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!

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.

 

 

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?

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

Five Reasons to Become a Travel Nurse

I am not currently working as a travel nurse (or bedside nurse) but I did travel nursing for two years and have spent years reading various blogs and following other travel nurses to learn more. I think if the pandemic had not hit (and I had not contracted long haul Covid) I would probably still be traveling as a nurse. I may go back eventually, but right now I’m working on healing my mental health and my long haul covid symptoms.

Anywho, I still have a lot to share about travel nursing! Today I’m sharing 5 reasons you should consider becoming a travel nurse!

Travel

Camping in Shenandoah National Park

I feel like one of the things that has been pushed to the wayside about traveling nursing is the travel part! During the pandemic, it seems like SO much emphasis was put on money. Especially with crisis assignments where you could barely even leave your hotel. Now, this money was life changing for people and I’m not doubting that. If you look ahead you will see I added money to this list as well. I am NOT against making money! However, the opportunity to travel and experience new parts of the country is a big draw to travel nursing!

If you want to do local travel nursing- you still can have more opportunity to travel! Time between assignments is a great way to travel and have more time off than you would with a staff job.

Flexibility

So, it’s a give and take with flexibility as a travel nurse. Often, during assignments, you have less flexibility than you would as a staff nurse. You are there to fill holes in the schedule, so you may not always have the ideal schedule. However, you have the ability to take time off in between assignment that often is a lot longer than it would be as a staff nurse. I also was able to take the month of December off the last two years and spend Christmas with my family, which is another luxury you almost never get as a staff bedside nurse. This is even more important when your family lives in a different state than you.

Less Workplace Politics

Workplace politics.. one of the worst parts of working in the hospital in my opinion. If you want to climb the ladder of a hospital and advance- that’s great! But I never had a desire to be in admin or management- I didn’t even want to be a charge nurse. It didn’t fit my lifestyle or personality. I wanted to work my 3 12s and then be done with the hospital until my next shift. I didn’t even realize how involved in workplace drama and politics I was until I started traveling and discovered what it was like to be completely uninvolved with it. It was a breath of fresh air and it was SO NICE to not hear anything about the hospital on my days off, and not hear any complaints (other than general staff talking) during my shift.

Learning Opportunities

Overall, nursing/medicine is similar everywhere. However, every hospital (and state) has a variation in scope of practice and policies. I learned how to do something new at every hospital! You also have the opportunity to learn from new people with various experiences. And this isn’t strictly related to nursing and medicine- I have worked with a variety of nurses from different parts of the world and was able to learn about their culture! It was so interesting and I appreciate the opportunity so much.

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Money

Can’t write about travel nursing without mentioning money, right? I made over double what I made my last year as a staff nurse (working over time every month) in 9 months as a travel nurse last year (and only work 2 over time shifts all year.) And I am so thankful for that money (and miss making it lol). Keep in mind to take tax free stipends you have to duplicate expenses- so you will be paying for a place in your tax home state plus where every you are traveling. Or you can choose to have all your money taxed. But even duplicating expenses, you can make and save money, even during non crisis rate times.

Kayaking- Cocoa Beach, FL

Overall, I definitely recommend travel nursing to those who are interested. Ensure you leave your current job on good terms so you can return if and when you need/want too. Check back next week where I will share the not so bright and shiny side of travel nursing- we have to be transparent and honest, right?

Are you a travel nurse or have you been a travel nurse? Is it a goal for the future? Tell me below!

Check my other posts on travel nursing:

One Year as a Travel Nurse

My First Travel Nurse Contract: My thoughts and experiences

Travel Nurse Contract #2: Washington, D.C.

 

 

Journal Prompts August 2022

July got a little busy and time got away from me, so I’m getting the August journal prompts out early! Every month I will share some journal prompts to help you on your 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. One of my best friends, Katy Sewell, did the cover art. It’s really a beautiful reflection of both of our mental health journeys. 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.

New to Practice Nurse Support Group

Hello! I hope your week is off to a good start! I am excited to announce the newest offering from Nurses Supporting Nurses. If you don’t know, NSN is an organization I founded to provides support groups and other mental health resources to nurse and CNAs of all specialties.

I have been facilitating a support group every Wednesday for 5 months now (it’s hard to believe it’s been that long) and I have identified a need for a space just for new to practice nurses. “Covid era nurses” have their own unique set of needs and stories to share, and I want to provide the space for them to find community. The New to Practice Support Group will be open to nurses with less than 2 years experience. We will meet biweekly or weekly (I want to see the response before I decide which) to share stories and empower you through active listening and community. We also will discuss topics important to new to practice nurses, including (but not limited to):

  • Confidence building
  • Setting boundaries
  • Anxiety
  • Coping skills
  • Death & Dying

Our first meeting will be Monday August 1, 8pm-9pm EST via Google Meet. I am asking a small investment of $10/session with this group to help support NSN and allow us to grow and offer more to help nurses and CNAs. The Google Meet link will be emailed to you the day of the group session.

If you are a nurse with less than 2 years of practice, I would love for you to join our group! If you know a new to practice nurse- please share this blog post with them! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me or comment below.

Sign up for the New to Practice Support Group: Sign Up Here

Thank you for being here and supporting the blog and NSN!

Contracting C-19 is not a Moral Failing.

Life Update

A little life update- my husband and I both tested positive for Covid last week. My husband on Monday and me on Friday. My husband was really sick for a few days- cough, severe congestion, severe fatigue, body aches, chills, headache, sore throat. He ended up with a secondary upper respiratory infection and needed an antibiotic. I have had similar symptoms but I feel they began to improve quicker than Bradley’s did. Probably thanks to me having Covid just six months ago. I’m still coughing, congested, body aches, and fatigued. And we both are having one of the weirdest symptoms- burning in your sinus cavity. It literally feels like having water up your nose- all the time. Very odd, and not something my sister in law and I had in January.

You have not failed

I remember something one of my favorite people to get Covid research from- Laurel Bristow– an infectious disease researcher studying Covid at Emory University said months ago in her Instagram stories. She mentioned that many people feel they failed when they get Covid- especially after not having it for so long. And I relate to this, now having it twice in six months.

When you are passionate about the health and safety of yourself, your family, and others- it can feel like you failed when you see the test turn positive. You wore a mask, got your vaccine, washed your hands, social distanced, and yet- still positive. Or, you took a calculated risk to enjoy an event with friends and family. And then, positive. It leaves you thinking what you could of done differently. Maybe leaves you with regret. Feeling less than those who still have managed to evade Covid.

I worked on a Covid unit for 2 years as a travel nurse. I had multiple exposures. I never got Covid. I take time away from the hospital to heal my tired soul- and I get Covid twice. It feels like a cruel joke.

You are Not Alone

Statistically, most of us will contract Covid. At the current rate, more than once. Getting Covid is no reflection on your morals or ethics. It has nothing to do with not trying hard enough to stay safe. Do not feel bad if it happens after an event or outing. We have to be safe, but we also have to live and enjoy our lives. Thankfully, the current strain has been less serious than Delta and the original Covid strand. We have vaccines and better treatment options. We know more about the disease and how to manage it. Obviously, we still need to use caution and our mitigation strategies. But thankfully we are further ahead than we were when this started.

This disease is extremely contagious and can be spread very quickly. No matter what you do, unless you plan to never leave your house and have contact with another human, it’s impossible to stay completely safe. Simply going to a doctor’s appointment or grocery appointment can be a possibility of exposure. And these are things we need to do. Continue to be safe and know if you catch Covid, you have not failed. It is simply an unfortunate part of life at this point.

Resources:

Learn more about Covid at the CDC Website

For accurate and update to date information, I highly recommend Laurel Bristow on Instagram. Check out her story highlights!

 

Journal Prompts- June 2022

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.