Nursing Specialties

National Nurse’s Week: One Nurse’s Story

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, Nursing School, Nursing Specialties

Robert Kneschke -

In honor of National Nurses’s week, Sherry R. Siegel, R.N., M.S.N., C.H.P.N, is featured in an article on, relaying her story of being a nurse over the past twenty years.

Her story begins more than 20 years ago when she was a single mother with two children and lots of bills to pay. She was a waitress at the time and actually enjoyed that job, but the pay was not enough to give her family financial security (or health insurance). So she contacted a nearby college and asked the admissions counselor there what agree would be most likely to actually assure her a job. As a waitress she knew many people with college degrees who were nonetheless unable to find jobs in the area they had studied.

The admissions counselor told her, “Be a nurse. You’ll always have a job.” She took that advice, and enrolled in the college, graduating two years later with an associate degree in nursing.

She quickly found a job as a nurse, with a steady paycheck and health insurance, and then also discovered that she loved being a nurse.

My first nursing job was in cardiology and then I moved to home care. After a few years I became a hospice nurse, which was where I needed to be. I loved being a hospice nurse and became passionate about a good end-of-life experience for everyone. I believe in the hospice philosophy of living as well as you can for as long as you can. Isn’t this what everyone wants?

After 10 great years, I left hospice to become the palliative care coordinator at The Regional Cancer Center. I had learned so much during my time as a hospice nurse and hoped that I could use my skills and knowledge to help cancer patients maintain their quality of life while facing a life-threatening disease. While working with cancer patients and caregivers can be challenging and emotionally draining, it can also be rewarding. Cancer is a heartbreaking word and a life changing event for patients, their families and caregivers. Much can be done to address pain and suffering throughout the cancer journey if we take the time to listen.

As a palliative care nurse I provide symptom management and extra support to patients and caregivers. Patients who have their needs met have fewer psychosocial issues, such as depression, stress and worry, and are more likely to complete their cancer treatments. This allows patients with a life-threatening disease to live as well as they can for as long as possible.

Twenty years ago when I decided to be a nurse I never dreamed where this journey would take me. I have since received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing and became certified in hospice and palliative care.

I love being a nurse and knowing that the little things I do to improve quality of life makes a difference. Nurses are members of the largest health care profession and the ones who have the most contact with patients and their families. This makes us, as nurses, the front line for advocating for patients and families in a very complex health care system. Every day we have an opportunity to make a difference. Let’s recognize these opportunities, and then use our skills and knowledge to make a difference.

Happy Nurses Week to all fellow nurses. Go out and do what we do best: Care!

Everybody Should Be Laughing

Posted in Nursing, Nursing News, Nursing Specialties

Trina Morford -

An RN named Kelly Jantz loves being a nurse, and loves making people laugh.

Once a week, she shows up at her hospital in a vintage nursing uniform, wheeling her cart full of supplies. No hypodermic needles here — it’s all the likes of stuffed animals, comic DVDs, and clown noses. These supplies are used for laugh therapy with staff members, patients, and their families.

She’s dubbed her program Positive Hopeful Individuals Laughing, or PHIL. In this article on the KC Community News website, Jantz says, “Humor is so important… It can change your whole day.”

Jantz started being interested in integrating laughter therapy into nursing after attending a conference where she was exposed to the healing properties of laughter during a yoga session. She researched laughter therapy further and then contacted the vice president of nursing at North Kansas City Hospital about starting a program there. After getting the green light, she did more research and then launched PHIL last fall.

Like Mary Shlapkohl, another nurse who has harnessed the power of laughter to help her patients and their families, Jantz appreciates being able to make a hospital stay more comfortable.

Jantz now dedicates her entire Wednesday shift to PHIL. She spends 10 minutes with each patient and family members. Sometimes patients know of her arrival in advance and sometimes they are surprised, she said. She wheels the PHIL cart into patient rooms, outpatient waiting rooms or meets with staff members to tell jokes, present riddles or perform magic tricks. A cackling monkey sends children and adults into fits of laughter every time, she said.

“Everyone laughs at the monkey,” she said.

Jantz’s photograph and pager number are posted in units throughout the hospital. Jantz responds to nurses, managers, charge nurses, transporters, technicians and doctors who recommend their patients. She said the laughter therapy is three-fold. She lightens stressed-out staff members and signals a lighter mood to patients and their families. Research shows that a good guffaw has similar benefits to a cardiovascular work-out, she said.

“It increases heart rate and blood pressure,” Jantz said.

Laughter is also good for the immune and respiratory systems, enhances mental functions, reduces pain, increases endorphins and leaves you thinking more clearly, Jantz said. Jantz’s program includes DVDs of vintage sitcoms such as “I Love Lucy,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Kids Say the Darnedest Things” and “Candid Camera.” The comedy shows spark memories among patients and their families, she said, taking their minds off pain and worries. Conversations flow and blood pressures drop, she said.

“Everybody should be laughing,” Jantz said.

The spirit is contagious, too, Jantz said. She once passed a clown nose to a patient in radiology, who then wore it the rest of the day, tripping staff and family members into fits of giggles. Jantz always leaves them laughing, she said. She leaves patients with clown noses, oversized sunglasses or giant combs among her silly exit gifts.

“It reminds them of their laughter moment,” she said. “It brings up conversation with other people. It’s going to bring back that positive moment.”

Jantz said she is naturally humorous and hails from a family of jokesters. She said she always has approached nursing with smiles and a light touch.

“I love to laugh,” Jantz said. “I love talking to people and joking around.”

Jantz said she wants to grow the PHIL program. She is already at work creating online laughter websites for staff members and thinking of ways to spread the program more effectively throughout the hospital. She documents each visit, and results are reviewed for the program’s impact.

“She shows up, she’s just a hoot,” Kathy Riddle, RN and staff nurse in the oncology department at North Kansas City Hospital said. “Everybody’s mood changes.”

Riddle said she is a jokester as well and connected with Jantz’s program.
“I love humor. Patch Adams was my hero,” she said. “This is perfect. I am quite a joker. We just meshed.”

Riddle chooses appropriate patients for Jantz to visit, depending on their stage of cancer and where they sit emotionally. She said her patients love the singing stuffed animals and humorous gifts she leaves behind.

“It takes their mind off what’s going on,” Riddle said. “They can still have fun and laugh. They have a different perspective on life after she leaves.”

Patients talk about Jantz after they leave, Riddle said. They tell their family members about her, keep her photo on the wall and write favorable comment cards, she said.

“She is a blessing,” Jantz said. “She is like a breath of fresh air. She just has a great personality. She is always like that.”

Sarah Fields, vice president of nursing at North Kansas City Hospital, said when staff members are having a bad day, Jantz can make them laugh and relieve their stress. One of the games on Jantz’s cart is a guessing game involving physicians.

“It’s fun watching them gathered around Kelly’s cart looking at the pictures of the doctors dressed up in disguises and trying to guess who’s who,” Fields said.
Fields said the hospital frequently receives WOW comment cards about Jantz. Patients and their families write that Jantz brought joy and smiles to their day.

“Her passion and dream have become a reality that ultimately benefits our patients,” Fields said.

MN Union Responds to Nurse Uniform Plan

Posted in Nursing, Nursing News, Nursing Specialties

Artistic Endeavor -

A Minneapolis-based hospital group will require that their employes wear matching uniforms distinguished by colors starting in May, one color per job category. Think Star Trek, but in a more Earth-bound (and medical) setting.

Nurses get navy scrubs. Licensed practical nurses will wear eggplant. Respiratory therapists get olive green.

The idea is to make it easier for patients and family members to identify their care team by the color of their uniform. However, unionized nurses are not happy that the change has been imposed from on high, without any negotiation. Many of them also disagree with the new uniform plan. This article in St. Paul Pioneer Press quotes oncology nurse Cristin Betzold of Blaine as saying that her patients appreciate the variety of bright colors she wears. “I have many patients comment on how at least they see a little bit of color in what they see during the day from my uniform,” she said.

They also question whether the color-coding would actually help patients.

So, amidst the discord, the Minnesota Nurses Association has filed a grievance over the uniform policy. The uniform policy will still go into effect on schedule but may roll back later depending on result of the arbitration process.

A survey of hospitals across the Twin Cities finds that there’s no uniform position on color-coded outfits.

There’s no requirement for matching scrubs at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park or medical centers in the Minneapolis-based Fairview system.

To address concerns that hospital patients sometimes struggle to recognize who’s caring for them, Fairview workers get pointers on introducing themselves. Workers at St. Joseph’s, meanwhile, wear super-sized name tags called “badge buddies” that clearly identify their skill set.

But other medical centers have switched to standardized uniforms.

About five years ago, Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury started requiring navy blue scrubs for its RNs. Nurses selected the color in a vote after hearing from an advisory committee that matching outfits would be helpful to patients, said Cindy Bultena, the chief nursing officer at Woodwinds.

Regions Hospital in St. Paul has required workers in the same job category to wear the same color for at least a decade and is in the process of again affirming the policy. Over the past few years, workers have started wearing patterned scrubs within their given color, but solids will be required as of Jan. 1, said Jon Henkel, a hospital official.

At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., uniforms are color-coded within work units but not across all clinical areas. That means, for example, that not all nurses wear the same color, but all workers in obstetrics wear teal green scrubs.

“The dress code is always under review and we are currently entertaining administering a patient study which will help identify their needs specific to dress,” said Kelley Luckstein, a clinic representative, in an email.

Allina officials say their hospital in Buffalo first experimented in 2010 with what’s now been dubbed the “uniform initiative.” The medical center saw its patient satisfaction scores improve following the change to standardized uniforms.

The health system started talking with employees last year about the switch, which will apply at the system’s 11 hospitals. In December, about 5,500 employees cast ballots for their favorite colors.

“Some employees networked across the entire Allina system to say, ‘Let’s pick these as the top three choices,’ ” said Sorbel, the United Hospital official. “The larger groups got the colors they wanted.”

Even so, the change has proven divisive.

Patients respond to variety, especially pediatric patients, said Bernadine Engeldorf, a nurse at United who also is first vice president of the Minnesota Nurses Association. She added that nurses like the freedom of being able to choose their outfits.

In contrast to the cheery colors some nurses currently wear, navy blue seems “somewhat muted, dark,” she said.

“People take a lot of pride in what they wear to work,” said Betzold, the nurse from Blaine. “I think people don’t agree (with the change), but obviously nobody wants to be terminated because they chose not to wear navy blue.”

The change is being felt in the pocketbook, too, although there are different estimates of the magnitude.

The average uniform costs $80 to $100, said John Nemo, spokesman for the Minnesota Nurses Association. Full time nurses need five to 10 sets of uniforms, he said, because they can only be worn one day before washing. Replacement occurs every six to 12 months, Nemo added, depending on the quality of garments.

Allina officials, however, quote a range of $20 to $50 for scrubs, adding they have negotiated special discounts for workers who purchase from a preferred vendor. The health system is providing up to $80 in vouchers to workers to help defray costs.

“We do recognize that in making a change, there is a financial burden to our employees,” said Tracy Kirby, the director of nursing at Abbott Northwestern.

As the labor dispute plays out, some wonder why navy seems to have become the new color of nursing.

Sure, it’s a color that doesn’t show spots or evoke strong emotions, said Helen Strike, the chief nursing officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital. But there was a time when all nurses wore uniforms, Strike said, and the color always was white.

“Even today, kids who are 3 or 4 years old have this idea that a nurse wears white,” she said. “There’s something very positive about that historical perspective, and I wonder why we don’t utilize that more in nursing.”

White also has been linked with doctors through their historic use of white coats. The new Allina policy, however, won’t apply to physicians, since many aren’t directly employed by the health system.

Kirby, the nursing director at Abbott Northwestern, added: “Patients tend to really know who their doctors are.”

More Nurses to Be Trained To Treat PTSD, TBI

Posted in Nursing, Nursing News, Nursing School, Nursing Specialties

Straight 8 Photo -

The White House is leading an initiative to improve health care for former troops and their families. The White House’s Joining Forces campaign includes an agreement with 150 nursing organizations and 500 nursing schools to educate nurses on combat-related injuries.

There will be additional coursework and training opportunities regarding injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The effort aims to reach 3 million nurses on the “front lines of health care,” as Joining Forces Director Navy Capt. Bradley Cooper is quoted as saying in this article in the Air Force Times.

“The goal is to raise awareness among every nurse throughout the country to recognize the signs and symptoms and lower the stigma of getting care,” said Amy Garcia, chief nursing officer for the American Nurses Association.

The White House estimates that 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from traumatic brain injury, PTSD or other combat-related mental health issues, such as depression.

About half have sought care from the Veterans Affairs Department, leaving about 150,000 former service members seeking civilian care, Cooper said.

Joining Forces is a campaign designed to raise awareness of the needs of military personnel, veterans and their families. It was launched a year ago this week.

Obama and Biden will unveil more details on the new initiative when they speak Wednesday at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

In January, Mrs. Obama announced a similar pledge by 135 medical schools to educate future physicians and increase research on what are commonly referred to as the “invisible wounds” of war — PTSD and TBI.

Garcia said no federal funding is being used for the effort.

According to Garcia, one out of every 100 Americans is a nurse. Many don’t work in fields where they would be exposed to head injury or behavioral health disorders. Educating all nurses on these injuries and illnesses would lead to better veterans’ care, she said.

“We want to make sure they understand about new treatments and new science so they can make appropriate referrals,” Garcia said.

The professional education and training opportunities that will be offered through the initiative will be voluntary, she added.

Giving Patients a Voice in Clinical Trials

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, Nursing Specialties

© Alexey Klementiev -

Deborah Watkins Bruner Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is a nurse who has always been interested in oncology patients. In an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she says, “Standing as a young student in the ICU watching patients on monitors at life’s end was my first experience with death and dying. As a nurse, I wondered how to make that experience as best as possible.”

She is now the associate director of cancer outcomes research at Winship Cancer Institute, and also a professor at two different institutions professor of radiation oncology at Emory’s School of Medicine and professor at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

She says in the article that back when she started in 1978, there weren’t dedicated cancer units. She would go ahead and spend time with even the most serious cases, sometimes just sitting with them if they had nobody else, saying that she found it a “privelege” to be with them at the end of their lives, even though she was not a hospice nurse.

She has remained concerned with issues of cancer patients beyond the purely medical; quality of life is important, too.

An internationally recognized oncology nurse researcher, Bruner is the first and only nurse to lead one of the National Cancer Institute’s national clinical oncology research groups. She is the principal investigator for the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group’s community clinical oncology program, a consortium that studies how to minimize the side effects of cancer therapies and improve patients’ quality of life.

Bruner has focused her research on improving outcomes for cancer patients and increasing the knowledge about sexual dysfunction after cancer therapies.

“There has been a real lack of attention to the female quality of life and sexual function after treatment for cervical, endometrial and ovarian cancers,” she said. “Those patients have been underserved. They go through tremendous changes after chemotherapy and radiation, and the disparity in the research between males and females concerns me.”

She has been a staunch proponent of the need for patient-reported outcomes in cancer clinical trials. For years, symptoms and side effects have been reported by doctors. While doctors can report accurately and directly on results that show up in lab reports or imaging, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“There’s not a test for every symptom. Pain is one example where the only real assessment has to come from the patient,” Bruner said. “Nausea, urinary or bowel problems and sexual dysfunction are others.

“Cancer patients will tell their doctors the two or three most important side effects and symptoms resulting from their cancer treatment, but then they will tell the nurse 15 other things that they didn’t want to bother the doctor with. Without a full report from the doctor and the patient, we can’t locate the best therapeutic targets.”

Doctors report adverse symptoms in clinical trials through the CTCAE (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events) form, a widely accepted oncology standard and classification of symptoms. Bruner has helped to develop a patient version — the PRO (patient-reported outcomes)-CTCAE that would serve as a companion report to give clinicians a fuller picture. Her form is being tested in several national trials.

“PRO-CTCAE will give a voice to patients in every clinical trial,” she said. “Previously, we have been seriously under-reporting symptoms, and without accurate reporting we can’t develop the best interventions.”

If a drug causes pain, for example, a way to alleviate the symptom must be found or a different drug needs to be used.

“Nursing science was made to inform this kind of work,” she said. “When I became a gynecological clinical nurse specialist and asked patients about sexual dysfunction, I began to look at the evidence. There was no good research on the patient experience in the ’70s, so I became adamant about providing that evidence.”

Bruner, who is leading two National Institutes of Health studies and one National Cancer Institute clinical trial, is the first nurse to hold a Woodruff professorship at Emory since it was established in 1979.

“Emory is a perfect match for me. The interest in collaboration here is phenomenal and the cancer control work [is] stellar. I’m honored to be a part of it,” she said.

Emory is developing a model that implements new research directly into its cancer survivorship clinics and gathers feedback from its clinics to include in research.

From her experience with oncology patients as a student to her current role in research, Bruner is still listening and helping patients live with cancer.

“Nurses always focus on quality of life,” she said.

Infectious Disease Drugs in Short Supply

Posted in Nursing, Nursing News, Nursing Specialties

Shortages of cancer drugs aren’t the only drug shortages making news. The January 2012 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases reports the nation’s supply of go-to drugs to fight infectious disease is running dangerously low. So low, in fact, that hospitals have had to design contingency plans just in case an emergency arises.

So why is this happening? The answer is complicated. One problem is that often only one drug company manufactures a given. Should an ingredient in the drug become difficult to obtain, the supply runs low. Other drugs can be used instead, but in many cases they are either ineffective on the organism or take longer to eradicate the organism.

Ingredients may also become too expensive, with the result that a manufacturer decides to discontinue production of the drug – although drug companies are required to inform the FDA six months before drug production stops.

Among the drugs considered scarce are antibacterials, antifungals and antivirals. Physicians should be prepared to treat with alternative means if it becomes necessary. Every day, more organisms become resistant to drugs that have been on the market for a while, thus making them less effective to treat common illnesses.


Given the fact that drug shortages are expected to occur, what can nurses do when a shortage threatens the health of their patients? Many times, the first notice of a drug shortage occurs when the pharmacy fails to supply a drug to a newly admitted patient. The nurse calls the pharmacy; the pharmacist states the drug is not available on-site at the moment. Whether or not a contingency plan is in place to get the drug from another facility, the nurse needs to inform the physician and get an alternate drug order if the physician deems it necessary. Some drugs, especially in the case of anti-infectives, are critical to the patient’s health and need to be started immediately.

The United States Congress is considering a requirement that would compel drug companies to report to the FDA any expected drug shortages. Also under consideration is a bill requiring speedy review of newly proposed drugs that could mitigate the shortages. Currently new drugs in development take years to reach the U.S. market, which is a much longer process than it is for the Canadian and European markets, for example.

Clinical nurse managers can take an active role in developing their facility’s contingency plans for unavailable drugs. By understanding what drugs are expected to be in short supply, discussing workable alternates with physicians and formulating a list of facilities as go-to secondary suppliers, nurse managers can arm their nursing staff, especially the night crew, with an action plan when a shortage occurs. Because hospital pharmacies are often overwhelmed and understaffed, nurses may have to take a more active role in getting their patients the medications they need.

Nurse Practitioners: Health Care Reform’s Missing Link

Posted in California, Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, Nursing Specialties

© Jose Manuel

Patricia Dennehy RN NP has written an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times explaining the role that Nurse Practitioners have as millions of people find new health care providers as part of expected Health Care reforms.

She says that about 30 million people in America will be looking for new health care providers, about 6.9 million of them in California, where she lives and works.

Unfortunately it won’t be very easy, as primary care physicians are increasingly moving to other types of practices, especially higher-paid specialties.

Dennehy argues that Nurse Practitioners, with their training and experience, are perfectly poised to fill that gap. “We’re fully prepared to provide excellent primary care,” she says.

Clinics like the one I direct in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district — GLIDE Health Services — offer a hopeful glimpse into California’s healthcare future. We are a federally funded, affordable clinic, run almost entirely by nurse practitioners. At our clinic, we nurses and talented specialists provide high-quality, comprehensive primary care to more than 3,200 patients each year.

Despite the special hardships of our clientele, who daily cope with the negative effects on health caused by poverty, unemployment and substance abuse, our results routinely compare favorably with those of mainstream physicians. Our patients with diabetes, for example, report regularly for checkups, take their meds as directed and maintain relatively low average blood-sugar levels.

This high standard of care provided by nurse practitioners has been confirmed in several studies, including a 2009 Rand Corp. report, which found that “nurse practitioners provide care of equivalent quality to physicians at a lower cost, while achieving high levels of patient satisfaction and providing more disease prevention counseling, health education and health promotion activities than physicians.”

At last count, there were more than 250 nurse-run clinics nationwide similar to GLIDE Health Services. We and about 20 others are funded by a special federal program for affordable care. In all of these projects, nurse practitioners offer both primary and preventive care, including mental health services and screening for HIV and diabetes.

Researchers have confirmed that such clinics not only improve local health but also save taxpayers money. Nurse practitioners’ salaries are generally lower than those of physicians. At the same time, the comprehensive care we provide can significantly reduce the costly emergency room visits used by all too many low-income Americans as their default healthcare.

Unfortunately, some major obstacles stand in the way of expanding our money-saving model. One big hurdle is the reluctance of leading private health plans to contract with nurse practitioners as primary care providers. Even as Medicare, Medi-Cal and pioneering local programs for the uninsured, such as “Healthy San Francisco,” now contract with nurse practitioners to provide such care, a 2009 study by the National Nursing Centers Consortium found that nearly half of the country’s major managed care organizations don’t.

Some of the holdout companies require nurses to bill for their services under a physician’s supervision. California’s insurance code only requires insurance companies to contract with nurse practitioners for primary care when it involves Medicare or Medi-Cal. If the code were expanded to include all coverage, access in the state would be greatly improved. There is room for reform on these fronts and others, and we should get started now to enact change.

In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a landmark report called “The Future of Nursing,” in which it urged that nurses be “full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.” At clinics such as GLIDE Health Services, we’re showing that we’re more than ready to answer this challenge, and take our places on the front lines of healthcare reform in America.

Maternity Nurse Remembers a 51-year Career

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing Specialties

The Tucson Citizen has an interview with Guadelupe Montez, a maternity nurse who just retired after 51 years. She specialized in labor and delivery and antepartum testing.

CC image courtesy of Sweet Carolina Design & Photo via Flickr

“To be carrying a baby and to have the baby out, it’s beautiful. It’s like a miracle to me,” Montez, 77, said. “I’ve always really loved babies, except they grow up too fast.”

A lot has changed at Maricopa Medical Center over the past five decades, particularly the growing use of technology. It took Montez a while to catch on. She always preferred paperwork, writing patients’ information on their hospital charts.

But through it all, the county hospital has remained Montez’s second home.

After Montez graduated from high school in Morenci, she rode a Greyhound bus to the Valley to attend a nursing school at what is now St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. She had only the exact tuition with her — $350 for a three-year program that included housing and meals.

“When I came down, the sisters knew I had exactly $350. So they said, ‘Why don’t you set this aside?’ and gave me a scholarship. Where can you do that now?” Montez said.

“I didn’t have to pay it back until I graduated, and with no interest,” she said.

Montez began working as a labor and delivery nurse in January 1961 at the old county hospital, then located at 35th Avenue and Durango Street.

Back then, there was one doctor delivering babies in two delivery rooms and three labor rooms. Patients stayed at least a week after getting their Caesarean sections to receive postpartum care.

The hospital in 1971 moved to 24th and Roosevelt streets. Now, there is a whole crew of doctors, midwives, nurse practitioners and rotating interns and residents. Patients leave the next day.

After about 20 years in the delivery ward, Montez felt that the hectic and high-stress environment was too much. She meant to retire, but then decided to work part time as an antepartum testing nurse instead.

In that role, Montez saw high-risk expectant mothers several times a week throughout their pregnancies to make sure there were no serious complications.

The schedule was much more relaxed, and Montez was able to build relationships with patients.

“Every year, I kept saying, ‘This is my last year.’ My kids would say, ‘Are you sure?’ ” Montez said. “I guess I didn’t want to give it up. I was happy there, getting out of the house, with friends who you work with.”

Montez has come to know all the nurses and secretaries at the clinic, as well as their children and grandchildren. She has crocheted afghans for all of them.

The article goes on to say that when she’s out and about in the Phoenix area, she’s often stopped by former patients who recognize her. (The moms who delivered the babies, not the babies themselves!) She’s looking forward to spending time with her grandchildren but is sad about leaving her job. “I miss it,” she says.

Nursing is Still a Growing Field in Florida

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, Nursing School, Nursing Specialties

Is the nursing shortage over? Not in Florida, anyway. There are about 14,000 available nursing jobs in that state according to online job postings in November, and this article in the Bradenton Herald says that state projections made earlier this month forecast a 2.4 percent annual growth in registered nurse job openings.

There are a few catches, though.

For one, it can be hard to get into the state’s nursing schools due to lack of spaces and caps on enrollment. Also, cuts to Medicaid are coming which could mean layoffs as hospital budgets are stretched further.

The article notes that demand is growing as experienced nurses who may have delayed retirement during the economic are expected to leave the profession in coming years.

CC image of Florida Coast used courtesy of USFWS/Southeast via Flickr

“We’ve had an artificial bubble. But nurses are not going to continue to work four and five 12-hour shifts a week,” said Ralph Egües, executive director of the Nursing Consortium of South Florida.

To recruit nurses, hospitals, including some run by Broward Health, have formed training partnerships with colleges and universities.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital offers scholarships in return for a two-year work commitment to students who work at the hospital while attending Florida Atlantic University’s nursing college.

“I don’t mind. I like it,” said Cassandre Exantus, 21, who has a $10,000 scholarship from the hospital toward her bachelor’s of nursing degree at FAU. After graduating, she hopes to become a nursing teacher.

The hospital also partners with FAU in an accelerated nursing program for those who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to change careers.

Timothy Parker, a teacher for 12 years, is thrilled to be in the special one-year nursing program. “I’ve always thought about working in a medical career,” said Parker, who said a scholarship and a supportive working spouse made that career transition possible.

Not everyone who wants to be a nurse can find a spot in nursing school, where teacher shortages limit enrollment. But Florida’s nursing schools don’t have the capacity to meet the demand for students wanting to enter the field, according to the state’s workforce agency.

FAU’s College of Nursing said it usually has about 80 slots open a year for new nursing students, but it has at least 700 applicants.

Nursing and other health care jobs could be affected by Gov. Rick Scott’s proposal to cut $1.9 billion from the $21 billion Medicaid program for treating the poor. Most of the money pays for care at hospitals in South and Central Florida.

Still, nursing students are likely to find new career opportunities in the future, many the result of health care reform.

Nurses are being hired in medical technology, transitional care from hospital to home, as case managers for insurance companies and for research trial coordination, according to Broward General’s Sprada.

“You can wear many hats,” he said.

While there seem to be an especially large number of nursing jobs available in Florida right now, many of the other factors mirror national trends.

NY Bill Would Require Registered Nurses to Have 4-Year Degrees

Posted in Nursing, Nursing Jobs, Nursing News, Nursing School, Nursing Specialties

New York State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require registered nurses to earn bachelor’s degrees within 10 years in order to continue to work as a nurse in the state.

It’s called the “BSN in 10” and is being backed by nursing associations and major healthcare associations, with the goal creating a better-trained nursing workforce to care for an aging population. The aging of the baby boomers also means that many experienced and knowledgeable nurses will be retiring, creating a double whammy for healthcare providers.

Right now no other states have a law like this on the books. It looks like New York’s law has a pretty good chance of passing, though.

New York’s legislation died in committee last session, but it has bipartisan support in both chambers this year and could be debated as early as January. (more…)