Choosing a Nursing Specialty

It is common for nursing students to wonder what nursing specialty will be best for them upon completion of nursing school. While learning different aspects of nursing through clinicals and labs, it can be hard to narrow down choices when it comes to which area to specialize in. Nursing specialties can range from Nurse Anesthetist to Certified Nurse Midwife or Forensic Nursing to Nurse Practitioner or anywhere in between. If top pay is an issue, there are job boards that routinely report on salary ranges for specialized nurses. Specializing in one nursing area helps determine location, hours, salary and the amount of further study involved.

nursing specialtiesOne way to narrow down choices is to talk to other nurses and find out the good and bad aspects of their specialties. A nursing school student may already have a few ideas about the areas in which they may specialize based on their interests and the talents that may emerge as they continue to evolve through their nursing program. Researching each specialty is important and there is a great deal of resources about specialized nursing online, especially in the interactive nursing communities. There are quizzes that help point nursing students toward a specialty or bring some clarity to what they want out of their own career, as well as their strengths in the medical field.

Choosing a nursing specialty is an important part of many nurses’ careers. It can make a big difference in a nurse’s professional and personal outlook, career satisfaction and ultimately, in job performance.

Nurses and New Technology

Technology is no stranger to nurses and medical professionals. The amount of knowledge needed to operate basic machines that produce health statistics has become standard in medical training. From online nursing schools to tools used in the operating room, technology has become an important part of a nurse’s career and has helped increase the need for people in Health Information Management.

telehealthElectronic health records (EHRs) help keep medical information in one place. Charts, lab reports and other paperwork can be stored in these devices, giving nurses instant information about their patients. Such readily accessable information helps doctors, nurses and other caregivers provide better medical care to patients. Smart phones can help locate nurses and other medical professionals, rapidly communicate test results and help with other hospital or care center communication. In a hospital situation, being able to find the right person or send information rapidly can certainly increase the quality of care given to patients. Telehealth devices, already in use by the Department of Veterans Affairs, can help monitor patient's health and well-being from a distance or even in their own homes, giving patients the freedom to go about their normal lives while still under medical care. With telehealth devices, medical staff can help keep track of vital statistics, medication effects and many other medical needs that don’t require hospitalization.

Keeping up with technology, plus patients’ needs and new treatments can be overwhelming for a person in a position of caring for others. The tools that are being used in hospitals require training and knowledge to use them to their best advantages. It’s these same tools that require such training that can help a nurse significantly with patient care. As technology dictates, there will be a need for more people to fill positions in Health Information Management who can help keep record and give instruction to medical professionals who use these devices.

Nursing & Music Therapy

Do you love music? Have you considered its benefits for the patients you encounter in nursing homes or during home health visits?

Music therapy is a continually evolving specialty that is showing improvements in patients with autism, Alzheimer’s and many other medical issues.One way Geriatric nurses can help provide pain and anxiety relief is simply by playing music for their patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia or chronic illness. Studies show that music can help with memory issues and help calm patients. It has been called the “Mozart Effect,” and the improvements seen with patients can be remarkable. While a patient may not be remember a family member’s name, they may be able to recall a song from their childhood or an event tied to their favorite song. Beyond that, music is well known for its ability to change the mood of people depending on what is played. When caring for elderly patients with limited cognative ability, music can help bring them a sense of peace and joy that benefits everyone around them.

As a nurse, having a non-invasive tool at your disposal that helps your patients feel better and increase cognitive function and communication can be priceless. Since music has been shown to help increase memory and lower anxiety levels in patients. Geriatric nurses can use music in nursing homes, at a patient’s home and even in a hospital setting. Using music as a way to reach patients, calm them and help with memory is one way nurses can help patients live happier and healthier lives.

Beating Test Anxiety in Nursing School

Test anxiety is a common issue among all students, whether in elementary school, high school, college or in specialized programs for nursing. There are simple ways to prepare you for tests in nursing school, making the day of the test less nerve-wracking and more of a chance to shine.

Organization is a key to battling test anxiety. If you know what is due and when, you will be better able to meet deadlines. Checking your syllabus at the last minute will work against you. Note all important dates as soon as you receive an assignment or test date and prepare for that test as soon as possible. Use your notes, flash cards, partner with someone or form a study group. Find out what the format of the exam and what it will cover. Try to review past quizzes and any notes or summaries in the chapters of your book.

The night before the test, try to get some rest and eat. Call up a friend or family member for a self-confidence boost or simply be your own cheerleader. Focus on the good feeling you get after turning in a test that you know you aced, not the test itself. Convince yourself that you are studying to be the greatest nurse on the planet, and walk into that room with confidence and self-respect.

Test anxiety is little more than a lack of confidence in you. Believe you will succeed, give yourself the time and tools to be successful and your anxiety will melt away.

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Nurse Burnout: How To Keep Your Nursing Job And Your Sanity

Studies show, in as little as four years, many once bright and enthusiastic nurses feel burned out--and ready to call it quits. In fact, the American Nurses Association found that nurses under 30 years old are more likely to feel agitated about their job and less likely to do anything about it. That's why it's important for first year nurses to recognize the signs of burnout and know how to stop it, long before thoughts of quitting materialize.

What Is Nursing Burnout?

Here are the three main burnout symptoms:
  • Exhaustion
  • Depersonalization of your work
  • Lack of sense of personal accomplishment

Other burnout symptoms include irritability, chronic fatigue, anger, depression, insomnia, or even drug and alcohol abuse. Less severe symptoms include calling in sick, showing up late, or otherwise lacking motivation.

One of the biggest culprits behind nurse burnout is inadequate staffing. With hospitals tightening budgets and a looming national nursing shortage, long shifts and forced overtime are often the norm. New nurses may feel overwhelmed, especially without enough experienced nurses to serve as mentors.

Avoiding Burnout: Tips For Your First Nursing Job

Despite the challenges, it's still possible to love your nursing job and stay sane. The following strategies can prevent you from burning out early:
  • Connect with people in the same boat: Find other nurses experiencing the same feelings. If you aren't paired with a mentor, ask for one. A good venting session can work wonders.
  • Treat yourself like your #1 patient: You need to be in prime condition to keep up! So eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise. Listen to your body, and get professional help if you need it.
  • Set boundaries and delegate: Know your limits, and feel comfortable saying "no." Whatever you can't handle, delegate to others--forget believing you have to do everything yourself.
  • Have a life outside your job: When you're working 12-hour shifts, you need an outlet that has nothing to do with nursing. Prioritize spending time with friends and family, or engaging in a hobby you love.
  • Speak up: If you're overwhelmed, get help! Talk to your nurse manager about the number of patients you have. Ask the unit educator about developing better time management skills. If you need a break, say so.
  • Remember why you became a nurse: On any given day, you might save a life, help a new mother, or ease a child's suffering. Keep journal of your positive experiences, and remember you are making a difference in people's lives.
Many hospitals are working to create stronger residency training programs and mentor support systems for new nurses. As of 2009, 15 states and the District of Columbia had legislation or regulations to address nurse staffing. So, if you feel burned out, don't give up. You can find the support you need.

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