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Posts from September, 2012

Nursing News: Don’t Count on Foreign Nurses to End the Nursing Shortage

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 27th, 2012

Experts are forecasting a major nursing shortage with estimates that 1.2 million nurses will be needed in the U.S. before 2020. In spite of these facts, foreign nurses are finding it increasingly difficult to gain entry into the States.

Nursing education in many countries does not meet standards equivalent to the U.S., particularly in the areas of maternity, pediatrics and psychiatry.

International nurses must go through a credentialing process, such as with international authority CGFNS, to ensure their education meets U.S. standards. Nurses applying to work in the U.S. usually need to take additional courses to make up deficiencies and meet our country’s standards, and must also show that they have both theory and clinical experience at an undergraduate level in each of these areas.

Too often the nursing shortage is veiled by the recession which is forcing nurses back into clinical settings, delaying retirement and deterring career changes.

How is your facility preparing for the severe nurse shortage looming between now and 2020?

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

Nursing News: Create Nurse Leaders in Long Term Care

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 25th, 2012

New York State has developed an exclusive leadership program for nurses in senior management who want to become or remain nurse leaders in the long-term care profession. The Foundation for Quality Care’s Nurse Educator Course, partially funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Nurse Education, Practice & Retention Program, provides college-level credits.

The Long Term Care Leadership Program provides nurse leaders with an ongoing educational and peer networking program that promotes personal development, core competencies and best practices in the role of long-term care nursing.

This Institute is even more critical in these times of staffing shortages and increased quality of care and financial pressures in the long-term care profession. It trains the next generation of nurse leaders to care for New York’s most frail populations.

As our baby Boomer population grows, what is your facility doing to create nurse leaders to care for them?

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

 

Labor for a Lifetime – Part 2 of 2

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 18th, 2012

Positive Thinking

I am absolute believer in the power of positive thinking. We get what we expect from life. When we expect positive things, we act accordingly and get positive results in return. When expect success we usually succeed; when we expect failure, we usually fail. When we expect health, we make healthy choices; when we expect illness, we are often sick.
In childbirth classes, when worried couples doubted their ability to survive labor, I quoted Henry Ford, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”

Research shows that emotion–positive or negative–affects human health. There is mounting scientific evidence that hope, faith, love, the will to live, purpose, laughter and festivity can actually help control disease. These aren’t just mental states, but have electromechanical connections that play a large part in the working of immune system.

Positive thinking also affects our performance. The Texas Rangers baseball team years ago lost twenty-one straight games. The manager knew an evangelist was in town and made the team wait in the dugout while he went to have their bats blessed. He came back an hour later with “blessed bats.” The team won nearly every game after that— and the pennant! Were the bats blessed? It doesn’t matter; the team got what they expected.

We can take positive thinking one step farther by incorporating Positive Imaging. Positive visualization is a powerful and mysterious force in human nature that’s capable of bringing about dramatic improvement in our lives. Einstein said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge.”

I instructed laboring moms to visualize the baby moving down the birth canal, the cervix opening, and baby in their arms. I literally watched their bodies respond. We know the expected response is true in biofeedback, when blood pressure and pulse rates are reduced with imaging techniques.

Cancer patients say they have less nausea and vomiting when visualizing a serene white beach of Maui, cascading waterfalls, peaceful sunsets. But it seems that can work in reverse. One cancer patient saw her doctor in the grocery store and it brought back such intense images of nausea with her chemo, she threw up on the spot!

Breathing, relaxation, positive thinking and positive visualization work for sick people and labor patients and it will work for you. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be asked to rescue babies in cardboard boxes in war-torn countries, but God knows you rescue people every day in what you do. Remember to use your labor tools to affect not only your happiness, but your health.

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

 

Labor for a Lifetime – Part 1 of 2

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 13th, 2012

There were 100 little babies laying three and four to a cardboard box, strapped in the belly of a gutted cargo jet. It was 1975, Saigon was falling to the Communists, and I was accidentally caught up in the Vietnam Orphan Airlift.

A stressful situation. If you don’t have coping skills, you learn them fast!

As our plane took off, I was haunted with image of three days before when I had stood on the runway and watched as first planeload of orphans crashed after takeoff, killing half of the adults and children board. I clutched our newly adopted baby boy to my chest. Would this plane be blown out of the sky too? I trembled so hard I could barely hold our son. To cope, I started slow, deep easy breathing…the kind I’d learned from our Lamaze classes several years before. The same breathing I used to bring our daughters into our family, I was using to bring our son.

Since then, my many years as a childbirth educator, convinced me that those child-birthing techniques are not just labor skills, but life skills. I taught couples laboring tools: breathing, relaxation, positive thinking and visualization. These are imperative for coping with challenges of labor, and are equally applicable in coping with “labors” in our lives.

Breathing

Like other activities done with at rhythm, rhythmic breathing releases endorphins, our bodies own pain medication. We have it to tap every day, but forget to do activities that release it!

I taught laboring moms that when they are afraid, they have increased adrenalin production which inhibits the release of oxytocin, resulting in poorer contractions and a longer labor. Rhythmic breathing decreases stress, thereby decreasing adrenalin production, facilitating a better shorter labor. If stress and adrenalin do that to labor, what does it do to our everyday lives?

We need to breathe like laboring moms–in 2,3,4 and out 2,3,4. As we breathe in, think the words “I am” and as we breathe out think, “relaxed.” It works. When I was en route to Vietnam, the national officers of our organization met me at the airport with $10,000 to smuggle into Vietnam!  So with the most expensive padded bra in world history, I headed through customs. An angry looking Vietnamese guard with a gun, barked at me, and I feared he’d take one look at my chest and know this was not an act of God! Trembling with fright, I knew I’d give myself away. So I started that deep breathing– in, $1,000, $2,000, $3000, out $4000…!

Relaxation

It’s said relaxation is 90% of a good labor, and that applies to life too. Keeping our bodies relaxed keeps our emotions under control. I told laboring moms, we are only as relaxed as our hands and our face. We can’t relax if we’re making a fist…or clenching our teeth… or the steering wheel.

We schedule so many activities into our days, yet seldom schedule relaxation. Still, we must allocate at least fifteen minutes every day for relaxation, meditation, or prayer.

Ideally, we should set up a “relaxation” place at home, where we can listen to guided relaxation exercises or soothing music while doing our slow, rhythmic breathing. Involving all five senses is best, perhaps by lighting a scented candle or gliding in a rocker. Once we’ve mastered this relaxation technique, we can utilize it in the break room, the ballpark, or the bedside.

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

Understanding the Four Generations

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 11th, 2012

It’s important to be educated about each generation since nurses cover the span of all 4. More and more nurses are waiting to retire, so it’s not rare to have a Traditionalist and Gen Y-er sharing the floor.  Knowing what makes each generation “tick” will better help your nurse recruitment and retention. 

Traditionalists, born between 1902- 1946, are 102 million in number, 17% of our population.

This gutsy group grew up with adversity during WWII and the Great Depression. Survival was way of life. There were shortages of sugar, gasoline, tires and much more. They did without. Mottos firmly set their approach to life: “A penny saved is a penny earned.” “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” “Put your nose to the grindstone.”

It was a man’s economy. The few women in the workplace had limited positions, usually as teachers and secretaries. During the war they went to work in the ammunitions and other factories, but when the war was over, they went home. “A woman’s place was in the home.”

People worked hard, and overtime if needed, to get work done. Because of the manufacturing economy, working harder and faster and longer made more widgets which meant more money which meant more security. And security was everything to them. That’s why layoffs in the 70s distressed them so. They never dreamed the company for whom they’d worked for so many years would release them with little notice.

Baby Boomers were born between1946-1964. These 77 million constitute the largest part of our working population at 23%.

While traditionalists grew up with adversity, Baby Boomers entered a thriving new economy after the war. New cars, appliances, and homes were being built at a record pace. The population boomed and millions moved from the farms and cities to create “suburbia.” The proliferation of TV forever changed the way they and future generations would view the world. No longer did only stories from relatives tell them what to think and believe. They began to question rules and policies that had been in place for years. Civil rights movements and war protests emerged. Boomers were told to make love not war and, according to activist Abbie Hoffman, not to trust anyone over 30.

Because of their numbers, they got the attention of politicians, product developers, and the music world. As a result, they grew up thinking the world was theirs for the taking. Instead of working harder and faster like the Traditionalists, Boomers focused on teamwork, efficiency, quality and service.

Boomers still rule and have the biggest impact on society, business, and politics. Every town in the US still has an “oldies” station.

Gen Xers, born from 1965 to 1980, is the smallest generation, totaling 50 million, just 15%.  While Boomers entered a world filled with optimism and prosperity, Gen Xers entered with social upheaval.

Their parents were the first generation of dual careers. Many Boomer moms wore business suits like men and wanted to have it all. Parents avoided having children and if they did, had them late in life. Many were called “latchkey kids” because they came home to an empty house. This required them to learn a lot on their own so they became resourceful and independent at an early age.

Xers were a product of technology. Preschoolers were “glued to the set” and were expected to learn ABCs and numbers, not from Mom and Dad, but from a Big Bird on Sesame St.

They became skeptics when what they were taught and what they witnessed were two different things. The institutions they were told to believe in betrayed them. They heard, “Marriage is forever,” yet 40% of their parents divorced. “Work hard and you’ll always have a job.” But they watched corporate layoffs wreak havoc. They are skeptical about institutions and now are working in one. While Boomers are about team, Xers are about themselves.

Gen Y is often called Generation Why?  Born from 1981 to 1999, these 81 million will soon top the Boomers in the workforce as 27% of population.

Their parents, who felt they didn’t get enough attention from their own parents, smothered these children with attention. They are sometimes called the “Trophy Generation” because they got ribbons for everything, even “Participant” because everyone is a winner whether they sit on the bench or are the MVP. Every step of the way, their parents guided, directed, supported, coached and protected them. They had graduation ceremonies for preschool and kindergarten and by first grade, felt like the center of the universe.

This group has an intense focus on school grades and test scores, in part because federal and state agencies require annual achievement test from elementary school through high school. Young men and women in this group are accustomed to getting regular assessments of how they stack up against others. Concern about getting superlative GPAs to get into college make them obsess and track progress weekly, sometimes daily.

They never knew life without computers and technology and they are expert at multitasking. They can perform their job, listen to an I-pod, text message a friend and talk on the cell phone all at the same time.

It’s important to be educated about each generation in order to properly recruit and retain nurses. Knowing what makes them “tick” will make your life much easier.

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

Generational Tensions Listed as a Top Issue Affecting the Workplace: What the 4 Generations Have in Common

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 6th, 2012

It shouldn’t surprise us that a Business Week survey ranked “generational tensions” as one of the top issues affecting the workplace today. This is the first time in the history of our nation that four generations are working together in the workforce. Sixty-five percent of employees said it makes it hard to get their jobs done.

There is lots of information and white papers detailing the differences and difficulties of the four generations. Understanding and appreciating these differences is critical, not only to better understand coworkers, but to attract, interview and hire the right staff.

It can be overwhelming, however, to think one has to have four different approaches to serve four such diverse groups of people. But there is good news. In my research I determined 12 things all four generations have in common. This knowledge decreases negativity, resentment, tension and turnover in the workplace and increases cooperation, retention and productivity.

They all want or need:

  1. To be shown that you care for them as people. Show interest in their personal lives. Encourage them and give them tools to care for their bodies, minds and spirits.
  2. Respect for all the skill, wisdom and knowledge they bring.
  3. Flexible hours. Gen X and Gen Yers work to live and demand work-life balance, often choosing that over money. Traditionalists and Boomers who once lived to work, are now getting tired, with weak knees and sore feet. Offering flexible work hours will help retain all generations.
  4. Education and career development. Though this is often the first budget to be cut, it is one of the most important needs expressed by all.
  5. To feel important and appreciated. Thank them in public. Write notes of gratitude. Create bulletin boards to display thank you letters, special acts of kindness, etc.
  6.  Morale boosters. Give positive feedback. Offer motivational reading material, speakers, and support.
  7. Good and frequent communication. Often it is not-knowing that creates stress and low morale. Tell them honestly what is happening, trust them with the truth.
  8. Feedback. Gen Ys are known to need frequent feedback and assessments, but all generations need it in these ever-changing challenging times. In formal evaluations or every day communication, let them know how they are doing. Mention strengths and areas of need.
  9. To celebrate success. When unit or organizational goals are achieved, celebrate …often! Throw parties and pot-lucks.
  10.  Recognition, personally and professionally. Pay attention to achievements at work, home, or the community. Give pins, certificates, and gifts to honor accomplishments.
  11.  For you to hire the right people.
  12. …and fire the “wrong” ones. Get rid of low performers and create an environment to recognize the best. One negative poor performing worker can spoil the morale and productivity of an entire unit.

These 12 tips create a happy team of people which results in increased productivity and retention. In this environment, all four generations are challenged, respected, coached and supported…because, after all, they have a lot in common.

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

Why Am I Still a Nurse Anyway? Part 2 of 2

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 4th, 2012

How often do you reminisce about your caring moments as a nurse? Scribble them down in a spiral notebook or journal as they come to you. It doesn’t have to be fancy or well written. (Your English teacher will never grade it.) Read your stories often. Share them with others, verbally even when the opportunity presents itself. 

Many nurses have told me that, to begin their shifts with inspiration and hope, they together read a story from Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. That is a great idea. (Of course!) Another one equally great or better is to share your own true stories at this time. One hospital I work with calls these “Heart Moments.”

At other hospitals where I do retention events, I learned they created their own book of stories written by staff. What a great way to boost morale and retention!

Still other hospitals have “Best Story” contests.  What a wonderful way to engage employees as each department gathers and chooses the top stories from their unit. Sometimes I may be the final judge, then a prize is given to the individual or department with the “Best Story.” Some have different categories (funniest, most compassionate, etc.) and multiple winners are awarded.

While some people might say, “We don’t have time for this,” I submit that we must take time… make time… to enrich our spirits and soothe our souls and reignite our passion for nursing. We answered the calling to care. Our stories prove the privilege we have to literally touch and save lives. That is surely the highest calling of all.

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.