What Are the Steps to Becoming an ER Nurse?

What Are the Steps to Becoming an ER Nurse?

The key to finding work as an ER nurse is to be proactive before and during nursing school. Keep reading for pro tips on how to position yourself during school and after graduation.

Job Prospects

The availability of ER nursing jobs—especially for new graduates—depends on the needs and financial status of the institutions and geographic area in question. As reimbursement becomes more and more dependent on patient reviews, hospitals strive to update the accommodations and technological capabilities to satisfy their patient populations. The expense of these updates can limit the hospital’s ability to hire or even cause a hiring freeze.

Most managers would prefer to hire a nurse experienced in the ER because it is very time-consuming and expensive to train a new nurse. Furthermore, it delays the increase in staff numbers that the nurse is hired to relieve.  Many hospitals have created fellowship programs, which include a stepwise process of training for new grads to fully integrate them into the world of ER nursing. These are valuable programs for nurses who seek a comprehensive understanding of emergency nursing and an ongoing support system.  

They are, however, pricey to the hospital, and lengthy: nurse fellows receive full salary and benefits, and these programs last between six months and two years. For new nurses, these fellowship programs can be very competitive.

Building Bridges

As with any professional field, building bridges is a key to success. For ER nursing hopefuls, forming relationships within the ER can be a very strong indicator for acceptance into the fellowship program. This can be done by finding work at the ER as ancillary staff or volunteering.  

Working as a nursing assistant before and during nursing school is a great way to expose an individual to the life of a nurse, and either reinforce or redirect their goals. If a position working directly in the ER isn’t available, then employment in other parts of the hospital can still build those relationships and improve your chances of getting a job in the ER.

Although acute care is a part of every nursing school curriculum, emergency room nursing is not.  Nursing students interested in the emergency room can find out if their school has a relationship with a site that might allow them to shadow in the ER. They can also request through their nursing school administration to do requisite clinical work there.  

A capstone in the ER is a highly effective way to set oneself up for employment there. It introduces the nursing student to nurses and management, which gives the student an opportunity to demonstrate work ethic and nursing acumen.

Skill Building

If opportunities for work, volunteering, or clinical shadowing are not available, developing relevant skills for the ER is another way to make oneself more marketable for work there. Many emergency medical technicians (EMT) go on to become nurses and already have highly sought-after skills when they graduate.  Similarly, medical assistants, phlebotomists, radiology technicians, and scrub technologists all have skills and experience that are valuable to the ER.

Because nursing schools follow a general curriculum, there is no formal way to get into the ER as a nurse. The individual who hopes to be an ER nurse must take it upon themselves to be proactive in learning about the ER, building relevant relationships, and developing the skills necessary to be successful.  Being proactive during training is a skill-building opportunity in itself, as the best ER nurses are highly motivated, humble enough to remain teachable, and bold enough to advocate for a seemingly unlimited range of patient populations.

Nurses and Bullying: How to Protect Yourself and Your Co-workers

Nurses and Bullying: How to Protect Yourself and Your Co-workers

As a resolution for the new year, prepare to take a stand against bullying. Sadly, new nurses are often lost to the profession for the most disturbing of reasons: workplace bullying. Even the greenest nursing student soon hears the phrase, “nurses eat their young,” which was first used by nursing professor Judith Meissner in 1986. As Katherine Colduvell, RN, BSN, BA, CBC notes on Nurse.org, “[the saying] refers to the bullying and harassment of new nurses, and those four simple words can cause a great deal of anxiety for new graduates. In fact, researchers propose that at least 85% of nurses have been bullied at some point in their nursing career.”

Why Nursing is a Fertile Ground for Bullying

Even before entering the workplace, nurses face bullying as students. After they enter the profession, new nurses have to confront the stresses involved in dealing with patients, being slighted by doctors, exhausting shifts, and even the miseries of sore feet. However, instead of banding together and enjoying a network of support from more experienced nurses, they often find themselves belittled, whispered about, harshly blamed even when not at fault, and subjected to openly abusive language.

Why is bullying so common among nurses? One frequently cited reason is based in oppression theory. In this theory, nurses are oppressed by their lack of empowerment within the healthcare system. Subject to being treated as inferiors by doctors, management, and even some patients, nurses often feel powerless against their oppressors and are likelier to take out their sense of oppression on members of their own group. Bystanders, meanwhile, are afraid to speak out for fear that they, too, will become the objects of bullying. In addition, nurses may have already encountered bullying in school from faculty and classmates who view one another as competitors rather than as colleagues.

Riding the Bullying Cycle

In Fast Facts on Combating Nurse Bullying, Incivility, and Workplace Violence, author Maggie Ciocco, MS, RN, BC shows that oppression leads to a vicious cycle, and “Not only are student nurses victims of bullying, but they themselves become bullies as well. This impact must be addressed, because they are our future in the health care system, and the lives of patients depend on the student nurse becoming a just and moral citizen.”

According to Renee Thompson, RN, who frequently speaks and writes on nurse bullying, patient care suffers as a result of the bullying cycle: “If I withhold information from you and it causes you to make a mistake with a patient, or if I yell at you or criticize you in front of a patient, it’s potentially harmful to patient care,” she said. “When you’re being treated in a way that is making you feel badly, it stops the flow of information. When we’re not freely communicating with members of the healthcare team, it ultimately affects outcomes.”

Protecting Yourself from Bullying

The question is, how can a nurse avoid being drawn into a bullying situation in the first place?

An ounce of prevention: research healthcare organizations before you apply (after all, nurses are in demand; an organization is applying for your acceptance as much as you are for theirs). Do they have strong official policies governing bullying in the workplace? A caring, respectful culture? What do other nurses say about the environment there?

Bear yourself with confidence. Bullies tend to pick on easy targets. If you have faith in yourself and take pride in your work, you will make a much less attractive object to those seeking vulnerabilities.

Be more than just a bystander. Even if you are not the object of bullying, being around it can affect the way you feel about yourself and your work. Being a bystander—simply witnessing acts of bullying—can create feelings of guilt, depression, disillusionment, and even trauma. Calmly stand up for the dignity of other nurses who are being maltreated. You will like yourself a lot better than you would if you instead pretended to ignore the bullying or merely stood in silence. Have a sense of humor, be positive, and try not to allow your emotions to rule your response. Like a grounded self-confidence, these are traits that can prevent you from becoming a target and can contribute to your ability to defend others who are being harassed.

Counteracting a Bullying Situation

As Maggie Ciocco advises, if you do find yourself or a co-worker on the wrong end of a bully, don’t fly off the handle. Your best options are to direct collegiality and pro-social responses to the behavior you are encountering:

  • Ignore the behavior—If the behavior is completely out of character for the person, you could just ask him or her a friendly question unrelated to what he or she just said. Polite, respectful conversation disarms a co-worker who has given way to stress and temper as much as it does a bona fide bully.
  • Be calm, confident and in-control when contradicting a bully (you don’t want to get dragged into a fight). Without being overly defensive, simply express disagreement—such as saying “That’s not the way it happened”—and introduce your side of the story.

You can also use what Ciocco describes as “therapeutic communication for bullies”:

  • Speak to how you will address the situation or help him or her to deal with the situation. “I’m going to ____. Is that okay with you?” or “Would you rather that I ______?”
  • If what you are saying is ignored, repeat what you will do to assist the bully, indicating that the bully needs to choose how the assistance will take place.
  • If the bully does not respond appropriately, this conversation at least puts him/her on notice that you will not tolerate being bullied. End the conversation by saying something like “why don’t we talk about this at/after such and such, when we have more time”—and leave the area.

Utilize Calm and Self-Respect to Gain a Position of Control

As Kickbully.com suggests, “A good trick for enhancing your effectiveness is to choose the time and place for your confrontation with the bully. When you are attacked, calmly ask to meet with him later to discuss the matter. That will give you time to think through your response.” In the National Student Nurses’ Association’s study Nurse to Nurse Horizontal Violence, Recognizing it and preventing it, J.E. Hurley notes that “Five nurses in one study who spoke out against horizontal violence reported positive outcomes from ‘standing up for myself’”

In the end, it is likely that one of the most important qualities that should govern your actions is respect. Showing respect for yourself and your colleagues can help you to avoid bullies, to counteract bullying against yourself and others, and help prevent you from becoming a bully yourself.

How to Stay Mindful as a Nurse

How to Stay Mindful as a Nurse

At any given moment working nurses are pulled in numerous directions, as multitasking is the currency of the occupation. In many instances, nurses are caring for high acuity patients on units with inadequate nurse staffing. Nurses are trained in principles of documentation, the six to eight “Rights” of medication administration, and round regularly on their patients to maintain safety. 

Distraction can still wreak havoc on a shift if a nurse is not focused carefully on the immediate task at hand. A 2013 study revealed that “42% of healthcare-related life-threatening events and 28% of medication adverse reactions are preventable.” So how can nurses bring their full attention to what they are immediately concerned with?

Mindfulness Can Help

By embracing the practice of mindfulness. It’s a term that’s mentioned often in relation to relaxation and meditation these days, but it can be helpful during working hours as well as after hours. To be mindful, according to Merriam-Webster, one is “bearing in mind,” “aware,” or “inclined to be aware.” PsychologyToday.com states that mindfulness “is a state of active, open attention to the present.” Essentially, being mindful is being fully present and attentive to what is happening in the present.

Mindful over Multitasking

Nurses can incorporate mindfulness into their everyday practice by making the effort to bring their focus to the present whenever they are interacting with patients, which will improve work performance. Save any multitasking for times not spent working directly with patients. Before entering a patient’s room, pause briefly and take a breath. Bring the focus to the specific details of the patient’s case and keep it there as long as the interaction lasts. Actively listen when they speak.

Try this applied exercise in mindfulness:

  • Before entering a patient’s room, scan your body for tension – look for tension in common places such as the jaw or shoulders and relax those areas.
  • Be aware of feeling rushed or anxious, and acknowledge these feelings without trying to eliminate them.
  • Take a couple of mindful breaths, dissolving your tension and busyness on the exhale.
  • As you prepare to meet your patient, adjust your mindset to be fully present.
  • Knock on the door and make eye contact as you enter the room.
  • Introduce yourself and make a personal connection.
  • Chat with your patient for a few moments before moving on to your assessment or reaching for your computer.
  • Whenever you notice your focus has wandered, gently redirect back to your patient and the task at hand.

Reduce Stress

Incorporating mindfulness into everyday practice can reduce reactivity to stress. By being more mindfully deliberate, nurses can implement their daily plans with less distraction. Adopting the mindful approach is considered much healthier than multitasking. And paying full attention to patients can only improve assessment skills.

Adopting the practice of being mindful and returning the mind to the present whenever the focus strays can help keep nurses on task with less stress and more efficiency. A mindful nurse is far less likely to make mistakes. And that’s something from which everyone benefits.

Taking Food and Drink Away From Docs and Nurses Is Just Cruel

Taking Food and Drink Away From Docs and Nurses Is Just Cruel

By Edwin Leap, MD–

It’s hard to explain what we do. And so maybe, it’s hard for others to sympathize with our situations. I mean, physicians, mid-levels, and nurses in emergency departments are tied to computers in often cramped work-spaces, even as they are required to be at the bedside almost constantly for the latest emergency or (in other cases) the latest bit of pseudo-emergency drama.

If you haven’t worked there, or haven’t for a long time, it could be that this lack of understanding is what leads hospital administrations to do one of the stupidest things imaginable. What is that thing? Banning food and drink from our work-spaces.

Now, this isn’t the case in my current job. But it is the case in all too many facilities. I talk to people. I hear things. And it’s usually justified with some unholy combination of infection control, Joint Commission and public health clap-trap, coalesced and refined, then circulated as a cruel policy.

When it’s enacted, clinical staff have their water bottles taken away. Nobody is allowed to eat where they work. Dedicated, compassionate staff members grow tired and dehydrated and hungry. (Maybe it’s a good thing. They often don’t have time to urinate anyway, and water just makes that happen more often.)

Mind you, the water bottles are sometimes kept in a nearby room, or on a nearby shelf. It’s an act of kindness, I guess. And the food? Well, all you have to do is take your break and go to the cafeteria or to the break room, right?

Those who come up with these rules don’t understand that a scheduled break is a great idea … that never happens. It’s an emergency department. It isn’t (technically) a production line; however, we try to impose time restrictions and through-put metrics. It isn’t “raw material in/product out.”

It’s “sick, suffering, dying, crazy human being in” and if all goes well, “somewhat better (at least no worse) human being evaluated, stabilized, saved, calmed, admitted, transferred, and sometimes pronounced dead” out of the other end of the line.

Those Herculean efforts can take anywhere from, oh, 20 minutes to 12 hours. During which time, it’s pretty hard to leave the critical patient in the understaffed department, with the “five minute to doctor” guarantee and the limitless capacity for new tragedy rolling through the door.

That setting makes it remarkably hard for breaks or even meals to happen at all.

As such, it’s nothing short of cruel and unusual for anyone to say to the staff of a modern emergency department, “you can’t have food or drink” — especially when it’s typically uttered by people who have food and drink in their offices and at their desks. People who have lunch meetings with nice meals or who have time to walk to the cafeteria or drive off-campus. And who feel so very good about protecting the staff from their deadly water bottles.

The argument, of course, is that the clinical staff work in a “patient care area.” Even when they aren’t at the bedside but are, for instance, behind a glass wall at a desk. If this is the case, then one could argue that the entire hospital (including administrative suites) is a “patient care area.”

They are afraid we’ll catch something. That it’s unsafe for us to eat or drink where we work. Of course, this is while we positively roll around in MRSA and breathe in the fine particulate sputum of septic pneumonia patients. This is while staff clean up infectious diarrhea and wear the same scrubs all day.

This is after we intubate poor immigrants who may well have tuberculosis and start central lines on HIV patients. This is after we wrestle with meth-addicts who have hepatitis C. And this concern for our “safety” occurs in places where physical security, actual security against potential violent attack, is a geriatric joke which is often tabled until the next budget cycle.

And as for our patients? Our food and drink are no danger to them. They and their families fill the exam rooms with the aroma of fried chicken, fries, and burgers, eaten at the bedside (often by the patient with abdominal pain). Their infants drag pacifiers across floors that would make an infectious disease specialist wake from bacterial nightmares in a sweat-soaked panic. In short, our food or drink are no threat to them and no threat to us.

But the absence of food and drink? That’s a problem. Because the ED is an endless maelstrom of uncontrollable events and tragedies, of things beyond our control for which we are responsible. It is a place of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion where we rise to the challenge and manage (against the odds) to do so much remarkable good by virtue of our knowledge, our training, our courage, and our compassion.

In the midst of all that, a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, a glass of Diet Coke, a Styrofoam cup of iced tea is an oasis in the desert. And that sandwich, slice of pizza, cupcake, or salad is the fuel that helps make it happen.

More than that, food and drink are among the few pleasures we have time for each shift. They serve as bridges to the end of the day, small reminders of normalcy in a place where so little is normal.

Doubtless, one day someone will take away our music so that it doesn’t hurt our ears, or offend our patients. We’ll fight that battle when it comes.

But until then, depriving staff of food and drink proximate to where they work is of no health value and strikes me as just one more way of exerting control over the people actually engaged in the hard, grinding work of saving lives.

And worse, it’s just mean.

Originally published in MedPage Today

Well Women Visits at Any Age

Well Women Visits at Any Age

Well Women Visits at Any Age

Thinking creatively about access to women’s health care has always been part of the job for Tracie Kirkland, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Nursing at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

Kirkland, a former program coordinator for Johns Hopkins Pepsi Beverages Wellness Center in Mesquite, Texas set up a mobile breast screening unit at the Pepsi plant so women could take advantage of mammography screenings without having to take time off work.

“Seeking windows of opportunity to access health care may not always be in a traditional setting,” Kirkland said.

Accessing routine care may be harder for some women than others, depending on individual circumstances and institutional barriers. Scheduling and attending routine health care visits can help women care for all aspects of their physical and mental health as they age.

According to a 2018 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost half of millennials don’t have a primary care provider. Finding new ways to meet patients where they are is critical to maintaining women’s health, regardless of age.

“We plan for retirement, but how do we plan to take care of our bodies? Our health is our wealth,” Kirkland said.

What Keeps Women from Seeking Health Care?

Social determinants are environmental factors that affect how people work, live and age throughout the life span. These determinants can also be barriers to accessing care and keep women from finding a primary care provider.

Social determinants that affect women’s abilities to access health care:

Insurance coverage: Women without health care insurance will experience higher out-of-pocket payments to access and receive medical care. About 11 percent of women in the United States are uninsured, compared to 9 percent of all Americans.

Income: Women and girls in families with low income may be unable to afford copays or other fees required to see a provider. In 2017, 11 percent of women lived below the federal poverty line, compared to 8 percent of men.

Geography: People living in areas far from health providers may find it difficult to travel several hours for an appointment. In a 2017 report on social determinants, researchers found that geography contributed to differences in mortality and morbidity related to smoking, obesity, air pollution and several chronic illnesses.

Family obligations: Women who are parents of young children or caregivers for other family members may have to arrange for child care or other forms of assistance in order to make time for health visits. Data from a 2018 caregiving report from Pew Research Center indicates that women spend more time providing child care than men.

Work obligations: Taking leave from work can be a challenge for women who don’t have paid time off. The 2018 Current Population Survey from the Department of Labor shows that 57 percent of women and 71 percent of mothers are in the labor force.

Transportation: In rural communities, women without a car or public transit options may be unable to access a provider. In urban areas, residents might not find care within walking distance or be able to afford costly public transit fares.

Education: An individual’s education can affect their language proficiency, as well as their ability to understand complex medical information. Low educational attainment has been linked to higher rates of morbidity for cardiovascular disease and cervical cancer.

Health literacy: The ability to access, understand and apply health information to daily life can be a challenge for women who may be vulnerable to false information and advertising or may have limited experience with a health care provider. Only 12 percent of American adults have a proficient health literacy.

Where to Find Women’s Health Care Resources

Even after women attend a health care appointment, social determinants can keep them from being able to understand and apply health information to their lifestyles. That includes knowing how to reach a provider for a follow-up conversation or how to fill a prescription at the nearest pharmacy. Providers like nurse practitioners can make use of one-on-one time to guide patients through next steps and counsel them on how to make appointments for other visits or needs.

“Know where to seek out services that may be free of charge, like the public health department or Planned Parenthood, where you can utilize a sliding scale in order to receive services,” Kirkland said. Sliding scale services use a variable cost to determine a fee based on how much the patient can afford to pay.

Providers can also look for innovative ways to reach patients for follow-ups or spread awareness about health information.

“We need to really be savvy in the way that we’re utilizing social media to disseminate information versus our traditional face-to-face visits,” Kirkland said.

Social media can help providers reach captive audiences by promoting health information during specific health awareness months. Patients can also use social media to find locations in their community to access health care and information:

  • Places of employment
  • Sorority organizations
  • Places of worship
  • Faith-based employers
  • Local and state departments of health
  • Local school district
  • Publicly funded clinics
  • Mobile units
  • Planned Parenthood and women’s health clinics

When using any of these venues to access care, it’s important that patients find a way to follow up with a provider or keep in contact.

“Once we create a connection through rapport, we generally are able to keep bringing [patients] back on a regular basis,” Kirkland said. “Depending on what we find in the clinical examination.”

Recommended Health Screenings for Well-Woman Visits

Even when feeling healthy, women have a lot to gain from routine checkups, including screenings for future medical changes, family planning, vaccinations and healthy lifestyle maintenance.

“Do you wait until your car breaks down to have it serviced, or do you maintain it by changing your oil and your tires?” Kirkland said. “Do you wait until your body breaks down, or do you maintain it?”

A well-woman exam is an annual appointment for women throughout the life span. As women age, their health needs evolve, so the visit may include different types of exams or interviews between a patient and provider.

Similar to an annual physical for children, a well-woman visit includes assessments of physical and mental health but also includes conversations about reproductive and sexual health.

An initial visit, often done when women are seeing their provider for a physical for the first time, may just be a one-on-one to discuss what would actually take place in a well-woman visit, Kirkland explained.

Depending on age and health needs, a well-woman exam can look different for each patient.

What to Expect at a Well-Woman Visit

Teens (Ages 13-18)

       ASSESSMENTS
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Height
  • Weight
IMMUNIZATIONS
  • Hepatitis B
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (annually)
  • Chickenpox
  • Meningococcal (A, B, C, W, Y)
HEALTH SCREENINGS AND EXAMS
  • Physical
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
CONSULTATION
  • Drug and alcohol consumption
  • Vaping and tobacco use
  • Driving and seatbelt safety
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual identity and activity
  • Mental health
  • Body image
  • Exercise and nutrition
  • International travel
ASSESSMENTS
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Heart rate
  • Height
  • Weight
IMMUNIZATIONS
  • HPV
  • Influenza
  • Tetanus
HEALTH SCREENINGS AND EXAMS
  • Cervical cancer
  • Pelvic exam
  • Pap smear
  • STIs
  • Breast exam/mammogram
  • Vision
  • Pre-diabetes
CONSULTATION
  • Family planning and contraception
  • Pre- and post-natal care
  • Drug and alcohol consumption
  • Vaping and tobacco use
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual identity and activity
  • Mental health
  • Body image
  • Exercise and nutrition
  • International travel
ASSESSMENTS
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Heart rate
  • Weight
IMMUNIZATIONS
  • Influenza
  • Tetanus
HEALTH SCREENINGS AND EXAMS
  • Cervical cancer
  • Pelvic exam
  • Pap smear
  • Breast exam/mammogram
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Diabetes
  • Colorectal cancer

 

CONSULTATION
  • Drug and alcohol consumption
  • Vaping and tobacco use
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual identity and activity
  • Mental health
  • Body image
  • Exercise and nutrition
  • Dietary supplement intake
  • Cardiovascular health
  • International travel
  • Hearing/vision loss
  • Family relationships
  • Occupational hazards
ASSESSMENTS
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Heart rate
  • Weight
IMMUNIZATIONS
  • Influenza
  • Tetanus
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Zoster (shingles)
  • HPV
  • Hepatitis (A and B)
  • Meningococcal (A, B, C, W, Y)
  • Pneumococcal (conjugate and polysaccharide)
HEALTH SCREENINGS AND EXAMS
  • Cervical cancer
  • STIs
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Breast exam/mammogram
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Vision
CONSULTATION
  • Drug and alcohol consumption
  • Vaping and tobacco use
  • Menstruation/menopause
  • Mental health
  • Body image
  • Exercise and nutrition
  • Dietary supplement intake
  • Cardiovascular health
  • International travel
  • Hearing/vision loss
  • Family relationships
  • Stroke Prevention
  • Sun exposure
  • Incontinence

When Should Women Seek Reproductive and Sexual Health Care?

Women don’t have to be planning a family to need reproductive health screenings and care. They should start seeking care at the age of menarche — which is when they begin having menstrual cycles — or when they start having sexual partners. “It depends individually on their desire to be intimate, and where they are in terms of maturation,” Kirkland said.

Reproductive and sexual health care are not synonymous. People of any age, gender or sexual identity can engage in sexual activity without a desire to reproduce. Birth control pills may be used for a variety of reasons unrelated to family planning. Therefore, it’s important for patients and providers to candidly discuss sexual health and reproductive plans.

Reproductive and Sexual Health Screenings:

STI and HIV testing: This screening can be a physical exam or a consultation from a provider to discuss sexual activity and test for sexually transmitted infections. The best time to get tested is before being active with a new sexual partner, and it can be done as often as a patient desires.

Breast exam: This is a physical exam that is done routinely on patients even if they have no other signs of developing breast cancer. Any abnormalities can be further tested with a mammogram, which is an X-ray screening for tumors that can’t be felt with a breast exam.

Pelvic exam: This is a physical examination of reproductive organs and is used to screen for ovarian cancer or other abnormalities that can develop as women age. The provider will inform the patient if they need to return for additional testing.

Menstrual health: A provider will ask about the regularity of a patient’s menstrual cycle, contraceptive use and any abnormalities with pain, bleeding or mood.

Pap smear: This is a physical exam during which a provider collects cells from the cervix to test for cervical cancer. This exam can also help find cells caused by HPV and is recommended every few years for women between the ages of 21 and 65.

Literacy about sexual health can be pivotal to women’s ability to control and plan for their future. Being able to afford contraception is one thing, but maintaining a treatment plan can be an issue — particularly when there is a lack of understanding about different types of contraception, their efficacy and how to use them. The more that providers can empower patients about seeking and understanding health information, the more meaningfully women can be engaged in their decision-making and health care.

Additional Resources for Women’s Health Care

 

 

 

Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this article is for informational purposes only. Individuals should consult their health care professionals before following any of the information provided.

 

Posted courtesy of [email protected], the online FNP program from the University of Southern California

Minnesota Grants Medical Cannabis Access for Chronic Pain

Minnesota Grants Medical Cannabis Access for Chronic Pain

The state of Minnesota is making headlines this December, not for its freezing temperatures or a new record snowfall, but for increasing medical cannabis access. Clinical cannabis got its start in the state when former governor Mark Dayton signed the first Minnesota medical cannabis bill into law in 2014. Many criticized the bill for being far too restrictive as it listed only 9 qualifying conditions and stipulates a lengthy patient registration process. However, as of December 3rd, 2019, the state added macular degeneration and the much more generally outlined chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions. Minnesota can now expect to see more registered medical cannabis patients thanks to the expanded list of qualifying conditions.

Making Medical Marijuana More Accessible

Though many American states have taken steps to legalize clinical cannabis, a number of potential patients still do not have access. In most cases, state regulations prevent people with certain conditions from using medical cannabis. If the state regulatory body does not list a medical condition as qualifying, then people suffering from that condition may not use cannabis for medicinal reasons, even if a medical professional recommends it as a potential treatment. The stringent nature of qualifying condition lists make Minnesota’s addition of chronic pain as a qualifying condition a massive win for medical cannabis advocates.

Chronic pain is a very generally defined medical condition. Any number of ailments can cause it and is usually up to the patient to define. For these reasons, acquiring a recommendation for medical cannabis can be far easier than it is for other conditions. There is little doubt that Minnesota’s clinical cannabis patient registry will expand greatly in the coming months thanks to the addition of chronic pain and macular degeneration. According to the Boston Globe, “As of October, nearly 18,000 patients were certified for the state’s medical marijuana program.” That number is bound to increase as more conditions make the list.

The Future of Medical Cannabis in Minnesota

Many consider Minnesota as having one of the more severely restrictive medical cannabis programs. Though Minnesota’s list of qualifying conditions is still small, it is encouraging that the state continues to implement updates. Lawmakers must work with patients and advocates to continue to pursue the creation of a fair and easily accessible medical cannabis program. If the state continues to update its list of qualifying conditions, it can at least begin to change the narrative.

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