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A Step in the Right Direction: Enter to Win the Kaplan Nursing & Dansko ‘Start Off On the Right Foot’ Giveaway

NCLEX Dansko GiveawayTextbooks thick as bricks, empty pockets, coffee pots that never catch a break. Nursing school is back in session. No matter how long it’s been since we’ve darkened the classroom, we all still remember that feeling of anxiety mixed with kindness tossed with fear and hope. Oh, nursing school.

It’s going to be a great semester. Kaplan Nursing and Dansko are going to make sure of it with their Start Off on the Right Foot giveaway. You need to enter now because through October 31st, two winners per week will be selected to win an incredible Essential Back-to-School Kit including:

  •  A Kaplan NCLEX prep course
  • A $130 gift card for Dansko shoes
  • Medications you need to know for the NCLEX Kaplan book
  • Medical Terms for Nurses Kaplan book
  • Math for Nurses Kaplan Book
  • A Kaplan Nursing pen
  • A Kaplan Nursing highlighter
  • A 12 oz bag of Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Kaplan will announce the winners weekly via their Facebook page at Enter early, and start off on the right foot with Kaplan Nursing and Dansko.

Rock the semester!

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Those (RN) Credentials Look Mighty Good on Ya! [Free, Printable Cards]

Nursing school grads left and right are completing their NCLEX exams and gaining their Registered Nurse, R.N., credentials. Today’s free, printable card was inspired by my cousin, Shelley, who just obtained her RN license yesterday. I remember exactly what that felt like…absolutely incredible. I welcome her and the rest of my new colleagues to our amazing profession! Guard those credentials fiercely. State them proudly. Hold true to everything they represent.

This card is available to anyone and everyone, free of charge. Simply download, print (on card stock is best), write your personal sentiments on the reverse, and give, give away. Enjoy!


You can also download the red version.





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10 Years In The Making: Letter to My Newly Nurse Graduate Self

Hey, You.

Congratulations on finishing your BSN! I completely know the excitement and pride you feel at this moment. It makes me smile when I think about it – about you – your hope to be a great nurse, your desire to work in women’s health, your pressing toward graduate school. It’s all so exciting. And that’s amazing.

Stay encouraged. You are, indeed, embarking on an incredible journey. In transparency, it’s going to be more than you ever imagined, but it’s also going to get bad – really bad – before it gets good. It may sound difficult to believe, but you’ll actually want to quit nursing, and you’ll think about it quite seriously. How? Why? Well, unfortunately, you have to live it and learn it for yourself. As painful as it may be, it will shape you for the better, and you will know when it happens. You will feel the paradigm shift. Remember when you thought saying “never” would come back to bite you? It does. Go with the flow. Things and areas of nursing work you thought you’d never do – well, they actually become your passions in many ways.

Stay focused. The thoughts of graduate school that are rolling in your head now…keep feeding them. Again – difficult times but incredible results. You’ll wonder how you’ll ever make it amidst everything else that life brings. But you’ll make it. And then some. Remember what’s important. Always.

Stay open. Remember why you went into nursing. That reason will keep you going long after everything else fades. What you think is permanent is just a flash, a temporary moment. Always be open to new experiences, new friends, new lessons, new opportunities. You’re going to do things and experience moments that, if I told you now, you really wouldn’t believe. It’s quite amazing, and you’ll have to experience it yourself to understand and fully appreciate it. Just. Wait!

Stay you. Above all, “to thine own self be true.” Some around you will want to conform you to the cookie-cutter expectations. Some will help you break the mold and continue to help you find and enhance who you really are. Let go of the conformist-generators and hold fast to the enhancers. Some people will naturally leave you, and others you will have to cut out and really work to stay away from. It’s worth every painful moment. I promise.

That pin…that piece of paper…those credentials – congratulations of everything they represent. You’ve earned it. Enjoy it. Now, go pack for your move to a new city, a new home, and a new job. And try to squeeze in some NCLEX studying as well as some rest. Yes, take a nap every single day. Considering you have yet to meet the amazing little people God gives you, sleep as much as you can. One day you will wonder what you did with all your free time.

I am so proud of you. Take care of you.

With Much Anticipation,






Joni Watson, MBA, MSN, RN, OCN®

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Own The Semester [Free, Printable Card]

I can’t help but think of all the nursing students beginning new semesters. I wish them all the best. Own it!









You can download this card for free. Sure can!

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Health-Tech Crushing on the mophie juice pack powerstation®

JPU-PWRSTION-2_Front_3QTRSleek design. Vibrant color. Incredible power. Mmmmmm. The mophie juice pack powerstation® has it all. The 4000 mAh external battery, available in black or red, is compatible with most smartphones and tablets, and it can charge just about any mobile device four times faster than traditional USB batteries.

Like 71% of U.S. nurses and 66% of nursing students, I use my iPhone constantly at work. Whether it’s a clinical app, email correspondence, or even managing my time – my smartphone is a necessary nursing tool. That also means I’m often left sweating my battery life near the end of my work day. I hate that feeling – knowing work remains and realizing I may not have the tools to complete it efficiently. With the spring and fall conference season, I am typically tethered to an outlet in order to tweet conference happenings or try to squeeze in work during every break. And, even when I’m not working, my iPhone and iPad are everyday entertainment for both me and the rest of my family – including three kiddos under the age of eight. Seriously, my three-year old can devour an iPad battery.

JPU-PWRSTION-2_3QTR-PortsI am quite glad the mophie juice pack powerstation® is part of my professional and personal life now. I was hooked as I soon as I pulled it from the packaging. It’s four LED indicator lights mesmerized me, the ruby red soft-touch finish exterior spoiled me, and the mophie juice pack powerstation® made me giddy just watching it charge my smartphone away from any outlet. Tucking it away in my briefcase or backpack was a no brainer as the mophie juice pack powerstation® is just a little bigger than an iPhone; you better believe this sweet little gem will join me on every business and personal trip. My entire family already knows how to use it. Just like with my iPhone, I have no clue how I ever functioned without the mophie juice pack powerstation®.

Oh, yes, it is that good. It is a must-have tool in your nursing practice and resource toolkit.


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“Serious Gaming” Educates Baccalaureate Nursing Students on Healthcare Ethics

Four years ago Diane Forster-Burke, MS, RN, professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, was looking for a way to recharge her teaching and utilize different education strategies to drive home the ethics of every day healthcare decisions nurses and other healthcare professionals make in routine practice. A colleague directed her to The Anatomy of Care, a serious role-playing game developed by WILL Interactive and MedStar Washington Hospital Center to improve customer service and increase patient satisfaction.

(Via WILL Interactive)


Professor Forster-Burke is now in her fourth year utilizing The Anatomy of Care game with undergraduate BSN students in their leadership capstone course. Forster-Burke states that even though there are no course points for how student groups progress through the game, the student nurses make decisions on a case-by-case basis and watch the expected and unexpected outcomes of their decisions; seeing senior nursing students “sit forward in their seats, engaged, interacting, and often laughing” during an 0800 class is worth it. She reiterates several times the safety of the simulation; “no one gets hurt.” Students can see the preferred choices as well as the worst-case scenarios of their decisions.

David Versaw, WILL Interactive CFO, explains The Anatomy of Care is used in several acute care hospitals and is sold through various distributors. The simulation methodology, which allows professionals and professionals in training to “step into someone else’s shoes, has shown dramatic improvements in HCAHPS scores, and WILL Interactive is even in the process of pursuing continuing nursing education credits for the course. 

If you’re like me and sometimes roll your eyes at nursing school simulations, you should view the demo. I agree with Forster-Burke that the game focuses on real-world pressures intertwined with patient care – like the nurse taking a personal call at the nurse’s station in the midst of patient care needs. “It really gets students thinking,” explains Forster-Burke, “about the role of the nurse as an advocate.” The game has quite the decision algorithms to allow for a broad simulation experience.

Simulation in professional education is not new, and role-playing games are increasingly providing “edutainment,” or education in the form of entertainment. Still, nursing education seems to be a late adopter to such technological education innovation. Simulation mannequins have sprinkled nursing education programs going on 15 years now, yet the education strategy is omitted from numerous programs due to financial and other barriers. Web-based simulation programs like The Anatomy of Care could be one solution to help undergraduate nursing students bolster their critical-thinking skills and decision making.

Have you ever used The Anatomy of Care or any other simulation game in your nursing education?

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Nurses And Social Media: Crowdsourcing a Nursing Student’s Questions

NursesAndSocialMediaI really enjoy nursing students – at all levels of nursing education. I love helping them formally via precepting them as well as informally helping them through mentoring, etc. Nursetopia has many popular posts among nursing students, and I can often tell the season for nursing papers by the number of hits to my posts about free, full-text nursing journal articles (here and over here and even here). It makes me smile.

A nursing student contacted me recently for help with a “trends in nursing” kind of class. She bravely chose the topic of social media use within the nursing profession. I say “bravely” because the peer-reviewed evidence of the topic in the nursing literature is scarce with 49 PubMed articles from a “nursing, social media” search. And not even all of those are related to nurses’ actually use of social media. Yikes. Kudos, though, to this student for developing this knowledge within herself and passing it on to others. My mind leaps at the thoughts of how beneficial this learning will be in her nursing practice. I’m providing my answers to her questions below this week, and I thought I’d let her see the real-life nursing practice implications and benefits of social media through her very own questions, leveraging my existing social media networks for her and allowing nurses from all over the world to weigh-in on her questions. Oh, yeah…fun stuff!!

So, take a peek at the questions below, and leave a comment by Sunday, January 27, 2013, to answer one or all of them. I know many nurses within the blogosphere and other social networks have already ruminated on this topic. If you’re on of those, leave a URL in the comments directing the nursing student (and all other nurses and nursing students who will read this in the future) to your already existing thoughts on social media use within the nursing profession. And, if you’re not a nurse but still work in the healthcare profession, yes, you jump in, too! As always, thanks for contributing to the growth of one of our own!

1. How is your role related to the use of social media in the healthcare field?
2. Have you or your organization instituted any changes regarding the use of social media – including education, information sharing, or restrictions?
3. How did you become involved with the aspect of healthcare social media usage?
4. How do you feel that healthcare policies and current changes impact social media usage?
5. How do you think nursing promotes safety in social media?
6. Do you feel that culture, population, or evolving technology impact the use of social media by healthcare professionals and businesses?
7. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report was generated by an 18-member committee including health experts from healthcare organizations, businesses, and academic settings. The report includes solutions to improve patient care through changes in nursing. Some of their recommendations are that nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression and to ensure that nurses engage in lifelong learning. What are your thoughts on these recommendations? Do you think social media and the internet support the achievement of these recommendations?
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The Teaching Worked; Now Look at Me

My professors preached “research” all through graduate school. I went into grad school revolting any idea of doing research and especially the thought that it was expected of me as a masters-prepared nurse. Still, my professors sang the same song – first in melodies, then in harmonies – of research.

And, as I neared graduation, I became much more comfortable with research. Today, it’s a common thought in my nursing practice…What does the evidence say about this? I bet there’s already a validated tool for this. Let’s take this through the IRB; it will make an excellent paper. This is so interesting; I wonder if…

Yep. Research is a daily part of my nursing practice, which I actually enjoy.

And all my nursing professors smirk.

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The Eye of the Nursing Student

I really enjoy having students with me. They are full of questions, and I feel like I’m contributing to the profession when I share my time, energy, and knowledge with them. Of course, it takes a lot  of time and energy and explanation to work with students because you’re discussing everything you are doing, the rationale behind it, the outcomes you’re expecting, how you are going to measure those outcomes, possible solutions if things go awry at hour/step 3, 4, or 9, and so on and so on.

I recently saw a Facebook picture posted by a friend of a friend, who commented on the picture (thus pushing the random person’s picture into my stream). The picture was of a first semester nursing student who just purchased the last of her textbooks, which I later learned cost $1,700 (yes, and that’s an entirely different post altogether!). They were stacked one on top of the other, their shiny spines proudly displaying lengthy titles of pharmacology, assessment, pathophysiology, and more. The young woman leaned over the teetering books, which were easily half her height or more, giving a brilliant smile and a I’m-ready-for-school thumbs up. Comments rallied with encouragement and advice about rolling backpacks.

For a moment I thought about my own first-nursing-semester-textbook experiences and looking at all of the books, thumbing through the pages, and wondering how in the world I was going to learn all of that information. How my vision of nursing has changed! Some experiences have colored my vision for the better and some other experiences…well, not so much. However, it was my vision to develop and focus.

Students help adjust vision for their teachers, mentors, and preceptors, as well. They have a completely different outlook, which is often – at least I think – encouraging, humorous, and endearing.

I hope she saves that photo. I hope she remembers that feeling and excitement. I hope she hears the rings of encouragement over time. I hope.

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NCLEX Encouragement [Free, Printable Card]

In honor of nursing graduations everywhere and the thousands of people who are preparing for the NCLEX…here’s a note of encouragement for you or others. Feel free to download, print, and encourage at random intentionally.

The NCLEX is tough. And stressful. It’s a “make-it-or-break-it” kind of moment, and the past two to four years (or more!) have led to the single, stress-inducing, career-predicting test. A note of encouragement just might brighten a future nurse’s day, so be sure to include your own hand-written cheers on the inside!