Burnout culture for nurses is REAL. You might think that you’re handling the constant overtime, 12-hour days filled with blood and guts and sickness, perfectly fine. But a mental health crisis can creep up on you, and you may not notice you’re in need of a break until you’ve reached a breaking point. It’s good to check in with yourself and recognize when you’re overworked. If you’re in a state of crisis, it’s not good for you or your patients!
Here are four signs you should take a mental health day ASAP.
You feel tired all the time
If you can’t sleep, something’s wrong. And if you are sleeping, but you wake up still exhausted and can’t retain energy throughout the day, something is also very wrong. Sleep can be a vicious cycle for emerging anxiety and depression. If you’re anxious or depressed, it can usually result in a lack of sleep. And then in turn, a lack of sleep can result in more anxiety and depression. If you catch yourself needing more than five cups of coffee a day to keep you going throughout the day, but then find yourself tossing and turning when you try to go to bed, it’s time for a lifestyle change. And it’s hard to reset if you can’t get a break from work. Take a day to look up some natural remedies for retaining your energy throughout the day.
You’re easily set off
You might find yourself crying more than you usually do. Or getting really frustrated at small inconveniences to the point of rage. This usually means you’re exhausted. And you might be even more angry knowing you have a full work week ahead of you and you’ll have no chance to catch up on sleep. Your sensitivity can also manifest in how you treat other people. You might be getting short with people you would usually be more compassionate towards, or your coworkers might annoy you or anger you more than is reasonable. If you’re snapping at people and having mini meltdowns, it’s time to take a step back.
You can’t focus
If you all of a sudden find yourself pivoting from one task to the next without finishing anything, unable to keep your attention on one thing for more than a few minutes, you probably don’t have ADHD. It’s more likely that you’re tired, and maybe a little anxious. This kind of absent-mindedness can lead to careless mistakes, which is not good for a nurse working in an emergency room or the ICU. If you find yourself more scatterbrained than usually and struggling to keep up, take a day to recharge.
“Concentrating on emotional well-being could allow for some mental rest and improve work-related morale,” NYU psychiatrist Marra Ackerman M.D. told Women’s Health. “Practicing mindfulness meditation [during your mental-health day] is one tactic you can use to improve your concentration.”
You can’t stop getting sick
We’ve all been there. That point in your life where you’re working so hard you’re practically always sick with something. Sniffling all the time or a cough that won’t go away (which is extra scary in COVID times) can indicate that your immune system isn’t working as well as it should be. And this is almost always directly linked to a lack of sleep and too much stress. One day of rest can actually make a world of difference for your physical and mental health. Give your mind and body 24 hours to recover and your immune system might bounce back faster than you think.
From childhood, it’s been drummed in all our brains that breakfast is the most important meal. If you skip it, you’re just hurting yourself! But now a new eating trend picking up some steam in the health/nutrition world is saying just the opposite: Go ahead, skip breakfast. It’s actually better for you.
Can this possibly be true? Let’s examine the benefits of intermittent fasting for a travel nurse.
First, what exactly is intermittent fasting? The name sounds complicated, but it’s really not. It’s all about adjusting the cycle between fasting and eating. We already have a cycle in place even if it’s not something we actively think about. The time between when you eat dinner and when you eat breakfast is technically a pretty significant fast (usually between 10-12 hours if you forgo a midnight snack). But in an intermittent fast, this gap widens a little bit. While it varies, this type of fasting usually requires that you avoid any form of calorie intake for about 16 hours. Or put a different way, you are only consuming food ideally from 6-8 hours each day. For energy purposes you want this period to extend some time in the middle of the day. Let’s say you don’t eat until noon and stop eating around 6 or 7 p.m.. So yeah, basically you skip breakfast.
For practical reasons alone, this is a routine that fits pretty well with the work hours of a day nurse. If you’re expected to go in early, 7 a.m. or earlier, it can seem like a hassle to get breakfast ready at the crack of dawn. It’s also not useful. If you eat breakfast at 5 a.m., you are bound to be hungry two hours later, right when your work starts to pick up. So much for that breakfast energy! Mornings are usually busy and hectic in a hospital or clinic. There’s not much of a window to take a breakfast break. So delaying your eating until lunch makes sense. It also makes sense to try and get your dinner over with before your shift actually ends. Getting off at 7, driving home, and having to prepare dinner leaves you eating at 8:30 or 9 o’clock at night, which is bad for your sleep and digestive cycles. Might as well take a quick break and come home fed, ready to watch Netflix and go to sleep.
But are there health and energy benefits? Why yes there are! The first one I mentioned above, it’s much better for your sleep cycle if you’re not eating right before bed, because you sleep better if your body isn’t digesting.
Speaking of digesting, sometimes it’s our instinct to snack regularly throughout the day to curb any feelings of hunger. But intermittent fasting is centered on the idea that your body actually needs a lot of time in between eating, and if you give it that time, you’ll start to curb those feelings of hunger and also reap several other benefits. A lot happens in your body when you take a break from eating. It undergoes cellular repair processes, growth hormones form that help you burn fat and your insulin levels drop (which might not be great if you have type 1 diabetes). Ultimately, you’re giving your body the time it needs to go through all these good processes with the energy you’ve already given it. Imagine your body is like an assembly line. You drop in one item and it has to undergo all of this work before you drop in another, and if you drop in another item too soon, the assembly line clogs up.
So what are some of the results you can see from intermittent fasting? It’s proven to help some in losing weight. There’s one obvious reason this could be true: if you’re only eating 6 hours of the day, you’re probably just eating less than you normally would. And it is proven that when you reduce your calorie intake, your body will start using your stored fat for energy. It’s also just more attainable than dieting. Limiting how much you eat day by day is a lot easier for some than restricting what you can eat. But those bodily processes that happen while fasting, mentioned above, also can play a factor in weight loss. Lower insulin levels and higher growth hormone levels, which both develop when you fast for extended periods of time, facilitate in increasing the body’s metabolism, and thus burning fat more quickly.
There are other benefits, like lowering your risk of Type 2 diabetes and increasing your liver function. On a day to day level, while you might struggle maintaining energy while adjusting to this new eating schedule, most people who intermittently fast report having more energy throughout the day and being able to focus better.
Some studies even say intermittent fasting increases your lifespan. So what are you waiting for? Skip breakfast!
If you’re looking to find a career in travel nursing, you can use our search engine on our home page. You can also use our travel nursing resources if you need help with finding housing, financing, and more.Read More
It is an important time in history for healthcare professionals to examine their own internal biases, and also look at the health care system as a whole. Studies have shown that by and large, Black Americans get less, and sometimes worse, care than white Americans. And much of this discrepancy comes from a distrust sown from years of abuse. We have a list of books you can read to gain a deeper understanding of this history. But if you want a quick overview, here are some things you should know about healthcare and racism.
The Tuskegee experiment
The Tuskegee experiment wasn’t the first time that healthcare professionals mistreated black patients, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But the 40 year study on syphilis that started in 1932 would become infamous among Black people in America. And it would come to represent the way white medical professionals value Black lives. So as a nurse, it’s important you know what happened.
In Macon County, Alabama, 600 Black men were chosen as subjects for a study on untreated syphilis among Black communities. But most of them had no idea they were participating in the study. It was conducted by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) and involved blood tests, x-rays, spinal taps and eventually, autopsies of the subjects. The men chosen for this study, mostly because doctors had recognized syphilis in their lab reports, were simply told they were being treated for “bad blood.” And many received no treatment at all.
Even after penicillin was discovered as a safe and reliable cure for syphilis, the majority of men did not receive it.
On top of knowingly allowing Black men to die of a treatable disease, the experiment was rooted in pseudoscience and incorrect, racist theories of medicine. Scientists at the time believed Black men to be naturally hyper-sexual, and thus more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases. They attributed the lower birth rate and higher miscarriage rates among black communities to STDs, without any real evidence of this being true. Many doctors and medical professionals operated under the assumption that Black men had larger genitals but smaller brains, and thus were inherently sexually perverse and immoral. This kind of pseudoscience helped reinforce the most common motive for lynching black men: accusing them of raping white women. Thus the most brutal forms of racism during the Jim Crow era were inherently linked to healthcare and to the Tuskegee Experiment itself, which in some ways existed to service sexual stereotypes about Black communities.
It was also at the root of scientists’ hypothesis that Black men and women were so unintelligent that they would not seek treatment for syphilis or other diseases. By the 1950s, though, doctors involved in the study were actively trying to stop their patients from learning of or seeking treatment for their disease. And even against their best efforts, 30 percent of subjects who survived to that point had received penicillin treatments.
None of it made sense. Saying that Black men were too “stoic” to seek out or retain treatment for syphilis was inherently flawed because their subjects were told they were already receiving treatment. But the point was to reinforce the idea that Black communities are less likely to seek out medical treatment and thus their higher death and infection rates made sense, absent of any medical malice. It’s important to note because this belief still exists in medicine today.
There’s a lot more to learn about the experiment. This site gives a great and more detailed overview. A final note on the study: It continued until 1972, two decades after the Nuremberg code was written to prohibit harmful human experimentation.
Eugenics and forced sterilization
There were 5,000 black women sterilized without their consent from 1933 to 1973 in North Carolina alone. Never heard of forced sterilization? This is how it happened.
Back in 1849, a Texas biologist and physician proposed a bill mandating sterilization of the mentally handicapped and any of those possessing genes he deemed “undesirable.” The proposed law was rooted in a growing philosophy of the time called eugenics. Eugenics was a belief, largely held by scientists, that you could improve the human species by controlling reproduction, only allowing the birth of children whose parents have “desirable” genetic traits. It was inherently racist. The bill didn’t come to a vote in 1849, but it was the first of its kind. And would come up again and again in the decades to come.
Finally by 1909, Indiana, California and Washington all successfully passed mandatory sterilization laws for the “feebleminded,” meaning mentally handicapped. In 1927, the Supreme Court ruled that forced sterilization was not against the constitution. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”.
By the 1960s, tens of thousands of Americans were sterilized in state-run eugenics programs, according to investigative reporters for NBC News. NBC interviewed women who had gone into the hospital for some kind of procedure, sometimes to give birth, and afterwards, without their consent, were sterilized. One woman, Elaine Riddick, discovered records that an 8-person eugenics board in Raleigh, North Carolina had deemed her “feebleminded” and “promiscuous” and recommended she be sterilized. She was only 13 years old at the time, and was pregnant after being raped by her neighbor. This was what eugenics programs did. A group of white men assessed patients they had never met and deemed whether they were fit to bear children.
This practice was all but endorsed by the White House in the 1970s, when the Nixon administration dramatically increased Medicaid-funded sterilization of low-income Americans, predominantly people of color. While Nixon’s policy required voluntary consent from patients, this restriction was largely evaded. Thousands of patients have come forward to say that they were sterilized without their consent. Almost all of them were black women, Native American women and Puerto Rican women. The last known legal forced sterilization was performed in Oregon in 1981.
Sickle Cell disease
It’s widely known among the medical community that sickle cell disease is more common among Black Americans. Sickle cell is a genetic disease that affects hemoglobin, the molecule in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells throughout the body, and it can cause chronic pain, multi-organ failure and stroke. Because sickle cell is genetic and scientists guess that it began in West Africa, Americans with a strong African ancestry are more likely to have it.
It’s no coincidence that sickle-cell impacts Black Americans more acutely than any other race and sickle-cell research receives far less funding than comparable diseases. There are more cases of sickle cell than cystic fibrosis, yet cystic fibrosis receives 3.5 times more funding. For this reason, there has been far less progress in treating and preventing sickle cell, even though 1 out of 13 black babies are born with the genetic trait.
While life expectancy for almost every major medical condition has increased in recent years, the life expectancy for sickle-cell has decreased. In 1994, life expectancy for sickle cell patients was 42 for men and 48 for women. By 2005, life expectancy had dipped to 38 for men and 42 for women.
It’s not just about funding and research. The way patients with sickle-cell are treated plays a large role in their ability to survive the disease. Many cases of sickle-cell get misdiagnosed, even though a genetic test will make it clear whether a patient has the trait. One medical student said that she was taught to be careful with sickle-cell testing because “they might become de facto paternity tests.” While a sickle-cell test does reveal genetic inheritance patterns, so do tests for cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease. She said there was never a concern about revealing a different “baby-daddy” in these other tests.
Sickle-cell involves dramatic episodes of pain, which need to be treated or they can result in death. But many patients are told to go home, or are left waiting in an emergency room for hours when they are admitted for a sickle-cell flare up. This connects to a pattern of medical professionals continually doubting and undermining the pain of their Black patients.
There’s a fact getting passed around the internet recently that encapsulates the problem with how Black patients are treated: Black Americans were actually spared in the opioid addiction crisis because physicians were so resistant to prescribing them pain medication.
According to MedPage Today, white patients are twice as likely to receive opioids for migraines or back pain as black patients. This is rooted in the false belief that Black patients feel pain less acutely than white patients. A study in 2016 found that half of white medical students in a 200+ person survey believed that there were biological differences between how white and black patients experience pain. And these respondents were more likely to suggest inappropriate treatment for black patients, underscoring how false ideas about race and medicine can cause physicians to act incorrectly in many cases.
This viral Tik Tok coming from white OBG-YN Dr. Jennifer Lincoln puts it best: “It’s a holdover from the days of slavery, when white people needed to feel better about abusing slaves. Black people used to be operated on without anesthesia and were used in studies without their consent, so this was a convenient lie. To this day, Black people are less likely to get the same treatment in terms of pain medication. They’re more likely to wait longer in the emergency room. They’re less likely to be taken seriously. It’s a holdover from the days of slavery.”
As Lincoln pointed out in her Tik Tok, perception of Black pain plays a huge role in the maternal morbidity crisis, one of the most modern areas of blatant racism in healthcare.
According to the CDC, Black women in the U.S. are 243% more likely to die from pregnancy than white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health. Researchers also said that about 60% of all pregnancy related deaths can be prevented with better care.
Many signs of preeclampsia, a dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy which is the leading cause of maternal death, often go ignored for black patients, as the New York Times reported back in 2018. Preeclampsia and the seizures that develop after preeclampsia are 60% more common for Black women. This quote from Times piece seems most telling:
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants — 11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data — a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were considered chattel.”
And while some might chalk a higher infant and maternal mortality rate up to lower income and lack of education, this actually factors very little. A black woman with an advanced degree is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with less than an eighth-grade education.
Even American exceptionalism, or the belief that we are the leader of the world in scientific and all kinds of advancement, is brought crashing down as a result of racism. The lack of care American healthcare offers to Black mothers causes it to rank at the very top among industrial countries in infant and maternal mortality rates. That’s not a list you want to come in at #1. The United States is one of only 13 countries in the world where the rate of maternal mortality is now worse than it was 25 years ago.
Doulas, or a medically trained woman who offers guidance and support during pregnancy and birth, have made a comeback in recent years, as one potential solution to improving care for Black mothers. Community-based doula groups have popped up in cities across the country aimed at providing black women in particular the care they are not getting from their doctors.
Finally, the most recent instance of racism in healthcare is happening right now. The COVID-19 death rate for black Americans is 2.33 times higher than the death rate for white Americans, according to a report put out by the APM Research Lab on June 11. The blog Scientific American put this into context: If Black Americans were dying at the same rate white Americans were, 13,000 people would still be alive.
In today’s health crisis, there’s a throughline of all the historical racism we have detailed for you above. For a century, doctors and physicians have claimed that Black people are genetically dispositioned to contract certain diseases, to die earlier, to wait too long to seek out care. And with the great racial disparity of COVID-19, you’re seeing them do it again. Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, who was a doctor before he was elected, said that there were “genetic reasons” for why Black residents were dying at a higher rate than white residents. He cited no evidence. Scientists writing in Lancet and Health Affairs, some of the world’s leading medical journals, have also cited unknown genetic and biological factors as a possible cause for higher Black death in COVID-19, also providing no evidence.
The widely held concept that there are genetic factors that lead Black Americans to have higher blood pressure and diabetes is dispelled pretty well here. The reality is there are environmental factors that cause Black patients to have underlying conditions like asthma, which could make their COVID symptoms worse: higher rates of pollution in black neighborhoods, lack of quality housing, limited access to healthy food, and racial discrimination in healthcare, for starters.
On top of these underlying health conditions, the care that Black Americans receive when they get sick is also killing them at higher rates. As has been proven in studies and anecdotal evidence throughout history, doctors and physicians tend to not take Black patients’ pain as seriously as white patients. And this has been displayed as many Black patients claim to have been denied COVID-19 tests despite displaying symptoms. According to a study from research firm Rubix Life Sciences, Black patients displaying COVID-19 symptoms were six times less likely to receive testing or treatment, in comparison to white patients who exhibited symptoms.
White communities are also more likely to have more testing sites than Black neighborhoods. NPR reported that Nashville, Tennessee was initially unable to transport tests and PPE to testing sites in neighborhoods that were predominantly Black. And in Chicago, Black neighborhoods had lower testing rates than white neighborhoods.
Once again, Dr. Lincoln’s Tik Tok says it best: “Doctors, nurses, anybody in the medical field, check your implicit bias. Stop yourself every time you’re caring for somebody who has a different skin color than you and check your bias.”Read More
Whether you’re a nurse working on the front lines, or you’re taking this time to be with your family, building a strong immune system is so important right now. While everyone is furiously washing their hands and social distancing, it can be easy to forget about what’s working inside of your body. These home recipes might bring you some peace of mind, knowing that your body is strong and healthy. Plus they taste good and are a fun quarantine activity. Here are five fun immunity boosting recipes you can whip up in your kitchen. Make them for yourself and your kids!
How many times have your friends challenged you on Instagram to, “see a shot, send a shot”? Give your liver a break and take a few swigs of this jam-packed immunity booster shot recipe instead. It’s got every natural ingredient you need to strengthen your immune system, including garlic and ginger, lemon and orange juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, and turmeric. The best part is that most of this should already be hiding somewhere in your kitchen.
Here’s why all seven of these ingredients are like the Immunity Avengers, coming together to save you from any nasty seasonal cold or flu that might have you freaking out unnecessarily during a global pandemic:
Honey and turmeric are rich in antioxidants, which help protect your cells from free radicals, those pesky molecules that pop up when your body breaks down foods. Free radicals can play a role in heart disease, cancer and more common cases of the cold and flu.
Known for killing harmful bacteria, apple cider vinegar is totally the fighter we need in this crisis. And lemon juice and orange juice are both very high in vitamin C. Orange juice also has antioxidants, and lemon juice helps support your heart and digestive health.
Garlic and Ginger are your tale-as-old-as-time immunity boosters. Both have also been known to help reduce the symptoms of the common cold. They also serve as a flavor kick. After all, shots should be exciting!
Add a dash of black pepper and cayenne (also known to boost your metabolism, which is a win-win during this time of unlimited snacking), and you can make this shot in five minutes. Check out the full recipe here. You can make a whole growler full of immunity juice, that way it’s ready for you each morning, or you can make just a glass-full.
This doubles as an immunity booster, and a perfect Spring/Summer refreshment. Bring a pitcher of it outside on the patio while you garden or read a book.
Water Kefir, a bubbly, fruit-infused drink, is similar to Kombucha in that it’s filled with probiotics, but it’s a little bit less complicated to make on your own. It does take about three days to make, but with only five minutes of prep time. All you need is water kefir grains, which you can order on Amazon Prime and have delivered early next week, water, the fruits of your choice mixed with some organic sugar, maybe some ginger, a strainer, a kitchen towel and some big mason jars!
This fruity, refreshing drink is filled with probiotics to heal your gut, give you an energy boost and even clear up your skin. And warding off inflammatory reactions in the gut is also a really natural way to protect your immune system.
If you’re working from home, drink a glass of this halfway through the day and you’ll get a boost of new energy. If you’re going into the hospital, you can take it to go in a cute mason jar!
Here’s the full recipe with several fun variations.
There’s nothing like a superfood that also tastes delicious. That’s why sweet potatoes are always a go-to when you’re trying to eat a clean, plant-based diet. This recipe for sweet potatoes topped with ginger, miso and scallions is particularly good for the immune system.
You cut your sweet potatoes or yams in half, length-wise, and roast them in the oven for 30 minutes. Then you mix butter, shallots, miso and ginger together in a skillet, and spoon your tasty miso butter over your golden roasted sweet potatoes. It’s a delicious lunch, or a great side to go with dinner.
Sweet potatoes themselves are filled with beta carotene and vitamin A, which help support your immune system and also benefit your vision, your heart and even your teeth. They’re called superfoods for a reason! But it’s the other ingredients in this recipe that really make it a one-two-punch for building up the immune system. Miso itself is probiotic and great for the gut and immune system. And as we’ve said before, ginger is a go-to for boosting immunity.
Get the full recipe for this rich and uber healthy treat here.
Smoothies are some of the most fun and tasty ways to get all the good antioxidants, vitamins and probiotics you need to fight off the cold and flu. This one has everything you need and has enough natural sweetness to make it taste delicious.
First, put in some kale and spinach, which will load you up with Vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber and calcium. Whew! Add some mango pineapple and kiwi to make it taste tropical, but also to add even more Vitamin C. Squeeze in some lemon for an extra metabolism boost. And add some ginger because…. Do we even have to tell you?
Mix it all in with some almond milk, or oat milk, and you’ve got yourself a green smoothie. If it’s not quite sweet enough for you, add some cacao nibs — cocoa, believe it or not, is actually an incredible antioxidant! You can also add some avocado if you want a slightly creamier blend.
Sure, it’s easy to buy granola from the store, but often when you read the back-labels, even the more organic-looking blends have a high dose of fructose corn syrup or other artificial flavorings that cancel out the good protein and fiber you’re looking for. So now that we all have a little more time in the kitchen, take a stab at making your own granola!
This recipe is filled with flavorful, natural ingredients that boost the immune system and leave you feeling full throughout the day. Paired with a dollop of greek yogurt, this is truly a breakfast of champions.
You can look at the full list of yummy ingredients for this recipe here. But we’ll highlight some of the best ones helping your body fight off bad actors.
First off, SEEDS. This recipe includes three different kinds of seeds: flax, pumpkin and sunflower. Flax seeds are filled with Omega 3 fatty acids which help your white blood cells fight off disease and infection. Flax seeds, along with pumpkin seeds, are also rich in iron and zinc, which have antiviral and antifungal properties. Sunflower seeds contain selenium, which helps fight certain types of cancers and boosts your immune system. Plus, they’re rich in Vitamin E which gives you healthy skin and nails.
This recipe also includes agave, the nectar of the tequila gods. If your husband or parents ever give you flack about your mid-day quarantine margaritas, you can always defend yourself by pointing out some of agave’s many healing properties. Agave contains fructans and saponins which are both known to boost your immune system.
Your homemade granola will also contain a healthy dose of cinnamon, which is a powerful antioxidant. It helps that all of these things, including the dried, sweetened mangos, are so delicious! Check out the full recipe and see for yourself.
Want to explore more about travel nursing opportunities?
Stability Healthcare is an industry leader in travel nursing. Check out our Travel nursing jobs page for dozens of listings for high-paying gigs all across the United States. If you still have questions, contact our representatives. They are always available to help you start a fascinating career in the travel nursing field.Read More
With many states approaching their peak days as far as the number of cases and deaths attributed to COVID-19, people crave a path to normalcy. However, amid the pandemic, healthcare workers continue their fight to help as many people as possible, with limiting resources and staff members to support them. Coronavirus updates keep changing by the minute, if not by the second. With more confirmed cases, healthcare workers are still trying to piece together the ins and outs of this pandemic. For travel nurses, emergency nurses, and other essential healthcare personnel keeping up with COVID-19 updates are of the utmost importance for their health and wellbeing.
The Latest COVID-19 Numbers
As of this writing, there are 579,005 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and 22,252 total deaths, expanding across 55 jurisdictions. Signs of the spread slowing down are optimistic if people follow social distancing and stay at home. However, there’s no way to guarantee this will happen, and we’ll indeed be able to flatten the curve.
While all of this is continuously happening, healthcare workers and facilities are now facing new challenges of their own. On the one side, healthcare facilities are now looking at strategies to mitigate personnel staffing shortages. On the other, healthcare personnel is scrapping for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as shortages continue to worsen.
Healthcare Workers Looking for PPE
Right now, there’s a severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of PPE. Risk in demand, panic buying by healthcare facilities and civilians, hoarding, and misuse are leaving hospitals struggling to meet needs. The shortage of personal protective equipment is placing doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers at higher risks.
From gloves, respirators, medical masks, face shields, goggles, aprons, and gowns, the need for PPE is real.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, beyond supplies diminishing, prices have surged. For example, surgical masks have increased prices six times.
The concern with supplies is that it might take months to go back to normal. According to the World Health Organization, we need close to 89 million medical masks each month for the COVID-19 response. The number goes up to 76 million when we talk about examination gloves. Plus, 1.6 million goggles per month. To meet these rising demands, the WHO estimates that the manufacturing of PPE must increase by 40 percent.
Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE You Should Know
As healthcare facilities left and right kept looking for ways to optimize the supply of PPE, the CDC stepped in with some guidelines.
- Reserve PPE for HCP and replace PPE typically used for source control with other barrier precautions such as tissues.
- Use re-usable PPE that can be reprocessed.
- Use PPE beyond the manufacturer-designated shelf life for training.
- Consider allowing healthcare personnel to extend the use of respirators, facemasks, and eye protection, beyond single patient contact.
Hospitals and Facilities Looking for Staff
At the frontlines of the outbreak, healthcare workers are finding themselves in an unprecedented staff shortage. Over 9,000 healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 over a week. However, the numbers are not one hundred percent accurate because many cases go unreported. The rise in cases correlates with the shortage of PPE to keep workers safe. Not to mention, ongoing staff shortages in healthcare isn’t a COVID-19 only problem. It’s estimated that even before the outbreak, the US needs to hire 2.3 million new healthcare workers by 2025 to care for the aging population qualitatively.
So far, the states facing the most number of cases include New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, closing the top five. Overall, job postings for healthcare workers tripled in the US in a matter of days. The top states with Coronavirus-related job openings include California, Washington, Georgia, Maryland, and New York. Altogether, these five states account for 61% of the job demand. Out of these job postings, about 21% of the market is looking for Registered Nurses.
The surge in demand for healthcare personnel expands to government entities, nonprofits, the private sector, and beyond. Right now, trying to fill staffing gaps is one of the top priorities to control the outbreak.
What Can You Do?
As a travel nurse, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to navigate the situation. If you’ve chosen to be part of the frontline warriors, reach out to your travel agency to start making the necessary arrangement. Right now, travel nurses with the flexibility to move from one state to another quickly are what most healthcare facilities need. Stability offers placement for nurses in many of the cities experiencing a surge in demand. For all the brave nurses out there, reaching out to the various states battling the outbreak, Stability wants to be your ally and partner to make sure your placement arrangements are as straightforward as possible, so you can focus on what matters the most – caring for others.Read More
One of the most challenging aspects of being a nurse is managing your emotions. When you’re a travel nurse, this often means you don’t have your core support system by your side to balance the long shift and emotional-draining days that come with being a nurse. Some days, especially when anxiety levels are higher than usual, handling your emotions can seem like an impossible task. Nonetheless, you still have to power through and continue duty as usual.
Focus on Self-Care
When your job is to care for others all day, it’s easy to forget about caring for yourself. However, the best way to handle your emotions is by focusing on self-care. From making sure you’re eating healthy, taking time to do things you enjoy, and caring for your mental health.
Even with hectic schedules, you can still find a few minutes to focus on self-care. The best way to incorporate self-care into your lifestyle is by setting a time on your schedule. Set 15-minutes to a daily lecture, go for a walk outside, or something as simple as taking a hot shower at the end of the day.
Work on Your Emotional Intelligence
One of the most critical skills you’ll develop as a nurse is your emotional intelligence. One study says emotional intelligence (EI) can be 2x as important as technical skills. Successful nurses have an above-average EI, which will be essential to manage your emotions.
Working on your EI will not help boost your professional career, as people with high EI tend to be more empathetic. But, it will also help you manage how other people’s emotions affect you. Some ways to work on your emotional intelligence include:
- Practicing self-awareness
- Motivating yourself to do what you love
- Staying open to feedback
Find a Support System
In any job, especially in nursing, finding “your person,” one you can go to for support and venting. Having this kind of support at work is paramount, particularly for dealing with highly emotional days. Find a person that you can trust, that lets you describe how you’re feeling, and shares frustrations but also is as passionate as you’re about nursing.
Additionally, working on maintaining your support system back home. If your family isn’t close, make sure you reach out to them whenever possible. Phone calls, text messages, and video calls are all wonderful ways to stay connected with your family.
Have a Safe Space
While having friends at work helps take time off and relax, you also need a safe space. Find a safe space at work you can resort to whenever you need a few minutes for yourself. Consider this safe space your venting space to cry, deep breathe, sit for a minute or two. Don’t be picky about this spot. The bathroom, an empty patient room, or a staff break room can also be helpful.
Practice Deep Breathing
The power of breathing can do wonders for managing your emotions. All you need is five minutes to reset yourself. Whenever you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or experiencing emotional stress on the job, a deep breathing practice can help.
One of the most popular and effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 technique. Here’s how to do it:
- Exhale making a whoosh sound.
- Close your lips, breathe in for four.
- Hold your breath for seven counts.
- Exhale and open your lips, making a whooshing sound for eight counts.
When you take time to practice deep breathing, make sure you do so in a quiet and calm space. Remember that you can’t control everything, deep breath can help you regain control of your emotions.
Know When to Seek Help
While we can do many things to manage our emotions as nurses, sometimes it isn’t enough. Recognize that sometimes talking to a professional can be beneficial. A mental health professional can help you find the right techniques for managing your anxiety levels. Try to carve time in your schedule to visit a therapist or talk in a support group.
If you’re noticing that your anxiety levels are higher, you’re struggling with depressive episodes, or you’re having a harder time than usual processing emotions, it might be time to speak to someone.
Handling Your Emotions Is an Ongoing Process
Every day is a different hurdle. If you have a difficult patient or an emotional case, know that it’s okay to cry, to feel stressed, or to need a break. It’s fine to need to talk away from the situation.
Remember that handling your emotions is an ongoing process. Take time to focus on your emotional intelligence. Find a mentor how can couch you through emotionally-challenging situations. And practice self-awareness in your life. Recognizing and managing your emotions as a travel nurse will benefit your professional and personal life.
If you ever need help with assignments, handling the stress of continually moving, or need the right assistance to find help. Don’t forget to reach out to your agency recruiter for help.
The concept of social distancing during COVID-19 is daunting, but incredibly important. As a travel nurse, you should still be practicing social distancing while you’re not at work. Keep in mind that even though Stability Healthcare offers day one insurance with United Healthcare, you still want to take steps to keep yourself in the best physical shape.
It’s easy to feel sluggish while you’re home, especially in between shifts. It’s important to remember that keeping active will help with your energy levels and overall health. Below, find an overview of what social distancing is, and how to stay active when you have to actively distance yourself.
What is social distancing?
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, social distancing “is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.” That’s why upcoming events, such as conferences and concerts, and non-essential businesses, like movie theaters and restaurants, have been closed until further notice. Additionally, the CDC recommends that people stay at least six feet away from each other, preferably more. This applies when you need to go out for necessities, like food or medication.
This does not mean that you should still go to the beach or a popular hiking path. The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay at home. Even though a brisk walk to get a latte from the walk-up coffee shop seems tempting, it’s not worth the risk. Protect yourself and others by staying at home.
Ways to stay active while socially distancing yourself
Use online methods to exercise
Skip going to the gym, whether it’s in your apartment building or on the way to work, and exercise at home instead. Chances are, your gym is closed anyway. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of credible online guides for at home workouts. If you’re lucky, you may have some equipment at home to work with, such a stationary bike or weight lifts. However, don’t fret if you don’t own any workout equipment. There are several bodyweight exercises you can do, or you can turn objects you have at home into make-shift weights. Here is a brief list of a few suggested exercise guides:
The MyFitnessPal app is available online and on most smartphones. In addition to being a useful tool if you’re counting calories and tracking your weight, the app offers different exercise routines. These routines fall in different categories – “Healthy At Home”, “Run Strong,” “Core Strength,” etc. There are also different routine lengths – so if you need a quick workout between your travel nurse shifts or a longer workout for when you have the evening off, MyFitnessPal can be tailored to your needs. Although the basic app is free, you can upgrade for perks like macro and micro counting food, amongst others.
Making household objects into weights
This will depend on what you have available at your house and if you like to lift weights. For decades, people have been turning household objects into weights; cans of beans, milk carton, vinegar bottles, laundry detergent, and more. There are quite a few articles that give suggestions on what to use and how to use them, like Cosmopolitan, Thrillist, and HBFIT. Obviously, this is customizable to what you have in your household.
Blogilates (plus other Youtube channels!)
Blogilates was started by Cassey Ho about a decade ago. Since then, she’s won awards for her social fitness videos, and has amassed millions of social media followers and subscribers. She has hundreds, if not thousands, of videos to choose from, ranging from 10-minute core exercises to full-length at home workouts. She also does 30-day workouts, which include different daily routines. Seeing as social distancing is most likely going to span several weeks, this may be a fun challenge to try. Ho is incredibly easy to understand and is very encouraging, and a great at-home workout guru for beginners.
Purchase at-home workout equipment and guides
If you feel like you need actual weights, try looking online. Even though a lot of websites are backed up due to COVID-19, if you’re willing to wait a week or two, you should be able to get some basic weights online. On Amazon, you can buy everything from dumbells to weight lifting benches. If you’d like to support smaller companies, you can buy their in-house tools, like the Glute Lab’s glute loop.
Why is being physically active important?
There are ways physical activity benefits your overall health; it puts you at lower risk for chronic diseases, early death, cancer, diabetes, and more. Additionally, according to the CDC, higher amounts of physical activity can lower your annual health bills, improve your cognitive function, and help you destress. By keeping active during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can encourage your own personal and mental health.Read More
There’s always been an emphasis on washing hands – you’ve heard it from your parents, from your middle school health teacher, from the employee posters on the wall in restaurant bathrooms. However, many are unaware of its extreme importance, and how effective it truly is in preventing illness and disease. Handwashing helps protect yourself and others from getting sick and is a key factor in helping to stop pandemics, like the recent wave of coronavirus. Despite being taught how hand washing is beneficial, most people don’t know how to wash their hands correctly. Look below for a guide on how to do so.
Why You Should Wash Your Hands
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proper handwashing can help prevent the passing of infections and germs between people. Using water and antibacterial soap mostly eliminates germs from your hands. This is significant because people often touch their eyes, faces, and mouths, which are the primary orifices through which germs get into the body. Additionally, there are many customs throughout the world that have people touching each other’s hands, like a handshake as a greeting, which can lead to the spread of germs. If a person doesn’t practice proper handwashing, they can also pass along germs through the objects they touch, like handrails, door handles, etc.
Historically, the introduction of handwashing has helped decrease the number of people who get sick with respiratory issues and gastrointestinal illness, especially in more susceptible populations like children. Hand washing can also aid in fighting antibiotic resistance. If there are fewer infections, there will be fewer antibiotics prescribed.
How to Properly Wash Your Hands
- Turn on the faucet, wet your hands, turn off the faucet. You can use any temperature of water. There have been no significant studies that prove warm water is more effective in removing germs while hand washing, which is a huge plus for those whose skin may be irritated by hot water. By turning off the faucet, you’ll save water.
- Apply soap to your hands, lathering all over, including under your fingernails, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. It may seem counterintuitive to turn off the faucet and touch it again to turn it on, but there is no information that there is a significant amount of germs transferred between faucets and hands. Lathering and scrubbing with soap is one of the most important steps while washing your hands. It is much more effective in killing germs versus just washing your hands with water, and the friction helps pick up any microbes or foreign substances (like dirt) that can be on your skin. The ideal time for scrubbing is 20 seconds. If you have a hard time singing, you can think or hum the alphabet song twice.
- Rinse with clean water. After you’re done, turn off the faucet. This will ensure that you get all of the soap off your hands. If there is any leftover residue, it could cause potential skin irritation. Although many people in the past have recommended using a paper towel to touch the faucet and turn it off, there is no evidence that supports that this is an accurate safety measure against germs. Instead, it can lead to paper towel waste.
- Dry your hands. To dry your hands, use either a clean towel or air dry them. Studies that examine the benefits of using hand dryers are lacking, so as of now, a clean towel or air drying is the best method.
When and how to use hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is not interchangeable for hand washing. According to the CDC, soap and water is capable of eliminating more germs than hand sanitizer. Additionally, hand sanitizer is less effective when hands are visibly dirty (think dirt, oil, grease, etc.) However, if soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer is better than nothing.
A person should use a hand sanitizer that is made up of at least 60% alcohol. Typically, only a small amount is needed, but the label on the bottle will specify how much a person should use. Squeeze a dollop onto one palm and then rub your hands together until both hands are covered and dry.
There are many misconceptions about how to properly wash your hands. Clearly, correct handwashing is especially important during flu seasons (look at Stability Healthcare’s blog post about Coronavirus here), but the main priority is to always practice the right way of handwashing.
As a reminder, Stability Healthcare offers multiple healthcare plans when you’re a travel nurse. The best way to not get sick is to use prevention methods, like hand washing or using hand sanitizer in cases when you’re not able to use soap and water. Keep in mind that you’re not just keeping yourself safe, but you’re keeping others safe too!Read More
As a travel nurse, you’re at the frontlines of defense against the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As confusion, anxiety, and fear continue to escalate, the outbreak shows no slowing signs with more than 101,900 confirmed cases, 3,486 deaths, and 94 countries with cases, as of March 7th. Let’s explore the various ways you can stay safe as a travel nurse.
Keep Up with the Updates
While you don’t have to read every five-minute alert about the Coronavirus, knowing the basics is paramount. What we know about the COVID-19 virus right now is that it spreads person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced by coughs or sneezes. There’s some belief that if a person touches a surface infected with COVID-19 and then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes, the virus can also enter the system.
The incubation period is anywhere between 2-14 days, with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms are very similar to the common flu or a cold.
How to Stay Safe as a Travel Nurse
Although there’s no way to prevent the infection, taking careful measurements is your best defense against the Coronavirus. The CDC recommends that all healthcare professionals working throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to practice Standard Precautions, Contact Precautions, and Airborne Precautions.
- Hand Hygiene: using alcohol-based wipes and washing your hands. Remember to do this before and after touching a patient, even if you use gloves, after contact with fluids or blood, after aseptic tasks, and after glover removal.
- Wear Personal Protective Equipment: always wear gloves, gowns, goggles, and face shields, as well as N95-or higher respirators.
- Use Disposable Patient-Care Equipment: if there’s multiple-patient equipment that can’t be disposed of, then clean and disinfect the equipment before re-using.
- Limit transport of patient: make sure patients are in a room that requires minimal interaction outside of the room, even for medical purposes.
- Follow Etiquette Procedures: adhere to respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, hand hygiene, and triage procedures throughout the visit.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Avoid touching any public surfaces, bathroom handles, doors, etc.
Myths and Facts about the Coronavirus
With so much information out there, it can be challenging to differentiate what’s real from what’s not. Make sure you’re always fact-checking updates with organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), who continue to share valid information every hour.
COVID-19 Is Deadly – Myth
Fact: Not to degrade the toll of the losses to Coronavirus, but so far, the fatality rate for this disease is still under four percent. Almost 80% of the cases report mild symptoms, with some people reporting no symptoms at all. At the moment, those who are at higher risk are people over the age of 60, smokers, and those with underlying medical conditions. Not to mention, fatalities are linked t further complications exacerbated by the virus, not the COVID-19 infection itself.
The Virus Only Affects Old People – Myth
Fact: While older populations are at higher risk, the Coronavirus can affect people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. What’s true, though, is that older people are more susceptible to complications and, as with any other virus, have a harder time fighting the illness.
Alcohol Wipes Kill the Virus – Myth
Fact: While it’s partially true that using rubbing-alcohol wipes can help disinfect your hands, it won’t prevent the virus from entering your system. Make sure you’re using a hand sanitizer with over 60% alcohol to kill microbes. Using hand sanitizing wipes will also help you get the bacteria off your hands and surfaces.
More Resources for Healthcare Professionals
As a travel nurse, odds are you’re taking the necessary steps to stay safe already. Beware that if you’re in the process of starting a new assignment, or if you’re being transferred to a new hospital to support the Coronavirus efforts, you’re likely to get tested before you can start your new position.
In the meantime, take the news with a grain of salt. Stay updated with your hospital’s prevention and containment plans. For more, here are some resources by the CDC:
- Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist For Transport and Arrival of Patients Potentially Infected with COVID-19
- Interim Guidelines for Collecting, Handling, and Testing Clinical Specimens from Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19
- Sequence for Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Important Steps for Using NIOSH-Approved N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators
- Healthcare Professionals: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
As always, if you have questions about how to manage your travel nursing assignments during the Coronavirus outbreak, feel free to contact our representatives for guidance.
Anywhere between 50 to 70 million US adults struggle with a sleeping disorder. Travel nurses are no exception. As a travel nurse, it’s easy to struggle with sleeping habits as you work long hours. Not to mention, moving from one state to another can often leave you with a jet-lag-like sleeping pattern that disrupts your energy, stress, and anxiety levels.
There are so many factors that interfere with sleep, that one can hardly find a one to control them all. However, you can develop healthy sleeping habits to help you find restorative sleep every night. Keep reading for some science-backed tips to get better sleep.
1. Set a Schedule
Having a sleeping schedule is paramount for travel nurses. As your working hours can shift, your time zones vary, and your workdays fluctuate, a sleeping schedule helps you stay consistent. Studies suggest that going to bed and waking up at the same time is beneficial for long-term sleep quality.
For better sleep, consider going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Keep in mind, this might be challenging at first, but even if all you had was a few hours of sleep, wake up at your scheduled time and work your way up to sleeping seven to eight hours a night.
2. Use Light to Manage Your Circadian Rhythms
You probably know that your circadian rhythms regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It responds to light or darkness exposure, which means how we interact with these throughout the day will impact our sleeping cycle.
Make sure you’re getting enough sun and light exposure during the day to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. A critical aspect during the winter months and for travel nurses serving in states that have low sun exposure. One study says getting at least two hours of sun exposure a day can improve your sleep patterns by 80 percent.
Additionally, you also want to be wary of blue light at night. Nighttime light confuses your brain, making it believe it’s still daytime, which suppresses the release of melatonin hormones, further disrupting sleep cycles. Stay away from blue light at least two hours before bedtime, and make sure your bedroom is free of any bright lights.
3. Create the Ideal Sleeping Environment
Where we sleep is as essential as every other piece of advice on this list. While as a travel nurse, you won’t always be able to set everything up to your preference, you should try to keep specific guidelines on your bedroom to help you sleep better.
To start, make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable and supportive mattress. If the one available at your housing location, consider investing in a mattress topper to guarantee comfort. Keep things like external noise, lighting, and temperature controlled. One study believes temperature is the biggest disruptor when it comes to sleep. Keep the room anywhere between 60 to 67 degrees or a temperature that feels cold but comfortable.
4. Watch Your Diet
What you eat during the day can impact your sleeping cycle as well. Stay away from cigarettes, alcohol, and of course, caffeine if you’re struggling with your sleep. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, avoid any consumption of caffeinated foods or drinks after 2 pm.
Additionally, make sure you time your dinners accordingly. Late-night eating can disrupt the natural secretion of melatonin, disrupting your sleeping cycle. However, if hunger strikes, consider a light late-night snack at least 45 minutes before bedtime. Try warm milk, oatmeal, yogurt, mozzarella cheese, crackers with cheddar, or turkey with cream cheese.
5. Find a Sleeping Routine
Work-related worries, lifestyle woes, and other stressful thoughts can mess up with your sleeping schedule. Consider finding the right sleeping technique to signal your brain and body is bedtime. Take a hot bath or shower, try essential oils, practice meditation. Maybe go through a short yoga or stretching routine before heading to bed. Breathing techniques also help.
Find a sleeping routine that works for you, and just as your waking-up and going-to-bed schedule, stick to this routine every day. After a while, your brain will immediately tell you’re getting ready for bedtime and start making you feel more rested and sleepy.
6. Avoid Taking Naps
Skipping daytime naps might be a daunting ask for travel nurses. While naps can be beneficial, they can also confuse your body’s internal clock. The truth is, short and scheduled naps can be helpful and improve brain function. The problem is that long naps — over 30 minutes — make your brain think it’s time for bedtime, leaving you more exhausted than before and hurting your sleeping patterns when it’s time to sleep.
If you have difficulties sleeping at night, avoid daytime napping as much as possible. Instead of crashing in the middle of the day, look forward to a complete sleep session every night.
7. Rule Out Sleeping Disorders
Last but not least, make sure you’re not dealing with a sleeping disorder. If you’re following all the tips outlined before, you even incorporated sleeping aid supplements such as melatonin to your nutrition plan, and you’re still struggling, something else might be happening.
Going back to the start, almost 70 million people in the US have some sleeping disorders. Speak with your primary care physician to look at your options. Maybe it might be time to talk to a sleep therapist and get to the root cause of your poor sleep.Read More