Life After NCLEX: Continuing Education as a Nurse

Happy February!

I am thrilled to be hosting the Nurse Blog Carnival this month! For those of you who don’t know what that is, check this link out. But essentially, it’s an opportunity for a bunch of nurses on the internet to get together and talk about nursey stuff.

So lets talk.

You’ve gone through nursing school, you’ve taken your boards, and now you’re a nurse!

BYUI nursing student

 

Yay you!

But wait.

The learning has only begun. From here on out, it’s up to you to maintain your education and to stay current in your practice. There are several ways to do this.

The first thing you should keep in mind is that, depending on the state you live in, you might have a certain amount of continuing education required of you. RNDeer (aka David) was kind enough to compile a list of  states and their education requirements. While I live in Idaho, one of the states that doesn’t require any education, the facility that I work for DOES. So keep in mind, this list is only explaining the state board of nursing requirements.

Joyce (International Nurse Support) talks about the difficult decision between a nurse getting an associates degree vs. a bachelors degree in her post. She breaks it down between new nurses and experienced nurses and lists the pros and cons. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision and once you figure out how you plan to use your degree, that will help make the decision of what level of education you need easier.

There’s another Joyce (joyceharrell.com) who suggests joining an association related to your chosen specialty as a way to continue education. They usually let their members know about upcoming conferences and programs with approved CEUs. They will sometimes have a journal or other publication that goes out to their members as well. (Personally, I’m a member of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and have loved the information I receive from them!)

There’s 3 things nurses need to know about continuing education and Brittney (The Nerdy Nurse) tells us what they are in her post through NursingJournal.org. First, she says that continuing education is not one size fits all- there are SO many ways it can be done and in so many different forms! Second, continuing education can improve a nurse’s lifestyle and further your career. Last, continuing education provides a way for nurses to stay up to date with best practices. All practical, all true.

I tend to agree with Lorie from Empowered Nurses. She talk about lifelong learning and how knowledge is power and it’s good to take advantage of every learning opportunity that comes your way. Not just in the nursing world though! Learning in all areas of your life will help make you a well-rounded person. Also, read Beth’s post from Confident Voices in Healthcare if you need something to get you excited and jazzed up about continuing education. I mean, we all have to do it, why not make it exciting?

Speaking of making it exciting, try reading Beth’s post from NurseCode.com. She goes through a list of 10 characteristics of a lifelong learner. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be going through this list thinking, “Yep, that describes me right there… and that, and that… and yep, all of that.” It’s nice to identify qualities that help you be excited about learning opportunities.

If you’re concerned about the return of investment for your continuing education, check out Jennifer’s post at RN Evolution. She makes some good points about CEU’s benefits at a personal level, an organizational level, and at a financial level.

There’s a post from Jamie at The Nursing Show that discusses research that has proven that online education is just as effective as traditional education. This is good news! Get a little wi-fi, some kind of electronic device, and you’ve got all you need to further your education.

I love Joan’s (thenurseteacher.com) take on continuing education because it’s the most similar to what I’m doing right now. She talks about specialty education you may learn on the job, seminars through work, and, her favorite (and mine too!), attending nursing conferences!  Just Google the phrase “nursing conference” and you’ll be bombarded with a TON of different options of conferences you could go to. Or better yet, Google “nursing education cruise” and see what comes up. This is SO on my bucket list. :) To summarize, learning never ends in nursing.

Something I found interesting was Erica’s post about continuing education for nurse entrepreneurs. It talks about education options for nurses who have started their own businesses. At first I had a hard time figuring out exactly what an example of a “nurse entrepreneur” might be, but her posts about business ideas for experienced nurses and ideas for nurses with little to no experience helped me get an idea.

YogaNurse is a perfect example of  a nurse entrepreneurs who has found a way to use her nursing license and create a business from something she’s passionate about. Annette encourages nurse entrepreneurs to create their OWN continuing education! She has some great insights about what it takes to work through your state board of nursing and get organizational credentialing for your continuing education activities. Until reading this post, I had never thought about this concept but I love it!

Marsha (aka The Bossy Nurse) talks about CEUs and how they can help a nurse in their business. The example she gives is going to a conference where she 1)learns a new skill, 2)makes new connections, 3)can nourish old connections, and 4) practice “your story.” Just throwing this out there, but if I were a nurse looking to start a business, I’d consider Marsha’s help. She looks like she knows what she’s doing. :)

Here’s another nurse entrepreneur for you. Elizabeth over at Nursing from Within makes the argument that advancing your nursing career doesn’t always have to include education in the traditional sense. She asks 3 questions: what do I desire, where am I now, and how can I reach my goal? The answer to these questions can help when it comes to making a continuing education decision.

Greg at Big Red Carpet Nursing says something similar. After sharing his incredible personal journey to where he his now, he challenges the reader to look all around because there are many paths to success and there are “lots of fish in the sea” when it comes to finding your way.

To top it off, Dr. Rachel Silva, NP at shares a post about what it’s like to be “terminally educated.” While that phrase initially sounds like some kind of torture technique, it’s really about taking your nursing education to the highest level it can go: to the doctoral level. If you LOVE learning and think you want to take it to that level, you should read her article!  While you’re at it, read through her blog, there’s all sorts of interesting things in there.

There you have it! A compilation of all things “continuing education.” A huge THANK YOU to all of you who contributed to this conversation! I’ve learned so much by hosting this month! I do not apologize for the information overload. It’ll do you good.

continuing education 2

This post is a collective effort of nurse bloggers as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. Find out how to participate.

Nurse Blog Carnival - The Nerdy Nurse - 300x300

Why I Stopped Blogging and Why I Want to Start Back Up

Hey friends!

I bet you thought I died or went into a coma or left the country or something.

But if you follow me on FB or IG (@ anna_the_nurse), you’ve probably been able to see that I’m still alive and doing stuff and things.

So… not that I’ve established that I’m still around, let me explain whats been going on.

Reasons I stopped blogging:

1. No time.  Or I wasn’t delegating time to do it. And while I felt sorta guilty about it, I also gave myself permission to just live life and not have to worry about documenting it later. It’s been nice.

2. Changes at work. My nursing department has been without a manager since February of 2014. We had an interim manager who was helping us out so I spent extra time at work assisting in a unit supervisor role- doing time cards, schedules, performing preceptor coordinator duties, unit representative to different meetings… I continued working my three 12-hour shifts while doing that, so I was averaging 4 days a week at the hospital. THEN, mid-December, I was blessed with the opportunity to actually transition into the nurse manager position! It still feels weird saying that I’m a manager. Now I’m 5 days a week, 8-ish hours a day (and when I say “8,” I mean that in the loosest of terms. I just finished a 50+ hour work week).

nurse managerI’m thrilled to be in a leadership role, I guess I didn’t think it would happen quite this fast! Now I have an office and business cards and a 5-hole puncher and all sorts of adult things. #insane

For those who are curious, I manage a 10-bed Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. I’m a “working manager” which basically means I’m able to help out on the floor as needed, but I’m not pre-assigned to work the floor. So I still get to do SOME traditional nursing, but I’m turning more into an office nurse who goes to meetings and responds to emails for the majority of the day. Except it’s a lot more important than I’m making it sound.

3. I’m on wordpress now. *gulp* It’s intimidating and it’s going to take some getting used to.

4. Feeling Overwhelmed. I was trying to bite off more than I could chew in the sense of trying to do product reviews/link-ups/etc. I just need to blog for ME and when I feel like it, not because I feel obligated to.

Why I want to start up again:

1. I’ve missed all the friends I’ve made through my blog! (Hi!!!!! How are all of you doing??) I’ve continued to follow several of you but reading MaLyn’s Blog in particular makes me wish I were a better, more consistent writer. It’s one thing to wish it and another to do it, so here I am, giving it a whirl. Thanks for inspiring me MaLyn. :)

2. Did you notice my new and improved blog design? Curtsy of  Jim Bob (my brother in law) with the header created by Alyx. Having a new blog-scape makes me want to use it!

3. Now that I have a fairly predicable work schedule with evenings and weekends free, I have the potential to delegate blog time if I want. That’s the theory.

I’m not sure where I’m taking this blog. Obviously, as a manager, I want to be careful about what I post when it comes to being a nurse. But I guess I already was pretty careful since I know my mom reads this blog. :) I suppose it’ll still be my little space to talk about my life/hobbies/nursey related topics.

So. I’m off to go enjoy my day off. I’m thinking movie theater to watch Into the Woods (because Mo likes war movies, not fairy tale movies), taking down Christmas decorations (it was about to become a Martin Luther King Day Tree) and running some stuff to the post office. It’s about to get all sorts of productive over here.

Mo and Anna 2015

 

Have a great weekend!

 

 

In regards to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (#icebucketchallenge)

[Just because I haven’t posted on the blog in like 2 months (*gulp*), doesn’t mean I’m not posting elsewhere. You can follow me on facebook and instagram (@anna_the_nurse). The idea of sitting down to type up a long blog post is just… intimidating at this point. I know, you’re going to tell me that short posts are okay too. But it’s been 2 months!!! Anything I post at this point will probably be long! Anyway. I wrote a little something for facebook the other day and I figured I could just copy and paste it into my blog, since it’s a medical topic and all.]

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In regards to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: 

First of all, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching everyone’s videos of themselves getting doused in ice water. Now that I’ve been challenged to spread ALS awareness myself (thanks Zach), I want to take the time I WOULD’VE spent making a video (that actually has nothing to do with ALS) and simply do something that WILL spread awareness: educate.

I love that the challenge has encouraged people to do something good in the world- but I feel like it’s become more of a fad and more time/effort is put into creating the perfect video than actually caring about what ALS is and what it does. If you’ve done your research, good for you! If you haven’t, here ya go.

1. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurological disorder that attacks the nerves that control voluntary muscles. You get weaker and weaker and lose control of your hands and legs. It eventually progresses to the point where you have difficulty even moving your diaphragm to breath and a lot of people succumb to pneumonia. You become trapped in this body that won’t do what you tell it to. It’s a horrible way to die.

2. People with ALS typically only live 3-5 years after the symptoms come on. A very few amount live longer.

3. People with ALS have trouble moving, swallowing, and speaking. The usually have to get a feeding tube and have a terrible time with dealing with an overabundance of saliva production.

4. Because it is a process of exclusion, it can take a year or more, on average, to get a confirmed diagnosis of ALS. There is no ‘test’ for it.

5. We should probably start calling it “Stephen Hawking Disease” since he’s been living with it since the 1960’s and has set a world record.

With that said, please consider making a donation to a charity of your choice. There are some wonderful causes out there doing incredible work.
(I chose to donate to John Paul II Medical Research Institute which finds ways to do their research without using embryonic stem cells. Take time to know where your money goes).

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That’s all. I’ll post again soon, promise. I’ll tell you about all the stuff and things I’ve been doing. :)


Scrubs Review: Banana Scrubs (made in america!)

Readers, I’m excited to share Banana Scrubs with you today!

You’re probably thinking, “Huh. I haven’t heard of them before.” 
I hadn’t either, until I Googled “scrubs made in the usa.” 
There’s a reason you don’t see Banana Scrubs brand in your local uniform shop. They don’t sell wholesale. More on that later. 

[I’m wearing their Lauren top (XS) and Natalie pant (XS) in spearmint]

Let me tell you about the scrubs in a way we all know and understand. Since we nurses LOVE the 0-10 scale, I’m going to start implementing it into my review posts. I’ll rate products on a 0-10 scale using the following criteria: quality, fit/comfort, price, and the company.

Quality: 9/10
I have to tell you, when these came out of the box, they smelled incredible! Some kind of fruity/sweet smell…I don’t know what they’re doing to them down in Texas, but I hope they never stop! (I even had husband smell them, they were that awesome). As you would expect, the scent goes away after washing them, but these scrubs are made well with excellent material and I can tell they’re going to hold up for a long time. Plus, they have these charming little banana tags. :)

Fit/Comfort: 7/10
Pros: Nice, long top. Tons of pockets.
Cons: boxy top, not very form fitting. The top is an XS (the size I usually get) and it still felt quite large (mostly in the sleeve area). They DO offer a XXS top which I’ll consider next time. If you decide to buy some, look at their size chart and take notice of the comment that their scrubs are generously cut. Then order accordingly. :)
Also, Banana Scrubs was kind enough to hem these pants a couple inches for me. I’m 5’6” and while they do make tall pants, they don’t have any short versions. 31” inseam is pretty standard so if you’re short like me, a little modification might need to happen.

Scrubs are comfortable. Period. But there are some things that make some more comfortable than others. Like when your drawstring pants don’t get loose during the day, making you pull them up every ten minutes.
Good news.
These pants seem to hold well. :)

Price: 10/10
The tops and bottoms are priced anywhere from $17.50-$24.50 which is totally comparable to scrubs you’d get at any shop. What shocked me is that these scrubs are made in America and they’re still able to keep it affordable! They don’t sell to uniform stores, no wholesale whatsoever. By eliminating the middle man, customers buy directly from the manufacturer and save on any retail mark-up The only way to get their products is by visiting their brand store down in Texas or from their online store and that is just fine with me! So, for the price and knowing they’re made in the states, I’m sold.

The Company: 10/10
I absolutely love that these scrubs are made in the USA!Made in America  The fabric, the thread, the labor… everything is American. Banana Scrubs is based in Waco, Texas and has been making scrubs since 1994. There aren’t a lot of companies out there that still make them in the states, I’ve looked! They also have a 6-month limited warranty! If their product fails, they’ll repair it or replace it free of charge, which is something I’ve never heard from a scrubs company until now.
Banana Scrubs was incredibly easy to work with when it came to returns or modifications. I had to return the pants for a different size AND they even offered to hem them a couple inches for my short, stubby legs. I’m very happy with the results!

Total Average Score: 9/10
I like these scrubs and I love this company! If you’re in the market to purchase uniforms for work, I’d recommend checking them out and supporting an american-based business. 

Nurses Week Day 7: Dansko Shoe Giveaway & Florence’s Birthday!

They last day of Nurses Week!
It’s kind of strange that Monday would be the last day of a week, but it is what it is. I suppose it’s because they always try and have the last day fall on Florence’s birthday. :)

Nurses Week Day 7

Dankso is giving away a pair of shoes to one of my readers for Nurses Week! They asked me to select a pair to review and I chose their Sam shoes. I think whoever wins this giveaway is really going to like them. I know, because I’ve basically been wearing them non-stop the last couple weeks.

They’ve been worn shopping, to work meetings, date night…I love how versatile they are. Like all Dansko’s, they have the same foot support and comfort you’d find in their basic clogs. The tan color has really grown on me but they also come in black and brown. I haven’t had any ankle-rolling situations like some people do with narrow Danskos, these have a nice wide support.
Another plus: these shoes will be perfect to bike in! 
To enter into the giveaway, tell me how you celebrated Nurses Week. 
And to be fair, I should tell you how I celebrated mine. Our hospital gave out cafeteria gift cards  for a free meal, they also gave out a treat card (you could get a cookie or brownie or a piece of fruit), one of our PAs bought the nurses pizza one day, there was donuts from a long term care facility, ice cream and cake from the hospital… I’ve been a little spoiled this week! My favorite was probably the ugly scrub day (pictures here). Nothing like looking hideous to help you bond with your co-workers! Plus, I lucked out and cared for a sedated/ventilated patient who was asleep all day and couldn’t see the awful scrubs. :) 
Thanks to Dansko for my grand finale of Nurses Week! You all have until Friday to enter, winner will be chosen Saturday! The plan is to give away either the same pair of shoes I chose, but they are flexible and can change them out to something else, ESPECIALLY if a murse wins. ;)

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Nurses Week Day 5 & 6- another giveaway!

I’m just throwing Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11 in together since I’m working both days and I’m home between shifts, currently getting this post put together before bed and heading back to work.
Forgive me if it’s short. :)

Giveaway time!
I’ve got some cute nursey stuff that I want to give away: an ice pack and a couple nursing watch brooches.

Nurses Week Day 5 and 6

The brooch watch I got from ebay forever ago and the ice bag was purchased through Zulily (check out this website for more ice bag designs). I’ve been hanging onto this stuff, thinking how much fun it’d be to give to a nursing friend as a gift… and now here I am, giving it to one of you, dear readers. :)

You know what to do!

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Ps. Today was ugly scrub day at work! 
Here’s a close up of my awful fish scrub top: 

What I learned from this experience:

-the best ugly scrubs are usually Large to XXLarge. Most of these tops were drowned us. Why don’t more smaller people have bad taste in scrubs?

-I have no idea why fabric was even made in some of these colors, let alone made into clothing that would cause a patient to get motion sickness and throw up from just looking at it.

-There’s a whole lot of women’s scrubs in the thrift stores and hardly any in the men’s section.

-Next time we do this, I’m not wearing the fish top. It’s pockets were floppy.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY tomorrow to all my sweet readers who are moms. :)

Nurses Week Day 4: Name Badge Giveaway!

I usually love being a nurse.
But yesterday was awful.

I had a patient extubate himself (in other words, pulled out the tube that was ventilating this lungs) while the respiratory therapist and I tried (futilely) to hold him down and keep him from grabbing it. This was WITH restraints on AND maxed out on his sedation medicine.
Some people just have skills.

We were able to get him stabilized with BiPAP and calmed down with extra medication but then I got the order to place an NG tube (a feeding tube that goes through the nose and down to the stomach). This time we were prepared with 4 pairs of hands, an anesthesiologist, and some gooooooood drugs.

The rest of the day I felt like I was waiting for a ticking time bomb to go off and any sudden movements or noises made me jump.

Happy Nurses Week to me.

But then I got home and vented to Mo and he made me a grilled cheese and all was right in the world. #lifeofanurse

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May 9

For day 4 of Nurses Week, I’ve got FOUR name badge holders to give away!
BadgeBlooms is this adorable etsy shop that I discovered last year. I’m such a sucker for anatomically correct hearts and fell in love with Melissa’s Haley Heart badge holder. I’ve been wearing mine for a few months now and I’ve loved it. It’s the reel/retractable kind so it’s perfect to swipe my badge to get into the OR or use my keys to get into the medication bin. :) Patients and co-workers often comment on it’s cuteness.

** BadgeBlooms has a promo code for Nurses Week! For 20% off the entire store, use the coupon code: FACEBOOK20.**
Enter to win one of the four badges!

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Nurses Week Day 2: WhiteCoat Clipboard Giveaway & How to Get a Nursing Job

On the second day of Nurses Week, I give to you TWO WhiteCoat Clipboards from MDpocket!

May 7 2014

I just did a product review for this company (read that post here) and in collaborating with them, they offered to give away 2 of their nursing clipboards! I have a white one and a silver one (I had to go generic since this prize could go to anybody!)

Also! Use the code NURWK14 for 25% off your purchase! You will have to FIRST be logged in onto an MDpocket user profile for the code to verify. This code expires 5/12/14.

If you procrastinate (no judging), I have another code that is good through 5/14/14: AMONW14 will get you 15% off at checkout. Again, you’ll need a user profile before the code will work.

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Paige and I do these monthly link ups where we blog about nursey things. And we welcome all you nurse and student nurse bloggers to join us! The more the merrier. :) 
Here are my suggestions to help the average nursing student get a job in the nursing field (after you’ve gone to nursing school and passed your boards, of course).
1. Get some sort of medical experience. 
Be a CNA. Volunteer in a hospital, a clinic, or a nursing home. Or start shadowing people in the medical profession! Just start exposing yourself to where you will end up someday. 

2. Bulk up the resume (with medical related things if possible).
If you’re sitting around waiting to hear back after you’ve applied somewhere, take that time to be proactive. You can go ahead and get certification in things you’ll need once you DO land the job. Go get your CPR and ACLS certification! Yes, most employees will pay you to do that training after you’re hired, but it shows you take initiative and looks good on the resume to show you’re already certified. Add whatever medical experience you got in #1 and add it to the resume. 

3. Connections. 
When I switched jobs to my current one, it was an in-house transfer. It really helped that I was acquainted with the manager and that my old co-worker was working down on that unit. Thanks to her, the manager was told when my application had been submitted to HR and therefore knew when to start bugging them about getting my interview set up. Same thing works for outside the hospital: it helps if you know people on the inside who can talk to the right people. Make connections while you’re doing clinicals or during your preceptorship. 

4. Follow up.
Our HR is notorious for taking a while to respond after an application is submitted. Call them and keep following up! They’re busy people and it’s ok to let them know that you’re waiting to hear from them. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Just be professional about it. 

5. Interview well. 
My mom taught me to send a thank you note to my interviewer the same day you’re interviewed. Like a hand written, snail mail, personal thank you note. It’s amazing how a simple gesture like this can leave a lasting impression. Also, take time to look up “most popular interview questions” online and do some research! Have good answers ready for those questions because they will be used. 

Good luck on the job hunt, all you new grads!