Both male and female nurses experience higher rates of suicide than non-nurses, according to a national study from last year. The study, conducted by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, showed that the rate of suicide for female nurses was 11.97 per 100,000 and the rate for male nurses was 39.8 per 100,000. Both are statistically much higher than the suicide rate for non-nurses (7.58 and 28.2 per 100,000 respectively).
Especially in the wake of COVID-19, when many nurses are confronted with war-like emergency rooms, challenging and uncertain medical quandaries and a lot of death, it’s even more important to check in with yourself and others about your mental health.
“Nurses are known not to care for themselves as much as they care for others. It’s just a part of who we are,” RN Nurse Judy Davidson told MedPage Today. Davidson spearheaded the study after three nurses at UC San Diego died by suicide within a short period of time. “But now with this whole movement towards preventing burnout, increasing joy in the workplace, increasing resiliency, this is a piece of that puzzle … sadly it took a tragic event to get the ball rolling.”
In support of Suicide Prevention Month, we’re providing resources and information about depression, where to go if you need to seek help, how to recognize the signs of suicide risk in your colleagues and how to talk to them about it. This week’s blog is all about how to check in with your coworkers and understand depression so that you can be an empathetic advocate for those who might be struggling around you.
Checking in on your friends and colleagues
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: You never know what the people around you are going through. Someone could have a bubbly and bright personality all day long and still have a life-long struggle with depression. So first and foremost, always be kind when you can, even if that kindness isn’t always reciprocated.
But also, check in with your friends and colleagues at work, especially on busy weeks or even difficult news weeks. Saying “how are you?” doesn’t always cut it. Often, there is shame associated with depression and suicidal thoughts and for those who are struggling, it can be hard to answer a question like that honestly. Instead, try some of these alternatives when you want to check in.
Recognizing the Signs
It’s important to think preventatively about mental health, for both yourself and those around you. And prevention often involves access to mental health resources, being kind and paying attention to those around you, looking for ways you can do things together and encourage each other. But it’s also important to recognize if someone has reached a certain threshold with their mental health that is concerning and possibly life-threatening. While it’s true that a lot of people conceal their depression, and are able to function well even though they are struggling, there are some signs to look out for that might indicate a friend or colleague is considering hurting themselves.
Some of these signs include an increase in drinking or drug use, talking about being a burden to others, asking existential questions like “why does any of it matter?”, extreme mood swings, behaving recklessly or without concern for consequences and strong amounts of negative self-talk. Here are additional warning signs to look for.
In assessing whether some of these signs might be indicating that your friend or coworker is in danger, you could always use this list of suicide risk assessment questions from the Lippincott Nursing Center:
* How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?
* Do you ever feel like just giving up?
* Are you thinking about dying?
* Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
* Are you thinking about suicide?
* Have you thought about how you would do it?
* Do you know when you would do it?
* Do you have the means to do it?
* Have you ever attempted to harm yourself in the past?
It may seem weird to use your nursing skills on other nurses but even if your colleague catches on to what you’re doing, it might indicate to them that someone else cares about their wellbeing.
What to do if you suspect someone you know is suicidal
If you’ve recognized a few warning signs and perhaps have even confirmed that a coworker or friend suffers from depression and has considered self-harm, what do you do now?
There are three things you should do right away if you seriously think someone might harm themselves.
The first is not to leave them alone. Invite them over for dinner and insist on them coming if they decline the first couple of times.
The second, if you really think they are in immediate risk, is to call a local emergency number or contact a trained professional right away. Fortunately, you both work in healthcare, so you should have even more access to someone who is qualified to help. If you’re concerned for a friend but don’t think they’re an immediate danger to themselves, you might decide to instead encourage them to call a suicide hotline, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) which will put you in touch with a trained counselor.
And the third is to tell a family member what is going on as soon as possible.
After you have responded to someone’s immediate risk, here are a few things you can do to continue supporting them:
- Get their insurance information and make a list of licensed therapists in their network. Offer to set up initial appointments for them to get the ball rolling.
- If they have to undergo emergency treatment, make future plans with them doing something normal like going to the farmer’s market or an exercise class. Make it clear that just because they’re going through something doesn’t mean that your friendship will change or that you’ll start treating them differently.
- Make sure to acknowledge their feelings and be careful about not dismissing anything they confide in you as irrational. Emphasize that they’re not a burden to you and that you want to hear from them about what they’re going through.
For more info, check out this guide to supporting your depressed friends.
You’ve done it! Cap and gown, diploma, everything. You’re the freshest nursing school grad on the block, licensed and all, and you’re ready to hit the hospital or clinic floor running.
Maybe this is actually you or maybe you’re in the throes of fall semester and you’re manifesting this dream. But either way, you’ve done the hard work and now it’s time to talk about the fun stuff: SHOPPING.
There’s a lot you need to start your first nursing gig. Scrubs are a given, but here are five other essentials you don’t want to forget about before your first day.
#1: Comfortable shoes
Especially for new nurses, this one is an essential. Working those 10 hour shifts on your feet is a great time to discover that your favorite comfy shoes are maybe not as reliable as you thought. Not to worry though, there some are brands of kicks that have held tried and true for nurses and they have a lot of cute options.
Nursemates sells tennis shoes, slip-ons and clogs that are custom designed to keep you standing for hours on end. They also come in dozens of cute designs, so you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. Seriously, some of these are so cute, you’ll have no problem wearing them to the bar at the end of your shift.
Naturalizer is another brand that’s affordable, stylish and designed to be walked in all day long. They come recommended by podiatrists for having a sole that supports your heels and the balls of your feet, while also coming in several different width sizes and keeping you cool on the outside. And they’re cute! There’s lots of options on their website. But you can also buy them for a little cheaper on Amazon.
Another shoe that comes recommended by podiatrists is the Nike Tanjun Sneaker. These are a classic style that won’t get scuffed up easily and are roomy and comfy all day long. You really just can’t go wrong with the right sneakers.
No matter how good the brand is, being on your feet all day long will wear out the soles on any shoe you buy. So to take care of your feet, make sure you stock up on a couple different shoes to wear throughout the week. And also feel prepared to restock on your fave sneaks about twice a year. Here’s a good guide to knowing when it’s time to replace your shoes.
#2: A watch
This is an easy one to forget about, but essential. A watch that indicates seconds is crucial for patient care. Whether you’re monitoring vitals or injecting medication, you need to know you can count the seconds. Scrubs and beyond sells watches specifically for nurses. So does Speidel — theirs are a little more expensive, but really cute.
#3: A good stethoscope
Are you actually a nurse if you don’t have a stethoscope hanging around your neck? You might already have a few of these from your clinicals and classes, but it’s good to start fresh on your first real job. High quality stethoscopes can last your whole career. Reliable brands like Littman can be expensive, but worth your while. In fact, this might be a good thing to have on your register of graduation presents if you haven’t had your big day yet.
These little reference cards carrying helpful tips about anatomy, pharmacology, heart rhythms, lab orders and more, will be a life saver for you your first couple of weeks on the job. ScrubCheats sells pocket-sized cheat sheets in packets of 150 and more. Wade through them and pick the essentials to carry around with you so you can double check yourself.
#5: A Badge Reel
The one thing you should really avoid doing in your first week (aside from killing anyone) is losing your hospital or clinic badge. It’s not a good look to need a replacement early on, but as hectic as your first week will likely be, it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Sure, your clinic or hospital might give you a basic badge reel to keep on your person, but if you come prepared with one you like, you might be more likely to notice if it’s suddenly gone. Plus the hospital ones are cheap.
There are a ton of fun options out there, but here are a few we love.
Boojee Beads has a ton of fun options from pretty brooches, to funny designs to very classic and chic reels.
Uniform advantage also sells some sweet reels, and cute lanyards too!
And of course, if you’re looking for something artistic or quirky, Etsy shops will always be around to fill your shopping needs. Here are a few of our favorite reels on Etsy:
This sunflower reel you can personalize with your name or “RN” (*crying emoji* so cute).
These rose floral reels are adorable and cheap.Read More
Only about two-thirds of participants pass the NCLEX. With all of the content that is shown on that exam, this statistic shouldn’t come as too much of a shock.
However, if you want a career in travel nursing, you need to pass this exam.
If you’re worried about passing the NCLEX or just want some study tips, keep reading. We have the best tips and tricks for taking and passing the NCLEX exam. Just keep reading.
Cater Your Studying to Your Learning Style
You need to cater to your learning style while you’re studying. This is the best way to soak up as much information as possible.
Be sure that you take the time to understand what your learning style is. Take some time to think about how you’ve learned well in the past.
For example, you may remember your Latin conjugations from high school because you made songs to learn them. If so, you’re probably a musical learner. Use songs and rhymes to learn new information.
Whatever your learning style is, cater towards it. Don’t cut yourself short and think that reading is enough. If you aren’t an auditory learner, you aren’t helping yourself.
Start Earlier Rather Than Later
The earlier you start studying for the exam, the better off you’ll be. If you start the week before, you’re not likely to have much success on the exam.
You want to give yourself the most amount of time possible to study for the NCLEX, especially if you have multiple subjects that you’re feeling weak in.
Many students make a study schedule the semester before they start studying for the exam, just to ensure that they know exactly what they’re going to be doing well in advance. It’s also important to schedule the exam around studying for class.
Look Over Past Exams
Your nursing professors likely formed your exams similarly to the NCLEX. Many nursing professors do this to make sure that you’re studying for the NCLEX while you’re studying for their exams.
Looking over those exams can remind you of how your professors phrased the questions and answers. You can refresh your memory as to how some questions may have tripped you up in the past as well.
If you don’t have access to old exams, there are many online exams that mimic NCLEX exams. You can use those to help you prepare for the kinds of questions that may show up on the NCLEX.
Finding Your Career in Travel Nursing After You Pass
Once you’ve conquered the exam and passed with flying colors, it’s time to get ready for your career in travel nursing. Finding a job after all of that studying shouldn’t be more stressful than the exam itself.
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.
We wish you luck with your exam and your future career in travel nursing. You can do this!Read More
Despite the grueling nature of working as a nurse in the middle of a pandemic, many students are flocking to the career. Some nursing schools have reported more than a 30 percent increase in applicants since COVID-19 broke out.
This is likely because in an uncertain economy, nursing jobs are really needed. In a report, The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) said there will likely be a need for 203,700 new RNs each year through 2026, and those numbers will be even higher amid the pandemic.
But for those who are already in nursing school, on the path to gaining their RN license, the future might feel a little uncertain. While all college students are adjusting to online classes, nursing students have it a little harder. There are 500 hours of direct patient care and 1,000 hours of clinical hours required to complete a nursing program certified by the AACN. And the association has made it clear that these hours are still required, despite some hospitals that have been hesitant to invite a class of undergrads into their clinics and emergency rooms.
Nursing students face challenges on two ends of a spectrum: Some are struggling to get the clinical hours they need without proper licensing to work in a hospital, and others are being propelled onto the front lines of fighting this virus, as hospitals in particularly affected areas are struggling to maintain their staffing needs.
For those who might be feeling in over their head, we’ve interviewed a nursing student at the University of Portland about how her program is adjusting amid the pandemic.
Q: Are you still expected to do clinicals? Is that scary for you?
My clinical was in an assisted care facility so our rotation ended early to protect the residents and limit exposure. The abrupt ending was scary because we were worried about meeting our program’s clinical hour requirement but luckily we were able to do so through additional assignments.
Q: Do you feel like nursing students are getting thrown into work early because hospitals are understaffed?
I have not experienced this where I am, but I definitely heard talk of that being a possibility if hospitals turned chaotic.
Q: Has a lot of what you’re learning shifted to treating COVID-19? Or how has your curriculum changed at all during this time?
The content of my curriculum remained the same with additional lessons that incorporated emerging information about COVID-19. My cohort was supposed to start our summer semester and clinical rotation in May but for many reasons, it was canceled. Our curriculum for our senior year has been shifted and we will graduate in August of 2021 rather than May of 2021.
Q: How are you feeling during all of this? Is there something that helps keep you calm, sane?
The transition to online learning was very stressful. The shift in our curriculum and graduation date was very upsetting, but knowing that I will be able to start my senior year in the fall has kept me sane and given me something to look forward to.
What’s been the hardest part of nursing school during the pandemic for you?
Being in nursing school in the middle of a pandemic and having to switch to online learning was extremely overwhelming. The hardest part was finding the same motivation to study and focus on school, being at home with a big family rather than on campus. Although this situation has been scary and difficult, it has made me even more empowered to join this profession.
If you’re a nursing student in your final two semesters and you’re struggling financially, the AACN Foundation announced in April that they are launching a COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund. Students selected will receive $500 awards to help support them as they work on gaining their nursing degree. You can apply for aid here.
And if you’re considering working as a travel nurse once you graduate, check out Stability’s myriad of placements here.