Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting Ready for a Job Interview?

I went out this morning with my Health Officer Karen to discuss the process of interviewing for a new job. The audience was a group of final semester BSN students ready to launch into the world of nursing. Karen did a great job of sharing what makes a GREAT impression in an interview. The high points were:
Do a little self-reflection and realize which talents will equip you for the RIGHT nursing career.
Dress professionally
Bring a (brief) portfolio tailored to what makes YOU right for the job
Be positive about your past job experiences
Answer the questions honestly
Realize that even if you do everything correctly you may not win the job. In that case...follow up! You may have another shot at it in the future!

I added my own insights from past interviews. Namely:
Leave any discussion of benefits, vacation, time off, etc. Until AFTER you have an offer on the table
Learn how to shake hands (manager tools has a great podcast on this here), and introduce yourself. Be enthusiastic and energetic!

Hopefully we spoke to some future public health nurses in the room!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Global interests and local hospitality

This week we have a couple staying with us from Costa Rica. What fun to their faces light up with they first saw our little acreage! The cameras came out quickly as they saw the hay field in the back. It was a reminder of the blessing of living in Wisconsin. Living in such a mountainous region makes our wide open spaces and wide-wide roads an amazing site in their eyes. We talked about local customs and the differences between our driving habits (like Midwesterner's aversion to using their car horns).

What is very interesting is that both our guests work in Costa Rica, but their jobs are located in the states. One is a software engineer for a Dallas company. He and I sympathized with each other about the complexity of getting everyone to turn their time sheets in on time, as he handles the Texas payroll! She works for the U.S. Department of Treasury and is working with American partners in developing the infrastructure for transportation in her country.

This week has reminded me that cultural differences are no different than other interesting conversations we face in nursing. Whether it is teaching someone to care for their child, relating ways to live healthier lives, or learning about life in Costa Rica, this is all done best over a cup of coffee, talking one to one. Listening, reflecting, relating. We are at a tremendous advantage having this firmly entrenched in our own professional culture. Viva Nursing!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are you the "Family Nurse?"

If you are a nurse you know what I mean! It is a special joy to be of service to our family and friends when they are getting through an especially tough health crisis. My Dad had hip surgery last February and I loved getting to know some great hospital staff. I think they loved me too, and they used me for some leverage. "Yes, Mr. Cook you need to take a pain pill. Your daughter is coming in 30 minutes." Ha!

Some things I always recommend when asked:

1. Get an expandable file folder (I usually buy these myself for my friends, they're cheap). This is to put information from doctors, hospitals, insurance, equipment companies, etc. in the divided areas. The amount of information on paper multiplies and gets out of control FAST.

2. Tell them about the people that are caring for their loved ones. People like CNAs,nurses, therapists of all sorts. Try to help clarify their different roles. Ask them to get to know the nurses caring for their loved one by name. Give them some little cards and help them to write a short note of thanks to give to staff while their loved one is being cared for. Never hurts to let them know they are appreciated.

3. Tell the family never to enter the hospital, clinic, or join a meeting without paper and a pen. They will need it more times than you know. Doctors and others can quickly draw a picture to explain something. Pictures help bridge a big gap between medical terminology and plain 'ole language. So much else.

4. Care conferences/meetings can get very big very quickly. There are often a dozen people around the table. Counsel your friends to always start a meeting by asking for everyone to introduce themselves. Ask for their business cards, or ask them to sign in on a pad of paper with their title and contact information. This empowers the family to have the opportunity for consultation later.

5. If it is appropriate, offer to attend the meeting with the family. Smile big! Handshakes all around! Be supportive and explain your role to the staff. You are not there to supplant the family, but maybe take notes and look for areas that need explanation. If you know the family, you can see by their expression when they are getting lost in the terminology. We can help facilitate better understanding. But be nice!

I know there is more, maybe if you read this you can comment on other ways you have lent your nursing expertise to friends and family. It has been a special joy to bring comfort in this way.

At Cape Coral Hospital they have a special website where you send "web well-wishes" to a patient and give them a get-well greeting. The first day Dad was in the hospital I put that site up on my facebook page and so many people sent him love and good wishes. This was a great service since cards couldn't reach him fast enough by mail to get there while he was in the hospital. A nice lady visited with a big stack of paper with sweet messages and even cool color graphics on each page. The link to the service is here if you want to check it out:

You may find it tough to be the "family nurse" at times. To me it is a great joy to help people I love through a difficult time. Courage!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Public Health...boring???

Usually nurses that think public health is boring are imagining endless paperwork and government regulations. I love all kinds of nursing, but nothing beats public health nursing. What's exciting? Try face to face with your clients. Knocking on the door of that new Mother for the first time and wondering how the journey will unfold. Visiting a local head start and watching the kid's faces light up to see their "nurse". Helping the emerging language learner connect with vital services in the community. Deciding what your community needs for better health and then having the autonomy to plan and implement a program at the grassroots level. Watching the community in your care stop smoking, drive safer, put their babies to sleep safely, avoid disease, eat better and on and on!

The most gratifying and terrifying moments in my nursing career have most definitely been during my career in public health! Boring Schmoring....get with it!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I know why they call it "March"

Because you have to keep your chin up and just put one foot in front of the other to get through this month! If you don't live in the Midwest you won't know the gloom of March. It is a sloppy mess of grey skies, dirty snow and cruel hoaxes in the weather report every day. We hearty souls have it hands down in the "delayed gratification" department....unless you count brownies.

It will happen, Spring is almost here....when all Midwesterners remember why they punish themselves for five months out of the year. Hope your tulips are up soon!