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.
Join a national nurse organization within your specialty and prepare a presentation for their yearly meeting.
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?
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.
Being a nurse or a mom is hard work in and of itself. Add the two together and you have one incredibly hard-working, compassionate, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives.
This holiday season why not give gifts that recognize both talents? The one that is raising children to be strong, capable adults and the one selflessly helping total strangers. After all, there is a fair chance that many nurse moms are not being appreciated or recognized for the dedication and hard work they put in, day after day.
If the desire for flexibility and autonomy is inspiring you to look outside of the hospital setting for new opportunities, becoming a nurse health coach might be a career worth exploring.
In the hospital setting, burnout in the nursing profession is at an all-time high. As a result, some are looking for alternative ways to work for themselves.
Have you ever wanted complete control over your work schedule while also helping patients make healthier life choices? If the answer is yes, read on.
After all, nurses have many transferable skills that can be used in alternative ways. Read on to learn more about nurse health coaching, and don’t forget to watch the video at the end!
Would you like to be your own nurse boss?
What is a nurse health coach?
Nurse health coaches have the ability to actualize their patient’s healthcare goals outside of the hospital setting by helping them develop the healthiest version of themselves. And by teaching patients how to take great care of themselves, the nurse health coach empowers them for the rest of their lives.
Nurse health coaches work with patients to provide guidance and resources to assist their patients in living a more healthy and balanced lifestyle. In terms of nursing experience, nurse health coaches generally have many years of direct patient care in the hospital setting. They have the desire to have a more direct and positive health impact on their patient’s lives.
Many nurse health coaches are entrepreneurs who work in private practice, although some hospitals and doctors offices hire nurse health coaches as well. According to some surveys, nurse coaches can earn similar or even more income than they do working in hospitals.
What does a nurse health coach do?
Here are a few ways nurse health coaches can help patients:
Understand patients unique healthcare dynamics
Assessing and inspiring your patient to make life-long healthy food and exercise habits
Identifying client opportunities and issues for improved health
Helping patients set achievable goals to have optimal health
Encouraging and empowering patients to reach their goals
Also, nurse health coaches can decrease healthcare spending by:
Helping insurance companies reduce the cost of patient care and disease management, and
Giving patients the tools to improve their overall health and well-being by reducing the incidence of chronic illness and the cost of healthcare
Some nurse coaches work in private practice; some collaborate with other health professionals in a group practice, and others are employees. According to surveys, nurse coaches can earn similar or more income than they do working in hospitals.
Nurse health coaches generally have more independence in this role then they do in other nursing careers. For many nurses, this makes a great alternative to bedside nursing where you are constantly working under the eye of administrators.
Plus, while nurse health coaches must work very hard to be successful, the profession offers flexibility with setting one’s schedule, work atmosphere, and patient clientele.
There are so many things I wish I knew before I became a nurse.
I remember when I first decided to go to nursing school. I was 31-years-old and struggling with the idea that I had spent nine years working in a career that I didn’t like.
In my former career life, I was a medical device salesperson. I had spent nearly a decade selling medical equipment to hospital operating rooms, traveling up and down the west coast, schmoozing with doctors and hospital purchasing managers so they would buy my stuff.
But even though my heart wasn’t passionate about my professional at the time, I was excited about working hard and performing well. So, each year, I met my professional goals and advanced in the profession. Which, in turn, also made it harder for me to leave.
But then one day, it hit me. I wanted to be an actual medical professional. I remember thinking how bored I was sitting on the sidelines as a device rep, watching procedures, and thinking, “this is SO lame, please shoot me!”
There are so many things I wish I knew before I became a nurse.
So (a few mental breakdowns later) I finally did it.
I signed up for the seven prerequisite science classes that I needed to take before I was even able to apply to nursing school (as a prior journalism major, I hadn’t taken very many science classes at that point).
I took my classes in the evenings after work. And I started studying to take the TEAS. It all took me about a year to complete, and in 2010 I started my journey to become a nurse.
The road has been arduous at times, but I am so glad I went to nursing school when I did. Yet it would have been nice to have a little more insight into what I was getting myself into. Here are eight things I wish I knew before becoming a nurse.
Eight things I wish I knew before becoming a nurse:
#1. Nursing school is crazy hard (and expensive)
Not only will you have daily classes, labs, weekly exams, and intense competition from classmates, but you will also be working hospital shifts as a student nurse. Many nursing programs also advise against outside work during the program because they warm that you won’t be able to keep up with the work. And in California (like many other states), hospitals will no longer hire nurses who don’t have a BSN. As a result, many nurses are graduating from nursing school with 50-100K or more in student loan debt.
#2. You will probably have to work night shifts, at least in the beginning
Nurses are needed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since many nurses don’t want all night until 7:30 am, seniority is often the deciding factor when it comes to assigning nurses to the day shifts. Some hospital units even have a rule that new nurses must work night shifts for at least the first few years of being there. You will want to invest in a great set of blackout shades, at least one pair of blue blocker sunglasses, and a box of earplugs (so the guy mowing his lawn at 11 am doesn’t wake you up).
#3. Working three days a week as a nurse isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I remember thinking how awesome it would be only to have to work three days a week. I mean, come on, it’s only three days! But that also means that the days you do work are incredibly long. Nursing shifts at the hospital are usually 12 hours long. But they are more like 14-16 hours once you factor in oncoming nurse reports, overtime due to short-staffing, and your commute to and from work.
#4. You will be afraid that you might kill someone.
This one is a real fear because, for example, if a nurse makes a medication error or forgets to check vitals or a patient’s neuro status per order, then you accidentally could kill someone. But as you grow more tenured in your career, you develop a sixth sense for things that might go wrong, and you figure out how to triple check your work in the most time-crunched circumstances. And you learn how to assess your patients quickly enough that if there are any vital sign or neuro status changes, that you can get the help you need before things go downhill.
#5. You will learn to balance more information then you have ever had to before
There is no such thing as multitasking because our brains can’t focus on more than one thing at the same time. But nurses developed the uncanny ability to juggle multiple ongoing tasks for numerous patients for up to 12 hours a day – such as medical orders, patient requests, vital signs, medications, allergies to medicines, lab values, care plans, etc. We forget to eat and pee all day, but we remember the essential medical information we need to know for our patients. Being a nurse stretches your brain further than you ever thought it could go.
#6. Nurse abuse happens
Nurse against nurses is very common. Nurses tolerate levels of abuse that would NEVER be acceptable in any other professional setting. I have been cussed at a few times, in just about every colorful way you could imagine, for just doing my job.
You may not be able to escape some of the wear and tear from being a nurse at the bedside. However, you can pick up healthy habits outside of the hospital like yoga, running, or weightlifting to help recuperate on your days off.
#8. You will find that there are multiple types of job opportunities away from the bedside
One thing that I Iove about being a nurse is that there are so many job opportunities away from the bedside. So even if you decide that beside nursing isn’t for you anymore, there are other nurse occupations to look into. Here are a few examples:
You did it! You finally graduated from nursing school.
Now it is time to put all of your clinical and critical thinking skills to work so you can start helping patients. But first, you need to land your first nursing job.
Unfortunately, though, even when you have all of the skills needed to be a great nurse, finding your first RN position doesn’t always come easily. This may come as a shock to many new nurse graduates, especially since the US Bureau Of Labor Statistics states job openings in healthcare are supposed to increase by 14% from 2018-2028.
The good news is that once you get your feet wet as a novice nurse, subsequent nurse jobs won’t be as challenging to find because you will already have the experience on your resume.
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to land your first nursing job successfully. Good luck!
Research the different types of nursing specialties
Pediatric nursing is one of the many specialties that nurses can go into.
Do you want to be involved in a fast-paced hospital setting? Or, would you prefer working with older individuals in a senior center? Perhaps you have your heart set on working in pediatrics or on a postpartum unit?
Alternatively, you may want to consider working in the ICU, emergency room, operating room, or on a med-surg floor unit. There are so many directions that your nursing career can take.
Some specialties require that you have additional certifications. For example, you must have your PALS, ACLS, and EKG training to work in most emergency rooms. It may be worth your time to invest in getting them before you interview for the position. Achieving certifications beforehand show that the interviewer that you are both qualified for and serious about getting the job.
Do an internship through your nursing program (and consider it an interview for a job!)
All of your clinical experiences in the hospital as a student nurse are potential job opportunities after you graduate.
One of the best places to get more information on how to gain experience is through your school or nursing program. Often, they’ll have internships with area hospitals or clinics, where you can get hands-on experience working around other nurses.
Some schools even have programs that allow their nursing students to work there during nursing school. It can give you a leg up if an opening for a new graduate becomes available.
Apply to the nurse graduate or nurse residency programs in your area
If you’re fresh out of nursing school, you might find it frustrating when every job post you see suggests that they require experience. After all, how are you supposed to gain experience if no one will hire you?
Many hospitals have nurse graduate programs or nurse residency programs that will hire a handful of new nurses once or twice a year. These programs are tailored to the novice nurse who needs training about and beyond what a more experienced nurse would need. These programs are anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months and are an excellent way for new nurses to get better experience and training then they would otherwise.
Brush up on your interviewing skills
Brush up on your interview skills so and impress the employer with what you have to say!
You need to shine during your interviews. Having a successful series of interviews is key to getting your first nursing job.
The University of Southern California suggests that employers need to use more psychological tools in their hiring process. They focus on things like revealing strengths, encouraging self-awareness, and cognitive ability tests. It is essential to have a clear understanding of what employers are looking for in the interview process so you can show your strengths and skills with more clarity.
Most importantly, practice as many interview questions as you possibly can before your interviews. There are many books online that are full of potential interview questions for nurses. Grab a nursing school friend and interview each other. Practice answering the questions out loud.
Let everyone know you are looking for a nursing job
Put yourself out there and let everyone know you are looking for a new nursing job
Nowadays, it’s not always enough to apply for a job online or in-person and expect a phone call in return the next day. Over 165,000 people graduate from nursing school each year, and they are all trying to land their first job that same way you are.
Sometimes, it’s not what you do but who you know. Reach out to family and friends for any job leads. Contact your nursing school or alumni association to see if they know of any positions to hospitals that are hiring. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there wherever and whenever you can to talk about potential leads for your career. You never know who might have the right connections that can help you to get your foot in the door.
Write a professional thank you note the day of your interview and then follow up with them a week later
After you crush your interview, don’t forget to follow up.
You must write a thank you note to the people you interviewed with after the interview. Thank them for taking the time to speak with you and write a sentence or two reminding them about why you are the right person for the job.
It may take them a while to get back to you. The hiring process at many institutions can take several weeks or even months. Many institutions interview hundreds or thousands of nurses every year, and the process can take a lot of time.
One thing you can do to be more proactive is to write a follow-up email about a week after your interview. Be professional, tell your interviewer that you are still really excited about the position, and ask when you might receive any follow up about the next steps in the hiring process.
Take pride in your career choice, and understand that the job hunt is not going to be easy. But if you can successfully make it through nursing school, then you can do just about anything! No matter where you end up working, you will find a unique opportunity to help people who need your help.
The right nursing job for you is out there. Stay motivated and keep working hard. Good luck!
Nothing canprepare any parent for the insanity of parenthood, because it’s impossible to understand its complexity until you’re there. However, after working as a nurse for so many years before having my children, I do think it gave me a tiny edge.
As an emergency room nurse, I work in a lot of unusual and often stressful situations involving the health and wellbeing of my patients. Admittedly, I’m exhausted on my days off, and sometimes I feel guilty for working such long hours.
But even though I often feel overwhelmed with my crazy life as a working mom, I am so grateful for how my experience as a registered nurse has helped prepare me for motherhood.
Toddlers can act just like miniature psych patients.
In the ER, I deal with every single type of mental and psychiatric disorder ever documented in the literature. We work with everything from homicidal schizophrenia to depression or anxiety and everything in between.
Some of the most exciting conversations I have with my two-year-old remind me of similar situations and conversations that I have had working as a healthcare professional.
For example, I have watched my toddler throw herself on the floor in a fit of tears because I didn’t peel the banana “the right way” (believe it or not, I have had similar conversations with patients). I guess you could say that I have had a lot of experience with having irrational discussions over the years.
As a result of my experience working in an ER with an acute psych ward, I have almost no reaction when my toddler melts down or breaks into a fit of rage out of nowhere. I have had too much experience dealing with angry, irrational patients. Having composure and speaking with respect is always the winning choice and warrants the best response in both scenarios. (When a nurse gets mad back at a patient, the patients yells louder. It’s the same with toddlers).
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I stopped worrying about things that aren’t worth my worry.
As a nurse and mom, I am generally more concerned about the things that might seriously injure or kill my children. Sure, a broken arm would suck, and no mom wants to see their child in pain. But a broken bone won’t kill you. Like, for example, falling out a window in a home that hasn’t been childproofed could.
I want my home safe from the significant injuries, but I also don’t want to helicopter-parent them from ever injuring themselves.
(But I also have an irrational fear of swimming pools now too as a direct result of my experience as an ER nurse, so I suppose being a nurse and mom has also made me a bit paranoid as well).
The way I see it is that kids grow and learn so much through play. If they are playing right, they are going to get hurt once in a while. Minor injuries are a part of childhood, and having them can help kids grow and develop resilience to other things that happen to them out in the world.
Being a nurse is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have healthy children.
I have had the privilege of working with pediatrics as an emergency medicine nurse. As a result, I have watched a lot of parents deal with their children’s chronic illnesses, life-threatening injuries, and so many other medical-related issues that can keep kids in the hospital for weeks, months, or even years.
It makes it hard for me to complain about how busy my life is as a working mother. Because in reality, when you have healthy children, you have everything that you need.
As a working mom and nurse, I see a lot of the bad things that can happen, and it makes me more grateful for the things I have. It is all a challenging balance. But it is also an honor and a privilege – and it has prepared me for motherhood in a way that nothing else really could.