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It’s 2016 and APRNs are still not recognized in all of the United States.  

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine released the report, The Future of Nursing, which outlined the need for advanced practice nurses (APRNs) to gain full practice authority in the United States.  This document, a collaboration of the Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Initiative, set the policy agenda for APRNs to be given full practice authority in the majority of states that did not already have the legislation to support that practice. Full practice authority in every state is necessary to provide consistency in APRN practice, to provide access to healthcare for patients in greater numbers, to reduce healthcare costs and improve preventative health practices.  The IOM points out the disparities and waste in our current system, such as the ability of an APRN to have full practice authority in one state and go to a neighboring state and be unable to prescribe as much as a Tylenol without a physician’s oversight.  The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation, Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education set forth the structure in which states could base legislation of APRNs in the hopes to standardize practice.

 

The goal was to implement the model by 2015.Stethoscope-2

As of 2016, twelve states have fully implemented the full Consensus Model through legislation.  Many are close, but some are far from reaching full practice authority for APRNs.  I moved from Oregon, which has full practice authority, to Texas which limits APRN practice and requires burdensome physician oversight.  Instead of serving patients in my rural community, which suffers from disparities in healthcare services, I work in a nursing leader position, with a BSN requirement.   I am working with the state APRNs to advance legislation that will remove barriers to practice, but there is a lot of opposition from another special interest group, physicians.  Some physicians view APRNs as competitors, instead of partners in expanding healthcare services.

Political victories are happening.

West Virginia is on the cusp of expanding APRN practice authority and are waiting for their governor to sign the bill into legislation. Amy Summers, a member of the West Virginia legislature, was the lead sponsor of HB 4334 which expanded APRN authority to practice independently and to expand prescriptive authority.

Summers stated in defense of the bill, “This is not a new idea, this isn’t something that needs studied further. Iowa has allowed full practice authority for 33 years, Alaska 28 years, New Mexico 20 years.  No state has ever repealed full practice authority once it was given.”

I hope that Texas, and the many states that have yet to adopt the Consensus Model, will move towards joining forward thinking states.  States like Oregon, Idaho, Iowa, Utah, Montana, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, Colorado and Hawaii, all of which have given full practice authority to all APRNs.

How does your state measure up? Click here to find out!

 

 

 

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Joy Who?

The internet was in an uproar. Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, delivered a monologue about her experience of being “just a nurse” for the talent portion of the Miss America pageant. I watched it on YouTube the night of the contest. Like many nurses, I felt all the warm, fuzzy, nurse feelings and even got a little misty eyed. By Tuesday morning, the news reached my Facebook nursing groups. Joy Behar and Michelle Collins had mocked Miss Colorado on The View. Ms. Collins thought it would be a good laugh to poke fun at the heartfelt monologue delivered by Nurse Kelley. Ms Behar chimed in with the question, “why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope around her neck?”

A doctor’s stethoscope! Behar poked a sleeping bear with those words. Nurses roared into action as the disparaging remarks reached nurses across the globe. Hashtags like #nursesshareyourstethoscopes, #nursesrock, #nursesmatter, #notacostume, #mytalentisnursing, #nursesunite and #notjustanurse began trending on social media. I wish that Ms. Behar and Ms. Collins had supported Nurse Kelley, not only as a healthcare professional, but as a woman. It was disturbing to watch an all-woman-panel mock another woman for sharing her talent, the art of nursing.

The backlash from three million nurses was swift and strong. Pictures of nurses wearing stethoscopes flooded my news feeds. I spent time retweeting every one of my fellow nurses posts about the scandal. I was caught up in the collective outrage and for a few days I felt united with my sister and brother nurses.

Weeks later, the nurse hashtags have stopped trending and the conversation has changed to other hot topics. All of the nurse empowerment energy has evaporated.

Have we once again become stethescope#justnurses?

Joy Behar’s comment was careless. It was a throw away thing to say to fill up space and to seem like she had something intelligent to add to the conversation. I don’t believe that she meant it maliciously, she was being thoughtless. Her thoughtlessness united nurses in a way that I have not seen since nurses jumped on planes and busses to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The energy on social media was exciting. It was gratifying to read supportive comments and see nurses being given positive attention. I loved seeing all the stethoscopes and reading nursing stories about where those stethoscopes have been. For a few days it has felt like nurses were united and a part of a large community. United in their outrage of being publicly mocked.
It is now clear that nurses have the ability to direct national conversations. Where have all the hashtags gone? Why aren’t there trending hashtags like #endhealthdisparity, #decreasepatientratios, #stoplateralviolence, #nurseautonomy, or #APRNsIncreaseAccessToHealthcare? Healthcare policy and laws are influenced by a handful of lobbyists and legislators. These lobbyists and legislators number far fewer than three million nurses, but their decisions affect the entire nation. Can you envision a healthcare system being directed by our modern day Florence Nightingales and Clara Bartons, with the support of the national nursing community?
The best thing that could result from this stethoscope spectacle would be for nurses to finally find their voice.

We have power to influence, educate and advocate for the healthcare changes that we know we need. We can command a national stage whenever we choose to unite behind a cause. Its time to come together to influence issues that affect our friends, neighbors and families. Nurses are never just nurses, it is time to prove it.

To take action start here: American Nurses Association

 

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Giving Thanks for Advanced Practice Nurses


     I am thankful for advanced practice nurses (APRN) A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is one type of advanced practice nurse and one that probably comes most readily to the mind of the public. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), Certified Nurses Anesthetists (CRNA), and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are also APRNs and fill similar, but diverse roles. I have been fortunate to have been cared for and mentored by many APRNs throughout my life and career. T
his November I wanted to share how APRNs have touched my life and express my gratitude.

1.As a young child, my family accessed healthcare through the county public health system. Thanks to public health nurses, and the APRNs that led them, I was vaccinated against diseases and screened for health problems. I grew up healthy despite my parents’ lack of healthcare insurance and money.

2. As a teenager, living in a rural community, my primary healthcare provider was a Nurse Practitioner. She practiced in a small healthcare clinic a few minutes from my house. At that time I was covered by insurance, but she had low rates for self-pay patients. I loved the way that she took time to listen to my teenage complaints and helped me navigate my own health for the first time.

3. Then next time I came across an APRN I was a service member’s wife, struggling to raise a growing family during wartime. A Nurse Practitioner screened me for depression and referred me to a support group. That support group helped me to survive and thrive through each of my husband’s deployments.

4. In nursing school a Nurse Practitioner faculty member candidly shared the practice struggles facing APRNs. She mayNurse-Heart have thought she was dissuading me from entering the struggle, but she inspired me to eventually join the cause.

5. I learned about the true mission of public health at the side of a CNM. Her job was to make prenatal and postpartum home visits. She taught me how to meet people wherever they are in life. I can still picture her on a dozen different sofas, rattling off nursing advice in both Spanish and English.

6. My leadership preceptor in nursing school was also a CNM. She was the director at a community hospital labor and delivery department. She ran around that unit with a mug of tea she would intermittently reheat, but never finish. She taught me what is meant to be a visible leader.

7. When my career turned from adult medicine to perinatal nursing, I learned how to be fully present and care for a woman in labor thanks to a group of CNMs. They taught me how to seamlessly involve the partner and other present family members. I can’t express how much of the nurse I am today is directly due to the hours I spent in the sacred spaces that those women created for our patients.

8. When I decided to become an APRN, I was mentored by two amazing CNSs and a wonderful NP. The lessons they taught went far beyond how to dictate a note or prescribe a medication. I am truly grateful for their time and advice. I owe them much of my career success. The greatest gift they gave me was belief in my own ability. They drilled in me to not sell myself short, to not settle and to unabashedly pursue my goals as an equal player in the healthcare arena.

9. The darkest year of my life was attended by another APRN. A CNM helped me through back-to-back perinatal losses. She was the first primary care provider to truly listen to my health complaints and she diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. The diagnosis came too late to affect my pregnancy, but she helped me on the road to health, both physically and mentally.

10. I don’t want to leave out CRNAs! I work with brilliant, funny and energetic CRNAs. They are an important part of the perinatal team. I am thankful that when we are running to the same emergency together, I know our patient can be in the OR within minutes receiving lifesaving care from our team.

      I would not be the person I am today without APRNs. It’s possible I may not even be here without some of them. APRNs fill an increasingly important role in our healthcare system. Despite the amazing, holistic and safe care that APRNs provide patients, they experience many barriers to practice. Our nation continues to face a crisis in healthcare that could be greatly reduced by allowing all APRNs to practice to their full scope, in every state. Currently APRNs are lobbying for independent practice in many states and nationally. Independent practice is evidence based and a safe policy. We need public support to help pass legislation to allow more APRNs to care for patients. To learn more about the APRN regulations in your state and pending legislation click here. If you are grateful for an APRN, please share your story in the comments.

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at http://yourahi.org/blog.

If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

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Nurse burnout: When passion isn’t enough

A few months ago I was asked by the editor of Sigma Theta Tau’s online magazine, Reflections on Nursing Leadership, to write an article about nurse burnout. They published it as a part of their Nurses Week line up. In the article I share my personal struggle with nurse burnout and how I overcame it. I am very pleased to have my writing published in Reflection on Nursing Leadership.

Please take a few minutes to read and share with your nurse friends.  Chances are you have felt burned out in your career.  Share in comments how you renewed your passion for nursing.

 

 

 

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Nurse Burnout: 12 Ways to get Your New-Grad Happy Back

Nurse burnout happens.  No nurse is immune.  If you are a nurse you are at risk for burnout.

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Remember how it felt to be a brand new nurse?

The only thing more shiny than your new stethoscope was your happy face.

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I diagnosed myself with nurse burnout when I started thinking that driving my car off a cliff sounded better than going to work.

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I was able to get back to my nursing happy place and I am in love with nursing again.

Here are some ways to get you back to happy-dancing your way to work.

 

 

1.  BLOG!  I love it and I’m not the only nurse on the interwebs!  If you are not a writer then read nursing blogs.  There are all flavors of nursing blogs, from informative to hysterical.

Some suggestions to get you started: Mine of course!   Adventures of a Labor Nurse   The Nerdy Nurse     Nurse Together     Mighty Nurse     Scrubs     Digital Doorway

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2. Go back to school.  Getting your BSN, MSN or DNP will make you more marketable and open up more options.

Going back to school will reenergize you about nursing.

You will read a LOT about new nursing research, which will get you out of a nursing rut.

You will be so busy making powerpoint presentations and writing discussion posts, you will have no time to think/complain about work.

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3. Get certified in your specialty.  If you are burned out then you probably have been a nurse more than 2 years.  Congrats!

That means that you are qualified to become certified in your specialty.

There is a certification for just about everything nursing related.

Look for your specialty on ANCC or NCC to start.  You will be recognized for your knowledge and add to your credentials.

Maintaining certification means that you will need to keep up continuing education in your speciality, which will prevent you from becoming stagnate.

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4.  Take your vacation days!!  Everyone needs a break.  Nursing is stressful.

If you don’t take vacation for yourself, then take it for your patients.  Being a relaxed and refreshed nurse will benefit them.

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5. Celebrate wins.  We are always focused on what we need to improve and what we are doing wrong.

When you or your team have a win, celebrate!

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6. Take some time for yourself.  Nurses know how important self-care is, but its difficult to find the time. Find it!

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7. Join a committee.  Make changes.  Give your input.  Does your hospital have shared governance or unit representation to make decisions?  If yes, join.  If no, start it! You can change nursing practice.

 

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8.  Be active.  Exercise can help improve mood and is a great outlet for work frustrations.

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9. Go to a Nursing Conference.  

There is nothing better than going to a conference full of nurses.  People think that ComicCon is weird, but they have never been to a nursing conference! We have crazy nurse fun!

It is a great time and it is a place where you are reminded why the heck you became a nurse.

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10.  Spend some time with your work buddies away from the call lights and nurse rounds.

You know you love your team.  An out of work activity can remind you that your work pals are awesome.
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11. Attend a continuing education course or webinar about a topic that interests you.

Will you be inspired by experts talking about the topics that they love.

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12.  Quit.  Not nursing, but quit your job.  Sometimes you really don’t have nurse burnout, but job burnout.

One of the best things about being a nurse is the vast opportunities you have for employment.

If you need a change of pace, location or specialty do it.  Give a proper notice and leave on good terms.

You never know when you may work with those nurses again.  (It will happen.)

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Nursing is a rewarding profession.  If you feel yourself getting disenchanted, actively try to get the magic back.

 

If you are successful you will be back to the new grad feeling which is good for you and your patients.

 

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How do you beat the nurse blues?  Leave your suggestions in comments.

 

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10 Nursing Actions to Bring Compassion Back to the Bedside

Even the most benevolent and happy nurse can forget that every patient is someone’s special person. Some days feel like just another ordinary day at work.  Nurses have bad days just like everyone else. The difference is that a nurse’s bad day can darken a patient and family’s already stressful stay.

When nurses begin to lose sight of the how important their role is a patient’s recovery it is important to recharge, refresh and relearn what it takes to make each day special for patients.

 

Here are 1o ways to bring compassion back to your patient’s bedside:

 

1. Identify something you like about your patient. This may be difficult with some patients, but everyone has some redeeming quality. Find it.

 

2. Smile. If you smile your patient will feel welcome and it can change your attitude as well.  Fake it till you make it.

 

3. Acknowledge and speak to all the people in your patient’s room.  The patient’s family is important and they will appreciate being recognized.  Also they can be recruited to help get ice, hold emesis bags and feed the patient.  The people in the room will be the ones that will be there to support the patient at home when he is tired and needs help. Include the whole family in patient education so that the transition back to home be will be successful.

 

4. Include the partner or loved ones in conversations with the patient. A patient’s support person needs to understand and give input on the patient’s plan of care. The decisions are the patients to make, but they often look to their partner or loved ones for guidance.

Including the partner in the conversations with patient establishes trust and is an element of family centered care.

 

5. Take lunch off the unit. This may be impossible at some hospitals.  If at all possible, leave the unit for your break. Go outside and breathe real air. Take a walk in the sunshine and absorb some vitamin D.

 

6. Use your relaxation skills to relax yourself.  You teach these techniques to patients every day, those same relaxation techniques can benefit stressed nurses!

 

7. Use your vacation days! Don’t hoard vacation days. People that take less vacation days have less job satisfaction.

 

8. Join your professional nursing organization. Keeping up to date on new research is exciting and stimulating.  Challenge yourself and continue to grow in your specialty.

 

9. Go out of your way for your patient at least once a shift. They may not thank you, but you will know that you put in extra effort to make your patient’s stay better.

 

10. When the family is visiting take a few seconds to look away from the IV pump, computer and thermometer.  Witness how the family comforts and supports each other. Watch as a daughter holds her mother’s hand for the last time. See the happiness when a husband is told he can take his wife home.  These moments are what make us human.

 

Take the time to make every day special for your patients.

For nurses it is just another day at work, but for each patient it’s a day that can change their life.

 

 

 

 

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