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 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.

June 19, 2010

The Professional Male Nurse

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 3:51 am by Nursing Tales Team

Nursing is a great profession for both men and women.  With the immense opportunities for growth and great flexibility of hours, there is something for everyone in nursing.

For the male nurse, attire is pretty much the same as everyone else in the hospital…scrubs.  However, men have different body types than women and still want to look polished and professional on the job.  To look great and feel great even when you wear scrubs every day, there are certain steps you can take.

If you work in an environment where your scrubs are mandated to be a specific style and color, perhaps you can wear a long sleeved fitted t-shirt underneath your uniform.  The contrast in color livens up your attire and the form fit shows off your arms.  No one said you can’t look sexy in scrubs!

When you have more leeway in terms of dress, your fashion options are wide open.  Sports fans can find scrubs that show off their loyalty to the team.  These types of scrubs range from a simple logo on the chest to all over decals.  Perhaps in this case less is more, no?

To maintain a totally professional yet totally hot vibe, check out the raglan scrub top.  This two tone style can be worn over solid pants.  The raglan scrub top features longer sleeves, slightly above the elbow.  However, it would still look incredible with the long sleeved t-shirt underneath.

For pants, there’s always the basic drawstring scrub pant in a variety of colors.  But now there are also pants in the cargo style that are flattering to the male physique.  If you really want to change up your scrub style, try the 7 pocket scrub pant by Landau on for size.  These pants feature a great fit and can be worn with a belt.

Part of the nurse uniform is the good old ID badge.  Female nurses are now dressing their badges up with beaded lanyards and badge reels.  You can do this too.  Not with beads, of course; but lanyards come in masculine leather and badge holders and reels can be found to feature metal and leather as well.

The way you feel at work plays a part in how you interact with others.  It’s just a part of how we are made up.  So do what you must to find the right scrubs for your body type, or dress up the scrubs you can wear with a t-shirt or leather lanyard and feel better as soon as your next shift.

Tips To Soothe Dry Hands

Posted in Nurses, Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 3:47 am by Nursing Tales Team

Hand washing is a regular part of a nurse’s day on the job. Between the washing and sanitizing treatments, your hands can become chapped and cracked. Before you know it, your days of having smooth delicate hands are long forgotten and you fear you will never see them again.

Don’t despair over dry hands. There are plenty of treatment options to help you get back the smooth skin and maintain it for the long haul. All it takes is dedication and the right routine. You created the routine of regular washing (which landed you in this predicament), and you can just as easily add some steps into that new routine to make your hands healthy and attractive.

Obviously, smooth hands are made with moisture. With soaps and sanitizers stealing necessary moisture from your skin, you have to find ways to put it back. Lightweight lotions aren’t sufficient to give you the treatment that you need. What you need to really restore moisture is a nice thick lotion – one that stays in place even if you turn your hand over. Try out Eucerine Plus, Bag Balm, Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, or Aquaphor Healing Ointment. Before starting a new routine, check with infection control to make sure that the lotion you choose will not pose a risk to the gloves that you wear or the patients you may be treating.

When washing your hands, it is important to try and avoid soaps that contain alcohol. If possible, use a gentler soap like Dove or Cetaphil at work and at home. You can carry your own soaps and lotions in travel sized containers in your pockets. Also, use cold or warm water to wash your hands instead of hot water. Hot water will also steal moisture from your skin. Pair with harsh soaps and you have a recipe for disaster. Keep it healthy by using the right soaps and the right temperature of water.

Create healthy hand habits at home as well as work. Damaged skin doesn’t only occur at work. Cold winter air is also quite dry; so in winter months, wear gloves or mittens to protect your hands from dry air. Also be sure to keep up your moisturizing routine in full force when you are at home. Carry lotion with you in your car or purse so when hands feel dry, you can react quickly and keep dryness at bay.

Through consistent effort, your hands should regain their moisture and elasticity fairly quickly. When you notice dryness going away, don’t slack off with your moisturizing routine. Keep up with regular washing and moisturizing; and protect hands from the elements. Should you go through all of these tips and find that your hands do not respond or get worse, see a dermatologist.

It’s best to take these measures quickly and consistently so you don’t have to fight an uphill battle. Your hands are a big part of your job. You want to show off hands that you are proud of and you also want to be comfortable as you go through your days.

Cracked hands can end up being harmful to patients if bacteria is present. So don’t procrastinate taking care of the dry skin problem.

The Realities of Dating a Co-worker

Posted in Nurses tagged , , , , at 3:41 am by Nursing Tales Team

Watch Grey’s Anatomy and you’ll think that dating different doctors and nurses where you work is the thing to do.  However, life at work can be made quite difficult when you do date new Hottie from the Cath Lab.  To maintain your reputation at work doesn’t mean that you have to steer clear of dating someone close to you.  Things happen, and should you experience a mutual attraction with a co-worker, you may want to explore those feelings to see where they go.  Who knows, you may be the one to get the happily ever after.  But make sure the facility you are working for doesn’t have rules against co-workers dating.

You cannot assume that your nursing team will be happy for you should you engage in a relationship with another co-worker.  So before you jump in with both feet, you need to determine just how to proceed.  Of course you are not at work to build relationships; you are there to help your patients and fulfill your career goals.  However, part of your success and job satisfaction is determined by your work relationships.  If you do feel that you want to apursue that spark that you share with that cute co-worker, here are some tips to help it go smoothly.

•    It seems obvious to assume you would not play bad nurse and hook up in empty storage rooms.  This is not Hollywood, it is your place of employment.  However, it cannot be overstated that you should refrain from any PDA (public display of affection) at work.  This goes for passing in the halls to having lunch in the courtyard.  When you are anywhere near your work facilities, maintaining a professional demeanor is your best plan of action.  Your relationship is private; for your enjoyment.  Keeping the details and the PDA for time away from the job can actually fan the flames even more!

•    Maintaining relationships with your friends at work is a must.  Your nursing team needs to operate as a cohesive unit; and if you suddenly disappear because you playing fast and loose up with Dr. Steamy Dream, it is likely that they will not take kindly to your absence.  Be sure to continue those lunches with the team, or the Friday night happy hour routine you have set up.  Whatever your routine has been, work your new romantic relationship around that and your co-workers will be all the more supportive when they do discover your romantic involvement.

•    Keep your career on track.  Let’s say you begin to date a doctor; maybe your childhood dream was to marry a doctor; you still have your own career to think about.  Don’t stop training or start slacking off on the job.  Should your romantic involvement reach heights in which you commit your lives forever, good for you.  But until then, it’s best to stick with your own personal goals that you had set so that you don’t wind up with regret.

Dating another nurse, a doctor, or anyone else in your facility does not exactly equal disaster.  That is not a given.  But it is also not a guarantee that you will ride off into the sunset either.  As with any time two co-workers date; decorum is of the utmost importance.

Eating for Energy

Posted in Nursing Career, Nursing Tips tagged , , , , , , at 3:35 am by Nursing Tales Team

As a nurse, it is imperative that you are on your game at all times.  You are not allowed to crash and burn halfway through your shift when you have patients counting on you.  Oh no, even if you are set up with a 12 hour shift (or especially so), you must keep your energy flowing evenly in order to perform at your best.

Eating healthy is not difficult, even when you are eating out or find yourself snacking from the vending machine.  An occasional treat is fun and you are very deserving of a treat now and then.  Obtain your daily sustenance from the cafeteria, the vending machine, or the nearest McDonald’s, however, is not the way to set yourself up for ongoing energy and a healthy body.

As a nurse, it is in some ways expected of you to be the face of health.  Think about it.  You are the one treating patients who have fallen into poor health.  If you are the one with the answers, you should look the part.  That means that your immune system needs to be up and your energy needs to shine through your eyes.  What you consume will either make or break you when it comes to maintaining health and energy throughout your days as a nurse.  Here are some tips to help you make it through.

•    Eat fresh.  Some of the best things you can take to work every day are apples and nuts.  For your mid-shift snack, eat a few nuts, an apple and some cheese and you’re good to go for another few hours.  Fresh foods keep you going because they do not contain all the additives and preservatives of packaged foods.  They are primed and ready to give you a sugar lift without overdoing it.  You want your blood sugar regulated throughout the day, and fresh fruits and vegetables are the way to achieve this.
•    Eat at the right times.  This can take some getting used to; but in order to maintain health and vitality on the job, you should eat every four hours.  When you are more active, you eat more frequently, like every three hours; but on the job you can pretty much get what you need with meals spaced 4 hours apart.  The thing is, you should eat enough to feel full but not stuffed; and what you eat should keep you going until the next meal.  If you are hungry before 4 hours, you will need to start consuming more at each meal.  It can take some finesse; but you will find the amounts to eat to maintain your energy and create a healthier you.
•    Eat, don’t drink, your calories.  Sugary drinks like your favorite caramel macchiato have more calories than is necessary, and so much sugar that you are bound to feel great for awhile and then crash before your shift is over.  Water is your best friend when it comes to hydrating.  Sticking with water, tea or coffee (coffee drinks not included!) can help you perk up when you do need that caffeine; but won’t dump a bunch of sugar into your system.

How you Cope As a Nurse Determines How Long you Last

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 3:32 am by Nursing Tales Team

As a nurse, your job is not fun and games.  Sometimes you will deal with difficult situations that don’t go your way.  Sometimes you will deal with out and out tragedy in the lives of your patience.  Here’s the truth:  a nurse who is personally emotionally attached to the outcome of the patient is the nurse who will be looking for another line of work in a few years.

If you love your job and want to stick with it for the long haul, then you must…I repeat, MUST, find ways to cope with the inevitable setbacks that will come to your patients at some point in time.

Does this mean that you learn to not care?  Of course not, caring is one of your highest job responsibilities!  You must care about your patients and show compassion for them.  Again, if you stop caring, you may as well go and look for another job right now.

To deal with this type of stress, what a nurse must learn to do is detach from the outcome of the patient.  This allows you to care and become as emotionally involved with the patient as necessary; while remembering that having given your best nursing skills you have very little control over how the patient comes out on the other side of their illness or injury.  When you realize that you have no control, you can understand that the outcome has nothing to do with you.  This understanding can help you maintain your level of care; while not breaking down should you not get the outcome you expect.  The patient and their family will rely on you for strength and support.  You are in the unique situation of both grieving with and supporting this family; and you can do it with grace when you remove your expectations for a happy ending.

Stress for a nurse can come from a wide array of factors.  Understaffing, contract negotiations, role ambiguity and exposure to infected patients are all aspects of the job that concern nurses.  These are the big issues; but stress can also be caused by everyday occurrences such as shift work.  Nurses who work the night shift may find a struggle with the way their body reacts to being up all night. Even when you get adequate sleep during the day, your body is made to sleep during the nocturnal hours and may reject day sleeping for awhile.

To last a long time in your nursing profession, it is important that you learn more about yourself.  There are ample suggestions on every website and in magazines to help you manage stress; but you are the person who knows your mind and body the best.  So it is up to you to try out available resources.  See how it feels to create a ritual of soaking in the tub after a long shift, or getting a weekly pedicure to relieve tired feet.

The thoughts that you think bring about the feelings that you experience.  In order to feel better at work and in life, you’ve got to think thoughts that make you feel better.  This comes through relaxation, meditation and prayer.  Find what works for you and stick with it.

Fashion Trends and the Medical Field

Posted in Nurse Fashion tagged , , , , at 3:18 am by Nursing Tales Team

Not long ago, the halls of  hospitals were filled with medical staff wearing white.  White pants or skirts, white shirts and even white hats (depending on how far back you want to look).  The fashion of medicine was formal to say the least.  Doctors may not have worn white, they may have walked onto the scene dressed in their business suit; while the nurse stood by in her white coat, dress and shoes.

When you think of the health care profession, you probably don’t associate fashion with.  You are at work to perform specific duties; to touch lives and help your patient’s deal with their medical issues.  But fashion has indeed evolved in this field over the years, and thankfully so; now you get to wear your Elmo or Stars and Stripes scrubs instead of a button down, knee length dress to work!

The easing of fashion ties began first in pediatric wards of hospitals, where pastel colored uniforms took the place of traditional white uniforms.  While it didn’t happen over night, the pastel uniform slowly became accepted in other parts of the medical field as well.

Scrubs were seen first and foremost in the operating room because of the need for a sterile environment.  Rarely did you see them anywhere else.  But as with all trends, the scrub revolution was on and crept into all areas of the medical field.  I mean, how could it not when scrubs are so incredibly comfortable and versatile?

Now that scrubs are the new uniform, this too has evolved into a huge fashion trend.  The first scrubs were that traditional green-blue color worn in the O.R.; but now they come in all colors and patterns to fit the personal style of any nurse or doctor.  Scrubs are also now available with anti-microbial properties that help guard against infection of patient or health care worker. The anti-microbial action lasts through hundreds of washings.

It used to be thought that the white coat and strict uniform attire was more professional and created a mental barrier between staff and patients.  This could be true,  but is that space really necessary, or is it best to create a comfortable environment where the patient feels both confident in your abilities and relaxed by your informal presence?

I guess the bottom line is that what works works.  In scrubs, you are comfortable and have the ability to move freely about your day.  Walking around in medical Crocs or comfortable tennis shoes could actually be making you better at your job in the long run, so go with the flow.

The Big Wide World of Nursing

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 3:09 am by Nursing Tales Team

Nursing is a field that has evolved over the years.  Instead of morphing from one single entity into another completely different type; nursing has actually expanded and reached out into parts of the field that some are still completely unaware of.  Some nurses kinow before they even enter nursing school which direction they want to go in.  Some change their minds within a few days of being in that role they coveted so much.  Some nurses go with the flow and change their roles several times throughout their career.  This is one of the joys of this occupation – the ability to stretch yourself and gain knowledge and experience along the way.  Here, we will delve into some of the nurse specialties that are out there.

The Nurse-midwife

The nurse-midwife is an advanced practice nurse who has received  additional training around delivering babies and providing prenatal and postpartum care.  During labor and delivery (which can be at the patient’s home or in a hospital or birthing center), the nurse-midwife sometimes never leaves the mother’s side.

This type of a nurse knows how to read the signs and symptoms that lean away from what is normal for childbirth and will consult with a physician during the delivery process.

In addition to labor and delivery, a nurse-midwife also provides family planning counseling to include birth control options and normal gynecological services.  She will perform breast exams, pap smears and other preventative health screenings and sometimes prescribe medications (depending on the state).

The nurse midwife earns a salary range of approximately $80,000 and $100,000 annually.
Forensic Nursing

According to TheForensicNurse.com, the “Forensic nurse is a nurse with specialized training in forensic evidence collection, criminal procedures, legal testimony expertise, and more. The Forensic nurse becomes that liason between the medical profession and that of the criminal justice system. When you combine the medical training of a nurse, with the investigative prowess of police detectives and the legal training of a lawyer, you have created a formidable enemy for criminals.”

This term was actually coined back in 1992 and recognized by the American Association of Nurses in 1996; but it is a field many have not considered or even heard of.  In this field of nursing, there are branches such as Sexual Assault Nursing, expert medical witness, Nurse death investigator or Medicolegal death investigation (which was used after Katrina when identification was possible only through forensics).  This is just the beginning of what is possible in this budding nursing field.

The salary for a forensic nurse varies widely (reportedly from $26 to $100 per hour) based on experience and location.  Depending on the part of the country where you practice and on your level of experience, you can negotiate better terms.

The Legal Nurse Consultant

For the nurse who wants a change of pace away from actual patient care, this field is wide open with possibility.  Legal nurse consultants fill the gap between medicine and the judicial system.  This nurse analyzes medically-related issues relevant to a legal case and provides informed opinions on the delivery of health care and its results.  For the judicial system, legal nurse consultants provide a valuable service that saves the system thousands of dollars.  It is through the nurse’s expertise and understanding of the nuances of the health care system that medical issues in a legal case can be effectively interpreted.

The Legal Nurse consultant may work for independent consulting practices, or law firms; in government offices, insurance companies, hospital risk management departments or in forensic environments.  This nursing field earns the specialized RN a salary of approximately $125 per hour.

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