Tag Archives: NCLEX prep

to teach delegation part 4 – getting “street smart” Jan 3 2014

note: be sure to click on the hyperlinks, the highlighted text. A prize awaits….

Street Smart is the goal.

My favorite definitions of Street Smart are to be found on Urban Dictionary. warning: adult language and content at times, but funny. Possibility of not politically correct. Street Smart is always contrasted with “Book Smart”

Delegation is key to NCLEX success

To teach delegation is to teach “Street Smart” skills, only they never call it that.  This series is to share with faculty colleagues my views on how to teach delegation skills.  In a final-semester-before-graduation course, sometimes the curriculum will mash together content from “Issues and Trends”  “Career Development” and “Leadership and Management” – this is a widely disparate clump of content. Add this to the idea that the students may be having “senioritis” during the second half of the semester.  Finally, students often need to be convinced that the course is relevant – they want something like ACLS or PALS or more pharmacology.

In one of the earlier blogs in this series I gave the rationale for all this emphasis on delegation, but it bears repeating.

read this carefully:

Every Nurse Practice Act includes rules of delegation which are based on the definition of nursing.

The NCLEX content is not solely determined by NCLEX corporation. it is dictated by NCSBN, which uses a sophisticated process to determine the “test plan”

NCSBN test plan says that 20% or more of the exam will be on – delegation.

NCSBN defines delegation and also publishes their own documents to support their definition. Working with Others is the main one. Every nursing students needs this!

therefore,

it makes sense to devote time in nursing school to the specific materials from NCSBN. This is not rocket science.

If your class work on “legal & ethical issues” focuses only on  such things as how not to get sued, or defining “beneficence” or “utilitarianism” – you are wasting your students’ time.  You need to focus on what the rules say.

As an aside, I think one reason that faculty go astray is that few of the nurses who actually managing a ward want to  become faculty members. they are paid too well doing what they do!

and now for today’s Pearl of Wisdom

first, as the NCSBN monograph says: The key to effective delegation is to have assertive interpersonal skills in conflict resolution. So – don’t just teach this by lecture or directed reading. Find ways to make up exercises for the students to role play.

second, when a student is new, they just focus on their own assignment, and the goal here is to develop the skills to analyze how the assignments of all the nurses mesh with each other. Predicting not just what will happen with your patient, but predicting how many nurses will be needed by the unit overall. Figuring out how to work together as a team, how to help each other.

Too often this is taught by just assigning  the student to multiple patients, and watching them flounder around – “sink or swim.”  I guess some students will only start to pay attention when they see that they are not as good as they think they are – but a better way is to teach all the stuff I am listing here.

Friday Night at the E.R.

all this leads me to the subject of today’s blog. Friday Night at the E.R. is a resource for nursing students, and I think every nursing student should play it, especially if they are thinking of a hospital career. I see that for January 2014 the company that makes and sells it, has upgraded the game board a bit to make it easier to play.

An Excellent Simulation Learning exercise

we tend to define simulation learning narrowly these days, as if it can only be done with a high-fidelity manikin and a room with a two-way mirror. That is an artificial constraint IMHO.

FNER was developed as an interactive game to teach teamwork and decisionmaking, not necessarily limited to nurses. It is used by people interested in Organizational Development. It is a board game with a gazillion small parts. It’s expensive but worth it IMHO. It does have complicated directions and requires a facilitator who knows what it is about. (the company has a policy of only selling it to people or agencies that have a registered facilitator.) if you are going to use it, you need to carefully manage the logistics of it – for example, if you have a class of thirty students you need eight game boards. for a class of sixty you may need to have half the group do it one week, the other half the next. You need to schedule extra time – it can not be done in just three hours – the debriefing is as important as the game itself. Simply critical to debrief.

The most important thing about this simulation game, is that the students learns things about their own problemsolving, which is a reason why the makers of the game are a bit vague about the exact conduct of it. I went to YouTube to see if there was anything there that might entice you to seek further information.  I found a gem in which the professor seems to be trying to teach the students “the right way” to do it prior to playing – the exact opposite of it’s intended lesson. And better yet – it’s in French!

If you buy the game, you do get a DVD that tells a lot more. The idea behind that strategy is to allow the students to discover certain things for themselves and not over-teach.

Achieving Street Smarts?

When I have done the Friday Night at the ER  exercise with students, they come back to class after a week or two and tell me that up until then they did not know what the manager of their unit, or the house supervisor, actually did during a work day. “Didn’t have a clue” they say.

But now their eyes are opened and they see their own role as part of the larger team.  They are more focused on admission/transfer/discharge. They have a better sense of their own “agency” – ability to shape their destiny. They are more able to describe the parameters of problemsolving. all kinds of good stuff like that.

I would love to hear from others who have used this…..

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How to teach delegation and the Nurse Practice Act, part 1 dec 29 2013

Delegation is important. A dry topic sometimes but important nonetheless.

important for three reasons

1) it’s on the NCLEX exam;

2) it is something nurses in hospital and longterm settings do every day; and

3) you get in trouble if you do not do it properly.

NCLEX exam re delegation.

I blogged on this before. The focus was for students and it was titled “How to increase your NCLEX score by twenty percent.” 

test map of NCLEX

The NCLEX exam is guided by a map. the map tells the NCLEX corporation how to construct the exam – so many questions on infection control, so many questions on pediatrics, so many of lab tests, etc. the map is made by the NCSBN, and you can find the map on the NCSBN website. It’s not a secret.

Alphabet soup?

If you don’t know who the NCSBN is, click here. Each state has their own Board of Nursing, but the Boards in all 50 states work together to make sure their Nurse Practice Acts are similar.  The NCSBN works to make it happen. Since 2011, NCSBN has begun producing their own videos. Here is the link to their video on the Nurse Licensure Compact.  It’s worthwhile to browse their entire site. NCSBN is not a jazzy internet site I suppose – they are a serious group pursuing legislative and regulatory goals, and their materials reflects the overall mission of protecting the public from incompetent practitioners of nursing.

What the map says

The NCSBN says, roughly, that up to 20% of the NCLEX will be on the subject of delegation and leadership.  Here is the link to the map.  I think a mistake people make in NCLEX prep is to be too medically focused, and to ignore this specific cluster of concepts. Remember – the NCLEX tests nursing, not medicine. If you don’t have a firm grasp of the difference between the two, you get confused. And yes, a nurse needs to know an awful lot about medicine, but the focus is not the same.

So – walk with me…..

Teaching the definition of nursing

The NCLEX exam was recently recalibrated, and it’s important to make sure that the test-taker prioritizes their study to match the map. I was going through my sequence of class materials on the subject of delegation, and remembered that two years ago I made a video to cover “the definition of nursing” as a prelude to discussion of delegation. it’s about twenty minutes long. I did it when I was considering relocation to the East Coast, as a sample of my lecturing style. So ignore the references to Vermont. The meat of it is still current and applicable.

please feel free to share widely.

Over the next few entries, I will post practical examples of what exactly it is that I teach to help soon-to-be-graduating students become confident about the ins and outs of delegation. I draw from  a variety of sources, and I will share those. If you want to make sure that you receive these, please look to the right, and click on the “Subscribe” button.

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NCLEX prep tips in short manageable and digestable pieces

New Uses for Twitter

go to www.twitter.com/NCLEXprep and follow, if you like.

share with your friends. please!

the plan is to post #NCLEXtweetoftheday which will include short factoids or pearls of wisdom designed to enhance NCLEX scores.

It will be like writing nursing haiku I guess. If I share one little tidbit a day, the followers will grow to become big and strong, like feeding nourishing food to a child.

I also found an NCLEX site run by NCSBN, theirs is really super, go to NCSBN NCLEX

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how to boost your NCLEX score by twenty per cent

NCLEX fever

This blog entry goes out to all those persons who are now studying for NCLEX.  Congratulations on completing your basic nursing education. Why not treat yourself to a great beach read, and buy my book about nursing in Nepal?  the book itself won’t help you with NCLEX but it will get you to think about something else for a while….

NCLEX secrets

I confess that I get annoyed when I see people studying for NCLEX by reviewing page after page of question in some popular NCLEX books. I wonder whether you achieve a greater comprehension of the underlying material that way. I always compare this method to that of doing crossword puzzles. it keeps your mind busy – but will you be a better nurse? the nursing process is not a collection of sound bites or factoids.

your school wants you to succeed

every nursing school keeps track of the first-time test taker pass rates, and there are mechanisms in place to make sure that they are preparing you for what you will need to know. One question that students do not often ask is, how does NCLEX decide what to put on the exam in the first place?  the answer: NCSBN tells them.

Alphabet soup NCLEX and NCSBN

NCSBN is the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and if you go to their website, you can read the test blueprint for the NCLEX exam. NCSBN periodically surveys nurses, schools and hospitals around the country, to gather info as to what “any prudent nurse” might be expected to know, and uses this to adjust exam content accordingly.

A 65% pass rate is also a 35% fail rate

A few years back I taught at a school of nursing that was deeply concerned about the pass rate of the class they had just graduated. When a student does not do well on the exam, their focus is on what they did; but from a school perspective,  nobody wants to get calls from angry parents, the Board of Nursing,  or the college’s Board of Governors about the pass rate. When this group of seniors did so poorly it led the school to organize lots of work to revise things and look at what to do.

my own two cents – delegation

I joined that school right after the exam debacle, and I was to teach the leadership and management class. ( I have ten years of hospital middle-management experience.) I did some specific research, and analyzed the existing class syllabus to see what emphasis was being taught. I concluded that we could benefit from beefing up the content on the subject of – delegation.

history of delegation content on NCLEX exam

It turns out that in the mid-nineties, feedback to NCSBN was that new graduates needed to be strong on delegation skills, and NCSBN asked for a higher percentage of the exam to be devoted to this subject area.

three questions

a) if you knew that up to twenty per cent of the NCLEX could be devoted to delegation, wouldn’ t you want to study it more?

b) if you knew that NCSBN did a specific fortyone-page paper on the ins and outs of delegation, wouldn’t you want to know what was in it?

and

c) if NCSBN developed a teaching program on delegation, wouldn’t you want to study that? These are the same folks who said that delegation is an issue, after all. )

My answer to all three was yes. Most textbooks of nursing management cover delegation, but they tend to limit it to four or five pages; my advice is to find the source document from NCSBN and to download the whole thing ( it’s free). Study it from there.

how is your assertiveness skill today?

One of the best and most cogent points made by NCSBN in their paper is that the best rule making related to delegation ( having the best rules in place) is not helpful unless the nurses who are supposed to use the rules for patient care also possess the interpersonal skills to deal with conflict resolution and problemsolving. A surprising amount of the forty-one pages is devoted to ways to communicate effectively in situations where a licensed person is directing unlicensed personnel. The rules are designed to support the RN but if the RN does not assert themselves it’s a problem. Being assertive is not the same as sparking a confrontation. ( see note below – Thanks JPA!) nurses are sometimes so afraid of confrontationthat they won’t speak up even when warranted.

NCSBN even gives you role play scenarios to use in class when you teach this.

final words

in the previous blog entry I wrote about summer internships and being a good follower.  the paper on interpersonal skills applies to you right now as a student nurse and if you communicate effectively you will stand out from the crowd. start reviewing it now and you will be that much further ahead.

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If you, as a nursing student, MUST learn EKGs…..

want to learn what’s really important in nursing? it’s not what you think… I don’t often get to the point of revealing my deepest secrets to the world, it takes a lot  to actually put these things in print.  For example, even though I know the name, hand gesture and usage of the  One Universal Surgical Implement, when I was initiated into the cult I was sworn to secrecy that I will only reveal it to those cognoscenti that show themselves capable of handling such knowledge…..

Responsibility always comes with knowledge.

Remember that. Before i would ever reveal anything, you must prove yourself worthy. And of course, the first step is to buy and read my book about Nepal. It’s the kind of book you can give to the nurse in your life for Nurses Day or for graduation from nursing school.

Anyway, there were too many protests to last last blog

They call this “push-back” – readers who said they just needed to be ekg-certified….. O to be young again!

The Six Rhythms

There actually only six you need to know. trust me. This Pearl of Wisdom has been enshrined in the American Heart Association Manual for twenty years, but somehow people gloss over it and say, it can’t possibly be so simple….

Link to a website

In Nepal I met Jason Waechter, an MD from Canada who was working with Patan Hospital.

He was wicked cool.

has all kinds of great stuff about critical care on his website.

I particularly recommend the handout on basic ekg.

also – I have a two-page handout on rhythm strip analysis which I will share.

To get the two-page handout,

subscribe to the blog,

share with all your friends, and

send me an email. joeniemczura@gmail.com

ten-four, over and out in Honolulu today…..

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Part One “Getting Your Foot in the Door” for a nursing job

Jan 19th 2012 Update: link to a good blog on The Hidden Job Market, which is another angle on foot in the door…

Foot in the door

This is one in a series of blog entries written for young nurses. Take a look at the previous blogs about resumes, what to put in a cover letter, how social networking can hurt or help you, and ways to look at your portfolio. If you are a nursing student, you can start now to think about these things. Please share with others.

While you are at it, go to Amazon and buy the book I wrote about Global Health Nursing. It won’t help you in your job search but it will give you a window into a very different kind of nursing and it will help you remember the best reasons you chose nursing in the first place ( I hope).

The basis of the foot in the door strategy is simple:

A) In school: If the organization where you want to work hires ward clerks, nurses aides, billing clerks, etc, get a job there while you are still a student.

B) as part of school: If you want to work on a specific unit of a hospital, try to do clinical there through your school.

And

C) after graduating from school: If your target is a hospital which is not hiring for RN positions, apply for a job as a nurse’s aide or computer tech or anything, so you can become an internal applicant as opposed to an external applicant. Many large organizations will offer positions from within, first.

Let’s take these one at a time.

A) working part time while in school.

Nowadays it’s less usual to be a nursing student who does not work in some part-time job, somewhere, I’ve had students who worked as servers, telemetry techs, billing clerks and even as hula dancers at the big hotels on Waikiki.

You might as well be working in a hospital. Don’t underestimate the job of being a ward clerk. A ward Clerk will become familiar with the systems by which the hospital actually runs;  A clerk  gets into the chart everyday; and a clerk has a daily opportunity to become literate on computer systems such as EPIC or MediPro.

Here is a Pearl of Wisdom: Many of the older RNs nowadays don’t have the computer skills for EPIC are reticent about learning on the computer. The more you become proficient at EPIC or some other system, the more you can use this as a sales point for your resume. You are in the tech generation!

If it’s a nurses aide position, most hospitals will only hire you if you already have the Fundamentals course and some clinical under your belt, and often the state will require documentation that you have enough training to be equivalent. This varies state-by-state.

B) through school, as part of clinical, especially during the last semester

Future employment advice if you are doing clinical at a place you want to work later.

General advice: don’t only focus on the patient.

Oh, you need to do excellent patient care. You need to prepare well, be organized using a “nurse’s brain” and you need to be “on it” every day that you are there, using critical thinking and applying what you learned in class. But you also can benefit by adding some extras. You’d be surprised how students miss the little things: learning the names of the ward staff, (then following through by using people’s names when you talk with them), being polite to the housekeeping staff, (you can’t do your work without them!) and relating to the ward staff like future colleagues. On many hospital floors, the staff is already looking at you to evaluate your potential. Hate to put pressure on you, but it’s true. They are taking notes.

Specific advice for seniors:

Most schools nowadays incorporate a senior practicum, in which you are no longer in a clinical group, but are assigned to work one-on-one with a preceptor.

You don’t always get assigned to the floor you want, but that’s not the end of the world. There is strategy to apply here. For example, at one of our medical centers the Medical-ICU is considered to be the among the best placements; but they have never hired a new graduate and there is a waiting list of experienced RNs who wan to work there. So – you can get ICU clinical but it won’t lead to a job there.

If you don’t get placed in ER or ICU, it’s NOT the end of the world. My usual advice is actually to work on a Medical-Surgical ward, because the skills of organizing your day, setting priorities and making decisions about psychosocial issues are ones which apply to any setting. A few years back we had a student whose goal was to be a CRNA and he did his senior semester practicum in the O.R.  He enjoyed it, but it didn’t really help him learn the assessment skills he needed – he focused mainly on the surgery and on sterile technique. Right after graduation he got an ICU job, but did not do well there; I think he would have done better if he’d done medical surgical and gotten solid organizational skills. The O.R. seemed good superficially but turned out not to be a good “fit.”  Having a placement that meets your needs now is actually more beneficial than getting the dream placement if you can’t make the most of it. Have a heart to heart with the clinical placement coordinator as to what you really need, not just what you want.

The preceptor is critical. You need to know that when it comes time to apply for work there after graduation, about fifty per cent of the input as to whether you should be hired, comes from the preceptor. Recommendations, the interview, the cover letter? Nowhere near as important. When you apply to that hospital for a nursing job, highlight the name of your preceptor in the cover letter.

Read up on how to have a good relationship with your preceptor.  There are some great articles about your relationship with your preceptor on the Web.

The next thing is to consider work behaviors, and for that I have a story. Two years ago one of our senior  students took an ER job right out of school at the hospital where he’d done his senior practicum. This was a “success.” I asked him about it and he said:

“I took your advice”

Oh? ( couldn’t remember which advice he meant, I give lots of advice. What I am writing here is something I have preached for years, but don’t ask me to recall every single thing.)

“Yeah, I knew I needed to impress them with not just my nursing knowledge, but my work ethic. So, I never sat down when I was there. If there was something going on, I offered to help, but in the quiet times I did stuff like defrost the refrigerator, clean the nurse’s station counter with rubbing alcohol, and tidy things up. I didn’t brag about it, but everyone sure noticed.”

So what he was saying was, he was neat and cleaned up after himself, in addition to using checklists and following protocols. He was the kind of guy who showed up to lecture class or lab with a to do list, and I bet if I spoke to his mom he also made his bed at home and helped with the dishes and chores. ( I never did speak with his mom, this is a guess.).

Even if you don’t have your foot in the door, ask yourself whether you have this kind of attitude at which ever job you now have?

Tomorrow:

Situation C – getting an aide job *after* nursing school.

This blog is 1,316 words – long enough to digest in one day; I will break it in 2 pieces. The last part of foot-in-the-door is when a hospital has enough RNs but will consider hiring you as a nurse’s aide even though you have a BS and pass NCLEX.

Til then, share this with every nursing student you know, and Stay tuned!

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You graduated from Nursing School – now what?

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In a previous blog I wrote about having a personal “Board of Directors” and I said it was worth a million dollars.

It is. Every new graduate nurse needs to recruit their own personal Board, and keep one going, throughout their career.

What it is and what it is not

It’s not the same as having a mentor, and it’s not the same as using your friends as a sounding board. You will change mentors over the course of your career, and your friends probably are your own age with similar backgrounds, which is not what you want. A Personal Board of Directors needs to be diverse enough to give you the perspective you need. Ideally, your personal Board will have people with a broad perspective on trends, it will include people who work in areas other the health care, and they will be aware of your goals.

Your life does not just happen.

The basic idea is to conduct your life like it’s a business. In nursing school, the students study patient care to the exclusion of everything else. I personally love nursing as a career, but the single decision that set the financial difference in my life was that of buying a house back in 1983 which we later sold at a dramatic profit. Didn’t learn that in Medical-Surgical Nursing class!

img_20161203_110507_edit

Doesn’t look like much, does it? We bought in 1982 and sold in 1999. It came with 80 acres of land. It was bigger on the inside, and we filled it with love. Nursing school does not prepare you for real estate.

Prior to having kids we seemed to never be short on money; then with two kids we needed to budget. I had my job as an ICU manager for nine years; was it time to move on? How much to spend on a car?  There was nothing in nursing school  that covered how to make these decisions.

Should you use a Ouija Board?

Should you go to grad school? Should you change geographic location to get a better job? These last two decisions seem to be on the mind of every new graduate nowadays since the job market has changed, I think I have been asked this recently by a half dozen young nurses. When you get a nursing job, you will also make decisions about pensions and benefits. As a young person this always seem incongruous, but it has an impact waaaaaay down the road and there comes a time when it is closer and closer.

It’s not like a hospital gown

The answer to all these questions is that there is no single answer. Unlike hospital gowns, one size does not fit all. Once you have joined the procession down the aisle and been handed the diploma, you are ready to lead your life.

Now what?

The answer is, now you go ahead and lead your life.

in-pbs

My wish for your future career? happiness and joy away from work to create balance in your life. If you have kids, I hope they are as wonderful and amazing as mine were!

Who to ask to be on your personal Board

This is not like conducting job interviews. In many cases, you have already been getting advice from your parents, and they should definitely still be on the list of people. If you have a favorite past professor, that would be a good person to ask. If there is an auntie in your family who is a nurse, or any body with a background in nursing, ask them. For me, my “Board” includes

a) three of my siblings,

b) my parents (my dad is always frank and blunt),

c) my two daughters; ( when they were little we used to always take time to explain all financial decisions, then there came a time when we soilicited their input. I still do.)

d) two persons I taught with twenty years ago in Maine;

e) a nursing faculty in Florida who I knew when she was in Maine;

e) another nurse now retired who is also a Methodist Minister;

f) two guys I used to play music with, one of whom is a computer programmer and the other is a school guidance counselor; and

g) two friends from college who are now attorneys.

These are the core. I have other people I sometimes call, such as the widow of a doctor I used to work with thirty years ago.  Along my life, people tell me I am a very good networker. Being able to network with people is something every professional person needs to cultivate. In a past blog I said that nursing school is not just about the grades, it’s about the relationships. That is true in real life.

Cloudsource

If you are not familiar with this term, you should be. It was intended to describe a company that puts all it’s IT department on the web. But one variation is to disperse the expertise you rely on, over the internet. You probably already use cloudsourcing. For a new grad nurse, I would define cloudsourcing as  asking cyberspace for the answer to whatever question you face.  When I wrote my book, I cloudsourced some of the editing, by sending sections off to some close friends and asking them what else I needed to include to make the description clear. Last summer I needed to write a report for a Medical School in Kathmandu Nepal, and I cloudsourced it, asking for feedback and editing from a bunch of people in USA. I blitzed through six drafts in three days, the finished product was very professional, and it made the impact I needed it to make. (please note, this was not the same as plagiary!)

You can cloudsource your personal Board. The idea is, they do not have to be people you see in person, they can still give you advice from far away.

One Key to having a Board

Once you have this group lined up, don’t expect them to tell you what to do. Their best role is to help you ask the right questions of yourself, or to help you figure out how you want to accomplish something. Their role is to help you cover all the bases when you are making a major move.

I am sure I will edit this in the next couple of days, but this is a start. I suppose the bottom line for every new grad is, to reach out to those around you, in every direction, and use all the resources out there, even if they do not pay off right away.

and lead your life.

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Use FaceBook to JUMP START your nursing career!

This is part two of my blog about social media and how it impacts your search for a nursing job.

We don’t need Sherlock Holmes to investigate you.

Yesterday I wrote to alert you that your potential employers were conducting internet research on  you before they even decided to interview you. It’s true, and I got a comment on the blog from somebody to whom that happened. Keep reading to find out what happened in that case…..

Have you ever looked at somebody’s profile?

The whole premise of FaceBook is that people are nosy.

More young nurses are internet savvy. When they join the workforce, they are just as clever at doing a websearch as you are, and they are transforming how the web is used to supplement the hiring process. Yes, maybe the manager of the nursing floor is older, but it’s common practice to allow current staff to participate in the interview process, and if they decide to include some young nurses on the committee, I guarantee that every candidate will be Googled and checked out on FaceBook. We have HIPAA to protect the patients, thank God, but there is no HIPAA to protect you – FaceBook is free speech, sort of……

How will you do?

There are two sides to this, and they are every bit as important as writing a good resume and cover letter.

The first is the negative side.

Many college students are naïve about the downside of FaceBook. The negative side shows up  when the potential employer sees mainly pictures of you drinking or partying, gets the list of books you read, movies you like, and music you listen to – and disapproves. Sees your friends dressed in Heavy Metal outfits and reads status updates that sound like you were angry and sarcastic all the time or perhaps notices that you do a lot of “drunk-texting” at three in the morning.

Fix those things. For a list of ideas as to how to fix those things, go to yesterday’s blog.

“420 Friendly”

I only know what “420-friendly” is, because my students told me, and I have bookmarked Urban Dictionary.  If your profile is public and your tastes run toward a lot of heavy metal, goth, “420,” or substance abuse, don’t be surprised if the person Googling you goes on to the next job applicant’s profile. Yup. It’s true. If you put it there, it’s public and it’s fair game.

Now the positive side.

Which is this: it can work in your favor, all you need to do is to think of ways to make it happen. Think of your internet presence as if it were your portfolio. Yes, nowadays its trendy in nursing education to gather your best academic work to create a file on your progress through nursing school. The theory of gathering a portfolio is that this will help you to present yourself as a new professional. The downside of a ‘portfolio’ is that it’s hard copy and even if it’s wonderful you probably only have one copy. You can’t share it freely without making sure it’s returned to you. Portfolios don’t photocopy well. Nobody sees it unless they ask for it. Wish it were otherwise, but hey – that’s how it works.

For all intents and purposes, this idea has morphed into something else altogether now that electronic media has taken off like a rocket. The paper portfolio has been left behind.

You already have a portfolio, whether you think so or not.

It consists of:

FaceBook;

Flickr;

Twitter;

YouTube;

Any blog you have ever done; and

Every time your name has appeared in the paper or on a website.

The next step for you is to actually take charge of your Internet image, just as if you were a politician or celebrity.

GOOGLE YOUR OWN NAME!

Accentuate the positive

Eliminate the negative

latch on to the affirmative

(Don’t mess with the in-between, as the next line of the old Arlen and Mercer song says).

Do a total makeover on your profile.

Take control of it, and use it to sell yourself. Find ways to post photos or videos of the positive activities you engage in. Take an inventory of the nice things about yourself that you want people to know. If you don’t have something in your informal internet portfolio, go out of your way to put it there.

Here is the update from yesterday’s blog comment. A subscriber who read yesterday’s blog emailed to say he’d put his resume on LinkedIn a few months ago. Only yesterday, a  nurse manager from a teaching hospital on the mainland called and offered him a job (!) And in the course of the phone call, it turns out that the manager on the other end of the phone had Googled the subscriber, viewed the entire YouTube clip of the subscriber’s wedding including the reception, and taken  special notice of the groom’s chemfree behavior in a social setting. The manager also checked out the web sites of previous employers and other LinkedIn connections.

LinkedIn is sort of like “The FaceBook for Grown-Ups”

Why should your employer pay for a background check when they can find so much free info that you put there yourself?

They need your permission to get a written reference from your past employer; they don’t need permission to Google you.

Ten years ago this may have been spooky. Nowadays it’s becoming normal. In this case it had a warm fuzzy nice outcome.

What would the outcome be if it was your internet portfolio that was being Googled?

Please share this with every new graduate nurse you know, and consider subscribing to this blog.

Peace out

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Is FaceBook hurting your search for a nursing job? 1 Corinthians 13:11

UPDATE: The National Council of State Boards of Nursing now has a video on Social Media for nurses. click here to see it! I strongly recommend that every nurse, new or old, become familiar with this.

Now you have graduated from nursing school and you are out there looking for a job.

Only it is  taking longer than you expected to find that dream job that caused you to study so hard and to dedicate your life to nursing school. Is it me? You ask. Nursing is a profession that demands a high degree of emotional investment, and if you are not getting a job, it’s easy to second-guess yourself down to the core. Think back to when you started nursing school. There were stories about nursing as being recession-proof. The Baby Boomers will all retire and who will replace them? When you started nursing school, you may have met new nurses who were walking proof of what a good career choice nursing is – and it’s true, just three years ago the job market seemed to be wide open compared to how it is now.

It’s the economy.

If you have the sense that the Clock of Doom is ticking, or the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head, lighten up. Look around. The national economy is not some abstract thing that happens only on TV or to everyone else. In the USA we’ve had nine per cent unemployment, part of a worldwide slowdown and the daily news says Europe is in big trouble. Here in USA,  one party in Congress has done everything it possibly could to prevent expansion of health care funding, even though it is needed by an aging population. As long as the anti-Obama forces control congress, it is my belief that the nursing job market is going to be more difficult than it needs to be.  That’s little consolation while you are searching, but it should help your self-esteem: it’s not you.

Small things make a difference.

When there are five applicants per nursing job, sometimes there will be very little difference between the winning candidate and the second- or third- place candidate. It may very well be that some extraneous factor beyond your control, made the difference, such as which high school the winning candidate attended, something they said about being a baseball fan in the interview, that sort of thing. It can be very superficial. The best advice is to be yourself. When you read things like the paragraph above, there is a tendency to try to over-control things and get nervous about saying the wrong thing, or writing the wrong thing. You still need to wake up every day and be who you are. Make a schedule of exercise and time with friends.

There are things you can and should control.

That’s where social media and the internet come in. Any hiring manager will be under pressure to choose the best employee, and they will attempt to learn as much as they can about their applicant, which is why the “foot-in-the-door strategy” (which I will call “FITD”) is so important. I will discuss the FITD strategy  in a future blog, (subscribe now so you won’t miss it!). Now that you have graduated, though, the FITD strategy may not be available to you. In that case, it’s time to take another look at social media.

What does your FaceBook page say about you?

In the past several years we have all been cautioned about HIPAA, over and over again we are warned never to post anything about our patients, online. At every hospital you sign a HIPAA acknowledgement during orientation. All too often the student overlooks the idea that confidentiality affects them too. Your potential employer can use the internet to check you out. They can check your FaceBook page; they can Google your name; they can run a background check (for a fee) and a credit check (nowadays they pressure you to agree to this by putting a box on the application for you to check and give permission.  Did you give them the okay?).  They can legally learn a lot about you  – it’s all there for them to see. Most often, you are the one who put it there.

There are internet “reputation-monitoring services” available to which any employer can subscribe. The way these work is, they run a search for the name of the company, they scour the internet for any possible mention of a given employer’s name, and automatically send an alert to the Human Resources Department for review by a person, whenever the keywords appear. One the one hand, it’s all an invasion of privacy, but on the other hand, when we posted it to the internet, we enabled it ourselves. So, think about it.

Then do the following: Look at your own social media profile from the perspective of your potential employer. Be advised, the H.R. Department person who will look at your profile is likely to be a person older than you with a different sense of humor.   They will have a different idea as to what is funny or disrespectful. If you have to, find a person about your mother’s age who will look at your profile objectively and tell you what it says about you.

Set everything to private.

Learn about the privacy settings on FaceBook, and use them. You don’t have to make it easy for a stranger to find things they don’t like. From the employer’s perspective, a conservative approach is always preferred – if an employee is ever named in a lawsuit, it is inevitable for the attorneys in the case to dig up dirt to discredit that employee. Do you want to be that person? Take yourself out of the “search.” You can hide your FaceBook profile so it won’t show up on a Google search.

Rethink your friends and what they can tag you with.

There is an old saying among high school guidance counselors that to learn about a student, all you need to do is to look at their friends. (I hung out with the nerds in high school.  I was an Eagle Scout for gosh’s sake.  To this day that just about sums me up).  If your friends are presenting themselves in some out-of-the-mainstream way, a reader might conclude that you too, are out-of-the-mainstream.

Look at it from a risk management viewpoint

In the hospital’s defense, they know that errors occur in the hospital industry and they don’t want to ever get sued. They know that if they are ever sued for malpractice, the attorneys will dig up every thing they can on every person involved in a potential problem. Ask yourself: If I was ever sued for malpractice, would I want to explain in court, why I thought something on my FaceBook page was funny or hip?

Scrub your photos, your ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes.’

When I reminded students of this a year or two ago, one person approached to express his gratitude and admitted that it was long overdue to remove some fashion photos in which he appeared wearing only a speedo and  a Mardi Gras mask, covered with gold body paint holding a champagne glass in hand. Another told me she was prompted to remove photos that revealed that her entire torso is covered in tattoos. TMI! (tattoos are a generational thing, and so is body piercing. twenty years from now, it will be okay. For now, the HR person is the same age as your mom, and so it’s not quite in the mainstream).  Set the album to private or remove it altogether.

Go to Google and run a search on your own name.

You will be surprised what you find. Everything you have ever done on the internet since about 1995, is still there. If you ran track in sixth grade, your time is searchable. Don’t believe me? Try it.

That brings up another issue: what is Okay? well, if your profile shows that you are an active churchgoer, humanitarian, well-balanced, hardworking, dependable, loves small children and has a Golden Retriever for a pet – these are good things.

To be continued.

I present these ideas to raise your consciousness level about nursing as a professional career. You can find a Biblical Quote that backs me up. Please consider subscribing to this blog, and sharing as widely as possible. Go to the little box on the right that says “sign me up”

and while you are at it, check out my book on Amazon.

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