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.

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.

July 25, 2010

Great Cities for Nursing Part II

Posted in Nursing Career, Nursing Tips tagged , , , , at 7:25 pm by Nursing Tales Team

Working as a nurse, your career is wide open as far as where you can go and what you can do.  What you do is only part of the equation of your total job satisfaction.  Where you go is another part.   Here are a few more cities where nurses can expand their career and enjoy life outside of work.

In this portion of our list of great cities to work in, we will also mention a few great cities for travelling nurses since that part of the industry is forever growing.

Nashville, TN

Although the average salary, when compared to cities like Boston, is much lower Nashville has a lot to offer those in the nursing profession.  Earning approximately $35,000 – $40,000 annually, a nurse will find that this salary actually fits right in to the overall cost of living in this large city; so financial compensation in relation to expenses works out to be comparable.  When you also factor in the professional growth opportunities this city offers, you can see why it ranks high on the list of best places to work.

As with San Diego, Nashville has an average commute time of less than 30 minutes.  And the city also offers plenty of things to do in your time away from the hospital or office.  In the summer months, Centennial Park can be the place to go for dance lessons and Big Band dances.  At Radnor Lake State Natural Area and Warner Park Nature Center, one can find hiking and biking trails and commune with nature.

Honolulu, HI

For those who love the water and love to enjoy nature, Honolulu can be a slice of heaven on earth.  With an average salary of just over $40,000 annually, a nurse can exist comfortably in the island paradise that is replete with trails and beautiful beaches.

Because nurses are still in high demand in hospitals, clinics and private practice offices throughout the island, job security is not a concern.

For travelling nurses, the job that they perform can change with every new city that is visited.  Travelling nurses can work in a private setting or in a hospital or clinic; and work assignments can range from a few weeks to several months.  This realm of the nursing industry is growing, as more nurses are finding the adventure of travel quite appealing.  Here are some of the most popular cities for travelling nurses.

Boston, MA

Yes, Boston was also on the list of great cities for nurses in general.  Travelling nurses also love Boston because it serves up the vibe of a big city with a more relaxed feel to it.  Additionally, Boston is located in close proximity to places like Martha’s Vineyard and New York; so there is always plenty do on days off.

Salem, OR

Agencies for travelling nurses receive request after request for assignments in the up and coming city of Salem, Oregon.  Replete with farmer’s markets, great scenery and some of the friendliest people around, Salem is welcoming and full of things to do.  For the outdoorsy type, the city is ideal.

Great Cities for Nursing Part I

Posted in Nursing Career tagged , , , , at 7:21 pm by Nursing Tales Team

Working as a nurse carries with it great benefits as well as challenges.  In terms of salary and availability of work, the field of nursing is still wide open.  Even throughout tough economic times, nurses can find work and receive a significant salary.  Here we will take a look at some of the best cities to work in the nursing industry.  Whether your preference is to work as a private nurse, in a large hospital or in a small town clinic, it isn’t difficult to find a great city to spend at least part of your career.

It is important, when choosing where you want to work in terms of what part of the country or what city, that you look at more than just the salary that you are being offered.  In some places where the salary for a nurse is high, the cost of living is also high.  If you are drawn in simply because of salary it could leave you more strapped financially than you might imagine.  In addition to salary, you also want to look at growth opportunities, living expenses such as rents, food prices and cost of fuel or public transportation.  You also want to take into consideration the overall climate and environment of any city you may be considering.  Here we will take a look at a two great cities.

San Diego, CA

California is the land of sand and sun; surf and turf.  Many people are drawn to the bustling city precisely because of its proximity to the ocean.  With an average salary offering of $45,000 and consistently good weather, San Diego will remain a top spot for nurses for a long time to come.

The average commute time throughout the city is less than 30 minutes; and apartment rentals run from approximately $1,000 – $2,000 per months depending on location.  In some neighborhoods, you can even find single family residence rental for under $2,000.

San Diego offers an abundance of things to do, from the beach to the mountains to nightlife or nature; there is simply something for everyone in this large Southern California city.  On the career front, there are several hospitals and a wide array of clinics and established medical practices. A nurse can find the perfect job and gain valuable learning opportunities.

Boston, MA

On the East side of the United States, Boston provides ample opportunity for nurses to find work and grow in their career.  This large city hosts several premiere medical facilities, such as Beth Israel, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s and Mass. General, US News and World Report’s 2007 fifth best hospital..  These four hospitals listed are just a few of the many wonderful medical facilities available.  Boston is known for having some of the best hospitals in the country.

In Boston, nurses receive some of the nation’s top salaries.  The average nursing salary for this city is $40 an hour, or $85,000 annually.  And the good news about Boston doesn’t stop there.  Think that you can only enjoy beaches on the Southern California or Florida coastlines and you’d be wrong.  Living in Boston, you can take advantage of miles of pristine Atlantic beaches as well as neighboring islands.

In addition to offering a numerous jobs within the city limits, this area also has a large offering of nursing jobs outside of the city.  If you like the thought of living in a suburban area with a slower pace, and working not commuting into the city you can find it in the Boston area.

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.

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