Navigating HealthCare

 

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I am going to give you some basic tips for getting through your next hospital visit.

1.    Carry your insurance card as well as some form of identification with you.
2.    Have a list of your medications and maybe even several copies. Have the list up to date.
3.    Write down past medical history on that list.
4.    Write down your allergies and tell them to everyone that you see.
5.    Show up early for your appointments. Registration takes time.
6.    Have a list of your vaccinations. Know what you have had and when.
7.    Ask, ask, ask questions. Don’t be a bystander in your healthcare, be an active participant.
8.    When someone gives you a drug, ask what it is for.
9.     If someone orders a test, ask why.
10.    Ask for your test results.
11.    Ask for explanations. It is your right.
12.    If you feel uncomfortable, tell someone.
13.    Carry a notebook and pen with you during a hospitalization to write down any questions that you have.
14.    If you have a healthcare proxy form or any advanced directive form, bring that with you.

This is just a small list, but by asking questions, having the appropriate documentation and lists with you- you can make your journey through the healthcare system much more manageable.

~SarahLee, RN

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So You Want to Be a Nurse?

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Are you thinking of changing careers? Are you thinking of finding a career? Have you thought about being a nurse?

Being a nurse can be great work, but it can be hard. A nurse often works 8-12 hour shifts, sometimes without breaks. A nurse sees people at their worst and at their most vulnerable, when they are sick. Being a nurse can be very rewarding, but to become a nurse should not be taken lightly.

I thought that I would offer a little bit of advice to you about what to consider if you are considering nursing.

First, why are you thinking about being a nurse? Do you care about people? How are you when someone is hurt? Are you sympathetic? These are all good qualities to have if you want to be a nurse. If you don’t have the foundation of caring for others, you may burn out very quickly.

Do you know what a nurse does? A nurse does much more than hand out band-aids and water. A nurse assesses patients, formulates a nursing diagnosis, implements a plan of care and then evaluates that plan of care. Each of those steps involve more than you might think. Have you ever followed around a nurse for a day? If you haven’t I suggest that you find someone to follow to get your feet wet and see if this is something that you want to do.

What kind of nurse do you want to be? There are (in the United States) LPNs, or Licensed Practical Nurses. There are RNs, or Registered Nurses. Each of these nurses have different job descriptions and responsibilities. A person can become a LPN generally by completing a 1-2 year course. A person can become a RN by several different routes. To be a RN you have to have an Associates degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. The interesting thing to keep in mind is that whether you have a 2 or 4 year degree, everyone has to take the same board test for nursing, the NCLEX. Many nurses obtain their 2 year degree, pass the NCLEX and then move towards their 4 year degree while working as a nurse. Other nurses go and get the 4 year degree and then take the NCLEX. Of course, following the ADN or the BSN, a Master’s Degree can be obtained in several areas including nurse education and nurse practitioner.

The great thing about being a nurse is that there are so many different areas to be a nurse! You could work in a hospital, in a home care setting, in a Dr.’s office, on ships, on planes and in other countries. Generally after a nurse graduates he or she works on a general Medical-Surgical floor for at least a year to gain experience. Many nurses then specialize in certain areas such as pediatrics, intensive care, emergency care and operating rooms.

There are many great resources out there for those who are learning about this profession. One great resource is the Johnson and Johnson Discover Nursing Campaign. This site provides information regarding the different areas of the nursing career path. The site also provides information about scholarships and schools for aspiring nurses.

This little article has only scratched the surface of what it involves to become a nurse. I encourage anyone who is seriously considering this amazing and at times stressful career to carefully do research.  Make sure that you would be a good fit for the profession, and that the profession would be a good fit for you.

I wish you well!

~SarahLee RN