12 Hour Shifts…What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Hello everyone-

As nurses and health care professionals- we are lucky to work three days a week. On the flip side of this- we work 12 hour shifts. I have adopted the philosophy of what does not kill you makes you stronger.  This philosophy also comes with a few tips for making it through the day.

  1. Eat Breakfast- You never know when you are going to be able to grab another bite to eat. So start off your day eating food you know will keep you full and focused.  Staying hydrated throughout the day is also very important.
  2. Arrive Early- There is nothing worse than arriving late to safety huddle, without your badge, and not having eaten breakfast. Arriving early allows you to plan your day. Allowing time to familiarize yourself with your patients for that day. It gives you a few moments of peace before your busy day begins.
  3. Have a Positive Attitude- This one is self-explanatory. But makes all the difference. The attitude of the nurse rubs off on not only his/her patients but also his/her co-workers. Trust me- it is more fun to work with a positive group of people than a bunch of debby-downers.
  4. Make Sure to Use the Restroom- I hope this one goes without explanation as well.  Taking time for yourself is crucial. Even if it is just two minutes to use the restroom. Plus, you will need to with all the water your drinking to stay hydrated.

Sincerly,

Carley

P.S. Would love to hear everyone’s tips about making it through the day!

#NursesUnite

Hey guys!

I apologize for my lack of posts recently. “Adulting” has been more exciting, time-consuming, and tiring than I believed.

I’m sure by now we have all heard the words spoken by Joy Behar from The View.  Ms. Behar wanted to know why Miss Colorado, competing in the Miss America pageant, had a “doctor’s stethoscope” around her neck.  Ms. Behar’s comments have been discussed far and wide. From nurses that I work with, to fellow nurse bloggers, to popular social media nurses: Katie Duke & Kati Kleber. I am writing today not to discuss Ms. Behar’s comments any further. But to simply say how proud I am to be a nurse.

After these comments were spoken we rallied around our own. Speaking up & out. Beginning to educate the public about what nurses do day in & day out. The nursing community’s reaction to this situation made me proud. Nurses took this as an opportunity to speak out about our profession. Letting the public know nurses aren’t only there to nurture but to assess and critically think as well.  Nurses took the high road in a time when it would have been easy to do the opposite. This is why I am proud to be a nurse.

#nursesunite

Sincerely,

Carley

We Can’t Do It All {Interdisciplinary Care}

Hey guys-

Let me be the first to tell you that it takes an army to take care of our patients. This healthcare army includes: doctors, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, CNAs, social workers, unit secretaries, and many more. Nurses need to be able to tap into all resources available to better help our patients.

As nurses we feel we have to be superheroes but this thinking should not be our mentality.The superhero way of thinking can lead to burnout and doesn’t promote lifelong learning. Nurses need to know that asking for help is okay; knowing your healthcare army is beneficial. Teamwork helps our patients get better faster; also putting them on a path to better long-term health.  No matter the disease process acute or chronic- working with the healthcare army allows the patient to tackle the illness from all different perspectives. From setting up an asthma action plan with the respiratory therapist or working with a nutritionist to better assess the patient’s calorie intake needs.

Preventative care is also important for our patients. Letting our patients know their options outside of the hospital setting will hopefully keep them from returning to the hospital. Having patients follow-up with their primary care provider is extremely important in preventative care. This allows their primary care provider to explain anything that wasn’t clear in the hospital and review their medications.

Nursing is all about helping our patients get better. The only way this can be accomplished is through interdisciplinary care.

Sincerely,

Carley 

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at http://coleycares.com. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

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New Kid on the Block

There is no better way to describe being a new graduate nurse than saying you are the new kid on the block.  You have trouble finding the alcohol pads, syringes, and knowing where to properly chat all that you do {we all know we want to get credit for our work.} But after time and help from your preceptor you will become accustom to your unit. Once you have the basics down, you start running into more difficult challenges. These challenges help you grow from that novice to expert nurse.

Time management has been one of my main struggles these past few weeks. So I want to share with you some tips I have found to be useful. And also remind you that no one is perfect. Nursing is a profession where you grow and learn everyday; so don’t get too caught up in being the “perfect” nurse.

Tip 1: Use your brain. I am not talking about the one that resides inside your skull.  I am referring to a sheet of paper that lists all you have to accomplish for each hour of your 12 hour shift. That is not to say you won’t have unexpected tasks pop-up throughout the day. But your brain gives you a better picture of what all you have to do throughout the day.

Tip 2: Be the “hour ahead” nurse. If you can accomplish a task early than do it. This allows for unexpected events to occur without putting you behind schedule. I am talking specifically about medications. Nurses have the ability to give medications an hour before and an hour after the scheduled time. If you are able to give the medications an hour before than give them. Also, when writing your medications on your brain in the morning, try putting them in a different color to make them more visible.

Tip 3: Stay ahead on your charting. Becoming more than two-hours behind on your charting can affect your time management. You start having to play catch-up and all that time you spent trying to get ahead is wasted. Try charting after you make your rounds on your patients.

Now, after giving you all of these tips. I must say, it is difficult for me to live by them everyday. Life happens. Sometimes I fall behind on my charting. Sometimes my medications are not given an hour ahead. Sometimes I forget to write something down on my brain. But these tips are something that I strive to achieve everyday. Setting goals for myself and going into work with a purpose helps me be the type of nurse I want to be.

Sincerely,

Carley

P.S. Be looking at the blog on every other Tuesday for new posts!

The Nursing Workforce

Hi guys!

I am sorry it has taken so long for a new post! Balancing my time between work, personal life, and decorating a new apartment has been a task. But I promise to keep the posts coming!

I have been on the unit for a couple of months now {two months to be exact.} And I have grown both personally and professionally. I have learned that nursing school prepared me in some ways and in other ways not so much; I have learned that nursing is about continually learning and bettering your practice; I have learned that with everything it takes time to become comfortable in a new environment.

Identifying your resources is helpful as a new nurse. Every hospital should have polices that will guide you in your professional practice. Know how to locate them. Find a mentor nurse. Someone who is willing to guide you along and molds you into a knowledgable and kind nurse. Having more than one mentor is beneficial to see how different nurses practice. Thus being able to hone your own practice. Also, know your chain of command. If you have issues, questions, or concerns knowing your managers can help you out.

It takes time to become comfortable on your unit. I am just now starting to get into a routine and I have been working for two months. Do not get discouraged by this. A new job is comparable to beginning a new school year: new classmates{co-workers}, new teachers{managers}, new school{hospital.}  One day without you realizing the new working atmosphere will be more comfortable.

When things seem difficult on the job just remember why you became a nurse in the first place.

Sincerely,

Carley

Now It Is Time To Take The NCLEX

As a nursing student, test taking becomes apart of your daily routine. Eat. Sleep. Study. Test. Repeat. And in the beginning there will be test anxiety but after awhile it begins to lessen. Whether that be from more confidence in your study habits, pure exhaustion, or senioritis no one really can say. Somewhere along the line you become immune to test anxiety. I always knew that my exams were leading up to the one big test…the NCLEX. That day always seemed so far off. But one day graduation does come.  And then a few days after that, you realize that you do in fact have to take the NCLEX. This big test is one you have been preparing for your whole nursing school career. And once that realization has had time to set-in your testing anxiety hits you again like a ton of bricks. Or at least for me.

I want to share with you some lessons learned while studying and stressing over the NCLEX.

1. Do not stress. This is more of a “do as I say not as I do.” And I know that this is easier said than done. But in the long run, you will cause yourself too much anxiety over a test. I know that it is a big test but in the end that is all it is a test. So stress less and study more. Because in the end, the worst thing that can happen is you have to retake it.

2. Have your ducks in a row. While in your last semester of school make sure to begin the process of signing up for the NCLEX. This will involve fingerprints and background checks which can take at minimum six weeks. This process will also cost a bit of money so be sure to start saving. Once you have been cleared(fingerprints, background check, and school approval) to test you will receive an ATT number. This number allows you to sign up for the NCLEX. But do not expect to have this number prior to graduation because you do have to be cleared by your nursing school before you are allowed to test. And I would suggest becoming familiar with your State Board of Nursing website. Along with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website, which has good information about before/after the exam and what to do the day of the exam. That website is: https://www.ncsbn.org/nclex.htm. Lastly, you will be signing up for the NCLEX via Pearson VUE: http://www.pearsonvue.com/nclex. It would be best to go ahead and bookmark those sites as you will be visiting them frequently.

3. Make a Schedule. You can not and should not study all of the time. Pencil in your planner times when you can. I found studying 2-3 hours a day five days a week worked best for me. Everyone is different though. Using Kaplan as a resource was beneficial to me because they have tons of practice NCLEX questions along with practice tests. I would do 50-75 questions(that is all I could sit for) per day. Then on days where I knew I had a little more time and quiet I would take the practice tests. I would also take note of concepts I did not fully understand.

4. Study what you DO NOT know. Focus on your weaknesses. Spend more time studying for portions you feel more unsure about and then lastly go over areas where you feel more confident. Kaplan was beneficial in helping me identify my weak areas and then creating practice tests to help me build-up my weak areas. If you do not have Kaplan, go with your gut. No one knows you better than you. You know the areas where you struggled in school. Be sure to focus on those and anything else that stumps you as you study.

Nursing school gave you all of the knowledge you need to pass the NCLEX. You just need to have confidence and faith in yourself.

Sincerely,

Carley

So You Survived Nursing School… Now What?

Fast forward four semesters, you have now survived nursing school. But not only survived you thrived. You learned how to perform a complete physical assessment, memorized lab values (somewhat…), and know more about disease processes than you ever thought possible. It is now time to graduate and show the “real-world” what kind of nurse you are going to be. I had every emotion in the book during the semester leading up to graduation: nervous, scared, excited, and hopeful. You too probably have mixed emotions on graduating and post-grad life but do not let these emotions affect your last semester in college. You need to stay present and do not let school, friendships, or work pass you by.

With all of that being said, you are probably job-hunting. This is on-top of the other million things you need to accomplish in your daily life. So at times it can be stressful to find a balance. Try scheduling time in your planner to job-hunt so that way you can be fully committed to the task.  Have a strong resume previously created because you are then able to tweak it for each individual position thus saving time. Also, if your university offers some sort of resume review it would be beneficial to have them or a professor review it for any minor mistakes. When you begin applying to jobs submit an application for any position that interests you because you never know where it may lead. If you are looking to work in a hospital, try researching hospitals that offer a Residency Program or are Magnet status or both! Residency Programs offer the beginning nurse time with a preceptor and classes that correlate to the specific field. While Magnet status means the hospital has obtained recognition from American Nurses Credentialing Center based largely upon their nursing practice. Either way you can not go wrong. Please remember though, if you do not have a job lined up upon graduation it will be okay. Let me repeat that, it will be okay. Sometimes we as humans subconsciously compete with one other; trying to prove to our fellow classmates that we are the superior nurse. Sometimes you just take a little longer to figure out your passion within the nursing world. This is your perfect opportunity to focus on perfecting your resume, studying for the NCLEX(more tips to come), and maybe even volunteering.

Now show the world what a knowledgable and caring nurse you are! 

Sincerely,

Carley 

So You Just Got Into Nursing School…Now What?

Let me be the first to say: Congratulations! Being accepted into nursing school is no small feat & you should be proud of your accomplishment. All of your late nights studying and worrying paid off. You are on the path to the career you have always wanted. This is just the beginning though. Over the next two years, you are in-store for more studying, more worrying, and more challenges.This is not to say that nursing school is not worth the time and effort. When you get your first IV you will feel invincible. When a patient says “Thank-you” for all of your hard-work you will be grinning with pride. When what you are learning in class begins to make sense in clinical all of your studying will feel worth it. With all that being said, I want to offer a few tips on how best to survive nursing school.

Tip 1: You are stronger than you think.

The first semester of anything is the hardest. You are learning all new medical terminology; trying to figure out how best to study (this is a new ball game so studying is different from what you are accustom to); while trying to maintain some sort of sanity. The best way to handle all of this is to take everything one day at a time. Each night make a schedule of your day ahead, so you know what to expect. You are only one person and can only accomplish so much in one day. Also have something to look forward to. This can be a break from school, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, or even catching up on your favorite shows after a big test. You will survive.

Tip 2: C’s Make Degrees. 

This is not to say that you should not strive for A’s but it will not always happen. Most pre-nursing students are determined to have a 4.0 every semester, which is an admirable goal(this too was my goal.) You can usually accomplish this throughout your prerequisite courses but nursing school is a different beast. Classes will be more difficult and professors will expect more from you. You need to do your best and sometimes your best is  a B. When you become too caught up in your grades you won’t retain all of the information your professors are trying to teach you.

Tip 3: Take all Opportunities.

Nursing school is a safe environment. Before you enter into a clinical setting you will have been trained by your professors and clinical instructors. You will have had some type of skills lab and, more than likely, you will have been checked off on your skills. Your clinical instructor will be with you when trying a new skill along with your precepting nurse. Be sure to treat clinicals as a job interview: be on-time, dress appropriately, be willing to learn, and show interest.

Sometimes your precepting nurse will forget to let you practice a skill. Remember he/she does this everyday for a living usually without a student nurse. He/she is not trying to be rude so just give them a quick reminder!

Tip 4: Support System.

Do not underestimate the power of a study buddy. You cannot teach yourself everything that your professor covered in class by yourself. Having a study buddy that has the same study habits and work ethic as you makes reviewing the exam material easier. If you can teach it to your partner than you know it for the test. It also helps to have someone to swap notes with in case you missed an important point.

Also, seek to have a good relationship with your professors. These are the people who can help you succeed. They can be there after you fail a test or  better explain a topic you did not understand in class. Professors are the people who you are going to be asking for job recommendations so it is wise to create a relationship with them.

Tip 5: Balance.  

You have to find a balance between taking care of yourself and nursing school. You cannot study all of the time. Trust me, I tried and after a while you stop retaining information. Making time for friends and the gym is important.   There is nothing worse than after your first semester realizing you gained the “Nursing 15.” Your health is just as important as your grades are so make time for the gym. You also have to make time for fun otherwise you will not be able to keep your sanity. In the grand scheme of things, you will remember the Friday nights you were with your friends more than the ones you spent studying.

Sincerely,

Carley 

 

Coming to a Computer Near You

Hey there,

Glad you stumbled upon my blog! Whether you are fellow nurse, student-nurse, or have dreams of one day becoming a nurse this blog will have something for you. During nursing school – I was able to maintain my sanity by laughing with my  friends, sharing our blunders, and celebrating our triumphs with one another. I want this blog to be a place where you can learn from my mistakes, achievements, and a place where you can find a laugh(or two).

Blogging is something I am new to but am eager to explore this new chapter of my life with you! I want to write about topics that are important to my readers, so please feel free to leave suggestions. Although I do have a few ideas of my own for some future posts coming soon(within the next week)!

Sincerely,

Carley