up the companies history, just to learn a little more about the company. You want to show them you did your research, but also don’t want to come off as stalking them  either!

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3. Dress the part!

Understand what your interviewing for. My advice is to not wear scrubs to an interview if you can help it. I have one time, but I let the interviewer know that I would be leaving work to come to the interview at the allotted time, and was it okay if I wore my scrubs. They said it was fine. I also ended up with the job. For the most part though, even though scrubs are what we spend most of our time in, you want to dress more for business. Probably not a good idea to wear flip flops. I only mention this because I have seen it done, on more than one occasion, and it cracks me up every-time! And yes these were nurses!

4. Be on time

Show up on time, if not a few minutes early. You don’t want to be so early that your putting pressure on the interviewer. They make these time slots, and most likely are working themselves, then fitting you in for an interview. 15 minutes early is probably max, unless they ask you to come in earlier, or you have another reason. Try your best not to be late! Things happen, but if your going to be late, due to traffic or some other unforeseen circumstance. Apologize, Call ahead, and let them know. It is courtesy, and will give them a better time-frame on when to expect you.

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5. Research interview questions

Research (Google search) commonly asked interview questions and commonly asked interview questions for nurses. This will give you good practice and you will have some answers ready if they come up. One I always struggle with if I am unprepared, is “name something about yourself professionally, that you need to improve” or ” what would you consider one of your weaknesses”.  These questions always trip me up. You spend most of the interview, telling them all the positives, and they flip the script. It is best if you can spin your negative into more of a positive.  Or another route would be how your improving  your weakness. What ever route your choose stay positive. This isn’t the time to confess you wake up at midnight, and eat ice cream, and watch the home shopping network!

6. Be prepared to ask questions.

They will ask you if you have any questions for them. Try to have a couple that are relevant to the position your applying for. See how the conversation goes when it comes to compensation. Most likely the person interviewing you has nothing to do with this. Negotiations will be apart of human resources. If you go in talking about what you will make an hour right away, it can be a little off putting. If the interviewer brings it up, it is a different story. If the interviewer sees your past salary and it is way more than this position is offering. It has been my experience before you even come in, or at the interview, this is one of the first things discussed. They don’t want waste your time or theirs if they can’t afford you.

7. Ask about follow up and time frame

This is something easily forgotten in an interview. You have answered the questions like a rock star, the interviewer and you hit it off. You are already imagining working for this company! Slow down, and be sure to ask when you will hear about the decision. If you don’t, then the suspense will eat you up. Some companies will send out letters to all candidates that state if you were chosen or not. Don’t expect this though, when it comes to not being chosen.  This is why a time line can help. If they say they have multiple candidates, and they say I plan on making a decision by the end of next week, and you don’t hear from them. It might be a sign you didn’t make the cut. It is also nice to know when and how you can contact them for a follow up!

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8. Be mindful of body language

Try to stay open and relaxed. If your arms are crossed then it puts out a message of being closed off. Or maybe the interviewer will think your not interested. Smile when appropriate and make eye contact. This is all important to help convey your confidence. When leaving, a firm handshake can help. Don’t crush their hands, but you don’t want to make your hand a limp noodle either. You may want to practice with family or a friend. Also, standing in front of a mirror and practicing interview questions can help. See what you look like when you answer questions.

9. Get their business card

If the offer a business card take it! This will have their contact in case you have follow up questions. Also, you will need an email or mailing address. Sometimes during the interview, nervousness can make you forget important questions, or maybe you need some clarification. If you have their business card, no problem!

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10. Send a thank you

Be sure to follow up with a thank you, but don’t expect a response. This is just to help put you in the mind of the interviewer again and show courtesy. I personally like to send thank you cards via the mail. I feel it is more personal, but it also can be a little old fashioned. An email is appropriate if that is all you have or if that is what you prefer. Really either one is good, because your just wanting to express your thanks. An email has the advantage of being delivered right away. If you send a thank you card by mail, you take the chance of it getting lost in the mail, or being read after the decision is made. So emails can be better, it really is just a matter of preference.

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11 . Keep going on interviews

Even if you have a good feeling about this position, keep any interviews you have scheduled, or keep the job search going. It can really feel like you got the job, but you just never know. It could have nothing to do with you personally. The interviewer could be told they are no longer hiring for the position, so now the position you interviewed for is no longer available. There are many variables and things going on behind the scenes that you have no control of. So it is best if you keep your options open until, you have an offer in writing.

12. Follow up when advised

If they do tell you a time when they expect to follow up with you, try not to initiate contact before. Or if they tell you to contact them on a certain date then follow through. It can be very tempting to contact them before the time they gave you. It can seem like an eternity when your waiting to find out if you got the job or not! If you have a follow up question then this should be okay, just don’t keep harassing them if they have made a decision. You want to make contact with them even if you are no longer interested in the position. You never know if in the future you might be interested in this position again, or in the small world of nursing run into them again.

13. Keep your head up

Depending on where you live the competition can be fierce! There are people with varying degrees and experience. So if you don’t get the job, keep your chin up. It can be even harder when your a new nurse. You really need to stand out! Sometimes employees would rather hire someone who is new, so don’t let that discourage you. Try to find employers who are friendly to new nurses. Above all stay the course and keep trying!

I hope you find these tips useful. I have 12 years under my belt with nursing and interviews. That’s not to mention the jobs prior to nursing! These are some tips I have used and have found helpful. There is always more to learn when it comes to interviews! There is no absolute when it comes to interviewing, but with these tips, and your own research, you can be better prepared! Good luck!

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7 signs your experiencing nurse burnout

Do you really need to know the signs of nurse burnout! I think so! Having experienced it myself, I have found that it can really sneak up on you! Then you’re left with confusion, exhaustion, and you don’t know what to do! So here are 7 signs your heading for nurse burnout! And of course, all of these or just some of these might apply. If anything it might raise a red flag that something is a miss and you need to take heed! Also, am I in no way suggesting you quit your job, or nursing for that matter. I just want you to know the signs of burn out, and how to recognize the symptoms. You can do this by taking a break from your job if you can like a vacation, talking with someone, or maybe a job change is in order. That is okay! If you’re like me, you cant afford to up and quit, I would think most people couldn’t do that. But it can help to look at different specialties and see if a change could help!

1) Are you calling in a lot from work? So have you called in so much your starting to run out of excuses, and you start using some really weird ones like ” My dog has the flu” ” I can’t come to work because I’m stuck in the house” or maybe ” I tried a new recipe from the Food Network, and it was a fail, now I have food poison”. Well, in theory, some of these could be valid excuses, but really if you see the increase in calling in and the dread of going to work, you could most likely be burned out.

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2) Your tired, not just the, I stayed up late and watched Game of Thrones tired. I am talking no amount of sleep can cure this tired. When I get stressed I can sleep for over 12 hours and still not feel like I got any rest. Especially on days after I work. This can also be a warning sign of nurse burnout. Of course, it can also be you can’t sleep! I have also been through this. It seems to be a cycle of no sleep, then excessive sleep. It is important that you get the rest you need, but if you feel like you just can’t get enough, then it is worth thinking about nurse burnout as the cause.

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3) Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression oh MY! This is a sign for sure something is not going right in your life. It could be nurse burnout. If you haven’t experienced a panic attack consider yourself lucky! They are horrible. Mine started this year, mostly in relation to things happening outside of work, but it didn’t help with my nurse burnout. It is important for you to slow down and really find out why the anxiety, panic attacks, and depression is happening. Especially if this is a huge change for you. Sometimes there can be no specific triggers, but you need to take care of yourself regardless. It just might mean taking a break, talking to a counselor, or medication. Whatever it takes to take care of you!

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4) Sickness, sickness everywhere! Are you getting sick more than usual? This is a big sign from your body telling you something is wrong. Stress over time can run down the immune system which will leave you getting sick all the time. I noticed I would get colds all the time. One would end and another would begin. It was miserable! If you start noticing you’re getting sick a lot see your doctor of course, but you might want to reassess the stress in your life also.

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5) Has your family used terms like mean and irritable to describe you? Maybe some other colorful language! Well, personality changes can be a direct result from nurse burnout. Sometimes your family and friends are the first ones to pick up there is something not quite right. I remember my son asking me if I had a good day or bad day at work, every-time I got home. I asked him why he does this, and he said he could tell my mood was changing, and if I had a bad day he didn’t even bother to ask me something. That was a wake-up call! Especially, when I started having more bad days than good!

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6) You absolutely dread going to work. We all have days where we don’t want to go to work. I am talking so much dread you can’t sleep, or you fantasize about running away. On my way to work one time I drove by an airport. I thought to myself, I could totally buy a one-way ticket to just about anywhere, and get out of work. Of course, I went to work, but it made me realize, wow! I need a change!

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7) Feeling under appreciated is also a common sign. Some of this is normal, but when it gets to a point were your feeling more underappreciated than happy, it could be nurse burn out. Nursing is a thankless job. When we do get a thank you it’s awesome. Or if someone tells you your a great nurse, wow! Maybe, even those compliments are going in one ear and out the other. Because you’re burned out, you focus more on the negative and the positive you miss! This could also be a red flag that you are in or heading for nurse burnout. Of course, it does take some examining, because it could just be the work environment your in. Either way, some assessing, and change could need to take place.

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I hope some information was learned about nurse burnout and how to recognize the symptoms. Nurse burnout should not be ignored because the symptoms and warning signs will just increase. It is my hope for you, that you catch it early and take care of yourself. We need good caregivers and in order to keep them, we need good caregivers taking care of themselves. That was a long hard lesson for me to learn!

The top 10 things I wish someone would have told me before I became a nurse… and you should know!

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be in the medical field. Later that shifted to nursing. Most of my information I obtained about what a nurse was or did was from observation in hospitals while visiting family, or TV/movies. Now that I am a nurse, I know TV/Movie nursing is a joke! It is nothing like this! And you really don’t get to see the behind the scenes of nursing when your on the family side! If I knew then, what I know now, I don’t think I would have changed my mind on my career choice, but I would have been better equipped to understand what was expected of me. So if I were talking to the pre-nursing me, what are the 10 things I wish I would have known going in. I hope this helps some future nurses or even current ones. It took me awhile to figure some of these out and I am still learning! Nursing is a career, where learning should never stop!

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10) It is okay to cry!

I’m not sure how this got into my head, but I felt it was not okay for me to cry, when I was overwhelmed, or emotional about a client. I felt like I had to be the strong one in the families time of need. It wasn’t until I got my associates degree, that a nursing instructor I had, who used to work trauma, told us she cried with families all the time! We are human! Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t cold with families experiencing heart ache. Matter of fact their were hugs, and I was a great listener, and most of the time even if they were not my clients I was sought to provide comfort. I just didn’t think it was appropriate for me to cry. I felt like it would add to their grief. So I held it in, and it balled up inside me until it couldn’t anymore. So now I cry, a lot ha! I have cried on the way home after a long shift. I have cried praying for a client I am taking care of. I have cried with family when their loved one passed away. I think I might have cried in an elevator. Never once has someone told me I am a weak, or a cry baby, at least to my face, Ha! So moral of the story, your going to feel all sorts of emotions as a nurse, as a new nurse or experienced. We are human! Sometimes we like to think we are super heroes, or can handle everything, but we need to allow ourselves to feel! Or else you end up like me crying over spilled milk! Ha!

9) You are going to make mistakes!

This was a hard lesson to learn. I think as nurses, or at least me, can tend to be perfectionist. So when a mistake is made, it is hard not to be triple hard on yourself. I have heard it said before that all nurses make at least one mistake, and they are either lying, or don’t realize they did! My first mistake was giving someone the wrong medication! It was actually someone else’s medication! Thank God it was a afternoon dose of medication, and it was mostly vitamins. The thought of what could have happened still stays with me! It was an older lady and she was not verbal. Her husband was with her. Later I found out he was either hard of hearing, or not cognitively there, or both. So I was a new nurse, and instead of asking them to tell me their name, I said “so this is Jane Doe?” and the husband said “Yes”. So I gave her the medicine. It wasn’t until I left the room and returned to my cart, that I realized I had the wrong client. I quickly glanced at what I gave her, and the supervisor called the doctor. He was in the building, and he looked over the medications, and said she would be fine. We monitored her per protocol, and she was fine. The doctor used it as a teaching moment, and was stern, but made me realize what I did wrong, and how to fix it. He did it in a way that was supportive. I am so thankful that it turned out okay. I never EVER get in a hurry anymore, and say someone’s name and have them verify. They tell me their name and information, and then I verify!

8) Burnout can happen, take care of yourself!

Of course this would be on the list! Burnout can happen, but you can bounce back from it! Like anything in life you can make something good out of it, or you can let it defeat you. I used my experience with burnout to try a new area in nursing, blogging, and start creating again! So if burnout happens to you, it is not the end all be all! Listen to everyone when they say take care of yourself! It is so important. We cannot care for others if we are in horrible shape, mentally or physically!

7) 12 hour shifts are not easy!

Yes, the 12 hour shift. Please, more like 14-15 hour shifts! Between travel, report, charting, and emergencies, it is really more than 12 hours! Sometime your off days are spent just recouping from the previous shift. Having more days off a week is nice, but it does come with a price. They are hard on the body and sometimes you feel your away from home more! I am always in a love/hate relationship with these longer shifts. There are times I miss the days of my 8 hours and done. Then I remember I get 3-4 days off a week!

6) The aches and pain, oh my!

Speaking of 12…15 hours shifts, your body will ache! I have limped from the car to my front door. I travel about 45 min to work everyday. There has been times I did not eat, take a break, or verily use the bathroom. So when I sit in my car I finally slow down. Then when I get out, all the pain of the day sinks in! I have had plantar faciitis in both feet, at the same time! Usually runners get this, I am no runner! The strain and work put on my feet from work caused it. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! It took almost a year to be completely healed! Also, take care of your back. Sometimes it is not that one patient lift that hurts your back. It can be years of improper bending and lifting that finally takes it toll! You have the time, remember your back! And take care of yourself! (recurrent theme anyone)

5) A social life is hard!

This was the hardest pill to swallow with nursing for me. As nurses you work holidays, weekends, nights, days, both! This means you will miss weddings, birthdays, reunions, and everything else in between. It can be really hard for friends and family to understand your schedule. Especially if your on night shift. I have worked both shifts and for me night shift has been the worse at adjusting and trying to spend time with family and friends! Also, don’t forget there can be times you will not go home. I have had to stay the night during a snow storm to care for the clients the next day. Or cover a partial shift because of short staffing.

4) Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

I wish I would have really paid attention to this more early on! Not only is it a must, because it helps jump start your metabolism. It might be the only real meal you get that day! If your night shift that could mean dinner. I have, on way to many occasions, went to the vending machine, and ate so unhealthy because I wasn’t prepared. I have also survived the day on peanut butter and saltines! Goes back to take care of yourself!

3) You will experience death and it never gets easier.

As health care providers, we really get into the mode of caring, curing, and saving. The reality is sometimes there is just nothing we can do, and there will be death. This was hard for me at first, and is still not easy! I wish someone would have told me just how up close and personal you get with death. I remember holding a mans hand that was my age, and his mother was at his side. It was known he was going to pass away, but that doesn’t make it any easier. His mother watched as he passed and so did I. I was comforting her, but also just witnessed this myself. I was glad I was with her because I got to answer a lot of her questions as things were happening. Also, this was not my patient, I just so happened to be called into this room by another nurse because they sensed that the client was declining. We all cried! I know this was an expected death, but it doesn’t make it easier!

2) Hope you have a good memory!

Doctors are lucky in a sense, because they can specialize! Go up to a neurologist and ask him about someones intestines, or anything other than their brain, and they will say go talk to the other doctor, I don’t know! Or care depending on who you talk to, Ha! They will also probably look at you like you have two heads! Because it is his/her job to know about a particular area only! With nursing these many specialties will come up to you, and expect you to know what is going on with their client in each area! The cheat sheet is a must. If I had just a nickle for every-time I was stopped in the hall way and asked questions like, “what was John Does blood results” Or “What medication are they taking for this or that” I would be rich! I get it! They are seeing multiple patients and more stuff is being thrown on them also. That is where a good brain sheet comes in handy. My memory is decent, but there are times I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. So in the morning prior to my shift, I spend time getting the details that I feel I might need to know, or a doctor might ask me!

1) You absolutely have to be passionate about nursing!

I once heard that if your hiring for a job you should try and talk them out of it first. If they still want it, then it is the job for them! So many times we spend time on the great things of nursing. Nursing is an awesome job that has completely changed my life for the better! As nurses, professionals, educators, I feel we should spend some more time on the negatives. If only so you understand exactly what your signing up for and it doesn’t take you years to understand! I am very passionate about nursing, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t be in it!

 

I hope you enjoyed, or learned a little more about the nursing profession. There is no way we can learn it all! Nursing is a lifetime experience! I just think sometimes we do a disservice by not also highlighting some of the potential negatives. What could be a negative to one person, could be positive to others! I think if someone would have sit me down interview style, and tried to talk me out of becoming a nurse, and laid out some of these, I would have still took the jump! Most will, if there is a passion! Money can only take you so far. The feeling of caring for people when their not at their best, or the rare thank yous that you will receive, are priceless! Oh, and when someone tells you your a good nurse, it will make your heart get the feels! Best feeling!

 

The top 10 things nurses need to know, caring for adults with intellectual disabilities! 

 

In nursing school we are taught to care for many different clients. Whether it be of different nationalities, cultures, gender, age, etc. In nursing school one of the main clientele that was skimmed over or completely missed was, adults with intellectual disabilities.  In the picture, is my brother and I. My brother was born with down syndrome. How my mom used to explain it to me growing up was that, most people like you and I, have 46 chromosomes. With down syndrome they have 47. Then she went on to explain what a chromosome was to a 5 year-old as best she could. It resulted in me calling my brother for at least a year the nickname “chromosome man”. I thought he was a super hero! My brother is my superhero though. He is the most resilient, happy, caring, sweet, authentic, person I know! In my 12 years of nursing I have went into several different specialties of nursing. Currently I am caring for clients with intellectual disabilities in an intensive care facility.  I am also my brothers legal guardian and he lives with me.  With all this experience combined, I feel there is at least 10 things that I have learned and wish I/we would have known starting out. Some of them might seem like common sense, but you would be surprised, how some people just do not know how to act around someone with a intellectual disability. So to help clear out some myths, and give you some more tools in your tool belts of nursing. I have created a list.

1) There is no one size fits all!

As with all clients there is no one size fits all. Sometimes we like to put people in categories and characteristics. They are more than their disorder, they are individuals. They have different likes and dislikes. As mentioned before my brother is down syndrome. What he prefers is not what another down syndrome might prefer. Early on I would expect some of the same things out of clients that my brother can or cant do. When in all actuality, David is David, and we all have our differences.

2) Trust is a must!

This is true of everyone! But in adults with disabilities its even more so. If you break their trust it is really hard to get back. Not only is it hard to get back, but you could be setting up future health care providers, friends, and family for failure. Sometimes adults with intellectual disabilities do not associate a lack of trust with a certain person. For example, if a blonde haired women angrily hands them a snack when they ask, and is usually rude. Then they might start associating blonde haired women as angry and unkind. As a health care worker this was hard for me to understand. Because I tend to take it personal at first, but when you really step back, you do not know what happened to that client in the past, and if for whatever reason, they may decide that they don’t trust you. I had a client who does so much better with male staff than female. In his history there was some abuse from a female caretaker. As a nurse I still care for him of course, but sometimes he just might give me a harder time, or his primary male assistant might need to be with me so he feels comfortable. If there is a male nurse I might have them help with this client.

3) Be authentic!

One important lesson I have learned while taking care of adults with disabilities are they are expert body language readers. You might be telling them your okay or trying to act happy, but they know. The ones that can, will also call you out on it. I was overwhelmed at work one day, and started thinking about all the task I had to do in a certain amount of time. When I went up to a client I thought I had done pretty could of turning off my stress. I said nice things to them, and was pleasant, but they ended asking me what was wrong, that I seemed like I didn’t feel well. I was taken back at first, because I thought I was hiding it well. Then I felt my posture, it was tense and I had one foot pulled away, just waiting to run to the next task. I was also speaking fast trying to rush conversation. After I thought about it I realized just how much they are watching. They know the ones who come to sit with them on breaks, or stop and talk to them for a minute. Or simply just say hello, how are you today! They can pick up if you really want to be there or your just going through the motions. If you are having a bad day, like we all do, they will know. You don’t have to tell them about your problems, but just be authentic and let them know, I am having an off day. They understand, and that is much better than rushing and faking.

4) Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean don’t talk to them!

This is really important. Just because some of the clients can’t talk, doesn’t mean don’t talk to them. They still need to have things explained to them. Sometimes they like jokes or not, ha! One nurse woke a client up singing and she thought he really like it. Turns out the client finally shook his head no, he didn’t really like being woke up singing! We can’t assume. Just like we wouldn’t want someone assuming are likes and dislikes. I am guilty of this. I assumed my brother wanted the TV for background noise at home. It was always on at my moms house. I came into the living room one day and it was off. I turned it back on and my son goes what did you do that for. I said David likes the background noise. He said well did you ask him. I said no, and my son proceeded to ask my brother if he wanted the TV on and to my surprise, he shook his head NO! My brother is very laid back and just goes with the flow most of the time, but when asked he can say yes or no! That was a lesson learned!

5) They have good days and bad days too!

Don’t take it personal. One day they might be smiling and glad to see you. The next day, they would rather you not touch them. Just like us they have bad days. We can get away or tell people to leave us alone. Some of them can’t, so your coming up and smiling and asking them to do things, and they just wanted to stay in bed. You can see how this could be a recipe for disaster.

6) There are usually many other chronic diseases that they have.

Unfortunately, these clients tend to need a lot of medical care. Many have heart conditions,  High blood pressure, thyroid problems, reflux, diabetes, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems. This can be difficult to manage in these clients especially if they don’t quite understand some of the treatments their getting and they just flat refuse them. This is were trust comes in and familiar caretakers can really help! Adults in facilities will eventually go through hundreds, if not thousands of different caregivers in their life time. That’s a lot of different people!

7) Family is super protective, don’t take it personally!

I love when families come to visit and are involved in their care. Many of the family members would rather take care of their family member at home. For some they can’t because of their health, age, or the client needs more healthcare. When they come in and ask you a million questions and the same ones. Or show up on a war path, just know they are their loved ones voice. I’m not saying they can become violent or belittle you! That is different, I’m just saying try to put yourself in their shoes. Someone you love is being cared for by strangers, and their family member can’t tell them something is wrong. They want to be informed, that is all. They also want to feel like they have some control still, and that’s okay!

8) It all comes down to poop!

Another thing that is a major concern for these clients is the poop! Think about it, they can’t answer your question, when was your last bowel movement. They are very prone to constipation. Most of the clients I take care of actually have a chart we use to record them and a protocol we follow if they go to long. If this isn’t caught, it can cause bowel obstructions or even seizures!

9) Seizures are very common in this population.

This was my first nursing position where I really had to monitor and treat seizures. I was shocked at how many of these clients have seizures, or it’s in their history. Learning what their triggers for seizures are and prevention is what we strive for. Also making sure their seizures are managed and do not become a epileptic emergency, which can happen.

10) Have fun with them!

Last but certainly not least, have fun with them! If they like playing board games, sit down and play. If they like to dance, have a dance with them! Make them part of the conversation! They want human interaction and friends just like you and I. I have learned so much from these special people. They teach me everyday, and it is truly an honor to be a part of their lives!

 

Grand opening, my Etsy store & More!

I absolutely love making my pins and duct tape creations. It has been so much fun, and a little escape. I took the plunge and opened up an Etsy store. My youngest son has even been influenced in a good way by this. He has started to make his own Halloween costume this year! He is my little artist. I also decided I am going to open a booth for my crafts at his schools fall festival in November. It is frightening! I am way out of my comfort zone! I figured I would try something small to get my feet wet. Maybe I could be a traveling vendor, ha! In all seriousness it is just something I truly enjoy. I hope you will stop by and look what I have created!

Image result for look what i have created

My Etsy store is Https://www.etsy.com/shop/CFNCreations!

I create under CFNCreations (CrispyFriedNurse creations….get it, ha!) I am running a special through October where you spend $15.00 or more then its free shipping! Etsy is also running a new customer deal, where you spend $30.00 on your first purchase, then you get $15.00 towards your next purchase. I think I will be looking at shops myself and get some homemade Christmas gifts! Of course my family can expect some of my creations to, muwhahahaha! Right now I am only shipping in the United States. If my shop grows then I will expand! Keep checking back I try to add things daily! Here are some of my pins and such! I will let you know how my fall festival booth goes, I am sure it will be interesting!

P.S the picture attached to this article is from my town. It was a beautiful sunset that day!

It is easier to have faith in God when things are good! But what if they are not good?

When things are going good in your life and there are very few troubles. It is easy to sit back and think “I got this” and pull away from God. I have been there countless times in my life. It’s not that I stop believing, I just stray a bit. It is kind of like when your child goes off to college, and calls once in awhile if they need something, or stop in to say hey, and then move on. So I would thank God for my blessings, maybe pick up prayer a little more if I sensed trouble, and go on with life. My visits at his house (church), would become less frequent. I started making less and less time for him, but I felt like my faith was strong, because everything was great!

When tragedy strikes it can overwhelm you and really catch you off guard! Then becomes the true trial of faith. You start to question God, Why me? I am faithful? And maybe even start to place blame. The truth of the matter is we live in a very imperfect world. This life is hard and there will be tragedies and heartache. As humans we have the gift of free will, but with this gift comes down sides, as we can see many of them playing out in the news daily. God uses these moments to pull us closer to him if we will let him. God is a our father, and like any father he wants what is best for his kids. If we make a poor decision, then God will use this to help us grow as a person if we let him.

So when things are not going to good, it helps to lean on God! That is what we are supposed to do. I know I have had to a lot lately. My mother got very sick in January and my whole life changed. I almost lost her! She was on a ventilator (a machine that breaths for you), and they couldn’t get her off of it. So they had to move her to a special facility that was about 2 hours from home. I made that trip 2-3 times a week, and also tried to hold down my job. My mother also took care of my older brother, who has down syndrome. He came to live with my husband, 2 kids, and I. My brother made the trip with me to see our mother. There was many times we weren’t sure if she was going to make it. It was an emotional roller coaster. I work night shift and I got a call from the hospital that my mom had a possible stroke! There was nothing I could do, but wait for a phone call to see why she had become unresponsive. Since mom was so sick, I became legal guardian of my brother, so I could legally make decisions for him.

So I was caring for my mother, my brother, working in a caregiving profession, of course my 2 kids, and finally it just all came down on me. I became burned out! My husband was there to help out. He has been absolutely amazing through all of this. He had open arms when my brother came to live with us. He also stepped up in many areas. Without his support, I probably would of had a full on nervous breakdown.

I had taken a new job, and had to step away and tell them I was burned out. I didn’t know what I was going to do for money, but I couldn’t go to work the way I was feeling. We struggled with bills, and it was, and still is a trying time. It was during this time, I became closer with God. I read in my bible, had prayer, and even meditated. I had neglected myself for so long, that my body finally just said enough is enough. With all this going on in my life I had 2 choices. I could blame God for my sorrow or grow closer to him. I chose to grow closer to him, and I am so glad I did!

My mother is now closer to home. She is in a rehab facility, and she is working on coming home! That is my home, because she wont be able to live by herself. I have seen what the power of prayer has done in my life. My mom has been back from the brink many times. If you would have asked me in March if I thought this would be possible, I would have been in disbelief. My brother is adjusting incredibly well. He comes with me to visit mom and enjoys being in our noisy household. I look over at him when we are in the mix of the hustle and bustle and he is smiling.

I returned to work and I have been doing really good. I feel like I am reenergized. I have started school to work towards my Masters degree. So professionally I am on a better path too. I was exploring getting out of nursing all together, but with lots of prayer and self discovery, I feel this is where I am supposed to be. I actually had a supervisor come up to me the other night and said, “Thank you for everything you did tonight, you are a great nurse”. It made me smile, because it validated that I am where I’m supposed to be.

So have faith in God even in the storms of your life. Storms don’t last forever. They might seem that way, and I am not totally out of my storm yet, but I know with God at the wheel, I will end up where I need to be.

Faith Bible Verses

  • To keep your faith strong, you have to visit God in his house (Church), don’t be Gods college kid, who only shows up if they need something, or calls once in awhile.
  • Prayer is important! This is the way you communicate the good, bad, and the ugly. God listens to it all, he is just waiting for the call.
  • Finally, let God know you love him and your thankful, even in the bad times. There is always something to be thankful for. When we get in a situation, it is human nature to just concentrate on the negative.

 

Sometimes you might really have to dig to find the positive. When you do find it, hang on to it through the storm, and collect more on the way. Pretty soon the clouds will part, the sun will come out, and you will look back, and stand in amazement of the incredibly God we have. Much love! XO

 

 

What is Lupus? (Selena Gomez is a Warrior!)

Lupus has started to get some attention recently and it is a good thing! It’s important that everyone is aware of what Lupus is, and what happens to people with this disease. Unfortunately, many people with Lupus suffer in silence, because people just don’t understand. If you have watched the news lately or keep up with the entertainment industry (guilty), then you know Selena Gomez opened up not long ago, and was outspoken about her struggle with Lupus. Then Selena Gomez was notably absent this summer, and fans where told she had a kidney transplant! This was shock to many, but understanding what Lupus is, and how it effects people, it becomes clearer why a kidney transplant could result. Some of you might know by reading my blog, and I guess my name Ha! I am a nurse. I know about the basics of Lupus, but also wanted to learn more myself about this disease. I was also a transplant nurse and have taking care of transplant patients while recovering from surgery! So I would like to discuss with you what Lupus is exactly, what causes Lupus, Is Lupus treatable, and how do you live with Lupus!

 

What is Lupus?

 

Lupus is an autoimmune disease. Stay with me, I will explain autoimmune! Your immune system is a well-oiled machine, and when you have an illness or disease, it kicks it up into high gear, and defends you from foreign invaders. What happens with Lupus, is your immune system loses its ability to do this, and cannot decide what is a foreign cell or healthy one. So it decides to start attacking both. So now the immune system is attacking the body like tissues, joints, and organs! This can cause pain, inflammation, and organ damage. Lupus is not contagious, so you cannot catch it from someone who has Lupus. Lupus is a direct result of the malfunction of the immune system. When people hear autoimmune or anything with immune in the title, the mind starts to shift to HIV/AIDS. Lupus has nothing to do with this either. In HIV/AIDS the immune system malfunctions, and it starts getting slower, and stops reacting to foreign invaders like the flu. In Lupus the immune system becomes over stimulated, and starts attacking everything. It seems Lupus mostly effects women of childbearing age, but that is not set in stone. It can develop in men, children, or people of any age. Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop Lupus, then Caucasians (Lupus Foundation, 2017).  Lupus can also be mild or severe, and over the course of time fluctuate from mild to severe. There are flare ups of the disease, when symptoms can be worse. With Selena Gomez her Lupus was severe enough to cause organ damage, and this is what most likely led her to need a kidney transplant. Some of the symptoms of Lupus are:

  • Pain in muscles and joints
  • Anemia, fatigue, fever
  • Mouth dryness and/or ulcers
  • Red or scaly rashes (Can take the form of a butterfly shaped rash across the cheeks and nose)
  • Hair loss
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Water retention
  • Weight loss

These are just a few of the common symptoms of Lupus.

Image result for lupus rash picture cartoon

*The butterfly rash that can form on the face related to Lupus*

Is Lupus Treatable?

 

Yes, it is. There is no cure for Lupus, but managing the symptoms can help people with Lupus live a full life. This requires a health care team approach. There will be a doctor who specializes in the diseases that affects muscle and joints (rheumatologist). Many other physicians can be in place because of the nature of lupus, it effects the whole body. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation caused by Lupus, suppress the immune system so it will stop overreacting, try to prevent flares, control pain in muscle and joints, and minimize organ damage as much as possible.

 

Can you live a full-life with Lupus?

Lupus needs to be closely followed by doctors and with consistent treatment patients can expect to live a normal life span. The Lupus Foundation (2017), states that 80-90% of people with Lupus, can live a full-life. Unfortunately, to date there is not a cure for Lupus. People do die from Lupus, but with treatment most people with Lupus will not have fatal outcomes. As long as awareness and treatment are provided!

 

I personally do not have Lupus. I do know a couple of people who suffer from the disease along with, I have treated some patients with Lupus before as a nurse. It is hard to imagine the struggle they must have with this disease. It is important to get educated on this disease, so if you do know someone with Lupus, you can have a small grasp of what Lupus is, and how they may or may not be affected. I am really impressed with Selena Gomez, that she decided to open up and let us all in, to see her struggle with Lupus. She is a rock star! (I guess both figuratively and literally) I personally hope that the message gets out there, and more research can be put into why this happens, and for a cure! For more detailed information go to www.lupus.org, it is full of the latest research in Lupus, and even how to donate for the cause!

 

References

Lupus Foundation of America (2017). Help us solve the cruel mystery. https://www.lupus.org/

 

*On a side note, I am thinking about making some medical related post, maybe on Mondays, I could call it “Medical Monday”Ha!* God Bless!