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So Cal Nurses Scheduling Strike

Are nursing strikes avoidable? I have no idea. Can nurses and management come to fair agreements without having negotiations take months and years? I haven’t the faintest clue. I’m just glad that I don’t have to be in those stuffy rooms tense with passion and unyielding opinions. However when a compromise cannot be found, nurses and patients are stuck between a rock and a hard place. This seems to be the case for Long Beach Memorial and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach.

I know it seems that strikes are focused on specific hospitals, but the issues are common across the board. From nurse to patient ratios, wage scales and benefit plans, these are topics that all nurses have an interest in. Even if you are in a medical training school in California, these are issues to consider before you sign your W-4 for employment.

Brantley Watson reports in the Belmont Shore –Naples Patch that the California Nurses Association has scheduled a strike for December 22 on behalf of the Long Beach Memorial and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach nurses who are petitioning for a new contract. Watson writes, “According to a hospital press release issued Friday, Long Beach Memorial last presented a new contract offer to the CNA on November 11, an offer that the hospital described as its ‘best and final offer.’ However, the CNA has yet to offer a response to the contract offer, much to the chagrin of Long Beach Memorial.”

The main issue for this particular protest is nurse to patient ratios. “We are finding it harder to give the quality care we want to give when our employer, like insurance companies, is only focused on the bottom line,” said Long Beach RN Margie Keenan. “This undermines our ability to deliver safe patient care. Our serious safety concerns have not been answered at the bargaining table and we will not be able to reach an agreement until they are addressed.”

Strikes are difficult for everyone involved. Patients many times suffer from the lack of care they need and deserve. Many nurses are forced to strike whether or not they agree with the issues or the way the controversy is being addressed. Management has to contend with media attention and disgruntled employees. These are hard issues, especially when intertwined with strong emotions and the bottom line. Getting nursing training is a great career path, but these are things to consider when choosing where to work.

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Nursing Grads Are Getting Hired!

When I graduated from college, I had mixed feelings: elation that I could finally pursue what I loved and fear that countless interviews and rejections awaited me. It’s nerve wracking to send out resumes, journey on job interviews, and then wait to hear whether or not you got the position. In this tough economy, many college grads are having a tough time finding a job. Fortunately, those graduating from a nursing program are not among the unemployed.

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing just put out a new report on Newswise.com stating that nursing grads are extremely successful in the job hunt. Their study was based on findings from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “A recent survey of nursing schools conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) tells a story of success for recent graduates. Among those receiving a nursing bachelor’s degree, 88% have received job offers within four to six months; for those earning a master’s, 92%.

“At the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON), informal surveys and questionnaires conducted among the 2010 Hopkins graduates show a similar percentage with 89% of responding graduates from all classes (Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD, and Doctor of Nursing Practice) indicating they have found employment since graduation. Of the 11% not currently employed, nearly 10% indicated they were pursuing an advanced degree and were continuing their nursing studies full time… The JHUSON online survey also showed that nearly two-thirds of the employed respondents found nursing positions within 90-days following graduation; an additional 24% within six months; and only a small number, 8%, indicated their search took longer.”

Currently our nation has a 9.1 unemployment rate and according to a USA Today article, the average college grad is facing five candidates for every one job opening. Fortunately, nursing school graduates are not among these statistics!

The JHUSON report further reports that “Among Hopkins grads, only 11% reported the job search to be very difficult, while others (19%) reported no difficulty at all. The highest percentage of respondents (71%) described their job search as slightly to moderately difficult. The majority of survey respondents (58%) also found their first choice in a position and 66% in their preferred geographic location. Ninety-one percent were employed by hospitals.”

With the number of patients increasing and a variety of job openings becoming available, it seems like now is a great time to graduate from a nursing college!

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Nursing Continues to Offer Many Job Opportunities

One of the great things about nursing is the variety of options that are available. There are part-time positions, graveyard shifts, and opportunities to work in different departments in a hospital. Other specialties allow you to work primarily with children, with seniors or with certain ailments. Let’s face it: the possibilities are endless for students getting health care career training.

The Las Vegas Review Journal highlighted this topic and had great examples about how many people are changing their career paths by furthering their education. One example is as follows: “Back in 2002, Bob Bassett was working as a retail store manager in Elko when the business went bankrupt. He looked for work at large companies in the area that seemed like a sure thing, such as Walmart, Pepsi and Dolly Madison, but there just wasn’t much there. Finally he decided to entirely change direction and get his associate’s degree in nursing — a different kind of customer service, you might say. One may look at becoming a nurse with a bachelors of science degree.

“He worked on the medical/surgical floor of Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko for a year and went on to get his bachelor’s degree. Then the opportunity came to work in case management, coordinating care for patients. He did that for five years before taking a new position as the hospital’s infection-prevention specialist a few months ago.

“Now Bassett, who is 50, runs a one-man department writing infectious disease prevention policy for the hospital in a job that allows him to be ‘an instrument for change and an advocate for patients,’ he said.”

Depending on your specialty, one great thing about nursing is that it focuses on your skill and education levels, not just your age. Nursing also allows you to change assignments within the medical field if you think that you would be suited better in a different department. The article explains, “Unlike a lot of fields, nursing provides the opportunity to change direction. It can come in the form of additional on-site training, continuing education, advanced degrees or by taking the initiative at the workplace in a profession with both varying specialties and the continual need to adapt to advancements in medical care.”

Nursing provides endless options and great potential for growth. If you are in a Bay Area nursing school, carefully consider every area of study and opportunity to see where your passion and skills line up. The old saying still holds true: If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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Ten Ways to Look Like You Have it All Together Part II

Life is tough: you’re getting health career training, you’ve got a family, you want a social life. Well, I can’t promise you success in all of those things, but hopefully some of these tips will make the tedious parts of life just a little more bearable.

Cynthia Dusseault on ScrubsMag.com has a few suggestions to help simplify your life and you can be the envy of all your co-workers. Here is the second half of her list.

6) Don’t let your pen out of your sight. – Can I borrow your pen? NO! Just for a second? NO! You may come off cruel and crazy, but you won’t have to search for a pen when you desperately need one and you’ll save precious minutes. (Or you could just carry around a spare, too.)

7) “If your facility isn’t using a ‘bedside handover’ system, suggest it. – Conducting bedside handovers from off-going nurses to on-coming nurses saves time because it enables patient safety assessment and allows nurses to respond early in their shifts to the needs of patients. It also keeps patients and families more involved in the plans of care,” recommends Dusseault.

8 ) Document ASAP – Don’t leave your charting until the last part of the day. You’ll waste time and energy trying to remember what you did. If you can, do it as you go.

9) Learn how to remove yourself politely. – Some patients just love to talk. You’ve been there: you’re thinking about all the things you have to do while a certain patient has to tell you all about their beloved pet, their last experience at the hospital or the ten minute joke they told you yesterday. You don’t want to be rude, but you have more than one patient to care for. Try saying something like this: “I’m so sorry. I have to go and take of another patient, but I’m not far if you need me, and I’ll come back if I have a free moment and we can continue talking.” Or you can run out screaming…. Your choice.

10) Eat right. – Dusseault explains “The best energy combination is a carbohydrate plus a protein because carbohydrates give you energy, and proteins prevent your blood sugar from spiking after eating those carbohydrates, so they get more staying power, which translates into sustained energy. And you know that the minute your energy level starts to drop, so does your productivity.”

I hope these tips help you to make the most out of your work day. Being in a Bay Area nursing school is a lot of hard work, so sometimes it helps to know some of the tricks of the trade.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit

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Nurses Stand Up to Congress

As most middle class Americans are sacrificing due to the current financial situation, many nurses are voicing their concerns to Congress to petition for change. Those with health care career training are doing their best, both in and out of the hospitals, to help those in need.

On PressTV.com., Mary Bottari writes that, “As President Obama gets ready for his big jobs speech Thursday, America’s nurses have a message for him. ‘Heal America, Tax Wall Street!’ the signs read as nurses rallied in front of 61 Congressional offices this week. The nurses are proposing a bold alternative to the ‘cut, cut, cut’ rhetoric emanating from Washington, D.C.

“Their proposal? ‘It’s time for the Wall Street financiers who created this crisis and continue to hold much of the nation’s wealth to start contributing to rebuild this country and for the American people to regain their future,’ explained Rosanne DeMoro the Executive Director of National Nurses Union (NNU) in a press release. The nurses are joining groups across the nation and around the world who are calling for a financial transaction fee on high-volume, high-speed Wall Street trades, to tamp down dangerous speculation and to raise revenue for heath care, jobs and other critical needs.”

The issue that is being highlighted is that “the gap between what workers are paid and what their CEOs are paid is rising fast. In 2009, it was 263-to-1. In 2010, it was 325-to-1… at 25 of these firms, CEO compensation was greater than the company’s entire federal corporate income tax bill. Prudential CEO John Strangfeld made $16.2 million in 2010, but his entire company got a $722 million refund from the federal government. Bank of New York Mellon CEO Robert Kelly took home $19.4 million in 2010. The bank, the same year, claimed a $670 million federal tax refund, despite $2.4 billion in U.S. pre-tax income,” explains Bottari.

I’m not sure where I stand on this issue. I’m certainly not in the Robin Hood camp wanting to steal from the rich to give to the poor. As a history major, I also know that we live in a capitalist society and that socialism does not work. I think that we are definitely at a crossroads in our country. Students in a nursing program in the San Francisco Bay Area have a lot of choices to make – in the hospital and in the poll booths.

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Unitek College Graduate Reflects on Personal ‘Evolution’ Into Nursing

A recent nursing graduate pointed out that being a nurse is not just about the medical management of disease but also about restoring dignity and normalizing the lives of patients who need nurses’ help.

Nancy Wilson delivered a speech to her fellow graduates of Unitek College in Fremont, Calif. The March 25 graduation celebrated its recent cohort of Associate Degree RNs. There were 30 students in the graduating class.

“This is an accelerated LVN-to-RN program, quite challenging. NCLEX passing rate is 90% at this time,” according to lead instructor of the nursing department, Christy Torkildson, RN, PHN, MSN.

The following is a transcript of Wilson’s speech:

Perhaps an appropriate primary diagnosis for us tonight is, “Enhanced Self-Concept R/T making a difference in the lives of others AEB becoming nurses.”

There is much objective data to support our pride in this accomplishment. We have shared 269 days since our first meeting in the transition class. In our primary role as students we somehow waded through 14 textbooks and survived 43 exams, including six ATIs. We did care plans and NCLEX questions, concept maps, group assignments, mass flu shot clinics, Sims and Skills Labs, Project Homeless, ElderCare, clinical rotations, preceptorships, and kept the flashcard industry solvent, as we juggled our Secondary and Tertiary Roles as family and community members, employees and friends.

As we learned from Sister Callista Roy, first-level assessment alone is insufficient in describing any situation. Our subjective data and second-level stimuli have been critical in getting us to this celebration tonight. Our class represents an array of cultures and spans several stages of Erikson’s development. We shared a common goal of becoming nurses, but our motives, sacrifices, support, strengths and challenges in getting here have been as unique as every patient we have encountered along the way.

More than learning the many important tasks of nursing, we have learned to look at people more holistically. We gained insight into the impact psychosocial concerns have on the physiology of disease processes. We learned how critical it is to develop a therapeutically trusting relationship with clients and their families to promote their optimal recovery. We have been charged with looking at ourselves, and our own value system, to identify the biases that impact our ability to respect the needs and wishes of our clients. And, we have been given the responsibility of contributing to the profession of nursing through a commitment to lifelong learning.

We will each remember the different events that built unity among classmates. I will never forget Valentin’s kindness in skills lab, when she rescued my failing sterile technique, while learning trach care. Walking around the building like expectant parents waiting for each other to finish tests; Mr. H throwing toys at us during lecture; trying to order coffee while listening to the voices on the schizophrenia tape at Mills; the heated competition during Ms. Aspin’s invaluable Jeopardy Review Sessions; and early morning pre-test study groups, where we somehow came up with the most random and complicated acronyms to remember the most simple concepts. Thank goodness Pauline and I have kids who play sports because without their jersey numbers for association, we may have never learned the cranial nerves. Your youthful energy has been contagious — I already miss the countless fun facts Jerome sent me about Chuck Norris — often during lecture of course — as well as late-night Facebook chatting, middle-of-the-night note sharing, and endless hours of camaraderie in and out of school. I sincerely cherish the friendships that have evolved in this intense year together.

Certainly, we have many to thank for bringing us to this day; our incredible families, amazing children, very special friends, employers, co-workers, teachers, preceptors — and an array of patients who graced us with the opportunity to care for them — sometimes by simply implementing tasks leading to their physical recovery, and often in addition, by being the sounding board upon which they worked through fears intrinsic to some of the most delicate moments of their lives.

We owe our eternal gratitude to our incredible group of teachers whose kindness and friendships have facilitated our evolution — as well as to the hundreds of nurses and healthcare professionals at our clinical sites who shared themselves and their expertise with unyielding patience. Their collective interventions have led to our positive expected outcomes.

As we graduate, let us remember that nursing is not just about the medical management of disease. It’s about restoring dignity and normalizing the lives of people whose everyday reality, and families, have been changed by their condition. Nursing gives us the honor of doing something significant — to get outside of ourselves and make a real impact. More than just creating new nurses, this experience has made us more insightful and engaged citizens. As we do our final evaluation, it is clear that in preparing to make a difference in the lives of others, we have indelibly transformed our own.

Source: Nurse.com, Posted April 15, 2010