Thursday, June 24, 2010

Change of Shift, Santa Fe Style!

Well, after a long hiatus, I'm finally hosting Change of Shift once again, and I'm happy to do so from the comfort of our new home here in Santa Fe, New Mexico! (For those of you unfamiliar with Change of Shift, it is a nursing blog carnival wherein nurses from around the blogosphere are featured in an "online magazine" that is hosted on a different nursing blog every two weeks.)

For those readers who are new to Digital Doorway, my wife and I sold our home in Massachusetts last summer, sold or gave away most of our things, bought an RV, and have been traveling the country for seven months and almost 10,000 miles in search of a new place to call home.

For the moment, we've settled (perhaps temporarily, perhaps not) here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and you can read about our travels here. That said, this episode of Change of Shift (that most venerable of nursing blog carnivals) will be peppered with photographs from around northern New Mexico for no other reason than the fact that they're nice to look at, entertaining, or simply a visual break from all of those pesky words that I'm making you read (unless, of course, you just look at the pictures!).

My thanks, as always, to Kim (of Emergiblog fame) for making Change of Shift a reality, and for putting nurse bloggers on the blogosphere map. Let's hear it for Kim (cue virtual applause, please).

So, without further ado, here are the participants in this week's edition of Change of Shift, Volume 4, Number 26..........

For whatever reason, it seems that lists are incredibly popular these days, whether it be for iPad apps or the best ways to darn socks, so here's a list of blog posts that feature lists about things that their authors think are worth our while to peruse........

At, we learn 50 things you never knew about babies (who would have thought that babies cry before they're born?); while over at The Health Harbinger, we are privy to 25 online startups that are democratizing medical data and information.

Speaking of iPad applications, CNA Class Online shares 5 Excellent iPad apps for "Dr. Mom".

And while we're talking about new technology, RN to MSN Programs submitted a list of 10 awesome Android apps for nurses (Android being Google's answer to Internet-based applications for cellular phones, more or less).

Sadly, we all do indeed need to think about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and submitted a sobering list of the 10 biggest health dangers behind the oil spill, which includes neurological disorders (and chemical sensitivity, I'll add) among the workers dealing directly with this toxic nightmare of the century.

Thinking globally, The Health Hawk shares with us 17 intriguing infographics about global health, which, apropos of the oil spill, describes the fact that the average American driver uses 500 gallons of gasoline per year! (And we wonder why we're still addicted to oil?)

And the lists go on.......

Aging Healthy submits a list of the top 50 aging and gerontology blogs for those of us who want to prolong our time on earth (oil spills or no oil spills....), and submits yet another post for our enjoyment and enlightenment, this time with 100 entertaining and inspiring quotes for nurses, one of my favorites being "Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say" (W.H. Auden).

And speaking of, we received yet another list (don't they work over there?), this time regarding the 100 best blogs for exploring alternative medicine.

Moving away from lists towards actual prose (cue English teachers cheering in the background), we were happy to receive a submission from Barbara Olson of Florencedotcom fame, this particular piece on "Good Reads About Medication Misadventures" being recently published on Medscape (for which a username and password may be necessary in order to gain access).

And when it comes to those of us who might like a career change from direct care, Master of Health Administration shares with us "The Ultimate Guide to Health Administration Careers" (and the salaries don't seem half bad.......). Alternatively, Online LPN to RN delivers The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Agencies for those nurses who would like some assistance in landing their next job or plotting a career move.

Nurse Teeny at The Makings of a Nurse offers a very personal post about "transition shock" and a new job, something we can all probably relate to.

And over at Nurse Me, the author struggles with a situation wherein a patient's religious beliefs impact her ability to deliver the care that's needed in a post entitled Science vs Jesus.

Author Peggy McDaniel at The American Journal of Nursing's Off The Charts blog chimes in for a post entitled "Protection or Harm----What Are You Doing at the Bedside?", and there is much sobering food for thought here vis-a-vis poor hand hygiene and hospital-acquired infections.

In a post entitled "Fingerprints, Ad Nauseum", yours truly posits that there is utter bureaucratic insanity behind the need to be fingerprinted for every job application and license change that one must undergo (especially here in the Western US). Can't there be a central databank of fingerprints, or does the FBI just adore receiving multiple fingerprint cards for the same person over and over again? (It's your tax dollars hard at work, folks!)

And from the Land Down Under, Nurse In Australia shares a post entitled "Sheepish, Demure Nurses Pander to Inflated Egos". The nurse-doctor relationship is always something worth talking about, isn't it?

Our final two posts for this edition of CoS are well-written missives that address two very important issues worthy of our individual and collective attention.

First, Katie Morales of (where my blog currently feeds automatically via RSS) discusses the legal and ethical notion of how companies profit financially with the use of our tissue and blood, whether we donated it willingly or not. In her post entitled "Not Much Has Changed, Katie offers several examples wherein companies benefited significantly from the cells or tissues of private citizens who then have no rights whatsoever to also benefit from the millions of dollars made from tissues harvested from their own bodies. What's the matter with this picture?

And last but certainly not least, our beloved Kim McAllister, the maven of Emergiblog and the creator of Change of Shift itself, delivers a passionate and convincing open letter to the American Nurses Association that rightly questions the ANA's refusal to endorse the creation of the Office of the National Nurse.

HR 4601 is an important piece of legislation currently making its way through Congress that would elevate the Chief Nursing Officer of the Public Health Service to the position of The National Nurse, a move that would bring nursing to the fore in terms of preventive health and the public's understanding of what nurses actually do. In March of this year, I wrote a blog post delineating how the National Nurse would benefit the country in myriad ways, and I invite you to read that post, read Kim's letter, visit the website of The National Nurse organization, and get involved in this important fight for recognition of nursing's rightful place at the American health care table.

Teddy Roosevelt once coined the term "the bully pulpit" to signify a position of authority or rank that gives it's holder the right and privilege to pontificate and share his or her opinions without reserve. While I hold little authority or rank in society as a simple nurse and writer, this blog is my own bully pulpit, and hosting Change of Shift is yet another opportunity to speak my mind and reach a larger audience, if only for a fleeting digital moment. I am grateful for your attention, and I urge you to contact your member of Congress about wholeheartedly supporting HR 4601!

Thank you to Kim for this opportunity, thanks to those of you who are taking the time to read this, and a special thanks to the bloggers and writers whose contributions made this edition of Change of Shift what it is.

And in the words of Garrison Keillor, "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fingerprints, Ad Nauseum

Since coming out West, it seems that I can barely do anything at all pertaining to medicine or nursing without having to get my fingerprints taken.

When I applied for my Texas nursing license, I obediently went to the local sheriff's department near my in-laws' home in Georgetown and had three FBI fingerprint cards done by a clerk who seemed relatively uninterested in the proceedings.

Six weeks later, I received notice from the Texas Board of Nursing that those prints were poor quality and unreadable (no surprise there), and was thus requested to have them done yet again. Since my wife and I were traveling at the time, I stopped into the court house in Silver City, New Mexico where a friendly but overworked sheriff's deputy expertly took my prints and sent me on my inky way. (Those prints were subsequently accepted and I received my Lone Star State license soon thereafter.)

Following my licensing fingerprint debacle, I applied to be a board member of a new medical marijuana clinic in northern New Mexico (they needed a nurse on the board), and of course, yet another set of fingerprints was demanded for the privilege of applying for membership. Still traveling, I stopped into the Sedona, Arizona police station where friendly volunteers happily collected my money and greased up my fingers yet again.

Now, having settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I have applied for several nursing jobs, and each of those positions requires a set of fingerprints to be sent to the FBI, and these sets were luckily simultaneously taken on an electronic machine that creates a digital facsimile that can be transferred to paper.

Maybe it's just me, but there appears to be an enormous waste of resources involved in sending multiple individuals for repeat fingerprint screenings ad nauseum. When one considers the human hours wasted, the gasoline burned, the reams of paperwork filed and the extraordinary effort and energy expended in the name of bureaucracy, perhaps there's some addiction to bureaucratic chaos (a la the Terry Gilliam film, Brazil) that precludes the powers that be (local, regional, state and national) from creating a central database in which each individual's fingerprints could be simply recorded once.

I'm sure there are those whose trust in the government has waned to the point at which even submitting to fingerprinting in the first place would seem absurd at best (and dangerous at worst), but since I've already allowed my personal information to be submitted to the FBI innumerable times, I would thus have few qualms allowing my prints to finally sit in an electronic repository for access by potential employers and others interested to know that I am indeed who I say I am.

With these latest sets of prints behind me, I have no doubt that I'll once again be visiting the state police or a local sheriff when the next demand for fingerprints rolls around. Til then, I'll give thanks that my spate of fingerprinting adventures is over for now, and my ink-stained digits can finally rest on their (positively identified) laurels.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jobs Galore

After living here in Santa Fe for just under two weeks, it seems that Craig's List has provided exactly what I needed in terms of part-time work as a nurse. Even when the local newspaper demonstrates a dearth of open positions, online sources of job postings are apparently where employment can be found.

Now, after the byzantine process of obtaining my Texas nursing license (our permanent domicile is currently in Texas), jobs here in New Mexico themselves provide a plethora of hoops through which to jump in order to receive that first paycheck. From having to obtain yet another set of fingerprints to having to take several different exams to further (and unnecessarily, in my opinion) test my knowledge of nursing practice, obtaining employment as a nurse here in the Wild West entails a labyrinthine to-do list that threatens to eat up leisure time like there's no tomorrow.

Still, finding remunerative and (hopefully) satisfying work is very nice, and I'm grateful to have made it through the application and interview processes relatively swiftly. My new jobs should prove to be interesting and relatively well-paying (but less than my previous hourly wages as a nurse in Massachusetts), and I hope that the experiences are also fecund fodder for blogging and writing (with complete adherence to HIPAA, of course!)

Working as a nurse again will be interesting after such a long hiatus, and I look forward to writing about the experience as it unfolds, so stay tuned.....

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Pounding the Virtual Pavement

Now that my wife and I are living temporarily in Santa Fe after 7 months and 10,000 miles on the road, I am beginning to search for work as a nurse here in what's known as "The City Different".

Having never worked in a hospital, my specialty has been case management, home care, hospice and community health centers, so I am focusing my search on these professional areas. So far, there are several case management positions available in the area, and I surmise from my initial research and conversations with local Human Resources personnel that competition is indeed stiff.

While the nursing shortage appears to still be a nationwide phenomenon, I hear tell that many new grads are scrambling to find jobs after graduation, whereas many of us finishing nursing school in the early 90s had our pick of jobs before we even took the boards.

Many fellow nurses have told me over the years that not having Med-Surg experience is like committing professional suicide, severely limiting my access to well-paying jobs that are almost always in demand. However, having Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) makes working in hospitals quite dangerous to my health, taking into consideration all of the cleaners, chemicals, deodorizers, floor waxes and other industrial-strength products that are sprayed with wild abandon all over hospital units, ad nauseum. Thus, the field is narrowed not only by my lack of hospital experience, but also by my physical limitations.

Finding work here in Santa Fe should be interesting, and my hope is that something remunerative and part-time will manifest sooner than later, and regular paychecks will begin rolling in again as I don my scrubs and embody my nurseness once again.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Licensed by the Lone Star

It's finally official. My nursing license from the state of Texas has arrived! Having been on the road for seven months, I have had the blissful experience of not needing to punch the clock, and the only paid work I have been doing has been writing content for and Working Nurse Magazine.

Now that we will be suspending our travels and spending the summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it's time to look for work, float my resume, and translate that new license into action and income.

Some of you may wonder how I can work in New Mexico with a Texas license, and the answer is quite simple. A licensure compact exists between 24 states of the US, allowing for reciprocity between each state for nurses who hold a current license in one of those jurisdictions. With my legal domicile in Texas and my current (perhaps temporary) living situation in New Mexico, this licensure compact makes earning money and finding work much easier, a fact for which I am extremely grateful.

Having my new Texas license is a goal I have been moving towards for months, and I feel gratified that I have finally completed the lengthy application process. The job market for nursing positions is tighter than one might surmise, so having that license in hand is one of the important steps in enabling myself to pound the virtual pavement and find meaningful and remunerative work that utilizes the skills that I have honed for more than 15 years.

Stay tuned as the itinerant nurse searches for work in his temporary New Mexican home!