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A Survival Guide for the Introvert Nurse

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at 5:10 am

At first glance, the world of nursing might seem custom-built for extroverts-those people for whom being outgoing seems to come so naturally. For introverts, the field may seem daunting. After all, striking up conversations with strangers and spending the entire day working with other people aren't exactly the types of things introverts line up to do. But there are ways to not only survive as an introvert nurse, but you can use your personality type to excel.

  1. Listen.A core strength of introverts, as mentioned in this article at Forbes, is the ability to listen and empathize with the people around them. (Small talk, for the introvert, tends to be their own private purgatory.) As such, you have the unique ability to have significant conversations with both patients and co-workers. Use this to get to the root of problems, to solve miscommunications, and to make your patient the most important person in the room.
  2. Don't be afraid of the quietquiet - It's quite possible that your patient wants to avoid small talk as much as you do. If you detect this is the case, embrace the silence! "Silence creates space for things that are important in any healthcare setting. Silence allows a patient to process what you just said, and to share something they haven't shared with anyone else," advises Jennifer Doering (PhD, RN).
  3. Take your time - We've all met the co-worker or manager who speaks first and thinks second, and we know how that tends to end. As an introvert, take advantage of your natural desire to think things through before acting. "Introverted leaders tend to think deeply about a given scenario before taking action," writes Forbes. "In contemplating the intricacies of a situation first, introverts are better equipped to communicate with their team and drive positive results." However, the article also adds that to truly succeed, you also need to be ready and willing to act once a decision has been made.
  4. Don't use your personality as an excuse - Being an introvert simply means that you need down time to recharge (as opposed to extroverts who use social situations to recharge). It doesn't mean that you're antisocial, so don't let your personality type become an excuse for being sullen and distant. "Being an introvert does not equate to being gloomy or distant. Introverts are cheerful by nature, as they know how to cheer themselves up without the need to look for another person to do the job for them," writes RN Sheena Saavedra. That gives you a powerful tool when working with patients, for whom a smile and cheerful attitude can mean the world.
  5. Take time to "recharge" - Working with patients, nurses, doctors, and technicians can wear you down after a while, so be sure to take the time to recharge when needed. Don't feel bad about turning down that invitation to go out for dinner after your shift. "Know Thyself", writes Socrates, and if you know that you need a break, take a break. You'll be a better nurse, co-worker, friend, and all-around human being for it.

Finally, understand that there's nothing at all wrong with being an introvert. You "simply do things differently and have capacities and abilities that others may not recognize. You are more concerned with doing the work and solving the problems than making sure people know that you are doing the work and solving the problems," writes Doering. You bring something to the table that no one else can, so own it, trust yourself, and trust your training. You're going to do just fine.

For more information on beginning your career as a nurse, contact Unitek College by clicking here.

Surviving the Satisfaction Survey

Friday, August 19, 2016 at 5:15 am

Anyone who has read a Patient Satisfaction Survey (you can find an example here) knows they can be daunting. And if your future clinic or hospital tracks patient satisfaction this way, then as a nurse, the surveys can be even more daunting.

For many hospitals, there's a financial incentive for higher patient satisfaction scores, and so averaging those high numbers can quickly become a high priority-a priority that gets passed down to doctors, nurses, and assistants. There are arguments for and against these types of surveys-having happy patients is certainly a plus, but opponents fear that if doctors and nurses focus only on a patient's satisfaction, they may not focus enough on actually healing the patient.

But arguing about whether or not hospitals and clinics should have surveys doesn't change the fact that many do, and if you work at one of these locations, there are a few things you can do to help keep those scores on the upper half of the grading scale.

Eye Contact is a great place to start. A recent study found that strong eye contact during short visits (plus a moderate amount of social touch) makes medical professionals appear to be more empathetic-a strong positive among patients. Maintaining that eye contact builds a personal connection with your patient and lets them know that you see them and respect them as a person. Avoiding eye contact or staring at notes the entire visit comes across as cold and impersonal. However, the same study also found that prolonged eye contact over a longer visit has a negative effect, so don't think that simply staring at your patient is going to win you any bonus points. In fact, they might just request a different nurse.

Next, put yourself in the patient's shoes. An article on Forbes.com suggests that you occasionally park where your patients park, see how difficult it is to navigate the halls in crutches, or walk with a non-employee as they try and navigate the building. If you spot something that could make a patient's day even a little easier, you're taking a step in a positive direction.

Third, understand that no patient's stay will be perfect, and be prepared to handle complaints quickly and properly. "Most complainants are hoping that their concerns are acknowledged quickly, their fears allayed, apologies provided and that learning has been achieved," writes chief nurse Kay Fawcett. In other words, most patients won't expect you to move mountains-they just want to be heard and understood.

And finally, learn from your results. It's tough to get critical feedback, and you will get your share of comments written by patients or family members who are simply frustrated with their situation and are using the survey as a medium. But if your results consistently point to an area where you need improvement, don't get upset at the test... improve! No one likes reading ways that they aren't perfect, but by identifying weaknesses and turning them into strengths, we become better nurses and better people.

For more information on becoming a nurse through one of Unitek College's nursing programs, contact us here.

Avoid These Common Injuries for Nurses

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 5:24 am

So the phrase "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" might not be one you'll find in your Unitek College textbooks, but there's still something to be said for the old adage. As nurses, you will be working at full speed, sometimes on little rest, and most of that time, you'll be on your feet. Those factors add up to make nursing the third most injury plagued occupation in the country. But if you know what to watch out for, and if you take the right precautions, you may be able to avoid those painful workplace accident.

Musculoskeletal injuries are one of the most common for nurses. In fact, nurses have a 48% higher chance of having sprained wrists, backs, or ankles on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of these injuries come while handling or moving patients (transferring someone from a wheel chair to a bed, for example). While there is no fool-proof way of handling patients, you still can turn the odds in your favor by remembering to follow Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) guidelines at your hospital or clinic. You can also help avoid injury by staying in good physical shape, getting plenty of rest, investing in shoes with good arch support (and no-slip treads), and by remembering to always lift with your legs!

Another common injury comes from handling used needles and syringes-not only is a prick painful, but dangerous infections or diseases can be transferred. Even though a law was passed to help make handling needles safer (the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act), true safety comes from nurses being aware of the possibility of injury, the potential dangers of those injuries, and the conscious decision to move carefully while handling used equipment.

Third, medicines exist to make people better, but that doesn't mean they can't be dangerous. The CDC keeps a sample list of the many potentially hazardous medicines and chemicals you may interact with in a healthcare setting. Know everything you can about the drugs you'll be handling, pay close attention to the safe handling procedures, and you should be able to avoid any unpleasant accidents.

Finally, emotions run high for patients at medical facilities, you get all sorts of people walking through those doors, and not all of them will fully understand that you're there to help. Assault or abuse from patients is always a risk, and nurses tend to be easy targets. While 100% accuracy in predicting patient behavior is impossible, you should still trust your instincts, and always be willing to ask for help if you feel that a situation isn't safe. And if abuse of any kind does occur, report it right away. Not only will you be protecting yourself, but you'll be helping protect the next nurse (or nurses) who may have to interact with this person.

All in all, the most important thing for you to do to help avoid on-the-job injuries is to take a breath and remember your training. Chances are, whether at Unitek College or during your clinical training, you were given instructions on how to proceed safely with your job responsibilities. Things may get hectic at times, but if you keep that training and those instructions fresh in your mind, chances are you'll be just fine.

Be safe out there!

If you'd like more information on Unitek College nurse training programs, contact us here.

Saving Lives From 2,000 Feet

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 at 5:29 am

Most people would assume that a career in nursing is one that involves both feet planted firmly on the ground, but not so for one nurse-a man who"s been saving lives from 2,000 feet (and at 140 miles per hour) since 1997.

According to a story in the Omaha World-Herald, flight nurse Jeremy Moore"s experience as a nurse has been a far cry from traditional emergency room medicine. Instead, Moore spends his days inside a cramped emergency medicine helicopter zipping through the sky in an attempt to reach patients unable to get to a hospital.

His job is all part of an effort to provide help for trauma victims within the "golden hour", which "refers to a time period lasting for one hour, or less, following traumatic injury being sustained by a casualty or medical emergency, during which there is the highest likelihood that prompt medical treatment will prevent death."

In rural Nebraska, flight nurses such as Moore are vital, since accidents can occur many miles from the nearest trauma center. Their cases range from heart attacks to car accidents to transporting premature babies to specialized care centers.

One of Moore"s most notable days, however, took place in 2001, when a bus carrying members of the Seward High School Band left the road and fell 62 feet into the creek below. 27 of the passengers were injured in the crash, while four did not survive, a number which could have been much higher without the assistance of Moore and his crew.

While in the past, medical flights were limited mostly to larger cities, helicopters and crews are beginning to be stationed all over the state-greatly expanding the reach of the flight nurses. Doug Wulf, a flight nurse and board member of the Nebraska Association of Air Medical Services, says that he"s already seen how patients are benefitting from the expansion.

While in the past, medical flights were limited mostly to larger cities, helicopters and crews are beginning to be stationed all over the state-greatly expanding the reach of the flight nurses. Doug Wulf, a flight nurse and board member of the Nebraska Association of Air Medical Services, says that he"s already seen how patients are benefitting from the expansion.

Advances in technology have helped, though. At one time in his career, Moore had to use a compass and a paper map to find the location of some accidents. Now, GPS sends him right where he needs to go.

"It"s all Star Wars stuff," he said.

Whether you"re racing to the scene of an accident in a helicopter, or leaping into action the moment a gurney bursts through the emergency room doors of your hospital, if you"re a nurse, the one thing you know for certain is that no shift is predictable. So study hard in those Unitek College courses, future nurses, because you never know where that future career will take you.

If you"d like more information on the Unitek College nurse programs, or for information on how you can enroll in our online RN-to-BSN program, contact us here.

Volunteer Your Way To A Better Nursing Career

Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 5:48 am

If you're looking for a way to try out your new nursing skills, better your career, and help others at the same time, volunteering might be just what you're looking for. In a recent report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, around 1 in every 4 American citizens volunteers in some way. That's a lot of volunteer work hours, but the need for helpers continues to grow-especially teenage and 20-something volunteers, whose participation continues to fall behind older demographics. And with one in six Americans in poverty, there's always work to be done.

But by volunteering, not only do you help make a desperately needed difference, you also pave the way to making yourself a better nurse and building a better career.

Resume building is one benefit of getting involved. Not only does volunteering give you the opportunity to add experience to a resume, but it also gives you a chance to showcase who you are and what you care about.

Volunteering also allows nurses to develop vital Leadership skills. Keith Carlson (BSN, RN, NC-BC) recently wrote on Nurse.com that "Nurses often like to take charge and get things done, and many organizations will welcome a nurse with open arms. Gaining experience in leadership, delegation, organizational development or supervision is a skill set that is directly applicable to nursing." In other words, the skills you learn in a low pressure setting such as volunteering can later be put to use in the high pressure setting of health care and emergency medicine.

Offering your skills for free also gives you the chance to explore your career options without a long term commitment. A few hours of volunteering may be all it takes for you to discover that you're much more at home in a school nurse setting than a hospital setting, or that a senior care nursing home environment provides just what you're looking for in a job.

And of course, volunteering is also an excellent opportunity for networking-meeting other professionals you wouldn't have met otherwise.

Of course, the primary reason to volunteer isn't to help your career-that's just a bonus. The reason we help locally and abroad is to be a positive influence in our communities. You also have the opportunity to show the world just what a nurse is capable of. Collegexxpress.com writes that "nurses working outside of the typical health care environment and serving their communities have a chance to serve as ambassadors for their profession, both educating and inspiring others as to what it means to be a nurse."

Interested? You can find opportunities near you through services such as One Nurse At A Time. Nursetogether.com also provides a good list of opportunities. Or if you'd like to help out a little further from home, EveryNurse.org provides some good starting points.

There's a lot of work out there-both in and out of hospital settings-but if there's one thing we know about nurses, it's that you're more than capable of getting the job done.

If you'd like information pursuing a career in Nursing, contact us here to learn more about one of our many Unitek College nursing programs.

Nurse Looks Back On 50-Year Legacy

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 5:22 am

Educational opportunities such as the Unitek College fast-track nursing program, IT program, dental assistant program, and others have made it much easier for full-time workers to change careers. And people change careers for many reasons: better financial opportunities, better work/life balances, they'd like more meaning in their jobs, they'd like to learn new skills, etc.

But changing careers wasn't always as common as it is today. Today's work culture allows employees to move from career to career as opportunities present themselves, but two or three generations ago, this type of freedom was unheard of. For example, 40% of Baby Boomers stayed with their employers for over 20 years-that's something you don't see nearly as often today. For some, their loyalty was tied to their pension. But for others, they stayed because they simply loved what they did. And Dolores Howard is a perfect example.

Dolores' story was recently told in Butler County, Ohio's Journal-News newspaper. Ever since age 7, when she witnessed a nurse save her younger sister, Dolores (now age 90) knew she wanted to wear the white frock. And she spent over half her life doing just that.

A government scholarship allowed Dolores to earn her nursing degree at a local hospital-at that time, the United States was facing a severe shortage of nurses due to World War II, and they paid a stipend to anyone willing to train for that career.

Her love for her patients and for her work carried her through over 50 years in the nursing profession. She not only served as a nurse at the local hospital where she studied, but she eventually moved on to work for a private practice, and later, served as the director of nurses at three different area nursing homes.

"I'm a tough old bird," she said.

She also credits her career for introducing her to her husband, Denzil Howard, a U.S. Marine who served overseas during World War II. An industrial accident sent Denzil's brother to the hospital, where he became one of Dolores' patients-and Dolores couldn't help but notice Denzil during his frequent visits. They began dating, married soon after, and are just as in love today as they were then.

"I was in charge as a nurse and I'm still in charge," she said with a smile. "But don't tell him that."

Her training as nurse also helped in the adoption of their two sons-one of whom was in desperate need of medical attention; something Dolores noted and used to expedite the adoption process so that she could nurse the baby back to health.

Dolores Howard is a woman who fell in love with her career as a nurse, and the hard work she put into that career paid her back many times over in life. Of course, not all of us know our final career at age seven like Dolores did. Sometimes we discover it much later, and the moment we do, we shouldn't waste a moment before pursuing it. After all, we need all the time we can get if we're going to keep up with Dolores.

If you'd like information on one of Unitek College's fast-track programs in Nursing, or for information on how Unitek College can work around your current work schedule, contact us here.