Why Traditional Human Resources Doesn’t Work for On-Boarding Nurses: And Who is Doing it Right

Please note, this is a sponsored post.

All opinions are my own.

 

It’s 0315 am and your phone rings.

It’s the unit again. They’re getting another critically ill / unstable patient and all of the other nurses not only have a full patient load, but half of them have an extra patient on top of it. All of the nurses are dying. None of them have eaten since before they arrived 8 hours ago.  They probably haven’t had time to go to the bathroom either. They’re calling to see if you want to come in early for your shift to help.

Your 12-hour shift starts in 3.5 hours.

You went to bed at midnight. You stayed late last night because they were short-staffed.

Again.

What should have been a 12-hour shift ended up being a 16-hour shift. When you finally got home you had to get your daughter’s lunch ready for school tomorrow, shower off the day of MRSA, VRE, and c.diff, and eat whatever the rest of your family ate for dinner 6 hours ago.

You’re almost in tears trying to keep it together.  You physically can’t take this much longer.

You’re not surprised though. Every single day you have off, the nursing unit calls to see if you want to pick up extra shifts. You’re screwed either way.  You’ll feel really bad if you say no because you know how bad they’re hurting right now, but you just can’t work another overtime shift.  You rarely see your family outside of work and have missed a bunch of family get-togethers because you’re picking up overtime.. not because you need the money but because you know how awful work is right now and you don’t want you coworkers or your patients to suffer.

You’re one of the few senior nurses left.  Most have found other jobs because after being told to “hang on just a little longer”.  At first they said just a month or two.. but that was almost 11 months ago.

You don’t blame them for leaving.

You started looking for clinic positions a month ago. It would break your heart to leave critical care because you love it and you’re amazing at it but this is just unsustainable. You’d rather have a job that may not be what you enjoy but at least you can function on your days off and aren’t constantly overwhelmed and on the verge of tears.

You were told positions were posted. Your manager is trying to schedule interviews and extend offers.

You heard through the grapevine that HR took 4 months to post the current open positions and the last candidate accepted another job because it took HR 2 weeks after the nurse manager gave them the green light to extend an offer.

After being at your wit’s end the last 6 months, it’s a real gut-punch to find that out.

Even if a qualified nurse applied this second, it would take HR a week to get to the application.. another week for them to verify licensure.. another week to get it to the nursing manager who is already completely overwhelmed as well.. and another week to get an interview completed. It could take anywhere from days to weeks for the official offer to be extended.  Then they would need to do their corporate orientation before starting their unit orientation. Depending on their experience level, it’s another 3-12 weeks before they’re taking care of patients on their own.

The industry standard of time to fill is 45 days.

It takes an average of 45 days to fill nursing positions, and many nurses and nurse managers reading this know that it realistically takes much longer than 45 days.

The bottom line is that the traditional human resources processes do not work for nursing.

When nurses are needed, they are needed now. Not in a month and a half (if you’re lucky) they are needed immediately because there are patients that need their expert care right this very second. And their future coworkers are sweating, exhausted, and almost ready to break while trying to bar the door until they arrive.

The name of the game at the bedside is working with the minimum number of staff we need to care for our patients safely and no more.  Over-staffing does not exist because it’s simply too expensive. Therefore, when a position becomes available, it must be filled immediately to get back to having enough people to safely care for patients and avoid burnout and turnover of existing staff.   Let’s address this problem by removing the HR barrier between prospective candidates and the nursing units that so desperately need them.

The solution?

Outsource human resources for all nursing positions

Remove the burden of filling nursing positions from HR. Leverage current technology to cut down on wasted time and streamline processes. Stop the phone tag between prospective nurses and HR that eats up precious days, and many times weeks.  Use a system with constantly up to date nursing e-portfolios that automatically verifies licenses and certifications, and enables prospective candidates to self-schedule interviews.

Cut that 45-day industry standard down to 22 days.

22 days.

Go from taking at least a month and a half to hire nurses to just over 3 weeks.

Not only will you save money and time, but your existing staff and patients will get the support they need exponentially faster and you can avoid losing valuable staff members that are at the end of their rope waiting for new hires to start.  Divert the exorbitant amount of HR resources and dollars once used to address filling nursing positions to all other positions.  Become more efficient.

Staff Garden is a company that can take on this important aspect of on-boarding nurses as well as other clinicians.

The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles has officially started using Staff Garden to fill all nursing positions.

If you are a nurse looking for a job

Check out the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles Staff Garden page here.  They are currently hiring for the operating room, rehab, med-surg, CV acute, blood bank, NICU, radiology, CTICU, neurology clinic and more.  Fill out your e-portolio and schedule your interview now.  Like, right now.

No filling out an old outdated online application, trying to upload a resume and cover letter that reformats it and makes it look really weird and spending 2 hours to re-do it.  No endless forms.  No waiting months to hear anything back with no way of contacting human resources.

Fill out your e-portfolio and schedule your interview now.

And if you’re not tech-savy, don’t worry.  Staff Garden has tools available to help that are at the bottom of the page of the above link.

If you are a hospital administrator looking to learn more

Click here to see a sample e-portfolio and Staff Garden’s tools.  Click on “clients” on the top navigation to explore the various ways that Staff Garden can support you in quickly on-boarding qualified clinical staff.

As a bedside nurse, I believe this new way of on-boarding clinical staff will spread like wildfire because it is so greatly needed and I want to be a part of the solution.

What Do You Think of When You Hear the Word “Nurse”?

This post is sponsored by Capella University.

Please see my disclaimer page for more information on our partnership.

 

When you hear the word “nurse” .. what do you think? What do you see? More importantly, what do you feel?

I see a person, standing there in the middle of chaos – with a subtle grin.   Someone that can not only handle the world flying by them a million times a minute, but they kind of enjoy it.

Technology is constantly changing. Residents are in and out. New process, procedures and policies come out so fast you barely had time to learn about that last change. Every few years there are new faces in administration.

But the nurse remains.

The nurse stays steady at the helm.

Because even though things are constantly changing, at the end of the day, there is still a person who craves caring for and being with people – and that’s all that matters.

They crave the one-on-one, “I’m right here for you,” “don’t give up,” moments. The “I know you’re really scared – I’m not going to leave you” moments. The “I don’t care if I make this doctor, administrator, or coworker mad because I am standing up for my patient because they deserve better than that” moments.

They’ll deal with working overtime. They’ll deal with confusing charting systems. They’ll deal with practically humanly impossible requirements for charting and tasks to make sure all of the bases are covered legally for the hospital. They’ll come in early. They’ll stay late. They’ll miss time with their loved ones to go to work and care for people.   They’ll push themselves. They’ll do the things they hate doing (you know…making others mad, disappointing people, frustrating people, annoying people) just to advocate for their patients. And would do so in a heartbeat. A PQRS.

When I hear nurse – I see that confident person in the middle of a crowded room, while the world races by them…sitting there quietly.

They are connecting with a patient, and completely oblivious to the madness around them.

And the patient feels connected.

The patient feels safe.

Capella asked three artists to paint what the word nurse meant to them. Check out this video to see their interpretation.

Aren’t they beautiful?

Capella is partnering with Scrubs Magazine in a contest to giveaway each of these pieces of art. The link to the video contains instructions for how to enter.

How to Survive Nursing School Masterpost

Please note, this post contains affiliate links.

Please see my disclaimers page for more information about affiliate links and my partnerships.

Starting nursing school can be pretty intimidating.  You don’t know your classmates or their experiences.  You just assume everyone else knows more than you and they all know exactlywhat they’re doing.

Well, I’ve got a secret for you.  Lean in a little closer because I need to whisper this – a lot of people don’t want me to let this one slip..

((None of us know what we’re doing.  Some of us are just better pretending than others.))

This post is going to provide you with some study tips, life tips, things I liked to use as a nursing student and practicing nurse, as well as explain some of our well known resources and communities.

The bottom line is that getting into nursing school is tough, nursing school is tough, and so is being a nurse!  But remember, you got into nursing school for a reason. Don’t doubt yourself now!

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Studying strategies

Nursing isn’t one of those majors you can just read up on the information the night before the exam and expect to do okay.  It takes a lot of strategy to manage your time appropriately.  Each exam is over so much information that you must have a plan of attack!

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Plan

After your first day, get all of the syllabi together and write out every single due date on a calendar that you actually will look at daily; ideally one that you carry with you (whether this be on your phone or an actual print calendar/planner).  After all of those dates are written out, then plan out when you will study for these exams in reasonable blocks of time.  This means 2-3 hours here and there, not 6-8 hour chunks of time.  No one can pay attention and absorb information in those longer periods of time.  It’s an inefficient and ineffective use of your time.

After you plan these study times, then plan when you will write your papers.  Schedule short-term goals (I’ll find 2 sources on this date, write my intro this date, edit on this date, etc.) so you’re not sitting down to write an entire paper the night before its due.  Schedule yourself to finish this paper 1-2 weeks before the due date, so if you run into any roadblocks (not understanding something, changing a section, clarifying with the professor) you’ve got some wiggle room.

Organize

Get a folder and/or notebook for each class.  Keep notes together and organize them so they’re easy to find.  Have a folder on your desktop for nursing school, with subfolders for each class, then subfolders for each section.  I realize this sounds a little organization-crazy but bear with me..

If you have to spend 10 minutes looking for a document on your computer, or 15 minutes looking for a hard copy of something around your dorm room, and you do this a few times a week, you’re losing 30 minutes – 2 hrs roughly just searching for things.  That’s an absurd amount of time completely wasted.  Think about how much quality studying you could give yourself in 2 hours.  Or what if you used that time to nap?  Naps are amazing.  I would much rather nap than waste my time searching.

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Something that is important to remember is YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE.  Look to maximize it at every turn.  Try to look for and eliminate inefficiencies or wasted time (searching for books, notes or documents because your desk is a mess, taking forever to get your paper formatted because you haven’t taken time to learn how to write in APA, forgetting about a deadline and scrambling to meet it).

Printables

Focus

Don’t just study hard.  Study smart AND hard.  Don’t say “I’ll just study the whole day before the test” because that’s not going to work.  People can’t focus for that long at a time.  We retain information best in 20-ish minute increments.  Block out everything for those 20 minutes, then take a 10 minute break.  Do this for 2-3 hours and it will be MUCH more effective than a full day of staring at your text half asleep.  Turn your phone on silent and put it in a drawer.  Close all of your tabs.  Put your tablet away.  Have a snack and a drink near you so you don’t get up.

Focus.

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Focus.

Focus.

Focus.

Break time?  YYYYAAAASSSSSSSS!

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Try to understand whole concepts, like try to understand and explain the renin-angiotension system to someone else.  Do not make the mistake of just trying to memorize the material.  There is way too much to try to memorize for this study technique to be worthwhile.

Learn your professor’s teaching style

Let’s be real here; just like people learn differently, people teach differently as well.  Some professors are more relaxed and care more about understanding the big picture, while others want every little thing in an incredibly specific way, and many are somewhere in between.

Learn each professor’s style.

This will take some time.  If I had one professor that was a stickler for details, I made sure to pay really close attention to that with assignments.  But if I had another that was more big-picture, I wouldn’t stress over minute things they didn’t really care about anyway.

You really won’t learn this until you get back some of your first assignments.  You may miss some points here and there.  You may have wasted your time worrying about things you thought they’d care about when they actually don’t.  It’s okay.  There’s a learning curve at the beginning.  Put in what you think each class requires, see how some of those first assignments come back, and adjust your time and efforts accordingly.

Learn your learning style

I really didn’t figure out my learning / studying style until nursing school.  Up until nursing school, I didn’t have to be as regimented about it because I didn’t have to be.  Then nursing school came and smacked me in the face.  Some people are auditory, some visual, some more hands-on, or a combo.  I figured out that I learned best if I took handwritten notes in class, then typed them and added supplemental info from the books, then went back over them and highlighted.  Some classmates taped their lectures and listened in the car or while working out.  Figure out what works for you and stick to it.

Learn your resources

The quicker I learned how to use APA formatting for my papers, the better. Again, less wasted time is key.  Have your books flagged to frequently used sections.  Have them next to your desk for quick reference.  Learn how to use your school’s online library and databases.  The quicker you can utilize your resources, the better.

Clinical survival tips

Prepare

Make sure you know where you’re going.  If you’re nervous, do a test-drive there the night before.  Walk up to the unit.  Get your bearings so come game time, you know what to expect.

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Have good scrubs (I talk about which ones I use later on).  If they’re white scrubs, make sure you have the appropriate eh-hem.. undergarments.  Have a back up set in your car in case you get puked/peed/pooped on.  (Seriously).  Pack your lunch.  Have a granola bar or quick snack you can grab if you start to feel woozy.

*Note – I’ve seen so many nursing students pass out that I’ve lost count*

If you got your patient assignment the night before, look up the disease processes  and chief complaint of the patient so you’re aware of what they’re experiencing.  Get all of your paper work done.

Don’t just arrive on time, be early.  If you’re showing up right on time, you’re late.

Engage

Clinicals are scary, but don’t be so worried about getting all of the answer correct that you’re not mentally present.  Engage with your clinical instructors, nurses on the unit, patients, loved ones, nursing assistants, doctors, nurse managers.  Ask questions.  Watch procedures.  See how you can help.  Don’t be that student that stands in the hall, leaning against the wall, waiting to be told to do something.

Make sure you’re also allowing your other classmates to get in on everything too.  Find the balance of being helpful and engaged but not so much that you’re taking up all of the instructors time and the other students don’t have a chance to try or see anything.

Report

Listen during report.  Wait to ask any questions until they’re done giving report, as they may end up answering your question later.  It’s a nurse pet-peeve when you’re trying to give report and the person receiving report is continually interrupting with questions.  They may speak really quickly.  If you don’t know an abbreviation or diagnosis, write it down quickly and ask the nurse or your instructor after.

Things to write down when getting report (this is incredibly general and will vary if you’re on a specialized unit):

  • Name / MD’s / Code status / allergies
  • Precautions (fall, seizure, infection prevention, bleeding, etc.)
  • Chief complain / why they’re in the hospital and important things that have happened during the admission
  • Pertinent history (it’ll take time to figure out what pertinent and not, don’t get hung up on this one.  You’ll also figure out, with time, shorthand/abbreviations for history)
  • Abnormal assessment findings from body systems
  • If they’re on oxygen and how much via which delivery method (nasal cannula, face mask, non-rebreather, etc.)
  • Any tubes (feeding tubes, foley catheter, rectal tube, etc.)
  • Intravenous access (IV, central line, port, etc.)
  • IV fluids / drips / anything continuously infusing
  • Activity level / how they go to the bathroom
  • Pertinent / abnormal labs
  • Questions to ask MD / questions for any other member of the health care team
  • Any psychosocial / family + support system concerns
  • Important meds (you can look up this stuff in the chart, but they may mention some meds)
  • Any tests, procedures, transfers, etc. that need to occur during this shift
  • General discharge plan / what are our goals this shift?  (get out of bed 3 times, eat, pass swallow evaluation, transfer out of ICU, etc.)

Honesty

Nobody’s perfect.  You’re not going to know everything.  No one expects you to know the answer to every question or handle every situation perfectly.  You’re there to learn how to do things, not show everyone how much you already know at every turn.  So take a breath, and relax.  It’s okay if you don’t know something.

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If you don’t know something, just say you don’t know it.  If a patient asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, say, “You know, I don’t know the answer to that but I will find out.”

I do understand that need to try to avoid saying you don’t know something because you don’t want to be ostracized in front of your classmates.  Some instructors will take this opportunity to make you feel bad for not knowing something, but most will just be glad when you say you don’t know something because it lets them know what they still need to explain.

The sooner you get used to being honest about what you don’t know, the better.  This will continue to benefit you throughout your career.

Also, if you screwed something up, own up to it.  We can usually tell if you’ve messed something up and are trying to make it seem like you didn’t.  Once I saw a student go to hang an IV antibiotic on a secondary line.  Normal saline was the primary line.  She had forgotten to do something (it was so long ago I can’t remember what) and the antibiotic (which was green) backed up into the bag of normal saline.  The instructor came in and saw it and asked what happened.  She said that the saline bag came like that.

Um. No.

If normal saline came to you green, that’s a problem and it shouldn’t have been hung in the first place.

However, she held firm to it coming from pharmacy like that.  We were all pretty sure she was lying, but no one had physically seen it so we couldn’t refute her.

So we had to do the appropriate incident report, call pharmacy, etc. etc. Basically, we had to do a lot of things that we really shouldn’t have had to if she had just owned up the mistake.  And honestly, the mistake wasn’t a big deal.  We could have easily taken time to educate about what should have happened, grabbed a new bag of saline and antibiotic and that would have been that.

It’s not just about your patients

Not only are you learning about disease processes and how to care for people, you’re also learning time management.  Watch the time management styles of the various nurses you’re following.  Once you get to your first real nursing job, you’ll have to figure out how to manage your time and it will be helpful to see how various nurses do things.  You can learn how you would like to do things and also how you would not like to do things.  I’ve observed how people have done things and learned ways to avoid managing my time because I noted they were always behind or flustered.  There’s no perfect, textbook way to do this.  You’ll develop your own style.

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this is my style

Pay attention to not only the tasks they choose to delegate, but how they delegate them.  How do they work with nursing assistants?  The NCLEX® will teach you which tasks to delegate, but that’s the easy part!  The hard part is delegating tasks to nursing assistants that have worked on the unit for decades.  Developing rapport with your team is another piece of the learning how to be a nurse puzzle and you can learn a lot from watching how everyone interacts.  Every does this a little differently, so if you hear verbiage or talking points that you like (“Hey I really like how she asked that CNA to take that patient to the bathroom.. I don’t want to forget that”) write it in a small notebook that you keep in your scrub pocket (I’ve got a link in a later section for said notebooks).  Or talking points / responses to nurses dealing with tough situations.  Once I heard a nurse firmly respond with a, “I know you’re frustrated but I am your nurse and you will not curse at me,” and I was like..

DANG – RESPECT.   

**quickly ran to the nursing station to scribble it down on a piece of paper so I wouldn’t forget it**

(That patient immediately apologized and connected with her about what was really bothering him and requested her for subsequent shifts.)

Respect

It’s really important to treat everyone you encounter with respect.  From the housekeeper to the physician to the case manager to the physical therapist to the nursing assistant.  Even if you never want to work in that particular unit, you need to treat the people that have chosen to work there with respect.  So if you know you want to be a NICU nurse but you’re starting your med-surg clinicals, make sure you treat all of those nurses, nursing assistants, etc. with respect even though you know you’ll most likely not need to know that information for your potential job.  Just because it’s not important to you does not mean it’s not important.

Let me say that again.

Just because it’s not important to you at this particular point in your life, does not mean it’s not important.

Nothing frustrates clinical instructors, nurses, and nursing assistants is that “I never need to know this so it’s not important” attitude.  I’m actually getting hypertensive thinking about it.  Even though it’s not information that will be practically important to you in the long run, it is still important to someone.

Even if you already have a job and know where you want to work and the people on this med-surg unit have nothing to offer you – they are still people.  Treat them and the job they have chosen to do and the patients they have chosen to care for, with respect.

Student nurse life tips

Being a nursing student and nurse is not just a major and a profession, it’s a lifestyle.  There are certain things you can do to prevent burn-out, minimize stress and maximize your personal and professional life satisfaction.  Let’s discuss..

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(This is how nurses say cheers)

Take control of your environment

It’s hard to study and retain information in chaos.  A desk in the living room, family room, dining room or in the common area of your dorm is not ideal.  Try your best to secure a consistent and quiet place to complete focused study.  Keep the area clean and organized with your resources nearby.  Every semester, I wrote down all assignments on a piece of paper and taped it above my desk.  As I completed things, I would cross them off.  That provided a sense of accomplishment that boosted my mentality.

I like to diffuse essential oils while I work / study.  I’ve got a diffuser on my desk and will use lemon, wild orange, or peppermint.  I use the Doterra brand, but there are others. I also bought this diffuser from Amazon for about $23 and I keep it on my desk.  I also like to classical listen to music.  Piano Guys radio on Pandora (does anyone still use Pandora?  Just me? Ok great..) is an go-to of myself and my husband.

Figure out what puts you in that game-time, throw it up mentality.  That eye of the tiger, coming down the tunnel for the Super Bowl mentality.

And just do it.

(Ugh.. sorry for the lame Nike reference but it really would have been a missed opportunity if I didn’t.)

Communicate with your loved ones

Nursing school takes up a ton of time.  Unless you’re in it, it’s hard to understand the magnitude of things to do and learn.  Therefore, be proactive about communicating your needs to your loved ones.  Doing things last minute or the night before an exam won’t be the best thing for you during your nursing school journey.  You may have to say no to some things you really want to take part in.  The, “hey I want you to know that nursing school is my priority right now and I’ll probably not be able to do as much but it’s not a permanent thing” conversation is better to be had before school starts, not mid-heated argument about why you can’t go to another night out, dinner with friends, family event, etc.

Also, make sure to communicate about your needs while studying.  If you need to be interruption-free, focused and alone, communicate that.  “Ok so if I can be interruption-free for the next 2 hours to really focus, I’ll be able to go to dinner… or hang out with the kids.. or go to that work out class”.  I have a feeling there will be some miscommunications and hiccups.  Even the best communicators don’t do this perfectly.  Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Prioritize your sleep

I read a quote recently (and please forgive me, I do not remember who said it).. but this person said;

Being tired is not a badge of honor.

I love that. Sleep deprivation is NOT a badge of honor.   I feel like whenever I would get to work or class that it was a competition about who got the least amount of sleep. I started to feel like it was another way of saying, “I’m really tired so expect less of me today.” But if we’re chronically exhausted, when can those around us actually have normal expectations of us and not have being tired as an excuse?

We must prioritize our sleep – even if that means going to bed embarrassingly early because you know you think better early in the morning.  Or working late into the night because we know we can get the sleep we need the next day.  Or taking a power nap in the afternoon.

Do what you can to get the best sleep possible.  For instance, I like to get into a made bed, so I make my bed after I get up.  I like to shower at the end of the day to relax before bed.  I occasionally diffuse lavender or put a drop or two on my pillow.  I go up to get ready for bed about an hour before I actually want to fall asleep.  I like to take my time getting ready for bed.  I’ve got a memory foam pillow, Sleep Number bed, black out curtains, and nice sheets.  I read a few chapters of Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, or some other fiction book before bed.

I recently read the 4 hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and he recommended reading fiction before bed and its made a big difference.  I used to read non-fiction, but for some reason reading about a story or situation that didn’t really happen.. that takes you to another world, really relaxes me and gets my mind ready to rest.

I also really like this sleep post on Tumblr.

Exercise

Class. Study. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Class. Study. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

Class. Study. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

You can start to feel like a zombie.  Make sure you’re making time to exercise.  You’ll sleep better.  You’ll feel better.  You’ll be healthier.

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At the least, look up some You Tube yoga videos do some good stretches.  This is my favorite YouTube yogi bear.  This stuff really helps so much, especially when you spend so much time sitting at a desk / computer.  You can do it in the privacy of your home in as little as 10-20 minutes.  Straighten out your neck and back, do some back hyperextension, work your core, do some deep breathing and meditation.

It’s also nice to have something to completely focus on that is not related to nursing.  Get your favorite work out music and just escape.  I enjoy doing some cardio and lift weights.

Eat well

Try your best to eat well.  If you’re eating a lot of take-out, quick meals, sugary drinks, etc. it can leave you not feeling as full, then to more snacking.  You also aren’t putting the best nutrition in your body either.  Plan your meals.  Occasionally indulge.  Eat naturally.

One of my most favorite blogs ever is Authority Nutrition.  They post articles about nutrition that are all backed up with a ton of research (with links!) and have with meal plans.  Seriously wonderful site.

I get a lot of recipes from the Budget-Savvy Diva, Pinterest (link to my Pinterest food board), Minimalist Baker, and I really enjoy the Buzzfeed Tasty Facebook Page.  Slow cookers are awesome too.  Throw some ingredients in before you go to class and dinner is ready when you get home.

Nurse gear recommendations

A lot of people ask me what kind of scrubs, stethoscope, badge reels, etc. I use.  Here is a master list!

I wear Infinity by Cherokee scrub tops, scrub pants, jackets and undershirts.

I use the Littmann Master Cardiology stethoscope, but I really like MDF scopes as well.  MDF is definitely more affordable, yet still high quality.  They’re just a lot heavier but I think for the price difference and quality, it’s not that big of a deal.  When I was in nursing school, I purchased a $20 cheap scope and it was not worth it.  I ended up getting a more expensive one after a semester because I just could barely hear anything.

Nurse tip!  Get your name engraved on your scope so no one steals it!  

My favorite pens are the Pilot G-2 pens with the clicky top.  Never steal my clicky pen.  Never.

NRSNG has some great clipboards and nursing school packs available on Amazon that are awesome.

I really like the Badge Reels from BadgeBlooms on Etsy.  I recently did a review of these on the blog.  Here’s the link to the review!

And I always, always get asked about nursing shoes.  I’ve tried a lot.  My current favorite are Work Wonders® by Dansko.  I used to wear the regular ones but these are lighter, tighter and cheaper.  I did a review on my blog of these as well.  Here’s the link!Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

NRSNG also made a database of nursing brain sheets that is awesome.  You can download, print, copy and use – for free!  Click here for the database.  They also put one of the most used ones on Amazon in a tear-off pad.  Here’s the link to the pad.

I use this bag to organize my supplies when I’m working.  I keep my lip balm, snacks, pens, Sharpies and whatnot in here.
They’re made by a nurse!

I also get asked about compression socks a lot.  I’ve tried quite a few of them.  I have found some that I really enjoy – they’re long enough, and not too thick and not too thin.  They’re juuuuuuuust right!  Plus they’re only about $10.  They are Cherokee Support Socks.  I wore these during my pregnancy a lot as well.

I love planner and notebooks.  Papersource has some AMAZING notebooks and planners and I want all of them.  We live near one and I just like to go in and look at them all and pretend they’re mine.  Here’s  a link to their planners.  And there are some that are more feminine and some that are more masculine – options for all!  They also have a great selection of mini-notebooks, which I love.  They fit in your scrub pockets so you can use them to take notes in if you clinical instructor doesn’t want you using your phone.  Here’s a link to their notebooks.

Resources

After a few years in the biz I’ve learned a lot of different resources.  Here we go!

Blogs

  • The Nerdy Nurse – products, NCLEX® tips, nurse news, blog tips, advice
  • The Staff Garden blog – posts from myself and other seasoned nurses on career advice, interviews, news, advice.. it’s just a ton of great content in one space from very talented nurses and writers
  • Straight A Nursing Student – written by an ICU nurse with a passion for mentoring students! (Pssst – her book is also listened in the book section!)
  • NurseCode.com – this is written by an experienced nurse who is currently a nurse educator and has experiences interviewing new grads.. she has such a plethora of highly valuable content
  • NurseNacole.com – tons of videos, tips, resources all compiled here by a current practicing bedside nurse, working on her DNP
  • NursingCapsAreCool – a wonderful Tumblr nurse blog (or nurblr, as it is referred to in the Tumblr world!)
  • MDAdmissions – a Tumblr medical blog, written by an internal medicine resident. It’s fun/interesting to get a peak into what it’s like being a resident.
  • CoffeeMuggerMD – another genius Tumblr medical blog, written by a resident
  • Half-Great Adventures – a nrblr written by a night shift RN who works in pediatric neurology, neurosurgery, and endocrinology
  • Caring Intensely – a nrblr written by an ICU nurse / FNP student
  • Mursing Managed – a nrblr written by a nurse who recently graduated so he is very aware of the nursing school struggle.  He’s a former firefighter and works in ED/ICU/PCU currently.
  • Wayfaring MD – a medical blog written by a family physician working in a rural area
  • The EMS Lounge – written for EMS personnel and it. is. glorious.
  • Nurse GIF, BSN, RN – seriously hilarious nurse gifs.  For a good laugh, go here – STAT.
  • Bolus Coffee STAT – just a quality nurse blog written by a fellow ICU RN
  • Neuro Science Stuff – I love this one because it’s all of the latest news in neuroscience.  There are tons of great articles and studies that they post about.
  • Nurse Eye Roll Tumblr – my tumblr blog!

Specific valuable blog posts

Books

Some of these are nurse-related, some are life-related, some are medicine-related.. basically this is a list of books that I believe are helpful in the practical and emotional work it takes to become a successful nurse.  I went to Twitter and asked people which books they think that nursing students should read and here is the list!  All links are for Amazon.

Please note, I have not personally read all of these.  However, each book was recommended by either a nurse or physician.

Warning: shameless plug coming..

phew glad that’s over…

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Apps

I again asked my Twitter buds which apps they recommended for students.  Please touch base with a clinical instructor before pulling out your phone and using it during clinical time.  When I asked online if clinical instructors were okay with using phones as a resource, I got a bunch of different responses.  They ranged from “absolutely not” to “yes” to “only if we were looking at apps for clinical and patients/family could see” (so in a break room, bathroom, med room, etc.).  The take home message: don’t use your phone in clinicals unless told that it’s okay.

Here is a list!  They are free unless otherwise noted.

  • Medscape – a free medical app with tons of information about varying disease processes, drugs, etc.
  • Figure 1 – a free app of medical cases for health care professionals.  This one is fun to flip through randomly to see interesting cases and read physicians, nurses, and students chatting about what they think is going on and potential treatment courses.
  • Micromedex – there is a free version and a $2.99 version.  I love this one.  My hospital actually has it within our electronic medical record so I can access it within their med list, so I rarely use the app. The information is awesome though.  I use this most frequently to quickly look up indications or IV compatibility.
  • Nursing Central – a free app with drugs, definitions, diagnoses, and test info.
  • Nurse Grid – a free calendar app that helps you schedule your shifts. (You’ll quickly learn that regular calendars aren’t ideal for shift work.. especially night shift)
  • RN Crush – a free NCLEX® review app from the NRSNG team
  • David Drug Guide – multiple options from free – $39.99 of a comprehensive drug guid
  • Epocrates – a free medical app that has a ton of great information
  • Fast Facts for Critical Care – a $30 app that’s the phone version of the widely used hardcover version (Fast Facts for Critical Care by Kathy White)
  • LabGear – a $2.99 app that describes various labs in depth (OMG YESSSSS)
  • MedPulse – a free app that is the news portion of Medscape
  • SmartFOAM – a free app that is Free Open Access to Medical Education
  • iTriage – a free symptom checker
  • iStethoscope Expert – a free app that allows you to hear heart, bowel, and lung sounds
  • Drug Identifier – a $0.99 app that helps you identify drugs by appearance (so if you dropped one, or opened multiple ones and put them in a cup and they ask what the small white one is.. haha, happens more than you’d think!)

Miscellaneous

As many of you know, I write content for NRSNG.com.  While doing that, I’ve had the opportunity to basically go through all of their content with a fine-toothed comb.  And it blew me away.  I wish I had those kinds of resources in school!  They are full of “ah-ha” moment after “ah-ha” moment.

  • Their MedMaster Course $59 – this is super popular because a lot of nursing schools don’t have pharmacology courses anymore.  An actual pharmacist goes through each class of medication and explains it in away where I was understood various meds on a totally different level.  Srsly people.  This is outstanding.
  • Their NCLEX® Question Bank / Nursing Practice Questions (5 day trial for $1, then $14.99/month) – this is a growing question bank of NCLEX® questions that gives you stats on each question, its global rank, SATA, and it can be used on mobile
  • Their Lab Values Course $59 – each lab defined and explained, not only for passing tests but practical information for actual nursing practice

Other awesome resources

Welcome

As someone working their way to becoming a nurse, I just want to say WELCOME to the nursing community.  I want to encourage you to connect with others walking through the same journey and find people who are where you want to be and connect with them as well.  It can be incredibly encouraging when you’re having a rough time.  It can also be really educating as well!  You can do this in so many ways.  Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, professional nursing organizations, student nursing organizations, volunteering, etc.

I do have to say – one of my pet peeves of the online nursing world is companies that try to pass themselves off as nurses when they’re not. That’s one reason I love NSRNG – all but 2 employees are nurses, but they’re both married to nurses and one is a registered dietician.  I love Staff Garden because while they’re not nurses, they have nurses create content for nurses and consult nurses.  That Nurse Grid app I mentioned?  Yea, those are nurses.

I’ve been in the nursing social media world for a while now and found some pretty cool kids along the way.  Here’s my list of people to follow on various platforms.  Some are funny, some are informative, some are inspirational.. you get the picture.  Please note, there are a lot of awesome people on all of these platforms.. I may have forgotten some. Please comment below with others people to follow!

Please note, I listed all of my favorite Tumblr people in the resources section.  Please scroll back up to see my Tumblr recommendations.

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Twitter

  • @NurseEyeRoll 😉
  • @kevinmd
  • @staffgarden
  • @nrsngcom
  • @SeanPDent
  • @CleClinicMD
  • @TheNatureNurse
  • @TheNerdyNurse
  • @OnlyintheICU
  • @thekatieduke
  • @CoronaryKid
  • @MenInNursing
  • @BSNGraduate2013
  • @medschooladvice
  • @STATnews
  • @AACNme
  • @ANANursingWorld
  • @medicalaxioms
  • @bhawkesRN
  • @S_P_MD
  • @keepinitrealrn
  • @CraigCCRNCEN
  • @rachwhitaker89
  • @EDGnome
  • @NorthernMurse
  • @SharpCheddar
  • @TriStateAreaRNBSN
  • @ICUStat
  • @youtubenurse

Instagram

  • @NurseEyeRoll 😉
  • @nursenacole
  • @snarkynurses – this is one of my FAVES.  I literally laugh out loud with basically each post.  Pure gold.
  • @yourheartisminern
  • @nursebeth
  • @staff_garden
  • @nurselifern
  • @ananursingworld
  • @thenaturenurse
  • @paboards
  • @nrsng
  • @worldhealthorganization
  • @epmonthly
  • @figure1
  • @medschoolposts
  • @doctordonline
  • @exceptionalnurses
  • @mightnursemegan
  • @myneurosurgery
  • @medicalphy
  • @nursemendoza
  • @fabulousRN
  • @nursesofinstagram
  • @medicaltalks

Facebook Pages

  • Nurse Eye Roll 😉
  • Do Not Resuscitate. D. More-Black,RN
  • Snarky Nurses
  • Show Me Your Stethoscope
  • ZDoggMD
  • STAT
  • NRSNG
  • Mighty Nurse
  • Atul Gawande

 

I want to conclude by saying welcome to the team. Getting into nursing school is no easy task, so congratulations!  Nursing school is going to challenge you mentally, physically, and emotionally but in the end, it will be worth it.  Something I want you to remember is that while in school you’re learning about disease processes, care plans, procedures, delegation, prioritization… but at the end of the day, you’re taking care of people.  When you are so focused on learning that other stuff it can be easy to get distracted and forget that those are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncles all sitting in those hospital beds.

They’re sad, scared, nervous, in pain, nauseated, frustrated, fed up, exhausted, and ready to go home yesterday.  Don’t forget to also learn how to feel with patients.

How to be present.

How to empathize with whatever they’re feeling.

And connect.

At the end of the day, they may forget your name.  They may never know you caught that med that should never have been ordered or that lab value that was out of range.  They won’t know you skipped lunch to help them get their bed bath done.  They may forget that you brought their pain pill right on time.

But they will remember that you made them feel safe.  Their loved ones will remember that out of all of the other nurses, they trusted you.  They felt so comfortable with you that they finally went home to do a load of laundry and take a shower.

Years later, when recalling the day their dad died.. they won’t be able to picture your face, but they’ll remember how comforted they felt when you gently lifted up his head and turned over his pillow so he’d feel the cool side – even though you knew he was brain dead.  They’ll remember how they felt when you grabbed them some of the good tissues from the nurses station, stood next to them over looking their now deceased father and gave them a slow, reassuring “I’m really sorry” pat on their back.

Because that’s what being a nurse is.  Throughout school, you’ll learn about ventilators, arterial lines, contractility, renal failure, and deep venous thrombosis prevention.

But that’s only half of it.

The other half is learning how to talk to someone who just found out their mom is going to die… how to motivate a patient who has all but given up after fighting breast cancer for 10 years who just found out she has a brain tumor… how to educate a patient with heart failure that doesn’t know how to read.. … how to empower a patient to communicate with his family that he doesn’t want another surgery, he just wants to die..

Because we do both.

In nursing school, don’t forget to also learn about the people behind the diseases because they will teach you more than you ever thought you could learn.

 

Updates

I will look to update this post every so often to make sure it remains current.  If there is a resource you find valuable for nursing students, please comment below!

How to Start a Nursing Blog

how to start a nursing blogI get quite a few emails from people looking start their own blog and looking for some tips and advice. Below is my advice for starting a nursing blog!

Before I start, I want to say one very important thing. If you’re doing this for the money you probably should not be doing this. It takes a ton of hours and investment of both time and money before you ever see a dime. Seriously.  You work for hours and hours every single week and don’t make anything.  There must be something more behind your purpose of starting a blog other than earning money. What are you passionate about? What do you really care about? And if you never made a dollar, would still be worth it?

Define your audience / niche

Nursing is somewhat broad, so if you want to start a blog for nurses I encourage you to narrow your focus even further.  Do you want to write for seasoned nurses, emergency department nurses, prospective nurses, nursing students, nurse educators.. ?  There’s so many different niches within nursing!

Address a need / fill a gap

People should want to come to your blog because they can’t get what they need somewhere else. What need or void are you fulfilling?

Do your research

Learn about what makes a good blog post good (types of posts, images, word count, formatting, etc).  People tend to lose focus after a certain word count unless it’s formatted in a specific way.  If you’re telling patient stories, make sure you’re writing them in a HIPAA compliant kinda way.

Be easy to find

Have a URL that’s easy to remember.  Make all of your social media profiles have the same or a very similar handle.   Tag and categorize all of your posts appropriately so people can easily get to what they need on your site.  I don’t know about you, but I give up after searching for something specific after about 30 seconds – 1 minute and then go look somewhere else or try to find something different.

Create quality content

You want people to have a desire to come back to your blog to hear more from you. You don’t want them to enjoy one post and forget about the blog.  Create post after post of valuable, sharable content.  In the nursing niche, I’ve found that practical, tangible, helpful tips are shared easily as well as short yet powerful patient stories or inspirational posts are very valuable.

Be a professional and positive nurse in social media

Have a social media presence.  Pick the platforms that you can do well – there are quite a few!  IG, FB, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr all function a little differently and a good post on one would not necessarily be good on another just copied and pasted.  If you’re awesome at a few platforms, knock them out of the park.  Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to be all things on all platforms.  (I’ve tried that – it’s way too exhausting and time consuming to be sustainable.)

Interact on various platforms; engage with others that are interested in your topic. This is how you’ll get known! Find people that do social media well and see what you like and don’t like about their online presence to help you figure out what you want yours to look like.  There’s not a cookie-cutter way to develop your personal online blogging and SoMe (short for social media) style.

It’s important for people to see who you are and your personality shine through. However, make sure your blog and SoMe presence is not distracting from your content. If people are looking at your blog and social handles for the latest revealing photo of you, that becomes the focus.. not your mission, passion, or content you’ve worked so hard to perfect. I bit the bullet and paid for some professional photos and have been using them way more than I ever thought I would. They were definitely worth the investment.

Remember, you’re not just representing yourself, you’re also representing the profession of nursing when you put RN behind your name online.  Everyone from friends and family, to prospective and current employers, to patients and their loved ones will Google you and check out your blog.  Make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with everyone reading.

Think before you post

Always make sure you are not posting in anger or frustration. This will not enhance your platform; this will make it seem like you are not in control of yourself. There is a difference between posting about something you are passionate about and posting because you are upset. Take some time away and collect your thoughts first if you are really fired up about something and wait to post it for a few days.

Do not use your blog as a ranting zone

People hear enough complaining at work no matter the profession and there is enough of that online as well. They won’t stay at your blog long if it is post after post complaining about work.

Never re-use or steal content

I’ve had people copy and paste my work onto their blog and not credit me.  I’ve had people copy and paste my work and write an entire post about how they disagreed with me and again not credit me.  I’ve had people steal my idea and make their post just different enough so they wouldn’t have to credit me.  I’ve also had people steal my pictures from my various SoMe platforms to pass them off as their own, again, not giving me credit.  One of the books I recommend goes into depth about handling this and I approach every situation differently, depending on the offender.

Some situations require an email from myself.  And some require an email from the copyright lawyer I work with.  I’ve protected myself by copyrighting Nurse Eye Roll® as well as forming the Nurse Eye Roll LLC.  I am well within my rights to send a cease and desist letter in all of the aforementioned situations, however … like nursing, you want to use the lease invasive intervention first!  Ha!  I use that as my last resort if people are not responding.

What you don’t do is call them out on SoMe – you’ll end up looking not so great and draw negative attention to the situation.  Handle these situations quietly, professionally, respectfully and privately.

And most importantly – NEVER do this yourself.  Even if you’re just screen-shotting a pic someone else took, a Pinterest pic, or whatever.  Always, always ALWAYS give credit.  That is basic blogging etiquette.

Practical things

Earlier this month, Brittney Wilson over at thenerdynurse.com wrote a great post about the practical process of creating a nursing blog.  You can check it out here!

Books I recommend: Platform, Getting Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk.  Tim Ferris has a bunch of great content as well on multiple platforms.

Blogging platform I recommend: WordPress.COM is a great place to start. It can be confusing for those that have never made a blog before, so take the time to do the tutorials. WordPress.COM is a good starting point, but if you want to have more options for layouts and advertisements, then you’ll need to look at switching to WordPress.ORG later down the line. The book Platform and Brittney’s post I mentioned before discusses this more in depth.

Images:  I’ve used PicMonkey and Canva in the past.  Right now I’m currently loving Canva the most!  Do not make the rookie mistake of Googling and image and uploading it to your blog.  You typically don’t know who owns the rights to those images, therefore if you’re repurposing them to your blog, you can ultimately receive a bill.  I know someone who did that, not realizing it was an issue, and randomly got a $1500 bill from Getty Images for unknowingly using one of their pics that they found on Google.  Be smart about images.  Pay for stock images.  Don’t use anything you find on Google.

Do you have any more tips for blogging or have questions? Comment below!

A Nurse Practitioner’s Medical Mission to Africa

This week I am featuring an interview with my sister in-law, Elizabeth Fields.  She recently went to Bora, Ethiopia with the medical mission group Health Gives Hope.  Last week, I interviewed their founders, one of whom is actually a Nurse Practitioner!  Click here to check out the previous post.

To give you a little background about Bruce and Elizabeth Fields, they are quite the athletes and world travelers.  Bruce played professional basketball in Europe for 9 years and now works at State Farm in the Chicagoland area.  Elizabeth played volleyball at Parkland College (where I played basketball for a short time!) in Champaign, IL and then completed her BSN at Indiana Wesleyan University while continuing to play volleyball.  She has worked at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for the last ten years as a registered nurse, working the last two years as a Nurse Practitioner.  She obtained her FNP from Walden University.

These two crazy kids.  They met in Austria some odd years ago and have traveled to the following countries either together or separately:  Turkey, Switzerland, Austria, Thailand, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Spain, England, Philippines, South Korea, China, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Canary Islands, Romania, and Canada.  Oh, and Bruce has lived in a handful of them as well!  Clearly they know a bit about traveling!  Me, I’m more of anxious traveler (think Monica Gellar going to London).

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Bruce and Elizabeth on their honeymoon in Thailand with their bud that I have affectionately named Stampy.

I decided to interview them to give people a look into the practical side of what going on a medical mission looks like.  As you read, Bruce is not medical.  However, what he lacks in nurse-ness, he makes up with hard work and height.  (He’s 6’5″.)

Please note, answers given below are from Elizabeth, unless otherwise indicated.

Why did you decide to go on a mission?

I went to Bora, Ethiopia because they don’t have access to health care, and this was something I could not only make a difference doing, but I knew it would grow my knowledge and stretch me professionally. I also went on a mission trip to live out something I was taught and believe in deeply: you should use any talent you are given to bless others.  Nursing is a talent that was given to me and I am passionate about sharing it.  

What was the travel there like? 

This is from the HGH website: The team flies from the US to Addis Ababa, and then drives south through the lower rift valley into the Guge Mountains of southern Ethiopia.  The team will then hike 6 miles, ascending nearly 2,000 feet, from where the road ends in Chencha to the village of Bora.

Travel in Africa is entertaining and challenging. We were on planes, boats, buses, and on foot – our baggage traveled up the mountain by donkeys and our road was often congested with cattle, camels, and people.

Tell me what was going through your mind the first time you saw their set up for medical care?

The clinic set-up is smart, efficient, and well planned – their resources are growing – but the first thing you think is – “WOW – they have access to SO LITTLE compared to what we are used to; how am I going to make it work?”. But then, you make it work, and realize how MUCH we have in the States and how profound your assessment skills are!

 

The clinic!

The clinic!

What are some of the biggest differences between the care you provided there versus in the USA?

We had no access to running water, internet, or specialty consults. We had no diagnostic testing. I had to be excellent in my history and physical taking, and in my assessments so that I could determine differentials and treat appropriately. The creativity needed to get medications into infants, translate reasons, times, importance and information to patients was profound. The translators were amazing, but I have to hand it to the nurses – they had so many amazing ideas to help make these challenges ones we could overcome.

What were your meals like?

AWESOME and different! It was a mix of American food and authentic Ethiopian foods. The people there are extremely hospitable and loved cooking for us. We got to observe and help them cook in a “cooking hut”, and experienced what is like to cook without any modern conveniences. Some of the meals they made for us I have tried to recreate here, and have been moderately successful in accuracy.

What were the sleeping conditions?

We slept in mud huts, on straw, in our own sleeping bags. At first I struggled with the conditions – it is exactly like you would see it in the National Geographic! But looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to sleep anywhere else; I lived and experience it in the most authentic way possible.

Tell me the bathroom situation, STAT.

Bathroom? You mean tell you what it was like to squat on a gorgeous mountain side and hope no animals or humans saw my southern regions? Two words: wet. wipes.

Tell me about some practical cultural differences.

One of the things that hit us hardest was the reverence and respect for elders that everyone had.  Here in the states the elderly population is often viewed as a burden, while in Ethiopia they are  cherished and consulted for their wisdom. Another shocking difference was how hard the women worked.  The Ethiopian people often refer to women as “provider”. You will see in our pictures that women do the heavy lifting there.

Elizabeth, walk me through one day as an NP there.

I had two interpreters assigned to me. Each patient would come in my exam room, tell me their complaints/history, and symptoms.  I would do an examination, diagnose their problem, and prescribe medications (pending availability). When I had a patient that “stumped” me, I called upon the other practitioners and nurses for their expertise. Because we had no diagnostic testing available (labs, X-ray machines) collaborating was our lifeline; we all needed each other to make each day in clinic work and it was an incredible experience!

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Clearly, the best picture of them all.

Bruce, walk me through one of your days there.

 Every morning we wake up and walk from our hut down the mountain to a place we called “the cliff”. It was an incredible time to enjoy a beautiful view and reflect on our days there. We then returned to our compound to have breakfast that was made for us by the locals.  It consisted of grains, potatoes, sauces, and amazing Ethiopian coffee (FYI, Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee). We hiked up the mountain a mile to the clinic every morning, with the village children holding our hands the entire way — this experience melted my heart.

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Walking to the clinic

My time in the clinic consisted of building shelves, setting up a privacy tent for the bathroom over a hole dug by a previous team, working in the pharmacy dispensing the medication prescribed by the practitioners, and helping teach patients how and when to use them. I often made lunches for the entire team with another group member and did what was necessary to ensure a good flow at the clinic. I was concerned that because I’m not medical I wouldn’t be very useful, but when I got there I found the opposite to be true. We each had a role and without each other it would’ve been impossible for the clinic to be successful.

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Working in the pharmacy WITHOUT a phone ringing off the hook

How much did it cost?

About $2500 a person, and this included flight, ground transportation, lodgings, food/water, two days of sight-seeing. It was the cheapest 2 weeks abroad!

How do you feel this impacted your marriage?  Do you recommend married couples going together?

YES! GO TOGETHER! My husband isn’t medical, but the need is so great and watching him use his gifts in service by building shelves, working in the pharmacy, making team lunches, setting up privacy tents, and playing with the kids was  – well, SWOON. I can’t exactly bring him to work with me to see patients here in the States; watching each other in our own elements was amazing. It gave us greater respect for one another, and made me want to encourage him more in what he excels in.

 

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Elizabeth, Bruce, and the local kiddos!

I know these experiences are hard to predict how they will affect you.  What did you anticipate versus what did you experience?

I didn’t expect to want to stay there longer – but I was so sad to leave. There are days at work when I find myself in the grind of the day, burnt out and discouraged; to feel so needed and impactful in Bora, Ethiopia was priceless, and it took me off guard. I didn’t know I would fall in love with medicine again – I didn’t know that I needed to be there for my own benefit, just as they needed me there.

What did you learn that has changed your practice as an NP in the US?

Because I had to rely so heavily on my assessment skills and collaboration with the team when I was faced with a questionable diagnosis, I have worked much harder to perfect those areas since I’ve been back.  Those areas include knowledge and differentiation of various heart and lung sounds, alternative treatments, and preventative medicine. My desire to be a better provider has substantially increased since going to Ethiopia.

Would you do it again? 

We would go back tomorrow. Without blinking. It was professionally and personally something that humbled us, empowered us, and revitalized my passion for medicine and nursing.

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The team! Bruce is in front with the hat. Elizabeth is second one from the right. Jerry (co-founder of HGH) is the guy in the red t-shirt and stellar beard. And Amber (co-founder oh HGH) is front row center with the grey shirt and sunglasses.  Go team!