Stress is a natural part of life for every living creature on earth. Anthropologists believe that stress served as a major survival mechanism for our kind during the Stone Age. However, in modern times, it is now viewed as a detriment due to the overabundance of it in our everyday lives. From a strictly scientific point of view, stress can be viewed as negative, positive, or neutral. That’s right, even positive events in our lives can cause us as much stress as the negative ones. For instance, a wedding or the birth of a child can affect our bodies as drastically as a death or the loss of a job. Therefore, it is not stress itself that is so negative to our health and well being, but our reaction to stress and our innate abilities to cope with it. An example of a stress related lifestyle diseases is obesity due to stress-induced eating and lack of exercise due to stress-induced sleep disturbances. However, there is hope for us all!
Our overall level of health is a big determinant in how we deal with stress. Other factors include fitness level, nutritional status, emotional state, and level of restfulness. There is no shortage of stressors in our lives. In general, the healthcare field can be especially stressful. The work can be physically and emotionally demanding while simultaneously trying to care for your family and manage your personal life. Some positive coping mechanisms that I have employed during my nursing career:
1. Regular exercise (I like to run, dance, walk, and pilates).
2. Pray, reflect, and thank God on the many blessings I have received.
3. Keep positive notes from colleagues and patients that I can review on days that are especially challenging.
4. Spend time with my family.
5. Read magazines or a fun book instead of medical journals and text books.
However, there are other things that can be effective as well. What are some of the things that you do to help relieve stress?
Test taking will never stop throughout your nursing career. Just when you think that you have taken the last test you will ever need to take in your life, another one emerges. Testing helps validate your current knowledge and the credentials that they provide can help market your skills to employers. So, mastering test taking skills will affirm your abilities as a nurse.
Standardized exams are written by content experts that research and plan the substance of the test. The exam will prove minimum competency on the area of content which means that you should be able to “apply” the content. This is important because the test writers assume that you already can recall and recognize the content. Therefore, the first step in mastering a test is to KNOW (recall and recognize) the content. Once the content is second nature you can begin applying that knowledge to the test.
So what does applying knowledge mean? Applying knowledge is first recognizing and recalling information about a specific problem and then applying that knowledge to a defined situation. Often the familiar information is put in an unfamiliar situation.
Types of Test Questions
There are many different ways to design questions on a test. The first and most popular is the four option multiple choice question. The second type of question is alternate test questions which include selecting all the answers that apply, selecting a particular area on a picture, fill in the blank, or drag and drop ordered response.
To successfully answer the multiple choice test questions you must first categorize the components of the test question.
1. Identify the stem (or important components) of the question.
2. Reword the question.
3. Identify the definite wrong answers and eliminate them.
4. Do not predict answers before reading them.
Important Concepts to Master for Nursing Tests
Another important aspect to identifying correct answers includes knowledge of the following concepts and the order of the components of the concept:
1. Identify your strengths and weakness first
2. Give yourself positive reinforcement often
3. Know Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs (physiological, safety and security, love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization)
4. Know the Nursing Process (assessment, analysis, planning, implementation, and evaluation)
5. Think client safety first
6. Know therapeutic communication
7. Know normal variations of labs, side effects of treatment, and disease process
8. Know when to delegate tasks and when to collaborate with other team members
9. Review daily
10. Practice test taking
Obviously, this is only the beginning of test taking strategies. There will be more recommendations to come. Begin applying these concepts and you will be on your way to passing every test you encounter.
There have been many news stories in the recent months about water supplies being contaminated with leftover drugs. For years, the recommendation for discarding drugs was to simply flush them down the toilet or just throw them out with the household trash. However, this has led to contaminated water in many water samples tested.
Fortunately, nurses can do a lot to help decrease the contamination of our water and soil with medications. There are many pharmaceutical take back programs available to discard unused medications. If your location does not have a program, maybe you can start one. The medications collected at these events are generally incinerated at a hazardous waste site.
The steps that you can take to develop your own medication take back program include:
1. Find a group of people that share your vision
2. Research your state and federal laws
3. Create the plan of implementation (collection sites, pick-up plan, recruitment of volunteers to assist with the day, plan to deal with controlled substances)
4. Advertise the event (radio, television, newspapers, educational flyers at health facilities)
5. Document the event so that you can bring data to increase interest
There has also been discussion in the past regarding recycling medications after they have been evaluated and re-labeled by a pharmacist. I am always saddened to know that there are medications that go to waste when there are many people that cannot afford to purchase medications in the first place. I think recycling medications will happen in the future, but the legal liability of doing this is too much of a risk to take at this time.
Nursing research is the foundation to evidence based practice (EBP). I have taken many research and statistics classes as I have made my way through the educational system. I still have to take extra time to read research and evaluate the quality and validity of the data. The important part to applying the research is to start the process and build on the knowledge every day.
One of the easiest ways to begin using EBP is to identify a problem or a question with your current practice. These simple steps will help you get started:
1. Do a literature search using key words
2. Identify two or more articles from a peer reviewed journal that answer the question or problem
3. Critique and grade the evidence by looking at the date published (should be within last 5 years), type of research (qualitative or quantitative), strength of evidence, validity (sound science), reliability (meaningful and reliable), and applicability of the research.
4. Apply the evidence based research to practice
Another way that you can apply EBP to your work environment is through journal clubs, which will allow more people to buy into the process. The journal club can be modeled after a classic club where everyone meets in one room and each person presents an article of research that they have selected to answer the question or problem. The other way that a journal club can function is through the use of online learning technologies. The journal club would still follow all of the steps above but would involve more opinions from outside institutions as well as other departments.
EBP is now the gold standard for nursing care. Applying evidence based practice can become a very valuable skill set and can ultimately benefit the patient. Do not be afraid or anxious to get started.