6 Months of Nurses Supporting Nurses

Today, I am celebrating 6 months of Nurses Supporting Nurses!

6 months ago, I wanted a way to help my fellow nurses, nursing students, and CNAs who may be struggling in some of the same ways I was working through a pandemic in a broken health care system. I decided to take a big and scary step and host a virtual support group. On March 9, I hosted my first group. 6 months later, the support group has grown, and we are still meeting every Wednesday. NSN also has grown to include it’s own social media, website, and offers other resources to nurses including a self care newsletter and a published daily reflection journal.

A few stats about the past 6 months:

I have a lot of plans and dreams for NSN and I look forward to continuing to grow and support my fellow nurses. It’s been an honor to have people choose to come into this space and trust me with their stories. They have helped me so much on my healing journey and I am very thankful.

New Blog!

In honor of the 6 month anniversary, I am hosting another complimentary resource- the NSN Blog! This blog will be nursing focused and I hope to include guest interviews and guest blog post! If you have a request for the NSN blog- please go check it out and leave me a comment about what you would like to see!

PLN isn’t going anywhere. I hope to have it become more of a personal and lifestyle blog. I’ll still talk about nursing, but it will have a lot more variety and I’ll make more room for creative expression.

Thank you!

Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to support NSN either through contributions, following and sharing on social media, visiting the website, joining a support group, purchasing a journal, whatever it may be! I appreciate your support so much!

Amazon Essentials for the Nursing Student

It’s that time of year- back to school! I know nursing school is such an exciting and overwhelming time! Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite Amazon items to help you be prepared for nursing school!

This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a very small percent of your sales at no cost to you. This goes to help support the blog and NSN. Everything I share are items I really use and love! Thank you for your continued support of the blog!

3M Littmann Classic III Stethescope

I remember the first time I got my stethoscope in nursing school and how excited I was!! I felt so official to be wearing a stethoscope and actually using it in lab and clinical! I purchased a Littmann Classic II in my LPN program and used it for about 8 years, all the way through my BSN program and job as a cardiovascular RN! Then, when I started traveling, I decided to splurge and upgraded to the Littmann Cardiology. I think the Classic is a great stethoscope and felt I could hear really well with it especially for the price. If you are looking for a less expensive Littman, I would suggest the Littmann Lightweight Stethoscope.

 

Insulated Lunch Box

I bought this lunch box at the beginning of my last travel assignment and I loved it! It’s a great size- enough to bring lunch and snacks! It comes in a lot of different designs and worked well with an ice pack. Nursing school and clinical are looooooong hours and you will want plenty of snacks (and an actual meal!) to keep you nourished and get you through!

True Lemon Packets

Another essential to your brain health- HYDRATION! It’s so easy to just drink coffee and other caffeinated drinks in nursing school, but you have to hydrate! It will help keep your energy up and help with your retention during long class or clinical day. I love these lemon packets because they allow me to add some flavor to my water without always having to cut up fresh fruit (which is another favorite of mine!) Throw these in your backpack or lunch box to make water a little more enticing. They even have orange and lime too!

Business Travel Backpack

I used a rolling backpack in my LPN program then for my AS, ADN, and BSN I used a Northface backpack. BUT, I discovered this a couple years thanks to my friend and I think it would be great for school! This is the newer version of the one I have, but it still has good reviews. It has a space for a spare battery for your phone, lap top, pockets for pens etc. It’s really comfortable to carry, a good size, and reasonably priced!

Clipboard

For both my LPN and RN program- a clipboard for clinical was essential! You don’t always get space at a desk to write on. You also want one with storage- that way you can keep clinical paperwork like care plans and check off sheets safe! I used a cheap clipboard similar to this from Walmart for both programs and it served me very well and kept me organized.

Compression Socks

Go ahead and do yourself a favor and learn quicker than I did- you NEED compression socks. Seriously. It is a lifesaver for leg pain (and swelling) on those long shifts. I didn’t start wearing compression socks until I had been a nurse for a while. I have tried several brands and these socks are surprisingly affordable and comfortable. Not too thick, not too thin. And they actually come up to my knee- which having long legs has not always been the case for compression socks. They come in all white or all black if you need that for nursing school. I know my school micromanaged us down to our sock and underwear color… Sigh.

Thank you for taking the time to read through my recommendations- let me know if you are looking for anything else below and I will provide a link if I have one! Good luck this semester- I hope it’s a great one!

September Journal Prompts

In honor of the One Line a Day Reflection Journal I published, as well as the importance mental health and self care play in this blog- I am going to share journal prompts every month. Journaling has a variety of benefits and it has really helped me on my mental health journey.

Some benefits of journaling include:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Find inspiration
  • Track progress and growth
  • Make connections between thoughts

The One Line a Day Reflection Journal is a journal I published to help those who are new to journaling or have struggled with consistency in the past. It is a simple, one line reflection every day. Weekly, you have a guided reflection. And each week, you get a quote to help encourage and support you. My friend did the cover art. It’s really a beautiful reflection of both of our mental health journey. The proceeds help to support Nurses Supporting Nurses, an organization I founded that provides free and low cost support groups to nurses and CNAs. If you are interested in joining a support group, visit https://nursessupportingnurses.com

To purchase the One Line a Day journal on Amazon, click here.

September Intentions

Happy September! I have always loved September. The days are still warm, but fall is slowly creeping in. It’s also my birthday month! I feel like the summer literally flew by. I’m partially wanting to hold on to the lazy days of summer, but also SO excited for the beautiful fall days! If you didn’t know, pumpkin is back at Starbucks (and pretty much everywhere else!) So even if it’s 90 degree like it is here in Greenville, you should treat yourself! This is 2022 and we don’t live by arbitrary rules anymore.

I have shared a lot about my physical and mental health healing journey on the blog. Last fall, I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety after working through the pandemic as a nurse. In January, I tested positive for Covid and ended up with long haul covid. Chronic fatigue, pain, and heart palpitations are a few of the symptoms. I feel I am making improvements on both my mental and physical health but it’s been a long road.

I want to continue to practice what I preach and focus on holistic practices and wellness I can do along with the western medicine I’m using- medication. I believe a combination of the two can really help a lot of people heal. I don’t think medication and therapy is enough, you need to work on supporting your full body through other practices as well.

Today, I’m sharing some intentions I’m setting to try to support my continued mental, emotional, and physical healing journey. I would love to hear your September Intentions below!

Affirmations 

I write affirmations throughout the week for various things with Nurses Supporting Nurses and they really are helping with my mindset and self talk. I am not a believer in the toxic positivity but I do think most of us could work on being more kind to ourselves. My goal is to say my affirmations every morning, and truly work on believing them. To receive affirmations for your week- check out the NSN Instagram (nurses.supporting.nurses) every Sunday.

Mental Health Walks & Yoga

Family walk at Unity Park in Downtown Greenville, SC

I use to walk (actually run a lot of days) daily with my dog, and that is something I have really struggled with on my long haul covid and mental health journey. Chronic pain and fatigue make it really hard to get up and go on a walk a lot of days. However, I know my body and mental health needs movement and time outside. I also have ventured into yoga over the past few months and I feel its helpful for my joint pain and it’s a great way to practice mindfulness. This month I hope to do at least 3 walks a week and 2 yoga sessions a week. I am working on making modified, manageable goals/intentions for myself. I use to run 4-5 days a week and now a walk around the block can be hard. So I need to find activities that bring me joy without increasing pain or fatigue. Yoga and walks so far have been great.

Nutrition

One of my favorite meals I made us recently! Greek salad with homemade dressing, salmon, and jasmine rice!

Constant traveling, not always having your own kitchen, being on the road, can make nutrition hard. Add in work and helping my husband run a business. All of this, and food can kind of become just a quick necessity to survival. I have been trying to incorporate more vegetables, fruit, and lean means into our diet. I have to say, when I add in more nutrient dense food- I honestly feel better. I’m not saying I am perfect, but I definitely notice a change in my energy levels and pain. And I’m not here to say “junk” food (not a term I use) is the enemy, I definitely have been indulging in some pumpkin treats as I find them! But, adding in a salad (I am LOVING greek salad with homemade greek dressing) or having fruit as a snack (apple and PB is forever my fav!) is definitely helpful. This month I hope to continue to focus on feeding my body better and adding in even more fruits & vegetables.

What are your September intentions? I’d love to hear about them below!

Caring for your mental health as a nursing student

Nursing school talks about the importance of studying, doing your best in clinical, never being late- all the ways to be successful in school. They fail to mention one very important part- caring for YOU. Nursing school is a challenge- mentally, emotionally, physically. You need to take care of yourself! I’m sharing some ways you can take care of your mental health in nursing school today.

Schedule Time Away from Study

You have to take a break from studying! And school. I know, it feels like there is SO much information to learn and you don’t have a second to step away. But you have to make the time for some self care every day, even if it is only a few minutes. Nursing school is important, but you are more important.

A few ideas for self care:

  • Get in some physical activity: take a walk, do some yoga, ride your bike. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym if that’s not your style!
  • Make a cup of coffee, tea, smoothie- whatever you like. And enjoy it. Sit outside or near a window. Do not study or look at your phone. Enjoy the taste, the temp, the surroundings, the relaxation.
  • Enjoy a hot bath. I know this is cliche, but after a long day of clinical, a nice soak with some epsom salt is life changing. Listen to your favorite music or watch a favorite show! Or just turn down the lights and enjoy a few minutes of quiet and relaxation.

Affirmations

Affirmations are something I recently really started using in life and they are so helpful. They can help to strengthen your self-worth by improving confidence in your ability to achieve your goals. They also help with positive self talk and being more compassionate with your self. Definitely things you need in nursing school, right!?

A few affirmations for the nursing student:

  • Everyday I am one step closer to my goal.
  • I am capable of learning this material.
  • I am proud of myself and my efforts.
  • I will be a great nurse.

Say these affirmations, everyday. At the start of the day. When things feel tough. Before you go to bed. You deserve to speak to yourself with love and kindness.

Sleep

You HAVE to sleep as a nursing student. You have too. Sleep is so important to both your mental and physical health. It is better to get an extra hour of sleep than an extra hour of studying you won’t retain because of exhaustion. I know, life is busy. You may not sleep as much as you would like and there are nights where sleep doesn’t really happen. But being mindful to try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep a night as often as possible is essential.

Eating Well

I lived a lot off caffeine and vending machine snacks in school I will admit. But, your body and brain will not run their best if you are not eating well! I’m not hear to tell you to cook every night, only eat organic, etc. I get it! I was a broke nursing student with little time. Crockpot meals can be your best friend. Easy to pack lunches. You don’t have to cut out the convenience food completely, I know that’s not reality. But adding some fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and lean protein to you diet will have you feeling more energetic and clear minded! Also- HYDRATE! Seriously, I drank a LOT of coffee in nursing school. But you have to drink water! Buy a nice water bottle (I literally bought one at dollar tree in nursing school and always kept it filled) and keep it filled. Add lemon or other fruit to it if water just isn’t your jam. But again, your brain cells (and the rest of your body) will thank you!

Talk to Someone

Find a classmate, a nurse, a friend, significant other, family member- someone to talk too! If you can afford a therapist or a coach- even better. Having someone you can share the highs and lows with is important and will help you feel less alone in nursing school.

Also consider joining a NSN Support Group! I would love to start one for nursing students if anyone would be interested- share below or message me on Instagram!

If you are really struggling, please talk to your doctor. Find a therapist. There are low cost options now, sometimes through your job or school. Please do not struggle alone. People are here and we want to support you.

Are you a nursing student? What are you doing to take care of your mental health? What are you going to start doing after reading this post? Share any thoughts and questions below!

A few other post to check out:

Self Care: A necessity to preventing burn out

Difficult Nurses in Clinical: How To Deal!

Tips for Surviving Nursing School

 

 

 

Self Care: A necessity to preventing burn out

If I’m honest, I don’t really care for the word burn out. I have experienced burn out many times over my career- but I feel the term puts a lot of the blame on us as nurses and not enough of the blame on the extremely broken system we work in. I do think by just the nature of healthcare, burnout will happen. However, if we had a system that truly supported us, I think it would happen a lot less and it would be a lot less severe.

You may read the title and think “well you just said we aren’t to blame but the title says we need self care.” HUMANS need self care and self compassion to lead healthier and happier lives. I don’t think yoga is going to make it so a broken health system doesn’t effect you, but I do think as nurses we do not do a good enough job of caring for ourselves. Women don’t do a good enough job of caring for ourselves. Mothers don’t do a good enough job of caring for themselves. HUMANS don’t do a good enough job… You get the point. I am not here with some toxic positivity to tell you if you take a bubble bath after work all the systemic issues will go away. I am here to say you- as a human- deserve to treat yourself with love and compassion.

Finding the Self Care for You

One type of self care isn’t right for everyone. As I have become more serious about my healing journey, I have learned that I needed to be more intentional about how, when, and what type of self care I need to do. Things that I felt I would never be able to enjoy- like meditation or yoga- I am now starting to explore. Have an open mind when deciding on practices you will incorporate to help with your stress- both at your job and at home.

Time in Nature

Time in nature is by far one of my favorite forms of self care! There is a variety of ways to use nature to help with stress reduction, improve quality of sleep, and lower anxiety and depression. Some of my favorite things include kayaking, hiking, camping, and spending time at the beach. The Nature Nurse wrote a great guest blog post: 4 Simple Nature Practices to Heal the Weary Nurse: Guest Blog Post.

Boundaries

One of the best forms of self care is one that is far outside of a face mask, bubble bath, or a walk in the woods. Boundaries. In order to take care of yourself- you have to have boundaries. I lacked boundaries for a large part of my life and career- and when I started learning about boundaries and how important they are, life and my career got better. One of my favorite former charge nurses who is still a very good friend of mine taught me the phrase “I’m sorry, I can’t.” That’s it. That’s the phrase you need. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you can’t join a committee, pick up an extra shift, volunteer at a function, go out to dinner, etc. You have to protect yourself and your time in order to life a happier, healthier life.

Join the NSN News Letter

The Nurses Supporting Nurses newsletter is a monthly email to help you find new ways to practice self care. It includes journal prompts, self care activities, and more! It is free and I would love for you to sign up here!

What self care would you like to commit to this weekend? I planned to see a good friend and spend sometime outside with my dog and husband.

 

 

Past Blog Posts for Nursing Students!

Hello! If you are reading this and you are a nursing student- Congratulations! Started nursing school is a HUGE accomplishment! While it wasn’t perfect, I really enjoyed nursing school. Today I went through the archive of Nursing School posts and chose a few to share here with you! These are from back when I was a baby blogger- a mix of advice and my experience navigating nursing school.

A little about me and my nursing school journey. I first completed an LPN program from 2011-2012. I then worked as a LPN before returning to school in 2014 to obtain my Associate in Science and then my Associate Degree in Nursing (LPN to RN). In 2018 I returned to Medical University of South Carolina and received my Bachelors of Science in Nursing! I have been a nurse for 10 years this fall and love supporting nursing students and new to practice nurses on their journey! Follow me on Instagram for more tips & tricks for nursing students! I would love to connect!

Nursing School Prep

OB Clinical Rotation

Difficult Nurses in Clinical: How To Deal!

Success in Clinical

Tips for Surviving Nursing School

Good luck with this semester! I hope it goes well and you learn a lot! Drop any questions you have for me about nursing school below!

 

 

From Nursing to Web? A nurses journey to a new career.

Covid life changes

I mentioned in a recent life update post  that I was now working with my husband’s business- HypedUp Studios a web agency that does everything from web design to SEO to marketing. This is totally outside the realm of what I thought I would ever be doing- especially considering I have my Bachelors in Nursing. However, Covid brought a lot of struggle into my life. I was diagnosed with PTSD after 2 years of working on Covid units. Then, I tested positive for Covid in January- and ended up with long haul symptoms. Between these two diagnsois- I was unable to return to work on the floor. My husband and I (and my doctors) decided it was best I take more time away from nursing to work on healing both my physical and mental health. You can read more about my long haul symptoms here. I have started medication, been seeing a therapist, and now I am working on getting back into some light, modified exercise and eating better.

Exploring something new

During my time off- I started to help a little with my husbands business (he works from home). I downloaded Canva and started learning about graphic design. I began watching YouTube and reading articles. My husband began to teach me some things he knows (he has a degree in computer programing and graphic design). I always had a little interest in the web design and content creating world- I have had this blog since 2016 and built most of it myself! However, I started getting really interested in the full business side of a web agency.

I took over the business social media accounts and started doing some marketing. I helped build/design a website. Quickly, I realized how much I was loving the “work” I was doing and that it really didn’t even feel like “work” (most of the time!) So I started taking on more tasks, learning more, and now- I would say that my husband and I are running HypedUp together. There is a lot he does that I can’t do, but I am starting to learning some VERY basic coding. I do web design, content writing, social media management, logo and branding, and marketing. If you told me a year ago I would have been part of Bradley’s business- I NEVER would have believed you. But I am loving it, and while I’m still quite new, I think I am growing and learning everyday.

Growing on my own

I have my own clients for social media management and have brought in my own clients for web design as well! I never imagined marketing to be a strength or something I enjoy- but it is! I’m also working to learn the office side of things- invoices, keeping books, etc. May sound silly, but it’s nothing I have ever done! Thankfully my mom has a business degree and has been helpful. I’m thankful my husband was so open to me helping and he is patient with teaching me. Working with a spouse is a whole other blog post, ha! But I am thankful we are a great team and it has in way made our marriage and life even better!

Still a Nurse

I still have an active nursing license- and I still consider myself to be working as a nurse (although it took some therapy to realize this) Nurses Supporting Nurses is an organization I started and we host weekly support group for nurses, CNAs, and new to practice nurses. We also have free resources like a report course and self care newsletter for nurses. I have a lot in the works for this and I consider mentorship and facilitating support groups to be a form of nursing! I also use my nursing skills and knowledge in new ways with HypedUp. One being working with nurse entrepreneurs! We are able to offer a unique offering by having a nurse to work with on the web part of your business. I’m able to “interpret” nurse language to developer language and I think it makes me a good point of contact for our nurse clients. I have also been looking at PRN (as needed) nursing jobs and if the right one comes along- I will consider taking that as well.

I’m going to end with a shameless plug- If you have any web needs- email campaign, SEO, logo and branding, responsive web design- send HypedUp a message! Mention this blog post and get 10% off one service! We would love to work with you!

We also offer a nurse appreciation discount on all our services! And a unique offer is you will be working with a nurse who will understand your business from a nurse’s perspective and can help translate things to the web developer (my husband) who may not otherwise understand your unique language and needs!

What is you current (or former career)? Have you made a change/are you considering a change?

“Pet E-Therapy” August 2022

Hello & Happy Friday! Welcome to “Pet E-Therapy!” A blog post which is basically an excuse to share cute pictures of my pets! One of my favorite parts of working in the hospital was when the therapy dogs came to visit- especially when they would bring them to visit staff! I felt like the vibe of the unit instantly shifted. Nurses and CNAs could take a deep breath and become calmer. So, this is my way of giving a little bit of that on the internet every month.

Annabelle & Declan napping together- my fur mom heart can’t take how cute they are!

Our dog who is over the rainbow bridge now, ready to go on a camping trip. That pack was a little big but he loved it.

 

Molly (front) and Sadie when I went on a girls trip to Southport this summer- so cute!

Declan passed out after our long drive to Greenville.

Annabelle being Annabelle 🙂

I hope these photos brought a little joy to your day! Feel free to share some pet photos over on Instagram.

 

The Less Glamorous Side of Travel Nursing

Last week- I shared the reason I loved being a traveling nurse and five reasons you should be one too. Today, in the name of transparency, I’m talking about the less glamorous side of travel nursing.

Floating

The nursing nemesis, floating. Now, with the right mindset, this doesn’t have to be the worst thing in the world. I wrote a post about floating and my tips for floating as a nurse. My first 2 contracts I was a float pool nurse for 13 different units. I honestly had never really floated in my staff job and then all of a sudden I was finding out what unit I was on from a post it note on the time clock! It was a change, but I ended up really liking it and found mindset had a lot to do with that. My last job- I could be floated to three other hospitals. And I did float to them. It could be stressful, but it wasn’t terrible. If you travel, just expect to float, it’s part of the job. And thankfully, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Away from Friends/Family

My sister visiting us in Washington D.C.

I would be lying if I said you were never going to get lonely while you travel. I miss my family and friends. Thankfully, I loved the adventure, and I had my little family with me (Bradley- my husband, Declan- our dog, Annabelle- our cat) which definitely helped. Also, technology now is great! You can FaceTime easily with family and friends and text are a way to stay connected! You also can always have people come visit and get to explore a new area with you! We had a blast when my family and one of our friends came to Washington D.C. and people definitely love coming to visit in Florida, lol!

Applications & Interviews 

You will be submitting, interviewing and onboarding every 13 weeks, maybe more, maybe less. Many times you can extend at a job, so you do have an option to stay longer and not have to do the whole process again. You will have to be in contact with your recruiter (they submit you for the job), available for phone interviews (this can suck on night shift) and do those TERRIBLE modules, skills test, rhythm tests, etc every new facility you go to. It’s definitely not a deal breaker, but it is something to keep in mind.

Orientation

Working the Covid Unit

Orientation sucks as a travel nurse- no other way to say it. You typically get two days max orientation. Two days. To learn the unit, why to find policies, how to chart, etc. My last assignment I got one day orientation then was on my own. You typically do have a classroom orientation for one or two days- but that’s honestly not to helpful. I thought I would never be able to survive a short orientation like that but I did! Expect your first week to be rough, but you can do it!

Overall- I still would recommend travel nursing to anyone who wants to try it! It’s a great experience, better money, and if you don’t like it- you can go back to a staff job after 3 short months! I really loved traveling and I got to experience and learn a lot.

Have you been a travel nurse before? If so, do you have any pros or cons to add? Also- drop any questions you have below!

Other Travel Nursing Post you may be interested in:

One Year as a Travel Nurse

My First Travel Nurse Contract: My thoughts and experiences