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What Does a Certified Nurse Midwife Do?
CNMs work in a variety of practice settings including hospitals, community clinics, and birthing centers. While their primary role centers on women’s healthcare during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period, CNMs provide primary care, gynecological care, and family planning services for women throughout their reproductive years and menopause. Some CNM responsibilities are listed below:
- Provide prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care to women and monitor newborns
- Offer assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
- Treat both males and females for sexually transmitted diseases
- Offer education and counseling in health promotion and disease prevention
- Patient care for all aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery
- Communication and leadership skills
- Technological proficiency
- Patience and compassion
CNMs must earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees, acquire an RN license, and obtain national certification and licensure in the state where they intend to practice.
What is a Medical Assistant (MA) Salary?
Medical assistants work in essential entry-level positions in the healthcare industry. They handle different tasks, including administrative duties like filling out patient paperwork, coding insurance forms, scheduling appointments, and organizing lab testing. MAs also take on clinical tasks, such as performing basic lab tests, changing wound dressings, or preparing patients for x-rays.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual medical assistant salary reached $34,800 as of May 2019. With over 680,000 MAs in the field, salaries vary considerably by employer and location.
Individuals interested in learning more about entry-level positions in the healthcare field, can find more information here. Read on to learn more about the medical assistant job outlook and salary potential.
Reasons to Be a Medical Assistant
If you’re looking to start your career in the healthcare sector, why not consider getting your medical assistant certification? With quick training, lucrative salaries, and excellent job growth, this allied health profession is an excellent route for people who are new to healthcare or who already have hands-on experience.
1. This Is a Quick Certification That Pays Well
While there are no formal requirements to work as a medical assistant, most employers prefer applicants to be certified medical assistants. Completing a medical assisting program or associate degree is often a necessity to get hired.
But instead of, say, a surgeon going to school for more than 15 years, medical assistant classes usually take less than a year..
2. This Career Makes a Difference
Well-trained and professional medical assistants make a massive difference in a patient’s hospital or clinic experience. On any given day, a medical assistant might administer medicine, help patients navigate complex insurance policies, and prep patients for examinations.
MAs often cite this wide range of responsibilities for why they’re proud to be part of this field.
4. Won’t Break the Bank
Unlike university programs, medical assistant students aren’t required to take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.
Whether you opt for an MA certificate program (which takes 7.5 months at Sumner College) or a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree, you’ll be paying substantially less than what a 4-year (or medical) degree would cost.
5. Learn with Exciting and Applicable Classes
MAs are unique in that they straddle the line between administration and treatment. During medical assistant classes, students will study physiology, patient care, sterilization techniques, and basic pharmacology. Classroom lessons on administrative tasks like insurance, HIPAA compliance, and medical billing and coding are equally important.
6. Continue Your Education Later on
Students who pursue a two-year associate degree program will be required to complete general education courses. While they may seem unnecessary for a quick entry into the medical industry, it’s a practical option for anyone contemplating on continuing their education in the future.
After several years of working, you may end up enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. Some of these associate degree credits can be transferred instead of starting from scratch.
7. There Isn’t One Standard Working Day
The medical assistant job description is so varied that it’s impossible to be bored during your shifts. On any given day, you could be speaking with an insurance agency, drawing blood, managing the front desk, or helping take patient’s vital signs.
Medical assistants are trained to carry out a wide range of duties and are expected to step in where they’re needed the most.
8. Varied Working Environments
Some people like the fast pace of a surgical ward, general medical hospital, or trauma center. Others may prefer the quieter vibe of a private physician’s office. Smaller practices tend to rely on their medical assistants to handle both administrative and clinical duties, while MAs at larger practices and hospitals tend to focus on one set.
Whichever location you choose, you’ll be able to find one that fits your personality.
9. A Great Launchpad into the Medical Industry
In the medical world, experimenting with different career paths is a high-stakes game. Training as a nurse or a doctor takes incredible time and effort, and it’s not unheard of for medical professionals to dislike the field they’ve chosen.
Why not start with a job that allows you to experience the widest range of duties possible? Medical assistants can decide whether patient care or medical administration is more their speed, and many go back to school to gain their nursing degree or become a certified medical biller.
If you’re ready for more responsibility, many medical assistants move onto careers like sonography, nursing, and hospital management.
10. How Much Do Medical Assistants Make? You’d Be Surprised!
For a career that doesn’t require a 4-year degree, these healthcare professionals have great income opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a medical assistant was $33,610 in 2018.
Some states (like Alaska, Washington DC, and Minnesota) pay far more than $40,000 per year. Just like any other career, your income comes down to credentials and location. No matter how you slice it, medical assistants are some of the best paid healthcare professionals out there.
Occupational Outlook Handbook – Medical Assistants
Medical Assistant Summary
|Quick Facts: Medical Assistants
||$34,800 per year
$16.73 per hour
||Postsecondary non-degree award
||19% (Much faster than average)
Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities.
Most medical assistants work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare facilities.
Most medical assistants have postsecondary education such as a certificate. Others enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training.
The median annual wage for medical assistants was $34,800 in May 2019.
Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The growth of the aging baby-boom population will continue to increase demand for preventive medical services, which are often provided by physicians. As a result, physicians will hire more assistants to perform routine administrative and clinical duties, allowing the physicians to see more patients.
Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical assistants.
Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical assistants with similar occupations.
Your Nursing Career: A Look at the Facts
Nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession with more than 3.1 million registered nurses practicing nationwide. Despite its large size, many more nurses are needed into the foreseeable future to meet the growing demand for nursing care. As you plan or consider a career as a registered nurse, you should know these facts:
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for registered nurses will grow faster than most other occupations through 2018.
- Nursing students comprise more than half of all health professions students.
- Nurses comprise the largest single component of hospital staff, are the primary providers of hospital patient care, and deliver most of the nation’s long-term care.
- Most health care services involve some form of care by nurses. Although 62.2 percent of all employed RNs work in hospitals, many are employed in a wide range of other settings, including private practices, public health agencies, primary care clinics, home health care, outpatient surgicenters, health maintenance organizations, nursing school-operated nursing centers, insurance and managed care companies, nursing homes, schools, mental health agencies, hospices, the military, and industry. Other nurses work in careers as college and university educators preparing future nurses or as scientists developing advances in many areas of health care and health promotion.
- Though often working collaboratively, nurses do not simply “assist” physicians and other health care providers. Instead, they practice independently within their own defined scope of practice. Nursing roles range from direct patient care to case management, establishing nursing practice standards, developing quality assurance procedures, and directing complex nursing care systems.
- With more than four times as many RNs in the United States as physicians, nursing delivers an extended array of health care services, including primary and preventive care by advanced, independent nurse practitioners in such clinical areas as pediatrics, family health, women’s health, and gerontological care. Nursing’s scope also includes care by clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse-midwives and nurse anesthetists, as well as care in cardiac, oncology, neonatal, neurological, and obstetric/gynecological nursing and other advanced clinical specialties.
- The primary pathway to professional nursing, as compared to technical-level practice, is the four-year Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN). Registered nurses are prepared either through a four-year baccalaureate program; a three-year associate degree in nursing program; or a three-year hospital diploma program. Graduates of all three programs take the same state licensing exam, the NCLEX-RN. (The number of diploma programs has declined steadily — to less than 10 percent of all basic RN education programs — as nursing education has shifted from hospital-operated instruction into the college and university system.)
Read entire article published by the AACN here
Shared from the AACN
Demand for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) Increases
The week of January 27th, 2021, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and the work they do were honored with the annual CRNA Week.
CRNAs are highly trained nurses who have a focused skill set and responsibilities that require close patient interaction. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), this year’s celebration coincides with 2020’s historical event few will forget—the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global health emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discovery of the first case of the virus in the United States.
In the past year, CRNAs have faced challenges they could have never anticipated. An overwhelming caseload of extremely ill patients, uncertainty of how to treat patients with the deadly virus, concerns about their own safety and that of their families, and lack of PPE supplies in some of the most advanced facilities in the world dawned in 2020.
Like other medical staff, some CRNAs have described conditions over the past year as “a war zone” and their heroic efforts to help and care for patients was evident. As a CRNA, these nurses are with patients before, during, and after procedures where anesthesia is necessary. The typical cadence of procedures changed in 2020, with big dips in elective surgery during COVID-19 surges and increased emergency situations for patients who were desperately ill. CRNAs needed to use their critical thinking and fast adaptation skills constantly.
Even before the pandemic, the need for CRNAs was on the rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 45 percent increase for trained CRNAs (along with nurse midwives and nurse practitioners) in the workforce by 2029. If you’re interested in pursuing this nursing path, you’ll want to plan carefully. In general, CRNAs hold at least a master’s degree and usually complete an average of 9,369 hours of clinical experience during their rigorous academic program
Beginning in 2025, the requirements for this career path will change. At that point, nurses who want to hold this position will need to obtain a doctorate degree to become a CRNA. The current CRNA master’s degree programs will fold into these degree programs. If you’re already a CRNA by then, you won’t need to return to school for the additional degree.
But the rigorous preparation leads to a meaningful and financially stable career. U.S. News & World Report listed nurse anesthetists as holding the #10 slot in best paying jobs and #39 in the list of the top 100 best jobs and with an average annual salary of almost $175,000.
Above all else, CRNAs find their daily job gives them plenty of opportunities to use all their nursing skills—from complicated math to compassionate direct patient interaction. And having a positive impact where they focus on improving the outcomes of surgeries and procedures for the patient and for the larger medical team is something for which all CRNAs strive.
Article shared from Minority Nurse Magazine
How New Nurses Can Work with Difficult Patients
When you decided to become a nurse, you knew it wouldn’t always be easy. You expected the long nights, the grueling shifts, the heartbreak of losing a patient. But something you probably didn’t think much about the possibility of not getting along with your patients. After all, you entered this profession because you wanted to care for your patients, not clash with them.
The fact is, though, that nursing means caring even when it’s hard. It means loving your patients even when you don’t like them. And that’s perhaps the most difficult and most important lesson that nursing school can never teach, the lesson that only your most challenging patients can teach. This article provides tangible strategies for new nurses dealing with difficult patients, without losing your sanity, your health, or your professional passion.
Seeing Through Your Patients’ Eyes
The first step to dealing with a difficult patient is to try to understand what’s causing their behavior. It’s highly unlikely that a patient is going to be difficult just for the fun of it. Chances are far greater that something has gone wrong and that’s fueling the problem.
Many patients’ behavior, for example, may be explained by their particular medical condition. Those with dementia, Alzheimer’s, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), or certain mental health disorders, may react aggressively, irrationally, or non-compliantly simply because their illnesses have impaired their ability to understand their circumstances or respond appropriately.
In addition to physical and mental health challenges, environmental and situational factors may also be driving your patients’ contrarian behaviors. Patients who have been recently diagnosed with a catastrophic or terminal illness may be grieving the loss of their health and function.
Or they may have experienced the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, or some other significant trauma that is causing them to be hyperreactive. Likewise, cultural and language differences may be limiting the patients’ ability to understand, ask questions, or express themselves effectively, and a frustrated patient is far more likely to act out in negative ways.
An important strategy for understanding your patients’ perspective is to practice active and empathetic listening. Ask questions and reflect your patients’ views back to them accurately and without judgment. This will not only ensure your own understanding, but will also reassure your patients that they’re being accepted, heard, and understood.
How to Respond
Once you have a better understanding of your patients’ perspective, you can then begin to formulate a response that is productive and beneficial to the patient and your relationship with them. But that’s going to require you to be self-reflective as well.
After all, nurses are only human, and there’s no such thing as complete, unimpeachable objectivity. Just as with your patients, your own responses may be influenced by factors that you’re not even aware of. We all have our own internal biases, not to mention the ordinary stressors of daily life, that may make us respond in inappropriate or ineffective ways to some patients.
Your patient, for example, might remind you of a contentious relationship in your own life, and you may project negative emotions regarding that person onto your patient. At the same time, if you are feeling overwhelmed by a particularly stressful day, you might find yourself feeling short-tempered, unsympathetic, and ready to lash out at any patient who adds yet more problems to your day. So, when you’re figuring out how to respond to a challenging patient, you have to determine, first, whether it’s the patient or whether it’s you and, above all, try not to take it personally.
Another key to managing difficult patients is to focus on de-escalation. That means focusing on remaining calm and non-defensive and, ideally, on allowing your patient to express themselves freely. This includes giving your patients a safe place to vent when needed.
De-escalation strategies can also be employed at the organizational level. For example, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems nationwide are facing significant reductions in revenues and staffing. That’s leading to a surge in patient wait times and perhaps unprecedented levels of stress on health care providers. Using hospital resource management strategies (HRM) can help your organization run more efficiently in the face of the current crisis and beyond. And that’s going to improve your patients’ experience and decrease your workplace stress.
Another important tool for dealing with tough patients is to help them become more educated about their condition and to feel more empowered to take charge of their health. One of the most significant stressors associated with a difficult diagnosis is the patients’ sense of lost autonomy.
Equipping patients with the resources they need to make informed decisions about their own lives, and their own care, can be a tremendous benefit in reducing negative behaviors. Mobile apps, for instance, can be used to help patients with their meal planning, lifestyle choices, and treatment plans. Connected patients can even access online communities reserved for other patients, their families, and health care providers.
Nursing can be more rewarding than you ever dreamed. But it can also be more challenging than you ever imagined. The key to dealing with difficult patients, though, is to not take it personally, to focus on understanding the roots of their behavior and figuring out a response that is productive for and protective of you both.
Article shared from Minority Nurse. Image Shutterstock
Salary Potential for RNs with ADN vs BSN Degrees
Salary Potential for RNs with ADN vs BSN Degrees
Earning potential is another factor to consider when choosing between an ADN and a BSN. ADN-holders earn an average annual salary of about $69,660, according to data from PayScale. In contrast, nurses with a BSN enjoy average earnings of just over $85,000 — an approximately $15,000 difference.
This discrepancy in earnings comes from the positions available to nurses with each degree. ADN programs tend to prepare learners for entry-level roles, while BSN programs often impart skills needed for specialized or advanced RN roles. A BSN can also lead to more opportunities for promotions and advancement, and may serve as a stepping stone for nurses interested in graduate study and nurse practitioner careers.
A BSN also opens the door for additional nursing specializations and certifications for which ADN holders do not qualify. Some of these specializations include neonatal nursing, critical care, trauma nursing, and pediatrics. Finally, BSN holders can potentially step into lucrative leadership, management, or education roles within the profession.
Visit these pages to learn about the best-paying ADN and highest-paid BSN jobs.
Shared from Nurse Journal- Image Getty
Patient Safety in Nursing
Medical errors are a medical professional’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, they are also quite common. According to research from Johns Hopkins University, patient mortality due to medical errors was noted as the third leading cause of death in the United States within the last five years.
While improving medical errors can be a complex issue, several reliable strategies can help significantly reduce incidence rates. For many hospitals, the road to better outcomes begins with the implementation of improved patient safety protocols. If designed and deployed effectively, these protocols empower healthcare administrators to learn from past mistakes, improve the trustworthiness of their medical staff, minimize errors, and, most importantly, reduce patient mortality rates.
What is Patient Safety in Nursing?
Understanding patient safety in nursing is the first step towards reducing the risk of medical errors. Patient safety has been defined by the Institute of Medicine simply as “the prevention of harm to patients.” Others have expanded on this definition, emphasizing the need to promote patient safety through the creation of a care delivery system that focuses on preventing errors and learning from those that occur. A robust, successful patient safety strategy will use evidence-based outcomes to constantly improve patient safety protocols and establish an enduring culture of learning and improvement.
Nurses are a crucial part of any hospital’s efforts to improve patient safety. Nurses have the most direct interaction with patients of any healthcare professional—they consistently monitor patients’ conditions, administer medication, and communicate self-care and discharge information. Because nurses are directly involved with patients on a day-to-day, often hourly level, improving their ability to provide accurate, high-quality care is paramount to the success of any holistic patient safety strategy.
But while nurses play a vital role in patient safety, they are certainly not alone. Patient safety must be viewed as a collaborative effort, one that hospital administrators, doctors, and physicians’ assistants are equally engaged in. Only when all healthcare professionals commit to reducing medical errors will meaningful, measurable improvements be made.
How do Nurses Ensure Patient Safety in the Hospital?
An effective approach for improving patient safety measures in nursing must be tailored to nurses and the unique role they play in providing bedside care. Many nurses find it helpful to break patient safety down into a set of tangible tactics geared towards minimizing medical errors and improving patient outcomes, including:
A patient’s medical condition can change in the blink of an eye, meaning nurses must be prepared to quickly identify any complications that arise. Continuing education significantly improves nurses’ patient monitoring skills, helping them better understand the nuances of wound progression, pressure ulcers, and other bedside conditions so that they can spot complications before they become dangerous.
Access to new technology also helps nurses monitor patients more effectively. While bedside alarms are commonplace in most hospital settings, technological innovations like medicine barcode scanning and laser temperature checks continue to improve the quality of patient monitoring.
Patients’ lack of compliance with their post-discharge self-care routine, including wound management, medication regimens, and occupational therapy, is a common source of preventable error in healthcare. According to a study from the Mayo Clinic, medication errors are present in approximately 50% of patients once they are discharged. More specifically, a study found that 59.2% of cardiac patients had a misunderstanding in indication, dose, or frequency of their cardiac medication.
Educating patients on their post-discharge care is a simple, yet effective, example of how nurses can improve patient safety. By working with patients to ensure they have a thorough understanding of their medical condition and self-care routine before they are discharged, nurses help facilitate a smooth recovery. If patients seem unable to recall or comprehend their outpatient care requirements, it may be necessary for nurses to ensure compliance with a family member.
Despite their laser focus on a patient’s condition, physicians are still susceptible to human error. In the operating room and beyond, nurses serve, among many roles, as an extra pair of eyes, ready to call a timeout before the physician makes a mistake.
To help doctors avoid mistakes whenever possible, nurses must maintain a keen understanding of each patient’s existing medical record and any procedure they are receiving. This heightened awareness will empower nurses to more readily identify conflicting medications or surgical risks that could put the patient in jeopardy.
How do Nurses Promote Patient Safety?
Promoting patient safety in nursing requires the cultivation of intentional communication and collaboration—a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of leaders within the hospital’s nursing department. In a healthy workplace environment, effective nurse administrators will applaud those who strive to diligently minimize medical errors and alert others when errors have occurred, setting the tone for a respectful, transparent medical team.
On the contrary, administrators that partake in shaming their employees for making honest mistakes or calling attention to the mistakes of others will only stifle communication. Afraid to speak up, employees will sweep mistakes under the rug, directly jeopardizing patient safety. This type of fear-induced workplace culture adds a layer of stress to an already high-stress profession, further impacting a nurse’s ability to effectively care for their patients.
FAQ: Becoming A Certified Medical Assistant
Patient Care and the Importance of Doctor/Patient Relationships
One of the foundations of clinical care is the doctor-patient relationship. Developing a positive, trusting bond with patients enables you to form more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. It also has a significant impact on patient care and overall patient health outcomes.
A positive experience with their doctor encourages patients to be more active in their healing process. When patients trust their doctors, they experience less anxiety and comprehend medical information more readily. They are also more likely to disclose information relevant to their condition. This allows for better diagnostics and offers the opportunity for a collaborative approach to recovery.
However, trust is just one aspect of the doctor-patient relationship. Many other factors influence the relationship between doctors and their patents, which can impact the quality of patient care.
5 Factors that Influence Doctor-Patient Relationships
Effective communication is the key to any successful doctor-patient relationship. When there is miscommunication between a doctor and their patient, this can have serious negative consequences. These include mismanaging treatment expectations, causing the patient to feel frustrated, and failure to adhere to treatment protocols.
An excellent place to begin when forming doctor-patient relationships is personalizing your communication. Remembering small details about your patients’ lives beyond their illness makes them feel understood.
Patients need to trust doctors with their health, and in some cases, their lives. Doctors need to trust patients to be forthcoming with critical medical information, and to follow medical protocols to facilitate healing. However, trust in a doctor-patient relationship is hard to build and can be damaged easily if patients are not treated with dignity.
When patients are seeking help for a medical condition, they are placed in a vulnerable position. This can often make them feel embarrassed or anxious. Being treated impersonally or being rushed through exams and tests may feel disrespectful. Patients may also ash out when under stress or try to compensate for their feelings of helplessness by self-diagnosing.
The doctor’s response to these situations can have an impact on the relationship with their patients. Dismissing beliefs or emotions shows a lack of respect for your patient and can make them less willing to cooperate and collaborate on health goals.
With the rising cost of medical bills, medical professionals are feeling pressured to receive or visit more patients within a single shift. This increased workload and the time constraints it imposes increases doctor stress levels, causing them to appear less approachable to patients.
Workload and time are inextricably linked. The greater a doctor’s workload, the less time they can spend with each patient. Limiting the time spent with patients can lead to rushing through examinations and potentially overlooking crucial medical information or data that could improve patient care and recovery.
4 Ways to Strengthen Doctor-Patient Relationships
1. Be Patient
Patience is an integral part of a successful doctor-patient relationship. When patients feel anxious and stressed, keep calm, and understand, it takes time for a patient to accept the nature of their condition.
2. Be Mindful
Mindfulness is simply being aware of yourself and others. In a medical setting, this can mean being aware of how your body language sends subtle messages to patients about your level of engagement and how much value you place on your doctor-patient relationship. Fidgeting, crossing your legs, or somber facial expressions can make you appear unapproachable.
Use mindfulness techniques to help you focus on your patients and encourage better verbal and non-verbal communication. Mindfulness is also an excellent way to manage work stress. When you are less stressed, you will perform better and improve patient care.
3. Listen Actively
As a doctor, it is vital to listen to your patients. In addition to gaining valuable insights into your patients’ condition, active listening also enables you to infer information they are not offering, which can also impact your patient care plan. Listening without interruption also encourages trust because patients feel you empathize with their situation.
Try active listening techniques like paraphrasing what your patients are saying and repeating it back to them to clarify their point. Label their emotions and validate their concerns by responding with sincerity and empathy.
4. Focus on Quality Interactions
Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in the workday, and you may struggle to find the time for extended, in-depth consultations with patients. However, this means that it is even more important to have quality patient interactions.
A quality interaction involves dedicating 100% of the time you have with a patient to their needs. This can be achieved through effective time management, active listening techniques, and giving the patient your undivided attention.
The Wrap UpA strong doctor-patient relationship has positive implications for improving patient care. You can enhance your relationship with your patients by making some simple changes to the way you approach communicating with patients and managing your actions and reactions.
Article shared from MEDIjobs
The Characteristics of a Professional Nursing Student
Credit: Minority Nurse Magazine
If you are a nursing student, I would like to welcome you to the fabulous field of nursing! There is nothing more rewarding than serving in this meaningful profession. I anticipate you plan to practice in this arena upon graduating and passing the state board exam. However, be cognizant that one of the most challenging transformations your nurse educator will be responsible for will be in assisting you to become a professional in the medical field.
I know that you think that your instructors are always nagging you about your appearance, but at the end of this process, you will understand how important this transition is in order to socialize you. You have certainly heard educators discussing first impressions and how important they are in establishing credibility and rapport with your patients and with the health care team. As health care professionals, our demeanor affects everyone around us while we are on duty. Since I am a nurse educator, I would like to disclose some of the dos and don’ts of your daily conduct that you should be aware of as a student entering the nursing profession.
Let us start with the basics: punctuality. Have you ever heard the statement that when you are on time, you are late and when you are early you are on time? This applies to both the classroom and clinical setting. It is disturbing and disruptive as latecomers arrive to the classroom once lecture or testing has begun. As you enter the room tardy, open and close the door, remove extraneous clothing (coats, scarves, etc.), retrieve necessary items from your book bag… Well, you get the idea. While you catch up with the rest of the class, your colleagues have preceded you in doing so. Consequently, the energy in the room shifts as you now settle in for a long day of studies. Have you considered how your lack of punctuality affects those around you? Maybe it is time you do so.
You may ask, “How about makeup? How much is too much?” My answer for this is that if you are putting false eyelashes on before attending class and clinical, you clearly have too much time on your hands. Why not spend those extra 10 minutes reviewing notes taken during lecture or take a quick peek at those index cards? Why not work on those intravenous drip calculations you have been struggling with? It only takes a few minutes out of your day to commit to tackling the less desirable tasks. Facial makeup now takes second place once you realize that the extra minutes you use to embellish your outward appearance would be better spent on nurturing critical thinking skills.
Do you ever have downtime? By this I mean the time you have during breaks and lunch. How do you spend this time? Watching kitten videos, catching up with the celebrities, or perhaps finishing a movie or television show? I tire of overhearing the latest on the pop stars—the Kardashians, etc. You must know that your instructors are observing you and that we are very much aware of what occupies your time. No, we are not telepathic. We know by the incomplete homework you turn in (or not) and by the multitude of excuses you have for late assignment submissions. We know by the test scores that you feel are acceptable, even when we, as instructors, know you can perform academically better. I implore you to spend all the time that you have honing your skills for nursing. There is plenty of curriculum to embrace, so do so every moment you have. I promise you will not be disappointed.
It is not cool to have your shoelaces or velcro straps untied. This look appears anything less than professional. It is hard to take anyone seriously who has not taken the time to attend to such details before entering the clinical arena. Another detail worth addressing is gum chewing. Along with the former offenses, it is difficult to accept that the person who is chewing gum is focused on anything other than smacking idly while passively listening or speaking to their audience. In my profession, potential candidates for employment were simply dismissed during an interview because of gum chewing. Do not let this be your fate while seeking employment.
Confine all cracks, cleavage, tummies, and tattoos for activities aside from nursing. Let me be clear: cover all external crevices at all times while in uniform. Having these body images in view is unprofessional and if you want to be taken seriously, save this look for socializing (e.g., dating, clubbing, or spending weekends with friends). Your patient nor your instructor desires to be distracted.
While we are noting external appearances, there is a reason for us to request that you not wear jewelry larger than stud earrings and a wedding band. The focus on you should not be about your taste in jewelry. Jewelry is a vehicle for the transmission of germs, and while I am addressing the chain of infection, allow me to broach the topic of nails. Remember your lecture on infection control: hand washing in between patients, before and after meals, after smoking and toileting? You discovered how microbes harbor under long nails and in cuticles. The studies have been done, and the results are in. Nails are to be no longer than one-quarter of an inch. You cannot effectively palpate or percuss body contours and abnormalities with long nails.
Uniforms: the glorious look of a uniform, but only if it is clean and ironed. No wrinkles are allowed on uniforms or lab coats. Your first impression from your mentors and patients should exude professionalism as noted in unsullied and tidy apparel. Your patients want to know that they are safe with you—that you will protect them, not infect them. Not only does appearance count but so do scents. I will take the fresh aroma of antiseptic soap from thoroughly washed hands any day over the stench of cigarettes. While you are observing your patients, let it be known that they are observing you, too. Leave them with an impression you can be proud of. Think about your appearance this way: when you are practicing in the clinical setting, you are interviewing for potential employment.
When you are in class or clinical, you are in a work zone. No cell phones allowed! Please stop checking them. Instead, check the cell phones at the door and place them on silent, in your pocket, or in your car. I am looking forward to the day when administrators will mandate that cell phones be left with the instructor or outside of class and clinical altogether. I am aware of the potential family emergencies, children, health-related issues, etc. There must be arrangements for emergency calls. If a protocol does exist and despite this, we find our students clinging to these electronic devices making it difficult for instructors to maintain our students’ attention. For example, during clinical orientation (I am ashamed to say) students and educators are now being in-serviced regarding prohibiting cell phone use. Cell phones are not to be used in the facilities while practicing. It should be common sense that when you are at work, you should not have time for texting, checking emails, or Instagram. You should be working, which means meeting the needs of your patients.
In meeting patient needs, how do you communicate with them? Do you use “honey,” “sweetie pie,” or other affectionate terms with your patients? This is unacceptable as it is highly probable that your patients are older than you and as such, deserve your utmost respect. Along with respect for your patients, I would also like to add appropriate communication to use with your instructor: never use obscenities. You will develop a plethora of new words in this profession, none of which is profanity. Good communication skills entail proper dialogue with your instructor, among colleagues, patients, and health care providers. Using the last name with the prefixes Miss, Mrs., or Mr. is acceptable unless your patient has given you permission to call him or her otherwise. And how will you know how you should address your patients? If the patient does not inform you that they would like to be called by another name, simply ask them after having addressed them formally. You will always gain the respect of your patients by being respectful.
Did you know that your posture and gait say so much about you? Walk like you have purpose. Strut up that hallway and answer those call lights as if it were necessary, because it is. Exhibit energy and enthusiasm as opposed to being lethargic. You may be tired, but keep it moving! Your patients want to know that you have the vigor required to take care of them. For this emotionally and physically exhausting profession, I would advise you to follow the Beatitudes: be well rested, be fit, and be well nourished. Nursing is a taxing profession. Take care of yourselves so that you can take care of others.