Bedside nursing:  a declining career?

I have now been a bedside nurse for five years, working solely in the acute care setting. For the past three years I have worked in the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit at an inner city hospital.

I began my career in nursing to help people, to care for them in their worst moments, and hopefully being able to say “I hope we don’t meet again,” as they downgrade from the ICU. I went into nursing to save lives, to help people with their health and wellness, to be able to serve individuals in their most vulnerable moments.

As nurses, we come to work everyday to serve our patients. We put every ounce of our energy, desire, and ambition into saving our patients. We often go 12 hours without sitting down to eat a meal, being able to empty our bladders, or take a second to decompress. We do this without hesitation, because this is our job, this is what we signed up for. And we do this without ever being “thanked”. (Now, this may be different in community and rural hospitals, but I am speaking from my personal experience in an inner city hospital, in the 5th largest city in the United States.) 

Unfortunately, bedside nursing has now changed into a customer service profession.

Disclaimer: RN does not stand for refreshments and narcotics. 

Patient-centered care is VERY different from customer service. An individual should not come to the hospital expecting to be treated liked royalty. (Honestly, this is true, I am not being rude.) Our number one priority is your health and wellness, and in some cases your ultimate comfort. I will treat every patient with dignity and respect, no matter their background. We are not in a position to judge or refuse care. We are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for our patients. Nurses are imperative to patients’ overall wellbeing. We will catch mistakes, questions orders, and advocate for our patients. We will do this until we are blue in the face, all for our patients. We are valuable, we are important. Nursing is a profession; a profession, that in my opinion, does not get enough recognition.

Now, do not get me wrong, I understand that the hospital and healthcare systems are a business. I truly get that. Money is a driving factor. But, money is not everything! I was taught that patient-centered care is the driving factor in healthcare, but from my point of view, this is not the current focus.  Now nurses are being “graded” and “critiqued” on much more than their bedside manner and job performance. Nurses are yelled at, belittled and talked down to on a daily basis. We are human beings, we are professionals, we are nurses.

Nurses are the driving force of healthcare; there are over 3 millions RNs in the United States. According to the Institute of Medicine, there are four key messages in which encompass the future of nursing:

  1. Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.

  2. Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.

  3. Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.

  4. Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and an improved information infrastructure.

The time for change in our healthcare system is now, and nurses need to step up to be the driving factor. With the increase in advanced and complex diseases and a growing population, advanced practice nursing is the future.

I recently began my Acute Care Nurse Practitioner master’s program at Grand Canyon University, my alma mater. I am nervous, excited, and ready to take this next step in my life and career.

My husband and I also discussed in detail about my career, and decided it would be best to step away from bedside nursing while I am in school. Although change can be intimidating, change is necessary. I am currently putting together a business plan to begin a business as a RN Health Coach. I will be getting my personal training certification, health coach certification, and nutrition and wellness certification in order to appropriately and effectively help my clients. I desire to work with individuals and families looking to make healthy lifestyle changes, including fitness and nutrition. Preventative care, including living a healthy lifestyle, is key for the future of our nation as well as healthcare in America. Life is an adventure, everyone deserves to live the best life possible.

xo, Chels.

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Healthy Living: Food & Diet.

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You are what you eat. 

I’m positive we have all heard this phrase in our lifetime. But in all honesty, this is true. The food you eat, including both quality and quantity, directly affects the human body. Simply put, the food choices you make not only affect your health and how you feel today, but tomorrow and in the future.

Good nutrition is essential to achieving a healthy lifestyle, especially when combined with consistent physical activity. As mentioned in Health Living:  The Problem, unhealthy eating has contributed to the obesity epidemic in America.

If you are on social media, Pinterest, or the internet in general I’m sure you have heard of various “diets” such as; counting your macros, ketogenic diets, low-carb diets, etc. That is not what this post is about. While yes, those specific diets work for people, they are complicated and take time to learn. This post is strictly about eating healthy foods, eating in moderation, and providing examples of healthy foods. Simple and easy, just like that.

 

Fruits & Veggies.

Eat them. Seriously. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at each meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are eating enough fruits & vegetables!

Fruits & veggies are packed full of nutrients, minerals, and fiber. (These are all good things!) The more colorful your meal is, the more micro-nutrients you will consume! It is recommended that a person should eat 2 servings of fruit and 2.5 servings of vegetables per day.  Do you come close to these servings each day?

Leafy green veggies are the healthiest vegetables to eat; examples of said vegetables are romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and kale.

Veggies:

Tip:  Mix veggies into your meals! Let’s be honest, this is easier .

  • Use spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for pasta instead of noodles.
  • Add spinach to your dishes, like pasta.
  • Make an egg frittata with spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
  • Cauliflower mashed “potatoes.”
  • Add spinach and/or kale into fruit smoothies.
  • Salads- be creative!
  • Veggie fries! Try zucchini, carrots, avocado, or green beans and bake ’em.
  • Take carrots, cucumbers, celery, peppers, etc on the go and dip in hummus or yogurt based dressings.

Fruits:

  • Fruit smoothies.
    • Frozen fruit with Greek yogurt and almond milk is my go-to. (Tip:  use water or almond milk as the liquid in your smoothie, this will cut out all the unnecessary sugar added to fruit juices!) For an added health bonus, as mentioned above, try adding kale or spinach to the smoothie- trust me, you cannot even taste it.
  • Apples. Cut up an apple, toss is in a Ziplock back with some lemon juice to keep it fresh, and take it to work or school for a healthy snack!
    • For an added bonus, sprinkle your apple slices with Stevia and cinnamon! OMG. You will thank me for this.
  • Slice up fresh fruit and add to yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.
  • Keep a bowel of fresh fruit out and readily accessible for a quick and easy snack!
  • Add fruit to a salad! Strawberries, apples, and pears are quite delicious toppings on salads.

 

Water.

Drink it. Enough said.

No, but seriously water is vital to survival. It is a physiological need.

  • Hydration, hydration, hydration. It has even been said that hydration directly affects one’s energy levels. H2O also increased physical performance by- you guessed it- keeping you hydrated.
  • Keeps you regular! Because honestly, no one enjoys being constipated.
  • Healthy skin and a clear complexion.
  • Helps prevent hangovers- oh, come one we’ve all been there before.

It is hard to drink water all day, I know. This is why it is important to be creative with the way you drink water!

  • Add fresh fruit and/or mint to your water.
  • Drink sparkling water.
    • La Croix, Perrier, etc.
  • Add a drop of Mio to your water.

Choose water over sugary drinks such as soda, energy drinks, juices, and sports drinks. Your body will thank you! Not only will you forgo the empty calories and added sugars, you can save your carbs for food that will actually fill you up.

Make water a staple of your meals and snacks. Water helps to make you feel full and satisfied, this can help you with over eating.

 

Protein.

  • Eat lean meats! Such as chicken breast, turkey breast, seafood, and leaner cuts of meat that is labeled 90% lean or higher.
  • Seafood is full of protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Some of my favorites:  shrimp, salmon, Chilean sea bass, and Ahi tuna.
  • Bake or grill your meat instead of frying it.
  • Protein powders are a great way to meet your protein goals!
    • Recommendations:  Ump Cookies & Cream, Isopure protein, & Quest protein powder.
  • Protein bars make for great, healthy snacks.
    • Recommendations:  Power Crunch bars (all flavors are fantastic & they taste like cookies!), Think Thin Bars, and Quest Bars.
  • Eggs!
    • Who doesn’t love eggs? Whether you desire a lean option, egg whites, or the whole egg, so many meals can utilize eggs as a source of protein!
    • Example:  omelets, egg white scramble, wraps, sandwiches, and so much more.
  • Beef Jerky.
    • Delicious, simple, and easy to eat on the go!
  • Greek yogurt.
    • Delicious and a great source of protein.
    • My favorite? Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt. (Check out the Toasted Marshmallow- heavenly!)
  • For those who do not consume animal products, in addition to protein bars and protein powder, nuts, beans, and seeds are all great sources of protein.

 

Carbohydrates.

I love me some carbs- don’t we all?! Do not cut carbohydrates out of your diet to be healthy. Carbs are brain food– literally, your body and brain need carbohydrates for energy.

Side note:  Carbs do not only mean grains; fruits and vegetables are also carbs!

It is recommended that half of the grains a person consumes per day should be whole grains, and not refined grains.

Examples of healthy carbs to incorporate into your diet:

  • Oatmeal/ rolled oats
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Whole grain/ wheat bread
  • Popcorn- score!
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • And of course, do not forget your vegetables and fruit! (I’m sure I sound like a broken record.)

 

General tips for a healthy diet.

  • Be mindful of portion sizes and what you are eating.
    • I recommend investing in a food scale.
  • Eat slow.
  • Be prepared.
    • By meal prepping and having healthy snacks on hand, this will make a HUGE difference in your lifestyle and what you are eating.
  • Make wise decisions.
    • Switch from whole milk to 1% or fat-free.
    • Love french fries? Bake sweet potato fries at home.
    • Switch from potato chips to Popped Chips, Pretzel Crisps, or rice cakes.
  • Do not buy and stock your pantry with junk food.
    • If you don’t buy it, and it isn’t readily available, guess what? You won’t eat it!
  • Consume healthy snacks.
    • As mentioned above, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, beef jerky, and protein bars make excellent snacks.
  • Choose chicken & turkey over red meats.
  • Stay away from fried foods.
  • Avoid excessive intake of alcohol and sugary drinks. 
  • Choose healthy fats.
    • Fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts, nut butter, etc.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Avoid added, simple sugars.

 

Living a healthy lifestyle is all about moderation. Do not starve yourself or make yourself miserable trying to eat healthier. Be mindful and make healthy decisions! The littlest decisions can make a HUGE difference in your health.  Do not sacrifice a night out with loved ones because you are eating healthy- make wise, and healthy decisions! Especially when out to eat. Eating healthy is honestly the toughest aspect of living a healthy lifestyle. It will take time, dedication, patience, and hard work. But I promise you, it is worth it! You will (slowly) be able to tell a difference if your mood, energy level, and your waist line! (Do not expect overnight change! I wish it was that simple.)

 

Stay tuned for the next post on Healthy Living.

 

xo, Chels.

 

 

 

Sources:  HHS, MyPlate.gov, UpToDate.

Healthy Living: The problem.

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I recently wrote a blog post, An apple a day, and stated that I was going to begin a mini blog series on the importance of a healthy life style. So, I figured I should begin the series with the problem.

Disclaimer: in NO way is this article attempting to be insensitive or hurtful but merely factual, based off scietific research.

The problem: Obesity. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat. 

Would you like to know a disturbing fact? According to the National Health Institute, more than two-thirds (yes, greater than 68%) of Americans are considered either over weight or obese. Let me spell this out for you- approximately 72 million Americans are considered overweight or obese. The tool used to classify a person as underweight, healthy weight, over weight, or obese is the BMI (body mass index). BMI is a value derived from the mass and height of an individual. Unfortunately, BMI does not take into account muscle mass, so some of the results can obviously be skewed. (For example, my dad who is 5’10”, 185 pounds and fit, is considered over weight.) For additional information on BMI, please read this article from the CDC.

With that being said, obesity remains an epidemic in America, causing higher medical costs and a lower quality of life. Obesity has become a top public health concern in the United States, as well as other resource-rich economies, over the past few decades. Shocking, right? Not.

Medical Complications of Obesity.
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Source: Adapted from Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

And would you like to hear the most unfortunate part about the rising obesity rates in America? Approximately one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese. To me, this is heart breaking. For children and adolescents having one obese parent increases the risk of obesity by two to threefold, and up to 15-fold if both parents are obese. Wow.

So, with that being said, let’s take a look at a few of the problems that are a leading cause of the current obesity epidemic occurring in this great nation of ours

1.  Portion sizes.

Bigger is better- right? No. Not when it comes to the subject of food.

How many times have you been out to eat at a restaurant and you are astonished by the amount of food they serve to you?! Half way through the meal and you have to unbutton your pants just to be comfortable. (Come on- I’m not the only one who has been victim to this.)

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American ate almost 20% more calories in the year 2000 than they did in 1983. Woah. 

2.  What we eat.

It’s easier, and significantly cheaper to eat unhealthy than it is to eat healthy. This is a crime. Seriously.

Foods higher in fat, calorie content, and sugar are readily available to eat. Just check out your local gas station or vending machine.

Marketing- those sneaky people. Tell me, when is the last time you saw a billboard or advertisement for an apple, or a plate with grilled chicken, rice, and broccoli? Oh that’s right- you haven’t. Unhealthy foods are highly advertised in America, and they are enticing, there is no doubt about that.

Sugary drinks (soda, energy drinks, etc.) are highly popular all around the country. Everything you consume, yes, even drinks, directly affects your health. A single can of Coke contains 58.5 grams of carbohydrates, that is 58.5 grams of sugar! Crazy.

3.  Inactivity.

Inactivity is the new norm. We are in an age where we are obsessed with technology. It is easier to stay home, watch TV, play on the computer, have your phone or iPad glued to your hands, and play video games than it is to go outside and run, ride a bike, go to the gym or play a sport.

When I was growing up I remember every day after school my brother and I would go outside with the other kids in the neighborhood and PLAY. On the weekends we were either at the soccer or baseball fields, and then back home to play more. I hardly ever see kids outside playing anymore.

4. Genetics.

Yes, genetics can play a role in obesity. According to The Mayo Clinic, a person’s genes may affect the amount of body fat they are able store, as well as where that fat is distributed.

As a healthcare professional, I feel like there is a significant amount of education that we can provide to our patients and community in regards to a healthy lifestyle. With providing education regarding healthy eating choices and simple exercises, we can begin to fight this obesity epidemic that is taking over America.

Stay tuned for the next post on Healthy Living.

xo, Chels.

 

 

 

 

Sourses:  Public Health and CDC.

An apple a day.

As an ICU nurse, health and wellness is at the top of my priority list. To be honest, for my entire life, I have always valued the concept of a healthy lifestyle; from eating healthy and in moderation, to working out consistently and participating in physical activity. In my opinion, living a “healthy life” encompasses many different aspects, including physical, mental, and social well-being.

“Look good, feel good, do good.”

Am I right?

We live in America, land of the free, land of indulgence, land of gluttony. We have a problem here people, wouldn’t you agree?

Every shift, I care for patients who are at the worst moment in their life, and unfortunately, some of these individuals have caused the damage to themselves.

The decisions we make on a daily basis regarding our health, including our eating habits, drinking habits (guilty-oops!), and exercise/physical activity (or lack thereof) directly affect our body and our overall health status.

Now listen, I’m the first person to eat a donut if it’s offered to me. I’m not ashamed. If you are a person who can resist a delicious donut- more power to you! You, are an inspiration to all, my friend. It’s all about balance, people! Being healthy is not all or nothing. It about finding balance and being happy with yourself. Because honestly, isn’t that is what life is all about?

For the past six months I have been sitting on a career idea that I want so desperately to delve into. My passion is helping people- which is definitely why I went into nursing in the first place. In my years as a bedside ICU nurse, I have noticed a HUGE gap in our healthcare system. We are failing our patients. We are failing to provide them with adequate education in the community, which could minimize and potentially eliminate some hospitalizations. If we took all we knew about what causes heart disease, obesity, and diabetes type 2, and provided adequate information to our community, maybe, just maybe we could help a few of our patients. My goal would be to combine my knowledge with disease processes and assist people in their overall health. This is a dream, and hopefully one day I will make it my reality!

Until then…

I am going to begin a miniature health series on Bosak’s Greatest Adventure, discussing the different aspects of achieving a healthy life style. Stay tuned, and bear with me. While this is not a post on adventure per say, life is an adventure in itself. This is an important topic and I hope can help at least one reader!

xo, Chels.