My struggle with depression and anxiety. And how it changed me as a nurse.

My struggle with depression and anxiety                     

Depression is something I have struggled with since I was a teenager. At the time, I really didn’t understand that it was depression I was struggling with. It wasn’t until I was 20 years old, that I finally realized that there was something wrong. After the birth of my first son, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression. I remember when I heard the words leave my doctor’s mouth, “You’re struggling with depression.” I felt relief and ashamed. I was relieved because there was finally a name for what I knew was wrong. Unfortunately, at the time, I felt like I had caused the depression. I felt weak and worried about the stigma that would be associated with my new diagnosis. I didn’t tell anyone for a long time other than my husband and close family. I didn’t want anyone to know, which just added to my shame.

When I went to nursing school, I was worried when people found out I suffered from depression, they would think I couldn’t care for clients. Most people with depression care too much, and therefore they get so overwhelmed. Many put others before themselves, which causes them to lose themselves, and depression can sneak in. So, I never really spoke about it in nursing school either. I looked forward to my psychiatric rotation to learn more about the illness that had inflicted me. Attending nursing school made me realize that depression was not my fault. In fact, it runs in families and is considered a disease, illness, or condition, depending on who you talk to. It is not that your weak or caused it in some way. That was probably one of the biggest reliefs of my life. I finally understood that I have an illness that I need to manage.

Depression and its symptoms have been searched on Google so much, that Google has partnered with the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI), to make depression screening a part of your Google search. It is important that symptoms are recognized and reported to your doctor. When I finally wised up myself as my post-partum depression lingered. I was told I had clinical depression. This meant I was faced with a lifetime of symptom management. In the beginning, I didn’t really understand this. I would take my medication for a while. Then I would think to myself, “I am feeling so much better so I might not need these pills after all!” So, I would stop taking them. Then life would happen, and I would find myself struggling again with the symptoms of depression.

Eventually, through therapy, I found out I had terrible coping skills and learned some more appropriate ways of coping. Basically, I had no coping skills. I also learned how to spot my symptoms early. This helped me so much because my biggest fear was hospitalization or worse, death. I wanted to be able to understand my symptom’s and be able to manage them before they were out of control. I finally submitted to the idea that I was going to have to take medication for depression all my life. I swallowed my pride on this one and realized it was something my body needed.

I was doing pretty good at managing my symptoms. Like with any illness, there were relapses, but I was prepared for them. Then a perfect storm started to brew in my life. Looking back, I should have seen the storm sooner. I had just graduated nursing school with my Associates in nursing. I was finally a Registered Nurse (RN)! After I graduated from the Licensed Practical nursing (LPN) program, it was a goal of mine for many years. I also wanted to start working in an acute care setting because I wanted the experience. I received an acute care position and was on cloud nine for a while. I soon realized, at least for me, that the acute care environment was extremely stressful. I started to struggle with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep at night before my shifts. My days off were spent dreading going back, because of the stress and anxiety. I kept myself in this position for too long. My health started to decline. My blood pressure was high, and my doctor told me to either de-stress my life or start taking blood pressure medication. So, I finally decided to find another place of employment. I found another nursing job that wasn’t in a high-stress environment. It was more community health/public health nursing and it really worked for me. I went back to the doctor and my blood pressure normalized! I was in a new position and starting to learn a new specialty. For a short while, things were getting back to normal. Then my personal life fell apart, in a huge way.

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Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

My mother became very ill. She had pneumonia, that turned into septic shock. Her infection had worsened, and her blood pressure plummeted. Her organs started to fail as her body struggled with the infection. She went into respiratory distress and could no longer breathe on her own. She was placed on a ventilator, a machine that breathed for her. Her kidneys started to fail. They put her on medications that saved her organs from failing but had the potential side effects of her losing a limb. I watched helplessly as my mother and a best friend struggled for her life. She moved from facility to facility as they tried to wean her off her ventilator, so she could breathe on her own. She ended up with a feeding tube and a trache. Eventually, she had to learn to walk again.

Through all of this, I become the legal guardian of my disabled brother. My brother has down syndrome. He came to live with me. I always knew that this would eventually happen, but it just came a lot sooner than I expected. So, we were adjusting our lives to become a family of 5! Through all this, I continued to work. I tried to be strong and pretend everything was fine, but my body finally couldn’t take the stress. My anxiety intensified, and I started having panic attacks that woke me out of my sleep. I became really depressed and found it harder to get out of bed and complete the simplest task. I ended up having to take some time off work, to help heal. With this was more stress, because I am the main income of our family. So, it wasn’t an easy decision. I leaned on my faith and prayed to God that he would provide. I know I needed the time off, but how bills were going to be paid was frightening!

The time off was really what I needed. Currently, I haven’t had any more panic attacks! It has been almost a year since my mom became ill. We are now looking forward to her possibly coming home. Now we will be a family of 6! I have found my stride again. Rachel has got her groove back! I am playing catch up on bills. For some reason, they didn’t go away, ha! I am back to work and have a new-found passion for nursing!

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Photo by sydney zentz on Unsplash

How it changed me as a nurse

Depression comes with a stigma and many people are ashamed or frightened to say anything. This can cause a delay in treatment and host of other problems. It is important for me to get my story out there to hopefully inspire others to be more forthcoming, and bring down the stigma.  I feel that having depression myself, has made me a more compassionate nurse. I feel through my personal experience with depression, I am a better listener, and my patience is better. It has made me more open and approachable. Most of my patient’s sense this about me and tend to open up to me.

For me personally, as a nursing professional, it was harder for me to really be open about my struggles with depression. I didn’t want others to be judgmental or think it would hinder me from doing my job. It’s no secret among nursing friends and other medical professionals, that depression and anxiety are prevalent. I tell my patients not to be ashamed and to beat the stigma. Yet I never followed my own advice. So, it is time for me to not be ashamed and own who I am. It does not define me. It is only a small part of who I am.

 

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

To conclude, I hope anyone who suffers from depression and anxiety is to know your not alone. Our story isn’t over because of an illness. We must manage it and grow from it. I took my illness and found the positive. It has made me a better nurse, more understanding, compassionate, gave me patience, and I became a better listener. There have been dark times and suspect there will probably be a few more in my life. But now I understand more about my illness and have reached a point in my life, where I am more mindful and understand the importance of taking care of myself. This has helped me to be better equipped to care for others.

Should nurses be forced into getting the flu vaccination? Or is there a bigger issue not being addressed?

The time of year is upon us again…the dreaded flu season! Many of us just become germaphobes this time of year!

For many nurses and other healthcare providers, it becomes a moral dilemma. The dilemma is made by well-intentioned organizations that set policies that providers have to obtain a flu vaccine. If they do not, then they’re forced to wear a mask half the year, or worse lose their job. This is to protect the providers and the clients that they serve. Should nurses be forced into getting the flu vaccination? Or is there a bigger issue not being addressed? We are going to take a look at both sides of the argument, and see if it is really all about the flu shot, or something else.

The argument for the forced flu vaccinations

  • The number one argument for forced flu vaccinations is for client safety. By taking the step of vaccination and getting the vaccine ourselves, we are protecting the spread of influenza to our clients. Organizations do not want their doctors and nurses giving the patients they are treating the flu.
  • Another is how effective the vaccine for the flu is overall. According to the Nurse Journal, the flu vaccine has been found to be about 70% effective. That is pretty good prevention for one shot.
  • Healthcare providers are typically more at risk of contracting the flu. It only makes sense, we are the ones closest to sick patients. We are on the front lines so we are at higher risk for getting sick ourselves.

The argument against forced flu vaccination

  • If doctors and nurses are forced into getting flu shots, then will everyone else be forced to get vaccinated eventually? When you force one part of the population to do something like this, then it opens up the door for more organizations to try and enforce flu vaccines.
  • The side effects of the flu vaccine can be severe. This really calls into question the benefit to risk ratio. The flu vaccine has shown a slight increase in risk for Guillain-Barre syndrome. According to the Eurosurveillance Journal, one flu vaccine can cause an increase of 2-3 times as many hospitalizations for seizures in children.
  • The year before the vaccine is made in prediction to what the next flu season viruses will be. Sometimes the mark is completely missed and vaccination does not work against certain viruses. This can cause a false sense of protection, and people can believe that they are protected, and they are not.

 

What’s the bigger issue and why is it not being addressed?

I personally receive the flu vaccination every year. It is my choice and I am not forced. I guess theoretically, I have worked places that do have policies that require vaccination or your job is lost, or you wear a mask. So I have been able to watch some of these scenarios unfold with fellow nurses, who choose not to vaccinate and the implications.

Client safety is very important. Flu shots are just the focus as of right now. It is easier to focus on this, instead of the bigger picture. Ask yourself a question. How many times have you gone to work sick? Was it because you didn’t have sick pay or forced to come in because no sick time? I have personally experienced being forced into work after a positive flu result. I was told come in or lose your job. This was a positive test and yes I was vaccinated prior. Hows that protecting our clients? Maybe the effort needs to be more on supporting our healthcare workers when they are sick and giving them ample sick time if needed. I have also experienced nurses coming to work when they are sick. In between clients they are checking their temperatures and they have a high fever, but still working. If you ask why they are working and not at home recouping. The answer is I can’t afford to take the time off. Maybe the answer is if you have a highly contagious virus like the flu, that has been positively identified, then you get paid time off. That will cut down on our poor clients who come in contact with us and our fellow co-workers. It is a much bigger problem than a flu vaccine. It is a whole system that needs to be reevaluated. It is just easier to pawn it off on mandatory flu vaccines. What do you think?

 

https://nursejournal.org/community/should-nurses-be-forced-to-get-flu-shots/

(Feature image)Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

 

Things you need to know when your married to or dating a nurse!

I have been married for 16 years and there are still things that my husband doesn’t quite get when it comes to being married to a nurse. Dating or being married to a nurse can both be good and bad, and no matter what relationships take work! If you have an idea of what to expect before dating a nurse or walking down the aisle, just sit back and read on.

Sometimes we just need quiet time and space!

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Whether your an introvert or an extrovert, when you are a nurse sometimes you just need some time alone. You have just spent 12 plus hours talking to patients, families, doctors, labs, coworkers, and more! Many of your patients think your RN stands for Refreshments and Narcotics and use you as such. So by the time you are finally home, your patience and hospitality have been spent! So when the nurse in your life comes home and takes a shower, and hides under the covers for awhile. It is not you, they are just recharging and looking for a little peace and quiet! Don’t take it personally.

They eat like their food is about to run off their plate!

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Let’s be honest, when we are at work sometimes lunches and snacks are hard to come by. There are times when we actually get a lunch and we are called away right when we sit down to eat. So it is either starve or shove it down! Then you have a belly full of regret! This can be quite shocking for your date. Sometimes you don’t even realize how fast your eating, but your so used to eating on the run, that you are trained to inhale and run! Nurses are big multi-taskers because we have to be. Sometimes that means getting your lunch down on the go! This can be shocking to people who are not nurses.

There can be graphic dinner conversation! 

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Guilty! Nurses sometimes forget that they are not with their nurse buddies and conversation can go way south! As nurses, we have seen and done a lot. So it can take a lot to gross us out. We cope with this by sharing our stories. Unfortunately, we don’t realize just how gross something might be until we see the faces of our date, family, or friends!  Nurses also tend to develop a twisted sense of humor and this can really make people wonder about us!

Dates will be canceled or occasions missed.

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It is just the nature of our profession. We will have to work holidays and be scheduled when we really want to be somewhere else. We have to cancel because some of us are on call or we are called in because of short staffing. It is important for anyone dating nurses to understand this because it is a big part of our life. Even for those of us that are married, it can be a hard pill to swallow!

These are just a few things to know when dating or married to a nurse. There are much more for sure! So when we say it’s the nurse life, you now have a small glimpse at what that entails.

Bonus: 

When a nurse finds out that they are also talking to a nurse, be prepared for stories to exchange like old war stories! There is nothing like talking to another nurse that gets it!

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Book review: The Nurses Guide to Blogging- Authors Brittney Wilson, BSN RN & Kati Kleber, BSN RN CCRN

*This post contains affiliate links. I never recommend products that I haven’t used. It cost you nothing extra to purchase through links. It just helps me with maintaining my blog!*

I recently just started getting my feet wet in the blogging world. What really inspired me to write a blog was seeing nurses like, The Nerdy Nurse (Brittney) and FreshRN (Katie), putting themselves out there! They are both valuable resources for beginning nurses and seasoned nurses. Personally, I wanted to start a blog, because I was dealing with the stress and effects of nurse burnout. I wanted to blog because I find writing therapeutic and hoped that by me sharing my experience, I could help others. When I launched my blog I quickly realized, there was way more to blogging than I thought! It is time-consuming and actually cost some money, gulp! I had already been reading some nursing blogs, but I was really wanting something that could help me with starting my own blog. Not just any blog, but nursing related! I found the book, The Nurses Guide to Blogging Building a Brand and a Profitable Business as a Nurse Influencer. I bet you can’t say that title three times fast, ha! All kidding aside it was everything I was looking for! I spent a considerable amount of time researching how to start a blog and everything in between, but this book really is the blueprint you need! The authors do the research for you and lay it all out in an easy to read, and reasonable 10 chapters! Below I will highlight some of the chapters and some of the takeaways I got from the book!

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*above is the picture of the book being reviewed by Authors Wilson & Kleber*

 

The Nursing Guide to Blogging points

  • I really enjoy how each of the authors writes about how they started their blog, along with the things that worked and didn’t work! It was really refreshing to see their stories and to see how they grew their business, and the time it took to do so!
  • The authors explain how blogs can be a great place for readers to learn about you and your passions! The book really goes into how nurses can influence health care and that is really cool!
  • I really like the chapter about finding your blogging niche. Before I didn’t really think about writing about a certain problem or finding a niche in blogging. This chapter also discusses the importance of an accountability partner!
  • The book goes into really great detail about your brand. This is important with blogging because you’re really starting a business! That was something that I had not really wrapped my head around until reading this book.

Writing

 

  • Something else I really never gave thought to, before this book, was Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is something I still struggle with, but The Nurses Guide to Blogging really helps to explain the in’s and out’s, in a language you can understand!
  • Chapter 5 has some great ideas on how to create the best content for your blogs, including some mistakes you might not know your making! I know I took quite a few pointers from this chapter!
  • Eventually, if you’re going to blog for the long haul, then monetization needs to be considered. The book goes into explaining more in detail how to do this, but not only that, it helps you not feel so guilty about it! As nurses, we want to help people, and we tend to feel guilty about things we need!
  • In the beginning, I was just on Facebook. Then I read this book and realized how important social media is for spreading your message! I had no clue how each social media presence like Twitter and Instagram, are used. This book really breaks several social media platforms down and explains how to use each platform correctly to grow your blog and get your message across.
  • Lastly, for me, Chapter 9 “practical considerations”, was the most helpful. It goes into more depth about organizing your blog business and the legal aspect of it.

The Nurses Guide to Blogging is a great book if you already have a blog or considering starting one. It is easy to read and I will be reading it again! I will be using it as a check list to make sure I get off to a good start. I am thankful for these two authors who helped pave the way for a whole new platform for nurses to educate and influence others in healthcare! I suggest picking yourself up a copy if you are at all considering blogging as a nurse. I think you will be pleased with the book and the information given by the authors!

www.Crispyfriednurse.com

7 myths about nurses!

There are many, many myths out there when it comes to nurses and the nursing profession. It is important for the general public and future nurses, to understand that most of these myths are not true. I have either encountered people projecting these myths on to me or have fallen for them myself. So here are 7 myths about nurses I have compiled that is important for you to know!

 

Nurses really want to be doctors

If I had a nickel for every time someone has said things to my colleagues and I like, “You’re so smart! Why are you not a doctor?”, or “I bet you wish you would have been a doctor!” Most of the time it is meant as a backward compliment, but it is strange that this myth persists. Most nurses went into nursing to become, well nurses! There are some who go on to become doctors or nurse practitioners, and that is fantastic! Nurses can move on to become practitioners in their profession. Most nurse practitioners actually have a Ph.D.! They work as colleagues with physicians to meet patient care needs. There are many reasons why we chose to be nurses instead of doctors. Nurses spend more time with the patients, they have the opportunity to develop bonds with clients, and there are many opportunities in nursing! Nursing is a professional organization and professional career, that we are glad to be a part of. These are just a few of the reasons that this myth is not true.

Nurses just clean up…poop

I get this from family and random people ALOT. They seem to think a nurses job is cleaning up after people and that’s where it ends. Yes, we do clean up poop, but there is so much more to nursing. We administer medications, work with the doctor and multiple other departments, take off orders, start IV’s, draw labs, and the list goes on. Those are just some of the technical things we do. We are also strong patient advocates! Patients open up to us and we are able to try our best to get what the patient wants/needs. We cry with patients and family, sing, and dance! You never know what each new day will bring in nursing.

Nurses have the best schedule, they are off 4 days a week

Ah, yes! This was what I was most looking forward too! But those 3 day work weeks come with a price dearie! (That is my Rumpelstiltskin impression). Most of those 3 shifts will become a 14-hour shift. Then there is management calling you asking you to come in on your day off. If it was a hard, stressful shift, then 1 of those days off will probably be used for recovery! I do miss the 9-5 a little. I wouldn’t know what I would do with myself if my shift ended in 8-9 hours. It would probably seem lightning fast.

Nursing school is easy

It really baffles me that people still look at nursing as an easy degree. Nursing is usually up there in the top 10 hardest bachelors degrees. Not only is nursing school challenging, but you have to fight just to get into the nursing program.  Many times there are entrance exam, point systems based on grades, and recommendations. Then they only take so many applicants! After you get in the program it doesn’t slow down or get any easier until the end. You have the BOARDS.

Learning is over once you graduate

Be prepared to graduate nursing and feel like you still know nothing. You will learn a lot more on the job. This is common because nursing is constantly evolving. For this reasons, healthcare providers have to be up to date on their evidence-based practices. There will always be new skills or medication to learn. When you sign up for nursing, you sign up to continue growing and learning all your professional career!

Nurses are the physician’s gopher

Okay, there are some days you are going to feel like the physician’s gopher. The truth of the matter is, we are all in this together and we are colleagues. If there are a lot of procedures that are done at the bedside on your floor, then you might have to set up the doctors supplies. That doesn’t mean you’re a gopher. You’re a team player! They have multiple people they are seeing on multiple floors. It would probably take them forever just to locate the supplies they need on your floor. Most doctors truly appreciate nurses and are great team players! When we all work together there are better outcomes for the patients and work is much more tolerable!

 

Nursing is a women’s job

This is one myth that stills hangs around, but it is slowly going away, I hope. I have worked with many nurses male and female! Every nurse is unique and brings different skills to the table. I think that it is great that our profession is expanding more and is open to both male and female. I’m not sure why people think nursing is a women’s job? It is a stereotype that is being broken, thanks to many wonderful male nurses!

These are the 7 myths about nurses that I have encountered! I am sure there is more. Feel free to discuss in the comments below! What nursing myths have you busted or even found to be true?

***Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram (Cripsyfriednurse) and Facebook (Crispy Fried Nurse) @ the bottom of page***

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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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!