November 2, 2016 · 2 min read

Critical Thinking in Nursing

All Nursing Schools Staff

When it comes to our concept of a nurse, more than likely, we are all guilty of conjuring up an image of an outdated stereotype, something we were used to seeing in movies or on television: it’s the image of a woman dressed in white, wearing a white hat and carrying a tray of pills to a patient’s room. She doesn’t ask questions, she simply carries out doctor’s orders.

Times have changed. Nurses need to utilize critical thinking in their actions and decisions every day on the job, which is why critical thinking in nursing has become an important skill to learn.

Critical Thinking Plays a Role in Nursing Education

Today’s nurses play a major part in patient care, and they receive intense medical and patient care training that prepares them for tasks well beyond handing out pills and learn the important place that critical thinking in nursing occupies in practice.

One of the most important aspects of their education, critical thinking in nursing truly rounds out a nurse’s expertise and effectiveness. Developing critical thinking skills, nurses position themselves to manage and strategize patient care situations, deal with multiple physicians, family members and others involved in a patient’s treatment, and enhance their expertise in such a way as to truly excel in their occupation.

Critical thinking in nursing is integral to a nurse practitioner’s success.

Nursing Research

When it comes to health care research, the critical thinking required in nursing practice plays a unique role. Of all the health care professionals involved in a patient’s treatment, none stay as closely involved in day-to-day care as nurses. Certainly, they provide medical care to patients, but more than that, they offer understanding, compassion and a chance for patients to talk through not just their physical reactions to treatment but their feelings about it.

Simply put, nurses connect with their patients. A recent article in John Hopkins University’s Nursing magazine, describes how a nurses’ relationships to patients proves vital to the field of health care research. Who better to offer observations, analysis and a human perspective of treatment than nurses in the thick of helping patients get through their care physically and emotionally?

Nursing Careers

Critical thinking in nursing makes a significant difference to the health care profession as a whole. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates, nurses represent the largest health care occupation, holding over 2.75 million jobs. The medical skills and critical thinking they bring to patient care have the power to enhance medical treatments for decades to come.

Learn more about the different types of nursing career specialties and nursing education options.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook; Johns Hopkins University.

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November 2, 2016 · 3 min read

What Else Can I Do with a Nursing Degree: Alternative Nursing Careers

If you’re having difficulty finding a traditional nursing job, there are some alternative nursing careers to consider.

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These days, a nursing degree doesn’t necessarily equate to a job right out of school.

Employers looking for experience and older nurses delaying retirement have made it more difficult for the next generation of nurses to find work after graduation. However, all is not lost and there are options.

With intricate knowledge of the health care system, your skills could prove useful in alternative nursing careers you may not have thought of.

How Your Nursing Skills Can Help

A nurse needs to possess certain qualities to succeed and many of these characteristics can be useful in other fields. A few important attributes include:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Organized
  • Team player

What else can you do with these skills? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that some nurses find work at blood drives, health screenings, in research and consulting. Here’s a look at some of your other non-nursing options:

Medical Writer

If you’ve got a way with words, you may find a thriving career as a medical writer. Your medical background gives you the expertise to write in a variety of mediums, including:

  • White papers
  • Online articles
  • Textbooks
  • Grant proposals
  • Marketing materials

This is a career where your attention to detail is important. Strong grammar and spelling proficiency is imperative as are solid research skills.

How to Get Started as a Medical Writer

Many medical writers work as freelancers which gives you flexibility and a way to be your own boss. However, be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing yourself at first in order to secure regular work.

Another option is to find employment with a health care facility or marketing agency. This can give you a bit more job security and benefits.

What you can do:

  1. Create a portfolio of your work, ideally with health care writing samples.
  2. If you don’t have enough material to create a portfolio, start a blog. If you’re interested in a certain area of nursing, carve out a niche and market yourself as an expert in the topic.
  3. Join professional organizations such as the American Medical Writers Association.

Patient Advocacy

While many roles in public health require a degree in psychology or social work, many nurses with bachelor’s degrees or higher are turning to patient advocacy as a full-time career.

As a trained nurse, you’re accustomed to making patient care your top priority. Problem-solving skills and a supportive nature are two of the most important qualities you’ll need in this role.

Some of your duties might include:

  • Communicate to patients and their families about procedures
  • Explain patient rights
  • Support people of varying backgrounds

Some nurses who go into patient advocacy open their own firms, but if that doesn’t interest you, these companies can still be a good place to look for a job.

How to Get Started as a Patient Advocate

  1. Decide on the area of health care you plan to advocate for, particularly if you don’t have a nursing specialization.
  2. Brush up on your communication skills. Enroll in seminars offering help with public speaking, diplomacy and general communication practices.


It may seem like the furthest career path from nursing, but pharmaceutical or medical device sales is not an uncommon career choice for people with nursing degrees. Since you have the medical expertise, as well as familiarity with certain medical equipment, you can provide knowledgeable explanations to potential buyers.

If you enjoy talking to people, have a knack for networking and are thick-skinned, a sales position may provide a good salary and the potential for career advancement.

How to Get Started in Medical Device Sales

  1. Include any previous sales experience on your resume.
  2. Consider earning the voluntary Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) certification. You’ll need to complete a training program as part of the process.
  3. Stay up to date on the latest developments on pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

While these are just a few non-clinical career options, take solace in knowing you may find opportunities available to nurses of all experience levels and specializations.

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November 2, 2016 · 4 min read

Yes She Can! Single Mom Balances Work, Parenting, and Nursing Studies

Writer Liz Murtaugh Gillespie talks to Monica Zamora about juggling school, work, and parenthood.

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Author’s title or background

Working parents juggle a lot. Single working parents juggle so much, they tire of answering the question everyone always asks: “How on earth do you do it all?”

Monica Zamora juggles so much, she barely has time to field such a question. She’s a nurse and single mom who went back to school in her early 40s, finished her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and is now studying for her master’s degree at the University of Washington, where she’s on track to graduate as an advanced registered nurse practitioner next spring.

She took the plunge at an extraordinarily difficult time. When she was five months pregnant with her youngest child, now 5, the girl’s father left without warning—no explanation, no good-bye. “I was terrified!” Monica said. “After I made it through the most difficult period, I began to realize that if I had the strength to go through that, at the age of 42, there was no reason that I couldn’t accomplish anything.”

I’ve learned about Monica’s Superwoman life in snippets…as we pick up or drop off our daughters at preschool and on the sidelines at birthday parties. I asked her to share some of the ins and outs of her crazy-at-times juggle, knowing it would inspire others – maybe enough to encourage some of you busy-as-all-get-out working parents to overcome your misgivings about going back to school.

Here are excerpts from an email exchange we had after months of trying to coordinate her impossibly packed schedule with mine:

What time do your days usually start and end?

5:30 a.m. I’m usually in bed by 10:30, but if I am behind on school I can sometimes make it until midnight.

What’s your work schedule?

I’m working 28 hours per week [Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday as a clinic nurse manager at the 1811 Eastlake Clinic, run by Harborview Medical Center and part of a housing program that provides health care and other support services to residents with chronic alcohol addiction; plus a clinic shift at Harborview].

What’s your class schedule?

It’s different every quarter. I have four classes this quarter and spend 10 hours in class total on Tuesdays and Thursdays, plus the 8-hour day at my clinical placement on Friday.

When do you study?

Between patients at work, on the couch in the evening while the family is watching TV and at family get-togethers in the middle of the chaos.

What motivated you to pursue your master’s degree?

In my current position, I work independently most of the time and so have learned a lot about providing primary care. Thanks to a wonderful MD who has become my mentor, I decided that the most logical thing to do was to become an ARNP.

How long will it take you to get your master’s?

One-and-a-half years of full-time study for my MSN.

What do you like about nursing?

I love the human connection. I get to hear such great stories from my patients and meet such an interesting array of people that I would never have met in almost any profession. I get to help people through difficult things and advocate for folks who would have no power behind their voices. It really is a privilege that I am constantly aware of, to be present with someone in an intimate time in their life or death, and it’s so rewarding to know that sometimes I make a big difference in their physical or emotional comfort.

What’s not to like?

I guess in the beginning the hours were difficult. It can be difficult to work within a budget- and rule-conscious system, but I feel like if you are good at what you do and passionate about serving the populations you care for, then you can create your own path and end up in positions that allow you to be creative and flexible.

How did you get past the fear that you wouldn’t have the time, money or energy to go back to school?

I just decided not to think about the energy required, and as for the expense, I would rather be in debt in order to have the education and career I want than to have extra money to spend on accumulating more things. It’s all a trade-off.

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