What kind of stuff does a nurse need? The ultimate list of nurse gear [masterpost]

What kind of stuff does a nurse need? The ultimate list of nurse gear [masterpost]

I’ve been a nurse since 2010 and tried out many different brands of scrubs, stethoscopes, shoes, penlights, NCLEX review material, apps, bags, and more and more and more… I’ve learned which brands to avoid and which are awesome. I’d like to share my experience with you guys so that you don’t waste all the money I have over the years and can get what works. Let’s go over the answer to the question many new nurses are asking: what kind of stuff does a nurse need?

My shopping list of 10 must-buys when you become a nurse

  1. Good scrubs – that fit well and are in the appropriate color(s) for your facility/school (I try to have at least 3 sets) – I also go over underscrubs and lab coats 
  2. Good shoes – able to be cleaned easily if bodily fluids come into contact with them and you can stand in them for 12+ hours (1 everyday amazing pair, and a back up not great pair just in case)
  3. Compression socks – ones that’ll stay up for 12+ hours and won’t be too loose or too tight (it’s helpful to have 2-3 sets)
  4. Stethoscope – don’t get the cheapest, or the most expensive
  5. Badge reels – a solid one that will last plus a few back ups
  6. Pen light – not too dark, not too light and one you won’t lose!
  7. Pens – gotta have a good pen!
  8. Small bag / zipper pouch – where you can stash your phone, lip balm, snack, Sharpies, etc. on the unit so you don’t weigh your pockets down
  9. Big bag – to carry to and from the hospital with room to store everything
  10. Water bottle – one that will keep your drink cold (or hot) for hours on end

Alright, here we go!

Recommended Nursing Scrubs

I believe nurses should wear scrubs that fit them, but aren’t too tight and aren’t too lose. Too tight and it’s inappropriate… too loose and you look sloppy and unkept. It’s taken me a while to find a few brands that fit my body with this balance.  I am 6 ft tall and about 165 lbs. My torso and legs are long, so standard sizes don’t usually fit me well.  Needless to say, I’ve tried a lot.

Things I care about with scrubs:  I want a yoga-pant waist band (so my back end doesn’t fall out when I’m trying to plug something into the wall, perform CPR, or whatever), ones that will last and are durable through many washings, comfortable yet professional, wrinkle and odor-resistant (antimicrobial is a plus but not requirement), and ones that fit me well (long enough in the legs and torso).

I will gladly spend more if they last longer and fit well.

The list of scrubs I’ve tried includes: Cherokee Workwear, Code Happy, Cherokee Infinity, Dickies, Uniform Advantage Butter-Soft, Braco, Greys Anatomy, and FIGS.  I have personally worn them at work, while taking care of patients.

Below are my top 4 scrub brands!

#1 Favorite Scrubs – FIGS Scrubs

These are by far my favorite. They last, are comfortable, soft, and mechanically sound. I also feel like I look pretty fly in them, NBD.  However, they’re not cheap. I do believe are worth the investment. I also have a few other products of theirs (socks + jacket) that I wear all the time. I highly recommend getting on their email list because they frequently email out discount codes. They also have a student program, where you get 20% off.

Prosreally high quality, comes in tall, looks really sharp, comfortable, whenever you purchase a set they donate a set to a healthcare worker in need, great waistband, antimicrobial, fluid-resistant, odor-resistant, comfy yet durable

Cons – higher price point, no badge clip, only available on their website

 

Click here to order FIGS! Use promo code FIGSKATI for 15% off of one order!

#2 Favorite Scrubs – Jockey

Pros – incredible comfortable, soft, form-fitting, great pockets, durable, good price point, good throughout a 12-hr shift

Cons – not quite as durable as FIGS, the pockets are not as sturdy

In the below photo, I am wearing the Jockey 3-in-1 Modern Convertible scrub pant with the Jockey Classic Mock Wrap scrub top.

#3 Favorite Scrubs – Infinity by Cherokee

Pros – lightweight, antimicrobial, yoga-pant waist band, tall options, stretchy sides that move with you, good price point

Cons – they get really hot when you run around. I had a few shifts where we had codes and I was sweating and running around and noticed at the end of the day that my skin was irritated. I feel like I look great in them, but I realized I am not a huge dry fit fan for 12-hours.

In the photo below, I am wearing the Cherokee Infinity Round Neck Scrub Top, and the Cherokee Infinity Low-Rise Slim Fit Scrub Pant. I also enjoy the Drawstring Cargo Pant as well.

Me in the Infinity Antimicrobial Round Neck Scrub Top + Matching Low Rise Slim-Fit Scrub Pants

#4 Favorite Scrubs – Greys Anatomy Scrubs

I’ve worn these quite a bit in the past and they’re in my regular rotation. They’re by far the softest and snuggliest. However, if you sweat in them they get a bit heavy.  I’ve had to get a size larger than usual in the tops just so they fit my longer torso, and because of that they’re not as formfitting.

Pros – They are extremely soft and snuggly. I mean really soft. They come in talls and the pants fit me well, which is a major plus of mine. They’re available at a ton of places, even the tall pants.

Cons – They are a slightly higher price-point. I have a long torso, therefore the tops are a little short on me and I need to wear a tank top underneath. They can be kind of heavy. No yoga-pant waist band.

My preferred top is the Grey’s Anatomy Cross Over Tunic Scrub Top, and my preferred pant is the Signature Sofia 5-Pocket Cargo Scrub Pant.

Undershirts and Scrub Jackets

Every single shift I wear a shirt under my scrubs. I now wear a long sleeve one and typically don’t wear a jacket. I have two favorite underscrub shirts.

My favorite is, again, the FIGS.  It’s called the Cadiz Seamless Long Sleeve Underscrub. It’s incredibly soft and looks sharp.

My second favorite is the Cherokee Infinity Long Sleeve Knit Underscrub Tee. I’m almost 6 feet tall and ave really long arms and this shirt and sleeves are incredibly long so it fits me well. The only thing downside is that I’ve had them for a while and they’re getting a bit worn, and getting even longer and starting to look a bit slouchy.

Me in the Cherokee undershirt (sorry – bag no longer available!)

Lab coats

Alright, I’m not super experienced in the lab coat department, but I asked my nurse buds on Facebook and here were the most popular:

Most people recommended Grey’s Anatomy Lab Coats.

A few mentioned Cherokee as being the cheapest, but not necessarily the best quality-wise.

And (you know this is coming…) of course, FIGS. Again, most expensive but definitely the sharpest and highest quality. I have one ready to go for my MSN practicum and it is outstanding.

Not everyone is going to need a lab coat. You may need one for nursing school, or you may need one for your particular nursing role. However, if you are going to work in acute care at the bedside, most likely you will not need a lab coat for every day work. Make sure you know you need one before purchasing.

Nurse shoes

Ok I’ve tried a ton of shoes. Nikes, New Balance, Crocs, Dansko, KSwiss… I think there’s more? I’m really particular about my shoes.  I’ve tried tennis shoes/sneakers, which are nice but only last me a few months before my shins start to ache… and they’re not the easiest to clean.  Buying a fresh pair of kicks every 6 months got pretty expensive pretty quickly. I loved regular Danskos, but they were too tall and I rolled my ankle once a week it seemed like.

But, the heavens opened and suddenly, the perfect shoe was released: the Work Wonders by Dansko

They’re cheaper, with a smaller heel, and fit a bit more snug than the originals.

I. love. these.

I’m never wearing another shoe. I don’t have any others to recommend.  These are it, guys.

I’ve since switched to the plain black Work Wonders because they go with my blue scrubs better – but they’re both amazing (if you scroll up to my full length picture in grey scrubs, you can see the black ones on). They have that Dansko-nurse feel to them, but are just more functional because of the shorter heel (I can run to codes or up/down stairs without breaking an ankle) and snugger fit.

Click here to get yours!

So, normally I would recommend more shoes… but I don’t want to. The only ones that compare to these, in my nurse mind, are regular Danskos.  They have a higher heel, fit a little more loosely, and are a bit more expensive. Click here to check them out (with free shipping)!

Compression socks

I have tried out many compression socks over the years.  And I have a new favorite!

They’re from FIGS!  FIGS compression socks offer 20-30 mmHg compression, are long enough and sturdy enough to stay put for 12-hours, and I’ve washed them quite a few times since I got them a few months ago and they’ve withstood the washings and have no faded. They come in the pictured cranium pink, grey pills, or a slick black and grey.

My second favorite are Cherokee True Support are my second favorite, they’re not as durable or offer as much support but are a good purchase for the pice.  They provide 12 mmHg compression.  The price may vary depending on where you get them, but they’re about $10.  If you get them at Lydia’s Uniforms, they’re usually $7.99.

If you’re looking for thicker socks, Nabee Socks are a great option. They’re a little shorter than the Cherokee and provide 15-20 mmHg compression.  They were bit too short for me, but are a great option.

(Bonus points: the CEO of the company is a nurse!)

Nurse pro-tip: do not purchase compression sleeves for nurses. While they do provide support and look sharp, they are not made for 12-hour shifts on your feet and do not provide appropriate venous return.  They kind of cut off at the ankle and fluid can get trapped down there and you can easily acquire the swelling you were trying to prevent. They are designed for running for a shorter period of time, not for standing and walking for hours on end.

Stethoscopes

My favorite scopes are from MDF. They’re more affordable than Littmann and have really great sound quality.  For around $50 you can get a really high quality scope (pictured).  They are a tad heavy, but I think their sound quality is outstanding… especially at that price point.

They also have a nice rose gold one that looks really sharp, but is at slightly a higher price point ($80).

Littmann is also a good option, but can become quite expensive. If you’re in school, I would get a $50 MDF scope.  I say this because maybe when you graduate, you want to work in pediatrics or the neonatal intensive care unit… and you’d need a different scope for that. Or, maybe you are going to work in a pulmonary critical care unit and you need a really high quality digital one.  When you’re in school, you’re not sure what you’ll do – therefore, get a quality scope that works for most patients to get through school, then reevaluate.

Nurse pro-tip: The $20 scopes are not worth the money.  They don’t last as long and just aren’t as good. You really need to spend the extra money to get something worth having.  The $50 MDF is the best value with highest quality that I have found.

I’ve tried the Littmann Classic III (about $125) and the Littmann Master Cardiology (about $200) and enjoy them both.  I like the Master Cardiology version better because I never use the small size of the diaphragm so I liked the grip on the back of the Master Cardiology better than another listening piece.  However, this is a personal preference and what scope you’d need to get depends on what kind they need, as some nurses find this very useful.

Nurse pro-tip: I highly recommend getting the scope engraved for them.  People won’t always splurge on that for themselves, but it really helps because people borrow scopes all the time, have very similar ones, or people set them down somewhere and forget about it.  At least 5 times I have set mine down and forgotten it, and because I had my name engraved on it, a coworker was able to return it to me later on. I highly recommend getting it engraved!

Want more stethoscopes opinions from a nurse? Check out this blog post from The Nerdy Nurse!

Badge Reels and Accessories

My favorite badge reels, by far, are from Badge Blooms on Etsy. The shop owner is a nurse (score!) and I’ve tried out MANY of her reels and loved ALL OF THEM!  Click here to read my full review of the reels, and click here to see my video review (also below). They are cost-effective, durable, high-quality, and there’s quite a variety.

My PERRLA badge reel + my pen light

Bonus – a NURSE makes them!

Click here to get yours on Etsy! 

Click here to get yours on Amazon!

Another item that can be attached to the badge reel is a small Sharpie on a key chain (pictured right). Nurses frequently are in need of a Sharpie for various reasons (signing and dating a wound dressing, marking drainage on a dressing, labeling patient items) and they never stay in your pocket long.  Therefore, I highly recommend getting those tiny Sharpies on a keyring. They’re WONDERFUL!

Buy a badge reel, Sharpie pack, and a few pen lights and you’ve got a great badge set up!

Pen lights

As a neuro nurse who was frequently using a pen light to look at patient’s pupils, I’ve tried quite a few pen lights. You want one that isn’t too bright and isn’t too dim. I’ve found that most labeled “nurse pen light” or “doctor’s pen light” with pupillary measurements printed on the side are frequently too dim. And I found that a lot of those heavy duty LED lights were way too bright.

My favorite is one that can be clipped right on your badge reel (pictured below) so that you never lose it and can grab it in an instant. They’re lightweight enough to go on your badge reel and not weigh it down and very affordable. If you scroll back up to my photo with my badge reel, you can see I’ve got a black one on.

However, if you want more of a traditional penlight, my favorite pen light is an Energizer Pen Light in Silver. I couldn’t find it on Amazon for a decent price, but you can get them at Office Depot.

Nurse pro-tip: People steal awesome pen lights and stethoscopes all the time. Mark yours with nail polish or something that won’t wash/rub off. That way if someone walks off with your penlight (I’m looking at all of you neurologists and neurosurgeons right now!) it’s clearly yours. 

Pens

These are the best nurse pens. Buy them. That is all.

 

Small bag / zipper pouch

I hate having things in my pockets that don’t truly need to be there.  Seriously.  My scrub pockets only contain my phone, brain sheet, 1 pen, and alcohol swabs. That’s it. My trick is to keep the non essential but still necessary items in a zipper pouch out at the nurse’s station. This contains my lip balm, a quick snack, back up pens and Sharpies, some essential oils to sniff if I’m dealing with a particularly stinky situation, phone charger, and so forth.

This is how I stuff mine for work – however this bag is no longer available!

I’ve used this one for years, but they’re no longer available. However, I’ve seen people use this below one before and it’s sharp. Masculine, feminine and gender-neutral patterns, big enough for your scope, and also looks clean and professional.

Click here to get one on Amazon – Prime available!

Whenever I would go to work, I’d put my purse in my locker and then bring my zippered pouch to the nurse’s station. I like to have a larger one so I can put my stethoscope in it once I’m done with my assessments for the day. These are also helpful when you have to float to another unit away from your break room and locker.

Big bag

Many people like to have a work-specific bag. That way they’re not emptying everything multiple times a week and keeping your dirty hospital bag to itself and not getting it gross with other stuff.  Alright, so my go-to bag is no longer available. However, here is a list ones I’ve either personally used or ones I’ve seen people use that I think look really sharp.

Herschel Supply Co. Pop Quiz Backpack Multipurpose Backpack – I love this brand. Quality items that look sharp and professional with tons of print options.  Fits easily in a locker! Click here to get yours! Pictured below. 

My other favorite bag is the Classic LL Bean tote bag. I got my embroidered with my name and got extra long handles. I’ve had it since I graduated nursing school in 2010!  It’s still holding strong. They also always have free shipping – score! Click here to get yours!

Cunada® Women Fashion Hobo Bag Large Tote Shoulder Handbag – a very affordable bag on Amazon that’s a really popular style now. You can fit a water bottle, zipper pouch, and a few more items in there as well. There are some good detailed Amazon reviews that are helpful to check out. I personally love this style of bag. Simple, sophisticated, functional. Pictured below. Click here to get yours!

I would be remise if I didn’t put the classic nurse work bag on here. This bag isn’t my favorite, but I know a TON of people who love this. It works well because of the various compartments and because it is incredibly easy to clean.  I know many nurses who make this tote bag their work bag and I’ve seen them use it day in and day out for years. Again, another one with good Amazon reviews. One person even says, “great bag for a nurse!” – Click here to get yours! Picture below.

Not feeling any of these options? Take a look at this blog post from The Nerdy Nurse, which goes over 7 work bags for nurses with links to purchase.

Hydration

Most nurses come to work with a water bottle/cup. It’s nice to have a good water bottle/cup that can keep either your water cold for hours, or your coffee hot for hours.

A Yeti cup is a wonderful but about $40, they’re expensive for a water bottle/cup. The RTIC cup (pictured right) is the cheaper option at about $20.  I have this one and simply love it. I can put ice in at the beginning of the day, and the ice is still there and my drink is still cold at the end of the day.

Nurse pro-tip: get a plain Yeti or RTIC cup and purchase a personalized nurse decal from Etsy! Here’s one I got for a nurse bud that she loved!

If you’re not a water cup kinda person, my other favorite water bottle is this one. I’ve left it on a plane TWICE before though (what is wrong with me?)… and always buy a new one because they’re very affordable and great quality!

Click here to get yours!

So that’s my list and I’m sticking to it!  

More product reviews and recommendations for nurses

If you enjoyed this blog post and want to hear about more products I’ve tried, check out these blog posts!

 

Pharmacology Tips for Nursing Students – From a Nurse!

Pharmacology Tips for Nursing Students – From a Nurse!

Pharmacology is challenging in nursing school, but it doesn’t have to destroy your life, soul, and all that you hold dear.  If you take a few steps in organizing yourself before you tackle this class, it will make it easier to learn and recall later down the line.

Pharmacology tips – just for nursing students

The way nursing school approaches teaching pharmacology varies widely, but the subject matter remains the same. There are different pieces of information to know; some require straight memorization and repetition (dosages, names, antidotes), while others require some deeper understanding (like the mechanism of action, applying it to a clinical situation).

Know that while you’re starting to learn pharmacology, it’s not one method that works for all aspects of this course. One must leverage both memorization and deep thinking to fully comprehend all that encompasses medications.  You can’t just take one study tactic and think you can use that to understand each aspect.  The information is just different.  Also, what further complicates things is that different professors teach this process different ways. Therefore, take some time to develop a routine that works for you and carry this method across different courses.

Alright!

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Focus on the mechanism of action

Whatever it takes, learn the mechanism of action inside and out. If how your professor has explained it doesn’t click, find some good videos, podcasts, or other explanations. Understanding this is helps you to predict side effects, adverse reactions, antidotes, and more.  If you understand the mechanism of action, you have a solid understanding of that class of medications, and be able to troubleshoot questions easier.

Here’s an example of a great, free YouTube video of the mechanism of action behind NSAIDs.

Once you think you get it, try to explain it to someone else.  If you don’t have someone to explain it to, explain it to yourself on your phone and listen back to it to see if it makes sense.

Memorize with intention

There is no short cut around a few things like prefixes, suffixes, generic and trade names, and dosages. You can create flashcards with pen and index cards, color-coding along the way… or, you can download an app.  The wonderful things about apps are that you’re saving paper, can change them easily, organize into categories, and use them on the go.

Some examples of (free and not) apps you can get to create your own and use on the go are: 

Whichever method, devote time to memorizing these things and doing flashcard drills. While you’re memorizing, it can be helpful to make up ridiculous things to help jog your memory. For example, beta blockers are funny so they always make me LOL, or ARB’s are what pirates use for their hypertension because they make them go arrrrrr(b)ggg, or lisinopril has a license to always throw an ACE (inhibitor) down in cards … you get the picture! The more ridiculous, the better. I found that if I could connect something to my favorite books/TV shows/movies, I remembered it better.

Check out the MedMaster podcast on NRSNG – it’s a helpful way to reiterate topics on the go.

Click to Listen to the MedMaster Podcast

Spread your study time out

Don’t just try to cram it all the night before – that’s too much to retain at once.  If you know you have a med quiz in 7 days, use today to create your flashcards and your first time going over the mechanism of action. Schedule yourself for one focused hour tomorrow; part of the time diving into the mechanism of action over again, take a 5 minute break, and then spend the rest of the time drilling cards.

During downtime throughout the day (on the bus, in the elevator, waiting for your doctor’s appointment, whatever) go through some more cards. Bonus if they’re on your phone and you don’t have to remember to bring them everywhere.

If you can devote a specific amount of time each day to this, it makes the task much more manageable than trying to understand and remember it all within a day or two.

Save your notes

Medications come up over and over again and may be applicable in multiple courses. You’ll learn about magnesium sulfate in your OB/women’s health course, but see it again in med-surg and/or critical care as well.  Keep track of notes, paper or electronic flashcards, and memory devices.  Even if they’re ridiculous or inappropriate – if it works for you, it works.

And don’t make the mistake of forgetting the awesome memory device you created – make sure you write it down! That way when you go back to studying for another course, you can pick up where you left off rather than trying to think of another way to remember the information. 

NCLEX® tip! Chances are if you get a medication question on the NCLEX, it’ll be the generic name of the medication and not the trade name. Make sure you know these, which can be a bit challenging since they’re typically longer.

Do what works best for you

Pharmacology doesn’t have to suck. Be intentional and organized with your study time. Focus during this time – close your apps, your phone, and focus. Do this for 20-25 minutes at a time, followed by a break.  Repeat for a few hours, then take a long break.

Leverage resources that work for you, not your friends, your classmates, or your instructor – you! That may look like listening to the MedMaster Podcast during your commute, a flashcard app while you’re waiting for class to start, and the Khan Academy free YouTube vides to solidify the mechanism of action… or that may look like the textbook for the mechanism of action, paper flashcards, writing things out, and quizzing yourself.  Figure out your unique recipe for success and stick to it!

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Pharmacology resources

There are quite a few different options here from podcasts to blog posts to courses and even a subscription services.

However, my favorite and one with the most bang for your buck is the NRSNG Academy. Their medication resources built into each course, and it’s pharm course, are incredible. You can use it throughout your entire nursing school journey, not just for pharmacology.  Every single module has NCLEX® points, they also have a simulation NCLEX exam, a massive database of NCLEX practice questions in addition to a huge content review in Fundamentals, OB, Peds, Med-Surg, EKG, Cardiac, Pharmacology, Labs, and my favorite… Test Taking.

Click here to try out all of the below courses, question banks, flashcard app, and more for only $1!


More resources

 

 Oh, and nursing students…

 

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Tips to Maximize Social Media for Nurses

Tips to Maximize Social Media for Nurses

Most posts about social media for nurses focus on don’ts. Instead of telling you what's wrong, I want to chat about Tips to Maximize Social Media for Nurses

Most posts about social media for nurses focus on don’ts. Instead of telling you what's wrong, I want to chat about Tips to Maximize Social Media for Nurses

Most posts about social media for nurses focus on don’ts and the fear factor…

OMG YOU’LL GET FIRED! DON’T’ DO IT!
But, let’s be real. Most nurses use social media. Most people use social media. Heck, try to walk down a hospital hallway and NOT see someone in scrubs on some form of social.

Instead of telling you all of the scary you’ll-get-fired-scenarios, I want to chat about ways to use social media to enhance your professional experience.

Tips to Maximize Social Media for Nurses

But first, like everything in nursing… we’ve gotta look at the policy FIRST!

Look at your facility’s social media policy

Would you ever administer intrathecal vancomycin, administer tPA in a central venous catheter, or insert an internal urinary drainage device without looking at a policy? I hope not! Using social media is the same, especially if you’re using it while at work.

Social media is a POWERFUL tool. It can help bring new research to light faster, disseminate information, inspire, encourage, educate… but, like most things, there is the potential for harm as well. HIPAA violations is a major potential for harm, as well as lateral violence.

Hopefully your facility has a social media policy. If they don’t, propose one!

If they do, make sure you look at it closely. You don’t want to do anything that may violate this. All social media policies are not created equal. I’ve seen various policies with big differences and it’s important to be aware of these things. For example, some may say you can’t post while at work while others don’t outline that. Some may say you cannot post on social where you are employed. Many say you cannot take and post photographs, violate HIPAA, or communicate with patients/loved ones via social media.

Basically, if you have concerns about getting fired, it is essential that you are well aware of the specifics of this policy.

Also, check out:

Essentially, the message from the professional nursing organizations isn’t don’t use social media. Their message is use social media responsibly.

Follow interesting medical and nursing accounts

I believe a lot of people think social media is just for entertainment, but there is a ton of professional value that can be extracted. Have you ever checked out Figure 1 on Instagram?

It’s incredible. They upload various medical conditions and cases. You can download their free app and discuss it with other healthcare professionals all around the world within the app, and follow them on social media as well. I love that when I’m scrolling through my IG feed that some cool and interesting medical case comes up. I’ve actually learned a few things that I’ve used in practice when discussing the clinical picture with the physician.

There’s no need to wait until the next major nursing conference to see what major medical facilities are up to. Go follow Cleveland Clinic, Mayo, John Hopkins, or whomever you think is awesome. It’s great when Cleveland Clinic tweets out some nursing research they just published, or a news article from John Hopkins about a new procedure… but what’s even better is when this is weaved into your existing social media that you’re already looking at.

I’m also really interested in neurosciences, so I follow various neuroscience accounts on Instagram and Twitter. I love seeing a random head CT in my Twitter feed! I also follow quite a few emergency department/critical care physicians and EMT’s who regularly post really short videos of ultrasounds with interesting findings, ECG’s, telemetry monitors, CT’s, MRI’s, and more. Seriously. Amazing.

These are the specific ones I’m thinking of on Twitter: Sam Ghali (@EM_RESUS), Mark Reid, MD (@medicalaxioms), Seth Trueger (@MDaware), Minh Le Cong (@ketaminh), Aiden Baron (@aLittleMedic), Ben C. Smith, MD (@UltrasoundJelly).

Go check them out! I promise you will learn something new!

Pro-tip! if I’m not sure who to follow, I go to someone who I like and enjoy and see who they are following. Unless they’re following over 2K people, I tend to go look closely at who they’ve chosen to get updates from because clearly I trust their judgement.

At the end of this blog post, I have a long list of people I recommend following! Or you can just check me out on social and see who I’m following. That’s basically how I came up with that list.  Follow me on:

Check out hashtags

One of the best ways to find interesting things that are specific to you is by checking out a hashtag on that particular social media channel. For example, if I wanted to see some examples of ECG’s with ST elevation, I could hop on Twitter and search #STelevation. Go and do it right now. Seriously.

I’ll wait….

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HOW COOL IS THAT!?

You can do that on Instagram as well. Facebook isn’t so awesome for hashtags, but you get the picture. Hashtags are essentially a way to group things. So, think about something you’d like to see and search the hashtag (nurses, nursing, nursing school, nurse authors, neuro ICU, neurocritical care, etc.)

Share with colleagues

When you find something cool, share it! You can share things privately or publicly. Some of my neuro buds will find a great neuro article and tag me when they tweet it out. Or, you can share it on your Facebook timeline and tag people, or directly on another’s timeline, both ensure they see it. It’s a great way to quickly share information where people are already looking.

Some of you may even have a unit Facebook Page to share it to – bonus points! If it’s not a policy violation, I recommend creating one. On Facebook, you have the option of creating secret groups. You can create a secret group and invite the employees one by one. You can post education updates, when you are in need of staff, when a due date is coming up, cool events in town, interesting articles related to your patient population, staff life updates (having a baby, birthday, moving, promotions). It’s just important that someone is monitoring the page diligently. You don’t want people posting anything inappropriate, a HIPAA violation (“Is Mr. Jenkins in bed 4 still there!? UGH!”) or anything that may be lateral violence. You also want someone in charge of revoking access if someone leaves the unit and adding newbies.

Everyone is watching

And make sure to keep in mind, everyone is watching. How many of you seen someone post something reckless on social, but didn’t say anything?

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Most of the time, people don’t say “Heyyyy Kati… that wasn’t cool” – their opinion of you just changes. Your credibility just changes. You reputation just changes. You don’t feel it, but it happens.

And even if you have great privacy settings, someone could screenshot and share what you’ve said (seriously… seen this happen). Even if you don’t mention someone’s name specifically, but describe a scenario in a detailed manner, you may be engaging in lateral violence or a HIPAA violation.

Pro-tip: have the mentality that anyone could see what you’re posting… from your nurse colleague, to your manager, to your chief nursing officer, to the physicians, to your patient, to your patient’s mother, to the CEO of your hospital… literally everyone… and consider if you would be okay with them seeing that, and using that as a filter, then you should be safe (provided you’re not violating policy.)

Yes, it’s your social media outlet and you technically can do what you want from it. What you choose to post however, impacts your reputation and what people think about you. And if you publicly identify as a nurse, what you say reflects on our profession… and what the public thinks about our profession.

Have no shame in your unfollow game

One of the great things about social media is that it is customized to you and what you want to see. You follow who you want to follow. It is your timeline, no one else’s. Therefore, I am very unapologetic about unfollowing. If someone posts something really mean, inappropriate, gross, or whatever… CLICK unfollow. I don’t need to see that on my precious timeline.

Facebook tip: for those of you tired of seeing the very polarizing or rude posts of various friends, but don’t want to unfriend them and deal with that… simply “unfollow” them. They will not get a notification, you just won’t see their posts in your timeline anymore. Winner winner, man now I want chicken for dinner…

Personal story: a friend would post really polarizing biased political posts multiple times a day. I was considering unfriending because it was just too much. It was pretty disrespectful and clear this person wasn’t taking time to chat with people of the opposing viewpoint, trying to look at unbiased sources as best they could, or just have a consideration for those that didn’t agree. Once, this person posted a picture that said something along the lines of, “If you don’t like what I post, then don’t read it.” I thought to myself… “Alright, I won’t.”

Unfollow.

I’m not trying to consume negativity, even if it’s just through scrolling down my Facebook timeline. Continually seeing and consuming negativity, even if it’s somewhat passive, does take a toll.

An easy way to decrease negativity or bad influences is to unfollow them on social media. Remove it from your space. It does not get to be there. It’s like when you’re trying to eat healthy and removing the junk food from the house. Out of sight, out of mind.

I decided to remove bad influences, people that made me cringe, people who were frequently complaining/venting from my timelines. I started to be very intentional with who I follow on Twitter, FB, IG, Pinterest, and Tumblr. It’s been wonderful. I want people who will challenge me, enlighten me, encourage me, educated me, humble me. This is my social media, my timeline. I’m not going to keep negativity on there because I am worried about what someone would think if I were no longer following them.

More social media tips and blogging advice

Over the past few months, Brittney Wilson BSN RN (The Nerdy Nurse) and I have been writing a blogging and social media guide book for nurses. At over 200 pages, it’s full of practical help, our experiences, recommendations, and major mistakes to avoid.

The Nurse's Guide to Blogging: Building a Brand and a Profitable Business as a Nurse InfluencerThe Nurse’s Guide to Blogging: Building a Brand and a Profitable Business as a Nurse Influencer

We truly want nurse bloggers to have a successful experience and also empower them to know their worth. In addition to the book we’ve written, we are also developing an in person 5-hour seminar during the 2017 NNBA Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.

We’re elated to work with the NNBA (National Nurses in Business Association) because they offer a huge network of support… support I could have used when I was going through this whole mess. It would have been helpful to already be in a network of people to bounce ideas or situations off of that just didn’t seem right, but I couldn’t really specify why.

The NNBA consists of over several thousand nurses, leaders, and mentors. Growing a successful business, balancing life, and making sure to consider our profession as a whole can be challenging. If you’re a nurse business owner, or considering starting a membership, an NNBA membership is truly an investment in your success.

In addition to being a member of the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, I’m also a member of the National Nurses in Business Association, and I highly recommend becoming a member. Join me.

Register Now

Registration for our 5-hour seminar is officially open. Take this opportunity in professional development, earn some continuing ed, and come hang out with us!

Pro-tip: use the trip as a tax write off!

Writing a nurse blog has been amazing. In this post I share one of my biggest nurse blog mistakes in hopes that my personal heartbreak won't become yours.

Quick Facts:

What: Nurse Blogging 101: Growing a Profitable Business and Community at the 2017 NNBA Conference
Where: Sirata Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida
When: September 8-10, 2017 (our seminar is on the 8th!)
Why: Grow your brand, positively impact the nursing profession, and make money doing what you love
How: Register Now!

Pre-conference seats are limited and filling up fast!

Register now by clicking here.

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10 Best Blogs of 2016

10 Best Blogs of 2016

In honor of the past amazing year, I'd like to share with you the best blogs of 2016 featured on FreshRN!  Which one did you like the most?

I cannot believe another YEAR has gone by!  In the last year, I had a baby (what!), wrote two books, revised Becoming Nursey, started working at NRSNG.com, transitioned from Nurse Eye Roll to FreshRN, recorded a podcast, and perfected my homemade wing recipe.


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Guys, seriously. It’s legit.

((Pppssstt… here’s the recipe, just don’t tell any of my friends because I like looking like this amazing chef that figured this out all on her own)).

In honor of the past amazing year, I’d like to share with you the best blogs of 2016 featured on FreshRN!  Enjoy!

10. How to Stay Ahead in Nursing School.

A few practical tips for people starting nursing school who want to stay ahead of the game, and maybe a Simpson GIF thrown in there.

9. How to Survive Nursing School Master Post

This is a MONSTER post.  It is full up super practical advice for nursing school classes and clinical (study tips, printables, clinical survival), as well as a list of recommended books, apps, nurse gear, blog posts, APA sites, and tons of other helpful links and resources)

8. Clinical Tips for Nursing Students (from Experienced Nurses!)

I asked a bunch of experienced nurses on social media what specific tips they had for nursing students and this is the finalized list!

7. I Wish I Could Cry With You, But I Can’t.

I wrote a post about my own personal experience caring for people who are going through trauma, and attempting to balance that with patients who need motivation in the critical care environment. This post has sparked a bit of controversy, as some merely read the title and thought I meant nurses could not cry with patients.

6. How to Assess An Unconscious Neuro Patient Like a Neuro ICU Nurse

Assessing an awake neuro patient is one thing, and assessing an unconscious neuro patient is another. Complete with a quick how-to list, references, and a video!  I used my handsome husband as my “patient” and performed a neuro assessment on him.  The video is embedded in the post and also on YouTube and has been viewed almost 3.5K times!

5. How Changing Demographics Affect Nursing Practice

This guest post focused on some specific things to keep in mind as you’re caring for the aging population, as well as people from various cultures.

4. Perfecting Your Craft – Week 2, ICU Time Management Tips

This post contains 5 practical tips to manage your time successfully as a new graduate nurse in the intensive care setting.

3. For the Overwhelmed New Graduate Nurse

Being a new graduate nurse is overwhelming!  Here are some pieces of advice and practical tips from a former overwhelmed new graduate nurse.

2. Perfecting Your Craft, Week 3 – Nursing Considerations for 3 Neuro ICU Meds

I discuss some practical nursing considerations for 3 medications that are frequently used in neuro intensive care from someone who gave these meds practically every shift.

1. Advice for a New Nurse From Those Who Have Been There

I again solicited the large community of experienced nurses on social media for some advice for new nurses.  This is a list of some of the best responses from nurses all over the country who have been there!

Which post was your favorite? Have an idea for a post or a subject you would love to see covered? Just contact FreshRN and let me know.

What to Buy When You’re Expecting! Must Haves for Baby.

What to Buy When You’re Expecting! Must Haves for Baby.

This post contains affiliate links.
All opinions are my own, from my own experiences, or from those of loved ones where indicated.
For more information on my partnerships and affiliates, please see my disclaimers page (link in menu).

What to Buy When You’re Expecting! Must Haves for Baby.

Someday I plan on having more children. I wanted to remember the must haves for baby so I made this huge list of things I think you must have!

(I realize this is my blog for new nurses, however I’ve had quite a few requests for a post related to things we bought and used during my recent pregnancy and postpartum period of time.  This is post is both for them and myself to reference later on when we hopefully have another child.  I think people assume you’ll remember all of this stuff, but it’s really really easy to forget in that sleepless haze that embodies being a new parent.  I wrote this post in October 2016.)

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child in early 2015, I was pretty overwhelmed.  I’m a planner. I’m an organizer.  I like to be ahead of the game.  But this was something I didn’t even know how to begin getting ready for.

None of my siblings or my husbands had recently had kids.  Our moms hadn’t had kids in almost 30 years so most of the products and things they used and loved were no longer available.  I searched the internet but was overwhelmed by varying opinions and running into a lot of posts that were too general or written by companies and not parents.

I felt pretty prepared by the time Hannah Joy was born in January 2016 and have learned a lot since.  I’d like to provide a list of things I used at various points in the prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum phases.  Everything on this list was either used by myself or a close friend or family member that recently had a child.

To make sure we’re on the same page, I want to make sure you know that I am not providing this information from the perspective of an expert.  I have had one child and she is still an infant.  I am a registered nurse, however, I am not a registered nurse who routinely works with expecting mothers or newborns.

Some important things I learned

Having a baby was one the most challenging, yet rewarding things I’ve ever done.  Nursing school is probably the only thing that could compare in the least.  I was nauseated for 4 months.  It challenged me emotionally, physically and spiritually.

There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but many people every single day have completely normal and complication-free pregnancies.  I think it’s important to walk that line between praying for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and newborn and expecting that.  Some people do experience complications, however most complications are something that physicians, midwives, and their support staff are highly experienced at dealing with.

One of my friends (Ashley Withers) said something really wise that I appreciated both as a mom and a nurse. She said, “Birth plans shouldn’t be called that.  They should be called birth goals.”  I think that’s an important distinction to have very clear in your mind as you begin your OMG IM GOING TO BE A PARENT journey.

What this is not

This is not a survival list of pregnancy and being a new parent.

This is not a list of “oh my gosh go buy this right now or you won’t be able to continue another moment!” items.

This is not a list of needs.

Honestly, you need very little.  As long as the baby has somewhere safe to sleep, food to eat, clothes to keep warm, and clean diapers, you’re good.  The rest is just icing on the cake.  The chocolate cake.  The chocolate cake I couldn’t have while pregnant because it instantly gave me heartburn.

Ugh now I want cake.

The items I recommend just make things a whole heck of a lot easier.  And I am ALL about easier, people.

I don’t like a lot of excess and I don’t like to shop around a ton for the absolute highest quality for the best deal.  I just don’t have time to do that.  If I find a quality item for a decent price, I’m happy.  I’m also really happy if one item can be multi-functional.  I prefer natural cleaning and personal care products and want to avoid meds and chemicals if at all possible.  I’ve decided to pick my battles.  Hannah is breastfed and I’m making her solid foods, but I’m not using cloth diapers.  I tried, but just have had too much other life stuff go on to learn how to do yet another thing.  Some things are not as natural or perfect, but I’m okay with that.

Prenatal Period

  • The Snoggle Pregnancy Pillow $60 – sleeping starts to get uncomfortable so this really helps support your back, hips, and belly.
  • Nursing Bras ($25).  Your rib cage expands and breasts enlarge during the prenatal period.  I went ahead and purchased nursing bras in the larger size so that I could use them after she was born as well. I bought four of these  Motherhood Maternity  Seamless nursing bras.   Another friend of mine that recently had a baby highly recommended these as well.  I will continue wearing them until I am done nursing.
  • A good water bottle that you can carry with you easily.  This is my favorite one that only costs $10.  I actually left it on a plane once and just went and bought a replacement because I liked it so much.  Hydration is essential!
  • I bought a decent amount of maternity clothes from Motherhood Maternity and Old Navy.  Maternity clothes could be a post on its own!  I did get a few cami’s and then used a lot of cardigans over them so I wasn’t buying a ton of maternity stuff because it gets expensive.
  • I used the Honest Company’s Prenatal Vitamin ($19.95) and DHA supplements ($19.95). I bundled them together to save a little money.
  • The Honest prenatal tablets are pretty big and I had a hard time swallowing them after a while (they’re just larger tabs that most people can swallow but I just had trouble) so I started using prenatal gummies ($6).  They aren’t near as natural and have added sugar (ugh) but I was having a tough time swallowing and ended up making that decision to go with the gummies.
  • Compression socks!  I already had a good stock because I wear them to work as a nurse, but my faves are only $10 a pair. Cherokee Compression Socks, they stay up all day and aren’t too tight or too loose for my liking.  (Trust me – I’ve tried a ton of compression socks out!)

I was very nauseated for the first 4 months. It took a while for me to get it under control to get to a point where I could go to work and not want to vomit.  I made a little nausea prevention pack that was small enough to keep in my work bag or purse and I always kept it near me.  I just used a smaller zip-up make up bag that I already had.

My nausea pack contained:

Essential oils – I know I’ve mentioned these a few times so here is where I purchase mine. I use the doTERRA brand of essential oils.

I personally enjoy this brand the most, however there are many out there with various price-points. Get whatever works for you! I honestly went with this brand because a few close friends whom I love and trust use this brand. I haven’t tried out all the different kinds and decided to go doTERRA, it’s just as simple as my smart, wonderful and trustworthy buds use it.

I am somewhat of a novice/one-trick pony when it comes to these oils. I am no expert, but I really enjoy them and really appreciated how they curbed my nausea when I was miserable. I like to diffuse certain ones when I’m working (wild orange, lemon, peppermint), when I’m not feeling so hot (breathe, on-guard), or when I need to relax (lavender). I also started using the deep blue kind with some fractionated coconut oil on my neck or my husband’s back when we’re sore. Please know, these aren’t going to cure anything but they’re wonderful to help with symptom management and general discomfort.

Nausea and vomiting tips

Your carbohydrate metabolism changes during pregnancy.  This is why carbohydrates can really relieve nausea.  Typically, nausea decreases significantly once the placenta is developed after the first trimester, although it can persist the entire pregnancy.

  • Have crackers or some other quick snack on your night stand and eat before you get out of bed (or any time you wake during the night). I found that if I started my day off with nausea controlled before even getting out of bed, I did better the entire day.
  • Eat small amounts frequently
  • Start with carbs and once that decreases the nausea enough to allow you to eat, then consume protein (which will keep the nausea at bay much longer than the carbs)
  • Drink water in between meals, not during
  • Peppermint and lemon essential oils were really helpful to me.  If I felt a wave of nausea coming, especially in a public place, I would sniff one of them and it could keep the nausea at bay long enough to get a snack down and relieve it for even longer.  It definitely didn’t cure the nausea but really helped decrease it.
  • When I felt a wave hit me: I’d sniff some oil, then once I could eat something I’d eat my granola bar in my nausea pack
  • Note: ginger ale only works for nausea if it is warm and flat.  I recommend ginger essential oils or Altoids before ginger ale – it is much more effective and much much less sugar than traditional ginger ale.
  • If you are taking Zofran: it typically causes constipation.  Pregnancy causes constipation normally and add on Zofran and you are in for some trouble!  There are a lot of great gentle, over the counter options for constipation.  Every time I took 4 mg Zofran, I’d take 100 mg oral Colace (a cheap over the counter stool softener).

Heartburn tips:

  • Do not use peppermint if you have heartburn – it will make it worse
  • Eat smaller meals more frequently
  • I cut out chocolate, caffeine and coffee (one 8oz cup of coffee per day is safe) completely and it made a huge difference
  • Do not lie down after meals
  • Sleeping sitting up may help
  • Drink water in between meals, not during
  • I took some over the counter medications under the direction of my physician that helped a lot

Labor, delivery, and the postpartum period in the hospital

Alright people, this is going to get really, really personal.  Sorry not sorry.

Doula – we decided to have a family friend who is a doula present at the birth with my husband and I. It was definitely worth the investment, in my opinion. My husband and I could focus on what I needed to and just did what she suggested, and she could worry about the big picture and talking with the doctors/nurses while I’m screaming my way through contractions. I had an induction without an epidural (I do NOT recommend doing an induction without an epidural). I progressed so quickly that we just couldn’t get one in, but because of her, my mind was at ease and she could advocate for both myself and my husband when we were focused elsewhere. She was very reassuring and comforting, which was amazing.

Here are the things I brought in my hospital bag:

  • A lightweight robe to walk around during labor and after she was born.  Hospital gowns don’t close totally in the back so it’s really nice to have a short, light-weight robe to throw on.  I bought this Jockey robe for $33 and still wear it now.
  • Cheap slippers.  As a nurse that has seen what has hit that hospital floor, I didn’t want to wear the same shoes I wore in the hospital in my bedroom at home.  I honestly don’t remember where I got them.  Just get some that are cheap and functional.
  • A birthing ball – $18.  Many hospitals have some.. they really help align the pelvis and you can work through contractions while sitting on them.  It’s nice to get up and have a different position to labor in other than in the bed.  My OB doc highly recommended it and was really happy that we brought one.  This link I provided has different sizes and we went with the 75 cm size (I’m about 6ft tall).  Please note that if you have an epidural, you cannot use a birthing ball out of bed typically.
  • I used some lavender essential oil and this Aromatherapy diffuser for $18.  It definitely wasn’t a must-have but it was really nice and helpful during the labor.  I was already nervous and it helped keep me calm.
  • I brought my own toiletries because I know the hospital ones aren’t the nicest.  I brought some make-up removing wipes, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and toothpaste.
  • Phone charger.  Duh.
  • I brought a few snacks to have on hand for times when we were exhausted and needed something to eat but didn’t feel like leaving the room to grab something (granola bars, nuts, fruit).
  • Diapers.  No, not baby diapers.  Mom diapers.  Seriously.  You basically have gone 9 months without a period.  After you deliver your baby, you will bleed.  A lot.  It it normal to bleed for up to 6 weeks and it can be heavy bleeding.  Most hospitals will provide pads.  However, they’re short and thick and (in my opinion) uncomfortable to sit on after giving birth.  I took someone’s advice and bought some Always Discreet diapers.  They were so amazing in the hospital.  Those pads are not only uncomfortable to sit on, they move around easily.  You can bleed through or around them without even noticing.  That can feel super embarrassing getting up to use the restroom in front of visitors and seeing a pool of blood on your hospital bed in front of everyone.  The diapers prevent that from occurring and you don’t screw up any underwear.  I felt safe and secure.  I will buy some for all subsequent births!  I actually had a friend go grab more for me because I wasn’t sure if I would like them and I totally loved them.
  • Perineal ice packs.  If you deliver vaginally, you are quite sore down there.  The absolute best thing is an ice pack.  You just do not know how amazing that feels after the birth.  It brings down inflammation and significantly reduced pain.  Afterwards, between my ice packs and 800 mg Motrin every 6 hours, that was all I needed for pain relief.  Now in the hospital, they can make ice packs for you.  But I didn’t want to have to put on my call light every time I wanted an ice pack.  And being a nurse, I didn’t want to have to bother the staff for that request as frequently as I wanted one (every few hours).  So I bought one-time use perineal packs on Amazon and they were AMAZING.  They were $40 for 24.  Worth every single cent, if you ask me.  I used them frequently and I hope that sped up my healing time (but I have nothing to compare it to so I won’t make that claim).  I would grab one, activate it to make it cold, put it in the diaper (it fit perfectly) and then would toss it once the cold wore off.  The perineal ones are made to absorb blood so they made the diapers last twice as long.  The combo was outstanding.  It was almost as good as chicken and waffles… fries and a Frosty!  Steak and potatoes!  And now this lactating mother is hungry.. ugh dangit.
  • Comfortable clothes to wear around.  I ended up being most comfortable in my sweats or yoga pants, my diaper/cold pack combo, a nursing bra, hospital gown, and robe.  After delivery, you won’t fit into your pregnancy clothes but you won’t fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes either.  You’ll walk out of the hospital about the size you were when you were 6 months pregnant (roughly).
  • My memory foam pillow (I know some friends that brought their Snoogle).  I wanted something that felt like home so I opted for my favorite pillow.
  • My Brest Friend nursing pillow $40.  I had both the Boppy and the Brest Friend pillows and I liked the Brest Friend one better.  It was more sturdy and offered more support.  The lactation consultant showed my how to use it with Hannah and it really helped with positioning.  (More on breastfeeding later.)
  • An outfit to to take the baby home in (I’ll discuss clothes more later).
  • A car seat and base that you know how to use (more later).

Random advice about the hospital

DSC_0059

a picture of Hannah that my dad took when she was 1 week old

  • A word about hospital photography… the fancy newborn pics are expensive.  We paid $150 for the flash drive of pictures the photographer took.  We won’t do that again.  While they were nice, they weren’t $150-nice.  My parents drove in a few days later and my dad took pictures that looked just as good.  However if you want to get the hospital photography, go for it.  It was really nice to have high quality pics to email out to everyone immediately.
  • Don’t worry about bringing diapers or wipes.  The hospital will have some for you to take home.  They typically will let you take whatever is left in the room upon discharge.  If you’re really worried about it, just bring 1-2 and a few wipes in a ziplock.
  • Don’t worry about bringing a bunch of outfits.  They’ll have stuff for the baby to be in until discharge.
  • Don’t forget about nursing pads!  I didn’t realize I would need this.  I had disposable ones at the hospital that worked fine.  (I’ll talk about this more later.)
  • Take home the peri spray bottles!  You will not be able to wipe normally afterwards.  They will want you to put warm water in a peri spray bottle and gently spray water on your lady area.  If you live in a home with multiple floors and bathrooms, grab one for each floor.
  • Stool softeners are not just a good idea, they are necessary.  It’s a really good idea to be proactive about this.  It will hurt the first time you have a bowel movement after giving birth.  Your physician may already have this medication ordered.  Mine did not – I had to ask for it and I am REALLY glad I did.  I took 100 mg oral Colace twice a day until normal bowel habits resumed.  It worked beautifully and every single friend of mine that has given birth emphatically agreed with me.  (If you have bowel issues, please consult your physician about this before starting.)
  • Bring your own nipple cream if you plan on breastfeeding.  I’ll talk more about this later.
  • I did not bring my breast pump.  I used the hospital pump and supplies and worked with the lactation consultants. You could bring yours if you wanted to and look at it with the lactation consultant.  I did have a freak out moment that first night home because the time came for me to use my pump at home and it looked completely different from the one at the hospital so I wasn’t sure about what to do.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding in another thing that was incredibly challenging but I am really glad I stuck with it.  John and I took a breastfeeding class together while I was pregnant and I am really glad that we did.  If you don’t have time for an in-person class, I recommend getting a book.  There is a lot to know about this topic and a lot of it doesn’t just come naturally, like I just assumed it would.  There are quite a few things to know ahead of time that will prevent a lot of frustration and stress.

The lactation consultant that taught the class was incredible.  They not only explained the how-to’s but they went over all of the whys as well.  During those really tough moments when I was thinking about giving up, I remembered the things that they lactation consultant told us about why breastfeeding is so important.  The instructor told me that if the baby latches correctly then you shouldn’t have to worry about cracked or bleeding nipples.  So when she said that, I interpreted that as “there is a right way to do it and if you experience pain or bleeding, then you’re doing it wrong”.  That’s not the case.

At discharge, my physician said something that really stuck with me and comforted me when things were tough.  He said,

“You don’t know what you’re doing. Your baby doesn’t know what she’s doing.  And you guys can’t talk to each other!  It’s not realistic to expect to get it right on the first few times, but you will get there.”

That really put things into perspective for me.  I think I had this unrealistic expectation that it should work immediately and that we would be good at it from the start.  I felt a lot better after he told me that because I was feeling like such a failure when she wouldn’t latch or I wasn’t producing.

Until you get used to it, it’ll be painful.  And the fairer your skin, typically the more painful it is.  Breastfeeding was really painful the first month for me.  The lactation consultant told me that if the baby had a good latch, I shouldn’t have pain and therefore shouldn’t need nipple cream or anything for my breasts.  Therefore, when I felt like I did need those products, I felt like a failure because clearly I was doing something wrong.  I don’t think she meant it to come across that way, but that’s how I heard it.  Looking back, I should have just gotten what I needed when I needed it, instead of trying to tough it out.

I used some products that I discuss below that helped ease the pain but nothing took it all away.  I had a few crying in the shower experiences when I just wanted a few pain-free moments.  Between the nips and the downstairs situation, I was pretty miserable.  John was incredibly helpful and understanding, as was my mom.  They really helped me through those first few challenging weeks.

Breastfeeding items I used and recommend:

  • Honest Company nipple cream.  I know a lot of people like Lanolin, but I’m allergic to wool so I was instructed not to use that.
  • Medela Pump in Style breast pump with a set of back up accessories (phalanges, hoses).  If you’re borrowing a friend’s pump (as many people do), make sure you buy your own set of accessories.  They are very affordable.  Please note, the phalanges come in sizes (which I did not realize before buying).  Thankfully I incidentally purchased the correct size, but keep that in mind or check a size chart before ordering.
  • Matching Medela breast pump storage kit.  This comes with back up bottles that connect directly to the pump that you can just screw a top on when you’re done and don’t need to pour the milk into another container.
  • Breast milk storage bags.  Breast milk is only good in the fridge for 3-8 days (per the Medela guidelines), but it’s good for up to 1 year frozen.  Therefore, I had to freeze a lot of milk (in particular, the milk that I pumped while at work).  Breast milk storage bags are another essential.
  • Hands-free breast pump bra.  This is not optional if you are breastfeeding.  You MUST use this.  I didn’t know I would need this and ran out to get it.  If you do not use one of these, you must hold the phalanges up to your breasts for 15 minutes straight every time you pump.  Ain’t nobody got time for that. They look utterly (HA!) ridiculous, but it is seriously a must.
  • The LactMed App.  If you’re someone who takes a lot of medications, it’s really helpful to be able to quickly look up what’s safe and what’s not from a reliable source.

Nursing bras and pads

Let’s discuss..

Not everyone uses nursing bras but I really love them.

I purchased 2 kinds of nursing bras. I have one kind for wearing everywhere (those ones I mentioned earlier) and another kind of sleeping or laying around the house.  I know some people just used sports bras with nursing pads, but sports bras are not very comfortable to me.  I am much more comfortable in a nursing bra, and it is much easier to feed when I’m wearing one.  I also found that I needed the support of a bra even while sleeping.  I need to keep my nursing pads in place and support, so I bought these bras per a friend’s recommendation and was really glad I did.

These are the every day nursing brasI wear. They were $24/each and I got a free one when I bought 3.  I’m VERY glad I have 4.

There are 2 kinds of nursing bras.. the clip up and the pull aside kind. I like the clip up for every day, and the pull aside for at home stuff. The pull aside kind have thicker straps, so wearing them with tank tops doesn’t look so awesome.. but I think they are more comfortable so whenever I’m home I’ll wear those.

These are the pull asidenursing brasthat I love… This is just the ones I just happened to get, they’re not like the best brand ever or anything, but they work.  I have 3 of these kind and wear them at home a lot.

There are also 2 kinds of nursing pads… disposable and reusable.  I thought I would like disposable more, but I definitely preferred reusable.  They are softer and if they have one side that’s solid, they typically don’t leak.  If you sweat a bunch, the disposable can be irritating to your skin.  I bought two packs of reusable ones and had a box of disposable ones as a back up.  Sometimes I just didn’t get to the laundry in time and it was great to have a back up to grab when running out the door!

These are the disposable nursing padsthat I used.  They are about $10/box and a box has about 60 pads.

These are the reusable nursing padsthat I used.  They are about $16 for 10 pads.  I suggest buying two packs of these, with one box of disposables as a back up and you should be good to go.

Formula

This section is going to be a little thinner because I don’t have a ton of information to add for it.  Hannah is having some formula now, as she eats more and more solids.  My experience with formula is a bit limited.

A friend highly recommended this Dr. Brown’s Formula Mixing Pitcher, which evenly mixes the formula.

I won’t go into actual formula recommendations because I do not know enough about that to speak to it appropriately.  I highly recommend discussing formula brands with your pediatrician and following their recommendations.

If your baby has issue with reflux, the Dr. Browns Bottle slow-flow bottles are great.  I wouldn’t use them if your baby doesn’t struggle with it though, simply because it takes them longer to feed and there are just more parts to clean, which is annoying.  If you don’t need to do it, don’t waste your time and money with it.

You really want a baby bottle brush to make sure you in there to clean them appropriately.  It’s only about $5 and definitely worth the cost.

I love this bottle drying rack.  It’s nice, sturdy, and only $14.  Oh, and my wine glasses fit real nicely in there sooo…

We use the Avent bottle system now and love it.  The bottles are easy to clean, the nips don’t leak, and the bottles are easy to grip.  We’ve got a handful of 5 oz and 9 oz bottles.  At the beginning, they eat less and you really only need those smaller bottles.  As they grow, they’ll eat more at a time so then you’ll need the larger options.

Keep in mind, you’ll need different nipple sizes as they grow.  Sizes 1-2 are usually for less than 6 months old, 3-4 are for over 6 months – generally speaking.

The Actual Baby (Oh yeah…??)

After talking about all of the things you’ll need for yourself, you’ll want/need a few things for that little one.  This list is utterly exhaustive.  I tried to think of everything I used at each stage that were important or helpful.

Newborn diapers – I like Costco diapers best. I tried the Honest Company ones and they were somewhat stiff and I like the cheaper ones better. Hannah went through a phase where she would blow out every diaper with the poops. After a recommendation from a friend, we temporarily switched to Luvs and that seemed to hold in poop explosions much better.  We are now back to my favorite Costco diapers.

Diaper cream – something that I recommend is putting the cream on regularly before you notice a rash. The kind I use is organic and made by a fellow nurse in central Illinois! It’s called Baby Bottom Butter by Wright Family Products and I love it.  It lasts so long!  You really will probably only need one container.  Hannah had very mild diaper rash once and I think it was because we were proactive with application.

Lotion – I use the Honest Company for all shampoo, conditioner and lotion. I use lavender for myself and then the unscented for Hannah.  It’s wonderful, natural and cost-effective.

Baby DHA – I also use the Honest Company for daily DHA.  My pediatrician recommended this shortly after Hannah was born and just added it to my monthly bundle with the Honest Company.

Bubble bath – Again, I use the Honest Company.  However, infant skin is very sensitive so wait on using this until they’re older.  I was using it regularly and Hannah’s skin got super irritated and I realized it was because I kept using the bubble bath.

Baby wipes – It is way cheaper to purchase baby wipes on Amazon. I pay about $13 for 550 wipes for Huggies Natural.  Two boxes of these make a GREAT baby shower gift because the new parents will be good with wipes for quite a while with this supply.  (Shout out to Kristen Thomas, RN for getting that for us!)

Wipe warmer – this is not at all necessary but it is really nice.  We got one as a gift and I think it’s wonderful to have the wipes warm.  I use wipes on my patients at work all the time and we keep the wipes in a warmer there as well.  It’s just much more comfortable on the baby’s skin to have the wipes not cold.


Baby carrier
– love these… it makes walking around and doing things 10,982,301,928,309 easier. I was using a friends Baby Bjorn for a while and casually posted a pic of John using it. A few people mentioned that it wasn’t good for their hips. Never hearing that before, I checked with my family members that are physical therapists and sure enough, they were correct. We ended up buying a 4 in 1 Baby Carrier from the Honest Company one and adding it to a bundle, so we got it for $100 instead of $140. I like it. I also have a K’Tan one as well. I honestly didn’t have the patience to figure that thing out, but know people that love it and it worked wonderfully for them.

Baby clothes – it’s important to have an outfit or two to go out to appointments in, but you’ll use those sleep n’ play outfits the most.  They are either snap-ups or zip-ups.  Everyone seems to have a preference, and after using both for a while, I decided I like the zip-up ones much better.  I would get some normal onesies without the pants, but sleep n’ play ones are freaking awesome.

Diaper genie Some people think they’re pointless and some rave about them.  We live in a 2-story home with Hannah’s nursery on the 2nd floor, so taking every dirty diaper down to the trash bin wasn’t happening.  I actually really like it.  We got ours as a gift and then buy all of our refills at Costco or on Amazon (about the same price).

Newborn hats for the first few weeks at home.  Just a few, nothing crazy.  Might as well get a few pairs of socks too.

Newborn socks – many outfits will have footies on them so socks aren’t desperately needed, but it’s nice to have a few pairs on hand for the occasional outfit.

Thermometer – this would be good to invest in now because you’ll need one inevitably. If you’re not too keen on rectal temps (I just do those on Hannah if they’re needed), they have quite a few options for forehead thermometers.

Diaper bags – get one that your spouse will also carry around. My only requirement for this thing was that it had a shoulder strap and it was gender neutral. However, I stopped using it when she was about 4 months old. I just use a bigger purse of mine and toss a diaper and some wipes in a dispenser, cream, small changing pad, and a back up outfit in there and it doesn’t take up much room and is easier than carrying an additional bag.

  • To-go diaper cream – I use this Honest Company diaper cream in my to-go bag because it’s small and travels well. It’s also cheaper so if I lose it, I’m not heartbroken.
  • To-go wipe dispenser – I use a reusable one from the Honest Company, which I can no longer find on the website. Not sure if it’s out of stock or just not being made anymore, but I like it. It’s slim and reusable. You can use a ziplock or something, but it’s nice to have something you don’t have to continually switch out and create more waste.

Toys – I was talking about toys with a friend and we both said we underestimated the need for toys for babies. A close friend of mine sent us a bunch of toys that her kiddo like and Hannah just loves them. Things with lights, that crinkle, make nosies, that you can chew on are awesome.  Just make sure that if it does play music, that you can take listening to it about 943,094,290,890 times. I highly recommend these:

Books – it’s good to start a collection and get reading early on. We read the same two every night as part of our bedtime routine and I think it helps get Hannah in the mindset of going to bed.  Those baby books with the thick cardboard pages are the best. It’s a cute idea for a baby shower, if you ask everyone to bring a book instead of a card and write something on the inside cover.

PacifierWubbaNub pacifiers all day every day, people.  These are by far my favorite.  They’re expensive, about $14/each, but so worth it. The little kiddos can hang on to them a little better and they fall out of the car seat much less. This makes a really great gift, since that’s a lot to shell out for one pacifier. I’d put 2 on registry and then get a few back ups that are regular pacifiers and not as awesome. I know some people don’t recommend them, but there are positives and negatives to both sides. Here’s a pretty good article that explains the two sides of pacifiers. At the end of the day, we decided to use one. After a little while, Hannah wasn’t too interested in hers so we didn’t have to wean her off of them at all. But I know some kids that are inconsolable without theirs, so it’s important to make sure they can self-soothe when they are upset without a pacifier. You want to have a plan to be able to transition away from it. The younger you do it, the better.

Play mat – this is something we didn’t buy and I didn’t think we would need. A friend gave us one and I’m so glad they did.  Hannah absolutely loves this thing. She just loves to lay there and look up at everything. I really recommend buying one. We got the Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies used from a friend and it’s been great.  It’s $50 and worth every single cent.

Swing – We were generously given a swing.  It was not something I thought we’d need, so I didn’t register for it… but I was SO thankful we were given it.  I personally like the stand up ones that don’t sit right on the floor better, simply because strapping them in and getting them out of one sitting low to the ground is a bit more of a hassle.  The one we used was a hand-me down and is no longer available.  I’ve heard great things about these two… one is much more expensive than the other and I cannot speak to whether or not the extra money is worth it. I do know that having a swing was wonderful and we will definitely be getting

Fisher Price Little Snugapuppy Cradle Swing

mamaRoo Swing

High chair – We have a used one from a friend that works great.  It’s an easy to clean, standalone chair.  I also have a portable high chair to take on vacations or to other peoples homes.  I like the standalone one at home because we have the room at our dining room table to put another chair there.  If you’re tight on space, the portable one will do just fine.  Keep in mind, you won’t need this until they start eating solids so you can definitely wait on this one until you really need it.

Changing pad – We just bought one of these and have it sitting on top of a dresser, rather than buying another piece of furniture.  We just got an affordable one on Amazon and are pretty happy with it.

Changing pad cover with 2 back ups. You need a cover for the changing pad and I recommend having a back up cover so if you get the poops on it, you can just toss a new one on without having to immediately do laundry.

Crib – we bought a crib that converts to a toddler bed and then to a twin bed eventually.  I honestly can’t remember the brand, but the Honest Company has a pretty legit looking one as well.  You can spend a ton or very little on these.  We decided to spend a little more and have one that converts rather than buying more furniture later.  So far we’ve been pretty happy with it.

Mattress – this is the mattress we purchased.  I honestly can’t remember why I picked this one specifically, but it’s been good.  No complaints with it at all.

Mattress cover – I bought a mattress cover just in case some poops escaped the diaper.  I’m glad I did because we’ve had that happen a few times.  We were given one as a gift and I don’t remember the brand, but I’d recommend having one.

Crib sheets – these are pretty standard… get whatever brand you like, but make sure you get a few extra so you can toss a new one on if one gets dirty to avoid doing laundry right away.

Crib liner – so we bought a crib liner and I’m really glad we did.  Some people think these are unnecessary, but I truly think it’s helped my peace of mind more than anything. I got so worried she’d get her tiny hands/feet caught and hurt herself and ended up buying this last minute.  Hannah’s been sleeping in her crib since 3 weeks so she was pretty young.  It was really annoying to put on, but I’m glad we have it.

Bassinet – the first few weeks, you’ll want your kiddo close to you at night most likely.  This is especially helpful if you’re breastfeeding.  It’s not practical to move a full crib into your room and back to the nursery, so most parents will utilize a portable sleep space, like a bassinet, sleeper, pack n’ play, etc.  A word of caution, the best thing for your baby to prevent SIDS is for him/her to sleep on a flat surface, so things like the Rock ‘N Play sleeper would not fall into that category.  While they’re awesome and we loved it for Hannah, for our next baby I’ll use the infant attachment that came with our pack ‘n play now that I’ve read some articles and research on the popular Rock ‘N Play.

Pack ‘N Play – this is basically a portable crib.  They’re great and horrific at the same time.  If you are someone who is easily frustrated, do not try to assemble this thing by yourself.  You will send yourself into a hypertensive crisis.  Learning to use this thing made me SO MAD.  SO MAD GUYS.  ((Deep cleansing breath…)) But, it is worth it.  I promise. These are so convenient.  Especially when we go to a friends house in the evening, we’ll just bring the Pack ‘N Play and put Hannah down at a friend’s house.  We have this one and (after I figured out how to use it) I really love it.  It’s also great if a friend with a kid that needs to nap comes over and we can just assemble it quickly and we’ve got an additional safe sleep space for another baby.

Newborn Pillow – this is another one of those things I didn’t think we’d need.  I never put it on a registry, but a very smart and wonderful friend (thank you Leneè) bought us this.  It was nice to have somewhere safe and comfy to set Hannah down.  I know it sounds simple, but when they can’t hold their head up… sitting them up in something or in that sleeper thing just wasn’t always an option because you can’t move it quickly.  So this small, light pillow was glorious.  I can safely carry it and the baby from one room to the next, set her down and she’s safe and comfortable.  I highly recommend this; it’s worth every cent.

Bumbo – this is a great place for the baby to sit once he/she can hold their head up.  We have friends that loved their Bumbo and used it all the time, so we made sure to put it on the registry.  Alas, Hannah didn’t like this as much as we thought she would.  She cried a lot when we put her in it. And then when she wasn’t crying, she’d lean over and practically knock herself out of it.  So, I know parents that love these and parents like myself whose kids weren’t that into it.

Infant tub – this is definitely not a need, but it makes things easier.  We are actually still using ours and Hannah is 9 months.  It’s got an infant sling and then as the baby grows, you just use the other sides.  I just set this bad boy in the regular tub and bathe her that way.  I don’t have to worry about her falling over or anything.  It’s a lot easier to bathe them with two hands.  You can always just use  your kitchen sink, but I’m usually cooking dinner when we’re trying to do bedtime as well.

Baby monitor.  I like this one, but it’s not amazing.  The app is very fickle and frustrating sometimes.  I honestly will probably purchase a different kind for baby #2.  It was a headache to set up and the app frustrates me.  I would recommend a video monitor that you can see on your phone.  It’s a great to be able to see her on the camera to just check on her real quick without actually walking into the room.  A video baby monitor is definitely a worthwhile investment.

If you are a parent and have experience with a good baby monitor you’d recommend, please comment on this post!

Owlet – this is sort of a new thing.  It’s essentially a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) monitor.  It is a little monitor that goes on their foot and constantly monitors their heart rate and oxygen saturation. This can be a wonderful thing and an awful thing.  Some people hate it because they get false alarms and it increases their anxiety rather than offers comfort and reassurance.  I wasn’t going to buy one originally because I didn’t want to pay the $250.  However, my mom told me that she had a friend who had a baby right when my mom had me and she died at 3 months from SIDS and offered to buy it for us and I quickly agreed.  The theory/thought is that the respiratory drive is immature during that first year of life and some kids for whatever reason will be asleep and they stop breathing and just don’t start up again.  Theoretically, with something monitoring the oxygen saturation constantly, you may be able to prevent a SIDS death, as it would detect a low level and the parents could intervene immediately with rescue breathing or CPR if needed.  I know it helped me sleep better personally and gave me peace of mind.  We still use ours nightly on Hannah.  Plus, being a nurse… I really like being able to pull up the app and see her heart rate and oxygen saturation.  (owletcare.com) Parents of babies that had an extended NICU stay or complications whose child is at a higher risk of SIDS may find a monitor like this extremely comforting, especially feeling overwhelmed with additional care responsibilities (like at home oxygen).  I’m really glad we have it.  We did have one night were it said her oxygen level was below 80% and we ran in and she woke up and no intervention was needed.  I don’t know if it was a false alarm of if her oxygen was truly that low. But after having it for 9 months, I’ll take one false alarm over the peace of mind it’s given me (if it truly was a false alarm!).

Levana Oma Snuza is a cheaper option than the Owlet, if you’re interested. I personally have not used it, but someone on Twitter mentioned this as another option!

Sound machine – we bought this one for $20 and it’s great.  We didn’t think we’d need one, but it’s nice to have something to drown out the normal house sounds during daily naps.  I also use this when we put Hannah down for a nap or the night at someone else’s home just to have a familiar sound and (hopefully) enable better sleep.

Sleep sack – “What the heck is a sleep sack!?” I know I know.. it sounds weird and unnecessary.  Basically, you can’t/shouldn’t wrap your kiddo in a bunch of blankets because they could get wrapped up in them and asphyxiate themselves accidentally.  So the solution is to put them in a sleep sack!  You do this after they are done needing to be swaddled / after the Moro reflex disappears.  I have 2 sleep sacks that I alternate and really like.  You can get a lighter one for summer or a warmer one for winter.  (I advise waiting to get one until your baby needs it, and then getting the appropriate size/warmth level so you don’t get something early and then they don’t fit in it when you need it)

Summer sleep sack

Winter sleep sack

Swaddle blankets: I didn’t swaddle Hannah in the beginning because I convinced myself she didn’t like it.  Why, you ask?  Because I’m a terrible swaddler.  The nurses in the hospital made it look so easy!  But each time I did it, she broke free in about as long as it takes my dog Mac to eat a chicken nugget.  0.00003 seconds.  However, I bought some easy swaddlers (more below) and realized how much swaddling improved my newborn’s sleep.  Newborns have a reflex called the Moro reflex, which can startle them awake suddenly and make it awfully difficult to fall back asleep.  For those of you that have more swaddle game than myself, invest in some good swaddle blankets.  These are by FAR my favorite.  I don’t/didn’t swaddle Hannah in these, but used them all the time as just a general lightweight blanket.  We still use one every single day. These are expensive, but they’re a really good brand and great quality.  They make a wonderful gift as well.

Easy swaddlers – For those of you like myself who are challenged in the swaddling department, here are easy swaddlers, which are made of the same fabric but you just snap it closed and you baby is snuggled up just right.  They look ridiculous and uncomfortable, but their sleep is less likely to be interrupted, which is always a glorious thing.  This is one of those things I ran out and bought and was so happy that I did.

Burp cloths – You can never have too many of these!  They are all about the same – except one brand was so awesome. Hanna Andersson’s organic pima cotton burb cloths were glorious.  We got a few of these as gifts and they were some of my favorites.  It’s definitely a splurge and not realistic to purchase all burp cloths and clothes in this brand, but it’s so nice to have a few of these.

Bibs – I learned my favorite bibs are the ones with the snap button on the side.  I do NOT like velcro because I forget to take them out of the washing machine before throwing them in the dryer and they stick to and ruin other clothes.  It’d be nice to have about 6-10 good ones so you’re not pressed to do laundry.  These were given as a gift and my absolute FAVORITE. I did laundry early a few times just to use these bad boys.  They’re pricey.. $20 for 3, but they’re so good. Plus I just love this brand.

Registries – I did Babylist registry and liked it.  It was cool because I could put anything from any site on it.  The only downside was that it wasn’t set up like normal bridal or baby registries, so we did have a few people purchase things on there but not take them off the registry so I got a few duplicates.  And people that would rather just go to a store and have the list printed and then purchase a gift couldn’t do that.  Otherwise, it was pretty awesome.  They have an app and whatnot that I enjoyed.

Car seats – there are a few important things to know about car seats. First of all, car seats expire. Secondly, if the car seat has ever been in any accident (even a fender-bender), you must purchase a new one.   Here’s a great little article on car seats. In saying this, don’t get one on Craig’s List. This is something you either must purchase new or get from a close friend or family member that you trust. We bought one from a friend along with 2 car seat bases (one in each car). Make sure you know how to use it before going to the hospital, if possible. We did not do that and had to have the hospital security guy show us as we were discharged. We felt so ridiculous because neither of us had really tried to use it before. We knew how it clicked into the car, but we didn’t know how to strap the baby in. Grab a stuffed animal and go through the instructions before the due date if you’re able.  I also recommend checking out factory videos or YouTube videos to make sure you’d doing this right.  It’s really important.

Strollers – There are a few options with strollers. We chose the car seat with matching stroller combo, again used from a friend. I’m very happy with it. We have an older model of this. I like that I can leave her in the car seat (super wonderful when they are tiny infants) when going from car to stroller.  You can get a jogging stroller, but for me that wasn’t something I was interested in getting because this lady does not jog.  This is one of those things that is expensive and there isn’t really a way around it, unfortunately.

Stroller toy bar – this is again something I never thought would be helpful.  My mom just got one and we put it on our car seat for Hannah to look at and she loves this thing so much.  When she’s fussy because we put her in the car seat, she immediately calms down because she loves looking at this and playing with it.  I highly recommend having one.. it keeps her calm in grocery store and in the car because she’s so distracted by it.  I love this thing.

Sleep training – I highly, highly recommend sleep training. There are a few different books that you can read and use. John and I used The Good Night, Sleep Tight book written by Kim West. I really liked it, and if your kiddo has a particularly difficult time getting to sleep, then you can even purchase a consult from her to address your specific needs. We know multiple kids that have been sleeping 12 hours/night since about 8 weeks using this technique. Hannah started sleeping 12 hours/night around 6-8 weeks, with 3 naps during the day. We read the book before she was born and continue to read it as she grows, and just follow the recommendations. It’s been absolutely wonderful. We will use this same sleep training method / mentality for any other kids we may have in the future.  I cannot recommend this enough. This is one of those things you want to read beforehand so you have some basic foundational knowledge before the big day

Baby Bullet – I love this bad boy.  You can just use an immersion blender or a Magic Bullet as well, but this came with a few other things that those do not. This is absolutely not necessary, but pretty cool.

Resources for Parents – No one is the perfect parent, we are all flawed humans, raising children in a flawed world. There is no perfect parenting book out there.  However, I think there are a few resources that have really good and helpful knowledge to enable us to figure out our paths.

empoweringparents.com is a great resource if you’re finding you are having behavioral problems

(I know this is a relationship book, however the concepts are powerful and can help make sense of not only our marriages, but also how we understand our relationships and communicate our needs and realize the needs of our children as well.)

This is the parenting version of this book, however I have not personally read this:  The 5 Love Languages Children

(I haven’t read this one either but heard wonderful things)

Conclusion

Thank you so much for taking the time to read that ridiculously long post.  I hope it helps you during this exciting, yet expensive time. Remember, at the end of the day… as long as your baby’s tummy is full, their butt is dry and they are warm and snuggly, that’s all you truly need.

Godspeed!

If you are a parent and have specific things you recommend or purchased and did not like, please comment below!  We can all learn from one another!

I’d like to give a shoutout to friends, family, and social media buds who offered their expertise to help me complete this enormous list!

What Positive Reviews on FreshRN Really Mean

I know a “brand promise” sounds like such a cliche term, but I want take a moment to let you know what it means when I have reviews on this site.  I believe in transparency and honesty.  So here’s what a review post on my blog really mean..

  1.  My reviews will always be honest.  While I am open to reviewing products for my honest opinion on my site, I am not open to receiving compensation to say I like something when I don’t actually use it.  If I don’t like something, I will say it.  Companies that ask for my opinion know this from the start.  They see the review the same time you do.  They do not get to edit anything to ask me to say something specific, unless it is specific factual information stuff that enables the reader to understand the product better.
  2. A sponsored review means that I was compensated for my time to complete the review.  It takes a decent amount of time to facilitate a review with a company, get and use the product, compile the review, and publish it.  Compensation is for all the time it takes to do that – not for me to say specific things (again, unless it is factual information about the specific product).  With 3 jobs and a new baby, I can’t really afford to devote that much time to something and not be compensated.  Many times companies will also provide discount codes or a giveaway within the review as a gift to readers.  I do not make money for you purchasing items.  The only time I (or anyone on any blog) makes money like that is through what’s called an “affiliate relationship”.  I have two affiliate relationships. One with Amazon and one with NRSNG.com.  Basically that means that if you buy something from Amazon or NRSNG.com through a link from my site, I get a small percent of the sale.  This does NOT occur with review posts.  I feel like that would be dishonest if that was part of review posts.  Companies pay a flat fee prior to the review for my time only.
  3. I get a lot of these requests.  Only a few of them work out.  I’ve had to say no to some because the product isn’t really something that speaks to nurses, the content is inappropriate, or I just didn’t have time.  This is another reason I’ve had to start charging a fee.  I am selective about what goes on this blog because not only is my time valuable.. so is yours.  I don’t want to waste your time with tons of product reviews that are only mildly beneficially to you.  I am selective about these because I want to maximize your time. Because of this, I limit the amount of review posts to 4 per month of nurse-related products/services.
  4. Your trust matters to me. I do not want to do anything to betray that trust.  I commit myself to be honest about the products I try out and what I use and enjoy.  You will never see me post, RT, share, etc. anything that promotes something unless I actually use it.
  5. My YouTube channel will contain nurse-related reviews and other product reviews.  When I find things I like (nurse-related and not), or when I purchase something and find out it’s not what it was made out to be, I want to share that with others.  Becoming a mom, I’ve already found things that I absolutely love and recommend and things that are terrible and a waste of my time and money.  I will utilize my YouTube space for these reviews.
  6. Hannah will probably be in basically all of my video reviews.  It’s just 900 times easier to do these video reviews holding her.  Plus she’s so dang cute.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Thank you for being part of my audience.  I appreciate you and your engagement.  Facilitating these reviews is fun to me because as a consumer myself, I like to be able to provide honest feedback to you.  I hate wasting my time and money on things that don’t live up to what they’re advertised to be.  I hate that as a consumer, I have to constantly read behind the lines and be on the defensive so I don’t get taken advantage of.  Like you, I work hard for my money and really hate it when I pay for something and basically don’t get what I’ve paid for.

It’s hard to find trusted brands that make quality products, so when I do find those, I want to share them with you.

Below is basically a video of the above post.  Hannah was my cohost.  Mac is being a lazy bum in the back.  So basically, it was a normal day 🙂

Practical Christmas Gifts for Nurses and Nursing Students

Practical Christmas Gifts for Nurses and Nursing Students

Gifts for Nurses

gifts for nurses

Tis the season of gift-giving!  Below is my list of practical Christmas gifts for nurses and nursing students, ranging from most cost-effective to expensive.  I’m not a big qift person or someone who enjoys novelty items.. practicality is my love language!

Gifts for Nurses pro-tip: while scrubs and shoes wonderful, they can be challenging to give because you must know exact sizes. This is why I didn’t include scrubs or shoes in this post.

I also love Amazon. (Duh.)

I frequently buy my Christmas gifts with Amazon Prime, so I tried to make all of the Amazon links ones with Prime.

All photos will link to the product depicted on Amazon!

**Please keep in mind this post was updated November 2017. Prices may differ from what’s listed below**

Compression socks

I have tried out many compression socks over the years.  I have recently found my new favorite! They’re from FIGS!  FIGS compression socks offer 20-30 mmHg compression, are long enough and sturdy enough to stay put for 12-hours, and I’ve washed them quite a few times since I got them a few months ago and they’ve withstood the washings and have no faded. They come in the pictured cranium pink, grey pills, or a slick black and grey.

My second favorite are Cherokee True Support are my second favorite, they’re not as durable or offer as much support but are a good purchase for the price.  

They provide 12 mmHg compression.  The price may vary depending on where you get them, but they’re about $10.  If you get them at Lydia’s Uniforms, they’re usually $7.99.

If you’re looking for thicker socks, Nabee Socks are a great option. They’re a little shorter than the Cherokee and provide 15-20 mmHg compression.  They were bit too short for me, but are a great option.

(Bonus points: the CEO of the company is a nurse!)

Nurse pro-tip: do not purchase compression sleeves for nurses. While they do provide support and look sharp, they are not made for 12-hour shifts on your feet and do not provide appropriate venous return.  They kind of cut off at the ankle and fluid can get trapped down there and you can easily acquire the swelling you were trying to prevent. They are designed for running for a shorter period of time, not for standing and walking for hours on end.

Pen lights 

As a neuro nurse who was frequently using a pen light to look at patient’s pupils, I’ve tried quite a few pen lights. You want one that isn’t too bright and isn’t too dim. I’ve found that most labeled “nurse pen light” or “doctor’s pen light” with pupillary measurements printed on the side are frequently too dim. And I found that a lot of those heavy duty LED lights were way too bright.

My favorite is one that can clip right on to your badge reel (pictured below) so that you never lose it and can grab it in an instant. The only downside with these is that you can’t really replace the battery and just have to get a new one when yours dies. The overall convenience of not having another item in your pocket far outweighs getting a new one when the battery goes out (I had one for 2 years before it died). They’re lightweight enough to go on your badge reel and not weigh it down and very affordable.

However, if you want more of a traditional penlight, my favorite pen light is an Energizer Pen Light in Silver. I couldn’t find it on Amazon for a decent price, but you can get them at Office Depot.

Nurse pro-tip: People steal awesome pen lights and stethoscopes all the time. Mark yours with nail polish or something that won’t wash/rub off. That way if someone walks off with your penlight (I’m looking at all of you neurologists and neurosurgeons right now!) it’s clearly yours.

Badge Reels and Accessories

My favorite badge reels, by far, are from Badge Blooms on Etsy. The shop owner is a nurse (score!) and I’ve tried out MANY of her reels and loved ALL OF THEM!  Click here to read my full review of the reels, and click here to see my video review. They are cost-effective, durable, high-quality, and there’s quite a variety.

Another item that can be attached to the badge reel is a small Sharpie on a key chain (pictured right). Nurses frequently are in need of a Sharpie for various reasons (signing and dating a wound dressing, marking drainage on a dressing, labeling patient items) and they never stay in your pocket long.  Therefore, I highly recommend getting those tiny Sharpies on a keyring. They’re WONDERFUL!

Buy a badge reel, Sharpie pack, and a few pen lights and you’ve got a great badge set up!

Relaxation

Something that’s awesome after a tough shift is a relaxing hot shower.  I absolutely love some good aromatherapy during a post-shift shower.  My personal favorite is the Eucalyptus Spearmint Stress Relief Aromatherapy line from Bath and Body Works.  I think a great gift is the Stress Relief shampoo and conditioner because normally people don’t spend that much on shampoo and conditioner, so it’s a great treat and since they typically wouldn’t normally purchase it for themselves.

But, my absolute favorite is the Stress Relief Sugar Scrub though, which is around $16 when bought alone.  Add this to the shampoo and conditioner, and you’ve got a great little gift set of items to ensure an incredibly relaxing hot shower post gross shift.

Another way to enjoy aromatherapy is with essential oils and a diffuser.  Every night I’ll put a few drops of Lavender and Peppermint and  essential oil into my diffuser before bed. It’s lovely. (My husband has actually begun to ask for it!)

As far as diffusers go you can go cheaper or more expensive. I really do like the more expensive ones, but a more cost effective one will do just fine.  I personally get my oils from dōTERRA, but there are quite a few different options out there.  Wherever you buy, ensure it says 100% pure on the bottle, it doesn’t have any added ingredients, and has some sort of quality assurance.

Lavender and Peppermint are great post-shift. Lavender helps to calm and relax, while Peppermint helps with tension and headaches. They compliment one another really well. I’ll rub some diluted Peppermint on my temples (very little though – it’s quite strong!) and on my neck as well.

If just starting out, I recommend Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon + a diffuser (reminder, check out Amazon for diffusers as well)!

Nurse pro-tip: Bring lemon to work and keep it in your bag. Whenever you smell something awful (#allthetime) take a sniff to remove the odor from your mind, body, and soul.  I used it throughout my pregnancy when my sense of smell was heightened and had awful nausea. It worked wonderfully. I continued to use it afterwards and keep it in my bag for PRN nasal needs!

 

Stethoscopes

My favorite scopes are from MDF. They’re more affordable than Littmann and have really great sound quality.  For around $50 you can get a really high quality scope (pictured).  They are a tad heavy, but I think their sound quality is outstanding… especially at that price point.

They also have a nice rose gold one that looks really sharp, but is at slightly a higher price point ($80).

Littmann is also a good option, but can become quite expensive. If you’re in school, I would get a $50 MDF scope.  I say this because maybe when you graduate, you want to work in pediatrics or the neonatal intensive care unit… and you’d need a different scope for that. Or, maybe you are going to work in a pulmonary critical care unit and you need a really high quality digital one.  When you’re in school, you’re not sure what you’ll do – therefore, get a quality scope that works for most patients to get through school, then reevaluate.

Nurse pro-tip: The $20 scopes are not worth the money.  They don’t last as long and just aren’t as good. You really need to spend the extra money to get something worth having.  The $50 MDF is the best value with highest quality that I have found.

I’ve tried the Littmann Classic III (about $125) and the Littmann Master Cardiology (about $200) and enjoy them both.  I like the Master Cardiology version better because I never use the small size of the diaphragm so I liked the grip on the back of the Master Cardiology better than another listening piece.  However, this is a personal preference and what scope you’d need to get depends on what kind they need, as some nurses find this very useful.

Hydration

Most nurses come to work with a water bottle/cup. It’s nice to have a good water bottle/cup that can keep either your water cold for hours, or your coffee hot for hours.

A Yeti cup is a wonderful but about $40, they’re expensive for a water bottle/cup. The RTIC cup (pictured right) is the cheaper option at about $20.  I have this one and simply love it. I can put ice in at the beginning of the day, and the ice is still there and my drink is still cold at the end of the day.

Nurse pro-tip: get a plain Yeti or RTIC cup and purchase a personalized nurse decal from Etsy! Here’s one I got for a nurse bud that she loved!

If you’re not a water cup kinda person, my other favorite water bottle is this one. I’ve left it on a plane TWICE before though… and always buy a new one (they’re very affordable and great quality!)  Click here to get yours!

Organization

I hate having things in my pockets that don’t truly need to be there.  Seriously. My nurse pockets only con taint my phone, brain sheet, 1 pen, and alcohol swabs. That’s it.

My trick is to keep the non essential but still necessary items in a zipper pouch out at the nurse’s station. This contains my lip balm, a quick snack, back up pens and Sharpies, some essential oils to sniff if I’m dealing with a particularly stinky situation, phone charger, and so forth.

This is one I recommend. It’s high-quality, roomy, and has lots of pattern options (masculine, feminine, gender-neutral). And it’s a little expensive for someone to buy for themselves, so it really makes a great gift!

Click here to check it out on Amazon!

Whenever I would go to work, I’d put my big work bag in my locker and then bring my zippered pouch (like the onto the nurse’s station. I like to have a larger one so I can put my stethoscope in it once I’m done with my assessments for the day. These are also helpful when you have to float to another unit away from your break room and locker.

Scrubs

I would only get scrubs for someone else only if you knew exact sizes and any uniform color requirements. My current favorite brand is FIGS (here’s a review blog post I did). They don’t have a ton of color options though, so if the nurse you’re buying for has a a specific uniform requirement, make sure you know before buying.

They’re antimicrobial, fluid/odor/wrinkle resistant, have a yoga waist-band, and are a light yet durable fabric.

FIGS are more expensive than others, which is why it would make a great gift.  They also have other non-scrub accessories that are amazing.

There are more brands like Greys AnatomyInfinity by Cherokee, and more… however, if you’re gifting scrubs, I recommend getting these or a FIGS digital gift card.

Education

If your loved one is a nursing student, you could purchase the NRSNG Academy (pictured below) for them!  It includes a plethora of resources, NCLEX prep material, resources they can utilize mobile, various review courses (pharmacology, cardiology, EKG, med-surg, and even nursing school test-taking tips!).

All of these resources were made by nurses, for nursing students!

There is also the option of purchasing just the NCLEX Practice Questions database or the MedMaster (pharmacology) course.

They also have something called Scrubcheats (pictured below), which are lamented nursing reference cards made specifically for nursing school clinicals.

Also check out the Nurse Student Tool Gift Box (pictured below), which is essentially a gift box of nursing school clinical references. It’s wonderful!

Here is another option of a clinical reference tool, written by a nurse for nursing students.

Also check out this awesome nursing school t-shirt!  It’s made by fellow nurse blogger and current DNP student Nurse Nacole! She’s known for her amazingly helpful content for nursing students. Go check her blog out at nursenacole.com.

Books

Check out some of the below books (a few written by yours truly!) written specifically for nurses, nursing students, and/or healthcare providers.

   

    

 

Need more nurse gift ideas?

Check out these nurse gift blog posts, written by nurses!

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Nurse Product Review: NurseWatches.com

Nurse Product Review: NurseWatches.com

For today’s post, I am partnering with NurseWatches.com to review their product, which is a watch for nurses! This review is honest and of my own personal opinion.

A little that I have learned about the company in setting up this review…

They are a company out of Canada (yay Canadian nurses!) that was started in 2000. They added the online nurse watch division in 2012, which was inspired by a friend who was a student nurse, and it’s been doing really well since. They ship to both the US and Canada.

Their product allows nurses (and docs, RT’s, CNA’s, etc. etc.) to adhere to the Bare Below the Elbows Campaign. Click the link for more details about it! Basically, in the UK in 2008 (and Australia starting in 2010) the policy was changed so that nothing below the elbows is worn for health care works to allow more effective hand/wrist washing after patient care and potentially decrease hospital infection rates.

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I tried out two different watches; one that glows in the dark and one that does not. Both were shipped with an extra battery (yay!). Something that I always look for in a watch is military time. And like a true nurse watch – these definitely had my military time on them! Woo hoo! I also like the silicon – very easy to clean (another nursey must). The dial actual comes out of the holder so you can thoroughly clean both the silicon and the dial.

The actual dial seems very sturdy as well. I didn’t try to break it or anything though! I noted that they come with a 2-year warranty and saw that they were made with a high-quality Japanese Quartz movement (per their website). You can see the dial very easily, with each second. I like how precise it is. When you are pushing medications and watching the time, it is very accurate and easy to read.

I used it at work a few times. Just an FYI, I’m not a huge watch person. Half the time I forget I have one on! But it was nice having my wrist free from restraint. [Insert soft wrist restraint nurse joke here]. There was no concern about me knocking my wrist on something and screwing up the dial (which I have definitely done before).

The glow in the dark dial is also pretty awesome for working in dark patient rooms at night. Again, the dial seemed to be pretty high quality and was easily read in the dark.IMG_6191

I do recommend this for nurses that like watches. Freeing up the wrist is really nice for the frequent hand washing and infection prevention purposes. It truly does allow you to wash your hands better. I like the sturdy dial and how easy the entire piece is to thoroughly clean. So nursey. The only downside I saw was that the clasp was not as sturdy as I had hoped it would be. I haven’t broken or bent it yet, but I could see myself easily doing so. While that is less than ideal, it’s not something that would deter me from utilizing the watch. And if I felt so inclined, I could purchase an alternate one on their website. Honestly, even if the clasp broke, I would just carry it in my pocket. It’s lightweight enough that I wouldn’t notice it. With a 2-year warranty, backup battery, and very sturdy dial, these watches seem like they would stand the test of time (Ha! #sorrynotsorry).

Watches start at $15.99, but you can get a 4 pack for $26.99.   They do have some fancier ones that cost just a bit more.  They come in a bunch of different colors and designs, as well as novelty ones that are not silicon. Many of the watches do have the glow in the dark option, which I highly recommended – even if you’re a day walker! It costs the same, so why not have the additional feature!?

Please click on their logo below to go directly to their site and check it out!

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Are you a nurse from the UK or Australia? What do you think about the Bare Below the Elbows (BBE) policy? What do you think about a product like this? Does anyone out there already utilize this watch, and if so – what do you think?

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Nurse Managers: The Solution to Your Staff Communication Problems

Nurse Managers: The Solution to Your Staff Communication Problems

What’s the age-old problem that nurses and nurse managers deal with daily? COMMUNICATION. Inefficient communication.

So much information is being thrown at you day after day, you’re overwhelmed before you even clock in.

I wholeheartedly believe that we inefficiently communicate about basic things. This ends up costing money because we’re wasting time and resources (paper, toner, time away from the bedside) doing things in an outdated, inefficient way. Administrative assistants spend hours dealing with the documentation of certifications. Managers and assistant managers spend way too much time dealing with communicating with staff about flexing up, down, or about things that are due.

It’s inefficient. It’s ineffective. And it’s 2015. We shouldn’t be having these issues with basic communication with so much technology readily available. Here are three scenarios that I know you’ve dealt with before.

Scenario #1 – “Shorted”

It’s 1500 and you look at how many nurses are on the schedule for tonight. We are 3, yes 3, nurses short. And so the panic ensues.   You hop on your phone to put out a group text, you then call the float pool, and then sit down to manually call and leave a voice mail for the other 15 nurses that aren’t working. You wait. And you pray. It takes 30 min to leave all of those voicemails and in the meantime you’ve only received 3 text back that are “no I wish I could but I’m out of town!” Been there?

Scenario #2 – “The Run-Around”

It’s 0500 and the night shift supervisor realizes that we’re overstaffed for 0700. We have to float one nurse and put two nurses on-call.   We have to go find the paper copy list to see who is up for call and who is up to float. We then find the number for the on-call person, dial it, and they don’t pick up. Ugh. Do we call the next one, or wait? We don’t have much time to wait!  They live 1.5 hours away!

Three minutes later they call back. This nurse has no PTO, is really stressed about money and is pleading to work today. “Ok we can accommodate that, I’m sure someone wants call today,” you think. You really felt bad for her. You call the next person. They were on-call yesterday. And it’s not their turn so they pull the “you can’t put me on call, it’s not my turn” thing. They’re technically right and you’re trying to help the first nurse out. You hang up and call the NEXT person who gladly accepts call today. In all the chaos, you forgot to put the other nurse on call. They show up and demand to work because they drove all the way in.   You’re in trouble now because we’re overstaffed for the morning. Oh, and the person that has to float is also not happy about floating. Been there?

Scenario #3 – “The Certifiably Mad”

One of your nurses needs their ACLS certification renewed. It’s due today. You’ve sent him four emails reminding him to get it done; the first one was months ago. The unit has been really busy though, so you’re not surprised the bedside staff isn’t up to date on emails. They can’t check their email from home and they’ve all been picking up overtime or clocking out late. He called you a few times today, but you had three meetings and couldn’t talk. You call him, he doesn’t pick up. Finally, at 1500 on the last day he has to renew this certification, you get a hold of him.

Glory be to God – he got it renewed and has the card! Woo hoo! He said he actually faxed it to you a week ago and was concerned that his certifications were updated yet. Finding a fax that was sent to you a week ago is like finding a vein on a severely dehydrated elderly dialysis patient. It’s not happening.

This is his first day off in weeks and he lives an hour away. He can’t email a PDF of the card. He doesn’t have access to his work email from home, the firewall of the hospital email system won’t allow a PDF from an unknown email to come through to you, and his scanner is broken. It would be easiest for you if he faxed it. But it’s 2015 and no one has fax machines at home.

This is way too complicated. Been there?

The solution

Why should these processes produce so much stress and take up so much time? And why – WHY – are we still using fax machines!? I can’t wait until those things are obsolete. The machine is down, it’s offline, the number is wrong, the toner is out, the paper needs to be refilled, and none of your staff uses it outside of the unit.

Good news, nurse managers! I’ve found something that addresses those three major headaches and a few other things. It makes those things that took up way too much of your time; only take seconds out of your time.

A few months ago, I wrote about an app called NurseGrid for bedside nurses to better manage their work schedules. Here’s the original post.  Well, they just made a manager portal! And it’s awesome.

You can send push notification directly to their cell to put people on call, see if people want to work, manage certifications, and staff can even take pictures of their new certifications and send it to you, automatically updating their certification status.

Here is what the screen looks like for the Credentials Manager.  You can just click “send reminder” and it will send that person a push notification to their phone (not their work email they never have time to check!) to let them know.  Genius.

You can message staff (eliminating the need to have everyone’s current phone number) to see who wants to work, to flex staff up and down, and to even approve trade swaps. You can even message them to tell them it’s the last day to complete mandatory education!

Below is the screen to flex people off.  You can pull it up and see the nurses that have set in their phone that they would like to be flexed off if staffing allows.  No calling them to ask, no calling them to tell them they’re on call.  Just click their name to flex them off.  It takes seconds.  Literally.

No phone numbers. No phone tree. No fax machines. No phone-tag. One easy-to-use program that sends push notifications to your staff’s smartphones in seconds.

Efficiency at its finest.

So the guys over at NurseGrid decided to give everyone a free 30-day trial to see this thing in action!

And they decided to give Team Nurse Eye Roll an additional two free weeks!

What what!  Just plug in the promo code “EyeRoll” (not case sensitive) during your sign-up and you’ll snag those two free weeks.

Here is the link for the free 6-week trial, y’all:  http://nursegrid.com/free-30-day-trial/

Still not sure? Here is their site with some great graphic that explain all the functions: http://nursegrid.com/for-managers/

As a bedside nurse, I would much rather receive push notifications than frantic phone calls.  I would much rather check my app really quickly for notifications rather than check my email half asleep after a really tough 12 hour shift.  I would much rather click that I would like to be on-call before I go to bed the night before a shift than get a call that wakes me up 20 minutes before my alarm to ask me.

I’m not a manager, but I can see how tedious and annoying these seemingly simple tasks become.  Check it out, see if it helps.  The staff will be elated that it’s easier, quicker, and less annoying.  The management team will be relieved to get back all of that wasted time.  Everyone will rejoice.

Please note: I was not compensated for this post.  I partner with NurseGrid because I believe in them, nurses creating technology for nurses, and stand behind their brand.  Opinions are honest and mine alone.  The links above are affiliate links.  If you decide to purchase this service for your unit, I may be compensated. 

A Day in the Life of a Night Shift Nurse Spouse or Roommate

A Day in the Life of a Night Shift Nurse Spouse or Roommate

This post contains an affiliate link

Being married to or living with a nurse is a very specific experience. It’s not like your friends, who may work 9-5 and have a predictable schedule. So if your soon-to-be spouse or roommate is a night shift nurse, get ready! This post was compiled with the help of my husband.

0830 – your nursey spouse/roommate gets home after their shift

0832 – while you’re trying to eat breakfast, they start telling you about their shift

0835 – they’re fighting to stay awake when you start talking

 

0837 – um. yea. they’re done

1200 – you come home for lunch ever so quietly

1210 – mid-lunch break your neighbor starts to mow his lawn and your nurse wakes up

 1212 – now they’re starving and eat the first 12 things they see

1217 – back to bed!

1700 – you get home from work and they’re just waking up, about to make their breakfasty/dinner half asleep

1730 – you just got out of your work clothes into your comfies and they’re headed to work

0221 – they send you 50 text messages about something crazy that just happened at work

Enjoyed that post?  Check out more from FreshRN!

And check out my book, Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Care for Your Patients and Yourself!

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Guest Post: Making a Start Towards Being a Healthier Nurse

This post is by Natalie Bridges, a fellow nurse blogger over at thirtyeightfive.com.  She is also a critical care nurse!  Woo-hoo!  Natalie is a chef, nurse, and patient.  She blogs about healthy eating and nursing and I love it.  I asked her to write about working as a nurse and eating healthy.  Enjoy!

We all know that as nurses sometimes we don’t care for ourselves first. In fact, most of the time we fall somewhere far underneath our patients and then our families in the hierarchy of priorities. We will go twelve hours without using the restroom while we worry about our patient who hasn’t urinated in eight (and then we wonder what our Creatinine is after such a day). We sacrifice sleep for children, ignore exercise in favor of doing laundry, and often pull whatever is not expired out of the fridge at the end of a long day. We are programmed people- programmed to sacrifice for the good of those around us and to fulfill our responsibilities, even if that leaves us last on the priority list. It’s what makes us good at our jobs, reliable wives and husbands, or caring mothers and fathers. But I believe we can strike a balance that ends up benefiting not only us but also those around us.

If you resonate with any of this, then take comfort that you’re in good company. We all know how hard it can be both physically and mentally to find something to eat after a long day at the hospital. And with the added burdens of every day life, we often forget to plan ahead, pack a lunch, or cook in bulk for the week ahead. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve struggled with this and have learned some lessons along the way.

Having been a trauma ICU nurse for over five years now, I’ve worked every shift you can think of and more including periods of night shifts, three shifts in a row, and weekends. I’ve gone almost an entire shift without putting a single piece of food in my mouth because my patient was so sick, leaving me hangry and desperate when the charge nurse offered to relive me. I’ve struggled over the eternal debate of whether you eat “dinner” food after a night shift or breakfast (or both). I’ve been seduced by the cafeteria pepperoni pizza, leaving my own healthy lunch alone and cold in the fridge. I’ve wandered into the waiting area and found myself looking longingly at the candy in the vending machine wondering how I got there, and then blaming my own dietary failures on my psychotic patient. Who else could drive me to eat an entire Snickers bar at three in the morning?

But after being diagnosed with an autoimmune gastrointestinal disease, I was forced to drastically alter my diet and make some permanent changes. Transitioning through those changes wasn’t easy. I could no longer indulge in the convenience of the cafeteria but was faced with the daunting task of cooking almost all of our meals at home. I had to plan ahead and resist the allure of the cookies or cake that somehow mysteriously arrived in the break room. I had to say yes to things I didn’t want to eat and no to those I could no longer eat. But despite the time, effort, and (let’s be honest) tears at points, I believe I have become a much more informed, healthier human, as well as a better nurse because of those changes.

I’m not suggesting you completely overhaul your life (if you don’t have to for a medical reason). However, I am proposing that altering your dietary routine might not be as hard as you imagine and by adhering to a few basic tenants, you can hopefully find success in your efforts to become a healthier nurse. I think you will find yourself more energized, efficient and able to successfully fulfill all the roles you take on in life, both at home and at work. To get you started, let’s talk about how to handle meals after a long day at work.

  1. Plan ahead.  This is already everyone’s least favorite tip but I promise this practice will become your best ally if you can do even a little prior preparation. If I don’t think about meals at all during the week, I come home exhausted and frustrated that I have nothing in the fridge. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, cook a big batch of vegetables or sweet potatoes and a protein on a day off. Then invest in some glass Pyrex dishes so you can portion out your meals and even freeze some if you have enough. Although you may still end up eating the same thing a few times, you can alternate between frozen pre-made meals to give yourself some variety. Throw in some fresh fruit to complement your meal and a piece of dark chocolate for dessert (you still need some kind of treat after a long day!)
  2. Have a backup plan.  If all else fails and the refrigerator breaks, your stove explodes or your dog eats every last crumb of your prepared food, have some emergency options. Think of these as the crash cart of your kitchen for those times when your stomach is about to go into VFib. Some ideas include a protein shake, protein bars, or a frozen meal from a reliable company like Amy’s Organics. It may not be exactly what you’re craving but just the fact that it exists may keep you out of the drive-through line.
  3. Share with friends.  I think this tip is especially helpful if you live alone or are cooking for one. Find a coworker who also wants to eat healthy and split up the work of preparing and cooking. Alternate weeks or have one person bring lunch and the other person bring dinner so that you’re going home with a healthy meal already in your lunch box. Aside from the health benefits, you also get to experience different kinds of dishes and share both your burden and joy with someone else.

You will fail at times and that’s ok. Give yourself room to adjust, especially if you aren’t accustomed to cooking or preparing food in advance. By fueling your body with healthy sustenance, you’re setting yourself up to take better care of your patients and your family, and that leaves everyone happy. #healthynurse

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