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How nurses can reduce patient anxiety

Nurses face challenging patients and their families every day, but understanding the causes of patient stress can reduce the patient’s anxiety and ultimately make your job easier.

Healthcare can be confusing and distressing for many patients. Being admitted to a hospital for any reason can be one of the more stressful events in a person’s life. Because of this, it is important to remember that anxiety is the root cause for many conflicts in healthcare settings; so a difficult patient or family member isn’t necessarily a rude or ornery person most of the time, they may just be experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

The first step in mitigating a patient’s anxiety is to introduce yourself and explain your role in their treatment plan. Explain everything you are going to do and why you are doing it. Patients are inexperienced in healthcare procedures, and it can be easy to take your knowledge for granted. Come armed with hand-outs and as much information as you can; the more knowledgeable the patient feels, they more comfortable they will be.

Next, it is important to listen to your patient and take their needs seriously. Active listening techniques, such as asking open-ended questions, taking an interest in their lives, or checking in on their feelings, can be a vital lifeline to someone suffering from anxiety. Check in with them often, and give them a venue to voice their concerns.

Instead of instructing the patient to relax, demonstrate it! Your demeanor can have a profound effect on a patient’s emotional well-being, so staying cool and collected can relax them in turn. Consider using relaxation techniques like breathing exercises to help them cope with anxiety.

For more tips, click here.

Nurses file for collective action over lunchbreak dispute

Nurses at Methodist Health claim that the hospital docks lunch pay for breaks they aren’t able to take.

Robert Straka, a nurse at Methodist Health in Dallas, filed a collective action lawsuit in August against his employer. The issue in question is the hospital policy that dictates that nurses should be allotted 30 minutes every shift to take an uninterrupted break. He argues that nurses are still expected to care for patients during their break, and would often get pulled away to perform duties. Straka filed on behalf of almost one thousand nurses across Methodist’s five facilities.

Meanwhile, Methodist argues that this is not the case, and questioned the plaintiff’s interpretation of the rules. They’ve requested that the charges be dropped in a response sent last week. The judge in the case has mandated that each party meet and produce a report next month, that would outline settlement options and hopefully come to a resolution.

Do you get a dedicated lunch break in your hospital? Send me an email at kmichek@hcpro.com and I’ll share the results (anonymous, of course) with your colleagues.
Read more here.

Allina and nurses agree to end strike

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and Allina Health have reached an agreement after months of negotiations and weeks of striking.

Last week, we reported that Allina nurses were about to enter their second month on strike after another round of failed negotiations. This week, the two sides finally reached a tentative resolution that should end the nurse’s strike.

Health care coverage had been a sticking point in negotiations; Allina wanted to transfer nurses away from their nurse-only insurance policy onto the more cost-effective corporate plan. The new agreement states that nurses will be moved off their current insurance by 2018, but the company has agreed to make additional contributions to HRA/HAS accounts in the next four years. The MNA representatives believe that this will protect nurses from any future benefit reductions.

Although the rank-and-file nurses still need to vote on the proposed terms, this deal is backed with the unanimous endorsement of the MNA, unlike the previous deal.

Allina nurses go back on strike

Allina nurses enter their second month of striking after voting “No” the most recent contract proposal.

The nurses at Allina Health hospitals in Minnesota began contract discussions in February, and eight months later, Allina and the nurses have yet to settle on an offer. Allina Health’s 4000 nurses walked out for a week in June to start negotiations, and have been striking since Labor Day.

The dispute started when Allina wanted to eliminate the nurses’ union-backed health plans, with high premiums but low deductibles, and replace them with their corporate plan, saving the company $10 million per year. Both sides have agreed to move all nurses by 2020, but the nurses want input on the plans to ensure they get quality healthcare.

Allina made a new contract offer on Monday, and the nurses voted to reject this latest offer and continue the strike. The Minnesota Nurses Association reports that the offer was largely the same that they rejected in August, while Allina insists that their offer was fair and addressed many of the concerns raised by the unions.

This is set to become the longest strike in state history, and the Star Tribune reports that the strikes have cost Allina more than $40 million dollars so far.

For more information about nurse labor disputes, check out these articles from the Strategies for Nurse Managers’ Reading Room:

Ask the Experts: Nurses strikes

Why do nurses join unions? Because they can

Nurse educator takes to Instagram to help new nurses

Many new nurses have trouble acclimating to their new roles, but one nurse has found new and exciting ways to help them adjust.

Jannel D. Gooden, BSN, RN struggled with her first job in nursing; the first six months were traumatic, confusing, and isolating. After leaving her position, she decided to focus on guiding other novice nurses through the difficult process.

In addition to being a travel nurse in pediatric critical care, Gooden started an Instagram account to teach novice nurses and provide them with a sense of community. Gooden makes videos on the @NoviceisTheNewNurse account, sharing advice, recalling her own experiences as a novice nurse, and answering questions from new nurses.

Some of Gooden’s videos include perspectives from physicians as well. She argues that nurses of all specialties work with physicians every shift, and it is vital that nurses learn to communicate with physicians effectively and develop healthy working relationships. By sharing physician perspectives, Gooden hopes to soften their image for novice nurses, giving them a safe space to hear advice out of the workplace.

To read more about @NoviceisTheNewNurse, access the full story here.

Hospitals trying out Pokemon Go in a clinical setting

Check out this article from Health Leaders Media:

A trial at the University of Washington Medicine Burn Center aims to find out if the game is more stimulating and engaging than the pain patients are experiencing.

Hospitals and health systems have been grappling with how to deal with Pokémon Go since the mobile gaming phenomenon hit earlier this summer.

Massachusetts General Hospital banned staff from playing the game on its campus, warning of possible privacy violations, and Allegheny Health Network asked the game’s maker to remove all of its locations from the app.

But some hospitals are finding that there are upside to patients using Pokémon Go.

Getting Patients Out of Bed

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI, has been urging its young patients to play the game in an effort to get them out of bed and socialize with other kids.

“It’s a fun way to encourage patients to be mobile,” J.J Bouchard, the hospital’s digital media manager and certified child life specialist, told USA Today. “This app is getting patients out of beds and moving around.”

A trial that University of Washington Medicine Burn Center researchers are conducting at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA, is looking at how playing Pokémon Go may help keep patients moving while also taking their minds off the pain.

“Our challenge is to find something that’s more stimulating and engaging than pain they’re experiencing, so something like virtual reality that’s new or Pokémon Go that’s new, it’s more exciting and takes attention away from the pain,” Shelley Wiechman, attending psychologist in the Burn and Pediatric Trauma Service and Pediatric Primary Care Clinic at Harborview, told the local media.

The Pokémon Go trial isn’t the first time the hospital has tested augmented and virtual reality games for pain management, but it’s the first that allows patients to use their legs and keep their infected areas mobile.

Weichman said if patients using the game continue to show progress, the staff may begin using Fitbits to track patients’ steps.

So what do you think? Can mobile games help patients in your hospitals? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Rock Your Health: Why Am I So Sleepy?

Just back from a relaxing weekend and about ready to put your head down on the desk and take a nap? Even this morning in Jazzercise, the person next to me said she was exhausted when she thought she would return all rested and energized. Right now I feel very tired myself, so I’m going to take a closer look at why I am so sleepy. I’ve found three good reasons, so read on and find out what they are.

Blood Sugar Effects

I remember eating a lot of hot dogs with white buns, chips, ice cream – all high glycemic carbs that enter your bloodstream fast and then crash your blood sugar just as fast. (Thank goodness I don’t eat like that all the time!) That leads to a groggy crashing feeling and if you eat like that all weekend, you can bet you will feel pretty sleepy. Did you eat like this over the weekend?

Hormone Effects

Once again, those high glycemic carbs are the culprit. They activate your brain to produce serotonin, a chemical that allows for calm and pleasant moods, while making tryptophan, the chemical responsible for sleepiness, more available to your brain. This is another reason high carb meals make you sleepy, says the National Sleep Foundation. So now you get a double whammy from eating all that junk food!

Overeating Effects

Overeating is one of the most common causes of sleepiness. After eating, your body routes more blood to your digestive system. Meals excessive in size require even more blood, which causes temporary deprivation of blood and nutrients in your brain and residual grogginess.

So that’s what caused me to be sleepy all the time! What about you?

Need some support around this issue? Email me and we can talk.

Rock Your Health: Lesson Learned When I Decluttered One Shelf

It’s time to lighten your load and start living clutter free!

  • You can avoid the clutter and stress out all you want, but nothing will change until you take action.
  • You can make a commitment to another person, so you will have to keep your word.
  • You can declutter efficiently and in less time by using the timer on your cell phone to keep you moving.
  • You can add energetic music to the process so if feels like fun; if you can trick yourself into feeling like you are having fun, you’ll feel like the best organizer in the world!
  • The best thing for me is admiring my work and wanting to keep that shelf looking this way every day. And now on to the next challenge – my desk!

 

What have you learned when you cleaned your office? Want some support with this issue? I’m an expert on clutter and can coach you thru this process. Email me and let’s talk!

Rock Your Health: If it’s not one thing, it’s another! The Art of Accepting the Inevitable

What does it mean to accept the inevitable? I’ve been pondering this lately as I’m getting older, but things are changing that I have no control over. For example, I can’t jump around in Jazzercise like I used to: I have to step in place because my knees will bother me if I don’t. I find that I need a little rest time in my day so that I can keep going on into the evening with activities. I find that I’m more assertive than I used to be – yes, I’m a bit mouthy – and don’t really care about the consequences.

Things are changing, and I’m encountering some of the same issues my mother experienced. I find that I have a better understanding my mother’s aging process as I get older.

The bottom line is it’s my job to accept my age changes rather than complain and resist. It’s just the way it is.

Now I know this isn’t easy, and for sure it hasn’t been for me (or my mother). I remember when I used to run for fitness, but after several years it was causing me a lot of back pain. So I had to stop running and just do walking. And of course that made me depressed, because I thought I’ll never be as healthy as I want to be from just walking. But eventually I realized that walking is a great fitness activity for me now!

But acceptance of a change might not come right away. But if you give it some time and appreciate the fact that this may be a new normal for you, then you can finally make peace with it and accept it.

What are you going through right now that is challenging you?

Here are my tips to help you with acceptance of anything that might be changing for you that you are starting to resist.

A – Allow the change to come into being instead of fighting it.

C – Communicate your feelings with family or friends so you don’t bottle things up.

C – Create new opportunities that will achieve the same benefit you’ve been looking for differently.

E – Eliminate negative feelings that arise and focus on how can you shift and move forward with your life.

P – Pretend everything is as it should be, and relax into these changes to allow your body and mind to relax as well.

T – Train yourself to keep moving forward instead of yielding to depression, regret, and anger.

A – Allow time to accept the changes and let your mind go through the stages of grief and loss.

N – Notice when you have shifted into accepting your new reality and celebrate your progress.

C – Collaborate with others going through a similar situation and get ideas on how they’re dealing with it.

E – Enjoy the process of change as another wonderful thing about being alive!

And finally, I love this reminder from one of my support groups – “When I got busy, I got better.”

So I got busy writing this blog and now I feel better!

If you need some support around acceptance, contact me for a quick laser coaching session to give you a boost.

End of summer nursing roundup

Nurses are finding new and innovative ways to help those in need around the world, but not every nurse can live up to that standard. Here are some of the best and worst stories in nursing this summer.

The Good:

University of Victoria researcher Kelli Stajduhar, a palliative care nurse, is leading the charge on healthcare for the homeless in her community. Because of the many barriers for homeless people to get healthcare, Stajduhar wants to go to them and provide healthcare where they are: downtown, in shelters, or in a housing complex. She thinks that outreach can improve the lives of the homeless, and get them the care they need. (Source: CBC)
Another nurse is looking for new ways to help the most vulnerable: Dawn Bounds, a nursing professor at Rush University College of Nursing, has published her extensive research on sex trafficking in the U.S. This research has the potential to save lives of at-risk young girls, and Bounds is planning to use this research to implement a runaway intervention program in Chicago. (Source: Nurse.com)

The Bad:
A New Jersey nurse broke the cardinal rule of healthcare when she was caught on video stabbing a disabled child with a needle six times. The nurse used physical abuse to control the autistic boy’s behavior, threatening him with the needle and other physical violence according to reports. (Source: The AP)
Nursing is often considered the most trustworthy profession, but this story might undermine that reputation. A nurse manager at St. Richard’s Hospital in the UK pled guilty to the theft of a dying man’s watch. The man’s Submariner Rolex was a family heirloom, and the nurse manager plead guilty to the stealing the watch after them man was admitted to the ED after suffering a heart attack.  (Source: The Argus)