nurses

Surviving Your Shift 101

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8-12 hours is a long time in patient care world. Even the strongest of nurses can have moments of overwhelming stress and frustration. Here’s my tips for surviving those shifts when you feel like doing everything but smiling!

  • Get organized! Tasks can pile up in a matter of minutes; so, organization is key to keep things from going haywire. Learn to best prioritize your care. Find out the best way you keep things prioritized and plow ahead during your shift. If it helps, ask a more experienced nurse about how to prioritize your to-do list.
  • Get help! No one person can do it all alone. Teamwork is a beautiful thing when put to good use! There will be times during your shift when good help will be the difference between you drowning in your workload or staying afloat. Never be ashamed to ask for help as even the best nurses need a hand sometimes. Asking for help can make you a better team player because you’ll be able to recognize when one or your teammates needs you to return the favor!
  • Get funny! Learn to laugh at yourself. A good sense of humor can help you keep things in perspective and know when to take deep breaths. Laugh at yourself and watch your stress level come down immediately!
  • Get real! Dealing with stress and frustration is no fun, especially during long patient care shifts. But sometimes, we need to get real about why the stress is presenting itself. Do we need to get better at prioritizing? Are we dealing with personal issues while at work? Are we afraid to ask for help during a busy shift? There are real ways we can minimize stress and frustration once we get to the sometimes underlying causes. If stress and frustration frequently occur during shifts, it could indicate some things about us that need room for improvement (i.e., prioritization, teamwork, etc.). Don’t be afraid to change certain behaviors if they impede good patient care.

Well, I hope you found these tips helpful. Stressful shifts are sure to happen, but thankfully, there are ways to manage them. The most important thing is that we take deep breaths and plunge in to being great nurses who manage to give great patient care despite the stress.

Back to School: Is it the right time?

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Are you trying to decide if it’s the right time to pursue an advanced degree? Here are 5 signs that it’s time for you to return to nursing school.

1. You need more money. If you would like to earn more than you currently do, than returning to school might be the right move for you. For example, according to salary.com, the median salary for the average nurse practitioner is $96,734 as of February 2015.  Of course you’ll have to take the cost of school into consideration, but earning a higher salary is a great incentive to get an advanced degree.

2. You want to learn more. If you find yourself wanting to become more knowledgeable in your current position, than earning an advanced degree will help you learn more and practice nursing at a higher skill level.

3. You’ve become bored in your current role. Boredom could be a sign that you’re ready for more challenges in your career. Earning an advanced degree will help you to challenge yourself professionally. With an advanced degree, you can learn new skills and practice a more exciting level of nursing.

4. You want more independence. If you want more autonomy, then an advanced degree is a great way to practice nursing with more freedom to make clinical decisions. An advanced degree is also a great way to have more say over your hours.

5.  You want to teach others. If you enjoy acting as a preceptor or training new nurses, then earning an advanced degree will help you to move into an educational role as a nurse. The field of nursing has a great need for nurse educators. According to AACN’s report on 2013-2014 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 78,089 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2013 due to an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints. Almost two thirds of the nursing schools responding to the survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into baccalaureate programs. Earning an advanced degree could help you to lessen the need for nurse educators.

Hopefully, these 5 reasons will help you decide on whether pursuing an advanced degree is for you. If any of these 5 signs resonate with you, then there’s no time like the present!