Announcement coming….

I don’t wanna spoil the surprise, but myself and some colleagues are working on a project for all you nurses and nursing students. Stay tuned for more information! 

5 Tips for Baby-faced Nurses: Be Taken Seriously

I’ve always looked younger than I am by many years. Even people younger than me are fooled at times. Once in awhile, it has posed a problem with my patients – adults who have a hard time, as one put it, “taking orders from a damn kid”.  To someone who’s lived 60 or 80 years, I must look like I belong outside playing hopscotch.  So how do you get adult and geriatric patients to put their faith in your young, capable hands? I’ve got a few tips that have helped me out in these situations. Hear me out, guys.

Here are 5 ways to be taken more seriously when you look very young.


  1. Tighten up your aesthetics, folks. I aspire to live in a world where people of all gender identities are not judged by their appearance, but I’m not talking beauty standards here. To be treated like a professional, you must look like one. Get the nicest scrubs you can reasonably afford, lose the sloppy top knots, trim the beards, clean your nails and don’t cover your badge holder with stickers of your favorite cartoon character (even though there’s nothing wrong with adults watching cartoons). If you’ve already got a baby face or smaller stature, you don’t need anything else to make you look more juvenile.
  2. Your mother told you to stand up straight. Posture and body language are important. As a nurse, it’s tough to find the right balance between being perceived as a kind and approachable advocate and being the expert, in-control caretaker. Generally, stand or sit up straight and avoid looking like a shapeless blob of insecurity. This doesn’t mean you should tower over your patients in a Superman stance, but look confident and invested in the patient. Look at them when you are talking, don’t fidget, rock, or look nervous. They’ll pick up on your nervousness and before you know it, you’ve got a freaked-out patient on your hands. Gentle confidence in your posture will help you look like you know you know what you’re doing.
  3. Deepen your speaking voice This clearly doesn’t apply to people with already deep voices. This is directed toward the nurse whose instinct it is to raise their voice like they would with a child, attempting to seem friendly and happy. Not only is it infantilizing to your adult patient but it makes you sound like a 12-year-old anime character, not an experienced RN. Bring your voice down a bit. This may take some conscious effort on your part at first, but it’ll be worth it. There may be an added benefit. I learned in a class that as adults lose their hearing, they lose the ability to hear high tones first. Deepen your voice and you may find they’re asking “Eh, what did you say?” less often.
  4. Like, totally limit slang, man. It’s true that we speak differently today than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations did, and it can be a barrier to communication sometimes. Limit colloquial language unless you and your patient have a rapport that allows it. Say yes, not “yeah”, and “no” instead of “nah”. Avoid statements like “I know it totes sucks to take your meds, but, like, bottoms up dude!” I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is discrediting to your image as a professional. *Note: I have lots of patients I joke around or use slang with and they are a smart-ass right back…but it’s our established dynamic and I let them initiate this. Use your great nursing judgment.
  5. Show up knowing your stuff. Be prepared to take care of your patients when you clock in. Know your basic meds, especially if you’re working in a specialty area, and more importantly, know how to look things up. If your patient asks you questions about a med and you’re caught off guard, frame it as an opportunity for education. Print off some patient medication info sheets and take 2 minutes to go over it with them. It’s their right and it’ll teach you something. You don’t need to know everything, but you need to know how to learn on the fly. If they have a diagnosis you’ve never heard of before, please, Google that shit before you go into their room, if you can help it. You’ll be more knowledgeable and maybe it’ll earn you some trust points.

Take heart, my baby-face nurse brothers and sisters. While the struggle to be taken seriously is real, it’s not hopeless.

And when all else fails you can always tell them the truth -you’ve studied diligently for years to be able to take care of them safely. The baby face is just a genetic bonus.

Like my list? Tell me so!
Got your own tips for upping your credibility game? Leave a comment.



Goals for a 2nd year nurse

I’ve recently hit my one-year anniversary as a Registered Nurse! I spent that first year on a pretty intense inpatient unit in a large hospital. I had a rocky start and a nasty bout of burnout recently, but there were lots of shifts in between that were good. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in the last 12 months, but there’s still an unmeasurable amount left to do and learn as I move forward. That’s true of any nurse.

So Cheers to the future! My sights are on growing through my 2nd year with grace and patience.

Here are a few professional/personal goals for the months ahead:

1. Manage stress and anxiety with the resources provided to me. aka debriefing with a counselor on a regular basis. Life and death, kids. It’s heavy shit.

2. Get my PCCN in the next 12-months. The progressive care certification seems like an appropriate first certification for me based on the population I work with now. Buuuuuut I’m also looking into a palliative care certification as a possible alternative.

3. Lose 50lbs so I feel better running my ass off on the unit. Ok, so 50lbs is an arbitrary number, but it’s ballpark right. Nursing school left me with some horrible habits that I need to break, including getting off my arse on my days off.

4. Get nicer scrubs…the yoga pants ones sound comfy. I love the scrubs I have now, but my only complaint is I sometimes feel restricted by the baggy pajama style scrub pants. I’m hard to fit, so this is gonna take some serious hunting. All stretchy scrub pant recommendations for short girls with booties are welcome.

5. Find my perfect lunch combo(s). I never wanna eat what I bring. Foods I love to snack on at home lose their luster when I’m on the clock. Stress is part of this, but also, I lack creativity and the drive to plan ahead with options that are both healthy and tasty.

6. Be healthy and keep good attendance at work. It’s been a rough year so far. Illness, migraines….products of aforementioned high stress, poor sleep, ineffective self-care. The second half of the year calls for major improvements.

7. Get to know my co-workers better. We have a lot of new nurses swirling in and out of my teaching hospital all the time. People get advanced degrees and move up, others find their dream jobs elsewhere, or whatever. Great nurses leave and the process of team building with newbies continues. I’m always cautious and unsure what to think of new people at first, but I’m delighted when someone I didn’t hit it off with immediately turns out to be awesome. I try to keep an open heart.

8. Figure out my artistic contribution to my unit. I’ve unofficially taken responsibility for a third of a triptych bulletin board, but my efforts have been sporadic and unfocused. I have so many ideas just waiting for the energy to be spent on them.

9. Build stronger interdisciplinary relationships. Night shifters kinda do live in the shadows. We don’t always have the familiarity with docs, social workers, and other members of the huge team. I gotta work that much harder to learn peoples’ names and make them remember mine.

10. Join a committee.  My bosses, I’m sure, are eager to see me do something like this. There are lots of committees to choose from. If I’m gonna stick to my genuine interests, I’ll end up on a committee focusing on something like ergonomics or patient education. I love ergo machines and teaching patients how amazing they are.

There! Ten goals for my second year of nursing.

What are your goals for the rest of 2017? Talk to me in the comments; I always reply. Gimme a like and a share while you’re at it.

Be well,


My Favorite Healthcare Podcasts

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a podcast hoarder. I am constantly listening to them, subscribing to new ones and unsubscribing from the ones that just didn’t grab me. Or maybe I just fell out of love with them. I have podcasts for different moods and circumstances. And, yes, they’re all sorted in my phone by category. Today my focus will be on those related to medicine, healthcare, nursing, and the allied health professions.

I am not affiliated with any of them, none of them are paying me (though I’m not opposed to the idea), and none of these podcasters even know who I am. You’ll notice that many toward the end are focused on palliative, which happens to be one of my specialties. I’m sure there are other specialty-specific podcasts out there. For now, check out my list of must-listen shows.

1. Weird Medicine. By far my favorite of all the healthcare shows. Totally uncensored, a healthy mix of humorous BS and actual helpful information from Dr. Steve and his crew. Lots of old episodes might be behind a paywall now, but they’re worth every penny. I literally binge-listened to this show while I was commuting to and from nursing school. Be warned, NSFW or kids. Lots of penis and poop questions as well as some other racy stuff. But I swear I learned a lot from these folks.

2. ALL of the channels from NSRNG: MedMaster Show, Lab Values, Nursing Mnemonics…the list is long. I use them like reference books rather than listening to them consecutively for entertainment. Great for reinforcement of material for nursing students and working nurses alike. I would listen to these short episodes while driving up to school to take a test, or before returning to work to take care of a patient with meds I wasn’t familiar with.

3. FreshRN. Kati Kleber can do no wrong in my eyes. I adore this show. These episodes are PACKED with information I’ve found incredibly useful…especially since I’m still in my first year of bedside nursing. I love her guests, her topics, and the casual conversational style of this podcast. Great casual listen to reinforce skills or to learn how to thrive in a complicated workplace.

4. Incident Report. Many of you may know ZDoggMD from his musical medical parody videos. I was introduced to him in my first semester Fundamentals of Nursing class when a teacher played his Hank Williams parody “I’ve Got Friends with Low Platelets”. I was hooked and his spoof songs became my class’ soundtrack for clinicals. Now that I’m a grown-up real nurse, I love his podcast for all the silliness and seriousness it contains. He also puts the podcast up on his YouTube channel in all the visual glory. As a bonus, he’ll do some NSFW Tribe Talk vids where he’s a bit edgier in his commentary.

5. The Report Room. To be honest, I’ve not spent much time listening to this one, but it’s on my list because they have many episodes covering topics I find interesting. I’m open to feedback on this one if you’ve spent any time with it.

6. The Nurse Keith Show. Oh man, there are so many Nurse Keith episodes. This is another one that I’ve only just begun to dig into. The topics are varied and relevant, and he appears to put out content on the regular.

7. RNFM Radio. I’ll be honest, I subscribed to this one because they did a two-part interview with one of my online Nursing mentors, Sean Dent. Their list of episodes spans the spectrum from social media use, leadership, education, and everything in between.

8. This is another channel that I use as a reinforcement of learning. Short episodes are great as a reference tool for nurses and students.

9. Science Vs. This is not a healthcare-specific podcast, but they have some great episodes on things like zika virus, antidepressants, the G-spot, and acne.

10. Good News with Nurse Heather. The focus is cannabis and health care, holistic medicine, and legislation. As policy reform sweeps our country and our industry, information on this topic will be more important than ever.

11. Your Next Shift. These episodes highlight interviews with nurses of all kinds, giving insights and advice on successful career navigation.

12. Dance to Death Afterlife. Episodes about experiences with death, end of life care and a variety of burial options and death rituals. This is both a personal and professional interest of mine.

13. Dying Well, the Final Stage of Survivorship. This is a 12-part series on resources and thoughts on cancer survivorship and dying. While I’ve not listened to all of the episodes, this may be an excellent resource for patients and family members facing a life-limiting illness.

14. Palliative Care Chat – U of MD. This podcast was created for grad students at U of Maryland. It may be geared more to the physician role, but it’s loaded with information from researchers and educators from across the country.

15. Perspective in Palliative Medicine. This is another I’ve not consumed all of yet, but the few episodes that exist cover topics that I find interesting, like geriatric pain management, religion and end of life care, and delivering difficult information.

16. American Nurses Association podcast. It’s the ANA. Of course I’m gonna listen. 😉 There are only a few episodes as I write this, but they’re relevant and useful topics. There’s a series on workplace bullying and episodes on nursing delegation. I hope there are more eps in the hopper.

17. The Nurse Niche Podcast. This is one of NP Sean Dent’s old podcasts. Though he’s not making new episodes of this one, they’re worth a listen. It’s also interesting to see the online growth of the prolific social media nurse.

18. Change of Shift Podcast. Sean Dent’s podcast after Nurse Niche was put to bed.

19. Weekly Infusion. For those of you familiar with Dr. Drew, you’ll be interested in his latest podcast endeavor. I hate to play favorites but I especially love his episodes featuring forensic pathologist and gory Instagram star Nicole Angemi. You’ll hear about her later when I blog about my fav IG accounts. (That one’s gonna be fun!)

20. I don’t have a 20th, but I can maybe leak that I have the itch to start a podcast of my own….so maybe I’ll save this spot. 😉

Are there podcasts on this list you listen to and love? Give me a like if you found this list helpful. Comment below if you have favorites you want to share!


What’s in my nursing bag?

There are two main points to drive home in this blog post.

First, I love seeing what’s in people’s bags, purses, pockets, etc. I think it’s interesting to see what they find important to keep with/on themselves, but also I like to see what products people are using. Ages ago I joined a “what’s in your bag” group on Flickr, and lost hours of my life looking at photos of the possessions of complete strangers.

Second, I carry a lot of crap on me. As the family expression goes, I can fit 10-pounds of crap in a 5-pound bag. For years I’ve referred to it as my urban survival kit, which was born from being a car-less student in a college town for almost a decade. Now as a nurse, I’m still leaving home for upwards of 12 hours at a time, so if I’m gonna need it anytime, I gotta lug it around.

If the internet has taught me anything, it’s that people like being voyeurs (in this case, I mean that very innocently). So I’m gonna show you what’s in my nursing bag that I carry to and from work. There are some things not shown because they’re stashed in my locker, but I do a separate post on locker contents.

This might be a snoozer from looking at the photo, but allow me to explain myself.

Ok, let’s try this clockwise starting top left, looking at the photo of all the bag guts I’ve included:

Scrub coat, extra pair of compression socks and a headband.
Tiny black zipper case with earbuds in them: helps me relax on breaks and long walks to the microbiology lab.
Water bottle with my name on it (Secret Santa 2016 – Thanks, Summer!)
Hand lotion and dry shampoo – you know – to keep my hands moist and my scalp dry.
Tiny ziploc bag of stethoscope parts (that needs to go in my locker).
Coin purse for emergent trips to the snack machine.
“a” bag = electronics bag i.e. power cords, remote triggers, phone camera lenses, etc.
orange and tan zipper bag aka period kit – tampons, liners, sani-wipes – you know, just glam shit.
Face wipes, hand wipes (more so for the car but will dry out if I leave them in the Iowa heat).
The headache med collection: Rx, ibuprofen, Excedrin migraine, and tylenol. Also among the ranks, lavendar and peppermint oil. [Not shown: allergy meds]
Umbrella that I lost in the hospital in 2010 (and found again in 2014 on the unit where I currently work).
Hand sanitizer I got for free at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation National Convention in 2016.
My wooden hand fan that I use to cool off in the break room every chance I get.
3 half-full packs of Orbit gum because I can never remember if I’m out when I’m at the register.
2 packs of nut butter for a quick on-the-go high protein snack. Also a chocolatey “granola” bar.
My blinding light on a badge reel that I use to see into the depths of my giant bag.
Tiny skull and crossbones sentence journal that I wrote about in a previous blog post.
$5 emergency snack money.
Back scratcher that I bought in the hospital gift shop. That thing has come in handy SO MANY times.
An array of pens, sharpies, pencils and highlighters. Also I got my ECG caliper pins that I don’t need because all the measurements are digital.
My portable pulse oximeter that I need to put back on it’s lanyard.
The research articles I’m reading for my Nurse Residency Program project.
My badge which adorned with three pins, my locker key and a squeeze-light.

Not shown:
4500 more unnecessary pens, markers and carpujets.
Loose change, alcohol pads, and gum wrappers.

My stethoscope – my pride and joy – Littman Cardiology IV in bright pink. I can hear things with it that I couldn’t hear with my shitty old nursing school steth. Oh, you say the bases are decreased? Yeah, we’ll ole pinkie hear tells me there are some crackles down there.

What’s in your bag? Do you carry more than you need or do you use all the things you keep in tow? Talk to me, health care professionals!!



So, Your Nurse Declined Your Friend Request…

Well, guys, it happened.

I got my first Facebook friend request from a patient.

I’ve been sitting on it for weeks, unsure how I wanted to handle this. I mean, this decision carries some weight since it’s setting a precedent for the rest of my career. It’s opening a potential floodgate.  I know I have a pamphlet in my locker warning nurses to use social media carefully since these online relationships can have some serious repercussions. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I’ve been asking my peers how they handle the patient-friend boundary lines, too. I wanted to spend some time here talking this out – as I’m still exploring my feelings on this –  though I think my decision is made.

…anticlimactic drum-roll please….

I will not be accepting any social media connection from anyone that has been under my care or could potentially be under my care in the future. I’ve got some reasons, I think.

1. Slippery Slope. It’s the elementary school birthday party guest list nightmare all over again. Mom said “If you invite some kids, you gotta invite them all. Otherwise, you’re gonna hurt feelings.” That’s why, that one year for my birthday party, fellow kid N.M. popped all my balloons and C.J. just sat in the corner and softly cried to go home. It just wasn’t meant to be an all-inclusive environment.

If I accept one, I gotta accept ’em all. And I don’t really like ’em all. Is that mean to say? No. It’s reality. I take great care of each one. I just don’t necessarily want them to see all my vacation photos. 😉

2. Don’t Clutter the Relationship. I am a very opinionated woman on political and social issues, generally in the direction of helping those who get screwed by the world at large. The current political climate has divided our nation and it’s also soured me towards some people whom I had no idea held opinions I find horrifically wrong and unkind. At times, I’d rather not know so I’m not subconsciously swayed.

I provide the best care I can for every patient I see – whether they be jerks, sweethearts, prisoners, executives, homeless folks, or whatever. Their care should not vary based on how I perceive them.

This is easy in theory and tough in practice. So I’d rather not clutter up this critical relationship with my patient with info about their views on politics, social issues, or personal beliefs unrelated to their care. More importantly, I don’t want them to question whether they can trust me because I posted a meme that opposes a meme they posted. I don’t want them to think I won’t help them because we voted for different people last year. I like keeping work, work and personal, personal. I’ll still get to know my patient in ways that benefit our therapeutic relationship, but I pray they don’t small talk about immigration as I give them their insulin.

3. HIPAA (and liability) HOLLA! Uh, yeah, I’m not an expert on privacy laws, but I really don’t want to lose my job, my license, my money and go to jail over an accidental slip-up online…………..sooooooo I just don’t wanna touch patient communication on social media with a ten-foot pole. I don’t want someone who doesn’t have my obsession for boundaries to be instant messaging me asking me if I can give them advice about their meds or poop or something.

4. I’ve worked with some difficult patients, and a few are quite manipulative. I worry that having access to information I or my family/friends post could be used negatively, even if it’s not information that I consider highly private. I’m not actively worried about myself or family being stalked, but I just like to play a zero-risk game when I can.

OK, so those are the big reasons. As far as some of the opinions expressed by co-workers and friends, the answers have been varied but lean towards the general opinion of “don’t do it”.  A few said they regret accepting patients and now they feel obligated to accept them all. Some didn’t care, citing they’re not very active on facebook. Others said they felt they reserved the right to pick and choose and didn’t see any problems when they cared for those patients again (I work with a population we get to see often and know fairly well).

My verdict and advice to you, if you haven’t already, don’t go down this road.

If you have accepted patients as friends on social media and have had positive experiences, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’re one of my patients and you’ve stumbled upon my blog, understand that regardless of my personal feelings for you, I will be your advocate, protector, educator and TLC-giver when I see you in that hospital room next. I hope to not see you soon. ❤


The Best Advice I’ve Got…

On days like today, when I’ve screwed up my sleep schedule heading into three consecutive overnights, the game becomes one of minimizing damage.
I tried to take a nap a few hours before I start my elaborate pre-work routine, and with only an hour left on the nap clock, I’ve given up. I won’t be sleeping before work. I won’t be sleeping til tomorrow morning when I arrive home. This is the reality I created when I didn’t nap yesterday on my day off and stay up late to acclimate myself back to the night. Nothing I can do about that now.

So, the focus now is on whatever I can do to make myself feel good before my shift makes me feel not-so-good. Since I’ve got the bed to myself, I’m stretching–paying attention to tight spots and getting a really good stretch in despite this lazy venue. I do my brow bone massage that scares away tension headaches, self-hand and foot massages, and some square-breathing for calm.
All this before I’ve even gotten out of bed.
It’s my way of apologizing to my body for putting her through another long stretch of wakefulness.

The upside is that I will hopefully be so tired in the morning that I’ll be asleep before my head hits my pillow.
What do you do when you know you’re not going to get enough sleep before shift? Share your damage control tactics in the comments.