September 10, 2010

Tips for keeping it together in Stressful Times

Posted in Nursing Tips tagged , , , , at 4:42 am by Nursing Tales Team

Between needy patients, demanding superiors, and economic stressors, life can become overwhelming. To keep yourself together at work is a large part of enjoying life and the abundance it can provide. Let’s face it; there is no way to change the reality of layoffs, salary negotiations, and workplace issues. Therefore, a healthy mental attitude is what can make all the difference. Here are a few tips for dealing with workplace stress.

  • We all know the saying, “birds of a feather flock together”; choose your flock carefully. If you spend your time in conversations with gossips and naysayers; you will be drug down by their negative energy. Sometimes these people can be hard to avoid, for they will walk right up to you and attempt to engage you in negative conversation or gossip. Your response to irritating coworkers can be quick and simple. “Wow. You don’t say. I’ve got to get back to work, see you later.” With any luck, it will take only a few times of you blowing them off to get the message across.
  • Moods are contagious and it is important to guard yours. If a coworker is in a bad mood, move away from them if possible. If a physical move is not possible, then turn on some music and immerse yourself in your own tasks. Hum to yourself or think thoughts that make you smile. The key is to avoid bad energy and protect your good mood.
  • Taking a break from a stressful environment can be the thing that gets you through rough patches. Take your allotted breaks away from your department. Getting fresh air is quite cathartic and also very good for your health. During lunch, leave your designated area and head outside; to a nearby park if possible. Walking, reading, or just sitting back and letting the sun warm you are all wonderful ways to ease stress and empty your mind of frustrations.
  • Speaking of frustrations, if you want to avoid stress, it pays to show some understanding. Anna Maravelas, founder of Thera Rising, a conflict resolution and organizational development consultancy, and author of How to Reduce Workplace Conflict and Stress, says to “be hard on the problem, but soft on the people.” Most people have much more on their minds than the task immediately at hand. Perhaps your irritable boss has a sick parent at home; or a sick child. Every person has several personal issues that occupy their minds at any given time. When you can understand this fact of life, it helps you to show compassion to the coworker, patient or supervisor who is having a less than perfect attitude day.
  • One key ingredient to long and happy careers is that of the new day. Every day is a new day. At the end of every workday, leave the happenings of the day where they belong – in the past. To make sure you can do this, it is necessary to make sure you tie up loose ends before going home. If you experience a misunderstanding with a coworker, resolve (or completely drop) the matter before the end of your shift. On the way home from work, make that mental shift from work to home by imagining a door closing behind you and a new one opening in front of you.
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September 7, 2010

Answers to Tough Interview Questions

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 4:39 am by Nursing Tales Team

Whether you are attending a career fair or have set up an appointment for an interview with a top recruiter; you want to know the best way to present yourself from start to finish. Employers expect a good resume and cover letter; but it is what you show them about yourself in person that really counts. Here are 5 of the toughest interview questions and tips on how to answer them eloquently.

1. Why should I hire you?

The answer to this question can come right from your resume. Prepare this answer ahead of time and practice it to perfection. In your resume, you will find a few things (3 to 5 is recommended) that make you an outstanding candidate for the position you seek. Point out specific areas in which you have a proven track record. Answers can be as simple as “I work hard”; but should be backed with a specific instance to prove that statement.

2. What is your biggest weakness?

This is a tough question to answer. You want to be realistic but you also want to keep the focus of your interview on your strengths above all else. For this question, it is best to provide an answer that is honest, followed up with your working plan to correct the weakness. For instance, if you over-commit, your plan will be to set personal and professional limits in order to focus only where it is necessary and productive.

3. Where do you see yourself in five years?

The honest truth to this question may just be “I have no idea”. However, that is certainly not the answer to provide a potential employer. This person wants to uncover your commitment level to your career and to your employer. A simple answer to this question could be “Based on ongoing assessments, I can say that I see myself growing in the career path I have chosen, and I see myself doing that here.” This does not commit you to staying with this particular employer for five years; it is simply your current assessment of your future goals.

4. What salary do you think you deserve?

It is best to avoid talking salary on a first interview. However, if the question comes up, you need to be prepared to answer it. Since you have spent time in school, studying your profession; it is likely that you have an idea of the salary range for your specialty and your area. If you are unsure, do research before beginning the interview process. You never want to throw out a random number; it may be less than what the recruiter had planned to offer. Your answer to this question could be “based on my research, the range for my position goes from $45,000 to $85,000.” If pressed, choose a mid-range number.

5. What did you dislike most about your last job?

This question is fishing at its finest. A question like this seeks for you to show a weakness. So instead of answering in a negative way towards your ex-boss, the hours, the working environment; an answer such as “In my last position, I felt I was not being challenged enough” would show your positive outlook and motivation to reach higher levels.

September 4, 2010

Career Fairs and the Nursing Profession

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 4:36 am by Nursing Tales Team

Career fairs are a common way for nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare employers to meet and interview hundreds of nurses each year. As a nursing professional, it is wise to investigate nursing fair opportunities both in your local area as well as in areas where you may be interested in a nursing career. To discover specific information regarding nursing in different U.S. cities, one has only to search “Best Cities for Nurses” in any internet search engine.

Before you head off to a nursing career fair, there are necessary preparation steps to take:

  • Update and proof-read your resume before making copies to hand out. Have a colleague or school counselor review your resume as well. Once approved, print on professional quality paper and place them in a folder or envelope to keep them safe and wrinkle-free.
  • Create a separate sheet for references. References can include professors from nursing school, managers from any job held, even if not healthcare related, and nurse preceptors or mentors.
  • Create a short bio. You have only a short time to make a good first impression at a nursing career fair. Creating a one-minute introduction will keep you on track and present a professional attitude. Your introduction should include your name, major, and type of position you seek. If you have any special skills, certifications or accomplishments, be sure to mention them. If you are a new graduate, speak of your specific goals.
  • Practice your one-minute bio in the mirror or with a friend. Also practice your handshake.
  • Obtain a list of employers who will be attending the fair and research those you think you would like to work for. Having information about a facility will allow your conversation with the recruiter to flow more freely, as you may have specific questions to ask or can present a specific reason why you would like to work for that particular facility.
  • Dress for Success. As you ready for your trip to a Career Fair, it is wise to check event literature for dress code specifics. If there are none, then be sure to choose outfits that are comfortable but not too casual. Even though you may wear scrubs on the job, you need to look your best for any interview. Conservative dress is key.

At the Career Fair, there are more steps:

  • Work through your list. Remember the list of employers for whom you would like to work? This was a step in the preparation process! Once you arrive at the career fair, make your way through your list – backwards. This means that you speak with employers who are at the bottom of your list first, when you are more nervous. Working from bottom to top, you give yourself time to work through nervousness before you get to your most desired employers.
  • Maintain focus. Career fairs are for networking. Even sophomores and juniors still in student mode can begin making essential connections at career fairs; and may come away with an internship in their area of specialty.
  • Move forward. It is important to ask every potential employer what steps come next in the application process. Do you need to apply online? Do you need to call to schedule an interview or will the recruiter be conducting call-backs? Take notes of the answers you receive from each employer so you follow the right steps to gaining the employment you seek.

When you return home from a career fair, review the notes you took from each meeting. Sending a follow up email to recruiters with a resume is appropriate in many cases. Your notes will serve as your guide. Once this step is accomplished, set aside some time to relax and renew.

Upcoming Nursing Career Fairs:

The University of Virginia School of Nursing will be hosting their annual Career Fair on Monday, November 29, 2010. The event will take place at McLeod Hall, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

Nurse Week Arlington, TX Career Fair will be held on Oct. 5, 2010. This event will take place at the Arlington Convention Center in Arlington Texas.

Nursing Spectrum Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Career Fair will be held on Oct. 18, 2010. This career fair will be held at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

August 24, 2010

Time Management in Nursing

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 7:08 am by Nursing Tales Team

Nursing is a demanding career in and of itself. Without effective time management both at work and at home, a nurse can easily become affected by prolonged stress. Because balance is necessary in life, time management is a skill you do not want to hesitate mastering.

Learning to manage your time effectively is highly rewarding. By managing time, you become more effective and less hassled. At the end of the workday, you return home with a little more energy and a better attitude. In the end, time management skills improve your quality if life immensely.

The first order of business in time management is to create orderly workspaces. This goes for work and home. Wherever you perform paperwork, you need space and order. Before you can begin managing your time, you have to have organization in your workspace. Clean off your desk and put everything in a proper place. Install extra file folders if necessary and purge files no longer needed. Once your space is cleaned up and efficient, maintain it by clearing it off at the end of every day.

Now that you have workspaces that are ready to serve you; you can set out to get more done. Not that you are supposed to take on more work. On the contrary, time management will likely include saying “no” more often. But effective time management actually allows you to accomplish more with less anxiety, so you will get more done in a lot less time than usual.

Lists are wonderful things; they help you remember to get everything you need from the grocery store and can also help you get tasks done at work and at home. It is helpful to create a to-do list every day. In fact, creating two lists is ideal – one for home and one for work. On your to-do list, prioritize tasks; putting those you dislike first. Be sure to mark off as many items as possible each day so you don’t become overloaded as the week wears on.

Sometimes as you make out your to-do list you will realize that many items you have written are tasks that you can delegate to someone else. Find out what tasks you can give away to others. Remember, there is no need to try and do everything yourself. This kind of a mindset will bring you nothing but pressure. You have a support system in place to help you. This consists of co-workers, friends and family. Utilize the support system that you have to get more done.

Charting is a big part of a nurse’s routine. In order to stay focused and avoid getting bogged down at the end of your shift, make a habit of charting every few hours. This enables you to chart while issues are still fresh in your mind and reduces a rush when it comes time to go home.

Time for yourself should also be included on your list every single day. This could be at home, during your lunch hour, or on the way to work in the mornings. Whatever time you can capture needs to be spent to rejuvenate and do something you love doing.

August 22, 2010

Maintaining a Balanced Life

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 7:03 am by Nursing Tales Team

As a rule, the life of a nurse is all about giving. You give to your patients all day (or night) at work. And then, many nurses return home at the end of their shift to then give to their families. It’s no wonder this occupation is filled with people suffering from excessive stress and burnout. In order to maintain a healthy and happy career, the key to nursing is to learn how to maintain a balanced life.

A balanced life consists of many factors. The most important factor in the life of any caregiver is the care that they RECEIVE. Nurses need to have a good support system in order to maintain balance in their lives. This can be family or friends or a professional that you can turn to in times of need. Just having another person to talk to about your needs and concerns can be what you need in order to feel better or come up with solutions to problems sapping your energy.

Your support system can also work to help you get out of the house on days off and blow off steam. Spending time outdoors is good for the body and soul; and spending time outdoors with friends gets your mind off of work and onto the all-important aspect of having fun.

Boundaries are important for all people in fields where their attention can be divided. Far too often, the nurse is pulled in several directions by demanding patients and co-workers who may need assistance. Learning how to say “no” can be the best thing you ever do. Balance does not include overextending yourself. Balance means that you meet what needs you can; while still meeting your own needs and expectations. Setting boundaries also protects you from being taken advantage of.

Technology is a wonderful thing; it keeps us connected with our family and friends, and sometimes even keeps us entertained. In excess, however, your cell phone, iPod and other tech toys can be dragging you down. In order to rejuvenate after a long shift, you need to create a small amount of time to just be quiet and unwind. This time can be in the car on the way home, or it can be found in a quiet area of your home in between work and home responsibilities. During this quiet time, no technology is allowed.

Too many of us jump right out of bed in the mornings in high gear and stay that way until we crash at the end of the day. Instead of beginning your day in a rush, create a relaxing ritual of getting out of bed slowly and enjoying some peace and quiet. Perhaps brewing a hot cup of coffee or tea to enjoy on the patio will hold the magic to setting the tone for your entire day.

Nurses think of other people consistently; so much so that they can forget to think about themselves. To really maintain the life of a nurse and enjoy a long career, balance is a necessity.

August 20, 2010

The Nurse’s Life: Tips for Avoiding Burnout

Posted in Nursing Tips tagged , , , , at 6:53 am by Nursing Tales Team

As a nurse, you tend to the needs and requests of others consistently all throughout each shift. If your shift runs 10 to 12 hours, it is likely that you will be pretty worn out at the end of the day. Not dealing with the stresses of your job can lead to something called burnout. Everyone has heard this term and every one of us is susceptible to it. In nursing, experiencing burnout is not uncommon; but it is an issue that needs to be addressed head on and as quickly as possible. The depression that comes with burnout can threaten your relationships with co-workers, patients and even friends and family.

The good news is that burnout is an issue that you can avoid when you are aware of its occurrence. If you are already suffering exhaustion, it can be healed. You are not stuck and you do not have to give up your career as a nurse. How do you know if you are burned out in your job? Ask yourself these questions:

• Does every day seem to be a bad day?
• Does it take too much energy to think about work?
• Do you feel exhausted much of the time?
• Do you find work either extremely dull or overwhelming?

If you answer yes to most of these questions, you are suffering from burnout. This emotional state is caused by excessive and/or prolonged stress. When in this state, you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet what seem like constant demands for your attention. If left unattended or unrecognized, this tension leads you to lose the interest or motivation that led you becoming a nurse in the first place.

There are days when everyone feels unappreciated or overwhelmed. Life as a nurse is hectic and so it is unrealistic to expect never to experience days when you’d like to just pull the covers back over your head and go back to sleep. When the feelings of helplessness and exhaustion seem to be dragging you down, attention is needed to put yourself back on track and on your feet again.

To bring life back into your emotional state, you must figure out what it is that is causing excessive stress at work. Are you bending to the requests of numerous people in an attempt to not rock the boat? Do you have a habit of dropping what you’re doing to attend to someone else’s needs? Is a co-worker or manager particularly difficult to work with?
No matter how long you have been on the job, it is important that you address issues head on. By asserting yourself rather that behaving in a passive manner, you will feel better. If necessary, you may need to clarify your role and job duties if you are taking on more than you can realistically accomplish.

The field of nursing is wide open and contains many niches. If after careful consideration you discover that you need a new situation, find another area of nursing to work in. Perhaps your personality is too adventurous to stick with one field for several years and taking on a new role in a new department is your ticket to happiness.