Q&A with VA Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Lisa Wratchford

Q&A with VA Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Lisa Wratchford

Wondering what it’s like to be a VA employee? To give you some insight, we recently interviewed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Lisa Wratchford of the Abilene Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Texas. As a Navy Veteran, she has a unique perspective on serving patients who’ve served America, and she’ll help you decide if a career with VA is right for you.

Why should job-seekers consider joining VA?

Our organization is moving toward less restrictive policies, which will give us full practice authority and more independence. There are also outstanding benefits, including generous paid time off, flexible scheduling and other perks that help us keep a healthy work-life balance. Above all, we get to give back to Veterans by providing treatment that improves their lives.

How does VA’s integrated model of care impact your typical day?

It makes things more efficient and productive. When I need to consult with someone, all I have to do is walk down the hall. I truly appreciate that I can work closely with other disciplines to meet the various needs of my patients.

What are some challenges that come with your position?

Taking the mystery and stigma out of mental health conditions. There’s a growing opportunity to educate others on the topic, so that’s something I’m always doing. My hope is to increase understanding of and empathy for people dealing with these issues. It’s a crucial part of being a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at VA.

If you’re interested in healing Veterans with our extraordinary team, explore our current opportunities and pursue one today.

This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.

New Florida Bill Aimed to Help State Nursing Shortage

New Florida Bill Aimed to Help State Nursing Shortage

Technical schools have been lobbying Florida state legislators so more students can become registered nurses. As a result, Florida House Bill 381 is under review with the Florida House of Representative’s Higher Education and Career Readiness Subcommittee. Language from the bill states that it would “…[authorize] school district career centers to conduct certain associate degree nursing programs.”

Manatee Technical College is leading the charge on this movement with support from Florida Association for Career and Technical Education. Currently, MTC offers a licensed practical nursing program, but technical schools cannot offer RN programs. If passed, the new legislation will allow Florida technical schools and centers to provide transition programs, where students who complete the licensed program can continue their education. This path could create more opportunities for students to take the state exam and become registered nurses.

“We’re not trying to compete with the state college,” MTC spokeswoman Maura Howl shared with YourObserver.com. “We’re trying to offer our graduates an opportunity they currently don’t have. It’s all about career pathways — to give students stepping stones to progress.”

Florida anticipates that there will be nearly 114,000 openings for registered nurses from 2017 through 2023. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity lists nearly 3900 of those openings within Manatee and Sarasota counties alone.

Keeping Up Nurse Recruitment Efforts

With Florida feeling the nursing shortage, healthcare employers, like Tidewell Hospice, are grateful for more opportunities for nursing students to become registered nurses. Presently, Tidewell has 17 open positions for registered nurses and seven open positions for licensed practical nurses. Cindy Coffman, Vice President of Human Resources at Tidewell, said some roles were posted over four months and have not received any applications.

“None of us can fill the job openings,” Coffman told YourObserver.com. “The applicant volume isn’t there. We’re really feeling it at this point.”

Tidewell has taken several steps to fill its nursing roles, including social media campaigns, hiring a nurse recruiter, and increasing bonuses. Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, another Manatee-Sarasota healthcare provider, has also been using new strategies to keep their nursing positions filled. LRMC Chief Nursing Officer Judy Young explained how the organization offers clinical rotations to local nursing schools, as well as a 12-week residency program.

“We’ve taken these creative steps to really embrace existing and potential new RNs coming into our program,” Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s Director of Marketing Lisa Kirkland told YourObserver.com. “We’re trying to stay one step ahead of the nursing shortage issue.”

As of January 30, the bill is under review with several education subcommittees. If approved, it will go into effect on July 1.

Patients with Pups: Nursing with Service Dogs

Patients with Pups: Nursing with Service Dogs

Are service dogs allowed in medical facilities, including doctor’s offices and hospitals, in the United States? If so, what is the responsibility of nurses to care for individuals accompanied by a service dog?

We ask these questions because there are currently more than 500,000 service dogs in the U.S., and the service dog community is growing in popularity. Types of service dogs include: guide dogs for the blind, emotional support, mobility assistance, medical alert, autism support, and more.

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as one that is “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.”

This includes psychiatric service dogs who support those suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as individuals active in the military or veterans. For those suffering from PTSD, it can be difficult for them because you can’t see the condition, but fortunately the service dog is trained to do so.

When A Patient Has a Service Dog

As a nurse, what are your responsibilities when a patient enters your medical facility attended by a service dog?

A little known fact is service dogs are not required to wear any specific labeling or attire to indicate visually that the animal is a service dog. Also, the ADA only classifies dogs as an approved service animal.

According to the ADA, you can ask the following two questions to a patient with a service dog:

  1. Is your animal required because of a disability?
  2. If so, what tasks is your service dog trained to do for you (the owner)?

You cannot ask the individual about her disability, to see any paperwork about the dog’s specific training, to have the dog demonstrate its tasks, or order the owner to make the animal wear a “service dog” vest.

Working with Patients and Pups

So as a nurse, what can you do to care for your patient? It’s twofold. First, your primary responsibility is to “protect the rights of the disabled patient,” and second, you want to make sure the owner keeps control of the animal.

Next, you want to follow the safety guidelines for your facility, which may include the restriction of animals in locations where the animal might compromise the environment, including sterile areas such as operating rooms or labs.

If you require want further instructions, you can always check with your facility manager or go to the ADA website to find out more.

With more and more service dogs assisting those with disabilities across the U.S., the likelihood of seeing an increase in service animals in medical facilities should be anticipated as is the proper treatment of these types of patients.

This story is brought to you by Michael O’Keefe at Consumers Advocate.

Nurses of the Week: West Carolina University Nursing Students Provide Services at Free Rural Health Care Clinic in Eastern Tennessee

Nurses of the Week: West Carolina University Nursing Students Provide Services at Free Rural Health Care Clinic in Eastern Tennessee

Our Nurses of the Week are the nursing students from West Carolina University’s School of Nursing who volunteered to provide services at a free rural health care clinic in eastern Tennessee. More than 10 students provided patients with medical, dental, and vision care. Over a thousand people attended the free clinic over a period of three days during which the clinic provided an estimated $883,456 in free medical care.

Elizabeth Sexton, WCU assistant professor of nursing and an excursion leader, tells WCU.edu, “These students from community mental health nursing practicum class were up at 4 a.m. to take part in the clinical services. They got exposure to it all, from triaging patients, giving flu shots to helping in the dental and vision areas. They also got to see the big picture. For whatever reason, whether lack of health insurance, lack of resources, inadequate healthy nutrition, poor dental hygiene or substance abuse, the needy individuals were there and seeking help for dental, vision and medical problems, and so appreciative to receive it.”

Remote Area Medical is a nonprofit organization based in Rockford, Tennessee, since 1985 and has held mobile clinics for uninsured and underserved families and individuals, assisted by health care professionals and students. Its mission is to prevent pain and alleviate suffering and to enhance quality of life through the delivery of competent and compassionate health care to those who are impoverished, isolated, and underserved in the US.

To learn more about the West Carolina University nursing students who volunteered to provide healthcare services at Remote Area Medical’s mobile clinic, visit here.

NYU Nursing Reports New Nurses Work Overtime, Long Shifts, and Sometimes a Second Job

NYU Nursing Reports New Nurses Work Overtime, Long Shifts, and Sometimes a Second Job

According to NYU Nursing, new nurses work overtime, long shifts, and sometimes a second job. More specifically, most new nurses work 12-hour shifts, 13 percent hold a second job, and nearly half of new nurses work overtime. 

This data comes from a new study by researchers from the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing which found that nearly half of newly licensed nurses work overtime, while more than one in 10 have a side job, and these trends have remained stable over the past decade. Recent changes in health policy have had implications for nurses and the hours they work like the Affordable Care Act and the recession which has delayed retirement for some nurses. Researchers at NYU set out to understand what these changes have meant for the newest generation of nurses.

The study analyzed surveys from more than 4,500 newly licensed nurses in 13 states and Washington, DC, collecting information on nurse demographics, education, work attributes, and attitudes. Nurses were asked about their work schedule, daily shift length, weekly work hours, overtime, and whether they worked a second job. Four cohorts of nurses were surveyed and compared to observe changes over time.

Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, PhD, RN, assistant professor at NYU Meyers and the study’s lead author, tells NYU.edu, “On the positive side, we observed that new nurses appear to be working a similar proportion of 12-hour shifts as more experienced nurses based on other studies, and the majority of nurses were working the shift and schedule that they preferred. We also did not find meaningful increases in overall weekly work hours or overtime hours compared to previous studies. At the same time, our study did not reveal major changes in when or how long new nurses are working that could enhance patient safety and well-being among nurses.”

To learn more about NYU Nursing’s recently published study which found that nearly half of newly licensed nurses work overtime and more than one in 10 have a side job, visit here.

Rutgers-Camden Nursing Professor Janice Beitz Named National Academies of Practice Fellow

Rutgers-Camden Nursing Professor Janice Beitz Named National Academies of Practice Fellow

Janice Beitz, a professor in the Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing, has been named a fellow of the National Academies of Practice (NAP). She will be inducted in March at an annual meeting for NAP, an interprofessional, national organization that advises governmental bodies on health care delivery in the United States.

Beitz stated in a press release, “The fellowship in the National Academies of Practice will provide an opportunity for me to influence quality patient care for the future. I am honored to be able to influence decisions based on my clinical expertise and scholarship regarding safe, effective patient care.”

Beitz is an expert in wound, ostomy, and continence care, with more than 40 years of nursing experience in acute, sub-acute, and outpatient care settings. She is the director of the graduate-level Rutgers University‒Camden Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Education Program and board certified as an adult clinical specialist in medical-surgical nursing, and as a nurse of the operating room.

As a nursing educator, Beitz has also created wound/ostomy/continence and perioperative nursing care programs that have been recognized with awards from the Pennsylvania League for Nursing, the WOCN Society Northeast Region, and the American Professional Wound Care Association. Beitz is also a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) and a member of the Academy of Nursing Education Fellows (ANEF) for her innovations in improving clinical practice and patient safety through education, practice, and research.

To learn more about Janice Beitz, a professor in the Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing, who has been named a fellow of the National Academies of Practice, visit here.


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