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Rock Your Health: Three cravings you must have

  • Craving to meet new like-minded people and expand your circle of friends
  • Craving to make a difference in other people’s lives
  • Craving to get healthier yourself

Now if that sounds like something you can commit to, and you don’t mind taking the time and energy to make that happen, then you are in the right place right now.

As I ended my traditional nursing career in the corporate world and branched out on my own, I realized I still had more to offer and craved these three things. I never saw myself retired, so I knew I had to create a new path for myself that would still be fulfilling personally, but would also allow me to continue making a difference in the health and wellness of others. The path I chose fell into place because I was OPEN TO POSSIBILITIES and was WILLING TO TAKE CALCULATED RISKS.

If you are at such a crossroads as this, then I have 8-STEPS that moved me forward into a place of new challenges, renewed energy, exciting possibilities, more relationships, and support than at any other time in my life, more fun and travel, better health (I thought I was super healthy, but found out I could do even better) and even opened a path to financial security (that was a bonus!). Believe me, this was a welcome surprise to me and I felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle a NEW BEGINNING in life. So are you ready for a new beginning?

Email me to request a FREE download of my 8-STEP PLAN FOR A NEW BEGINNING.

Virtual reality a potential solution for pain management

This year has seen the release of multiple virtual reality (VR) headsets aimed at the home consumer. As they are becoming more affordable, hospitals and companies are researching the benefits in a healthcare environment, and the early results are positive.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are conducting studies using the software, and the early results are positive. Cedars-Sinai researchers found that 20 minutes of using the VR software reduced patients’ pain by almost 25 percent; patients had an average pain score of 5.5 out of 10 before the VR experience and an average score of 4 after using the software. The researchers say this is a dramatic reduction, and not far from the effect of narcotics. At Stanford Children’s Health, they speculate that VR can be valuable for helping children get through tedious or uncomfortable procedures, such as physical therapy or imaging studies.

Though providers are cautiously optimistic about the possibilities, there are still some hurdles to overcome. It is difficult to find developers who want to target medical issues, because of the unclear path to profitability. One startup company, ApplieVR, is building a library of content designed to help patients “before, during, and after medical procedures” It’s also important to determine when the technology can helpful and when it can’t; some patients won’t respond to the applications as well as others, and researchers are careful not to oversell the value of VR at this early stage.

For more information, check out the MIT Technology Review article.

Do you think VR might replace Opoid use eventually? Let me know in the comments!

Rock Your Health: Overcoming the “Summertime Blues” with a wellness twist

We’re halfway through summer and I’ve had more hot dogs, cakes, s’mores, barbecues, and party dinners then I handle. It’s all good because I get to celebrate with friends and family, but I’m feeling out of control with my eating.

Wouldn’t this be a great time to reassess our healthy lifestyle choices and maybe consider tweaking a little bit? Here’s an idea for you. I do a brief wellness review twice a year to see how I’m doing about staying on a healthy path. I also use this as a tool for all my coaching clients as they embark on a new lifestyle path, so it might be very helpful for you right now as well.

Just email me to get a free download so you can do your own reassessment to start getting back on track and ready for fall. Have fun with this!

Rock Your Health: 10 Life lessons from the blackberry patch

Picking blackberries is my ZEN thing to do in the summer, as it takes me away from the usual city stuff and allows me to become re-connected to nature and who I am. And since I am also a Life Coach, I see the application of my experience to those of you who might like to do some soul searching as well.

Here are my thoughts on the experience of picking in the patch. YOU can decide how this can apply to your life.

B – Be prepared before you enter the patch.

Shorts and tank tops are not picking attire. Blackberries grow on long prickly vines that not only scratch me easily, but can wrap around my ankles and trip me if I start moving too fast. I prepare and protect myself with long-sleeved shirts and pants, preferably denim, socks, and shoes, no sandals.

L- Listen to the sounds of the woods for guidance.

If birds are chirping pleasantly, bugs are buzzing around making a lazy sound, leaves are fluttering in the breeze and I feel calm, then all is well. At a moment’s notice, however, I have heard a screech or a squawk or a fast rustling thru the woods and know that something is up! It’s amazing if I don’t have the distraction of all the “people noise” that the sounds of nature are there to guide my survival in very basic ways.

A – Analyze your next move before you take the first step.

Before I start to pick, I scan the entire patch and get the big picture of how I will proceed. Where is the best entry point that provides the easiest access, has the least amount of entanglements and yields the biggest return. This is a “prickly” venture and can lead to a lot of scratches, so I need to be strategic and move carefully as I proceed.

C – Check behind you often.

Sometimes when I keep moving forward as I pick, I only see one side of what is available. When I turn around periodically, I see more berries that I might have missed if I were always looking forward. I like to use the “turning technique” by planting my feet in one spot and picking in all directions before I move on, so I can see all the angles.

K – Keep moving deeper into the patch.

The best is yet to come. The first glance does not reveal the true bounty that lies within. As you go deeper, you start developing the “eye” for what you are looking for and you start seeing more of what is there than you originally thought. And berries always appear smaller from a distance, so when you get up close and personal, you really can see how big and beautiful they really are. Of course moving deeper into the patch means more vines, more stickers, more scratches, but no pain – no gain. It is well worth it to forge ahead.

B – Berries that fall to the ground before you get to them are a gift.

Two things are happening here. If you get overly greedy and try to pick too many berries at once with your hand, there might be overflow and they might fall out of your hand and onto the ground. The positive spin on this is that there might be a critter on the ground that had a wonderful berry drop from the heavens right down to the ground in front of it – and it perceives it as a gift! So instead of getting frustrated when you lose the perfect berry, think of the joy that critter feels when it appeared.

E – Expect to experience some pain

I never make it out of the patch without a few scratches, mainly on my hands with exposed skin, but if I pick slowly and steadily and avoid quick moves, I keep it to a minimum. There will be times when you are tempted by a beautiful cluster of ripe berries to reach farther than you should, and then it is easy to get off balance and fall, or pull a muscle. Again, slow, deliberate, and calculated movements reduce the possibility of pain and suffering.

R – Rejoice over the experience.

Appreciate the bounty you are harvesting, how nature provides such delicious and nourishing treats, that you have taken the time to be with nature, be with yourself and be “one with the berries”. The best stress management tool there is for grounding and it’s all FREE.

R – Ripe berries have the best flavor and are easiest to pick.

The biggest berries are the ripest and sweetest, and they are the easiest to pick. When you hit on a cluster of them all ripe and ready, you can cup your hand around the whole bundle and they slide easily off the vine and into your hand. Very smooth! Most of the time the biggest and ripest are found in the shade or hidden among leaves, so when you find them they are a complete surprise. I always get excited when I find them – and usually shout out to my picking partners – “I’ve found the mother load!” So always keep your eyes open when picking, because the best berries might not be in full view, they might even be very low under a lot of brush and you might have to look a little harder to find them.

Y – Young berries need more time to mature

Just because a berry looks ripe doesn’t mean it is. You’ll know right away if it is ready to be picked because if it hangs on tight to the vine and you can’t easily guide it off, it’s not ready. A gentle tug will tell you if it is time or not. If you start pulling too hard you could mash it and then it is of no value to anyone.

So if you want to coach yourself today, ask yourself – How does this apply to your life?

Summer Nursing Roundup

Summer is here, so it’s time to explore some of the best—and worst—nursing stories from the past few months.

Nurses included in healthcare fraud takedown: The department of Health and Human Services (HHS) led a nationwide takedown on health care fraud schemes involving $900 million in false billings. 301 individuals, including nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals, were charged in this in this fraud takedown, the largest in history. Charges included conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, kickbacks, money laundering and identity theft. (Source: Department of Justice)

Nurses are never off duty—even on their wedding day: Julie Stroyne, a trauma nurse from UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, was leaving her wedding to start her new life when she heard people yelling for help. Dropping her bouquet, she rushed into action to help an unconscious woman on a nearby park bench. She performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the woman in her wedding dress, saving the woman’s life before the paramedics arrived. (Source: Today)

Dean of Nursing moonlights as a comedian, for the kids: Gloria Ferraro Donnelly, the 74-year-old dean of Drexel’s College of Nursing came up with an unexpected way to raise money for students: a stand-up comedy routine. Dressed in a t-shirt, yoga pants and sweatbands with a water bottle tied around her waist, the dean’s comedy routine called “The Quest for Physical Perfection,” has raised almost $65,000 for the student emergency fund since 2010. Though she’s retiring this year, Donnelly hopes to continue her comedy career to continue raising money for the fund. (Source: Philly.com)

New strategies for the nursing shortage

Hospitals are offering new incentives to get staff involved with recruitment.

We’ve all heard it by now: the nurse shortage is here, and it’s only going to get worse. Between population growth, retirement, and life expectancy increase, reports estimate a three million RN shortage by 2020.

Faced with these challenges, University of Missouri (MU) Health Care has asked its staff for help in recruiting nurses to their facilities. Instead of offering bonuses and incentives to new hires, MU Health is offering staff members $10,000 for recruiting qualified candidates to its Intensive Care Units (ICU). MU Health hopes to convey respect and value for their employees, improving retention while making the facility more attractive to new applicants. The recruiters also say that sign-on bonuses could lead to job-hopping, rather than encouraging nurses to stay at a facility.

One of the other factors affecting the shortage is a bottleneck around training people to become nurses. The retirement issue applies to nursing school professors as well, and schools are constrained by professor to student ratios in determining how many applicants are accepted.

MU Health Care also hopes to address this issue by helping its staff become educators. They have instituted a residency program that allows trained nurses to collaborate with nursing students at their hospitals. The hospitals provide exposure to nursing students, and they hope to encourage students to stay within their community once they graduate. The Missouri Hospital Association is sponsoring a clinical leadership academy, which will train bedside nurses to become clinical instructors.

In addition to its own programs, MU Health Care encourages employees to go back to school to advance their careers, offering tuition reimbursement for staff members. These creative incentives for employees serve the dual function of retaining current staff while making the facility more attractive to new recruits.

House calls can benefit patients and cut costs

Two of the lasting images of early healthcare professionals is the doctor with their big bag making house calls and a midwife rushing to a family home to facilitate a birth. As healthcare has advanced, we’ve moved away from this home-based model toward the consolidated approach of the modern hospital. However, some practices have returned to house calls, with some positive results.

Independence at Home, a program created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), seeks to identify patients that would benefit from homecare or cannot be helped in a hospital setting. The project sends mobile interdisciplinary healthcare teams, lead by physicians and nurse practitioner, out to the homes of these patients and provide care.

According to a recent Medscape article, the program reports a few different benefits. The patients receive more attention and care from providers, and the setting can foster trust between patient and provider. Hospitals and nursing homes can be difficult places for many patients, and they would prefer to get treatment in their homes. Terminal patients particularly benefit from this; as one provider notes, hospitals are not where people want to die.

The providers benefit from the more personalized patient relationship as well, but there are also financial incentives for homecare. CMS reports that they saved $25 million by using this system and $11.7 million of that went back to the providers. Because the system targets some of the most expensive Medicare patients, hospitals can save a lot by providing in-home care in this system. In addition to the CMS program, Veterans Affairs Medical Centers report that providing home care for some of their patients cost 12% less than standard care.

Game teaches nurses about med management

A new board game might help nurses minimize medication errors.

Many nurses report that medicine management is a difficult aspect of their responsibilities. Focus Games Ltd and healthcare academics have developed an educational board game designed to help “frontline healthcare professionals understand, recognize and minimize medication errors.” The Drug Round Game, an adaptation of “Snakes and Ladders,” hopes to teach nurses and nursing students about medication management, while giving them the opportunity to practice drug calculations and have big picture discussions in a low-stakes environment.

Nursing students that have tried the game describe it as fun and engaging, while improving their nursing knowledge and practicing what they’ve learned. Professors who’ve played the game with staff and students say that the game is enjoyable yet challenging, and an effective way to practice and refine their skills.

For more information about the game, check out City University of London’s press release.

National Time Out Day

Today is National Time Out day! For the 12th year in a row, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) want to remind medical professionals to take a moment before every procedure to make sure they are “operating on the right patient, the right site and the right procedure.” The Joint Commission reports that wrong site surgeries occur five times every day in the United States, and AORN hopes to raise awareness of the issue and improve patient safety.

For more information or to see how you can participate in National Time Out Day, visit AORN’s official website.

Animal therapy not just for patients

We hear all the time about how nursing is one of the most stressful professions in the country. This combined with the struggles with nurse retention has led a few hospitals to get creative with helping out their stressed-out nurses: Animal therapy sessions.

Animal therapy has been used with patients for years, particularly to help patients with trauma and mental health disorders. Inspired by these results, executives at University of Pennsylvania hospital and Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) instituted regular animal therapy sessions for their employees. Penn’s “pet a pooch” program was instituted by ER nurse Heather Matthew, brought in dogs from local shelters to spend time with their employees. In addition to helping the stressed-out staff, over a dozen dogs have been adopted since the program started three years ago.

After seeing the positive effects of Penn’s program, RUMC started their own program called “Pet Pause.” Hospital staff immediately reported feeling less stressed after their animal therapy sessions, and an internal study confirmed that the sessions lowered participants blood pressure and increased staff morale. Studies elsewhere have shown that animal therapy reduces stress hormones, and management researchers have found improvements in employee satisfaction and productivity when dogs are allowed in the workplace.

Do you have paws program at your facility? Let us know in the comments!

For more information, check out the Chicago Tribune article.