Happy NP Week 2022!

Happy Nurse Practitioner Week 2022 to all the amazing NPs out there! I love working with NPs and I appreciate all you do for your patients and those who work with you. Thank you for all you do!!

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner or “NP” is an advance practice registered nurse that has completed a masters or doctoral degree. They have advanced clinical training to perform and interpret diagnostic tests; diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions; prescribe medications; and help patients make healthier lifestyle choices. They provide care in many clinical areas including primary care, acute care, and long term care settings. Studies have shown that NPs provide equivalent care to physicians with higher patient satisfaction rates.

What is NP Week?

National Nurse Practitioner Week is held annually to celebrate the exceptional care that NPs provide and to showcase the importance of removing outdated barriers to practice so NPs can practice to the full extent of their experience and education. Take this week to acknowledge the NPs you know and work with and thank them for the amazing care and collaboration they are a part of!

A Few NP Facts:

  • 81% of full time NPs are seeing Medicare patients, 78% are seeing Medicaid patients.
  • 88.9% of NPs are certified in primary care, and 70.2% are delivering primary care.
  • 96.2% of NPs prescribe medications, and those in full-time practice write an average of 21 prescriptions per day
  • 26 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S.territories have adopted Full Practice Authority, giving patients full and direct access to NPs.

I personally see NPs as my primary care providers and I love them! They always take the time to listen and explain things and for that I am so thankful. NPs are an integral part of the healthcare team and we are doing a disservice to our patients and community by not giving them full practice authority in every state. NPs are filling the gaps in areas like primary care where physicians do not want to work. Creating a new healthcare system that utilizes NPs to their full practice ability who collaborate with physicians and other members of the healthcare team would help increase the quality and accessibility of healthcare in our country immensely.

Thank you for everything you do for your patients and community. Your knowledge, skills, and collaboration are very much appreciated.

NSN Shift Support Podcast

Happy Wednesday! Monday was the official launch day of the NSN Shift Support Podcast! THANK YOU to everyone who has listened and/or subscribed! It means so much to me! The podcast already has over 70 downloads in 3 days- which is way more than I anticipated honestly! If you haven’t listened yet- I would love for you to join our community!

Subscribe/Listen to the Podcast!

The NSN Shift Support Podcast will publish 3 episodes, all 20 minutes or less every Monday to help prepare and support you before each shift. We will discuss healthcare, self care, mental health, and more! This is designed for nurses, CNAs, nursing students & any other healthcare professional that needs a little extra support before each shift!

Thank you so much for your support of the blog & the podcast! Have you listened to the podcast? If so, I’d love to hear any feedback!

Creativity is Flowing- Workbook & a Podcast

Hello & Happy Saturday! It is a very rainy and gloomy day here today. We came back down the mountain yesterday after a very revitalizing few weeks in the mountains. I feel like the time away and enjoying the mountain air really helped to get my creativity going again which has been so nice! I think I’ll spending today under a blanket and working on NSN & the blog! Lot’s of exciting things are coming and I can’t wait to share them all with you! Today I’m sharing my two latest projects.

Self Love Mini Workbook

I officially have my first digital download for sale on both Nurses Supporting Nurses Shop and Etsy Shop! This printable mini workbook provides journal prompts, affirmations, a self reflection worksheet and more to help you on your self love & self care journey. This is perfect for anyone looking to do some inner work, as it is not specific to nurses. The profit from this workbook goes to help support Nurses Supporting Nurses to grow and help more members of the nurse community.

NSN Shift Support Podcast

This may be one of the scariest things I’m doing but I’m also so excited for it! I always said I wouldn’t have a podcast- I don’t like the sound of my voice and I just couldn’t imagine putting something like this out into the world. However, through some market research, I have found a lot of people like to consume their information through podcast. I want to help the NSN community in as many ways as I can, so a podcast was the next resource I felt I needed to provide! Every Monday I will publish three, 20 minutes or less episodes for you to listen to on your commute to your next shift. We will discuss self care, health care, mental health, and more! I would so appreciate if you would support the podcast by subscribing and tuning in! Please be kind as I learn something completely new!

Subscribe to the Podcast

That is just a few things coming down the pipeline! I’m excited to continue to grow both the blog and NSN. Thank you so much for all your support, it is appreciated!

Reflections on One Year Away from Bedside Nursing

In the next week I will hit my one year mark away from the bedside. It’s really hard to believe it’s been that long. In some ways, it’s been shorter. In some ways, it’s been longer. I have been a nurse for ten years. During this time- I experienced so many beautiful moments. Moments that I’ll hold close to me forever. There were also hard times. Short staffing, toxic environments, abusive patients, mean nurses, all took it’s toll only my mental and emotional health.

I did two years of travel nursing during the pandemic. My last contract, I began to develop debilitating symptoms of depression and PTSD. I wasn’t getting out of bed, I had trouble showering, I didn’t find job in anything I did. I finally reached out for help and through the support of my husband and family- realized it was time to walk away from the bedside to focus on my own mental health and healing. I deserved time to heal my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

To read more about my choice to step away from the bedside- Stepping Away from Nursing

You deserve to put your mental health first

One thing I really learned in my year away is- you deserve and you should put your mental health first. I was worried about money (which is valid), not doing my part helping during the pandemic, sticking to the career I loved, the list goes on. In the past few years I really started to think I would just stay bedside, at least PRN, for most of my career. I love taking care of patient and families. I love the staff and teamwork of working bedside. The adrenaline. But things change, and it’s okay to adapt to that. You deserve to take care of your health.

You are more than a nurse

I don’t think I realized how much of my self worth I had put in my education and being a nurse. I spent years in nursing school, years working as a nurse. I loved working at the hospital, being a travel nurse, it was something I was really proud of. When I found myself telling people I wasn’t working as a nurse- it was hard. Being a nurse was a huge part of my identity. Through therapy and self growth- I was reminded I am more than a nurse. I am a complete person without working as a nurse.

Nursing can look many different ways

Nursing does not have to be clocking in for a 12 hour shift at the hospital. I knew this, but I was really reminded of it after developing long haul and not being able to return to work. I consider my work with Nurses Supporting Nurses, the organization I founded to provide mental health and wellness resources to nurses, nursing students, and CNAs, to be some of the best use of my nursing skills and experience. I am honored to hold our weekly support group. I now also have a job doing in home medicaid assessments, another new way to be a nurse that I am really enjoying. There is so many opportunities outside the bedside, and if you are needing a break or a change- I highly recommend looking into them.

Chronic Illness is a long and hard journey

I was diagnosed with Covid the beginning of January and after was diagnosed with long haul covid. I have been to the ER, cardiologist, started medication, and had a wide array of symptoms that limited my physical capacity. It’s been a difficult journey, especially when combined with depression and PTSD. But I’m learning to find a new normal and I hope to continue to make improvements in both my physical and mental health.

You are Not Alone

If the support group I have facilitated for the past 7 months has taught me anything, it’s you are not alone. In your worries, stress, struggles- other people are feeling the same things you are. Almost everyone in our support group is actively looking for other jobs or has changed jobs. We all have struggled with the stress of the pandemic, short staffing, and just life in general. If you are a nurse, CNA, or nursing student, we would love to have you join our support group.

Nursing is hard. It’s even harder during a pandemic. Short staff, supply shortage, emotional trauma, the list goes on. And it’s okay to say- I need a break. That may look like cutting hours or changing jobs. Please take care of you. You deserve to feel happy and find peace.

Nurse Practitioner, Nurse, & Social Worker Killed While Working

The past week has held a lot of tragedy for the nursing & health care community. Three member of our community- a nurse, a social worker, and a nurses practitioner were all killed while simply doing their jobs. And we aren’t talking about military medics on the front lines of war (which is tragic) but civilian nurses in a hospital and detox center in the U.S. Places staff, patients, and families should be safe. Our country and hospitals are failing nurses and healthcare workers- over and over again.

On Tuesday October 18, June Onkundi, a psychiatric nurse practitioner was stabbed and killed by a patient she was caring for at Freedom House Recovery Center in Durham, NC. The recovery center is a halfway house and detoxification center.

On Saturday October 22, a nurse- Katie Flowers, who went by Annette, and Jacqueline Pokuaa, a social worker were shot and killed at Dallas Methodist on the post partum unit . The alleged killer was shot by a Dallas Methodist police sergeant in the leg. He was stabilized and transferred to a nearby hospital.

Violence Against Health Care Workers

These tragedies are senseless and heartbreaking. Healthcare workers should never fear for their lives when going to work, but especially fear of death by a gunshot. Yet, healthcare workers are five times as likely to experience violence in the work place as other professions. We have enough trauma with the mismanagement of the entire pandemic, short staffing, lack of needed supplies. Violence against healthcare workers has alway been an issue, and now it is on the tragically on the rise. Some other concerning statistics:

  • The rate of injuries from violent attacks against medical professionals grew by 63% from 2011 to 2018
  • In a survey by National Nurses United, 48% of the more than 2,000 responding nurses reported an increase in workplace violence — more than double the percentage from a year earlier.
  • 44% of nurses report experiencing physical violence
  • 68% of nurses report verbal abuse during the pandemic

Poor Response from Dallas Methodist

This message from a employee at Dallas Methodist was shared on The Nurse Erica’s instagram and it is heartbreak that the hospital not only failed to protect the nurse and social worker who passed, but they also failed to care for the mental and emotional health of their staff member. I have since read that crisis councilors were brought in- but why were they not there from day 1? Why were they not working to make the staff feel safe and help them cope. This is, yet again, another moment when healthcare facilities and admin fail to care for the healthcare workers.

SAVE Act

Representatives Madeleine Dean (PA-D) and Larry Dean Bucshon (IN-R) introduced the Safety From Violence for Healthcare Employees (SAVE) Act. This bill, modeled after current protections for aircraft and airport workers, would provide legal penalties for individuals who knowingly and intentionally assault or intimidate hospital employees. This bill needs to be passed as a first step in protecting healthcare workers.

The bill is endorsed by the American Hospital Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the Indiana Hospital Association, and the Indiana Organization for Nursing Leadership.

Support from NSN

If you need a safe place to come and share your thoughts and feelings on these tragedies, your fear for the future of nursing or walking in to work, or whatever it may be- Nurses Supporting Nurses is here for you. We hold a complimentary support group every Wednesday at 8pm EST for nurses, nursing students, and CNAs. Visit the website or reach out if you want more information.

Sending love to the families of the lost healthcare workers. I am truly sorry the system failed your loved on.

References:

https://www.fox4news.com/news/two-nurses-killed-in-dallas-hospital-shooting-identified

https://nurse.org/articles/nurse-stabbed-by-patient/

https://www.aha.org/fact-sheets/2022-06-07-fact-sheet-workplace-violence-and-intimidation-and-need-federal-legislative

https://dean.house.gov/2022/6/reps-dean-and-bucshon-introduce-bill-to-protect-healthcare-employees

https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/threats-against-health-care-workers-are-rising-heres-how-hospitals-are-protecting-their-staffs

https://www.aha.org/lettercomment/2022-03-24-aha-urges-doj-protect-health-care-workers-workplace-violence

Ten Fall Self Care Ideas

If you read Monday’s post or you have been watching my IG stories- you know I am very happily in the mountains of Western NC enjoying the gorgeous fall leaves! I will say, the weather took a turn with a cold front coming through over the next few days. We went from 60s and sunny to 30 degrees with a windchill in the teens… BRRRR. I’m not sure who ordered winter, but they can have it back. Thankfully, we will be back to the 60s for the weekend.

We know we love self care over here. It is so important for nurses and nursing students, but honestly everyone needs self care. Fall is in full swing and it’s time to get in all the fall activities before winter arrives (it’s definitely reminding me it’s coming here in NC this week!) So today, I’m sharing some ideas for some fun, festive, and rejuvenating fall self care.

Go to a pumpkin patch or pick apples

Cliche? Maybe. Fun? Yes. I love walking around an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch in the fall!

Go on a walk or hike in nature

Time in nature and sun exposure are excellent ways to life your mood and practice self care, especially as the days get shorter. It doesn’t need to be strenuous and it doesn’t require a lot of travel. Go to a near by state park or city park and enjoy a walk. As you walk, take the time to really be present. Notice the smell of the fresh air, the feel of the wind, the sounds, and the colors and around you.

Sip a warm beverage

Hot apple cider became a favorite fall beverage for me when we first got the camper and had our first fall in Washington, D.C.! Now, any time the weather is crisp and fall/winter roll around- it is a must have! Hot tea is always another favorite- especially with some local honey! And of course, I have to have a couple pumpkin spic lattes!

Enjoy some aromatherapy 

A nice candle, essential oil, bath oil- whatever it may be, aromatherapy is a great way to relax.

Bake a fall treat

I personally enjoy baking and really enjoy the finished product! If baking doesn’t bring you joy, consider purchasing a treat from a bakery! If you are up for some baking, these  pumpkin spice blondies from Brittany are delicious and easy to make!

Cook (or purchase) a cozy meal

There is something soooo comforting about a bowl of soup or stew in the fall. Made even better if you let it simmer all day on the stove top or in your crock pot! I made white chicken chili Monday night and it really hit the spot when we ate the leftovers for lunch on this cold day! It was also a super easy recipe and came together quickly. I did sub out the rotisserie chicken for some chicken breast I made in the instant pot.

Go on a drive to see the fall foliage

There is something so relaxing about the beauty in the colors of fall. If you aren’t up for a hike, or you want to cover more ground, head out for a drive to see some colors! We are close to the Blue Ridge Parkway where we are housesitting so I hope we are able to get out for a drive to see the leaves in the next couple days!

Journal a daily gratitude while snuggled under a blanket

Journaling can help decrease stress and anxiety. My One Line a Day Journal  is great to use as a daily gratitude journal, includes a weekly guided reflection, and the money I receive goes to support Nurses Supporting Nurses.

Make your space cozy

A fall candle, dimmed lights, a soft blanket, clean sheets- whatever will help you relax and feel cozy in your space- treat yourself to it! I love having a cozy space as the weather gets cooler to sip a cup of tea, journal, or take a nap.

Watch your favorite scary (or not so scary) movie and enjoy a spa day

Choose your favorite Halloween (or not!) movie, pop some popcorn, grab a favorite beverage, and enjoy a little relaxing spa day. I love using a nice hand and face mask while I watch my favorite movie or show.

What fall self care will you do this week? I have been enjoying cooking cozy meals, walks with the dogs, fall foliage, and I plan to make some pumpkin bread this week!

 

Nurses, Be Kind to Our Nursing Students

I’m not sure why this has to be a constant conversation, but it does. I have seen it as a nursing student and ten years as a nurse. I recently spoke to a nursing student who was upset after a clinical with a difficult nurse. This nurse went as far to give her a poor review, which thankfully her instructor corrected. But to treat any human like this. Yet alone the future of our profession. My heart broke for this very kind person being hurt by someone from my profession. A profession that is support to support and care for other. Yet, we can be so mean to our own.

The Stress of Nursing

Nurses, I get it. Nursing is becoming more and more stressful as we continue to work through a pandemic and higher acuity patients. Nurses are taking on more tasks, responsibilities, patients while working with less and less staff. Then, you probably aren’t even told until the day of your shift you will have a student with you. And I get it, I have precepted new nurses, travel nurses and students. They can slow you down. Teaching slows you down. When the shift is crazy, it’s overwhelming to have someone right beside you.

However, this is NOT the students fault! They need us to be kind and help them to learn, so they can grow into competent nurses. We need nurses to want to stay in the field, so we can finally have staff again! Abusing a nursing student is not okay.

Nursing Students

I know I was a kind and appreciative nursing student. I know this person I spoke to is a great student. I know plenty of kind nursing students who were bullied by nurses in nursing school. I will say, I also know nursing students who come to clinical unprepared and act like they don’t want to be there. This is not okay either. Come to clinical ready to learn and help-whether you are interested in the speciality or not.

If you do get paired with a less than kind nurse, take a deep breath. Do not take it personally. Because it’s not about you- it’s about the nurse and the broken system they are working with. Treating you poorly is not okay, but unfortunately that happens sometimes. If you really are being mistreated, please tell your instructor. If they are just not pleasant, try to make it through. Be as helpful as you can, give them some space, and if they don’t feel up to questions- skip questions this clinical unless really necessary for school or patient safety.

Something I noticed when I was in nursing school (and even a nurse), when you have a terrible shift/clinical/class- where you feel like it’s the end of the world and everything is awful- a better day is coming. You just have to get through the hard day, but it won’t stay this way forever. I would have a terrible clinical with a mean nurse and then the next clinical I left on cloud 9.

Nurses

Nurses, like I said before, I know sometimes students can be unprepared and act not interested. This is frustrating. Instead of being rude, try privately and kindly encouraging the student. I also know, I personally have had nurses in clinical be awful to me- as well as witnessed them be awful to students. This is not okay. We have to do better. These are our own, and they deserve kindness and support. If you see this type of behavior from a coworker, talk to them in private. If it doesn’t get better, talk to your charge nurse or higher up about this person no longer taking students. It’s truly not fair to the student nurse and not a good learning enviorment.

Be Kind

All in all, remember we are all human with lives outside of the healthcare setting. Be kind to each other. Support each other. We are all on the same team.

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.