9 Benefits Of Being A Per Diem Nurse (PRN nurse)

9 Benefits Of Being A Per Diem Nurse (PRN nurse)

What does per diem mean?

Per diem is a Latin term that means “by the day.”  A per diem nurse is a nurse who is employed “by the day,” or as needed by a medical facility.

What is a PRN nurse?

PRN is a Latin term for pro re nata, which translates in English to “as the situation demands.”  Both “per diem nurse” and “PRN nurse”  have essentially the same meaning and can be used interchangeably.

Whether your nursing job title is per diem nurse or PRN nurse, it means you only work when that institution has additional staffing needs that they cannot fill with their own “career” nursing staff.   With the increasing demands of today’s healthcare environment – and the fact that patients are living longer (and are often sicker) than ever before – per diem, or PRN nurses are in high demand.

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About per diem/ PRN nursing

Most hospitals have their own unit of staffed per diem nurses.  These nurses may be assigned to one particular unit in a hospital or can be resource nurses who cover many different specialties within the hospital setting (as long as they are trained to do so).  Hospital staffing needs usually increase during holiday seasons or during times of high census in the hospital (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic).

In addition, there are nurse staffing agencies that set up outside nurses to work in hospitals that have additional staffing needs. These nurses work for “per diem nursing agencies” and may end up working in a variety of facilities.  Often, these nurses might work a few shifts at one hospital, and then a shift in another facility, all in one week.

Additional recommended reading 5 Non-Bedside Jobs You May Not Know About

Per diem (or PRN) nurse vs. full-time nursing:  what should I choose?

Most nurses work full time, at least for their first few years after graduating from nursing school.  Novice nurses need to put the time in and develop their clinical and critical thinking skills.  It takes many years to build up nursing expertise at the bedside, which is why I would never recommend that a new grad nurse work per diem.   If you are considering per diem as a nursing avenue for your career, make sure that you are experienced enough to manage the stress of working in many different working environments.

As a per diem nurse myself, I have found many benefits to working per diem that I would not have had if I was working as a “staff” or “career” nurse.  If you are teetering on making a change into the per diem nursing environment, these are benefits of working as a per diem, or PRN, nurse.

Benefits of being a per diem/PRN nurse:

#1.  Higher pay then a career nurse

Per diem nurses are usually paid more money per hour than regular staff because they generally do not receive benefits, and do not have set hours.

Some states pay more per hour than others.  California, for example, is known for having a higher hourly wage than many states with a lower cost-of-living, like South Dakota or Illinois.  Per diem nurses in California have even been known to make over 15K or more in a single paycheck by working multiple days in a row, and taking advantage of overtime pay!

#2.  You can make your own nursing schedule

One of the most significant benefits of working per diem is that you can choose precisely when you want to work.  As a working mom, it makes it much less stressful to know that you won’t be scheduled during a time you don’t have child care.

#3.  Per diem nurses can pick up seasonal work

There are times of the year when more nurses are needed to meet staffing needs, such as flu season or summer time.    During the current COVID-19 global crisis, there are many hospitals with increased staffing needs in coronavirus “hot spots,” such as New York City and Seattle, where some of the first clusters were found.  Per diem nurses who are willing to be flexible and work in new facilities have the opportunity to work more often.

Additional recommended reading:  8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse

#4.  Per diem/ PRN nurses can decline shifts

Unlike career nurses, who often do not have complete control of their schedules, per diem nurses can choose to decline shifts if they don’t jive with your schedule.  This means that if you don’t want to work nights, holidays, or weekends, you usually don’t have to.

#5.  Have the possibility to add on a shift at the last minute

Some per diem nurses work for two different hospitals at the same time.  Therefore, if they end up getting canceled to work at one hospital, they can call the staffing office at their other hospital to see if they have any nursing needs.  Often, they do, and you can work that day and not lose income.


#6.  Cancel a shift the last minute

Working parents understand the need for flexible scheduling.  If your child (or yourself) become ill the day or two before a per diem shift, then you have an opportunity to cancel yourself ahead of time.  You don’t need to worry about whether or not you have a vacation or sick time saved up.

#7.  Opportunity to cross-train in different specialties

Per diem nurses, often have additional learning and educational opportunities because they get new opportunities to cover many specialties.

For example, a per diem emergency room nurse, who also floats to ICU units, might also be able to cross-train for a PACU unit they have staffing needs.  Here is another example: a per diem NICU nurse, might be cross-trained for post-partum or antepartum units if they needed additional nursing support.

Nurses who can be flexible and open to additional learning opportunities may find that they have more opportunities than ever to work.  When you have experience working in several different nursing specialties, then you have a decreased chance of being canceled and not making any money that day.  Per diem nursing can provide nurses with increased job stability and add valuable work experience for your resume.

#8. Build vacation time right into your schedule without taking time off

For per diem nurses, there is no need to put in vacation time, because it is possible to build vacation time right into your schedule.

For example, full-time nurses often work three 12-hour shifts a week.  You can schedule yourself to work on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday one week, and then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the next week.  That leaves you with eight days off in-between your shifts to hop on a plane for a week’s vacation.


#9.  Working per diem is a great way to keep your license active

Many nurses who only want to work part-time, appreciate the option to work as a per diem nurse.   Whether you have small children at home or you have other side careers that you are persuing, per diem nursing allows you to have that flexibility without altogether leaving the bedside, or your profession, behind.

As nurses get closer to retirement, some may choose to work a little less and spend more quality time with grandchildren.  If that is the case, then per diem, nursing is a great option.  You can keep your foot in the nursing industry, keep your skills and knowledge sharp, continue to bring in some income, while also having time to dedicate to the other passions in your life.

In conclusion

I hope this article helped you clarify whether or not being a per diem or PRN nurse is right for you.  There are many factors to consider, but it is wonderful to work in a profession where this type of work environment is possible.  If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Additional recommended reading:

5 Non-Bedside Nurse Jobs You May Not Know About

5 Non-Bedside Nurse Jobs You May Not Know About

Non-Bedside Nurse Jobs

There are so many career options for nurses outside of the traditional hospital setting.  If nursing is your passion, but doing rounds on the patient floor is not, consider one of these five non-bedside nurse jobs that you may not have heard of before.

#1.  Public Health Advisor

Non-bedside nurse job #1: public health nurse

With the current outbreak of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control is receiving a lot of attention. Many look to organizations like the CDC for guidance on how to stay safe through when a public health crisis strikes.

Nurses make great public health advisors because they already have experience working directly with patients in a variety of healthcare settings.  They can take their clinical knowledge and years of direct patient care experience and apply it in the public health arena.  

Public health advisors develop and implement public health programs.  Also, they build relationships with all levels of government organizations and project management.  It is also possible to get involved in politics to initiate change at the national level, like former nurse Congresswoman Lauren Underwood.

Working as a public health advisor can be a fascinating new career for nurses.  Who knows, one day we could even have a nurse in the oval office!

Recommended Education Level:  The minimum requirement for a public health advisor is a BSN or three years of comparable general experience; however, specialized expertise or completion of higher education programs like an MSN with a concentration in Public Health are preferred.  You can find more information on job listings and requirements here.

#2.  Clinical Trial Nurse

Non-bedside nurse job #2: clinical trial nurse

Clinical trials are the process by which cures for cancer and other diseases are discovered – and they are at the forefront of the ever-changing field of medicine.

A clinical trial nurse serves as coordinators for clinical trials and implements good clinical practice for the emerging treatment modalities. This job is an excellent fit for nurses who are as passionate about patient rights as they are scientific advancement. 

At this very moment, thousands of trials are being conducted worldwide in all fields of medicine. For example, one clinical trial aims to prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis  – as another clinical trial is testing the efficacy of a swab test to detect neurodegenerative disorders. For the nurse with scrutinizing attention to detail and compassion for helping sick patients, becoming a clinical trial nurse would be an exhilarating position to hold. 

Recommended Education Level: A BSN is required for most clinical trial nurse roles. Advanced degrees — such as an MSN — are critical for those who wish to assume a leadership role within clinical trials and research nursing.

#3.  Movie-Set Nurse

Non-bedside nurse job #3: movie set nurse

Hollywood magic knows no limits. Car crashes, fight scenes, and defying gravity are just some of the ways actors and showbiz execs can get hurt on the job, and it happens more often than we think. This is why it’s so important to have skilled medical professionals on set at all times. Nurses, paramedics, and doctors are all found on the sidelines of silver screen productions to provide first-aid care and more.   

Movie productions must staff large groups of people who work long hours. They often work with heavy machinery, putting them at risk for injury.  Often, very risky work is being performed.  Some action scenes – think the kind with stunt doubles – can cause accidents. 

The medical team on-site needs to be able to act quickly in case of incidents and emergencies — making your ER experience a great asset. The ability to stay calm and focused in the wake of accidents are key strengths many nurses already possess. 

Nursing gigs in the film industry are fiercely competitive, so you’ll want to accentuate your ability to act quickly and efficiently if you get a chance to interview. The pay may not be great at first – often as low as $15/hour –  but there’s no telling where an opportunity may take you.  One nurse even got hired to go on tour with Beyonce!

Recommended Education Level: Minimum requirement of an associate’s degree. 

#4.  Hotel/Resort Nurse

Non-bedside nurse job #4: hotel/resort nurse

People on vacation rarely foresee a need for medical care.  But as health care providers, we know that illness and injury can happen anytime, anywhere. Hotels and resorts employ nurses to be on-site in case guests need first-aid or assistance getting more intensive care at a local hospital.

Resort nurse jobs, like this one at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company, can be pretty sweet gigs (pun intended).   Depending on where you find work, you may even be able to spend your days off at the beach or a snowy mountaintop!

Recommended Education Level: Minimum requirement of an associate’s degree. 

#5.  Legal Nurse Consultant

Non-bedside nurse job #5: legal nurse consultant

Legal nurse consultants (LNC) serve as liaisons between the medical and legal fields in a variety of venues.  LNCs can serve as expert witnesses, be employed by law firms that handle medical malpractice or personal injury law, work in forensic environments, and some opt to open their own independent practices. 

The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants has an extensive list of tasks performed by LNCs.  These range from medical research to drafting legal documents and helping attorneys prepare for trial.  In this riveting career, you’ll get to see the legal side of the medical field and use your nursing expertise in the name of justice. 

As an LNC, you can dip your toes in to see how you like the field while building an autonomous career. According to LNC Wendie Howland, any nurse with 8-10 years of experience can serve as an expert witness for an attorney. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn where medical and judiciary interests intersect. 

Recommended Education Level:  An associate’s degree is the minimum requirement, but for certain positions, particularly in forensics, completing a program of higher education like an MSN with a specialization in Forensic Nursing is recommended.

In conclusion

There are so many non-bedside nurse jobs for experienced RN’s who want to advance their careers out of the bedside.  Consider doing a little soul-searching and decide where your nursing career will take you next!

Additional recommended reading:

Aspen Shield

Guest author Pamela Mahler is a content specialist for Aspen University. She is passionate about learning and producing valuable resources that empower others to enhance their lives through education. Aspen University offers CCNE accredited programs at every degree level. Aspen created affordable degrees and 0%-interest payment plans with transparent pricing so that nurses can focus on courses, not the fine print. 

Covid-19 Mission For Masks: Where Nurses Can Share Anonymously

Covid-19 Mission For Masks: Where Nurses Can Share Anonymously

COVID-19:  Mission For Masks

We need our nurses to be healthy and safe, now more than ever.  Yet during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the United States, there have been numerous accounts in the media recently that that is not happening.  And some nurses are afraid to speak out.

But Sonja Schwartzback, a critical care nurse and doctoral student from New Jersey, created a Google document called COVID-19: Mission For Masks. Sonja’s objective was to give nurses an outlet to share coronavirus stories anonymously without fear of retaliation from administrators.

“There’s also a history within nursing of retaliation.”

Sonja discussed how she started the Google doc after receiving hundreds of questions from nurses and doctors via her Instagram account, where she has over 49k followers. In her eyes, nurses are feeling desperate, and their issues are not being appropriately addressed in the media.

In this article I wrote for nurse.org, I spoke about how many nurses are feeling out of control and need to prioritize their mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Suggestion #7 for nurses was to talk to other healthcare staff who can understand their unique struggles during the COVID-19 crisis.  COVID-19: Mission For Masks is providing a platform for exactly that.

Some experts also say that healthcare professions are facing an increased risk of anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 outbreak. They need an outlet to communicate frustrations, concerns, and fears with healthcare professionals who understand their struggles.

The COVID-19: Mission For Masks document is an opportunity to serve as a platform for nurses to find strength in numbers, share what is working and what isn’t at their hospitals and give nurses a much-needed mental health outlet.

New York is the epicenter for coronavirus cases in March.  But officials state that COVID-19 cases are expected to explode exponentially, with deaths reaching from 100,000 to 240,000.

As a nurse, how are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis?

Does your facility have the proper PPE for healthcare staff to manage this epidemic? Do you feel that you have reasonable equipment to fight this epidemic as a frontline nurse so that you do not get the disease yourself?  Do you need an outlet to talk with other nurses about how COVID-19 is being managed at your facility?

Many nurses have publicly documented quitting their jobs. They were NOT ALLOWED to wear masks because their facilities are unable to provide them, and they were not allowed to wear their own.

Here is the bottom line:   If nurses are unable to reasonably protect themselves from COVID-19, and more importantly, aren’t able to communicate with administrators about not having proper PPE – such as having a face mask on COVID-19 units – how can we expect nurses to continue giving adequate care for the sick?  Ultimately, our country will lose nurses, and patient’s lives in the wake.

As a mother with two small children, one who was born prematurely and could have increased risk of COVID-19 complications, how could I work the front lines as an experienced emergency room nurse without proper PPE?  If I wanted to protect my child from dying, the clear answer is NO WAY!

Nurses need an outlet more than ever.   What do you think?

If you are a nurse working with COVID-19 units, and you have something you want to share about your current work situation, but feel afraid because of retaliation, you can find the COVID-19: Mission For Masks doc here.

Feel free to leave a comment.

Additional recommended reading:

Travel Nursing 101: The Pros, Cons, and How to Get Started

Travel Nursing 101: The Pros, Cons, and How to Get Started

Nurses often want to know the pros and cons of travel nursing before making a colossal life-altering career decision.  If you have been considering travel nursing as a potential career trajectory, this article is for you.

Travel nursing offers an opportunity for career growth.

For anyone who dreams of entering the healthcare field to help others but doesn’t want to be tied down to working in a single facility, becoming a travel nurse is an appealing option. As a travel nurse, you can spend your days working in different facilities in your immediate area, taking care of patients in their homes, or providing skilled nursing services as needed in different parts of the country—or even the world.

In a lot of ways, travel nursing is amazing. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t any potential drawbacks. If you are considering a career in travel nursing, keep reading to learn a bit more about the pros and cons, and how to get started.

Additional recommended reading:   The Pros And Cons Of 12 Hour Shifts

Travel Nursing Pros

Let’s start with the good stuff. As a travel nurse, you will have the opportunity to live in various towns and cities throughout the nation. In some instances, you may even get to travel to exotic locations in other parts of the world. You’ll get to meet new people and immerse yourself in unfamiliar cultures.

When you work as a travel nurse, you quickly gain valuable work experience. You can gain knowledge that would likely take you years to learn in a single location in a matter of months. And if you don’t love your current nursing job, accepting a travel position can provide you with an easy way to escape.

As a travel nurse, you’ll be able to take more time off throughout the year as you choose. You have a higher degree of flexibility and control over your schedule than you do when working at a single facility. Because travel nurses work through staffing agencies, you will have the opportunity to try out potential employers before committing to a full-time position.

Travel nursing is always in high demand.

Travel nurses have a high level of control over where and when they work, so they often have the freedom to go where they want to go, when they want to go. You may even be able to find work in a specific city when you know there is an upcoming event that you would like to attend. Or you could accept an assignment near a friend or family member’s home if you would like to visit them for a few days (or longer).

Travel nurses are in high demand, too, so there are often attractive sign-on bonuses and other incentives that tend to make this career path look pretty appealing.

Travel Nursing Cons

The pros of working as a travel nurse are numerous, but there are also some drawbacks that you should be aware of when you are trying to decide whether it’s the right career for you. For starters, it doesn’t offer the same sort of stability as you would expect in other nursing positions. As a travel nurse, you are classified as a temporary employee, which makes it much easier for your employer to terminate your working relationship. Being classified as a temporary employee can also make it more challenging to collect unemployment benefits if you are terminated.

While you may have more flexibility in terms of taking time off, you shouldn’t expect that time to be paid. Paid time off is rare for travel nurses and, even when it is available, it’s usually tough to qualify for.

When you take on a new assignment, there will usually be onboarding requirements that can be quite time-consuming, and in many instances, they’re unpaid. Travel nurses also tend to move around a lot, which can make it challenging to build and maintain personal relationships.

Last, if you have what the IRS considers a “tax home,” many of the reimbursements and stipends you receive as a travel nurse are non-taxable. This may seem like a good thing because it means more money on your paycheck. However, it also means a lower gross income on paper. This could be problematic in the eyes of loan officers or when you reach retirement age.

nurses

You can meet nurses from all over the world as a travel nurse.

Getting Started as a Travel Nurse

For many people, the pros of being a travel nurse outweigh the cons. If it still sounds like a career that you would be interested in, you will need to have the appropriate qualifications to get started. Most travel nurses are RNs, so you will need to have completed nursing school and become one before you are qualified for the job. Some agencies also work with LPNs, but you will have a much easier time being placed if you are an RN.

Keep in mind that you will need to be licensed to work in states other than your own. If you do not have the proper licensing to work in a state where you would like to be assigned, however, your staffing agency should be able to help you obtain it.

You usually need to have some experience working in a traditional nursing position, too. Before you can start traveling across the country as a nurse, you’ll need to spend a year or two (at minimum) working in a hospital or another facility. If you plan on working in a specialized field, such as ICU or labor and delivery nursing, additional bedside experience may be required.

Of course, you’ll also need the general supplies that are required for nurses. Do some research to discover the best shoes for nurses, find scrubs that are appropriate for the climate in which you will be working, etc.

The Bottom Line

Life as a travel nurse can be challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding. If you think this career path is right for you, now is a great time to start preparing for your future. Whether you prefer to keep your travel distance relatively small or you dream of helping patients throughout the entire country, when you look and feel your best in your favorite scrubs and are committed to reaching your goals, anything is possible!

Adela Ellis, RN

Adela Ellis is a full-time nurse and part-time ambassador for Infinity Scrubs. Adela attended the University of Arizona and has been a travel nurse for the last six years. She enjoys working with different doctors, nurses, and patients from all over the country and blogging about her experiences. In her free time, she loves true-crime podcasts and cooking for friends and family.  

Additional recommended reading:

Ultimate Top 30 Nurse Supplies & Essentials:  The Complete List

Ultimate Top 30 Nurse Supplies & Essentials: The Complete List

As an experienced nurse who has many years of experience taking care of ER, critical care, and telemetry patients, I have learned that I must be prepared for my shifts.  Nurses need to be ready for just about anything, and having the right nurse supplies to succeed has never been more critical.

The nurse essentials on this list are the same things that I use daily and make my life so much easier as a busy nurse.   Keep your professional game on point, and stay prepared for whatever your shift will throw at you!

(This list includes affiliate links.  See our disclosure page for more information here.)


The Ultimate Top 30 Nurse Supplies & Essentials: The Complete List:

#1.  SCRUBS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Scrubs are the universal uniform for nurses for a good reason.  They are very comfortable, designed for long hours of work, allow for easy assess to tools (with pockets), and they are durable to withstand frequent washing,

Also, scrubs make it easier for patients to identify them.  If you can choose the scrubs at your workplace, then you have any color options available.  They offer a way to stand out from your co-workers as well.

#2.  STETHOSCOPE

nurse supplies

 

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One of the most important nurse supplies is the stethoscope.  Whether you are trying to obtain a manual blood pressure or listening to lung sounds, every nurse needs to have a quality stethoscope.  I bought a 3M Littmann Classic in nursing school, and I have been using it ever since.  They are available in many different colors and have a non-chill rim, so your cold stethoscope doesn’t you don’t shock your patients and make them uncomfortable.

#3.  STETHOSCOPE IDENTIFICATION BADGE

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With so many stethoscopes in the hospital setting, it is very easy to get yours mixed up with another nurse.  Having a stethoscope identification badge is the best way to prevent this.

#4.  STETHOSCOPE CASE

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A stethoscope case helps to keep your scope clean and in excellent condition throughout an entire nursing career.

#5.  FANNY PACK

 

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You can use a fanny pack each shift to carry nurse supplies, including trauma shears, alcohol swabs, pens, a penlight, notes, and extra needles and syringes.   Having a “hip pack” can help prevent nurses from having to make additional trips back to the supply room for things they might have forgotten.   Nurses need to have the tools they need fast.  Go ahead and embrace your inner nurse dork with a fanny pack.

#6.  APPLE WATCH 

important nurse supplies- watch

 

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The Apple Watch is a stopwatch, a timer, and allows you to set the alarm to remind yourself of tasks you may forget when your shift gets busy.  It also makes it possible to receive and send text messages without having to use your cell phone on the unit

But what many nurses love most about the Apple Watch is that it records how much you stand, exercise, and move throughout your shift (it breaks them down into colorful rings).  You will also know how many total steps you walked in a shift. It’s nice to know how much exercise you get in the workplace!

#7.  WATCH WITH A SECOND HAND

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If the Apple Watch is too expensive, consider getting a less expensive watch with a second hand.  Having a second-hand makes it possible for nurses to track important patient vital signs such as respiratory and heart rate.

#8.  TRAUMA SHEARS

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As an ER nurse, the Raptor Shears are my absolute favorite nurse tool.  They look a lot like a fancy pair of scissors.  But make no mistake, these very functional and handy shears are 6 tools wrapped into one, including:

  • medical shears
  • strap cutter
  • ring cutter
  • ruler
  • oxygen tank wrench
  • carbide glass breaker

Many nurses in the emergency room setting use Raptor Shears because they are so functional. You can hook it to a belt or secure it using the pocket clip.   They also have a 25-year limited warranty and will last you throughout your nursing career or longer.

#9.  NURSE CLIPBOARD

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Keeping a nurse clipboard with you is an easy, secure way to keep confidential documents and medical notes with you.  They give you something to write on while getting a shift report or while in a patient’s room.  They also help you store needed writing tools, such as your retractable pen or highlighter.

#10.  POCKET ORGANIZER (to organize your nurse supplies)

 

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If a fanny pack isn’t something you are into, you may want to consider getting a pocket organizer to store needed nurse supplies and tools.  Knowing you have the supplies you need within your reach at all times will not only keep you calmer in stressful situations, but you will appear more professional as well.

#11. RETRACTABLE PENS

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Retractable 4 color pens are great for color-coding your work notes or written patient information.  Having retractable pens are also lovely to have for when you are studying for certifications!  You can keep a few in your workbag, pocket organizer, or fanny pack.

#12.  PEN LIGHT

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You will need a nurse penlight for assessing extraocular movements.  And these are especially great because they have pupil sizes right on the pen for a more accurate assessment.  You can’t complete a neurological exam correctly without them.

 #13.  VEIN FINDER

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Many hospital units have vein finders for nurses to use, but it is still nice to have your own because they always seem to be lost or already in use.  If you are working on a unit where you will be starting frequent IV’s (such as the ER), this vein finder is a nice-to-have item.

Patients need IVs so we can give them medications and IV fluids.   You could go look for a vein finder on the unit, but why waste that precious time when you can carry one with you?

#14.  NURSING BRAIN SHEETS

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The nurse brain is an extremely important nurse essential for the organization during a busy shift.  Keep your patient’s information organized and in one place.   These brain sheets include areas for: vital signs, medication times, assessment notes, labs, patient history, and space for free text and notes.  This also makes a great gift for new graduate nursing students.  

#15.  HAND SANITIZER

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To prevent the spread of infections, nurses wash their hands dozens of times each shift and often use hand sanitizer in-between.  Travel hand sanitizers are always great to have extra with you in case you need it.

#16.  HAND LOTION

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With nurses washing their hands so frequently every shift, it is no wonder that so many suffer from dry skin.  Whenever possible, use hand lotion to prevent dry, chapped hands and protect the barrier of your skin.  Many nurses keep extra in their nursing bags and car to use whenever they remember.

#17.  HIGHLIGHTER

 

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Highlighters are useful for organizing patient medical information, highlighting discharge education, and studying for your specialty certifications.  You can even hook these on your badge reel to have handy and make sure you don’t lose it.

#18.  DRUG REFERENCE GUIDE

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Keep a portable nursing drug handbook to make it easy to find the most vital information on the drugs that you administer as a nurse most frequently.  This is an excellent tool for helping you learn more about medications while you are on the go and help keep your patients safe.

You can also lookup generic and trade names for drugs, find black box warnings, understand safety information for medications, and help you teach patients about potential side effects of medications.

#19.  NURSING BAG (to keep your nurse supplies organized in one place)

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There are a lot of things nurses need to keep with them:  ID, wallet, nursing supplies, notebooks, planners, other personal items and nurse supplies that you might need.  Your nursing shifts will be stressful enough as it is, so you will want to keep all of your belongings organized.  A great nursing bag will help you keep all of your supplies in one place, so you don’t forget anything at home.

#20.  BADGE HOLDER

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Having a badge holder makes it easy for you to display your ID to patients and other staff members in the hospital.  Badge holders allow you to let others know who you are and they don’t get in the way of your work the way lanyards do.  There are also several personalized options to choose from.

#21.  COMPRESSION SOCKS

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If there is anyone who needs to be wearing compression socks, its nurses. After all, we are on our feet for 12 hours a shift!  Compression socks are so beneficial for nurses because they prevent or reduce varicose veins, they improve blood flow, and they decrease the risk of blood clots.  Many nurses even say that wearing compressions socks make their legs feel energized, even after a shift.

#22.  HYDRO FLASK WATER BOTTLE

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Many nurses don’t drink nearly enough water during their 12-hour shifts and end up going home wholly dehydrated.  Therefore, nurses need a great sealable water bottle with them for each shift.

The Hydro Flask Water Bottle is a high-quality water bottle that can be used for many years and still look brand new.  It is made out of food-grade stainless steel and is BPA free.  Also, it has excellent insulation, which prevents condensation from forming on the outside of the bottle.

But the best part about the Hydro Flask Water Bottle is the TempShield Insulation, which keeps beverages at the same temperature for many hours (hot drinks for 6 hours & cold drinks for up to 24 hours!). 

#23.  COFFEE MUG (with sealable lid)

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Regular coffee mugs won’t work for busy nurses working with patients.  Nurses, who are seldom in the same place for more than a few minutes, must have a mug with a sealable lid.

The Hydro Flask coffee mug is a popular choice among many nurses.  It has a leak-proof lid (when closed) for on-the-go activities.  Also, drinks stay hot up to 7 hours and cold up to 18 hours with vacuum insulation.  

#24.  LUNCH BAG

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“I just love eating hospital cafeteria food,” said no nurse ever.  Most nurses learn very quickly that they need to prepare and pack their food for two reasons – hospital food usually isn’t delicious, and packing a healthy lunch in advance ensures that the nurse will eat healthier throughout their shift.  Otherwise, when lunch comes, and they are so exhausted, there is a chance they might reach for some not-so-healthy options.

Use a lunch bag that is waterproof, leak-proof, super easy to clean and lightweight.   

#25.  NURSING SHOES

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Nurses are frequently walking around on hard and sometimes wet surfaces -especially in the hospital setting.  The floors are regularly being cleaned in between patients, and there are occasional spills that can sometimes result in unintended nurse falls.  Nurses must have great shoes because not having them can be an occupational hazard.

Nursing shoes also need to give great support, protect your back, reduce stress on joints, and be comfortable to wear for long periods.

#26.  SPHYGMOMANOMETER

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A sphygmomanometer is a tool that nurses can use to take manual blood pressure measurements and to have an accurate, reliable instrument to diagnose hypertension accurately.  This is a great tool to have in case you need to get a manual blood pressure.

#27.  NURSE CLOGS

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Clogs are a staple of the nurse uniform.  They can provide nurses with better support to help them minimize foot, ankle, knee, and back pain, which is very important as nurses can spend long hours on their feet with little downtime.

#28.  INFRARED THERMOMETER

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Your hospital will have a specific type of thermometer that you must use on patients.  But as nurses, it is great to have a way to monitor a patient’s vital signs if we ever find ourselves in an emergency away from the hospital.  Having an infrared thermometer is a great non-invasive way to monitor a temperature away from the hospital.

#29.  PULSE OXIMETER

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The pulse oximeter is a non-invasive method for monitoring a person’s oxygen saturation.  If you work in a hospital or other healthcare facility, you will use your facility’s pulse oximeters.  However, many nurses have a supply kit in case they need to check a patient’s vital signs in an emergency away from the healthcare setting, in which case, a mobile pulse oximeter is a great tool to have.

#30.  LAPTOP COMPUTER

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Nurses are lifelong learners and need personal computers to research and study.  By achieving advanced certifications within your specialty, you can advance your career, earn more money, improve your nursing skills, and become an expert in your field.  In order to do that you need a laptop computer to do your work.  The healthcare environment is continually changing, and there is always something new to learn!

In conclusion

Nursing is a challenging profession, but if you work hard and have the tools you need to succeed, you will excel an continue to move your career in an upwards direction.  Stay organized, keep learning, and take care of yourself in the process (just like how you take good care of your patients).

Most of all, know that you are a valuable contributor to what has been considered the most trusted profession for decades.  Best of luck to you, nurse!

Additional recommended reading:

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Tips For Presenting New Ideas To Your Nursing Unit

Tips For Presenting New Ideas To Your Nursing Unit

Nurses play an integral role in identifying challenges, as well as successes, in the delivery of optimal patient care.   As frontline caregivers at the bedside, a nurse knows better than anyone about best-practice through trial and error. 

There is an explosion right now in technology.  Advanced patient needs require that nurses understand new developments in technology and push for change in areas that need improvement. Innovative ideas can develop in any area of nursing, including geriatrics, pediatrics, home health, public health, surgical, and rehab. 

Any unit can require and initiate change. Maybe you have an idea for how to prevent hospital readmissions, a method for incorporating essential oils into practice, a better system to track meds for elderly patients, or big ideas on how to support your hospital’s nursing shortage

What should a nurse do with an innovative idea?

First, evaluate your idea for clarity. Will your concept provide value to staff, nursing administration, or help improve patient care? Can you help solve a problem?

It’s essential to keep the concept simple so that it can easily be put into practice. An idea that doesn’t have the resources for action may not succeed or be sustainable over time.

Most importantly, it has to have buy-in from others. For example, let’s say your unit had an increase in urinary tract infections last month. You also recently learned about a new medical device that helps prevent UTI’s, and you think it should be added to your unit’s urinary catheter protocol.  Start by organizing a meeting with everyone who can help make your idea a reality. Share your thoughts and identify what is and is not working. By giving your plan a voice, you are creating an opportunity for productive change.

Here are tips to present an idea to your nursing unit

Here are a few tips to help you present new ideas to your nursing unit:

Step 1: Gather your thoughts.

  • Clearly understand and communicate your idea – what do you want to achieve?
  • What resources can you use to support your ideas?
  • Ask questions and listen closely to what your co-workers have to say about the issue.

Step 2:  Prepare your presentation.

  • How do you want to deliver your idea? (PowerPoint, a written report, or as a verbal presentation are all great, just make your point clear).
  • Watch Ted Talks and other inspiring videos on how to present big ideas. This can offer an abundance of knowledge and a visual on how to be professional and persuasive). 
  • Consider an RN to BSN program that can help you analyze economic, demographic, and technological issues in nursing, as well as strengthen your scholarly writing and presentation skills. 

Step 3:  Get buy-in. 

  • Discuss your ideas with your unit director or educator.  
  • Seek supportive co-workers who are well versed in presenting ideas, and gather support
  • Speak at your monthly unit staff meetings. This is a great time to gather additional support from your peers, charge nurses, and administrators.

Step 4:  Take your idea to the next level.

  • Write an article about your idea and submit it to a professional online nursing magazine. 
  • Attend conferences to network with others and present new ideas to a broader audience
  • Join a national nurse organization within your specialty and prepare a presentation for their yearly meeting.

In conclusion

You can be an agent for positive change in the nursing profession.  Make a plan for your idea and see it through. Healthcare needs nurse leaders today more than ever.    Now, what are you going to do with your idea today?  Aspen Shield Guest author Sam Boone is a content specialist for Aspen University. She is passionate about learning and producing valuable resources that empower others to enhance their lives through education. Aspen University offers CCNE accredited programs at every degree level. Aspen created affordable degrees and 0%-interest payment plans with transparent pricing so that nurses can focus on courses, not the fine print.  Additional recommended reading:

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