New York Enacts Mandatory BSN Law

New York recently enacted mandatory BSN legislation requiring all RNs to obtain their BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the act into law which took effect December 19, 2017. The American Nurses Association (ANA) House of Delegates has long championed the idea that all nurses obtain a BSN or higher degree by 2020. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing Report has called for 80% of RNs to obtain BSN education by 2020.

New Jersey has pending legislation and several other states have legislation in varying stages of the process to enact laws for RNs to obtain minimally BSN education. Small states such as North Dakota have tried to make the BSN mandatory, but by 2003 they had to rescind the legislation in order to find enough nurses to meet the public need due to critical shortages of RNs.

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Why Do You Want to Be a Nurse?

Why are you exploring the nursing profession? The most frequent answer to that question is “to help people,” which I’m quite sure also tells much of the story about why you became a paramedic. There’s always more to it than that, but the basic reason revolves around helping people.  Other reasons for exploring nursing probably involve making more money, working in a safer environment, having more knowledge and responsibilities as well as more opportunities for advancement and leadership.

All of those are quite true. They also come with greater sacrifices and expectations. It’s very important to understand this point before you jump into a nursing program. First there’s a long, challenging and time-consuming learning process. You have to be good at math and science. That includes algebra, statistics, chemistry and anatomy and physiology.  You have to be able to read at a tenth-grade level at the least, and be fluent in the language of the nursing program. In the U.S. that means English, both spoken and written language. Being bilingual is a plus!

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Achieving Work-Life Balance During the Holidays

Halloween is over and the holidays are rapidly approaching. In addition to the normal wear and tear of the stress the holidays inflict, for nurses you can double the effects. Sick people don’t take holidays and can be even more demanding and challenging this time of the year.

As first responders, you know the drill. If you’re lucky to have seniority and a well-staffed company, you might be able to pull rank and get some extra time off. However, for the majority this will not be the case. Overtime is plentiful and often mandatory for the holidays.

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Take Time to Replenish and Not Burn Out

We have been inundated with events full of sadness and tragedy in a few short weeks. Just as we feel there’s a lull and maybe we can catch our breath, something else happens. From the 2017 hurricanes to earthquakes to the devastating mass shooting in Las Vegas, there has been no time to regroup much less time to grieve.

First responders spring into action and just keep going. Nurses and doctors take over the continuum and carry on, while the first responders jump back into action. Precious life hangs in the balance. Some are saved; and some sadly die. Everyone has a story and six degrees of separation never seems more real than in the midst of a crisis. Someone knows someone who knows someone who was involved and it all becomes too real.

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How Education and Retention Affect Ongoing Nursing Shortage

The nursing profession continues to grow and will continue to experience a shortage well into the next decade. Yes, it’s true there are new nurse grads who cannot find jobs. However, there are many factors that can be the reason this. Not the least of which is competition and how well those applicants measure up on paper and in interviews and employer testing. Other issues include nurses wanting to work and live in large popular cities where there is an abundance of nurses vs. working in small communities and even rural areas where the demand exists.

In addition to the geographic issues, if hospitals and other health care employers are going to pay top dollar salaries, they’re going to expect top candidates. The main priority for employers is most often BSN-prepared nurses. Students from the few remaining diploma nursing programs and those from Associate Nursing programs who cannot find a job would be well advised to continue with their education right away and obtain a BSN. If their sites are on a more advance nursing practice, they would be well-advised to stay in school and go for it now.

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From Bedside Care to Advanced Practice Nursing – Opportunities Abound

Nursing opens a whole world of opportunity in the healthcare profession. From bedside care to advanced practice techniques in trauma care, cardiac and other technical care emergencies, chemotherapy or hemodialysis, to fields such as forensic science and informatics.  New fields and options for nurses open rapidly as medicine advances. According to The Campaign for Nursing from Johnson& Johnson, there are currently 104 nursing specialties. There seems to be something for everyone!

Many of these opportunities are open to entry level nurses as well as seasoned nurses. Some however, require a BSN and often some additional specialized training and certification. Advanced Practice RNs such as Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners have a wide range of specialties available as well, but they do require advanced education (MSN or PhD) and often additional certification.

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Informed Nurses Are Better Advocates and Educators

For the 15th straight year, Nurses were voted to have the highest (84%) honesty and ethical standards as a profession; making them the most trusted profession. The results were published by the Gallup Poll in December 2016. This sets the bar quite high, but nurses have always risen to the occasion, and no doubt will continue to do so far into the future. One way to ensure this is for nurses to be involved in the community and to advocate for choices made for nurses and patients. Understanding the process, as well as the needs of the community and professionals, keeps nurses as that most trusted level and source of information to help them advocate for and educate patients.

In this same poll, Pharmacists ranked #2 at 67%, and Doctors #3 at 65%. Members of Congress fell to the bottom at 8% as 59% of the voters ranked them as having low to very low ethical and honesty standards. There are currently only 3 members of Congress who are nurses; Karen Bass (D-CA-33), Diane Black (R-TN-06) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30). In the past there have been others. Perhaps many more nurses should be encouraged to run for public office to help raise the honesty and ethical standards and to push forward the agendas for improving quality nursing care and patient outcomes.

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Understanding the Importance of Documentation

Documentation and verbal communication is an essential part of any heath care professional’s daily routine. Any and all discussion and care provided to a patient, caregiver or family member has to be recorded accurately and without prejudice or judgement. Just the facts.

Sounds simple, but it can become very complex and time consuming rapidly. If it’s not done at the time, a lot can be lost or omitted. A recent article about a small study done with paramedics using body cameras to verify and improve their documentation actually did support the use of these cameras. They were expected to document as usual at first and then allowed to view the videos and edit their documentation based on the viewing.

The question that came up about using this process widely is one of privacy. It would have to pass the HIPAA test before it could be approved, and patients would have to have the right to refuse to have their situation recorded.

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History of Nurses Week

In 1974, President Gerald Ford declared EMS Week to celebrate the relatively new EMS profession and the health and safety contributions to the American people. This year the 46th annual EMS Week is May 21-27, 2017. Prior to that, in 1974 before Richard Nixon resigned his presidency, National Nurses Day and Week were established in the U.S.

Although there is always some controversy and grumbling about such a contrite event, it is important to honor those who do for us what so many cannot. The healthcare profession as a whole is something that is NOT for everyone. Dealing with matters that can lead to life and death situations means the professional must be serious about their education, their conduct “on and off the field” so to speak, and have a compassion and empathy for human beings. They also must be able to handle constantly challenging and changing situations that often involve blood, sputum, emesis, feces and urine and a whole host of other not so attractive matters.

So these special designated weeks offer the layperson an opportunity to take a moment to say Thank You and to give respect. They also bring a heightened awareness to the professions so that we may continue to recruit ideal candidates. Take pride and honor your colleagues. Learn more about Nurses Week May 6-12.

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Eight Basic Skills Shared with Nursing Profession

When employers are looking for the best possible candidates to join their team there are eight basic skills that come into play. Most employees will have at least 5-6 of these skills. In professions such as nursing, Paramedics and EMTs, teachers, and therapists such as PTs, OTs and Recreational Therapists, these professionals usually possess all 8 of these skills.

The 8 skills are:

  • Problem Solving
  • Team Player
  • Taking Initiative
  • Physical Stamina
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Leadership and ability to persuade others
  • Desire to help instruct or teach others
  • Networking skills/making public contacts

The fact that most Paramedics possess all 8 of these skills, makes the pathway to becoming a nurse a natural order of progression. Other factors that make the transition a natural one include the work environment being fast paced and adrenaline rushing. Paramedics most often transition to the fields of nursing where these factors apply such as ER/Trauma, ICU and other high tech step down units where these skills are put to use every day.

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