October 8, 2019 · 3 min read

Balancing Work and Nursing School

Here are nine strategies to achieve balance between work, nursing school and life.

All Nursing Schools Staff

Most of us know all too well the challenges that go along with maintaining the vital balance between our job and life. Add to that mix the energy needed to continue your nursing studies, and you may find yourself in a non-stop juggling act.

If you have decided to go back to nursing school—for career advancement or personal achievement—consider these nine strategies for finding balance and enjoying life in the midst of this potentially chaotic, but exciting time.

1. Organize Your Space

Set up a place in your home dedicated to your studies, whether a desk in a home office or a card table and chair in the living room. Use it to house your computer, books, supplies and other materials essential to your nursing studies. Knowing you have a space reserved just for school work will improve your mindset…and your chances for nursing career success.

2. Rely on Some Non-Technical Scheduling Tools

Post a calendar on or near your desk and update it regularly with class dates, project deadlines and special events. Also, print a list of email addresses and phone numbers of nursing instructors, classmates and school personnel who can help you when you’re at home.

3. Prioritize Your Projects

Take time at the beginning of each week to list the nursing school projects and deadlines for that week, and allot time to work on these items each day. Tasks become less daunting if you break them up into smaller chunks that you work on for one or two hours a day instead of at the last minute.

4. Expect Disruptions

Some weeks will be routine, but the unexpected will occur—at home, at work and at nursing school. In these cases, step back and reprioritize the rest of the week. Simply having a written plan that you can refer to for your next task can help you navigate around disruptions to your busy schedule.

5. Set a Realistic Schedule

When you schedule your nursing courses, consider everything else going on in your life. If work and family commitments allow time for one course a semester, don’t overburden yourself. You will end up resenting both school and life if you find yourself drowning night after night in coursework— and missing out on important events—when you could have set more realistic goals.

6. Communicate With Your Boss

Before you start nursing school, tell your manager of your plans, especially if you hope that your education will increase your chances for promotion or give you new opportunities at work. Employers might also offer tuition reimbursement and require your supervisor to approve your studies before you enroll.

7. Manage Your Stress

Your nursing education is important, but so is your health. Take time for deep breaths, exercise and fun. If you let school consume all of your free time—while work devours the rest—you may see your performance slide in both areas.

8. Focus on Your Nursing Career Goal

By going to nursing school, you have taken an important step forward in your life and career. At certain points, achieving balance between your education, work and life may take its toll. Remember the reason you started your education in the first place, and picture yourself completing your last class or receiving your nursing degree. The goals that motivated you to start school can serve as a great incentive to finish it.

9. Enjoy the Journey

Going to nursing school is challenging, liberating and self-affirming. You’ll meet new people, have unforgettable experiences, stretch yourself in ways you never imagined, and gain valuable insights into yourself. Take time to enjoy this special time. You’ll not only reap career rewards at the end, but will expand your horizons every step of the way.

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November 3, 2016 · 4 min read

Minority Nursing Programs Q&A

All Nursing Schools Staff

“Minority” can be defined as a group that differs from the majority of the population in terms of religion, culture, ethnic background, race, sexual orientation or physical ability. “Underrepresented minority” refers to groups whose presence in different areas is disproportionate when compared to overall population figures. The number of African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander and Native American/Alaskan Native students enrolled in nursing programs is significantly lower than the percent of the population they comprise. This is why it’s important for minority nursing students to understand what is out there for them.

What are the prospects for minority nursing programs and students?

The demand for diverse types of nursing students is at an all-time high. Hospitals and health care providers need nurses who can establish strong patient-client relationships with growing minority populations. These communities often have a high proportion of immigrant and first-generation members who may have limited English skills. Nurses from similar backgrounds can gain the trust of these individuals; other nurses may not be so aware of cultural beliefs and practices that can influence treatment methods. A diverse nurse workforce is a crucial component of effective community outreach efforts, making minority nursing programs more popular than ever before.

Why are nursing schools interested in recruiting minority students?

Minorities tend to have less access to health care and disproportionate rates of illness when compared to traditionally white areas. Consequently, nursing schools want to recruit individuals who are sensitive to cultural differences and who desire to practice holistic medicine in underrepresented populations.

In order to achieve these goals, however, nursing programs need higher numbers of minority applicants. There are over two million nurses in the United States but a study by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers found that minorities represent 19 percent of the RN workforce.

What is the status of affirmative action in colleges and universities?

In recent years, United States courts have handed down a series of contradictory judgments about affirmative action policies, which consider race as one of several factors during the admissions process. Some of these decisions have curtailed affirmative action in California, Washington, Texas and other states; others have affirmed that diverse classrooms are crucial to the education system and have upheld school policies.

Are more minority students enrolling in minority nursing programs?

The retention rate of minority nursing program students has been problematic due to numerous factors, including family duties and financial situations. Nursing schools are taking many steps to resolve the issue of retention rate:

  • In addition to creating greater academic and financial aid resources, several schools have established mentoring programs that match first and second-year students with advanced nursing students.
  • A diverse nursing school staff also helps minority students to feel more at ease; at this point, however, there are not enough minority doctoral candidates to fill the positions schools offer.
  • Revised curricula that focus on holistic approaches to patient care also encourage minority students to apply. These new programs tend to be more culturally sensitive, appreciating students who work easily with minority communities.
  • Even a guide that focuses specifically on nursing may not examine each individual department or specialty in depth.
  • Nursing schools are also increasing class accessibility for students who must balance education with work and family obligations. The number of online nursing programs continues to increase; in addition, schools are developing off-campus classes in locations near minority communities.

Are scholarships available for minority nursing students?

Individual private schools may set aside funds for minority students, and many nursing scholarship organizations also offer awards:

  • The Ethnic Minority Fellowship Program strives to increase the number of underrepresented minorities who work as nurses in the psychiatric/mental health fields. They offer annual stipends to pre-and-postdoctoral students.
  • The National Black Nurses Association offers several annual scholarships with award amounts that range from $500 to $2000. Eligible applicants must be members of the NBNA.
  • The National Association of Hispanic Nurses offers scholarships to nursing students who are members of NAHN.
  • Minority Nurse Magazine sponsors annual scholarships for minority students with outstanding academic records who have demonstrated personal commitment to health care professions. Minority Nurse also maintains a large database of scholarships for minority nurses that students can browse.
  • Indian Health Service offers scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native students from federally or state recognized tribes who intend to serve native populations after completing school. These awards are open to undergraduate and graduate students from a number of health-related fields.

Are there any minority nursing student organizations?

Individual schools may have minority nurse student organizations in addition to larger minority student groups; contact each school for information. There are also national minority nursing organizations for professionals. Often, students can become members of these groups, which include:

Do nursing schools try to address the needs of diverse patients?

Many nursing programs have revised their curricula to train students about cultural diversity before they leave school. Often, new courses are designed to educate students about the unfamiliar cultural beliefs that they may encounter in minority populations. Minority nursing program students are encouraged to learn new languages in order to meet the needs of patients who speak limited English. Students are also exposed to the different risk factors and symptoms for various minorities, an increasingly-important practice that prepares nurses for the diverse communities in which they will practice.

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November 3, 2016 · 2 min read

Men in Nursing

Read this Q & A to discover why there are more men in nursing than ever before.

All Nursing Schools Staff

male nurse comforting female patient

Learn About the Opportunities for Men in Nursing

With the current nursing shortage and demand for qualified nurses, the health care industry is hiring nurses, and they’re not just hiring women. Men in nursing are becoming more and more popular and for good reason—there are many opportunities and good pay.

Read the question and answer below to learn more about men in nursing and whether it is the right career move for you. Then find a nursing school and start your training today.

What percentage of American nurses are men?

According to the 2016 U.S. Census, approximately nine percent of American RNs are men—and that number is on the rise.

Why would I want to be a nurse?

Contrary to what you may think, nurses have unlimited opportunities for career development.

Do you want to work in a challenging, fast-paced environment?

Critical care nurses and military nurses have some of the most demanding and interesting jobs available.

Want to be on the cutting edge of science?

Nurse researchers and practitioners often have opportunities to employ the latest medical technologies.

Interested in a career in business that incorporates your desire to improve patient quality of life?

You might want to consider a joint MSN/MBA program to meet the criteria for a career in administration as well as nursing.

Need to work different shifts to spend time with your family?

Many nurses are not constrained by the 9-to-5 work shift that others must accept.

What are some of the advantages for men in a nursing career?

Many nurses, male and female, enjoy the amount of time that they can spend with patients on a daily basis. Nurses can work with any social group in countless settings, from county general hospitals to private family practices. Increasingly, doctors and nurses view each other as peers in the health care field; nurses are respected members of the profession who bring their own unique experiences to the field. So this can be a great profession for both women and men in nursing with today’s many opportunities!

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November 2, 2016 · 6 min read

Nurse Burnout? Learn How a Degree Can Help

Nurse burnout can happen to any nurse. Here’s how a degree can help you avoid the problem.

All Nursing Schools Staff

From doctors to patients, many people rely on nurses every day and night. While the job can be immensely rewarding, it can also be taxing. When nurses are frustrated, overworked or unsupported, this can be felt by both a medical institution’s staff and patients. As more people enter the health care system and the nursing shortage continues, it’s not uncommon for nurse burnout to occur (although it’s not a new concept).

Here’s a look at how nurses can prevent or remedy this problem.

How Nurse Burnout Can Happen

Nursing burnout, which usually happens gradually, doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to a new or seasoned nurse at any point in their career.

In many cases, nurse-to-patient ratio is a leading cause. According to the American Nurses Association:

nurse-burnout_statistics1

Nurse burnout, according to American Nurse Association: 1 in 3 nurses report inadequate staffing levels, 2 in 5 units are shorts-staffed, 54% report excessive workloads, 96 out of 100 nurses report fatigue at the beginning of their shift, half of nurses say they spend an insufficient amount of time with patients.

In these conditions, there is less time for patient/nurse education. In addition, patients can feel neglected and nurses feel they can’t provide enough quality care or participate in a team approach. Negativity breeds, tasks feel stagnant and daily satisfaction decreases.

Although some hospitals and other medical facilities work to keep nurse-to-patient ratios low, certain occurrences are unavoidable sometimes. Patient acuity—a determination of nurse staffing needs—changes or nurses may call out of work for family reasons or illness. These factors can make it difficult for an institution to accurately staff a shift, yet still leaves nurses overworked and stressed.

Combatting Nurse Burnout with Relaxation Techniques

nurse doing yoga to help nurse burnout

A nurse’s work environment won’t change, but fortunately, there are ways to manage stress in the workplace.

In May 2015, a study from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center released findings that nurses cut their stress by 40 percent using mindfulness techniques. Over the course of eight weeks, a group of nurses in a surgical intensive care unit participated in mindfulness exercises, yoga, meditation, music, and gentle stretching and saw significant improvement in their stress levels.

If you’re suffering from high levels of stress at work, consider implementing these methods into your day.

Nurse Burnout and Education

Education, both inside and outside the hospital, can play a key role in addressing burnout. However, as more medical facilities focus on lowering their ratios, educating nurses is often one of the first things to be pushed aside.

Experienced nurses also have another challenge. They become fatigued doing both their own job and training news nurses on a regular basis.

In school, you’ll find that delegation is a hot topic (the NCLEX-RN even has questions about it). Students are taught the importance of communicating clearly, but trust issues can hinder delegation in a real-life setting. Employers expect new nurses to hit the ground running, yet many new graduates are unclear about delegation guidelines in their workplace.

Staying up-to-date on nursing technology can also help decrease the risk for burnout. In some cases, older nurses with decades of knowledge and experience retire because the stress of using new computer charting systems is too much. This means the health care system often loses quality caregivers.

Some nurses say that if a medical facility is willing to provide the education needed to help nurses, both new and experienced, burnout could decrease.

Earning an Advanced Nursing Degree

Nurses often look to school as a way to avoid burnout. Many thrive knowing they’re working toward a larger accomplishment. And, with so many online degree options, nurses can earn a degree while working.

Since burnout and compassion fatigue can occur when a nurse feels disconnected, many RNs return to school to study a specialty they’re passionate about. With a specialized degree, nurses may find more job opportunities in a setting they’re happier in. A specialized nursing career can also mean a better work schedule and increased salary in some cases.

Examples of nurse specializations:

An advanced degree in nursing can help take you out of the frenetic environment of a hospital or large medical facility. RNs who go on to become nurse practitioners often open a private practice while nurse educators can be found in the classroom. Nurse administration roles put you behind the scenes where you’ll manage nursing personnel and oversee budgets and staffing. In fact, you could be responsible for ensuring your nurses don’t suffer from burnout.


Nursing Burnout or Compassion Fatigue?

young nurse dealing with nurse burnout and fatigue

Nurses can experience one or the other, or both. While nurse burnout is typically associated with the work environment, compassion fatigue tends to occur when a nurse doesn’t take care of their mental, physical and emotional well-being.

Compassion fatigue causes a nurse to become apathetic and tends to occur among nurses who commonly see death or chronic illnesses. There are steps a nurse can take to battle compassion fatigue—exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and connecting with friends—which help many happily continue in their career. However, if burnout is left to fester too long, it’s not uncommon for a nurse to leave the field altogether.

Avoiding Burnout: A Nurse’s Advice

An RN with more than a decade of experience offers this advice and encouragement to nurses:

  • Shadow lots of nurses in different departments and at different hospitals
  • Look at hospitals that provide education and try to maintain a ratio
  • Connect with coworkers; you’ll share many great experiences together
  • Focus on eating right, exercising and getting support

Remember, after your first year or two of nursing you can always try another unit or floor in the hospital.

Nursing and Self-Care

You spend all day taking care of others as a nurse, but what about yourself? By performing basic self-care tasks, you’ll feel better, have more energy and avoid burn out.

Eating Right

A 12-hour shift is a long time if you’re not eating right, or not eating at all. The good news is you don’t have to familiarize yourself with vending machine options. Many hospitals across the country have implemented wellness programs and revamped their cafeteria food options.

healthy_food

Although the primary goal for many facilities is to improve patient satisfaction, hospital staff can also benefit from the changes. Instead of processed meals, hospital foodservice companies are introducing more whole grains (quinoa burgers, anyone?) into their meals and utilizing an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit.

After the Cleveland Clinic began offering healthier options, many staff members started losing weight. Sugary beverages were eliminated and fryers were replaced with ovens. Cooks now chop more fresh vegetables instead of opening canned goods. Meanwhile, New York City runs the “Healthy Hospital Food Initiative” which includes guidelines on ways hospitals can improve the nutritional content of their food.

If you don’t work in a medical facility with healthy options, you can pack easy-to-transport snacks and meals. Here are a few ideas:

  • Almonds
  • Easy-to-carry fruits (apples, peaches, oranges, and plums)
  • Hummus and cut vegetables
  • Plain yogurt mixed with raw nuts or fresh fruit
  • Sandwiches with lean meats, like turkey or chicken

Feeling fatigued? Nurses often rely on coffee for a caffeine boost, but go easy. Too much coffee can cause jittery feelings and a subsequent crash. Tiredness can also be caused by dehydration. Be sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout your shift. Non-caffeinated herbal teas are another great option.

Exercise

Running around caring for patients will burn calories, but nurses need more than that to stay well. Taking a few minutes to complete a few purposeful exercises not only revs up the metabolism, but has a mind-clearing and stress-reducing effect.

exercise_nurseburnout
  • Squats: Stand up straight with legs hip-width apart. Squat down as if you’re almost sitting in a chair and hold the position for 10 seconds. Be sure you’re not leaning forward, which can strain your knees. Return to standing position and repeat.
  • Take the stairs: Get a short cardio boost by climbing a few flights of stairs.
  • Shoulder shrugs: Keep a set of 2- or 5-lb weights in your desk or cabinet to perform these exercises. With weights in hand, slowly lift your shoulders and slowly lower back down.

Incorporating these tips into your daily nursing routine will help keep you alert, focused and ready to care for others.

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