Archive for September, 2008

Make Sure the Nursing Program is Accredited!

Posted in Nursing, Uncategorized

Make Sure the Nursing Program is Accredited!

One of the most important points in finding the right nursing program is to make sure it is accredited. This cannot be emphasized enough. Just because there is a nursing shortage, does not mean that substandard nursing education will be accepted. Do your homework and don’t be mislead or pressured by programs! Make an informed choice.

Excelsior nursing programs are just one example of nursing schools that have questionable accreditation status throughout the U.S. Many states no longer recognize these schools often because they don’t meet the standard of required hours of hands on experience. Most recently, Georgia has decided not to allow licensure of recent grads of an Excelsior program. (See thread in the Forum.)

It is the duty of the state board of nursing to protect the public. If nursing programs within their jurisdiction do not meet the education standards set forth in the licensing criteria for that state, you will not be allowed to sit for the NCLEX and become a licensed nurse. This applies to LP/VN programs as well as all levels of RN programs.

Don’t waste your time and money attending a nursing school that is not accredited! Begin your search by finding accredited nursing programs and be sure that the state where you wish to practice accepts that program as well. Start with your state board of nursing. Find a listing for RN and LP/VN schools at the National Council of the State Boards of Nursing (

The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, Inc. ( is the primary accrediting agency for U.S. schools of nursing. They publish a guide to undergraduate and graduate schools of nursing which is available on their website as well as from books stores and

Peterson’s Guide to Nursing Programs 2009 (or provides a listing of nursing programs in the U.S. which includes information as to the accreditation status of the program. New nursing programs may not be accredited yet, but their application status will be listed. Proceed with caution and understand that they may not be fully accredited by the time you graduate.

The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) also offer accreditation for BSN, MSN and PhD nursing programs. Their website is

Don’t be duped by recruiters and advertisers. Verify the accreditation status before you commit to any nursing education. This is your first big test in becoming a nurse.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and the author/owner of

©2008 by All Rights Reserved

Protect Your Patients Get the Flu Shot

Posted in Nursing, Travel Nursing, Uncategorized

Protect Your Patients Get the Flu Shot

The 2008-9 flu vaccine is beginning to appear. This year, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says there will be an all-time high supply of the vaccine as manufacturers predict as many as 146 million doses will be available. This means many more people will be able to be vaccinated than ever before.

Health care workers often forgo the opportunity to be vaccinated and present a risk their colleagues and patients alike. Statistically, about 20% of the U.S. population gets the flu each year and up to 200,000 are hospitalized.

This puts nurses and other health care workers at tremendous risk for exposure. Even when asymptomatic, nurses and other heath care workers can then contribute to the spread of the flu virus.

A recent study of health care workers reported in the August 4, 2008, issue of Advance for Nurses found that 59% of health care workers surveyed did not recall having had any flu symptoms and 28% stated they did not recall having any respiratory illness. This gives rise to a false sense of security and perception that health care workers do not need to be vaccinated.

The ethics of this erroneous perception can lead to a violation of the moral code for health care workers to protect the public. Knowing that the risk of infection exists, nurses and other health care workers need to be vaccinated in order to do their part to help prevent the spread of the flu virus. The public believes and expects that health care workers will protect them from harm.

Last year the flu vaccine was found to be ineffective in covering the majority of flu virus that emerged. This year, manufacturers have changed the formula entirely and it will cover three new strains that research shows will most likely cause influenza this year.

Whether or not the vaccine covers the exact strains of active virus each year, those who are vaccinated and subsequently become infected with the virus will have a much milder case of influenza than those who are not vaccinated which also reduces the likelihood of complications which can lead to severe illness and even death.

Each year in the U.S. approximately 36,000 deaths are caused by influenza and the complications such as pneumonia. Those most at risk should be vaccinated, unless otherwise contraindicated. This includes children aged 6 months to 19 years, pregnant women, those of any age with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and lung diseases.

Those who reside in nursing homes and long term care facilities where influenza can spread rapidly should be vaccinated. Teachers, health care workers, and anyone who cares for the elderly or infirm.

Anyone who cares for or has contact with children under the age of 6 months should be vaccinated to reduce exposure to this age group which cannot be vaccinated.

Nurses need to take the lead and set the example for all health care workers as well as the general public to be vaccinated and protect others from the flu virus. This can be even more important for travel nurses who spend time in many different parts of the country. You can send an E-card from the CDC website to your colleagues, friends and family to remind them to be vaccinated as well.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and the author/owner of
©2008 by All Rights Reserved

Is Nursing a Profession?

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Uncategorized

Is Nursing a Profession?

There are those who say that nursing will never become a profession until all nurses are required to have at least a BSN. There are others who will argue that the diploma and ADN nurses are better nurses. This debate has gone on for years and will continue for some time to come.

There was a point several years back when progress towards making a BSN mandatory was making headway. Hospitals began only hiring BSN nurses and had even begun to cutback on hiring LP/VNs who then had to look to other venues such as retirement and nursing homes for employment. And then the nursing shortage began to make an impact and it didn’t matter what preparation nurses have as long as they are a licensed nurse.

Not all states have the ability to survey, collect and analyze data from the nursing workforce, so we have to look at figures from 2004. At that time, greater than 51% of the workforce had less than a BSN; 17.5% of RNs were diploma prepared, 33.7% had an ADN, 34.2% had their BSN and 13% had advanced degrees of an MSN or a PhD in nursing.

It is doubtful that a dramatic shift in BSN prepared nurses has occurred since 2004, and with shortages of nurse educators it is not like to happen any time soon. Students are pursuing any avenue open to them including the LP/VN route with an eye to bridge to RN or BSN.

And so the debate over whether nursing is truly a profession will continue. The fact is however, that nurses are the backbone of the health care system. The shortage of nurses has made an impact and brought this point to the forefront. Nurses need to continue to demand respect for our contributions and it is essential to continue to conduct ourselves in a professional manner.

Nursing is a lifelong learning process. No student graduates from nursing school knowing everything they will ever need to know. Health care itself is constantly evolving as technology improves and more is learned about medical science. Techniques, procedures, medications and treatments continue to change.

Nursing roles have evolved over time as well. Nurses have many more responsibilities now than ever before, including the fact that early nurses worked very hard and also swabbed the floors and made bandages, etc.

Continuing education is mandatory in most states. Career advancement requires more formal education. Those who prefer bedside nursing don’t necessarily need more formal education. But clinical specialists and nurse managers do need at least a BSN. Nurse educators are usually at least MSN prepared and professors have a PhD.

To the outside world, nursing may not meet the criteria to be labeled a profession but to those who work the work and talk the talk, nursing is one of the most rewarding of all professions.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and is the author/owner of

©2008 by All Rights Reserved

New Nurses Need to Learn How to Advocate for Themselves

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Uncategorized

New Nurses Need to Learn How to Advocate for Themselves

As a new nurse, you need to learn to advocate for yourself. There is a critical nursing shortage and most new nurses are going to find themselves working on a unit that is very short staffed.

If you are lucky enough to have a preceptor assigned to you, you need to consider the fact that all too often that person isn’t going to be ecstatic about having an extra burden, regardless of whether or not they like being a preceptor.

A Few Tips
Here are a few tips to help you and your preceptor make this a positive experience. Remember that you are not expected to be perfect. You are however, expected to observe the primary rule of DO NO HARM and to ask for help if you don’t know how to do something. If you haven’t been checked off on doing something by yourself, you are expected to ask for supervision.

You are also expected to do your homework. Yes, you still need to do some research and studying on your own time. There will always be new drugs, treatments, procedures, diseases and conditions to learn about.

You should not waste your preceptor’s time. Be prepared. Gather the supplies you will need ahead of time and prepare the patient. Know how a procedure should be done in your facility. (Read your Policy and Procedure Manual, AKA the P&P.) Be prepared to answer questions from the patient and your preceptor. And be prepared to ask relevant questions. Observe and learn the tips and techniques being demonstrated.

Offer to help your preceptor with some of his/her patient load to ease her burden. Help with procedures and routine tasks or care so s/he has time to help you. Don’t do this at the expense of leaving your own tasks undone.

Smile and say Thank you!
Always say thank you, and ask how you can help your co-workers. Smile and use direct eye contact. Be sincere.

Not all preceptors are created equal and not everyone is cut out to teach. If you can’t find a way to work with your preceptor, ask for a change. But don’t place blame and make accusations. Learn to say something like, “Susan is a great preceptor, but I’m more of a visual learner, is there someone else I could work with?” Or, “John has been so patient with me, but I just always feel so intimidated by him because he’s such a good nurse, I think I would do better with someone a little more laid back.”

Speak to your supervisor privately about any issues you have. Give him/her the opportunity to offer suggestions to make this work out. Try them and if they don’t help, stand up for yourself and again say you need something different.

Give Yourself a Year
Be patient. Do the best job you know how to do, and it will all get easier. Don’t expect that to happen for about a year. Think about it, that’s why there are so many books about your first year as a nurse. You’ll get there!

If It’s Too Stressful
If you are way too stressed by your job, you won’t be happy and you won’t do your best. Remember that if the unit is too fast paced and short handed, you don’t have to stay there. Talk to your supervisor and ask for a transfer to another unit where you can have a better chance to learn and refine your skills at a slower pace. It will be better for all. Don’t take no for an answer. Advocate for yourself. If the facility can’t accommodate you, you may need to look elsewhere. This isn’t the only nursing job available!

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and author/owner of

©2008 by Ultimate All Rights Reserved

Are You Working on This Labor Day?

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Uncategorized

Are You Working on This Labor Day?

It’s Labor Day, a holiday in the U.S. to honor the working citizens. Congress made the first Monday in September a federal holiday in 1894. It is usually celebrated with picnics, BBQs, parades and a day of rest for workers. Symbolically it represents the end of summer, and for many years, school started the next day.

Much of the rest of the world honors the working citizen on May 1, or May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day.

For most U.S. nurses, Labor Day represents one of the “lesser” holidays. Typically employers require nurses to work at least one of the “lesser” holidays as well as at least one of the “major” holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s Day or Thanksgiving.

More often than not, nurses will work several holidays each year and typically every other weekend. This is not something most student nurses or those considering a career in nursing ever seem to think about. Sick people don’t suddenly get well for the holidays and hospitals don’t close down for the weekends.

This means nurses often sacrifice a lot of fun and family time for their jobs. This can add to the stress level and cause resentment to build. Nurses need to be sure to reward themselves for their sacrifices as well as for a job well done.

This is not a profession that provides a built in reward system. Nurses don’t often see the benefits of their care because patients move on to another level (I.e. from ICU to a regular floor) or are discharged home long before they are “well.”

Nursing is typically not a nine-to-five job. Those considering a career in nursing should explore what this means and how it can impact their lives before starting a nursing program.

There are many roles for nurses that can support a more “normal” life style, but they usually require a year or two of acute care experience first. These can include such roles as school nurses, insurance nurses, disability case managers, and medical office nurses.

Home health nurses can often find a lighter or less demanding holiday and weekend
requirement. They can also sometimes juggle their patient visits around a child’s sporting event or stop in to see their child get an award at a school assembly.

Nursing is a demanding profession and requires a great deal of commitment from the individuals. For those who truly enjoy helping others, it can be one of the most rewarding careers of all. But it is not without sacrifices.

As we celebrate this holiday honoring working citizens, think about nurses today! Thank you for a job well done!!!

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book, and is the owner/author of
©2008 Ultimate All Rights Reserved