Can you imagine going all the way through nursing school and then not being able to work because a state government shutdown has prevented you from getting a license? Or for that matter, what if you are an experienced nurse and can’t renew your license because the state board of nursing is closed? That’s what Minnesota nurses are facing. Government shutdowns have unintended consequences.
Posts from the ‘Nursing’ Category
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything meaningful here. A lot has been going on that I’ve wanted to post about. But. One thing overshadows everything else.In August, I lost my younger brother to suicide. It’s been a shattering experience. It’s almost kind of ridiculous to try and write about it. The most accurate thing I’ve heard describing the experience of dealing with the suicide of a loved one is that there are no words to describe it. But I feel paralyzed in this blog until I address it. So here’s the thing. When you find out. Immediately there’s a violent gash that separates your life. The Before and the After. You desperately want to return to the Before but you know there’s only the After. Chaos. Pain. Insomnia. Anger. Confusion. Anxiety. Guilt. That’s how the After starts. In September I found an incredible art therapy support group called the Rita Project. I started going and my recovery began. Now it’s February and I’m almost feeling normal. I can never get back to the Before. The pain is still there, hard as a rock and confounding, but the chaos, anxiety and confusion have thankfully subsided. Anger is still there. I’m working on that. And no anger for my brother, like I always assumed is what happens after a suicide. Just generalized anger at the world. But onto my brother…
He’s almost reached saintly proportions in my mind, even though he was so misunderstood in this life. He suffered from a cruel form of treatment resistant depression. I think many with this type of depression don’t make it past the age of 25.
He made it to 36. Today would have been his 37th birthday. He wasn’t the easiest person to get along with but he was a good person with an awesome sense of humor. He was a total movie buff and the last conversation we had I was telling him I can’t watch Tarantino anymore because I can’t stand all the gore. He said but wait – you have to watch Inglorious Basterds. He said I would like it despite the violence. And damned if I didn’t love that fucking movie. Goodbye, Mikey. You didn’t deserve to die.
On Thursday, President Obama held a summit to discuss our current state of health care. It was attended by representatives of various health care organizations as well as a sampling of senators and representatives. I also had the pleasure of attending. (Okay, I didn’t really attend but I watched the live stream and tweeted about it, so that’s kind of like attending, right?) At any rate, I think our health care woes can be summed up rather succinctly: We want better health care, for more people, and we want it to cost less. If only the answers were that simple. As you would expect at an event with plenty ‘o congressmen in attendance there was lots of complaining and pontificating. Despite that, I managed to suss out some interesting ideas for you ; ) Nurses were well-represented by Rebecca Patton, president of the ANA. As a nurse, I’m proud to say that she was one of the few people bringing actual ideas to the table, rather than just complaining about the situation. She presented the idea that nurses should be allowed to use the full extent of their clinical skills. I took this to mean nurse practitioners should be allowed to practice, and RNs should be utilized more for their clinical skills rather than just doing endless rote tasks and paperwork. She also suggested that more public reporting of outcomes and staff ratios should be required. I think this is a great idea, although it doesn’t address the issue of lowering health care costs. A facility that has a low nurse-patient ratio is certainly going to have higher costs, unless they choose to cut corners somewhere else. Daniel Smith, president of the American Cancer Society discussed raising the tobacco tax. The argument against this is if you raise the tax on cigarettes, you will disincentivize people to smoke, hence you will not raise more revenue in tobacco tax. But if the tax hike is significant enough (say by 75%) and the amount of smokers reduces by only 15%, you’re going to have a net increase in tobacco tax revenue. Bonus points: This could facilitate a reduction in lung cancer and COPD; thus saving more money down the road. The idea was also presented that we utilize more home care services for chronic illnesses and end of life care. I couldn’t agree more. First of all, it cuts down on nosocomial infections, and secondly, I think people would rather receive treatment in their own homes, particularly if we can show that this improves outcomes. Also, what a great way to utilize your nursing workforce. We still have a long way to go towards improving our health care system. There was also a lot of talk of “we’re all going to have to pay our share, and sacrifice a little bit,” (Wait – wasn’t the the whole point to NOT sacrifice better care, and to NOT have to pay more?) Really this just means that some of us will be required to pay higher taxes to fund all of this. One group that was conspicuously missing from the health care summit was doctors. That’s unfortunate. After all, doctors are the one group that really spend their time at the intersection between reimbursement and patient care. Shouldn’t we be listening to some of their ideas and solutions?
(Foreman performs the life saving “titty twister technique” after House OD’s on methadone)
Renewed my CPR today. In the beginning I was so blase about it. I couldn’t believe that the content could actually take up 4 hours and I complained about it. But once I was there I had a better attitude because I remembered that this is pretty important stuff, and so it’s important to practice and brush up on your skills every once in awhile. By the end of the class I was really starting to thing that I am ready to go back. I’m not afraid. It’s going to be a good thing. Oh sure there will be some tough days (and nights) but I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
A couple surprises, though:
1. They didn’t mention the Stayin Alive factor. Something I find incredibly useful in keeping pace.
2. They didn’t mention the “titty twister method.” For those of you unfamilliar with this it was on House last week. House went into respiratory arrest and Foreman brought him back with an heroic titty twister. My initial thought? This would be perfect for those who like to fake seizures.
It’s that NCLEX time of year again. While most of us are stressing out about Christmas, I know there are a select few of you who are stressing out about NCLEX. I want you to know, it’s not as bad as you think. I actually wasn’t too nervous about taking the NCLEX back in 2004. In fact, I felt pretty confident. Why? Because my nursing school had a good passing rate. Something like 92%. That means that 92% of the students from the previous class had passed the NCLEX on the first try. While I wasn’t at the tippy-top of my class, I knew that my grades were respectable. Perhaps even admirable. So statistically speaking, it would be very unlikely that I wouldn’t pass. In the end I think passing the NCLEX comes down to three factors:
- NCLEX Practice questions. Take lots of them and when you do, don’t get bogged down by the details. The point of taking the practice questions is to get you to think like a nurse. As a nurse you will have to prioritize everything you do, and therefore the questions are formatted as such. So many questions boil down to prioritization (i.e. You have 4 tasks. Which one should you do first?) And that’s where your ABCs come into play…
- ABCs. Airway, Breathing, Circulation. Live it, love it, learn it. So many questions are based on this hierarchy. So even if you come across a question with a drug or a disease that you’ve never heard of (I’m not gonna lie to you – it happens) you can always try to pare the question down to the ABCs.
- RELAX!!! I can’t stress this enough. I think there are some pretty smart cookies out there that fail just because the get themselves all in a tizzy before they take the test. Don’t be that student. You will have ample time to take the test. Just take a deep breath before every question, and give it your best shot.
I wanted to chime in because (a) I love to over-simplify things, and (b) I am on the verge of becoming one of those nurses they refer to – the kind who works 2-3 years after school and then quits.
The reasons aren’t complicated. Here’s why I’ll probably end up quitting:
- The money sucks.
- It takes its toll on you physically.
- I don’t want to work nights, weekends, or holidays.
Sure there are many peripheral issues – nurses dumping on each other, lack of autonomy, lack of time and resources to get the job done right. But other than that it’s a personally rewarding, and (at times) intellectually challenging job. It feels good to help people when they are sick. I love being the voice of calm in a storm. I love working as a team and saving lives (sometimes.)
I just don’t love it enough to get over the three points that I listed above.
It’s that simple. If I became a nurse when I was 22 I might have gotten a few more good years in, but sadly, I didn’t. So if there’s any constructive advice springing from this negative view of nursing it would be this: Get ‘em in while they’re young. The earlier you start your nursing career, the later your burnout will be.