What You Need to Know About Texting on the Job as a Nurse
Nurses are often asked to work long hours and, like most professionals, they like to send personal texts and emails while on the job. Even with breaks and meals, being away from their phones for long periods of time can be challenging for some nurses, especially if they have children and familial responsibilities.
Thanks to the rise of telehealth and electronic health records, using digital communication devices on the job has become second-nature for many nurses and care providers. Several healthcare facilities have issued communication devices to staff members or asked nurses to use their own devices. However, with HIPAA and patient privacy concerns, some nurses may be disciplined for this if it isn’t done at appropriate times. Learn more about texting at work, including when it’s appropriate and when it could get you into trouble.
How Many Nurses Use Mobile Devices at Work and for What?
Studies show the majority of nurses use mobile communication devices at work, such as smartphones and tablets. Excluding lunches and breaks, just 5.65% of the nurses surveyed said they never use their personal communication devices at work. Of those that said they do use them at work, most nurses reported using these devices for work-related activities:
- 29% reported using their personal devices for checking or sending text messages or emails to colleagues and other healthcare team members
- 25% reported using personal devices as a calculator
- 20% reported using their personal devices for accessing work-related medical information
Fewer nurses said they use personal devices on the job for nonwork-related activities:
- 19% reported using these devices for texting family and friends
- 5% reported using these devices for shopping
- 3% said they use these devices for playing games at work
How Do Nurses Feel About Using Mobile Devices at Work?
As it turns out, nurses aren’t exactly thrilled about using these devices on the job. Just a fraction of nurses in the survey said that using personal devices on the job has had a positive effect on their work:
- 30% said using personal communication devices reduces stress
- 28% said using these devices improves patient care
- 25% said these devices improve communication and coordination between the healthcare team members
- 17% said these devices improve teamwork
On the other hand, a majority of the nurses that participated in the survey (69%) said these devices are doing more harm than good:
- 39% said these devices are a distraction at work
- 7% said using these devices had a negative effect on their work performance
- 4% said these devices caused them to miss important clinical information
- 1% said these devices led them to make a medical error
- 69% reported witnessing another nurse’s use of devices negatively affect their work performance
- 30% reported witnessing another nurse miss important clinical information as a result of using these devices
- 12% reported witnessing another nurse make a medical error as a result of using these devices
What You Need to Know About Using These Devices at Work
The use of digital communication devices at work is raising issues of patient and employee privacy and security. Under HIPAA, facilities “must implement device and media controls as a part of their physical safeguards.” HIPAA defines those safeguards as “policies and procedures that govern the receipt and removal of hardware and electronic media that contain protected health information into and out of a facility, and the movement of these items within the facility.”
Many healthcare facilities have introduced bring your own device (BYOD) policies, which means nurses and other care providers are encouraged, if not required, to use personal communication devices for work-related purposes, including interfacing with colleagues, coordinating care, and accessing EHRs.
But nurses need to understand that the facility may need to audit their personal communication devices if they’re being used for work-related activities. Nurses may also be restricted in terms of what apps they can use and where they store work-related information on their phones. The facility will also need to keep a record of which employees are using personal devices and where and how they’re being used in the facility, in case one of these devices is lost or stolen.
Disciplinary Action for Texting at Work
Nurses could face disciplinary action, be terminated, or even face legal consequences for using these devices on the job in ways that violate HIPAA policy or the facility’s employee guidelines.
One nurse recently spoke about how her employer took disciplinary action against her for sending a personal text message at work. The employer charged the nurse with “improper telephone communication”. The nurse now fears being terminated from her position or being reported to the state board of nursing. The text message, which can be used as evidence against the nurse, was eventually shown to the employer. It remains unclear whether the nurse was using a personal communication device or one that was issued by her employer.
If the nurse is terminated, she may be able to appeal the termination if she feels the decision was unfair or inconsistent with the employer’s policies for smartphone use. The state nursing board may decide to further penalize the nurse if her employer decides to terminate her. The nurse will have to explain the termination to the state nursing board. The board will then decide if the nurse should be allowed to continue practicing as a registered nurse.
Nurses should always have a clear understanding of their facility’s device and communication policies for both personal devices and work-issued devices as well as state nursing rules. If a nurse has any questions about where they should keep these devices, which apps they can use, and whether these devices will be audited, they should speak directly to their managers or an HR representatives.
The use of digital communication devices continues to cause confusion among care providers, so everyone should feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions about how they should be using these devices.
Read One Travel Nurse’s Amazing Story
Everyone needs healthcare, and that means nurses can find work across the country or even the world, if they have the right qualifications. If you love traveling and being on the road, you might feel right at home as a travel nurse. You’ll get to work for different healthcare facilities and providers all over the country, giving you the chance to meet new people and learn from new experiences. Learn more about what it means to be a travel nurse.
What Does It Mean to Be a Travel Nurse?
As a travel nurse, you’ll be working for a travel nurse company, which connects you to jobs all over the country, usually at healthcare facilities with a nursing shortage. These jobs may last a few weeks or the better part of the year, depending on the facility’s needs. The travel nursing company can provide you with housing, including a fully-furnished apartment, a stipend for food, new uniforms, and anything else you might need to do the job at hand.
This allows you to be in control of your own schedule. Once you’ve started working for a travel nursing company, you can accept or reject as many jobs as you’d like. You’ll need to stay on your toes, as the details of these jobs may change, including the length of stay.
Salary Expectations for Travel Nursing
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a registered nurse is $70,000 a year or $33.65 an hour. Travel nurses typically make more than stationary nurses, but it all depends on how many jobs you accept and where the jobs are located. Different states pay nurses different rates. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Oregon are among the highest-paying states for nurses, with some RNs making as much as $100,000 a year. Taking jobs in states like these will help you earn more as a travel nurse over the course of a year.
If you’re willing to take a job at the last possible second, you’ll be compensated for your flexibility. Last-minute jobs tend to pay more than those that have been on the roster for months. These jobs are usually the result of sudden departures, national emergencies, and other staffing changes. The more flexible you are with your schedule as a travel nurse, the more money you’ll make.
Read About the Adventures of One Travel Nurse
Level 1 Trauma RN Christian Ramos (@liveyourbestlyfee) recently talked about his decision to become a travel nurse, writing on social media, “Earlier this year after close to six years I left my last staff position. I was looking for a change of scenery and although I was terrified of the logistics of travel nursing, I did it. The day I had my first phone interview I walked into my managers office and gave my notice. Two weeks later to the day I was landing in Kauai, Hawaii and my journey as a travel nurse began.”
From Hawaii, Ramos went on to Guam. He went on to say, “I knew I was very fortunate to have scored my first assignment in Hawaii. I always say nursing is nursing anywhere you go but the people are what make the experience. After my assignments there, I was blessed with an opportunity to come to Guam; this experience has also been life-changing in many ways. In the short time that I’ve been traveling, I have learned so much about myself, I have gotten comfortable with the uncomfortable, and most importantly I have grown as a person in ways I never imagined.”
If you’re looking to change up your routine like Christian Ramos, consider becoming a travel nurse! Discover your best self and contact Host Healthcare for more information today.
The Justice Department Indicts 60 Care Providers for Illegally Dispensing Opioids
Sixty people have been indicted for prescribing or participating in the prescribing of 32 million opioids, including doctors that allegedly traded opioid prescriptions for sex and/or cash. According to official court documents, over 350,000 illegal prescriptions were written in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia, some of the states hit hardest by the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic.
Shortly after the charges were announced, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division gave an interview stating that these numbers are “the equivalent of one opioid dose for every man, woman and child in the region. If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers.”
Learn more about the latest round of criminal charges in the opioid epidemic and how prosecutors are bringing these perpetrators to justice:
What the Charges Entail
The case implicates a wide variety of medical professionals throughout the seven states listed above, including those prescribing the medication and those that helped facilitate the process. Those that have been indicted include:
- 31 doctors
- 7 pharmacists
- 8 nurse practitioners
- 7 other licensed medical professionals
The charges include unlawful distribution or dispensing of controlled substances by a medical professional and healthcare fraud. Some defendants have been charged with multiple counts and each count carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence. One doctor from Tennessee is also being charged in connection with an opioid-induced overdose in the state.
In some of these cases, physicians allegedly provided prescriptions for opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone in exchange for sexual favors. Some doctors told their patients to fill their prescriptions at different pharmacies to help cover their tracks. One doctor ran a pharmacy out of his office so his patients could fill their prescriptions immediately following a routine exam. Some patients even traveled to different states to receive and fill prescriptions from several different physicians. One dentist even pulled out a patient’s teeth unnecessarily so they could obtain a prescription for opioids. The patient then paid the dentist in cash.
One doctor described himself as the “Rock Doc”, prescribing dangerous combinations of pills in exchange for sexual favors from patients. Over the course of three years, the Rock Doc allegedly prescribed nearly 500,000 hydrocodone pills, 300,000 oxycodone pills, 1,500 fentanyl patches and more than 600,000 benzodiazepines. Another doctor allegedly recruited prostitutes as patients and allowed them to use opioids in his home. Still another doctor charged individuals an annual “concierge fee” of $600 just to be his patient.
In another case, a nurse in Pennsylvania wrote fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone in her name and in the names of others to obtain pills for personal use.
How Prosecutors Carried Out the Investigation
In recent years, the Justice Department has been cracking down more on opioid manufacturers and healthcare providers who prescribe the drug. According to department officials, prosecutors charged 162 defendants last year, including 76 doctors, for prescribing and distributing opioids and other dangerous narcotics against the best interests of their patients.
The Justice Department created the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force in 2018 to focus on one of the hardest hit areas of the opioid crisis. The task force analyzed several healthcare databases in search of suspicious opioid-related activity. Once the targets had been identified, investigators sent confidential informants and undercover agents to medical offices across the region as part of a sting operation. They used hidden cameras and tape recorders to gather evidence, catching these perpetrators in the act.
As these cases play out in court, prosecutors are striving to maintain what they describe as “continuity of care”, making sure patients who have been impacted by these cases still have access to the care they need. While some patients may be without a care provider and others may be going through withdrawal, these doctors and care providers can no longer use their medical expertise for financial and personal gain in this manner.
These cases represent just one more chapter in the long fight to end the opioid epidemic. Hopefully, after reviewing the details of these cases, care providers across the country will learn that crime doesn’t pay.
Incidents of serious workplace violence are four times more likely in the healthcare industry than in private industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Nurses, doctors, and first responders live with the daily threat of violence, especially in emergency rooms and other critical care units. However, some hospitals and nurses’ unions are trying to put a stop to the violence. Facilities are introducing new security measures that are designed to keep healthcare workers safe on the job. Learn more about these new initiatives and whether or not they’re keeping nurses safe from harm.
The Healthcare Violence Epidemic
Those that work in healthcare understand the risks of the job. A new poll from the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that nearly half of emergency physician respondents have been physically assaulted. More than 60% of respondents said the assault occurred within the last year.
Patients account for 80% of serious violent incidents reported in healthcare settings, but these incidents can also result from co-workers and a patient’s loved ones. Nurses often spend the most time with patients compared to other healthcare providers, making them a likely target of workplace violence. Studies show violence against nurses is pervasive in the healthcare industry.
- 21% of registered nurses and nursing students reported being physically assaulted – and over 50% verbally abused – within a 12-month period.
- 12% of emergency department nurses experienced physical violence – and 59% experienced verbal abuse – within a seven-day period.
But are healthcare facilities doing enough to keep workers safe?
Many facilities emphasize escalation techniques as a way of curbing workplace violence, but these may not be enough to protect workers from it. In fact, some nurses report being blamed for not deescalating these kinds of incidents after reporting them to their nursing managers. These techniques largely leave nurses on their own when it comes to dealing with workplace violence. There has to be a better way.
How to Combat Workplace Violence
With workplace violence rampant among healthcare facilities, some U.S. hospitals are trying to change the narrative. The California Nurses Association is lobbying for a law that would give OSHA more authority when it comes to enforcing hospital workplace safety. Let’s look at some of the ways hospitals are reducing incidents of workplace violence.
Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic has installed metal detectors inside all entrances to the building. Patients and their loved ones now must pass inspection before being admitted into the facility, including patients on stretchers and others that have been seriously injured. Officials say they’ve collected hundreds of weapons over the years, limiting the amount of damage a patient can inflict on their care providers.
Wireless Panic Buttons for Nurses
Cleveland Clinic has also installed wireless panic buttons on nurse ID badges, so nurses can call for help quickly and quietly if a patient becomes unruly.
Officers in Plain Clothes
Other facilities have invested in additional security measures, such as having more officers on the floor, including several in civilian clothing, so they don’t bring attention to themselves.
Additional Safety Cameras
Facilities have also added additional security cameras to better monitor every aspect of the workplace, including hospital rooms, hallways, and waiting rooms.
While these initiatives are a step in the right direction, a security camera and additional officers may not be enough to protect nurses from violence on the floor. Even if help arrives within a few minutes, the nurse may be mentally scarred or injured in the meantime.
In addition to these safety measures, OSHA recommends the following:
- Avoid working alone, especially when dealing with patients that have a history of violence or those that are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Keep escape routes open and clear, so nurses can leave the area quickly if a patient becomes violent.
- Invest in proper lighting throughout the work environment, including hallways and doorways.
- Avoid understaffing, especially in high-risk areas like emergency rooms.
- Restrict the public’s access to the emergency room or other treatment centers.
Facility managers and nurses should keep these initiatives in mind as they go about addressing issues of workplace violence. Nurses and administrators need to work together if the industry is going to address these issues. Everyone deserves to come to work and earn a living without living in fear.
After weeks of intense negotiations, the New York State Nurses Association has reached a landmark agreement with three of the state’s largest hospital systems: Mount Sinai, New York-Presbyterian and Montefiore. The agreement includes a four-year contract that calls for minimum staffing ratios, annual pay raises for nurses, and the hiring of over 1,450 new nurses. While union leaders have yet to officially ratify the agreement, the decision could have lasting implications for nurses and hospitals around the country. Learn more about this historic agreement and what it means for the future of healthcare.
How NY Nurses Fought Their Way to Victory
Over 10,000 nurses threatened to strike earlier this month over the ongoing contract negotiations, accusing hospital administrators of spreading misinformation regarding minimum staffing ratios and choosing profits over the well-being of patients. With some nurses responsible for as many as 18 patients at a time, NY nurses started calling for mandatory minimum staffing ratios so they could better care for their patients. Hospital administrators refused to give in, arguing mandatory staffing ratios lead to wasteful spending without benefiting patients. As the negotiations lingered on, the New York State Nurses Association held firm, refusing to back down from their earlier demands. After deciding not to strike, union officials went back to the negotiating table to work out a deal.
The Details of the Agreement
Less than two weeks later, both parties emerged with a historic agreement, including a four-year contract between the union and all three hospital systems. The agreement calls for the following:
- Annual pay raises of 3 percent for nurses
- Filling around 800 vacant nursing jobs
- A budget increase of $25 million a year to hire additional nurses
- Minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios in each treatment unit
While the terms of these staffing ratios have yet to be decided, different ratios will be implemented in each treatment unit. Some units, including ERs and trauma centers, may have a one-to-one nurse-patient ratio, while others could be as high as eight patients per nurse. Nurse representatives will meet with managers within the next month to set minimum staffing levels for each unit in the hospitals, based on patient demand.
The agreement is the culmination of years of hard work. New York nurses have been calling for mandatory staffing ratios for years, citing numerous benefits for patients. With higher staffing ratios and more nurses on the floor, nurses in every unit will be able to spend more time with their patients. Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of mandatory staffing ratios. California is the only other state with mandatory staff ratios, with the following ratios in place:
- 6:1 patient-to-nurse workload in psychiatrics
- 5:1 patient-to-nurse in medical-surgical units, telemetry, and oncology
- 4:1 in pediatrics
- 3:1 in labor and delivery units
- 2:1 in intensive care units
According to Health Services Research, patient outcomes improve when staffing levels meet those established in California, including reduced mortality rates, shorter hospital stays, and general improvement in the quality care. Mandatory staffing levels also help hospitals save money by reducing nurse turnover. When hospitals exceed these ratios, nursing turnover increases and patient satisfaction decreases, both of which inflate the cost of care and impede hospital funding.
The Lasting Implications of the Agreement
Mandatory staffing ratios have been controversial ever since California implemented the law back in 2003. Numerous nursing unions and organizations have been arguing for mandatory staffing ratios in recent years, with contested contract negotiations taking place all over the country. More hospitals may adopt these policies in the years ahead if they prove to be a success in New York. The agreement also gives nurses more authority in the workplace. Nursing representatives will work with managers to determine adequate staffing levels, setting a trend for more nursing autonomy at other hospitals around the country.
For years, nursing organizations have been pushing NY legislatures to implement mandatory staffing levels and the New York State Nurses Association has succeeded where state legislators have failed, thanks to the power of collective negotiation. Hopefully, more hospitals and states will enact these polices down the line, so patients can get the care they deserve.
Standing directly in the path of Hurricane Michael, the third-most intense Atlantic hurricane in history and the storm with the strongest maximum sustained wind speed to strike the contiguous United States since Andrew in 1992, was All About Uniforms, a family-run, local scrubs store in Panama City, Florida.
Before this massive storm ripped through the heart of Florida and in the process destroyed lives, homes and businesses, All About Uniforms had been faithfully, passionately and consistently serving the local scrubs community six days a week, 52 weeks a year since its opening in July 2009.
Hurricane Michael destroyed All About Uniforms and the total loss was heartbreaking to Sommer Hoewt and her staff, who consider their customers “family”. When customers walk through the door, Sommer and team get to know them personally if they don’t already. They determine exactly what customers need and help customers to find the right items, based upon fabric, fit, styling preferences and color requirements of their work.
“Local retailers create local jobs and commerce, which supports local business in local communities, keeping those communities healthy and leading to more healthcare jobs and higher wages for members of the healthcare community” said Mike Singer, Chief Executive Officer for Strategic Partners, Inc., the parent company of Cherokee and manufacturer of Dickies Medical, HeartSoul, Elle, and Infinity apparel and footwear. “We salute Sommer and each of our retail partners in cities large and small across the nation, who faithfully serve the healthcare community with passion and excellence.”
In an emotional interview, ScrubsMag spoke personally to Sommer Hoewt, owner of All About Uniforms in her beautifully rebuilt store in Panama City, Florida.
Sommer, tell us about the day you learned the storm was approaching.
I can tell you what I did, I cried all night with worry. But in some ways you can’t describe it at all, there’s a lot of emotions. As I looked at the pictures I felt somewhat blessed, but my heart was breaking on the inside thinking about what everyone was going to endure.
What happened next?
The storm was going to hit land on the Wednesday and evacuation orders were going around. We evacuated on the Monday, my husband called me and said we had 30 minutes to pack everything up. I picked my kids up from school, went home and just started packing. I’d never left for any Hurricane, I thought I’d be back in a couple of days!! We put some sand bags to cover the doors of the business quickly, I then took my insurance papers and left, I didn’t even take my computer. You just don’t think it’s going to affect you in the way it does. You know something’s coming, and you do your best to batten down the hatches, you think maybe there’ll be a window broken here, something else broken there. We never believed that our entire store would come crashing down. My parents and some family stayed in town, we had no idea if they were okay. I heard later they moved their fridge to barricade the door closed and stop it from flying open.
When were you allowed back in town?
It was around a month. I came back and forth, but I never saw the store again. I couldn’t. It was too heartbreaking. Plus, nothing was working, no phone, no electric. Nothing. I started hearing stories about what was going on, but it wasn’t until we finally reopened (which I didn’t think we would at the time) that I started hearing stories from the community.
What happened to the store?
Sommer starts to tear up as she tells us the devastating news.
It was a 100% loss. The whole store was flattened. We were looted too, so there was nothing to recover, if you look at the pictures you can see where it collapsed. It was destroyed. It was our entire World and overnight it was gone. It really makes you understand how things can be here one day and gone the next. It brings tears to my eyes, but we’ve been so lucky in rebuilding.
Did anyone help?
My insurance came through quickly. They were frankly amazing. But I have to say that Cherokee Uniforms was phenomenal. The night it happened I sent my sales rep, Lenny Fox a picture from CNN where it showed my store, I said ‘Im famous now, but not for the right reason.’ He was having dinner with Mike Singer, (the CEO of SPI who owns Cherokee Uniforms). ‘Tell her we’ll help her get through this’, Mike said. And he was true to his word. Not only did they help me emotionally, but they redesigned my store, and gave me support 24/7. It was unreal and I’ll never forget it.
You’re in the business of helping medical professionals, but how did this impact the community?
It will never be the same. Some hospitals are still closed down, some are functioning, but aren’t operating at full capacity. For instance, they have 60 beds instead of 300. They have become shells of what they were. Nursing homes took a huge hit, there are only 4 or 5 that made it. People lost everything, one person I heard of who was diabetic lost his toes, because he was standing in freezing water for so long. You’ll never understand what it’s like until you’re in the throws of such devastation. It was like the world was ending. Buses were taking people out, helicopters saving people from dire situations, it was a war zone. There are still people living in tents to this day. I don’t think the world understands what happens in situations like this and how some people are still living hand to mouth. A lot of nurses and medical professionals had to also take travel assignments or commuting jobs as they have no home to go back to. It’s just heartbreaking.
Eventually, All About Uniforms re-opened. It took 4 months, a lot of tears, and hard work.
When did you re-open?
February 25th, and we’re having our official ribbon cutting on April 11th. The community has been amazing. You learn a lot about your neighbors, and situations like this make you realize how important people are, how important family and friends are.
And where do you go from here?
To lose everything and still feel blessed compared to others is crazy. I can’t describe the feeling. We’re deeply involved in the community. We’ve rebuilt our store and are helping the community get back on its feet. It will be a long time, but the only way is up. I am so grateful and want to thank the community, our local medical and healthcare professionals and Cherokee Uniforms, all of whom have been so loyal and supportive in getting us up and back in business. We feel so grateful every single day to serve this amazing community!
This interview was Sponsored by Cherokee Uniforms.
With blue-collar jobs disappearing in greater numbers, men are starting to take an interest in more female-dominated fields like teaching and nursing. Many healthcare facilities are struggling to attract and retain top-tier talent, so welcoming more men into the field can help assuage the country’s nursing shortage. But some female nurses are starting to notice their male colleagues are making more money for their time, which can complicate this new work dynamic. Learn more about the rise of male nurses and what this means for pay equity.
The Rise of the Male Nurse
The number of men in nursing has jumped over time. Men made up just 2% of the nursing workforce back in the 1960s, but today they make up around 13%, and those numbers are rising year after year. Men even have their own nursing organization, known as the American Association for Men in Nursing. This organization supports men working in the field of nursing and encourages “men of all ages to become nurses and join together with all nurses in strengthening and humanizing health care” by educating students and job-seekers on the benefits of nursing. Their goal is to have 20% male enrollment in nursing programs throughout the United States and the world by the year 2020.
The rise of the male nurse can largely be attributed to today’s changing job market. Manufacturing jobs have largely disappeared here in the U.S., moving overseas to low-wage job markets like India and China. This has left young and middle-aged men looking for an alternative. With a four-year nursing degree, job seekers can earn a decent living wage and enter a promising job market. Demand for nurses continues to rise around the world, which means nursing is a solid investment for anyone that’s looking for a long and fruitful career.
Why Some Male Nurses Make More Money
As more men enter the field of nursing, they’re starting to make more money than their female colleagues. Across all industries, women tend to make on average 20% percent less than their male colleagues, despite the fact that women make up half the country’s workforce, tend to have more college degrees, and are the sole or co-breadwinner for half of all families with children. With regard to nursing, studies show male registered nurses outearn their female colleagues by approximately $5,000 annually.
There are several possible explanations for this trend. Men tend to value themselves more than women when negotiating the terms of a new position. Male nurses may start out at a higher wage and earn more as the years go on because they asked for more money upfront. If the facility in question is struggling to attract new nurses, some men may leverage this during the initial job interview and ask for more money per hour.
Many male nurses also field offers outside their current employer. With counter offers on the table, male nurses can then go back to their current employer and negotiate for a higher rate of pay. Again, if the facility is desperate for nurses, they will likely pay the nurse more money for their time as opposed to hiring a new nurse, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars in training and recruitment.
Old-fashioned sexism may also come into play. Some employers may simply value male nurses more than female nurses, handing out raises and promotions based on gender rather than merit. But can it also be a cultural approach? We spoke to a Canadian Nurse who stated: ‘We simply don’t have this problem in Canada, equal pay is the norm’.’
How to Advocate for More Money as a Nurse
If a female nurse believes they should be making more money for their time, there are several ways they can go about advocating for more money.
1. Ask for a higher rate of pay when interviewing for a new position.
New and experienced nurses should be assertive and clearly state their worth when interviewing for a new position. Facilities need qualified nurses and they’ll be willing to pay more for the right expertise and training. If the nurse’s desired rate of pay is too high, they can always negotiate with their new employer until they settle on an amount that works for both parties.
2. Field offers from other employers and use them as leverage when asking for more money.
Nurses should always be on the lookout for new career opportunities. This can lead to a better-paying position or help nurses advocate for more money at their current job. Nurses should ask for a raise with a counter offer on the table.
3. Talk about compensation with colleagues.
Nurses shouldn’t be afraid of talking openly with their peers and colleagues about how much they make at work. If a nurse discovers they’re making less than one of their colleagues, they can take it up with their employer and ask for more money.
Pay equity continues to be a major issue across nearly every industry – and healthcare is no exception. Nurses should feel comfortable advocating for themselves at work. If a nurse has more experience, education and a stellar reputation on the floor, they shouldn’t settle for a lower rate of pay. It’s all about helping nurses understand their worth.
This post is sponsored by Strategic Partners and Cherokee Uniforms
Debbie has been labeled with changing the face of style and attire in the medical community over the past five years, and the expansion has been impressive. We recently visited SPI again, for an updated tour and more in-depth interview with Debbie.
As we walked around the sprawling building we saw large, glossy posters displaying its various brands; fun footwear for medical professionals and an entire department dedicated to seamstresses. SPI even had a wall of various licensed Disney characters. Oh, and the obligatory Bagel Friday. After the tour, we sat down with Debbie for a one-on-one.
A sweet, high pitched “Hiiiiii” escapes as Debbie jumps up out of her seat, offering a hug. We’re standing at Debbie’s cubicle. No office. No throne. She isn’t what you think. Understated is a key word we would attach to this pint-sized woman who has been socially adorned with the crown of changing the face of medical attire. We walk to get coffee.
Debbie gives us an express rundown of the company’s history, namely how she and her brother worked side by side with their teams to turn it into the operation it is today with more than 500 employees and shipping to 70 countries. Again, understated. We get the feeling she’s had more to do with the company than she lets on, but of course, that’s her M.O.
We’re not really here to talk about Debbie’s entrepreneurial skills, although it certainly explains why she’s successful, but we’re here to discuss her role in the social world. She works alongside 60 medical ambassadors that are “fiercely loyal” as she so nicely puts it. “Loyalty in this industry is key, and no one would get anywhere without it.” I understand where she’s coming from. I’ve been privy to other medical brands who seem to run through ambassadors like I run through bathroom paper (I’m not loyal to that either), but what’s important to Singer is consistency. “It’s deposits and withdrawals,” as I ask what makes a good ambassador and why. “I’m not just a brand to this group, we’re family. They’ve stayed at my house, we’ve enjoyed dinners, charity campaigns, even vacations.”
“Debbie is like my sister. We pioneered the way for Medical Ambassadors, and I’ve never worked with anyone who is so supportive of my personal goals, completely selfless and driven.” – Katie Duke, NP.
But it’s not just engaging with these influencers and sending out product?
“Not at all, I like to think I know a little about fashion (she says with a wink) and I know scrubs inside out, I know the fabrics, body shapes and sizes, what looks good on a petite nurse might look different on a size 10. Color schemes are also hugely important, we have hundreds of designs, fabrics and seasonal changes. I also have a 13-year-old daughter who keeps me in check. But for ambassadors like Lauren Drain, I dressed her in Cherokee Infinity (the company’s answer to Lululemon for scrubs) in a hot pink.” Lauren Drain is a nurse, fitness guru, and top-tier influencer who is also a Cherokee brand ambassador.
“I’m always on the lookout for the next influencer, and numbers aren’t always key. You have to be personable, be a good person and have something to say. Engagement is everything. I also want to know what you’re doing to give back.”
“I cannot explain the respect and gratitude I have for Debbie Singer. She has fearlessly led our Ambassadors with a compassion for others like I’ve never seen before. It’s an honor to know her, love her, and work right alongside her.” Kelly Johnson, Nurse, Miss USA/California Winner, Official Spokesperson for Cherokee Uniforms.
I was intrigued as to what happens next. You have all of these influencers working with you, posting on social every day, events, the list is endless. But what’s next in your path? I genuinely asked this question because it feels like a natural progression in the discussion. I wasn’t necessarily expecting the following answer.
“We have something very special in store for our community. I can’t give too much away, but let me just say that 2019 is going to blow your mind. Just keep an eye out on the Cherokee Uniforms social pages to find out.”
Lofty ambitions? Perhaps, but if you look at what the Singers have accomplished over the past three decades, you don’t take anything with a grain of salt. Debbie treats everyone like family, and it’s this feeling of belonging that has catapulted her network. It’s what pulls this community together, and if the medical industry is a family, Debbie Singer is the godmother.
Want to connect with Debbie? See below.
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Suing Your Boss: Taking Action Against Sexual Assault
A licensed practical nurse, known only as Jane Doe to keep her identity anonymous, is filing suit against her former colleague and supervisor Newton Dr. Hooshang D. Poor for damages related to an alleged sexual assault. The civil suit was filed on March 25th in Middlesex Superior Court. After Dr. Poor settled a dispute related to Medicare fraud, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine indefinitely suspended Dr. Poor’s medical license. While the lawsuit is still making its way through the legal system, the case is raising awareness for nurses’ rights in the workplace, showing other healthcare workers how they can take legal action against perpetrators of sexual assault.
Why Jane Doe Decided to Sue
The alleged sexual assault took place on September 16th, 2016. At the time, Jane Doe and Dr. Poor were working together at the Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Tower Hill Nursing Home in Canton, MA. Jane Doe claims Dr. Poor groped her from behind while they were on the job at the facility. The suit claims the nurse has lost income and incurred expenses related to medical treatment due to the alleged assault and will likely incur more expenses down the line.
As the lawsuit states, “As a result of Poor’s assault on her, the (nurse) has been seriously and permanently injured, and continues to suffer at present from psychological disease, which impairs and affects all aspects of her life.”
After the assault, the nurse returned to work at the Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Tower Hill Nursing Home. According to details from the suit, she had to go out of her way to avoid encountering Dr. Poor at the facility. After she left the Tower Hill facility, she has had to continue to avoid Dr. Poor at other nursing homes throughout the area. This has “caused her to suffer continual emotional upset and interfered with her employment opportunities and schedule,” as stated in the lawsuit.
While it’s unclear whether the nurse reported the incident to the police, she promptly reported it to the nursing home’s human resources office.
What to Do Before Filing a Lawsuit Related to Sexual Assault
If a nurse or healthcare worker is assaulted in any way on the job, they may consider following in Jane Doe’s footsteps and filing a similar lawsuit. When an assault occurs, the nurse should promptly report it to their facility’s HR office and the local police. The authorities will then decide whether or not they have sufficient evidence to prosecute the perpetrator. Reporting the incident to the authorities and human resources strengthens the plaintiff’s case if they decide to sue down the line. If they don’t report the incident, the defendant may try to use this as evidence that the assault never took place.
In terms of filing a lawsuit, the plaintiff will need to prove that they incurred damages as a result of the alleged assault, which may include a loss of employment or income, physical and emotional distress, and medical bills such as physical therapy, mental health services, and other related treatment options. The nurse should make an effort to keep a copy of all his or her medical bills and receipts related to the assault in case they need to be entered as evidence.
Nurses may suffer in more ways than one after surviving an assault, including loss of income and employment opportunities, increased healthcare costs, anxiety, depression, physical pain, and other mental and physical symptoms. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the lifetime cost of rape per victim is $122,461. Sexual assault cases cost the U.S. around $93 billion a year. After an assault occurs, 81% of women and 35% of men report significant short- or long-term impacts such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Nurses should understand the legal implications of filing a lawsuit against their employers or colleagues. It’s important for plaintiffs to report the incident to the proper authorities and keep copies of all the bills they’ve incurred since the alleged assault took place, including any changes to their employment. This increases the chances that the suit will be successful. Survivors of sexual assault should speak to their HR representative or a lawyer for more information.
How Football Can Lead to Brain Injury Even Without a Concussion
It’s Brain Injury Awareness Month, so we’re taking this opportunity to talk about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and its effects on the mind. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to changes in a person’s behavior, mood swings, and cognitive problems. The disease tends to get worse over time, often leading to signs of dementia and even suicide. While the medical community used to associate CTE with concussions, new studies suggest that CTE can actually result from repeated hits to the head even without a concussion. These findings are changing the way we think about games like football where players are often hit in the head. Learn more about CTE, its connections to football, and how the healthcare community can help prevent brain injuries.
Making the Connection Between Football and CTE
Football is ubiquitous in American culture. The NFL is a billion-dollar industry, one that brings joy to millions of people all over the world. But a recent study published in Brain: A Journal of Neurology suggests that getting hit in the head repeatedly can lead to CTE, permanently altering a person’s mental abilities. In football, we tend to pay little attention when a player gets hit in the head unless they appear seriously injured or suffer a concussion. For some players, getting hit in the head can be a common occurrence. It may happen multiple during a game or at practice after school. But as this study suggests, getting hit in the head can have serious consequences even if the person doesn’t suffer a concussion.
NFL player Junior Seau lost his life to CTE. Seau took his own life in 2012 after a long battle with CTE, suffering from frequent headaches, depression, memory loss and dementia. His death shed a light on the lasting effects of CTE and the sacrifices professional football players make for the sake of the game. At the time of his death, Seau left a suicide note requesting that his brain be donated to science, so the effects of CTE could be studied.
Raising Awareness for CTE
As the medical community continues to shed light on the link between football and CTE, healthcare professionals should do their part to educate patients and families on the physical toll of playing football.
Professional travel nurses can be some of the best spokespeople for this issue. They often treat football players as they travel all over the world, giving them firsthand knowledge of how this disease can impair a person’s cognitive abilities over time. All healthcare providers, including school and travel nurses, have an obligation to inform parents and students of the dangers of playing football. Playing the sport, even for just a few years, can lead to lasting brain damage.
While football continues to be a national phenomenon, everyone should understand the effects of playing the game, so they can make informed decisions regarding their mental and physical health. Students and young athletes shouldn’t feel pressured to participate in a sport that impairs their mental abilities.
As a healthcare provider, celebrate Brain Injury Awareness Month and spread the word about the lasting effects of CTE.