Vital signs–news for nurses from Spring 2012


Dr., No?

When a professor has a doctorate degree, no one bats an eye if she’s addressed as “Doctor.” So why are some people arguing that nurses who’ve earned their PhDs shouldn’t be acknowledged with the same honor? The debate has erupted everywhere from the halls of the New York State Senate, to the pages of The New York Times, where a story on just this subject sparked almost 700 responses and a lively debate among readers. We see the risk: patient confusion—and no one wants that. But the truth is, most nurses are proud of being nurses and aren’t using an advanced degree to masquerade as MDs. So, we can’t help but wonder if there’s some territorial posturing going on.

Safety Chic

Lots of jobs have hazards, but few workers risk slipping and falling as much as nurses and other hospital employees. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of healthcare workers who lose workdays due to slips, trips and falls is 38.2 per 10,000 employees—90 percent greater than all other private industries combined. Slips and trips are the second most common cause of lost workday injuries in hospitals (overexertion is number one).

Some slips are unavoidable, but the right shoes can make all the difference. The Patricia shoe has a slip-resistant outsole, plus the other accoutrements that nurses need: cushioning for comfort, plus moisture absorption. And did we mention that they’re very cute and inexpensive at $70? Two others we like: The Genoa by Klogs ($90) and Shoes for Crews Air Clog ($80).

The Nitpickers

You might say someone put a bug in their ears: Two Twin Cities nurses, Lisa Rudquist, RN, and Rachel Knutson, RN, were standing in a school parking lot lamenting the options available for treating head lice (both of their first-grade daughters had come home with nits) when they had an idea—to start a company offering safer treatments. “Everything out there was filled with pesticides, and they don’t even work that well because bugs get resistant,” says Rudquist, who works in corporate health. (Knutson is a trauma coordinator in the emergency department at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, Minn.) “We were determined to get through the process without chemicals.”

That seed of an idea is now Ladibugs Hair Care: natural lice-elimination products and in-home lice removal services. Their not-so-secret weapon is a louse-buster devise that looks like a souped-up hairdryer and kills the bugs via dehydration. Over the past year, Ladibugs, which now has a staff of five, has treated 1,200 kids. Their medical backgrounds definitely gave Rudquist and Knutson an edge in the business. “As a nurse you have to find a solution quickly and get the job done right,” says Rudquist. “And the fact that we’re nurses gave us credibility with other moms.”

Is the Recession Affecting Your Retirement?

Despite tough times, most nurses feel relatively lucky. In a Fidelity Investments survey, 79 percent said they felt secure in their jobs. (Contrast that to a recent Gallup poll, which found only 38 percent of Americans are very confident they will still have their job a year from now.) But nurses haven’t been totally unaffected by the recession. When Fidelity asked if they felt they were saving enough for the future, seven in ten said no—even though most of them (81 percent) participate in workplace savings plans. Nurses’ nervousness about their savings “may be an acknowledgement of uncertainty in the market,” says John Ragnoni, executive vice president of Fidelity Tax-Exempt Retirement Services. Plus, he points out, nobody knows better than nurses how expensive healthcare can be for people in their retirement years.

As a general rule of thumb, you should be saving 10 to 15 percent of your income annually for retirement, according to Ragnoni. If your workplace has a savings plan, take advantage of it, especially if it offers matching funds. “That’s the closest thing to free money you can get,” says Ragnoni. If you find the plan daunting (more than 50 percent of nurses in the survey said they found retirement planning overwhelming), ask your employer to connect you with the savings plan provider, who can explain the details. No plan offered at your job? See an investment counselor to help you create an independent plan.


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