Survival Tips for Nurses Working the Night Shift

Throughout the country every night, nurses put on their uniforms and head to work as everyone else is sleeping. It’s one of those professions that doesn’t stop at 5 p.m. when everyone else goes home. But night shift work can cause problems with someone’s health not just their sleep patterns. According to the International Classifications of Sleep Disorders, shift workers are at increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and gastrointestinal diseases. Working in the health field, nurses understand they are at risk for a lot of problems if they work late at night. But for those who have been doing the night shift for a while, they have some great advice to bestow upon others on how to keep happy and healthy despite the dark forces against them. “It’s about having the right attitude,” says Felicia Rasmussen of Lincoln, Neb. She just recently spent two years on the night shift as a registered nurse at the Tabitha Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “If you are passionate about what you do, the hours are irrelevant. It is about being the best nurse you can and giving the best care to your patients.” But it is also about being the best you can be to yourself and your family, she says. Here are some survival tips for being a nurse on the night shift: Food for Thought It would be so easy to just pick something up to eat at the hospital each night. But Michelle Diederich, registered nurse at the Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, brings her own lunch to work most nights. “By doing this, I am able to make healthier choices. I also try to limit myself from going to the cafeteria at work to […]
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Effective Time Management Skills for Nurses

Sandi Thorson not only works as a registered nurse on 12-hour shifts, but this South Dakota woman is a wife, mom, grandmother and a student earning her masters of nursing administration. “So my life is very hectic. Sometimes, I feel I am just lucky to get the things done that I need to,” she says. She works in the Women’s Center at Avera McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls, S.D. She carries around a piece of paper during her shifts that lists all of the important tasks and times they are to be completed. Time management remains an important skill she tries to perfect every day. “My day can change in a heartbeat. So, I try to stay on top of things and not get to where I am feeling behind,” she says. Developing organizational skills and patience and utilizing well-needed short breaks can eliminate a lot of the normal stresses that others might not be able to. That allows you to flourish in all the tasks that get piled up during a nurse’s shift and to then enjoy your time at home. Here are some of the skills, personality characteristics and other tips that can help nurses manage their workload and their home lives, and hopefully be happier and more productive in both areas of their lives: Flexibility and Patience “Nurses have to stay organized. They have to know how to prioritize, yet there are so many things going on around them that they also have to be flexible in an ever-changing environment,” says Susan Freeman, president of Healy Johnston, Inc., a management and technology consulting firm in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Those can be hard traits to exude all at once. But Freeman has worked with many professionals such as nurses that need […]
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How to Make Technology Work for Your Nursing Career

Gone are the days when nursing was just about hands-on patient care and manually filling out medical charts all day long. Today’s nurses are not only skilled health care practitioners, but they must also be tech savvy in order to keep up with medical advances, unique patient care solutions, and communications tools. The good news is that such technological improvements have made it possible to spend more time caring for the actual patients, have helped limit human error (such as mixing up charts), and have even helped ease some of the physical demands of being a nurse. Take a look at some of the ways that nurses are using technology including apps and software to advanced equipment, so you know what to expect when you head to work in a health care setting. Nursing technology at a glance With more and more technology enhancements being used in health care institutions and hospitals – from electronic health records and GPS-tracked medical equipment to tech-driven drug dosing and smarter alarm and alert systems – nurses are expected to know their technology. And that doesn’t only go for advanced nurse practitioners. Staff RNs must be able to learn and adapt quickly so they can begin implementing various tech updates into their daily work. Here are some of the popular nursing technologies that are becoming more commonplace: Smart phone apps are being used more often to stay in communication with one’s health care team. This will eventually replace the old pager systems that are not always 100 percent reliable. Mobile access to information about drug interactions and other reference materials allows nurses to pull up information on the spot, rather than having to lug around heavy books, or step out to search for information. Electronic patient […]
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Nursing Degrees: Which one is right for you?

There are so many pathways to becoming a nurse from earning a diploma to a master’s, and every degree in between. As with most professions, usually the more nursing education credentials you earn, the more opportunities for advancement you’ll afford yourself. What’s great about nursing, however, is that you can be a part of the workforce – and be well compensated – after just a year or two of schooling. Many nurses do end up heading back to the classroom at their own pace as they look to advance or specialize, while many others are content with remaining a staff RN for the duration of their career. Take a look at the educational pathways you can pursue in nursing to decide which degree level is right for you and your career goals. Diploma/Associate Degree for LPN Licensed practical nurses (sometimes called Licensed Vocational Nurses) are a step below Registered Nurses, but often perform the same types of patient care. Like RNs, they must complete a state-approved program of study and take a licensing exam, in their case, the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). LPN training can be found at community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools, and usually take about one year of classroom study and hands-on patient care. Pros Earning an LPN license can get you into the field quickly so you can begin earning valuable hands-on experience in nursing. This will come in quite handy should you decide to keep moving forward with your studies, not to mention give you something to list on your resume when you begin looking for RN jobs in a couple of years. Cons LPNs don’t have the same amount of job opportunities as they once did. More and more […]
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Tips for Surviving the NCLEX

It might have been more than 20 years ago, but Stacey Kinney can still remember the stress and uncertainty she felt before taking the NCLEX. “I always share with my students that I felt I was not prepared for NCLEX. I was the first cohort who completed the computerized NCLEX, and I did not have exposure to computerized testing to increase my confidence,” said Kinney, now academic success specialist at Chamberlain College of Nursing, headquartered in St. Louis. She has been a registered nurse since 1994, and a nursing educator since 2000. “I was intimidated by the unknown – not knowing what to expect at the testing center, not knowing how many items I would complete, and not having a clear understanding of test –taking strategies,” she says. So, she and other nursing experts want NCLEX candidates to be better prepared and less jittery by giving some guidance and advice. Understanding what the NCLEX is all about is the first step. Prior to taking NCLEX, the individual will be a student or candidate rather than a nurse, Kinney says. Each state’s Board of Nursing may have varying requirements, which must be met by the candidate. 8 Steps of the NCLEX According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN) in Chicago, here are the eight steps that it takes for the NCLEX®: Apply for licensure/registration with one board of nursing (BONs)/regulatory body (RBs). Register and pay the exam fee to Pearson VUE via the Internet or telephone. Receive Acknowledgement of Receipt of Registration from Pearson VUE by email. BON/RB makes you eligible in the Pearson VUE system. Receive Authorization to Test (ATT) through an email from Pearson VUE. You must test within the validity dates (an average of 90 days) […]
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Tips on Choosing the Right Nursing Job

Nurses, these days, have many choices of where they want to work from big metropolitan hospitals to cruise ships to corporate headquarters to clinics in neighborhood pharmacies. But how do you find the best job to fit your personality, your passion and your needs? “Self-awareness and soul searching are required in everyone’s life and even more so in nursing,”  says Jane Carmody, chief nursing officer at CHI Health in Omaha, Neb. “A nurse that does not have his/her heart in it will soon wear out,” she said. “Nursing requires love of the profession and the job. If those feelings are not there and we don’t self-renew, we can become overcome with worry, self-pity and negativity and that can harm patients.” Carmody, who has been a nurse more than 40 years in many areas from psychiatric to ICU to home healthcare, explains that new nurse graduates would do well to take time to look at potential employers, not only for their interest of their clinical preference but also to understand the pay and benefits. “I also advise new nurses to ask about employee engagement scores (NDNQI results if provided, Pathway to Excellence survey results and so on). A key indication of the organization’s value of nursing will be that the chief nursing leader is part of the senior team and is at the table making decisions,” she states. She adds that while in college, student nurses have many opportunities to experience a variety of nursing practice areas and should pursue what this experience tells them. Do they love it? Is it their dream job? “Sometimes it is clear what area of nursing just sings to them, and so they should pursue that practice area when applying for jobs. Today, many places […]
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Nurse Manager Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview Many nurses are surprised to learn that nurse management is actually a nursing specialty.  Some nurse managers choose a supervisory clinical path, while others move into administration.  Sometimes jobs bridge both areas.  These nurses wear many hats.  They recruit and oversee other nurses, sometimes collaborate with physicians, and assist patients and their families. Nurse managers are registered nurses (RNs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports with an expected increase of 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, job growth for RNs will be faster than average.  Median RN 2012 pay was $65,470, or $31.48 per hour.  According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a nurse manager is $80,707.  Total compensation could reach $108,376. Paths to Increase Nurse Management Salary All professionals working in nurse management are RNs.  The Campaign for Nursing’s Future indicates that to earn an RN credential, an individual must complete a hospital nursing program, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor of nursing degree.  Graduates must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to be licensed in the area where they want to work. Most nurse management positions do not require a master’s degree, Rasmussen College says.  However, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree can boost nurse management salary.  Other choices are a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Health Administration (MHA), or completing some appropriate business courses.  Most employers are willing to assist nurses with the expense of graduate or continuing education classes. Another option for increasing salary is to become certified.  The American Organization of Nurse Executives awards Certified in Executive Nursing Practice (
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PACU Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview Post anesthesia care unit (PACU) nurses are specialized professionals. These registered nurses (RNs) provide intensive observation and treatment of patients who have undergone anesthesia. They are also known as perianesthesia nurses and recovery room nurses. According to the University of Utah Health Care, caring for the most vulnerable patients requires expert clinicians who have topnotch critical thinking and communication skills. These nurses must work at a fast pace, support an interdisciplinary medical team, and be flexible with scheduling. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 19 percent increase in the number of RN jobs between 2012 and 2022. A boom in PACU nurse openings should parallel or exceed this, primarily because of the aging U.S. population and passage of legislation that makes health care more readily available. Median 2012 RN yearly pay was $65,470, or $31.48 an hour. PayScale indicates that RNs with recovery/PACU skills can earn up to $40.83 per hour or $62.15 for overtime. With a bonus and profit sharing, total annual compensation could reach $88,410. According to, the median salary of a staff RN working in a recovery room is $76,581. Paths to Increase PACU Nurse Salary All PACU nurses are RNs. Qualifying for this specialty begins with earning an RN designation via an associate’s degree in nursing, a bachelor’s in nursing, or a hospital nursing diploma program. Graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to be eligible for licensing as an RN. Working in a PACU is seldom the first job for an RN. The best educational choices are courses in anesthesia-related care or opting for a perianesthesia concentration if a nursing curriculum offers it. PACU nurses have many ways to increase their compensation. […]
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OR Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview Operating room (OR) nurses are also known as surgical or perioperative nurses. These nursing specialists take care of patients before, during, and after their surgeries. They often function as liaisons between the operative team and a patient’s family. They typically work in hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and physician’s offices. All OR nurses are also registered nurses (RNs). The 2012 median RN salary was $31.48 an hour, or $65,470 annually, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Between 2012 and 2022, this agency projects RN job growth of 19 percent, faster than average. This is primarily due to an aging population and easier access to health care. Given the rising number of senior Americans, the demand for OR nurses could outpace estimated RN job growth. An RN working as an OR nurse could earn as much as $40.67 per hour or $61.34 for overtime work, according to PayScale. Total compensation, including profit sharing and a bonus, might reach $89,280 annually. Paths to Increase OR Nurse Salary Becoming an OR nurse starts with achieving RN status. That requires graduation from a hospital diploma program or earning an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Johnson & Johnson indicates that for licensing eligibility in a given state, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). According to the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, many facilities require general nursing experience before an RN can enter the OR nursing specialty. A good background would include courses in emergency situations, patient assessment, intraoperative activities, sterilization, and discharge planning. The Mayo Clinic indicates that OR nurses typically serve as either scrub nurses or circulating nurses. OR nurses who want to increase their compensation can earn the […]
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ICU Nurse Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses are specialists also known as critical care nurses. They are responsible for making sure that acutely and critically ill individuals and their families receive the best care possible. These nurses have very specialized skills and are technologically savvy. While most work in hospitals, other workplaces include nursing homes, flights units, and outpatient facilities. All ICU nurses are registered nurses (RNs). Many are advanced practice nurses. The median pay for RNs in 2012 was $65,470 a year, or $31.48 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). PayScale indicates an hourly rate of up to $40.86 for an ICU nurse for a regular shift and as much as $60.52 for overtime. With a bonus and profit sharing, annual compensation could reach $90,874, the site says. BLS shows median pay for advanced practice nurses as $96,460 a year, or $46.37 per hour. This agency predicts RN job growth at 19 percent, which is faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. ICU nurse job growth could be even greater, given the graying of America and the rising number of patients who are seniors. Paths to Increase ICU Nurse Salary An ICU nursing career starts with earning an RN credential. This requires completing a training program in a hospital, an associate’s degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in nursing. To be eligible for licensing as an RN in the state where they want to work, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), the Campaign for Nursing’s Future indicates. According to Villanova University, many employers prefer to hire ICU nurses who have a bachelor’s degree. In order to advance their careers and compensation, many opt […]
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