Is your job a good fit? Part 2: Preparing for your ideal job

Many of us are either struggling with what we do or struggling with where we do it.  After considering what you like to do, what you’re good at, and what value you bring to an organization (previous blog), consider identifying what skills you need to develop to put you in the best position for your ideal job. How do you know what skills you need in your perfect work world?  Ask yourself these 3 questions:1.  Where are my holes in knowledge and experience?  A professional gap analysis can help you uncover areas that you need to develop or experiences you need to acquire to get you ready for your ideal job.  Do you need to get certified in your specialty to enable you to get a clinical leadership role?  Do you need to publish an article or get involved in research to get the academic position?  Or do you need to get an advanced degree in order to move up the administrative ladder?     Gap analysis option:  Connect with someone that is doing exactly what you want to do.  Sometimes what you think is a good fit for you really isn’t.  Likewise, the experiences and knowledge that you think you need may not actually be the right ones.  Spending time with someone that has achieved what you want to achieve can shorten the time spent trying to figure things...

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Is your job a good fit? Part 1: 3 questions to ask yourself

Nursing is not as simple as other professions because we have so many choices, so many different entry levels, and so many challenges.  We are in the muck of life caring for people at their sickest, in an environment that is getting more and more complex, and sometimes working with other people that are not so nice.  To complicate things, some of us are not living up to our full potential because we are not working in an environment that is the best fit for us.  How do you know if your current job is the best fit for you?It’s important to have a job that combines what you really like to do and are good at with a clear understanding of how your work contributes to the overall health of the organization. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 1.  What are the tasks that you getting excited about doing?  This could be managing a code, inserting IV’s, or attending committee meetings if you are a bedside nurse or teaching a class, doing research to improve care, or developing a program if you have a different nursing position.  Spend time thinking about what you really like to do at work.  Then ask yourself, how much time do I get to spend doing that?  Is there a way that I can increase my opportunities to engage in that activity...

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Tip for new nurses: Layering

After the excitement of getting my first job as a new nurse, I quickly realized how much I really didn’t know about taking care of patients.  I graduated nursing school with a 4.0 GPA but felt like an idiot my first few months (well, truth be told, first few years) as a new grad.  It wasn’t until I understood how learning works that I appreciated my naivety and adaptability as a novice nurse. Learning works best when delivered in layers.  The brain can only process so much information at a time. When you try to cram big important details with little non-priority ones, the brain has difficulty figuring out which ones to commit to memory.  Therefore, you may remember something insignificant (such as the color stain of an eosinophil) but fail to remember something important (checking a pulse ox when a patient is short of breath). Layer 1:  The basics  Just like when we start nursing school with nursing theory/fundamentals, the basics should be the need to know – not the nice to know.  For example, when learning how to insert a foley catheter, you start with how to maintain sterile technique.  After you master that, then you learn how to insert catheters in anatomically unique individuals;  you know – the ones that you just can’t seem to find the entrance.  You can’t begin to focus on the actual...

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Horizontal Violence: What’s the impact?

I’ve been spending a lot of time discussing the issue of horizontal violence.  Some nurses may not recognize this term.  However, if I say, “nurses eating their young,” they nod heads with full recognition.  Horizontal violence (bullying) is pervasive in our profession.  It doesn’t matter if you are on the east coast, west coast, from a small community hospital or urban mega center – nurses are still hazing/bullying other nurses.  With over 3.1 million nurses in this country, it’s a huge problem.Why is this such a big deal? It’s a big deal because of it’s significant impact on the delivery of healthcare. The impact is felt by:Individuals – Victims of HV suffer emotional pain that can lead to physical pain and loss of work.  Victims have feelings of humiliation, incompetence, lack of confidence and loss of self-worth. Nursing profession – Nurses that are victims of HV leave the profession, further adding to the shortage of high quality nurses available to care for patients.  To make matters worse, our dirty little secret is getting out.  People outside of the healthcare environment are learning about horizontal violence and asking the nursing staff if it’s happening in their work environment.  Our image as an ethical professional is clearly in jeopardy. Organization – Absence from work due to HV is on the rise.  Many nurses do not have the support or the skills...

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Celebrating Certification:

I am one of several nurses that teach the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses Association’s (AMSN) certification review course.  Several weeks ago,  I taught the course in Fountain Valley, California.  Yesterday, I received a text from one of the nurses that attended the review course letting me know that she passed!Her name is Mary Ann.  You could just hear the joy (and relief) in her text. I hope she does something to celebrate her accomplishment. Certification is a big deal.  It means something to you as an individual, to your patients knowing that the nurse caring for them is competent, and to your organization charged with providing high quality care to the sick community.  There may be some of you that don’t have your certification and truly have more knowledge than some nurses that do.  Maybe you have wanted to become certified but just haven’t made the commitment.  If so, why?There are 2 big reasons why nurses don’t become certified:Fear:  I blogged about fear last week but I’ll address it again. If you are truly afraid (as I was) that you might fail – and what would everybody think if you did, consider these 2 options: 1.  Don’t tell anyone you are taking it until you’ve passed.2.  Realize that you are human and not perfect. Bad test-taker:  Being a good test taker is a skill that can be learned.  I...

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Advice for new nurses looking for a job: Guest blogger Nicole Spellman

I met Nicole when she was in nursing school at Robert Morris University.  There was something about her that gave me hope for the future of nursing.  I’m not sure whether it was her obvious enthusiasm or her serious determination but after we met, I knew she was going to be a great nurse. She just graduated and found herself a great job.  I asked her to blog about her experience and to offer any advice for other new nurses that are searching for their first job in a market that isn’t as open and welcoming as it used to be. Thanks Nicole!The job search is intimidating and just another added stress to passing the boards.  With limited time in one-day it can be difficult to determine whether to study, write papers, job search or sleep.  I guess this is only the beginning of learning to prioritize.  It can be disheartening to submit applications on-line.  Every month it was a task to submit applications to numerous floors never hearing any feedback, let alone a callback.  While my friends were going on interviews and getting offers for jobs, I could not figure out how to get my foot in the door.  The clinical floors offered dead ends and I did not know anyone.  I had gotten an e-mail offering mock interviews at a local hospital and went.  It was during the mock interview a nurse was discussing how...

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Certification: Fighting Fear

Many nurses want to be certified in their specialty.  Being certified means that you are knowledgeable and competent.  It gives nurses a sense of pride in their accomplishment and justifies the respect given to them by others.  But their fear of failure sometimes prevents them from taking that next step. “What would other people think if I didn’t pass the exam?’  It is this fear that limits us.  It’s time to fight the fear. There have been times in my life that I was overcome by fear.  Fear that I failed a test, fear that I was going to lose a job, fear that I wasn’t good enough.  I remember calling my dad a few of those times in a mini state of panic.  He would ask me, “What is the worst thing that can happen?”  Depending on the situation, I would reply, “Fail, or lose my house, or lose my credibility, etc.”  To which he would reply, “Wrong.  Can they chop off your head?” Well that’s just silly.  Of course they can’t chop off my head.  “Well then”, he would say, “you’ve got nothing to fear. Just do the best you can and know that if it doesn’t work out, you can just try again.” Every now and then when I get the fear bug inside of me, I do stop and think….what’s the worst thing that can...

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Professional Development: The value of certification

Education levels of nurses are a popular topic.  Having 3 entry levels into nursing (diploma, associate and bachelor) has its pros and cons.  It allows nurses to start their career within a shorter period of time but then creates confusion within the healthcare arena regarding our level of knowledge and competence.  The latest report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) – Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, specifically talks about nurses practicing to the full extent of their education and training.  What to do?  If you want to advance your degree but perhaps it’s not the right time for you, consider certification. Becoming certified in your specialty validates your knowledge and competence as a professional nurse.  It doesn’t take nearly as much time as formal education and is far less expensive. There are many review course available to nurses in almost all speciality areas that can help you prepare for the exam.  Certification demonstrates your commitment to your profession.  Check out your professional organization to see what they offer! If you are a medsurg nurse, consider becoming certified by the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses Association (AMSN) Take care...

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Personal Development

I am not a big sports fan but don’t tell my family who are crazy Steeler fans!  I think Pittsburgh would exile me if they found out the I went shopping when the football games started.  Shhh.  But I am always inspired by coaches of successful sports teams – their focus, dedication and commitment to their sport – always having their eye on the goal.  I just read an article in Success magazine (one of my favorites) about John Wooden.  He was the UCLA head basketball coach and was known as “Wizard of Westwood”.  He passed away last June but left a legacy behind for others.  He is well known for his “Nine Promises”.  When I read his promises he made to himself, it inspired me to borrow some of his and to make some of my own.  EnjoyJohn Wooden said that happiness comes from making and keeping nine promises: Promise to talk about health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible. Promise to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others. Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. Promise to be so strong that nothing can...

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Who’s bullying whom?

I am doing a workshop in San Diego on horizontal violence in a few weeks.  Not because I suggested it but because I was asked to speak on this particular topic.  I am teaching an on-line class right now and received a phone call from one of my students asking me for help in dealing with bullying behavior on her unit.  Unfortunately, I guess this is still a huge issue in nursing.  I used to think that nursing created the term horizontal violence but I was wrong.  Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy, coined the phrase, “Horizontal Violence” during his experiences in Africa where he observed oppression not by government to the people but rather between the people. Sandra Roberts in 1983 observed the same behaviors in nurses and adopted to phrase to describe the bullying of nurses by nurses.  Who’s bullying who?  We typically hear stories of older nurses “eating their young” and being mean to the younger nurses.  It’s shocking but I am now hearing stories of newer younger nurses bullying the older new nurses.  Take a look around, are we just stressed out and lashing out at each other or are we perpetuating oppression in our own profession?  A profession that is expected to provide care through knowledge, competence, caring and compassion.What is happening in your...

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Renee Thompson
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