“Voices from the Field” Medline Series on Medical Improv

A little over two years ago, I started some “Guestblogging” for Medline on the emerging field of Medical Improv.  The series provides a great overview of the topic for those interested in understanding why we need it and how powerful it can be.  Here is a quick way for you to peruse articles! And if you want a deeper dive, check out the first train-the-trainer resource for healthcare leaders;  Medical Improv:  A New Way to Improve Communication (With 15 Activities You Can Teach STAT!)

Looking at Patient Safety through a Different Lens Read here.

Emotional Intelligence & Interpersonal Skills are Underlying Causes of Key Issues. Read here.

Optimizing Outcomes & Approach Change Differently this Year through Medical Improv Read here.

Breaking Through Status Conflict wth Medical Improv Read here. 

Healing Relationships for Healthcare Improvement-Part I-We Need an Overhaul Read here.

Healing Relationships for Healthcare Improvement-Part II-What’s Going On Between Us?  Read here.

Healing Relationships for Healthcare Improvement-Part III-What is Neuroplastiicy & How Can it Help? Read here.

One New Way to Make Collaboration Skills Stick Read here.

De-Stress and Improve Communication with Medical Improv. Read here.

Five Ways Medical Improv Can Help Nurses Talk about Death & Dying Read here.

Have you tried using improv in your workplace?  What is working and what challenges do you face?  What ideas do you have for this exciting new teaching tool?  I’d love to hear from you and happy to answer questions!

Posted in Assertiveness, Communication in Healthcare, Complexity in nursing, Healthy Workplaces, Holistic Health, Listening, Medical Improv, Nurse Leadership, Patient Advocacy, Patient Safety | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Ways Nurses Can Take Control of Their Student Loan Debt

By Kat Tretina, Student Loan Hero

Working as a nurse can be rewarding, but getting the necessary education and licenses can be expensive. Depending on your area of study, the cost of a nursing degree can be as much as $118,000. With such a high price, it’s likely you took out federal or private student loans to afford school.

While you can make an excellent salary as a nurse, your student loan payments can eat up a lot of your monthly income. Luckily, there are different ways you can reduce your student loan burden. Here are four options that can help you manage your nursing school debt.

1. Check out the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

Millions of Americans go without preventative medical care because there’s a lack of healthcare professionals. The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration aims to address this problem and help nurses afford their degrees through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. If you qualify, this program could pay for up to 85 percent of your unpaid nursing debt over the course of three years.

To be eligible, you must be a licensed nurse, nurse practitioner, or nurse faculty member. Your nursing education must be from an accredited institution within the United States, and you must work in a designated Critical Shortage Facility.

2. Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan

If you’re struggling to afford your monthly payments and you have federal student loans, you may be eligible for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Under an IDR plan, the government extends your repayment term and caps your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income.

With this approach, your payment may be dramatically reduced. Signing up for an IDR plan can help you stay on top of your payments while freeing up money in your budget for other essentials, such as rent or utilities.

Depending on which plan you sign up for, you will make payments for 20 to 25 years. If your loan is not paid off at the end of your repayment term, the government will forgive the remaining balance.

IDR plans do come with possible drawbacks. By adding 10 or more years to your repayment, you will likely pay more in interest over the life of your loan. What’s more, you may be taxed on any debt that is forgiven. However, if you need help affording your payments, IDR plans can help you avoid defaulting on your loans.

3. Search for state repayment assistance programs

Many states, including California, Florida, and New York, offer student loan repayment assistance programs for nurses who live and work in the area. Depending on the state, you could have some or even all of your loans repaid after fulfilling the program’s requirements.

Use this searchable student loan repayment program database to find nursing assistance programs in your state.

4. Refinance your loans

If you have student loans, high-interest rates can cause your balance to grow over time. Even if you’re able to make your payments each month, a large percentage of it will go towards interest, so you make little progress paying down the principal.

One option to save money or reduce your monthly payment is to refinance your loans. By refinancing, you take out a new loan with a private lender. The loan will typically have different repayment terms, such as a new interest rate, monthly payment, and length of repayment.

If you can get a lower interest rate on your refinanced debt, more of your payments will go towards the principal, helping you get out of debt faster. In addition, a lower interest rate can save you hundreds or even thousands over the length of your loan.

While nursing education loans can be a burden, there are many options to help! Click To Tweet

Managing your loans

While your student loans can be a burden, there are plenty of options available to make repaying your debt more manageable. Make sure you research forgiveness and assistance programs and compare refinancing offers to save the most money on your loans and become debt-free faster.

Author Bio:

Kat Tretina is a writer for Student Loan Hero, a company that helps borrowers manage and eliminate over $3 billion dollars in student loan debt. Kat writes about student loan repayment, side hustles, and other personal finance topics. Her work has appeared in publications like the Huffington Post, Money Magazine, Business Insider, and more.

Posted in Communication in Healthcare, Complexity in nursing, Diversity, Healthy Workplaces, In the News, Nurse Leadership | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Laughing Post Operatively: is it OK?

By Florence Ditlow

Your surgical patient could have an easier time discharging the effects of anesthesia and post op immobility. You taught her to get those lungs INFLATED. Maybe there is an incentive spirometer. “Cough, do yer leg exercises, walk and breathe dear!”

I’ve been there, seen the sluggishness, pain and phlegm; I’ve seen the bored look from the eyes of the medicated ones, those who’d held their tongues when they are thinking “get the hell away.”

Instead of coughing, I employed laughing as an alveoli expander. Click To Tweet

I would have the patient hold the pillow over the diaphragm and ask her to smile. Then a silent “ha” is employed for the breathing effort and then repeat while placing your supportive hand on the thoracic spine.

Next ask your patient to laugh out the sound “Heh!” Repeat, alternating with breathing deeply, exhaling longer.  As you use laughing as an option to coughing you’ll:

  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles throughout the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins- natural opiates
  • Ease digestion/soothe stomach aches
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions such as alertness, memory, creativity

According to Dr. Kathryn Puckett who heads Mind Body Medicine at Cancer Centers of America, laughter therapy may also help to:

  • Improve overall attitude
  • Reduce stress/tension
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve sleep
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Strengthen social bonds and relationships
  • Produce a general sense of well-being

A friend who was a patient performed the cough using a whoopee cushion, and said when the cushion sounded, nearby patients couldn’t stop laughing; some said just the sight of the whoopee cushion produced laughs and a welcome distraction from their recoveries.

So to you at the bedside, I salute you and believe, when a nurse eases pain through humor, the benefits could result in speedier healing and a shorter hospital stay.

If you’ve seen humor as a health ally, feel free to share your experiences here!

Florence Ditlow, Author of The Bakery Girls retired from nursing profession to write books as well as discover new ways to share humor. She lives in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean. She also is currently amusing herself by concocting herbal medicine and teas.

Posted in Communication in Healthcare, Complexity in nursing, Nurse Entreprenuers, Patient Advocacy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Nurse Becomes Patient in Traumatic Gym Injury-Catch this Train & Help Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC

Our highly respected and compassionate colleague, Nurse Coach and Author Keith Carlson is recovering from a major traumatic injury.  And he has a long rehab ahead of him.  WE KNOW THIS!

Skip the story and jump on the train to help!

Don’t skip the story, tell us what happened!

Earlier in July, Keith was doing his usual workout at a local gym including cardio, weights, and resistance training.  He was deep into his usual process when he heard a sound and then instantaneously felt a searing pain in my left ankle as he fell to the floor.

…the metal anchor for the bungee cords had torn from the wall as I did my usual exercise, and this 18-inch piece of molded sheet metal flew at me with all of the pent up force of those six tensed rubber tubes. It guillotined the lateral aspect of my left lower leg just above the lateral malleolus.  -Keith Carlson

More from Keith about this. 

Extensive surgery followed and some kind but questionable care too.  (no nurse checked his pedal pulse for 48 hours post-op and the surgeon tried to force him to be discharged on a Sunday at 5pm, despite ongoing pain, dizziness, nausea, and a home completely unprepared for a disabled patient).  Makes me furious!

WE KNOW THIS stuff happens TOO!  UGH!

There’s a way we can help locally or nonlocally!

Meal Train to Help

Santa Fe locals can sign up to deliver meals, and non-locals can make donations or buy gift cards for Santa Fe restaurants or grocery stores.

This is a great idea to know about for others too, right?

Posted in Communication in Healthcare, Complexity in nursing, Diversity, Nurse Entreprenuers, Nurse Leadership, Patient Advocacy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Calling all Nurses!  Would You Complete a Quick Survey re: The Impact of Workplace Violence & Emotional Exhaustion on the Profession?

Meet John Good, a doctoral candidate in business administration at The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

I want to understand these impacts to propose effective treatments that diminish the occurrence of workplace violence and emotional exhaustion within the nurse profession.

Please help John by completing this brief survey!

His dissertation research is focused on the impact of workplace violence and emotional exhaustion upon the nurse profession.

It is a quick way to provide your important insights to meaningful work!

Posted in Communication in Healthcare, Healthy Workplaces, Nurse Leadership, Workplace Bullying | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Brenda Kelleher Inspires What’s Possible. Like Aikido from a Wheelchair!

Please do not let a disability stop you from doing anything because everything is possible.  I have skydived 5 times,  gone scuba diving, and I ski when I have the money. I also play Table tennis and have a gold medal in it. I’ve done Archery for 3 years in Switzerland!

–Brenda Kelleher

I had the great fortune to speak with Brenda Kelleher about her enthusiasm for the Japanese Martial Art, Aikido and many other things including her passion for helping others.  Brenda has many stories and has encountered much adversity.  It was over 30 years ago that she was left paralyzed from the waist down when the father of her 5 children threw her out a window 40 ft from the ground.

Tough to imagine, right?

I think her courage might inspire others who work in rehab and or who face challenging limitations.  Here she is getting ready to flip Sensei Aaron Cass at Portsmouth Aikido during a practice session.  She explained that he adapts his teaching for her by trying out moves in a wheelchair.  The whole community at Portsmouth Aikido is supportive.

“One time the lift was broken and they carried me up so I could attend the session”, Kelleher shares.

We also talked about challenges she’s faced traveling with a disability and healthcare USA, She was excited to explain how some limited walking with braces might be possible through intense physical therapy and customized braces.  She had been on the parallel bars earlier in the day.

Her arms are VERY strong.

Brenda is very committed to her work in PT but worries that insurance won’t cover the extensive visits necessary to help her succeed.  Sad to think that the only thing that might stand in the way of her walking might be a lack of insurance coverage.

What we can do in healthcare USA is exciting. What doesn’t get covered is frustrating and at times, tragic!

To her credit, this doesn’t seem to diminish Brenda’s enthusiasm for any of her endeavors.  She will continue to do what she can.


And in any case, looks like Sensei Aaron Cass is a great teacher and Brenda Kelleher is a very capable student!



Posted in Communication in Healthcare, Complexity in nursing, Diversity, Healthy Workplaces, Patient Advocacy | Tagged , , | 1 Comment