Saturday 28 August 2021

COVID-19, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Career, Nursing Professionals, Nursing Degree, Nursing Degree US, Nursing Exam US, Nursing Certification

Today, in a long-awaited move, the FDA has finally granted full approval to Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, making it the first FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19. The FDA’s official statement reads: 

“The FDA’s approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA’s rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today’s milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.” 

In a statement about the vaccine’s approval, the FDA also noted that there has been a name change to the vaccine: formerly known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine will now be called Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee). According to a joint press release from Pfizer and BioNTech, the name is a combination of the terms COVID-19, mRNA, community, and immunity. 

Details about the Vaccine

The newly-named Comirnaty vaccine (given in 2 doses, 3 weeks apart) is fully approved for people ages 16 and up, while emergency authorization (EUA) will continue for anyone 12-15 and for a third booster shot in immunocompromised people who qualify. 

Like the Moderna vaccine, the Comirnaty vaccine is an mRNA vaccine--which means the vaccine contains mRNA that will create a protein similar to the one in the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the FDA noted in their approval that the mRNA is only in the body for a short amount of time and is not incorporated into or alters a person’s genes. 

If you’re curious about what’s in the vaccine, the package insert also lists all of the ingredients of the Comirnaty vaccine (formerly known as Pfizer’s vaccine):

◉ lipids: (0.43 mg ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 0.05 mg 2-(polyethylene glycol 2000)-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 0.09 mg 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and 0.2 mg cholesterol)

◉ 0.01 mg potassium chloride

◉ 0.01 mg monobasic potassium phosphate

◉ 0.36 mg sodium chloride

◉ 0.07 mg dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate

◉ 6 mg sucrose

◉ The diluent (0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection, USP) contributes an additional 2.16 mg sodium chloride per dose.

◉ COMIRNATY does not contain preservatives

What Took So Long?

If you’re wondering what exactly took so long to get this vaccine officially approved by the FDA, you’re not alone--but the FDA did address what exactly goes into the approval process. (And for the record, historically, vaccine approvals have taken several years, so even though many people felt like the vaccine should have been approved months ago, this was still a relatively speedy process.)

The FDA explained that the approval for any vaccines follows a “standard process” that reviews the quality, safety, and effectiveness of a medical product. Vaccine approval also involves:

◉ Evaluating data and information from the manufacturer’s biologics license application (BLA)

◉ Additional information from both the EUA data and ongoing data

◉ Manufacturing process review

◉ Vaccine testing results for vaccine quality

◉ Site inspections where the vaccine is made

◉ An FDA-specific analysis to ensure the vaccine meets FDA standards

They also listed some detailed information about the specifics of the safety and efficacy results of Pfizer’s vaccine that led to the full approval. 


◉ Data from approximately 20,000 vaccine and 20,000 placebo recipients ages 16 and older (with no evidence of the COVID-19 virus infection within a week of receiving the second dose) was used

◉ Based on results from the clinical trial, the vaccine was 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 disease. 


◉ Data from approximately 22,000 people aged 16+ who got the vaccine and 22,000 people who had a placebo was used.

◉ Over half of the clinical trial participants were followed 4 months after the second dose and overall, 12,000 people who had the vaccine were followed for at least 6 months.

◉ The most common side effects were: pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, chills, and fever.

◉ According to post-EUA safety data, the FDA concluded there is an increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, especially within 7 days of the second dose. The risk is higher in males under age 50, with the highest risk in men 12-17. The FDA noted that “available” data shows most people’s symptoms resolved on their own, while others required intensive care support.

◉ Syncope (fainting) upon administration also received a special address in the Comirnaty’s packet insert, as some people have experienced syncope with the vaccine, although according to the company, it’s not clear why. 

“Our scientific and medical experts conducted an incredibly thorough and thoughtful evaluation of this vaccine. We evaluated scientific data and information included in hundreds of thousands of pages, conducted our own analyses of Comirnaty’s safety and effectiveness, and performed a detailed assessment of the manufacturing processes, including inspections of the manufacturing facilities,” Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in the FDA’s statement. “We have not lost sight that the COVID-19 public health crisis continues in the U.S. and that the public is counting on safe and effective vaccines. The public and the medical community can be confident that although we approved this vaccine expeditiously, it was fully in keeping with our existing high standards for vaccines in the U.S."

What Happens Next?

There is hope from both political leaders and healthcare officials that the full FDA approval will help encourage vaccine-hesitant individuals to get vaccinated. In an address from the White House, President Joe Biden called on Americans who had been waiting for the vaccine’s full approval to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

"If you are one of the millions of Americans who said they will not get the shot until it has full and final approval of the FDA, it has now happened. The moment you've been waiting for is here, it's time for you to go get your vaccination, and get it today. Today,” he said. 

The American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association also released a statement applauding the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“According to recent polling, 30 percent of unvaccinated people said they were waiting for vaccines to receive full approval before getting vaccinated. We are there now; this vaccine is fully approved. If uncertainty was holding you back, now is the time to act. And if you still have questions about the vaccines or about COVID-19, please consult your health care professional,” the statement reads. 

“With millions of data points on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy over nearly nine months of vaccinations, every ‘i’ is dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed. This vaccine is safe, it prevents severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and deaths, and it will save your life. Science, data, and thorough research have given us the tools to defeat COVID-19. With the delta variant surging, there has never been a better time to get vaccinated.”


Thursday 26 August 2021

Nursing Schools, Nursing Career, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Professionals, Nursing Degree, Nursing Degree US

Congratulations, you’ve made it into nursing school! You've worked so hard to get to this point and now here come the nerves. You're thinking to yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?!” Well, thankfully there are nurses who’ve been here before you and have lived to tell the tale. Read on to get an idea of what to expect during nursing school, including:

◉ What do you learn in nursing school?

◉ What classes do you take?

◉ When do clinical rotations start?

◉ How hard is nursing school?

What is Nursing School Like?

Your study habits will change

You're going to be asked to learn A LOT of material. As a result, you will have to become aware of your study habits and adapt them to maximize your information intake. It will be challenging in your first semester, but you'll quickly get the hang of it.

You’ll learn to go beyond the textbook

A lot of information will be provided to you -- via textbooks, lectures, and other coursework content -- but you will also need to use your judgment to obtain the information in different ways when you don't fully understand the material. Read the text, watch videos, or get actual experience through volunteer work or hired work.

What Are Nursing School Exams Like? 

You will be challenged with exams that are structured in ways that are very different than in the hard sciences. Nursing is not black and white and because of this, exams can be especially challenging.

Build the ability to understand what is being asked of you. These exams are not created to set you up to fail, but rather to get you to think in a certain way. This way of thinking will help you in your nursing practice.

How Are Nursing Classes Structured? 

Although every nursing school will have its own curriculum, typically your first semester consists of three to four days of lecture, with one to two days of simulation lab. You will find yourself on campus a lot, both in scrubs and in regular clothes. 

What Classes Do You Take During Nursing School?

The first semester of nursing school usually has three to four major courses, typically:

◉ Fundamentals of Nursing 

◉ Health Assessments

◉ Pharmacology

In addition to the didactic courses, you will be in Skills Lab (or Simulation Lab) for a certain amount of hours once or twice a week. Here, you will learn how to perform the various skills required of the profession: inserting peripheral IV's, NG tubes, and other important tasks. 

You will need to wear your scrubs, and bring all your tools as if you're going into a day at work in the hospital.

When Do Clinical Rotations Start?

Some programs begin exposing first-semester nursing students to the actual hospital environment, while other programs do not offer clinicals until the second semester.

If your program does have clinicals in its first-semester curriculum, it will usually be in the latter half of the semester.

What Do I Need To Buy For Nursing School? 

In addition to your textbooks, scrubs, and stethoscope, you may be exposed to a whole slew of items marketed to nursing students. These products can include simulated charting programs to practice documenting, iPhone and Android apps that offer reference material, and other products that may seem like the keys to success in the nursing program. 

Be wary! There’s a lot of free material available to you and no product is going to pass nursing school for you. It just takes time and dedication, something you are already capable of! 

How Hard Is Nursing School?

Nursing school will definitely challenge you academically, but it will also be hard emotionally, physically and mentally. How hard is nursing school? That depends on the program. But, don’t worry, here’s what you need to know to get through it. 

Emotional challenges

Being a beginner is really hard. There's so much to learn, which can make you feel insecure. When you're first starting out, the sheer amount of things that you need to learn seems like an impossible feat. This is when all the questions come rushing in: “Can I do this?”, “Am I good enough?”, “Is this right for me?” Just remember that this is totally normal. 

To overcome these feelings, you NEED a support system. It can be your best friend, partner, mom, or all of the above. You just need someone to check in with you who can see with a more objective view of how hard you're working and how far you've come. 

Secondly, seek out a mentor. Ideally, this would be someone in the field who can give you perspective on what you're learning. A professor, preceptor, or even another community member -- reach out!

Physical challenges

The nursing school schedule is demanding. You’ll have long days, early days, days filled with sitting in a lecture followed by a few more hours of simulation in a lab.

Here are my not-so-secret tips to surviving a demanding schedule: 

◉ Drink water. 

◉ Take your vitamins. 

◉ Keep a consistent workout schedule that is flexible for your coursework. 

◉ Find ways to decompress your stress - being in nature, time with friends, etc. 

It sounds simple, but it’s SO IMPORTANT. Doing these basic things to take care of yourself will help you enjoy the process so you don’t end up hating your life while you’re in school.

Mental challenges

One of the biggest challenges is stepping into an environment unlike any you’ve had to deal with before. If you’ve never worked with the ill, it may be a shock to you when you witness your first death or are present while a patient is suffering from an intense manic episode. 

It’s going to be a struggle at first, but over time you’ll learn to maintain your calm and stay professional even during intense moments. It won't come right away, but it will come. Be patient and simply take note of how those around you have found ways to keep their cool.

How to Prepare for Nursing School? 

You've already seen the memes and videos about how demanding a nursing program can be. Yes, there is a lot of content to learn over the course of a short time, but one of the biggest challenges is putting the information into context. 

When you enter nursing school without any former medical experience, it can be very difficult to relate the material to real-life situations. You need to think about, 

◉ How do I apply this to my day-to-day duties on the job?

◉ What does this mean for my patients? 

◉ How does this play into the bigger picture? 

Learning the "bigger picture" of healthcare is not something that happens in one semester, or even after your first year as a nurse. This is part of being a novice -- you are figuring out care and how your work impacts patients on both a microscopic and a macroscopic level. Be patient with yourself and learn to be a confident beginner! 


Wednesday 25 August 2021

Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Career, Nursing Professionals, Nursing Skill

Three thousand registered nurses across America were surveyed earlier this year by Nurse.Org in order to shed some light on salaries. Based on the assumption that the average salary for nurses in 2020 was $75,330 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, what we found is going to shock you.

The reality is - there is a VERY large disparity in salaries for nurses not only based on location, experience, and specialty but also on gender. In 2021, it’s baffling to think that gender would play a role in determining a salary; however, the sad truth is it does. And according to our findings, it matters more than it should. 

Gender Pay Inequality in Nursing

While’s study found a variety of reasons affecting nurses' pay, it also confirmed gender inequality. 

Of the male nurses that responded to the survey, it was found they earned an average of $2.73 per hour more than their female counterparts. 

◉ Male RNs reported average hourly pay of $38.61

◉ Female RNs earned an average salary of $35.88 per hour

History of Pay Differences Based on Gender

In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which established minimum wage and overtime pay for employees. In 1963, Congress amended Section 6 of the Fair Labor Standards Act and called the amendment the Equal Pay Act. This act called for employers to not discriminate based on gender if two individuals have equal abilities

Why the Pay Difference?

Even though nursing is a predominantly female profession, the 12% male nursing workforce continues to see higher wages despite equal education, equal skills, and equal certifications. Some possible explanations for the pay difference may be, 

◉ Men are more likely to negotiate with employers

◉ Women are more likely to work part-time to care for family and children

◉ Women are more likely to work in primary care and long term care which are less paying specialties

◉ Men change jobs more often than women leading to more negotiating power

5 Tips to Increase Your Pay

While some things such as experience and gender are not exactly something that can be changed, there are some ways to maximize your salary.  Nurses are in the position to increase their salaries because of the high demand throughout the country. 

1. Work Night Shift and/or Weekends - Working night shift and/or weekends is the easiest and quickest way to increase your earning potential. Oftentimes, shift differentials for these shifts can be up to 20%. While these shifts are often undesirable for life-work balance, they do come with some perks. Increasing your overall income, by working at night or on weekends is generally a relatively easy way to earn a little extra in each paycheck.

2. Work in Critical Care Areas - Some hospitals offer incentives to nurses working in critical care settings such as the intensive care unit, emergency room, and cardiac care unit. It’s important to inquire with your manager and HR before accepting or transferring to a position in one of these units.

3. Earn Your Certification - Obtaining an advanced certification such as a CCRN or RNC can help increase your earning potential. Some hospitals will offer additional compensation per hour while others will offer a one-time bonus. The best part about earning an advanced certification, your hospital may offer review classes and pay for the certification exam after passing.

4. Negotiate Your Salary Before Accepting a Position - Nurses are in demand. High demand. It’s important to remember that hospitals are a business. They are in a business to make money. Hospital recruiters generally will offer a lower starting salary but there is always room to negotiate. Having another offer will help with the negotiation, especially if the offer is higher. Leverage the offer to help you land the job you want with the pay you deserve.

5. Pursue Higher Education - According to PayScale, the average hourly salary for an RN is $29.62, and $32.20 for nurses with a BSN. The first step to increasing your worth is earning a bachelor’s degree. The Institute of Medicine reported on the future of nursing in 2010, making a strong recommendation that 80 percent of the nursing workforce have a BSN by 2020. At the time of the report’s release, only 50 percent of the nursing workforce had a BSN. 

What Can Nurses Do To Fight For Equal Pay?

Nurses must SPEAK UP! Without speaking up things will not change for current nurses and the future of nursing. You are more powerful than you think.

Compare your salary to your peers - Don’t be scared to openly discuss your salary with your co-workers. Knowing what your co-workers make may be surprising but can also help you ask for a raise.

Join your local nursing organization - Your input can help change the nursing profession for the better.  While change can be slow, it can happen but won’t happen without advocating for not only equal pay but also better benefits including sick time, child care, and family leave time. 


Wednesday 18 August 2021

Nursing Career, Nursing Degree US, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Professionals

Bedside shift reports are the essential transmission of patient information between incoming and outgoing nurses in a patient care setting. This nursing communication provides for the continuity of safe and effective medical care and prevents medical errors.

In recent years, many hospitals have attempted to standardize bedside shift reports by making reports in front of the patient mandatory and implementing shift report sheets, also known by many nurses as “brain sheets.”

However, nurses still communicate differently during nurse handoffs. 

What makes a great bedside report?

This is where Alice from the Ask Nurse Alice Podcast comes in. As a nurse for over 20 years, Alice has seen and heard just about every type of bedside report in existence - some great, some mediocre, and some that flat-out need major improvement.

In this week’s podcast episode, Nurse Alice talks all about how to master the bedside shift report. She dives into:

◉ Where should nurses give bedside reports?

◉ What do you do when the bedside report you are getting doesn’t match what you observe in your patient?

◉ What should you expect from a bedside shift report?

◉ What information is essential for you to provide an oncoming nurse when you provide a bedside nurse report?

◉ How giving a great bedside report sets the tone for the shift.

5 Best Practices For an Effective Bedside Shift Report

1. Shift Reports Should be Done at the Bedside 

Nurse Alice has observed that many nurses give shift reports in break rooms, the nurse’s station, or somewhere else where the patient can hear what is said. She states that there are occasional reasons why that should be done (like a patient hasn’t been told yet about a new diagnosis or abnormal test result that we can’t provide further information on yet). 

But the majority of shift reporting should be done in front of the patient, Alice says. If you need to share something with the nurse that isn’t appropriate for the patient to hear, you can share that information privately after the report is complete. 

She reasons that even though the patient is unconscious and can’t hear the report, it still gives the oncoming nurse a chance to observe the patient in real-time during the report. 

Alice also emphasizes this is essential so that you can “see, hear, smell what is going on with the patient concurrently” during a bedside shift report. If there are inconsistencies, the oncoming nurse can communicate that.

In addition, even the most well-intentioned nurses forget things. It doesn’t mean we aren’t doing our best. But a report at the bedside helps us all remember details better.

2. A Great Bedside Report Sets the Tone for the Shift

Alice emphasizes that nurses need quality baseline information to provide safe, effective, quality care throughout the shift. 

Alice also talks a lot about how bedside reports must be verbal and face-to-face (not via paper or recorder) to provide continuity of care. She reasons that this doesn’t allow for interaction, Q & A, or the patient’s input. After all, if the patient doesn't know their care plan or what the goals are during their stay, how can they actively participate? Bedside reports are all about safe and effective patient care through clear communication.

3. Be Mindful of Patient Privacy

Alice talks about how it is essential to make sure you know who is present in the room and ensure patient privacy before giving a bedside report. Just because family is present does not mean they are privy to their medical information. Clarify to the patient that it is OK to speak about their medical care (without putting them on the spot).

4. Benefits of a Great Shift Report

Alice reports there is a lot of data suggesting that nurses have increased satisfaction when they get a good shift report. Other advantages include:

◉ Patient safety

◉ Improved communication

◉ More efficient teamwork

◉ Better nursing accountability

◉ Better shift report accuracy

◉ Enhanced patient care

◉ Improved documentation

◉ Improved discharge and transition of care

Alice talks about how nurses need to be present and attentive while giving reports, using “cheat sheets,” the computer, and direct patient observation to prevent miscommunication or missed information.

5. Ask The Oncoming Nurse “What Other Information Can I Provide For You?

Alice says you can also ask, “Is there anything on your to-do list that you didn’t get to” or “What’s on your wish list for this patient?’

Alice talks about how if a nurse says that they feel they are dumping a lot on her, she will reassure them that they are doing a great job and take it from here. From there, she does her best throughout the day. What she cannot complete, she communicates to her oncoming nurse.

In other words, Alice says our attitudes need to be less about blaming others and more about how we can positively affect our fellow nurses. Teamwork is an effective way to maintain an excellent standard of patient care. 


Monday 16 August 2021

Nursing Career, Nursing Exam US, Nursing Certification, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Professionals, Nursing Skill, Nursing Degree

The beauty of choosing a nursing degree is that having your credentials as an RN opens up an entire world of career paths for you. You can choose to work at the bedside, you can explore travel nursing or you can opt for a non-clinical role–no matter which path you choose, your education as a nurse prepares you in invaluable ways. 

And one career path that some nurses may be interested in exploring is medical device sales. A career in medical device sales offers many benefits, such as the opportunity to focus on a condition you’re passionate about, high-income potential, and a fast-paced and dynamic environment. chatted with Meaghan Saelens, RN, a recent nursing school graduate and new medical device sales rep with Zimmer Biomet, to learn more about how she has combined her nursing degree with a medical device sales career. 

Nursing Career, Nursing Exam US, Nursing Certification, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Professionals, Nursing Skill, Nursing Degree

What is Medical Device Sales?

First things first, what exactly is medical device sales? A career in medical device sales means that you will be acting as a product expert to both deliver product information, sales and in many companies, pre and post-sale support as well. That means that your job will involve,

◉ Establishing relationships with other healthcare professionals who can benefit from the company’s products
◉ Serving as an expert on how the product can support them and their patients 
◉ Providing guidance on how to actually use the product

What Does a Day Look Like in Medical Sales? 

As a medical device sales rep for spinal products, Meaghan explains that no two days ever look quite the same. (Hey, sounds a lot like nursing, right?) She splits her time between,

◉ Professional education
◉ Establishing relationships with surgeons
◉ Attending surgeries in the OR and providing product support

She notes that this is definitely not a 9-5 career pathway–some days she’s logging long hours in the OR, while others may have more flexibility. 

“One of the benefits to being a medical device sales rep is that every day can be a little bit different,” she says. “That’s a pro to me, but I know it could be a con for others. One day, you could be doing sales calls or setting up for your next surgery and the next day you may have a full surgery day. It really just depends on the day. “ 

How Much Do Medical Device Sales Reps Make?

Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t keep exact salary data on medical device sales representatives, according to Glassdoor, the average salary for a medical device sales rep is around $56K. That is lower than the BLS average of $75K for RNs, but you do have to keep in mind that sales rep salaries are highly variable and Glassdoor notes that some reps make near $100K. 

And as Meaghan tells, the income potential you have as a medical device sales rep can be extremely high. “The great thing about medical device sales is that you can make as much and as little as you want,” she says. “If you put in the time and work then you have the potential to make great money. It all comes down to your work ethic and how much time you are willing to put in to build your business.”

Why Nurses Make Ideal Medical Device Sales Reps

Although you technically don’t need a background in healthcare to become a medical or pharmaceutical sales rep (typically, all that’s required is a Bachelor’s degree), nurses are definitely ideal candidates for the career for several reasons including:  

◉ Possessing critical thinking skills
◉ Excellent communication abilities
◉ The ability to think on their feet and thrive in a fast-paced environment
◉ Nurses have specialized knowledge about healthcare, disease processes and patient populations that translate well into the medical device field. 

For instance, Meaghan has found that her preparation as a nurse has been especially helpful in taking on her new role working with surgeons and specialized spinal surgical products. “Being an RN is definitely helpful because I have an understanding of human anatomy and pathophysiology, can use appropriate medical terminology when speaking to surgeons and feel comfortable in an OR environment,” she notes. 

In fact, Meaghan actually first became interested in medical device sales specifically because of her surgical rotation during nursing school. “I first became interested in medical device sales because there was a sales rep in one of the surgeries I was watching and I thought it seemed like a very interesting job,” she explains. “I liked the idea of being able to be involved in the surgeries and I really loved being in the operating room.”  

In addition to the technical aspects of the job that nursing has helped prepare her for, Meaghan also has found that her experience of going through nursing school helped her see the bigger picture of healthcare–and provided her with the valuable perspective of how vital teamwork is, no matter what aspect of patient care you are involved in. 

“Being a nurse has helped me a lot seeing what healthcare workers go through on a day to day basis,” she points out. “It really makes you appreciate that everyone in the hospital plays a role in helping every patient that comes through the door.”

How to Start a Career in Medical Device Sales

If you’re a nursing student potentially interested in a career in medical device sales, you can definitely start researching future opportunities while you’re still in school. In fact, Meaghan was able to score her first interview with a medical device sales company while she was still in her last semester of nursing school. 

She encourages current nursing students to reach out to a current rep in the field to try to learn from them and get guidance on their career pathway as well. “There are a lot of different medical device fields to choose from, so figure out what might interest you the most,” she suggests. And she points out that a career in device sales isn’t just about money; there are a lot of factors to consider such as the time that goes into the job, what kind of travel may be involved and what role you will play in the company. 

“I think a lot of people get into this field because there is a potential to make a good amount of money but this job is not as easy as it may seem,” she says. “Gather as much information about the field as you can and weigh out the pros and cons before making a decision.”

In the end, Meaghan hopes that other nurses and nursing students considering a career in medical device sales stay curious and committed to the path of learning they first embarked on during their education. 

“Medical device sales definitely requires stepping out of your comfort zone,” she says. “You need to be willing to put in more time studying even when you are fresh out of school and thought you would be done studying. You’ll learn something new every day in this field.” 


Saturday 14 August 2021

If you’re starting, or continuing, your nursing career and need to borrow money in order to pay for your education, you're facing some tough questions: How to pay? What kind of loans to go with? Should you go with private or federal? Does it matter?

With everything you may be juggling right now, you may be tempted to take the easiest route to financing (whatever that may be) so you can move on with your life. But spending some time really understanding your options may save you a lot of money later on. 

In this article, we’ll explain:

1. The basics of student loans

2. What private student loans are

3. The pros and cons of private student loans

4. How to choose the right loan for you

Student Loans 101

Before taking out any kind of student loan, you need to understand a few important factors. 

1) Credit Rating 

Your credit score impacts the kinds of loans you can receive from a bank and the kind of interest rate you’ll be offered. If you have great credit, the lender sees you as a low-risk borrower, therefore they may be willing to give you a lower rate when lending you money. For borrowers with not-so-great credit, or who just haven’t built up much of a credit history yet, you can expect a higher interest rate because the lender sees you as less of a safe bet. 

2) Interest

The interest rate is the amount you’ll be charged for the money you’re borrowing. These can be either fixed rates or variable rates. 

◉ Fixed Rates: Fixed interest rates are locked in when you sign and cannot change over the course of the loan. They are usually higher than variable rates, but there are fewer unknowns.

◉ Variable Rates: Variable rates tend to start off lower, but they come with a risk: if interest rates go up, so do those for all variable-rate loans. 

Since the Great Recession, rates have only gone downward and borrowers with variable loans have only benefited from them. But the economy is currently in an unpredictable place and no one knows when, or if, we’ll see higher interest rates.

Most private student loan lenders offer a choice between fixed- and variable-rate loans, while all federal student loans have fixed rates. 

When Does Interest Start Accruing?

The other important factor you need to keep in mind with interest is when does it start accruing? This depends on the type of loan you took out. With Direct Subsidized Federal Loans (more on those later) you don’t accrue interest while you’re in school and for 6 months after you graduate because the federal government is covering it. With private loans and Unsubsidized Federal Loans, you’ll typically start accruing interest immediately. 

3) Lender 

The type of lender you go with -- either the government for federal loans or a private lender like a bank -- makes a big difference in the terms and conditions of the loan. We’ll go into that in greater depth later in this article. 

4) Fees

Most federal student loans come with loan origination fees that cost a percentage of the loan amount. They exist to pay the costs the lender incurs when issuing the loan. Private loans sometimes have loan origination fees, but can also have additional fees such as application fees, early and late payment fees, payment return fees, forbearance and deferment fees and refinancing fees. 

5) Cosigners

Cosigning a loan is having someone else, like a family member or exceptionally good friend, put their name on the loan with you. Most federal student loans don’t require a cosigner, but a private loan may. If you have low credit and a bank deems you too risky to lend to, you may need to have a cosigner on your loan. If you have a cosigner with great credit, it can get you a lower interest rate. 

But (besides your love and gratitude), there are no upsides for the cosigner and some potentially disastrous downsides. If you fall far behind on your payments, they could end up having to pay off your entire loan immediately in one go. And their own credit could take an incalculable hit.

6) Repayment 

Obtaining loans is one thing, but you also need to consider how you’ll pay them off, how long the repayment period is, and when you’ll need to start repaying them. Most federal loans and some private loans allow you to wait until 6 months after you’ve graduated to begin paying them, but some may not. You need to look over your loan agreement carefully to check these terms.

Private Student Loans vs. Federal Loans

Now that you’ve got the basics of student loans down, let’s explore the differences between private loans and federal loans.

Nurse Career, Nursing Career, Nursing Job, Nursing Certification, Nursing Degree, Nursing Degree US, Nursing Exam US, Nursing Schools

Federal Student Loans Are Often Your Best Option

Federal loans can be a student’s best option in most circumstances. Federal Student loans are loans provided by the US government and they have some benefits built in like fixed interest rates and excellent terms.

Types of Federal Student Loans

There are two main types of federal student loans. According to Peg Keough, College Financial Planning Consultant and Founder of Way to the Quad, “There's subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. Depending on the parent’s, or student’s, financial situation, they might get a combination or they might just get unsubsidized -- but they're the best ones out there.” 

◉ Direct Subsidized: These are federal student loans that don’t accrue interest while you’re in school because the government is subsidizing them. These are available to students who have financial need. They have fixed interest rates and there’s no minimum credit score required to get them. 

◉ Direct Unsubsidized: These are also federal student loans, but the government doesn’t subsidize your interest, so you’ll start accruing interest as soon as you take out the loan. However, you won’t be required to start paying them off until 6 months after you graduate. 

To apply for a federal student loan, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Benefits of Federal Student Loans

Federal Student Loans can come with important benefits including:

◉ Fixed Interest Rates: As we touched on earlier, fixed rates mean that your rate can’t fluctuate over time. And, as Keough points out, federal rates are really low right now. “For this school year coming up, the interest rate is 2.75%, partially because of what's going on in the country, the Fed has been lowering interest rates.” For undergraduate Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2020, the interest rate is fixed at 2.75%, and for graduate students, it’s fixed at 4.3%. 

◉ Financial Protections: The federal government has some financial protections in place to protect borrowers such as the current 0% interest and automatic forbearance happening as a result of COVID-19. 

◉ Repayment Benefits: Federal student loans have a number of repayment benefits built into them that private loans do not. These include things like income-driven repayment plans, and student loan forgiveness options. These are particularly important for nursing students, as there are a number of student loan forgiveness programs available for nurses

Federal Loan Caps

Federal loans are great, but they have their limits, literally. Federal programs cap the amount you can borrow: In 2020, undergraduate loans are capped at $31,000 for dependent students (those still considered to be dependent on their parents), $57,500 for independent students, with no more of $23,000 in subsidized loans. For graduate students, the cap is $138,500, with a cap of $65,500 in subsidized loans. 

Federal loans also have yearly caps in addition to their overall caps. Meaning that you have a set amount of federal loans available to you in your freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years. And if you don’t use them within that year, they’ll disappear. It’s a “use it or lose it” situation according to Keough. She points out that many people think “I have some money in 529, I'm not taking out loans. And then by junior year, it's all gone and they haven't taken advantage of really good loans, freshmen and sophomore year.” 

She wants everyone to understand that college is a “four year cash flow” and you have to plan to finance it all. Part of that planning, if your federal loans won’t cover all of your financial needs, is considering private student loans.

Pros and Cons of Private Student Loans

According to Keough, “The key thing about private loans is: Don't make the assumption that they're similar to the direct student loans the federal government's offering. You're getting these from a private bank, a credit union, or Sallie Mae.” Keough adds that some of the main differences are “the interest rates can be variable,” “they usually require a cosigner,” and “there are different things you have to think about that you would never have to think about with the federal loans.”

Pros of Private Student Loans

1. They Can Be a Source of Funding When You’ve Maxed Out Your Federal Loans

As we mentioned above, there are limits to the amount of federal loans you can take out. Once you’ve reached those limits, private loans can help fill the gaps. Many students borrow as much as they can using federal programs, and then switch to private lenders to top up their funding.

2. They Can Be Less Expensive

If you have really good credit, you might be in line for savings by opting for a private student loan. But rates on private loans are typically high for people with poor or fair credit -- and even those at the lower end of the good-credit range. So most are likely better off with federal loans.

As of the date this was written (current rates may be different) highly creditworthy borrowers could get rates as low as 1.24% variable for a new loan and fixed interest rates from 3.75% APR.

Cons of Private Student Loans

Private student loans do come with some considerable downsides. The main cons of private student loans include:

1. Higher rates for most borrowers.

2. Fees to set up your loan, though federal student loans come with origination fees as well. 

3. They lack the protection of sustained income-related payments if you hit hard times.

4. They don’t provide loan forgiveness in return for public service, and they don’t discharge or cancel loans in the ways federal programs occasionally do.

5. They may start charging interest the moment you receive your funds.

6. None of the federal subsidies on interest that subsidized federal student loans have.

7. Refinancing federal debt to a private student loan is a one-way street -- You can’t later change your mind and go back to federal funding. But you can refinance existing private student debt to get a lower rate or payment

8. You may need a cosigner in order to get a private student loan.

Choosing the Right Loans for You

So, how do you make your student loan decision? Keough recommends weighing all your options, “You should definitely check on private student loans. I've seen people get really good private student loan rates, that have great credit.” She says, “You could find a bank that locks in the interest rate and, if you have great credit because you're an older person and you've been financially responsible up until that point, it could match it.”

If you don’t have awesome credit (or someone willing to cosign your loan), federal loans may be your best option until you reach the limits. 

Takeaways: Here’s What You Need to Consider When Getting Student Loans

Whenever you borrow large sums of money, it pays to do so cautiously. Get quotes from multiple lenders and compare them carefully. And remember to check:

◉ What your rate and monthly payments will be

◉ Whether the rate you’ll pay is fixed or variable 

◉ If you have to pay fees to set up the loan

◉ The repayment period 

◉ When you start accruing interest -- While you’re studying, when you graduate or after that

◉ Whether there’s a chance of loan forgiveness 

◉ What might happen if you later get into financial difficulties and can’t keep up with payments


Thursday 12 August 2021

Nursing Skill, Nursing Career, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Professionals, Nursing Certification

They said nursing innovation was a fad, they were wrong.

The last decade has been anything but linear when it comes to nursing’s uptake of Innovation competencies (like data science and design thinking).    

You might remember the hashtags and buzzwords from when it all started: In the wake of the Great Recession—when funding dried up for research and practice, when nurses were leaving the bedside in large numbers, and nursing school enrollments were down—schools and health systems had to find ways to #Disrupt and #Innovate to stay afloat. Or we wouldn’t have had much of a profession at all. 

Some schools inched towards online learning; universities held conferences on innovation; new models of care delivery rose up. Some efforts were successful, but the truth is—many more failed.  

Real change takes time

Critics brushed off Nursing Innovation as a fad. Some called for a return to stronger professional boundaries, pushing back against nursing collaborations with other disciplines. Some said the shift to online learning would never last (they probably shouldn’t gamble). Some politicized new models of care, at the expense of patients and communities. 

Those who said it couldn’t be done pointed to deeply rooted barriers to innovation like:

◉ The criteria that nurses and nursing faculty were graded on for professional advancement (which rarely valued disruptive ways of teaching or practicing) 

◉ Ever-growing demands on the time of nurses 

◉ Lack of funds and people power 

◉ Poor access to resources that could help bring ideas to life (like grant-writing support, big data, and engineers)  

◉ Healthcare culture, politics, and more 

And so, faced with rejection and red tape, many nurses tucked their ideas for products, processes, or solutions into bottom drawers, and turned off the lights. 

Failure is not a dirty word 

It’s time to change the way we think about nursing failure. 

A failure is not the end of a story; it’s often the first and most important step: Disney’s earliest animation job said he “lacked imagination” and “had no good ideas.” Oprah was called “unfit for television news.” Stephen King was turned down by 30 publishers, and he threw his draft of Carrie in the trash (his wife put it back on his desk). 

Why do we know their names? Because they drew inspiration from failure, rebranded shortcomings as superpowers, and turned challenges into opportunities. 

Why shouldn’t nurses do the same? 

Time to change the narrative 

It’s time for nurses to “fail more faster” because if you keep going, eventually you will get it right (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2020). Emory School of Nursing is creating the resources nurses need to try. We are changing the narrative and building the tools nurses need to lead health systems into the 21st Century. 

Our Center for Data Science (CDS) was created to bring the power of data-driven thinking to bear on healthcare’s greatest challenges. CDS resources are robust, dynamic, and made to be shared with nurses across the US. Its services span mentorship in ‘omics data, access to healthcare big data through Project NeLL, sensor development, patent support, and more, all aimed at cultivating a global workforce of digitally enabled nurse disruptors. 

A powerful example: Take2Heart Initiative (T2H)

One criticism of early nursing innovation initiatives was the tendency, of some, to bring impressive short-term impacts, but fizzle over time (or even cause harm). In certain cases, this had to do with change makers neglecting to involve input from stakeholder communities or leaving communities to do the work on their own after grant funding ran out. 

Today the question remains: How culturally appropriate and sustainable are the nurse-led innovation models? How can innovation tactics be used to define and address social determinants of health? 

It’s critical for nurse innovators to prioritize community engagement. One nurse practitioner-created, tech-based solution that centers around meaningful community engagement is the Take-2-Heart initiative. Take-2-Heart is a comprehensive model for tech-based health solutions that anyone can use to address healthcare issues today. It includes integrated strategies for: 

◉ The translation of complex health messages

◉ Dissemination of knowledge to patients/peers/providers

◉ Evidence-based interventions

◉ Frontline data collection

Within the T2H model, nurse innovators develop web-based hubs in partnership with communities. Websites serve as the home base for projects, featuring accessible education materials for patients, training for providers, advocacy toolkits, and health policy information. These hubs are linked to smartphone apps (data aggregators) for easy access and real-time data collection. T2H is helping to promote health equity by increasing access to customized learning platforms and including health data from historically underrepresented communities.  


Thursday 5 August 2021

Nurse, Nurse Career, Nursing Certification, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Degree

Few careers are as personally rewarding as nursing. Professional respect, flexible job opportunities, advancement potential and the chance to make a difference in people’s lives are just some of what it offers. It’s important for students to recognize that like any field, healthcare has its share of challenges. The work is exceptionally gratifying, but it can also be demanding. To be both successful and happy in nursing, it helps to have certain personal characteristics and attributes. Here’s a closer look at the qualities that make a good nurse.

Quality #1: Empathy

Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is experiencing from their point of view. For nurses, it means putting themselves in their patients’ shoes and trying to understand how they perceive what’s going on around them. A patient who rings for assistance, and then watches helplessly from their hospital bed as nurses repeatedly walk by the door doesn’t see the dozens of others the nurse is trying to assist. They only see people who don’t seem to care about their needs.

But if a nurse stops momentarily to assure the patient help is on the way, it changes their entire healthcare experience and builds invaluable trust. Nurses work with vulnerable people from diverse backgrounds. If nurses are going to predict their patient’s needs accurately and understand their emotional responses to care, a strong sense of empathy is critical.

Not everyone is born with a robust capacity to be empathetic toward others, but most people lack empathy only because they don’t know the full range of circumstances others may have experienced in life and how it affected them. It’s something nurse educators have understood since the days of Florence Nightingale, and with the knowledge and training a nursing program provides, it’s a learnable skill.

Quality #2: Emotional Stability

A nurse’s job is mentally demanding. Each day can bring a range of powerful emotions including joy, surprise, sadness and frustration. Tough situations are all in a day’s work for a nurse, but to effectively manage the needs of colleagues, patients and their family members, remaining calm when faced with upsetting experiences is essential.

Does that mean nurses shouldn’t be bothered by difficult and even devastating circumstances? No, emotional stability should never be confused with a lack of emotions or empathy. It just means that for nurses to give people the care and psychological support they need, they must be able to control their responses to focus on the tasks at hand. Research shows that emotionally stable nurses are better able to concentrate, solve problems and keep their patients safe.

Like empathy, emotional stability is a skill that can be learned, but it takes time, and nurses need to be patient with themselves. Diffusing intense reactions by reframing expectations, balancing perspectives and remaining mindful are among the many effective approaches that can help.

Quality #3: Communication Skills

Top-notch communication skills are among the most important qualities for nurses. As a liaison between patients, doctors and family members, nurses never stop collecting and relaying critical data. If someone drops the ball, the consequences can be devastating. Errors transcribing medication orders, missing information on hospital discharge paperwork and life-threatening allergies not listed in a patient's chart are common medical mistakes attributed to lack of communication. Under the right circumstances, these types of errors can cause significant harm. To communicate clearly, nurses need to be comfortable reading, writing and presenting information to others verbally.

Communication is also a therapeutic tool healthcare providers use to build interpersonal relationships with their clients. Through proven verbal and non-verbal techniques, therapeutic communication helps nurses make patients feel more relaxed and willing to share their concerns. When dialogue flows freely in a professional relationship, healthcare providers are better able to do their job and outcomes improve for patients.

Lack of information about an illness, for example, can be a major source of fear and anxiety for patients. They may put off making difficult decisions or opt to decline care entirely rather than risk embarrassment by asking questions they believe will make them seem uninformed or unintelligent. By proactively sharing information instead of waiting to be asked, nurses give patients an opening to talk about what’s bothering them, helping them feel more comfortable and establishing a sense of trust.

From breaking down the barriers that block effective communication between colleagues to using therapeutic techniques to enhance dialogue with patients and family members, communication is the skill nurses use every day.

Quality #4: A Desire to Learn

Nursing requires a professional license because taking care of others safely when lives are at stake demands proven clinical skills. When students graduate from vocational school, it’s not expected that they know everything.  Only that they can make sound decisions in complex circumstances based on evidence and best practice guidelines.

Healthcare is constantly evolving, and while nursing programs teach all the necessary clinical skills, most graduates will need practice and continuing education to reach full competency, particularly in specialty fields such as critical care, emergency medicine and infusion therapy.

With this in mind, employers give new graduates plenty of supervised opportunities to learn from experienced nurses or through preceptorships and mentoring programs. As professionals, nurses are always responsible for self-evaluating their expertise and not taking on tasks that exceed their abilities without support or additional training. A healthcare provider's oath is first and foremost to do no harm.

To be the kind of nurse someone would want to care for an ill or injured loved one requires a commitment to lifelong learning and motivation to stay on top of developments in the field. Nurses are expected to grow professionally through ongoing training opportunities and in most states, it’s required for license renewal. Graduating from a vocational school is a noteworthy accomplishment, but it’s just the beginning.

Quality #5: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate facts and come to rational conclusions objectively. It’s a disciplined, self-directed way of looking at things that allows nurses to interpret data, prioritize patient needs and troubleshoot difficult clinical issues quickly and accurately. During triage, for example, it’s how a nurse uses normal diagnostic results to determine that a patient having chest pain can wait because they are likely having indigestion, not a heart attack.

The ability to think critically is an important quality because while nurses most often function as part of a healthcare team, their practice is autonomous, and their professional decisions are their sole responsibility. Nurses may be able to dress wounds in seconds, place urinary catheters without faltering or start an intravenous line with a blindfold on, but without the ability to think on their feet, high-pressure situations will be stressful.

Although not all healthcare settings are as extraordinarily fast-paced as a busy emergency room, making decisions isn’t something nurses can avoid. The good news is that while critical thinking comes naturally to some people, it’s also a skill that can be learned and nurtured in school and beyond.

Quality #6: Open-Mindedness

Nurse see patients from every walk of life. Some have had vastly different experiences that affect their thinking and behavior, while others may have unconventional opinions about healthcare that can be difficult for nurses to accept.

A patient who declines a blood transfusion because of their religious beliefs, a parent who won’t vaccinate a child because of safety concerns and a terminally-ill client who chooses to forgo life-sustaining treatment all present unique and emotional challenges. For nurses, the principle of autonomy, a patient’s right to make their own healthcare decisions without undue influence, always takes priority, regardless of the choices they make.

Today’s nurses are also required to be culturally competent. Cultural competence is defined as the ability to care for patients with different languages, customs and beliefs. Working with interpreters, assigning religiously sensitive patient’s providers of their preferred gender and respecting the need for modesty during physical examinations are some of the way’s nurses are called upon to help.

Few people enter the nursing field without the desire to help others achieve better wellness, but within the boundaries of a professional and therapeutic relationship, only by being open-minded can nurses provide effective, culturally competent and patient-centered care.

Quality #7: Versatility

No student wants to hear that a job in healthcare may require working weekends, holidays and overtime, often without notice. Work-life balance is increasingly important to people, and it’s essential to managing stress, but the truth is that in facilities that provide around-the-clock care, emergencies happen.  

The key to personal and professional satisfaction is for nurses to choose where they work based on what best fits their lifestyle. For example, a position in a hospital emergency room or on a labor and delivery floor will be exciting, but more likely to require extra hours when things get busy. Jobs in physicians’ offices, day camps, schools, or specialty clinics still offer variety and although they may be a little less glamorous, they usually come with Monday through Friday schedules and holidays are rarely required.

Flexibility is one of the best parts about what a nursing career has to offer. Day, night or evening hours, short or long shifts, and interesting opportunities in a wide range of settings are the norm. Being a nurse is one of the few occupations that can meet the needs of workers of all ages through the many different stages of their lives, and for a versatile nurse, the opportunities are boundless.

Quality #8: Respectfulness

Respectfulness may not be one of the top qualities that come to mind when considering what makes a good nurse, but it’s crucial and for more than the obvious reasons.

Of course, being respectful to patients is a professional courtesy that must be extended to all, regardless of their attitude or behavior. The world is full of different and sometimes challenging personalities, and once people enter the healthcare system, even the kindest souls become exceptionally vulnerable. They’re asked to put their well-being in the hands of providers they may not know, and the lack of a personal relationship can lead them to lash out based on nothing more than fear. For nurses, respect is the boundary that defines a therapeutic relationship and makes it possible to take care of every patient.

Respect for the rules within the healthcare industry, however, is also important. As a field, medicine is notoriously slow to change. That’s because it’s evidence-based, and the processes required to ensure changes are made for the right reasons take time. Reimbursement for medical services is also inexorably tied to regulations set forth by insurers and government agencies, and the failure to follow them can mean the loss of revenue, financial penalties or worse, closed doors.

Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, and rules are created to improve outcomes and patient safety, but they also increase workload and can even seem senseless sometimes, especially if they’re outdated. That can be tough for nurses who are impatient to see improvements they know will make their work easier and improve the lives of their patients Over time, this can create a gap between nurses, administrators and policymakers that leads to professional discontent. For those with a rules-were-made-to-be-broken personality, a career in healthcare could feel restricting.

Students looking for a lifetime career in nursing need to brace themselves, recognize the importance of rules in medicine and be prepared to work within them, not around them.

Quality #9: Flexibility

For nurses, there's no such thing as an average day. The excitement of learning new skills and consistently doing different things is part of the appeal of nursing as a career, but it also makes flexibility one of the top qualities every good nurse needs.

Nurses wear many hats on even an average day, but when challenges emerge, it requires the ability to adapt. A quiet day planned to care for neonates can suddenly become high-intensity when four women simultaneously arrive in labor.

Flexibility is also a characteristic that helps nurses adapt to changes in healthcare in general. For example, before awareness of blood-borne pathogen risks grew, using gloves regularly when working with bodily fluids was uncommon, but within just a few years, it became nearly mandatory. Today, technological advances are causing the landscape of medicine to shift constantly as innovations are introduced at breakneck speed. Being flexible helps nurses adjust to these types of changes with less stress.

Quality #10: Physical Stamina

Being a nurse requires the ability to bend, turn, twist, lift and stand regularly, sometimes for long periods. Healthcare facilities provide training and equipment to make these tasks less strenuous, and while that reduces costly staff injuries and improves patient safety, it doesn’t alleviate many of the physical demands of being on a busy orthopedic floor for 12 hours a day.

There are roles for nurses that require less strenuous physical activity than others including working in doctor's offices or administrative positions, but to be successful and able to respond effectively to emergencies in fast-paced settings, it helps to have stamina.

Nursing skills are valuable regardless of physical ability, and not all nurses are track stars, but it helps to be in shape and own a few great pairs of comfortable shoes.

Quality #11: Assertiveness

Assertiveness is a person’s ability to express their thoughts and feelings and insist they be respected. It’s an honest, forthright way of communicating that allows an individual to stand up for his or her needs without being aggressive or impinging on the rights of others.

Aggressiveness and assertiveness are often confused. The fundamental difference between the two is that assertiveness is based on mutual respect and seeks solutions that are fair, whereas aggressiveness is manipulative behavior that wants a win at the expense of others.

Passive individuals have issues communicating their needs to others. They tend to avoid disagreements and go along with the crowd, but over time, that can lead to anger, resentment and personal frustration. Assertive people understand that conflict can be both respectful and constructive when approached in the spirit of finding mutually equitable solutions.

As patient advocates, being assertive is something nurses must not only do for themselves, but also on behalf of patients. That can occasionally put nurses at odds with both colleagues and the people they serve. A nurse who suspects a child is being abused, for example, is a mandatory reporter, but bringing the situation to the attention of authorities will likely cause conflict between the nurse and the child’s parents. Similarly, reporting an error or unethical behavior on the part of a colleague can create stress in the work environment, but as a professional, it’s a nurse’s duty.

Being assertive can feel uncomfortable, but it has tangible benefits. It boosts self-esteem and earns the respect of others. Teams in which members are free to discuss their thoughts honestly feel more relaxed, experience less stress and work together more cooperatively, improving both interpersonal relationships and ultimately, patient care.

Can a nurse learn to become more assertive? Absolutely! Like other therapeutic communication techniques, it takes practice, but anyone willing to change their communication style can learn to express themselves more effectively and with confidence.

Quality #12: Discretion

In 1996, Congress passed a bill designed to ensure the confidentiality and security of personal healthcare information. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPPA, strictly governs who has the right to an individual’s medical information and how it can be used.

Today, medical information may only be exchanged between healthcare providers when necessary and with consent. For nurses, this means they can’t discuss a patient's personal information with colleagues who are not involved in the case and certainly not with family and friends. Gone are the days when charts were hung at the foot of a patient's bed. Nurses are expected to have the utmost discretion when it comes to handling medical data.

Quality #13: Reliability

Reliability means consistently doing what’s expected and doing it well. It’s a simple idea, but it’s easier said than done for nurses struggling to balance the needs of patients, employers, coworkers and those to whom they are accountable outside of work.

In a busy healthcare setting, when one team member drops the ball, another has to pick it up. Tasks are rarely discretionary and can’t be put off until later. A nurse getting ready to leave for the day to meet with their child’s teacher may have to postpone if a patient emergency arises, and date-night with a spouse may occasionally be spent working a double-shift because someone called out sick.

Thankfully, while reliability is a professional must, work-life balance is possible to achieve with strategies like taking positions with hours that make meeting other commitments easier and utilizing vacation and other paid time off efficiently. Most employers in the healthcare field know their staff makes sacrifices to keep things running smoothly, and they try to offer as much flexibility as possible.

Quality #14 Organizational Skills

Being organized is among the most vital qualities for nurses, and it encompasses several key skills including neatness, the ability to prioritize and delegate, and the expertise to manage time effectively.


The average worker spends almost a third of their day looking for information. Of that, nearly an hour is lost due to disorganized work stations. Because most nurses work in technologically advanced facilities, computerization has taken some of the work out of keeping a desk neat, but there’s still plenty of paper to go around. In a busy healthcare environment, nurses don’t have an hour a day to waste chasing missing documentation and misplacing paperwork could mean it lands in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have it, so neatness counts.

The Ability to Prioritize

Everything in healthcare is subject to prioritization, but because issues in a medical setting are continually evolving, nurses need to prioritize tasks at the start of their shift and re-prioritize them throughout the day as things change. It’s a rare day that ends with a to-do list that looks the same as when it started.

Triage, the process of prioritizing how and when patients receive care based on the severity of their condition, is an important concept in medicine, and it’s perhaps a nurse’s most vital role. Healthcare is a resource. It’s not possible for providers to be in more than one place at a time, so when multiple patients have needs, it takes knowledge and skill to prioritize them safely.

The Ability to Delegate

Delegation is a tough skill for some nurses to master. Being responsible for how someone else performs a job on your behalf is a significant responsibility. It’s tempting to try to do everything alone, but more gets done when nurses are willing to trust assistants and other trained staff members to assume duties that don’t require professional nursing attention. It frees them up to use their expertise where it’s needed most and makes patient care more efficient.

Time Management Skills

Everything in healthcare is time-sensitive. Giving medications, for example, is a large part of most nurses’ responsibilities and regulations strictly govern administration times. Doses given early or late can delay procedures and significantly affect outcomes. Patients need to be fed, washed and taken to the bathroom on time while any moment, an emergency could arise.

Nurse make it all work by planning, prioritizing, delegating and making the most of every minute. It’s a tall order, but handling time wisely keeps a busy day from becoming overwhelming and helps reduce stress.

The good thing about organizational skills in general is that while they’re second nature for some people, they can be also be learned. Being organized is less of an innate ability than it is practicing good habits and using the right tools.

Computers in healthcare facilities, for example, use software that organizes task lists, sets up reminder systems and reorganize priorities as they change. Most are even customizable to match a nurse’s preferences, and they eliminate laborious handwritten checklists.

Quality #15: Compassion

Compassion begins as empathy, but it’s more than an understanding of someone’s suffering, it’s the willingness to do something about it. As the cornerstone of nursing, compassion makes all the difference in the lives of people in need.

How do patients describe compassionate nurses? Words like kind, gentle and caring top the list, but most equate compassion with doing the little things they don’t expect a nurse to do as part of providing medical care. For nursing students, it’s what teachers refer to as the need to holistically address the unique physical, emotional and social needs of each person as an individual, not as a collection of symptoms.

What does compassion look like? For a woman upset that she’s too weak to comb her hair before visitors arrive, it’s taking the time to do it for her. For parents who’ve lost a newborn, it’s giving them time to grieve at their own pace. Compassion means different things to everyone, and for nurses, the mission is to discover what those things are and act on them.

Quality #16: Ethics

A strong sense of right and wrong helps nurses work through challenges and gives them a moral compass with which to consistently make decisions that are in a patient’s best interests, especially when the right thing to do isn’t obvious.

From advocating for a patient's wishes to telling them the truth about their condition, even when it’s something they’re uncomfortable hearing, situations occur every day in a nurse’s life that require ethical behavior, and it’s the very foundation upon which trusting therapeutic relationships are built.

Quality #17: Self-Care Ability

Nursing is a profession dedicated to caring for others, and it can be physically, emotionally and mentally demanding. Long shifts, busy days and coping with illness and death are stressful. Nurses are expected to meet a wide range of patient needs while remaining focused and attentive, and that emphasis on meeting the needs of others first often puts the nurse’s needs in the backseat.

While there is increasing awareness on the part of employers and nurse educators that self-care is critical to a healthy workforce, to avoid burnout, it’s up to nurses to take the lead and follow the same advice they give to their patients to take care of oneself.

The best way to reduce job-related stress is to set clear professional boundaries, work in areas of the field that allow a reasonable work-life balance and take advantage of well-deserved time off without feeling guilty. This is not only good counsel for nurses, it’s better for patient care. Nurses slip up when they’re tired. Medication errors and incidents involving client and staff safety are among the top mistakes attributed to nurse fatigue.

The willingness to care for one’s body, mind and spirit and the self-esteem necessary to understand that meeting their own needs helps them better care for others is the one prescription today’s nurses can’t work without.

This list of qualities that good nurses tend to share is long, but it shouldn't be intimidating. Prospective nursing students should be thoughtful and take the commitment to a career in healthcare seriously. While introspection is always a good first step, it’s also important to recognize that while being born with certain personal characteristics can make some things in life a little easier, or a bit more challenging, the qualities that make a good nurse can be learned, nurtured and grown. A vocational school is the perfect place to start.

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Nursing Schools, Nursing Career, Nursing Certification, Nursing Responsibilities, Nursing Skill, Nursing Practitioners

Although nursing school is most certainly an investment in your future that will more than pay itself off, paying for your education as a nurse could present an initial challenge. 

The cost of nursing school can vary quite a bit on the type of school you choose—such as if you go to a private school vs. a community college—and the type of program you are looking to enroll in, such as an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

There is no one set cost for nursing school, but you can expect to spend anywhere from thousands for a shorter degree program to as high as over $80,000 and even sometimes $100,000 for longer or grad school programs. 

How much nursing school tuition costs will depend on a number of factors like what educational level you already have, whether you're attending full-time or part-time, and what degree you are pursuing.

If you already have a Bachelor’s degree and are now pursuing your RN through an RN-to-BSN bridge program, or if you’re going directly from an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the cost will be different. And if you attend a community college, the cost will most likely be much lower than a private university. 

Typically, a community college will provide the most affordable route for nursing students, followed by a state university, and lastly, a private one. However, that can really depend on what kind of financial aid and scholarships you have, so there is no way to predict exactly how much your degree will cost you. 

Nursing School Cost by Degree

Keeping those differences in mind and knowing that costs can vary by quite a bit, below is what you can expect to pay for different types of nursing degrees. But you should always check prices in your area and with your own prospective school. 

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) Cost 

Earning your ADN means that you will have an Associate’s degree and become a Registered Nurse (RN). An ADN program is typically thought of as the more affordable and even faster route to becoming a nurse than a Bachelor’s program, but costs can still vary widely. 

In some programs, an ADN program can take as little as 18 months, but for others, it can take as long as several years, depending on what prerequisites you need, if there is a waitlist, and if you will be moving through it full- or part-time. Those factors will determine the final cost, but you can expect to pay anywhere from around $10,000 to closer to $40,000. 

Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) Cost

A BSN degree is widely becoming the standard for RNs, and earning your Bachelor’s will allow you a lot of flexibility in your career, as well as the ability to advance further in the nursing field if you choose and increase your earning potential. 

Much like with an ADN, the cost of a BSN degree can vary widely as well. For instance, some people enroll directly into a BSN program, while others may choose an RN-BSN route, and still, others may come into the program with a Bachelor’s degree in another field. 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from the 2017-2018 academic year, the average cost of a Bachelor’s degree ranges from $72,000 for a public university to over $104,000 at a private institution, with room and board and fees included. 

Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) Cost

Again here, earning your Master’s in Nursing will run a wide variety of costs. An MSN in Nursing Education may be different from an Advanced Practice Registered Nursing degree like a CRNA or a CNM, for instance. 

On average, the most recently available statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics show that the average cost for a graduate degree is around $48K for a public institution and over $108K at a private, non-profit school, room and board not included. 

Additional Nursing School Expenses

Outside of the direct costs of your school’s tuition, you will also want to anticipate some of the “hidden” costs of nursing school. From the cost of scrubs to the income you might lose, here’s a look at what you can expect to budget for during nursing school.  

1. Uniforms and accessories

You will be required to purchase your own uniform for your nursing school clinicals, as well as the accessories you need, such as your stethoscope, scissors, and penlight. Most school programs have a package you can purchase through them directly, but a standard-issue professional stethoscope—such as a Littmann—can run you about $90. 

A set of scrubs can be as cheap as $20, but if you have back-to-back clinical days, you might also consider purchasing an extra set or two—unless you really, really love laundry. (Also, for the record, I couldn’t afford more than one set of scrubs, so sometimes, you do what you have to do!) 

2. Health costs

You will most likely accrue some health-associated costs as part of your nursing program. These may include a drug screening test, a background check, a TB test, bloodwork, and any required booster shots, and a Hepatitis B vaccine series. You may also be expected to purchase your own malpractice insurance as a healthcare professional. 

3. Books 

I won’t lie to you—some nursing books can be really, really expensive. Even one book for one nursing class can cost several hundreds of dollars. Your book expenses could range from a few hundred to upwards of $700 each semester. 

4. Transportation costs

Nursing school means clinicals, and clinicals means getting there. I’ll never forget my first day of nursing clinicals in the winter weather—I blew a tire as soon as I get down the road, right in front of someone’s driveway, blocking their way to get to work, too. I remember sitting in my car, just sobbing because I didn’t even have money to pay for a new tire.

So, whether you’re driving and have to account for extra mileage, gas, and vehicle maintenance, or have to find a new public transportation route that works for you, don’t forget additional transportation costs in your budget. 

5. Childcare

If you’re a parent, you will most likely need additional childcare not only for your classes and clinical hours, but for your studying outside of school as well. 

6. Decreased income

In addition to the increased costs you may accumulate during nursing school, you may be faced with decreased income as a result of cutting back on your regular work hours. Although many people have to work during school, many people also have to reduce some of their workloads in order to free up time for classes, clinicals, and studying. 

7. NCLEX exam and test prep

In order to become an RN, you'll have to take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. That means paying for the exam itself, which runs $200. As well as paying for any additional NCLEX review courses which can cost anywhere from $25 to upwards of $400. 

Ways to Pay For Nursing School Costs 

The hidden costs of nursing school may seem discouraging at first, but as a future RN, you’re resourceful—so, here’s how you can pay for nursing school


Many people think of scholarships as something you can get at the start of your college journey, but in actuality, you can apply for scholarships as you earn your education too.

Remember that sad scene of me crying in the snow with a flat tire that I couldn’t afford? Well, the very next day, I got a check in the mail from a random nursing scholarship that I had applied for—it was just enough to cover the cost of a new tire!

Keep applying for all the scholarships you can, even throughout school. Check with your financial aid office for local scholarships, search online, or use a third provider like FastWeb

Student Loan Forgiveness 

There are lots of student loan forgiveness programs available to nurses where either all or a portion of your student loans can be forgiven. Not all nurses will qualify, but for those that are lucky enough, they are definitely worth applying for.

The top 5 student loan forgiveness programs for nurses are:

◉ Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)

◉ Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (NCLRP)

◉ State-Level Loan Forgiveness

◉ Perkins Loan Cancellation

◉ Military Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Employer Tuition assistance

If you are currently employed in a healthcare setting, be sure to check with your HR department about any tuition assistance that is available to students.

And, if you know where you would like to work after graduation, don’t be afraid to ask if they would be willing to work with you in advance—they may be able to offer you some kind of assistance in exchange for a job guarantee at graduation. 

Buy secondhand and used

The unfortunate part about required school uniforms is that once you graduate, you probably can’t use those scrubs again—but that does mean that every semester, there is a new crop of new grads who can supply you with scrubs at a discounted (or free!) price. Check if your school offers a Facebook group or used scrub sale at the end of the semester. 

You can also do the same for books, and be sure to check your school’s bookstore for used books before buying new. When I couldn’t afford my nursing school books, I actually used the syllabus to figure out which pages I specifically needed, and copied pages in the library to get through. It’s not a strategy I necessarily recommend, but it costs dollars instead of hundreds of dollars. A lot of books can be purchased as e-books for much cheaper than physical books, too.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask your instructors what books they would recommend that you purchase—and which ones could be skipped. I employed this strategy all throughout nursing school and found that almost all of my professors were more than willing to help me save money by helping me prioritize my purchases. 

Work-study positions

Work-study jobs are really an ideal situation for a student nurse, because they allow you a set compensation and usually provide you with plenty of time for studying, as well as valuable experience in your field. You may get a work-study position with a nursing professor, for instance, assisting a professor in their duties while studying in your downtime. 

Work-study positions are provided through your financial aid package, so don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA and make sure to update it if anything changes over the course of your education. 

Working The Nightshift

You might have to experiment with what works best for you and your schedule (as well as your sanity!), but depending on the clinical area, working the night shift might free you up to still earn money—oh and hey, night shift differential—and still make it to class. I speak from experience here and found that the quiet early AM hours also let me squeeze in some studying as well. 

The costs of starting your nursing career can be very different based on your own individual circumstances and although at times, you may have your “flat tire” moment too, just keep in mind—when it comes to investing in a degree that will not only change your own life, but the lives of so many you care for—the work you are putting in now will definitely be worth it. 




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