In celebration of Certified Nurses Day, we asked certified nurses why they chose to earn extra skills in particular areas of nursing and what their favorite parts are of being a nurse. We heard from quite a number. Thanks to all for your responses!
“I’m certified in adult critical care. I always saw certified nurses as those who’ve gone above and beyond in their profession to distinguish themselves among other cohorts as those who are driven, have the utmost competence in their skillset, and are knowledge seekers, and that is what I wanted to be.
I love the diversity in the patient population. I work with anyone from the age of 17 and beyond. I describe the value of certification to my coworkers as a distinguished honor; it’s something one works very hard to achieve, and while the journey may not be easy, it’s worth it. I tell my patients who ask what a CCRN is that it’s certification which shows individuals I am more than competent and capable to provide the best evidence-based care possible.”
—CPT Laura Wyatt RN, BSN, CCRN, a clinical staff nurse in the United States Army currently working at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii
“I’m certified in Critical Care, Progressive Care, Nursing Education, Healthcare Simulation. I enjoy working in critical care because I find it rewarding to see patients make rapid improvements in response to my interventions. I appreciate the autonomy that this area provides, and I enjoy the low nurse-patient ratio because it provides me with opportunities to provide holistic nursing care and make deep personal connections with each of my patients and families.”
—Jodi Berndt PhD, RN, CCRN, PCCN, CNE, CHSE, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University and St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minnesota
“My first certification was the Pediatric CCRN, and I took the exam almost as soon as I had enough hours to qualify because I was so excited at the opportunity to become certified. Once I entered the role of unit-based educator in the Pediatric ICU and had enough hours in nursing professional development, I also became certified in Nursing Professional Development. After completing my MSN, I became certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Now that I primarily do research, writing, and teaching, my CCRN has been modified to a CCRN-K, a relatively new credential for nursing professionals who influence the care delivered to acutely/critically ill patients. In this role, I no longer have enough direct patient care hours to qualify for the original CCRN, and I was beyond ecstatic when I learned that AACN offered an option for nurse managers, educators, and those researching or teaching with the same patient population.”
—Alvin D. Jeffery, PhD, RN-BC, CCRN-K, FNP-BC, Post-Doctoral Medical Informatics Fellow (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Nashville, TN) & Education Consultant (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH)
“I wanted to get a certification in nephrology to show my dedication to it. My mom was a dialysis nurse, so I’ve been around it since I was born. I picked nephrology because of the opportunity to take care of patients and their families in a different way than any other outpatient or inpatient fields.
You have to have hard conversations in nephrology, at times, and I love being part of that process as a patient advocate. I also love helping patients during difficult times and making them smile.”
—Kristin Brickel, RN, MSN, MHA, CNN, Director of Clinical Services at DaVita Kidney Care
“I currently have two certifications in infusion therapy: Certified Registered Nurse Infusion (CRNI) and Vascular Access Board Certification (VA-BC). I have spent most of my nursing career specializing in infusion therapy and the sub-specialty of vascular access. I initially was interested in certification purely for the educational opportunity, studying for my certification taught me a broad base of clinical knowledge.
I find infusion therapy to be extremely rewarding. It offers a near perfect mix of technical procedural excellence, while retaining the individual patient care that I value. Outpatient infusion therapy allows you to create a unique personal 1:1 connection with patients. Some of my best memories as an infusion nurse are the conversations I’ve had with these inspiring patients. In my role today, I get to apply my experience connecting with patients to my passion for improving care through research, education, and product design innovation that can help enable continued progress in care quality.”
—Kristopher Hunter BSN, RN, CRNI, VA-BC, Senior Technical Service Engineer, 3M Critical & Chronic Care Solutions Division
“I am a certified oncology nurse. I got certified because I wanted to be able to offer my patients the best care possible by staying on top of the rapidly changing knowledge base in cancer care and research. I find that being certified gives you a wider base of resources and opportunities to network with other oncology professionals.”
—Alene Nitzky, PhD, RN, OCN, CEO & Founder, Cancer Harbors and Author, Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship Care
“I am now certified in hospice and palliative nursing. I knew the certification would enhance my professional skills. Earning the CPHN also gave me time to learn more about how hospice and palliative care has come to be seen globally, which is especially important because the patient population at MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care is as diverse as you’d imagine. I also appreciated the opportunity to better learn the ins and outs of the operations, insurance, and reimbursement processes.
I love my patients and my work. Contrary to what people think, being a hospice nurse isn’t depressing. Yes, it’s challenging and it’s hard to look into the face of a family member whose loved one is dying. However, it’s so rewarding to provide holistic care, help educate patients and families about what happens at the end of life, as well as to support people during a time when they really need it.”
—Neema Bandyopadhyay, RN, CHPN, RN Case Manager, MJHS Hospice and Palliative Care in New York City
“When I began my nursing career, I worked in OR and met the Chief of Surgical Oncology at Duke University. I transitioned to work on his surgical oncology team and felt that the additional Oncology Nurse Certification added credibility to my career. It also enabled me to move through administration into progressively more responsible positions, including Vice President.
As an OCN, I feel that effective national education in the U.S. is required to resolve the most difficult medical cases. Adult Oncology is a rewarding nursing genre. Patients need support in all aspects—mind, body, and spirit—in order to maximize benefit from their treatment regimens. Families also need support during this time which includes both medical education and emotional support.”
—Gail Trauco, RN, BSN-OCN, CEO, The PharmaKon LLC and CEO, Front Porch Therapy
Besides making sure that patients have everything they need to heal, nurses also have to ensure that their patients are safe. Sharon Roth Maguire, MS, RN, GNP-BC, Chief Clinical Quality Officer at BrightStar Care, has an extensive health care background with more than 15 years of experience in the health care field. Maguire works closely with nurses—in addition to having worked as one herself—and she knows how important patient safety is.
Maguire agreed to answer our questions on patient safety in honor of Patient Safety Awareness Week. What follows is an edited version of our interview.
What are some of the most important tips that nurses need to know regarding patient safety?
Nurses are uniquely poised to think of patient safety in a very broad way—emotionally, physically, socially, and environmentally—while simultaneously narrowing it down to the specific care situation. We need to think of our patients comprehensively, especially within in the home. We at BrightStar Care follow the national patient safety goals of the Joint Commission as accredited home care agencies.
Home safety evaluations are essential. What within their home environment could put the client at risk for falling? We need to evaluate adequate lighting, plumbing, furniture that is hazardous as a way of support, throw rugs, etc. Clients who are on oxygen in the home are at a significant risk for potential fire outbreaks. It’s important that the nurse educate clients and their family members on oxygen safety in the home.
Medication safety is a Joint Commission national patient safety goal. BrightStar Care nurses collect information about what medications clients are taking (prescribed and over-the-counter as well as home remedies) and are aware of potential hazards of the actual medication as well as how it interacts with other medications, diet, alcohol, etc. We advise clients and their family care partners about the risks we’ve identified. These interventions are critical to safe medication practices in the home setting.
What should nurses do if they make a mistake that results in possible patient harm/injury?
Nurses are skilled at following policies, process, and procedures, but despite their best efforts, a mistake can be made occasionally. Nurses are taught and held to a standard of high integrity including the importance of reporting any sort of mistake. The worst thing to do would be to hide a mistake. The quicker the mistake is reported and acted on, the quicker the potential negative outcome can be reduced.
What are the most common tips that new nurses should know so that they can keep their patients safe? What about keeping themselves safe?
When in doubt, ask questions. Even though nurses may have gone to school for many years, they might have never had the chance to practice a particular skill. Never hesitate to ask for help. If you’re unsure, don’t think you know something—instead just ask a more experienced nurse. Have a more experienced nurse mentor be your partner when you’re doing something for the first time.
Some patients tend to get scared in the hospital, rehab center, or any place they would be treated by nurses. What can nurses do to alleviate their fears?
Most patients really just want someone that they can trust and feel safe and confide in. Nurses should be reassuring and empathizing while explaining things simply to patients. It’s also important to listen to our patients and understand their concerns. Be kind and be patient.
Don’t let the schedule dictate your response. At the end of the day, your patient is your primary focus and although tasks need to be done, that shouldn’t be at the expense of your patient. Patient safety, comfort, and peace of mind are top priorities.
Is there any other important information regarding patient safety awareness that nurses should know?
Safety is so extremely important. Nurses should slow down, take time to understand what is required to be safe—whether that’s when performing a procedure, giving a medication, or reading physician orders. Safety is paramount in the world of a nurse especially in the nurse-patient relationship.
As nurses, and even nursing students, we all know how difficult it can be to balance eating at work. It should be easy to eat, right? You may be a nurse if you relate to any of the following:
- What’s eating? There is no time to eat. None. Zilch. Zippo.
- After you cath someone, insert a rectal tube, and empty a fresh wound vac you simply have no desire (or need at this point) to eat.
- The cafeteria has served the same taco salad for the last four days that you’ve worked. Does anyone else notice that?
- You wear Invisalign (like me) and have no desire to put your MRSA covered hands in your mouth to remove your retainer or brush your teeth in a hospital bathroom after you eat.
- The doctors have been next door rounding for an hour and your patient is next (cue the jeopardy jingle).
- Your favorite hall buddy has been on her 30 minute break for an hour and 10 now. (The jeopardy jingle continues…)
- Who even has time to pack a lunch when you get home at 8:30 and have to be back the next day?
- You get full-blown judged by the “normal suit and tie” people when they see you walk in with a cooler containing a breakfast, a lunch, a snack, an afternoon soda, an afternoon sweet, and a partridge in a pear tree.
- By the time you finally do get to eat at 3 pm you’re as good as drunk and you go for whatever is in sight in the break room: cake, cookies, chips—and topped off with a grilled cheese and tots from the café.
- Your “normal suit and tie” friends post IG stories eating an Açaí bowl or a fresh Chipotle bowl or a kale salad with their coworkers (who are also wearing the cutest Banana Republic outfits) while you eat applesauce and PB&J in the break room while everyone around you complains about poop.
So, my friends, it’s time to fix this problem. Here’s another list for you, because all blogs are more fun to read in numerical list form, right?
1. Avoid eating in the break room.
Tag team with a buddy and go eat outside. Seriously, it’s amazing what 30 minutes in the fresh air does for your mind. Northern friends: I have no clue what to tell you right now.
2. Meal prep.
Nothing crazy, but keep reading to learn some legit good and easy meals you can make at home and have ready for three in a row.
3. Order takeout once a month.
Not everyone can get on board with the meal prep, so treat yourself to a real meal once in a while if you are eating sandwiches and café food all the time (and even if you are meal prepping!).
4. Plan a potluck.
Best way to celebrate a holiday as a nurse? Potluck, potluck, potluck. All the luck transfers to your patients so it’s a win-win.
5. Plan your breaks ahead of time if you can with your hall mates.
If you have a mate that doesn’t do too great (ah, poet and I didn’t even know it) with coming back on time, suggest that you go first after you finish this and then you’ll be back by xx:xx. Letting your buddy know that you respect her break might awaken her to reciprocating.
Pro tip: Nursing students everywhere, please don’t be afraid to tell your preceptor you need a break. I almost passed out once waiting for my preceptor to finally take a break. You are a student and you are totally allowed to pull that card and take a full 30-minute break. Believe me, you’ll have your days of missing your break and starving.
And finally, some of my favorite “easy to eat” things to meal prep and pack for lunch include:
- Egg muffins! One of my friends taught me this recipe. Simply mix up some eggs, ham, cheese, tomatoes (or whatever you like), and pour it into a greased muffin pan for a yummy take-with-you breakfast. If I’m bringing breakfast to eat at work, I usually make breakfast burritos and freeze them or simply make a big batch of scrambled eggs, mixed veggies, and sausage to eat! It’s a small enough meal that can be eaten quickly with roughly the same nutrition in some of these super dense granola bars that aren’t always the healthiest.
- Pasta and veggies. Pasta sauce and mix veggies (spinach, kale, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) go great together and make a super easy lunch. For a healthy mix up, try pairing it with black bean pasta!
- Sweet potatoes. Every week I make two sweet potatoes, a big bowl of stir fried veggies, and bake two chicken breasts. Mix it up! Shred the chicken and put it over a sweet potato with barbecue sauce and goat cheese…weird, but delicious! Or chop up your chicken breast and make a southwest bowl with mashed sweet potatoes, corn, black beans, salsa, and lettuce. It’s all about finding foods that you can use for multiple things.
- A salad bar in your fridge is a great way to mix it up as well. Put items like strawberries, blueberries, slivered almonds, pepitas, dried cranberries, hard-boiled eggs, carrot slices, etc. into tupperware and have your lettuce washed and dried in a big container in the fridge. You can pull out the toppings you want and instantly make a delicious salad and save $7. Pro tip: the cafeteria usually has little 2 oz containers you can use to pre-package your salad dressing!
Hope you enjoy these tips! Please share your favorite recipes with us in the comments.
Keeping nurses committed and satisfied with their jobs can be challenging in the face of a nurse shortage. It’s up to the nurse leader to provide a work environment that fosters passion and positivity for registered nurses. As crucial as it is for nurse leaders to provide a positive work place, nurse engagement also relies heavily on appropriate staffing.
As the CEO of Avant Healthcare Professionals, I asked other nurse leaders how they would approach a nurse engagement program in 2018. Combining the expertise of a nurse staffing specialist and nurse leader, below are the predictions that will drive nurse engagement this year.
A Good Work/Life Balance
- Offer your nurse staff flexible shift options on holidays and days where you are short-staffed. Offering 4 – 6-hour shifts will increase the likelihood of a nurse coming in on their day off to help the facility.
- Allow your nurses to self-schedule their shifts. If they create their own schedule they feel involved and in control of their work/life.
- Establish a weekend-only program where nurses volunteer to work Saturday and Sunday shifts. On week days, those that volunteered can take time off. This way the same nurses won’t be stuck working every weekend.
- Create or offer a wellness program in your hospital that addresses self-care such as yoga/exercise classes, rest, and healthy eating. If you’re interested in this approach, be sure to tie it in to the facility’s culture.
A Recognition and Reward Program
- Create a compensation program that awards nurses for going above and beyond. Some hospitals have their own monetary system where workers give nurses “bucks” to cash out their rewards with free car washes or free Starbucks.
- Establish a patient/coworker recognition program to incentivize better patient care. When a patient commends your nurse, reward them. Including the DAISY awards in your recognition program is a great start.
- Encourage nurses to share exemplary stories of their peers in your hospital newsletters or internal communications.
A Shared Governance Policy
- The chief nurse officer, managers, and directors should drive and encourage participation among nurse staff. A robust shared governance program will only work if it has the backing of the facility leaders.
- Empower your employees to make change through shared governance – let them use this as an opportunity to participate in their practice by establishing a leadership council that reports up to unit chairs.
- Define unit chairs to increase responsibility for RN roles. If nurses are given liberty to influence change in your facility, they will be more committed to their job.
Nurse engagement is essential in providing quality patient care. Including a nurse engagement program in your facility in 2018 is highly encouraged. If your facility is using other engagement methods not listed in this article, please share with us in the comments.
It seems like self-care tips and tricks are everywhere these days—blogs, social media, online articles, and more. If you’re pressed for time, it can be challenging to incorporate self-care activities into your daily routine. After all, who needs one more thing to add to an overflowing plate?
But as a nurse, it’s important to nurture yourself, so you can have the emotional and physical capacity to continue to care for others. We’ve gathered up a list of self-care activities that you can easily incorporate into a busy workday, and they give you a minute to breathe, think, or be alone. Below are five self-care activities to try today.
1. Sneak exercise into your day.
No time to exercise? No problem! Studies show that three 10-minute workouts can be as effective at helping you achieve your fitness goals as long bouts of exercise. To sneak exercise into your day, park further away from the entrance to the building so that you can enjoy a brisk walk to and from work. During the day, take the stairs whenever possible to burn calories, build muscle, and maintain cardiovascular health. Finally, when you’re home, use an opportunity like cooking dinner or washing dishes to make room for some calf raises, squats, or lunges. Before you know it, exercise will be ingrained in your daily life.
2. Step outside.
Whether you have two minutes or five minutes, stepping outside during the day may be just the self-care activity you need to feel revived. Listen to the sounds around you and feel the sunshine on your face. Even a brief time with nature can help you clear your head and feel calmer.
3. When you receive a compliment, embrace it.
When a colleague offers you a compliment, is your first reaction to reject it? The next time someone pays you a compliment, embrace it. Knowing that your coworkers notice your efforts can go a long way toward boosting your confidence and job satisfaction.
4. Say some positive affirmations to yourself.
Feeling stressed or overwhelmed during the day? Take a moment to say some positive affirmation to yourself. Ronald Alexander, PhD, suggested five ways positive affirmations could work for you in a Psychology Today article.
First, Alexander recommended developing an awareness of the negative thoughts and qualities you believe to be true about yourself. Next, he advised writing down a powerful, positive affirmation about yourself. For example, instead of saying, “I’m a hard worker,” you might choose to say, “I have a compassionate heart towards others, and I’m an excellent listener.” Then, begin to speak this affirmation out loud during the day. In as little as five minutes three times a day, you’ll start to reprogram your mind and bolster a healthy mindset.
5. Breathe deeply.
A quiet moment to yourself to breathe deeply can almost instantaneously reinvigorate you. While there are many styles of breathwork you can implement, one, simple approach is to inhale through your nose to the mental count of five. Then, exhale through your mouth as you silently count to five. Repeat the cycle of breaths eight to 10 times. Notice how your body feels, and try to release any excess tension that might be present in your muscles. With practice, you’ll reduce unwanted muscle tension and feel more relaxed.
The goal for any self-care activity is to sustain your mind, body, and spirit. It’s an opportunity to connect with yourself and feel rejuvenated. Plus, you don’t need to take hours out of your hectic day to see results—short, but consistent self-care activities will improve your overall sense of well-being, lower stress, and help you beat compassion fatigue.