Starting A Nursing Career During the Pandemic

The first year of your nursing career can be challenging under normal circumstances, but COVID-19 has made this transition even more arduous. According to the Organization of Nurse Leaders, pandemic conditions prevented nursing students from participating in traditional clinical experiences. They instead relied on innovative solutions that were provided in the form of virtual lessons and simulation labs. Potential graduation delays further prohibit much-needed nurses from supporting hospitals that are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Schools and government entities developed strategies to help nurses complete their degree and enter the workforce early. For instance, California created an emergency waiver that reduced the required amount of hospital clinical hours to allow nurses to graduate earlier. Similarly, Wisconsin only required 75% of their pre-established clinical hours. This allowed newly graduated nursing students to be able to help on the front lines of the pandemic sooner. 

Newly Graduated Nurses Will Face Unique Challenges

Newly graduated nurses will be starting their careers with little to no clinical experience, creating unique challenges for both the nurse and the hospital organizations for which they’ll work. Resources are available to help, like Nursing Central – Unbound Medicine, which creates comprehensive guides on navigating COVID-19 for student nurses, faculty, and new grads. 

Hospital positions require a facility orientation and a concentrated internship with preceptorship before the RN can work without immediate direct supervision. Graduate nurses will need extensive mentoring and support in a time when preceptors and resources may not be readily available. Experienced nurses are often called upon to precept new graduates, but these highly-skilled nurses are currently deeply entrenched in the pandemic response. 

Suggestions for Smooth Transition for New Graduates During the Pandemic Include:

  • When possible, considerations should be made to orient graduate nurses on non-COVID units to create a less stressful environment that is conducive to basic clinical skills and knowledge

  • Shift orientation to focus on developing practical and assessment skills to help fill in the gaps from missed clinicals.

  • To gain experience and confidence, new nurses should participate in as many aspects of care as possible. 

  • If another nurse has a patient with a condition, intervention, or procedure that you have not yet experienced, offer help, and ask to observe. This will ease anxiety for future instances and make you a much more well-rounded nurse.

 

The next generation of nurses will begin their career with more knowledge about the risks and challenges of providing patient care than any cohorts before. Aim to interview with hospital systems that provide mentorship programs. These programs serve as an extension of orientation lasting nine months or longer; new nurses are paired with one or two experienced nurses who are willing to take them under their wing and offer support. This equips new nurses with a go-to person for any questions or situations that may arise. New nurses often feel isolated and overwhelmed at the start of their role, but mentorships and nurse community support groups can help provide both clinical and emotional support throughout the transition. 

 

New graduate support groups should address topics such as:

  • Professional development

  • Clinical skills

  • Mentoring

  • Reflection via storytelling

  • Debriefing

Speak Up for Safety 

It is normal to feel anxious as a new nurse taking on the massive responsibility of caring for others, but the pandemic brings a whole new set of worries. These include potential effects on your patients, the fear of contracting the virus yourself, and the stress of infecting your loved ones. New grads will need to don more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) than ever, which can be a learning curve in itself. It is critical for nurses to advocate for themselves and ensure that they have the proper tools to safely and effectively provide care. 

While the inability to attend hospital clinicals puts student nurses at a disadvantage, most nursing skills are learned on the job and plenty of opportunities will be provided. Be sure to speak up if you are unsure about how to perform something. The patient’s safety always takes precedence, and it is never wrong to ask for help. It takes years for nurses to become completely confident in their assessment and clinical skills and understand all of the nuances of patient care. Nursing school heavily focuses on critical thinking skills, which is a crucial component of the profession. Therefore, you will be well-prepared in that aspect. 

Congratulations

Completing school and moving forward with your career during the most stressful time in nursing history is something to be proud of. Despite safety concerns, the pandemic has reassured many aspiring nurses that this career path is the right one. This important career transition allows you to truly witness the power of nursing as your peers work to protect each other, their patients, and the community. I applaud you for your hard work and am excited to welcome you to the most rewarding job you will ever experience. Be sure to give yourself time to breathe and practice self care. We experienced nurses look forward to working by your side to fight this global pandemic. Congratulations and stay safe! 

Bio

Lauren Rivera RNC-NIC, is a certified neonatal intensive care nurse and a certified breastfeeding counselor. 

She is also an expert for a mother/baby telehealth company offering support and educational classes for women 

and their families.

 

Check Out this Article – New Grad Nurse Tips: How to Safely and Effectively Delegate Tasks

 

Nurses Protest at the White House to Demand Protective Standards and Honor Fallen Peers

This morning, nurses from all over the country gathered for a protest in front of the White House to bring about awareness of the ongoing hazardous conditions nurses are being subjected to due to shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). The also honored fallen nurses that have passed after contracting COVID-19 while working.

WHO and Partners Call for Urgent Investment in Nurses

WHO| News Release| Geneva  [original release here]

The Covid-19 pandemic underscores the urgent need to strengthen the global health workforce. A new report, The State of the World’s Nursing 2020, provides an in-depth look at the largest component of the health workforce. Findings identify important gaps in the nursing workforce and priority areas for investment in nursing education, jobs, and leadership to strengthen nursing around the world and improve health for all. Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, providing vital services throughout the health system. Historically, as well as today, nurses are at the forefront of fighting epidemics and pandemics that threaten health across the globe. Around the world they are demonstrating their compassion, bravery and courage as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic: never before has their value been more clearly demonstrated.

Nurses are the backbone of any health system. Today, many nurses find themselves on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19,’ said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General. ‘This report is a stark reminder of the unique role they play, and a wakeup call to ensure they get the support they need to keep the world healthy.’

The report, by the World Health Organization (WHO)  in partnership with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and Nursing Now, reveals that today, there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide. Between 2013 and 2018, nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million. But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million – with the greatest gaps found in countries in Africa, South East Asia and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region as well as some parts of Latin America. 

Revealingly, more than 80 per cent of the world’s nurses work in countries that are home to half of the world’s population. And one in every eight nurses practices in a country other than the one where they were born or trained. Ageing also threatens the nursing workforce: one out of six of the world’s nurses are expected to retire in the next 10 years. 

To avert the global shortage, the report estimates that countries experiencing shortages need to increase the total number of nurse graduates by on average 8% per year, along with improved ability to be employed and retained in the health system. This would cost roughly USD 10 per capita (population) per year.

Politicians understand the cost of educating and maintaining a professional nursing workforce, but only now are many of them recognizing their true value,” said ICN President Annette Kennedy. “Every penny invested in nursing raises the wellbeing of people and families in tangible ways that are clear for everyone to see. This report highlights the nursing contribution and confirms that investment in the nursing profession is a benefit to society, not a cost. The world needs millions more nurses, and we are calling on governments to do the right thing, invest in this wonderful profession and watch their populations benefit from the amazing work that only nurses can do.”

About 90 per cent of all nurses are female, yet few nurses are found in senior health leadership positions– the bulk of those positions are held by men. But when countries enable nurses to take a leadership role, for example by having a government chief nursing officer (or equivalent), and nursing leadership programmes, conditions for nurses improve.

This report places much-needed data and evidence behind calls to strengthen nursing leadership, advance nursing practice, and educate the nursing workforce for the future,” said Lord Nigel Crisp, Co-Chair of Nursing Now. “The policy options reflect actions we believe all countries can take over the next ten years to ensure there are enough nurses in all countries, and that nurses use of the full extent of their education, training, and professional scope to enhance primary health care delivery and respond to health emergencies such as COVID-19.  This must start with broad and intersectoral dialogue which positions the nursing evidence in the context of a country’s health system, health workforce, and health priorities.” 

To equip the world with the nursing workforce it needs, WHO and its partners recommend that all countries:

  • increase funding to educate and employ more nurses;
  • strengthen capacity to collect, analyze and act on data about the health workforce;
  • monitor nurse mobility and migration and manage it responsibly and ethically;
  • educate and train nurses in the scientific, technological and sociological skills they need to drive progress in primary health care; 
  • establish leadership positions including a government chief nurse and support leadership development among young nurses;
  • ensure that nurses in primary health care teams work to their full potential, for example in preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases;
  • improve working conditions including through safe staffing levels, fair salaries, and respecting rights to occupational health and safety; 
  • implement gender-sensitive nursing workforce policies;
  • modernize professional nursing regulation by harmonizing education and practice standards and using systems that can recognize and process nurses’ credentials globally; and
  • strengthen the role of nurses in care teams by bringing different sectors (health, education, immigration, finance and labour) together with nursing stakeholders for policy dialogue and workforce planning. 

The report’s message is clear: governments need to invest in a massive acceleration of nursing education, creation of nursing jobs, and leadership. Without nurses, midwives, and other health workers, countries cannot win the battle against outbreaks, or achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

 

The Nurse Link for Death-in-Service Compensation for US Nurses, Doctors & Healthcare Workers

In light of this gruesome pandemic, we have chosen to advocate for nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers who have died on the frontline. Our founder is currently serving in a high impact area and most of our ambassadors are working in critical areas alongside hundreds of thousands of other healthcare workers. Countless nurses on the front lines have been infected and several have died in service due to the lack of PPE, below standard working conditions and impossible patient surges. With such conditions, a resounding fear amongst providers has been their own mortality and the financial impact it may have on their families- amid other concerns. This fear has kept some away from the frontline and is definitely a large stressor to those who are working tirelessly.

We charge the federal government with negligence evidenced by the lack emergency stockpile of protective gear and overall unpreparedness for pandemic- despite governmental and private sector warnings. Please read our petition below and click here to sign.

stethoscope on American flag for fallen nurses, doctors and healthcare workers

The Problem

As the COVD -19 pandemic persists- nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers (HCWs) are being infected on the front line and several have already died from complications of the virus. Experts believe that health care workers are at a greater risk for serious illness despite age.[1] Yet hundreds of thousands of professionals continue to report to their shifts amidst severe shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), ever-changing protocols and the lack of other critical equipment (beds, ventilators, testing kits etc.) necessary to do their jobs – placing their lives directly on the line. [2] Many are doing so without a clear understanding of the insurance benefits that may or may not be made available to their families should they succumb to the virus.

In a climate of so much uncertainty, nurses, doctors and other HCWs should not have to endure the additional stress of worrying if their families will be taken care of financially should they pass.

What We’re Asking 

This petition is a call to action to the federal government to create a death-in-service pandemic fund to be paid out to the families of fallen providers. Said funds would provide compensation to victims’ families when COVID-19 infections lead to death or serious injury and cover but not be limited to: economic loss, virus related medical debt, burial fees, crisis/hazard pay differentials and post-incident response for injured victims- regardless of underlying conditions. Such fund would also set precedent for future crisis.

A federal death-in-service fund would determine specifics around victim compensation packages and explicitly name “death gratuity”-a lump sum, non-taxable gratuitous payment or collective benefit for healthcare providers. This fund would supersede, but fill gaps where state workers’ compensation, employers’ benefits, pension plans and other guarantees fall short. Nurse, doctors and HCWs would qualify by having worked full-time on the frontline areas with evidence of origin of exposure. 

A Victim Compensation Fund for Nurses, Healthcare Workers

Although a pandemic death-in-service fund for nurses and other HCWs is unprecedented, the federal government has created funds for servicemen and civilians of the 9/11 terrorist attacks & Oklahoma City bombings- allocating billions of dollars to the families of servicemen killed on duty.[3] In addition, the US Military provides a death gratuity made to eligible beneficiaries of members who die on duty along with various other entitlements and benefits. For those whose death is as a result of hostile actions or performing a hazardous duty, the payment is $100,000, in addition to any life insurance plans or policies.[4] These funds are also often released immediately to aid survivors in their readjustment and to help address immediate expenses incurred. HCWs on the front line deserve the same parity during this pandemic.

If We Don’t Act 

Failing to provide nurses, doctors and other HCWs death-in-service benefits could possibly lead to lack of participation on the front line during the most critical peaks of the pandemic. The UK is currently facing concerns that the loss of death-in-service benefits has made some HCWs less willing to work in high risk areas and is creating untimely tension with the National Health Service, a large publicly funded healthcare system in England. Deaths amongst US HCWs continue to trickle in; however, countries abroad have reported staggering numbers of infected and deceased. To date, more than 3,300 healthcare workers have been infected in China and 46 doctors have died, with an unreported number of nurses and other HCWs. At least 6,420 health care workers in Italy have contracted the virus as of March 27th 2020, which has resulted in the death of some 50 doctors and an unreported number of nurses and other HCWs. [6] Aftermath liability claims could potentially clog court systems and create further economic harm and mistrust amongst governments and insurance companies, much like in 9/11. In addition claims would be arguably larger due to the prolonged suffering for families of the fallen. 

Nurses, doctors & HCWs are our strongest asset and we must provide them reassurance during this time. Give our nurses, doctors and HCWs peace of mind. Please support this petition to help urge our federal government to develop compensatory measures for the families of our fallen healthcare heroes.

What You Can Do- Sign Now!

Please act now and sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/donald-j-trump-death-in-service-compensation-for-us-nurses-doctors-healthcare-workers

Thank You to Nurses Everywhere!

In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak, The Nurse Link would like to thank all nurses and healthcare providers at the bedside and on the front line.We are equally grateful for nursing students, new grad and soon to be new grad nurses who have volunteered to assist in this time of crisis.Your commitment to the field gives us hope and a fighting chance. This pandemic has and will continue to require a collaborative effort of healthcare workers amidst challenging factors and ever-changing protocols.

“Thank you to nurses everywhere!” – The Nurse Link

Thank You Nurses Sign

As an organization we plan to provide you guys with nursing related updates/ news from reliable sources, aid in uniting the voice of nurses for cause and change and above all be a safe place where nurses can connect.

We are currently aligning meaningful partnerships to help aid in the fight and would love your input! Let us know how you are helping turn the tide, your fears and frustrations and how you’re staying encouraged or simply coping.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Top Tips for Surviving Nursing School Clinical

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it twice. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and proper nutrition will play a major role in your clinical success. Research shows that your brain uses about 20% of your body’s energy or about 320 calories for thinking alone! That said store up on energy with a well rounded breakfast that will fuel you adequately into your next meal. Unfortunately, clinical don’t lend themselves to frequent breaks and require a ton of standing on your feet.

How to Manage Your Time In Nursing School

Whether your semester has just begun or your classes are in full swing, it’s never too late to revise your strategy and give your time management approach a reality check. Nursing school can be overwhelming and push you in ways you didn’t know you could be challenged. Getting to the finish line will not be easy but a clear and deliberate plan of action will help you get there unscathed.

 

TIME EFFICIENCY

In nursing school, everything else becomes secondary to studying. Create a daily and or hourly schedule and stick to it to be the most efficient. An hour by hour plan will help tremendously in keeping you on track to hit your daily milestones. In addition, it will be helpful to get conditioned to studying first before everything else. On days when on site classes are held, commuters should consider staying on campus to complete studying for the day instead of wasting precious time in stop and go traffic. If you stay on campus, avoid trips back and forth between classes to the your room and use small breaks to stick it out in the library. Keep flash cards on hand for quick study breaks when your schedule allows. Downloading audio lectures can be helpful for learning on the go and can be accessed on your headset or in the car. Parents should try to maximize time when children are sleeping or at school and use this time to study also. Lastly use weekends to meal prep, do house chores, prepare for the week and of course study!

 

STAYING ORGANIZED 

Getting organized can drastically change your nursing school experience for the better and create more time for focused learning.. Allocating specific folders, binders and bags for each class or day of the week will help you tremendously. Printing the syllabi for each course, outlining major deadlines and noting all test and assignment dates can be lifesaving. Large calendars are also great for providing a monthly view of classes, assignments, tests and clinicals. Small planners  can provide a great weekly view of your obligations and phone reminders can be essential. Organization will allow you the space and peace of mind to study. Preparing class and clinical materials ahead of time can be lifesaving. 

 

DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGY

Undoubtedly, studying is the most time intensive task in nursing school. There’s an exorbitant amount of info to read, digest and retain and seemingly not enough time in the day to tackle it all. Study at times that you are most energized and receptive. Create a dedicated area in your home that’s conducive to studying helps to set the tone and environment for optimal learning that’s free of distractions. It is also  important to master the skill of intaking and dumping information. Unlike your pre-nursing courses, being super detailed oriented could actually work against you in nursing school. After your first test, there should be an analysis of the materials you covered as it relates to what you were actually tested on. Let this information guide your future study habits per course. Your learning style may be auditory or visual; however, most people study best in groups and are able to grasp concepts from peers more concisely. Lastly, grab a few classmates with similar schedules to form a study group and test your knowledge by explaining and teaching one another.

 

KEEP SOCIAL TO A MINIMUM

“Do what you have to now  so you can do what you want later.” While cliche, the aforementioned expression holds true. Nursing school is no joke and is a real life commitment and sacrifice of time. Depending on the rigidity of your program, you may want to consider minimizing social outings for the duration of your program. This does not mean that you can’t have a life or shouldn’t see your friends and family; however, it does mean you should be doing so a lot less. Remember, self-care is a huge component of keeping your sanity during this challenging time.  Be sure to prioritize time for things that make you happy, recharge your energy and allow you to step away for mental breaks. Schedule your social time in advance to be sure your interactions are not becoming distractions to your focus and productivity. Also, it may not be a bad idea to limit time on social media as well. You can use various apps to track and limit your usage.

ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

In nursing school you have countless assignments, deadlines, tests and obligations. In this environment a hectic schedule can get the best of them despite proper planning and time management. Therefore, having a human reminder  can really go a long way. Identifying a buddy in the program will be gold and in addition to helping you stay on top of all your deadlines, they can provide moral support and encouragement which can improve your nursing school experience drastically. 

How to Effectively Study For Nursing School Exams

Entry into nursing school comes with many new and exciting challenges – including a brand new way of studying! Beware, there are no test like nursing school tests. All memes aside, the exams in nursing school are just different and so should the way you prepare for them. With the sleepless nights and last-minute cram sessions that many of you will face in the upcoming weeks, developing study habits that will help you succeed on nursing school exams can be quite overwhelming. After consulting with expert nurse educators to find out what helps their students soar on exams, we’ve come up with these helpful study tips and we want to share them with you!

Here are 5 ways to study for nursing school exam success:

ORGANIZE AND REVIEW ALL RESOURCES PROVIDED

Nurse educators, instructors and professors work diligently to supply their students with many additional resources to help facilitate learning. If you have not already done so, you should organize all of the supplemental information and give it a thorough review, along with your course textbooks. This will help to greatly improve and validate your understanding of the nursing concepts and content that will show up later on your exams. Be sure to take the initiative to do this on a weekly basis, regardless of how much you dread the tedious task of organizing your binders and reading through every single word. Just think of it this way – the worst thing that can happen is that you might just learn something new!

READ, WRITE, DO AND REDO

When it comes to nursing school exams, you must be well-prepared to succeed. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to over-prepare. One way that you can be sure to score well is to read, write, and review nursing content outside of classroom hours. Ever hear the saying “Practice makes perfect”? This also applies to absorbing the massive amounts of nursing content that you’ll need to know for your exams. A few practical recommendations include reading your textbooks and supplemental material, writing out key points and concepts, and practicing the ability to recall the information when challenged. Whether you choose to use flashcards or a notebook, writing the information down, then challenging yourself to recall the information, it is a great way to study for nursing school exams.


FOCUS ON WEAK AREAS OF UNDERSTANDING

Let’s face it – we all have our favorite topics when it comes to nursing content. Some students love labor and delivery, while others love cardiovascular nursing, and in these cases, students usually score well on related questions. The reality is that most nursing exams are complex and often cumulative, which may include several concepts that you may find challenging. By concentrating on the content that you find most challenging first, then reviewing the easier content after you’ve mastered the more challenging topics, you will improve your chance of rocking the exam. Don’t get distracted by your excitement for one particular area of nursing while you’re in school. You need to master all of the nursing school content to be successful – so tackle the hard stuff first, so you can have the opportunity to stay in the running of becoming a nurse!


TEACH YOUR DOG, CAT, FRIENDS, FAMILY – EVERYONE! 

Did you know that teaching is the highest form of understanding? This study technique helps to ensure that you are ready to ace your upcoming nursing school exams. By creating lesson plans with the content that is expected to be on your exams, you will be sure to cover all of the essentials during your teachings. You should create high-level test questions to ask your audience during your teachings, and be sure to restate the key points and rationale regularly to emphasize comprension. Some students find that being a student tutor is a great way to gain additional exposure to teaching and content mastery. Either as a tutor or part of a study group, nursing students who adopt teaching as a method for exam preparation often do very well on their exams.

FREQUENT & SHORT STUDY SESSIONS ARE BEST

It’s important to understand that studying for nursing school exams is more like a marathon not a sprint. Students who participate in extensive cram sessions the night before an exam are less likely to score well. Instead of procrastinating until the night before an exam to study, it is recommended that you study in frequent intervals for no more than three-to-four hours per study session. You may hold study sessions two or three times per day for several weeks leading up to an exam, but be sure to keep the sessions limited to only a few hours at a time. During the time in between studying, make sure to engage in activities that are healthy and relaxing – such as sharing a well balanced meal with family, exercising, or getting out of the house.

We hope that you find these five study tips helpful during your nursing school journey. Be sure to share this post with your nursing school peers, and contribute to this discussion by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below!

Geriatric Nursing: The True Underdog of the Healthcare Field

From the time I began my nursing career, I knew that I would work in Geriatrics. When expressing this to many of my friends, colleagues and even professors I received the astounding response “Why?”. Many nurses I meet have a goal of working in Pediatrics or OB so that they can be a part of the innocence and beauty associated with childhood, but many view geriatrics as the unglamorous world of bedpans and adult briefs! When I am tasked with answering the questioning of my field choice I immediately begin expressing how I possess a deeply rooted passion for the geriatric population that sometimes can’t be explained by words
As a child, I was raised by my Great Grandmother. The generational gap between us presented many problems and I probably wasn’t participating in some of the same after school and weekend activities as my peers. My great grandmother is a true saint spent most of her time visiting nursing homes to volunteer and visit her family members and friends that were in facilities. During this time I had the opportunity to volunteer as well. Although I was a small child, I connected with the residents in the homes we visited and they took to me and enjoyed my weekly visits. I can truly say that this experience led me to where I am now. As my great grandmother grew older I eventually had to move with my mom and I then found myself visiting my grandmother to take care of her. Just as she had dedicated her life to helping others I found that I became passionate about caring for her. Up until her recent death I vowed to make her golden years her best years.
 

Today I am proud to say that I have dedicated most of my nursing career to geriatrics. Right out of high school I became a Certified Nursing Assistant and worked in a nursing home as well as a Geriatric Psychiatry Unit. After graduating from nursing school my professors advised me to spend at least one year in the Emergency Department so that I can gain skills to prepare me for my Geriatric career. I literally completed one year and then began working in the Home Health setting where my clients were all 65 and older. I enjoyed educating seniors about chronic conditions and each visit felt like a visit to Grandmas! Recently, I completed my Masters and became an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (NP). I currently work in a long term care facility in the specialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. I provide medication management of psychotropic drugs to the residents there. I also educate the staff in the facility on non-pharmacological methods for handling conditions such as dementia. I work tirelessly to ensure that the facility is in compliance with current Medicare Guidelines and prepare them for visits with state agencies. Not a moment goes by that I don’t feel like I am walking in my purpose!

Geriatrics is a field that often is forgotten and I must say I do not see how! I find my job to be very rewarding and I often feel connected to the patients I serve. The benefits of working with this population are vast. There is a true need for those passionate about working with this very vulnerable population. There is always an opportunity to teach these patients, but what is most rewarding is that they often teach you! I find that my patients are at a place in there lives where they may require assistance with care, but their wisdom simply amazes me.

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports that, “there are more than 270,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) licensed in the U.S., however, only 1.8% of those providers are certified in Geriatrics (2018 AANP National Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey).
These figures are very alarming considering that,  “one in 5 Americans will be eligible for Medicare by 2030, with people 65 and older expected to account for almost 20 percent of the nation’s population by then” (Magaly Olivero, 2015). Equipped with this information, I feel that there is a need to access the reasons that providers do not choose Geriatrics. Wether it is related to a lack of knowledge about the field that is not being addressed in nursing programs or a fear of the field that also needs to be addressed through clinical rotations or patient experience opportunities, we as providers owe it to these individuals to address the need.

As with any field, you have to find the area that most interests you, but I encourage anyone that finds geriatrics the least bit interesting to investigate a career in the field! If you are looking for something that is challenging and structured this is a great fit. The field is mostly preventative and if you are like me and love the aspect of preventing health conditions you will find yourself constantly educating, patients, staff and family members and working to connect your patients with the many resources available to them. Another bonus is that you can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, home health, long term care facilities, assisted living, nonprofit organizations and so on. There is currently a huge demand for geriatric providers and I can guarantee that working in the field will not only be a career reward but also a personal one that will inspire the values of humility and advocacy.

Breonna Leon is a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner in the Atlanta Area who currently serves as a consultant for long term care facilities in the specialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. She holds a M.S. in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care from George Washington University. Breonnabelieves in providing care that is both patient focused and in accordance with the most recent evidence based practice. She works tirelessly to ensure that this vulnerable population is cared for in ways that are holistic in nature. You can find Breonna on Instagram  and reach her via email

Reality Shock: What They Didn’t Teach You in Nursing School

Reality shock is something that you may have heard about in nursing school, but know very little about. Most nursing programs do not adequately prepare their students with coping mechanisms to effectively manage each phase of reality shock. 

Once you start your new job as a nurse, having straight A’s or being the most popular student among your professors won’t matter. You’ll have to establish credibility among all your new colleagues and that’s not an easy task. In fact, it can be shocking and quite intimidating.

Let’s discuss what reality shock is, and tips for managing each phase.

The Four Phases of Reality Shock In Nursing

The idea of reality shock is applied to those who are new to the nursing profession or new to a nursing speciality, where they go through a learning and growing transition. This process has four phases: honeymoon, shock, recovery, and resolution.

 

Honeymoon Phase

The honeymoon phase is a period of excitement for new graduates. You may be very excited to be joining the profession and find yourself eager to learn as much as possible. You will be guided by your desire to do your very best and become confident in your new roles and responsibilities. 

Tip: It is important to establish working relationships where trust and respect are demonstrated between you and your preceptors during this phase. This will help to minimize complications in the following phases of reality shock.

 

Shock Phase

The new nurse is the most vulnerable in the second phase – the shock phase, as this is when negative feelings towards your new role may surface. This is often when the new nurse realizes that the expectation of their new role is inconsistent with the day-to-day responsibilities and work flow. When nurses find themselves in the shock phase, they are at risk to quit, leave their unit, or experience burn out.

Tip: Critical strategies to ease through the shock phase include: finding a mentor for guidance, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, being sure to get adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and having fun with family and friends. It is also essential that you develop a strong support network, and workplace buddies that have your back.

 

Recovery Phase

During the recovery phase, new nurses begin an upward climb back to the positive side. Now able to  consider all sides of your new role as a nurse, you will begin to see the job realities with a more open perspective. You can begin to accept the challenges of your day-to-day responsibilities, and find creative solutions to barriers in providing safe and effective nursing care. 

Tip: To ensure that you do not move back to the shock phase, it is important to seek out constructive criticism, and let your preceptors and mentors know where you are having trouble adjusting. Seek out clarification, and be sure to always work within your limitations. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know. Once you become confident in your roles and responsibilities, you will move to the resolution phase. 

 

Resolution Phase

The fourth and final stage, which is typically after one year of nursing experience, is the resolution phase. During the resolution phase the nurse fully understands their role and fully contributes to the delivery of safe and effective patient care. 

Tip: It is important that you continue to focus on the positive aspects of your job in order to maintain ongoing satisfaction and career success. Engage in continuing education by earning an advanced degree, or becoming certified. When you remain engaged in your own professional development, you are sure to find fulfillment within the nursing profession. 

 

Here are some additional coping skills that you may find helpful as you transition into your new role as a nurse:

Focus on mastering your skills

Making sure that your nursing skills are being performed in the way that follows facility and state regulations will help you to avoid mistakes and help to build confidence. The first six months to a year is an important time for you to work on improving your ability to perform all client care and administrative skills independently, thus boosting your confidence and satisfaction within your new role.

Seek Guidance from experienced nurses 

Just because you finished orientation at your new job does not mean that you are all alone in providing client care. In fact, nursing is always a team effort, and you are encouraged to seek guidance and resource experienced nursing staff to help you when you need it.

When juggling the complex treatments, and patient care of today’s healthcare system, we all rely on one another to deliver the safest and most effective client care possible. Be sure to identify your learning needs as they arise and seek the expert guidance you will need to feel confident in your roles and responsibilities.

Find a nursing specialty that fits 

Not all nursing specialty areas are created equal. The expectations and responsibilities of nurses in an emergency department are very different than those of a medical-surgical unit. In many cases, new graduate nurses are eager to begin working and accept the first specialty that they are offered.

In the event that you find yourself really struggling with the specialty you are working in, be sure to discuss your concerns with your supervisor before deciding to quit. They will be able to identify your struggles and may offer effective coping strategies and/or specialty alternatives accordingly. Switching specialties within the first six months to a year is quite common, and many times healthcare facilities will accommodate your requests to keep you on staff.

We hope that these tips for managing reality shock help you as you transition from student nurse to professional nurse. If you have any additional tips you’d like to share, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!