5 Ways to Manage Mental Health Problems in the Elderly

The elderly are some of the most vulnerable populations regarding mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, dementia, and other mental illnesses. Mental health struggles can be challenging for seniors due to their age-related physical and cognitive decline, social isolation from family and friends, and limited access to medical services. However, there are ways to help those in our community who may be affected by these issues so that they can live a life with plenty of joy and challenges. This post discusses five valuable strategies for managing mental health problems among seniors.

Ensure They Have Access to Professional Help

As your loved ones grow older, you must ensure they have access to professional help if needed. This could include finding a mental health provider that they can visit regularly or counseling sessions with a therapist or group therapy. Additionally, your loved one may want to talk to their doctor about needed medications and ensure they take them correctly.

If you live far from your loved one or cannot stay with them for unavoidable reasons, you can hire a caregiver or health advocate to help them navigate the medical system and get needed services. Assisted living facilities can also benefit seniors with mental health issues, providing a supportive environment and access to healthcare professionals. 

For example, Longhouse Senior Living offers a wide range of services designed to meet the needs of seniors and help them live happier healthier lives. Assisted living communities to offer specialized care for seniors with mental illness, including 24-hour staff monitoring and access to psychiatric services.

Mental Health Problems in the Elderly

Encourage Physical Activity

Physical activity is essential for maintaining both physical and mental well-being, so ensure your loved one exercises regularly. Even light aerobic activities, such as walking or swimming, can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. If they cannot go to the gym or participate in group sports, you can encourage them to stay active at home with chair yoga, stretches, and lightweight training exercises.

Promote Positive Thinking

Just like physical health, mental health is significantly impacted by our thoughts and outlook on life. It’s vital to promote positive thinking among the elderly to help them cope with mental health issues. This can include talking about happy memories, practicing mindfulness or relaxation exercises, or engaging in creative activities such as drawing or writing. You can also help your loved one find ways to stay connected with friends and family, as social interaction has been linked to improved mental health outcomes.

Help Them Find Meaningful Activities

Sometimes, seniors may suffer from boredom or loneliness, which can worsen mental health issues. Finding activities that your family members enjoy and would find meaningful can help them feel more purposeful and part of something larger than themselves. This could include taking up a hobby such as gardening or painting, volunteering at a local charity, joining a seniors’ club, or engaging in spiritual practices such as meditation.

Spend Quality Time With Them

Spending quality time with seniors can make them feel valued and loved, improving their mental health outcomes such as better stress management. Hence, it’s essential to ensure your elderly loved ones are not socially isolated by taking them out for meals, walking together, or doing activities they enjoy. This will allow them to connect with others and feel more like part of their community. If you don’t live near your elderly family members, video calls or phone them regularly.

By following these five strategies, families can help their elderly loved ones manage their mental health issues with the support and care they need. It’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health and should be taken seriously for seniors. Seniors can lead healthier, happier lives with the right resources and support.

Psychological Effects of Hearing Loss in Teens

Hearing loss among teens has been on the rise in recent years, with 1 in 5 teens now living with some form of hearing impairment. For many teen sufferers, the psychological and social impact of facing hearing difficulties can be immense. This makes everyday life more complex and can lead to numerous long-term issues such as anxiety, depression, and even a reduced sense of personal security. In this post, we’ll explore some of these impacts and suggest ways to help support those affected by hearing loss.

  1. Isolation

Hearing loss can be particularly isolating for teens. The inability to follow conversations and understand what’s being said in the classroom or among friends can lead to feelings of alienation and exclusion. Teens with hearing loss may avoid large group situations where they feel unable to participate, such as lunchtime at school or after-school activities.

The social isolation associated with hearing loss can also lead to other psychological issues, such as depression and anxiety. You may find your teen withdrawing from social situations and avoiding conversations.

  1. Anger and Frustration

Hearing loss can lead to frustration as the person finds it difficult to understand what’s being said or misinterpreted. This can result in emotional outbursts, mainly when misunderstandings occur. Teens with hearing loss often struggle with verbal communication and can become angry or frustrated when they feel misunderstood. You may find that your teen is becoming more aggressive or argumentative due to their hearing loss. Remembering that this behavior isn’t necessarily intentional and could signify frustration.

Psychological Effects of Hearing Loss in Teens
  1. Low Self-Esteem

Hearing loss can lead to low self-esteem in teens as they struggle to fit in with their peers. The fear of being judged or excluded can cause them to withdraw further, leading to feelings of loneliness and rejection. In addition, teens with hearing loss may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their condition.

This can lead to a lack of confidence which can be challenging to overcome. You can talk to a professional audiologist or psychologist specializing in hearing loss to help your teen build their self-esteem and confidence. Companies like HearCanada offer various hearing loss treatments and support services to help teens deal with their hearing loss. From hearing aids to counseling, your teen will get the help they need to cope and adjust to their hearing loss.

  1. Reduced Academic Performance

Academic performance has been closely linked to hearing loss in teens. Hearing difficulties can impact a teen’s ability to understand spoken instructions, follow directions and comprehend lectures. This can negatively affect their grades and overall academic performance. It’s important to remember that hearing loss isn’t the only factor in academic performance. However, additional support and accommodations may be necessary for those teens struggling with hearing difficulties to help them reach their potential.

  1. Cultural Disconnect

Teens need to feel connected to their community and culture to thrive. Hearing loss can make it difficult for them to access cultural activities or experiences, such as music festivals or places of worship that require hearing ability. This disconnection can impact their mental health, as the teen cannot fully participate in social activities or engage with their peers and community.

Hearing loss has a significant impact on teens, both physically and emotionally. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in this journey. A range of hearing loss treatments is available to help teens manage their condition and stay connected to the world around them. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices can make it easier for those with hearing loss to access cultural events and experiences. With the proper support, teens with hearing loss can still lead happy lives.

5 Things to Know About Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing

Psychiatric mental health nursing is a specialized field of nursing that requires extensive knowledge and skills to provide holistic care to patients with mental health disorders. Mental health disorders can range from anxiety and depression to more severe illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Psychiatric mental health nurses play a crucial role in the care of these patients, working alongside psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive treatment plans. 

1. Education Requirements

To become a psychiatric mental health nurse, a person must complete an accredited nursing degree program. This typically includes earning an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BSN). After completing the required education, aspiring nurses must also obtain a valid Registered Nurse (RN) license.

Before licensure, you need to attain a master’s degree in psychiatric mental health nursing. An online psychiatric NP master’s program can help you obtain the necessary training and qualifications to become a licensed practitioner. You will also need to complete an internship or supervised clinical experience program.

2. Duties and Responsibilities

Psychiatric mental health nurses are responsible for providing direct care and treatment to patients with mental disorders. This includes assessing a patient’s condition, creating individualized treatment plans, providing medication management and psychotherapy, and monitoring the patient’s overall well-being. 


Psychiatric mental health nurses must also be knowledgeable in various topics related to mental health, including diagnosing and treating psychological disorders, pharmacology, crisis management, addiction and substance abuse, and ethical considerations. Moreover, they are responsible for educating patients and their families about mental health issues.

3. Challenges & Rewards

Working as a psychiatric mental health nurse can be both rewarding and challenging. To provide the best care for your patients, it is essential to have excellent clinical, assessment, and communication skills. It is also important to keep up with the latest trends in mental health research and treatments. The job can also be emotionally taxing due to the nature of the work and its effect on patients and their families. Burnout and compassion fatigue are common among psychiatric mental health nurses. However, there is also a great satisfaction in providing compassionate care and support for those in need.

4. Skills Needed

Psychiatric mental health nurses must have excellent clinical skills and be knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating various mental health disorders. They must also be strong communicators, able to explain complex medical information to patients and their families in an easy-to-understand manner. Additionally, they need to be patient advocates, standing up for the rights of their patients and advocating for the best possible care. Finally, they must have excellent organizational and time management skills to manage multiple patients and complex treatment plans.

5. Potential Working Fields

Psychiatric mental health nurses can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, community health centers, residential treatment facilities, and private practices. They may also find employment in schools, universities, correctional facilities, or military hospitals. Most psychiatric mental health nurses specialize in treating certain populations, such as children and adolescents or adults with severe mental illness. They may also specialize in a particular field, such as substance abuse or geriatrics.

Regardless of where they work, psychiatric mental health nurses have an important role to play in helping people with mental health issues. With the right education and training, these professionals can make a difference in their patient’s lives and in the community as a whole.

The Responsibilities of Mental Health Nurses

Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, and it is essential to take care of it just as we would our physical health. However, mental health issues can be complex and require specialized care. Mental health nurses play a critical role in treating individuals with mental health issues, providing specialized care that helps patients manage their conditions and lead fulfilling lives. In this blog post, we will explore what mental health nurses do, their responsibilities, and the skills they need to excel in their roles.

mental health nurses

1. Assess the Physical and Mental Health of Patients

While the name of the profession implies that mental health nurses are only concerned with the mental health of their patients, this is not always the case. Mental health nurses assess physical and mental well-being and develop care plans accordingly. They do a comprehensive assessment which includes physical examinations, reviewing the personal history and medication records, evaluating biological indicators (such as blood tests), assessing cognitive functioning, evaluating mood and behavior, and more.

2. Provide Counseling and Education

Mental health nurses help patients understand their conditions and provide counseling to help them cope with their diagnosis. They also help them develop skills for managing their symptoms and emotions. Moreover, mental health nurses often educate family members about the patient’s condition, which helps everyone involved better understand what is happening and how to help the patient best.

To solidify your understanding of what mental health nurses do, you should invest in education and training to grow in your role and develop the necessary skills. An online psych DNP program can give you the education and experience you need to specialize in mental health nursing and become a leader in your field. With the help of online courses, you will receive quality training while still working full-time, allowing you to build on your existing knowledge base and develop specialized skills that can make a real difference for your patients.

3. Advocate for Mental Health Awareness

The mental health nursing profession also involves advocating for better mental health awareness and understanding. They help break down stigmas associated with mental illness and raise public awareness about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. This can include providing educational presentations or materials to community groups, speaking at conferences, attending meetings to discuss policy changes, offering support to those in need, and more.

Mental health nurses sometimes also work with other healthcare professionals to provide better care. For example, they may collaborate with psychiatrists and primary care physicians to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients or coordinate referrals for specialized services.

4. Monitor and Evaluate Patients

Patients with mental health issues require ongoing monitoring and evaluation to ensure they receive the best care possible. Mental health nurses track changes in symptoms and behaviors, adjust medications as needed, keep notes in patients’ records, provide follow-up care or referrals for additional services. You should also be prepared to handle emergency situations as needed. Mental health nurses must think quickly and assess the situation to provide appropriate care and support for their patients.

5. Ensure Compliance with Regulations

Healthcare specialists, including mental health nurses, must abide by regulations and ethical standards of practice. Mental health nurses must stay current on the latest laws and regulations, ensure that patient care meets established quality standards, and take appropriate action if they observe any violations or unethical behavior.

A career in mental health nursing can be gratifying, but it also requires dedication and commitment. It is essential to stay up to date on the latest research and trends in the field and continuously work to improve your skill set to provide the best care possible for your patients. With the right education and training, you will have the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the role of mental health nurse.

What Healthcare Providers Can Do When Facing Burnout

At the start of the fourth year of the coronavirus pandemic, it may seem that healthcare is no longer in crisis — but that is only because headlines are no longer reporting on it. So many healthcare providers like doctors and nurses became so overwhelmed at the height of the pandemic that they sought other employment opportunities, to the extent that now almost every region is suffering from a shortage of healthcare professionals. Though rates of COVID hospitalizations remain steady at a much lower rate than a couple years ago, remaining healthcare providers continue to experience higher rates of stress and burnout as a result of the higher workloads needed to cover persistent staffing shortages.

Unfortunately, many healthcare institutions can do little to relieve the added pressure of short staff, and few are striving to give providers the resources they need to manage their stress and burnout safely and effectively. Ultimately, the only way to end widespread burnout is with systemic changes to the healthcare system — but until then, here are a few tips for healthcare workers on the brink of burning out.

Know the Signs of Burnout

Burnout develops slowly, as a professional’s level of stress must remain high for a long period before burnout occurs. Thus, healthcare workers should have plenty of time to evaluate their mental health and make changes to their lifestyle before they suffer the serious ramifications of full-blown burnout.

The exact signs of imminent burnout can vary from person to person, but most people experience the following physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms as a result of chronic stress:

  • Racing heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Aches and pains around the body
  • Muscle tension
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Digestive problems
  • Low libido
  • Frequent coughs or colds
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Excessive alcohol or tobacco consumption
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Reckless gambling
  • Compulsive behaviors

When an individual has experienced chronic stress to the degree that burnout is imminent, they might experience the following:

  • Cynical or critical attitude at or toward work
  • Difficulty beginning work-related tasks
  • Impatience with coworkers and patients
  • Difficulty concentrating on work
  • Low or no satisfaction from completed jobs

Almost all healthcare workers are subjected to undue stress, but when that stress becomes unbearable, they need to take steps to prevent burnout — or recover from its initial stages — as quickly as possible.

Ask for Help From Supervisors and Colleagues

To ensure that harm does not befall a healthcare provider or their patients, they need to take some time away from the responsibilities causing them stress. To do this, professionals might talk to supervisors about reassigning duties in the workplace. Supervisors might be able to give a stressed worker some extra time off, reallocate responsibilities to other team members or hire additional staff to take on some of the workload. Stressed professionals might also communicate with colleagues about their circumstances to gain a little more support from their team.

Develop Strong and Healthy Routines

For many healthcare providers, their work is their life. After dedicating many years to study and practice, it makes sense that professionals in this field are so focused on their occupation. However, to prevent burnout, professionals also need to invest in healthy routines outside of work. Eating whole foods, exercising regularly, socializing and sleeping well are critical for a healthy mind and body, so professionals need to prioritize creating these routines to support them at work.

Often, healthcare administrators do not fully understand how their organizations are functioning day-to-day. Especially when business leaders have no experience providing healthcare, they might struggle to recognize the signs of an overworked staff. Thus, healthcare providers must learn to advocate for themselves with their management, which might involve working with administrators to improve policies and practices for everyone.

Consider Pivoting Into a Different Healthcare Role

Most healthcare providers feel passionate about their work, as they know that they are providing essential services to their community. However, if working directly with patients continues to cause high levels of stress and burnout, providers might consider pivoting into roles within healthcare administration. These jobs tend to have more regular schedules and less time-sensitive duties, which might help professionals develop a healthier work-life balance.

The novel coronavirus is not the only reason that healthcare providers are leaving the profession in droves; it merely highlighted the weakness of the healthcare system as it stands. Individual healthcare workers need to stand up for themselves to prevent the devastating effects of burnout — and they need to band together to fix the healthcare system for everyone.

What Will Your Nursing Career Look Like?

A nursing career is a way of life, not just a job.

Nursing is defined by the work ethic and dedication required to provide care to patients in the healthcare setting. It’s what makes you an invaluable asset to your organization; you’re providing a service that has lasting effects on individuals and society.

Nursing careers can be rewarding and challenging at different levels, depending on your interests, experience, or location.

There are many options available for personal development opportunities through clinical practice or through educational programs offered in communities across North America.

One of the best things to do for someone looking for nursing career advice is to attend nursing school.

The Evolution of Nursing Careers

Nursing schools provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills to become nurses.

This includes a variety of coursework in anatomy and physiology, biology, pharmacology, chemistry, psychology, and sociology.

The course load can be overwhelming for some students, but having a basic understanding of the human body will help create a foundation for clinical decision-making.

A nursing program could include one year of prerequisites and two or four years of nursing school. Depending on your school’s curriculum and your previous education (if any), this period of study could potentially last five years.

After completing the nursing program, students will be eligible to take a state licensure exam and can then start their career as an entry-level registered nurse (RN).

A crucial part of being in the healthcare profession is having strong communication skills.

This is where critical thinking comes into play.

RNs must constantly make decisions regarding patients based on their observations and judgments. This puts RNs in positions where they have to carefully consider the consequences of their actions and act quickly if something has gone wrong with the patient’s treatment plan.

Through experience, you’ll learn how to interpret symptoms, problems, and overall needs of patients while emphasizing safety practices.

What Do You Need to Consider When Choosing Your Career?

The first thing you need to have in place is solid mental preparation, which includes effective goal-setting, planning, and time management skills.

Another key component is being certain of what you want out of your life and your future career choices based on the information you’ve gathered during your research on nursing careers.

What Nursing Path to Choose

Choosing your nursing path is important to hone in on the career direction you should take.

What type of work environment best suits you?  Areas to consider include oncology, critical care, emergency room, labor and delivery, primary care, and many more.

Is there a specialty that you’re interested in? Here are a few to consider:

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

A nurse practitioner is someone who has completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then went on to obtain a master’s degree in nursing and also completed an accredited nurse practitioner program.

Then, as a registered nurse, you’ll have to complete the required hours of nursing experience before taking the exam that’s required by your state to become a certified nurse practitioner.

A nurse practitioner provides health care for patients with common illnesses, injuries, and other conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

They are also able to prescribe medications based on medical needs, which include some controlled substances.

It takes time to build up your reputation and client base, but with time, you can become an invaluable resource for your organization.

Registered Nurse (RN)

A registered nurse is someone who has graduated from an accredited nursing program and then put in the required practice hours. RNs provide health care for patients with acute and chronic illnesses and also perform diagnostic tests to determine a patient’s condition.

Nurses provide emotional support to patients as well as their families, helping them make decisions regarding their healthcare. They also administer medications, start IV fluids, and take vital signs.

An important aspect of being an RN is taking care of patients that are admitted to the hospital.

They include assisting doctors with different procedures, administering medication to inpatients, and supervising nursing students and new nurses on their first job assignment.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

A licensed practical nurse is a person who graduated from an accredited nursing program or has a diploma in practical nursing and then completed an approved clinical program before passing the state exam.

Their primary responsibility is to administer patient exams, provide first aid, change bandages and dressings, prepare patients for surgery, and much more.

An LPN works with RNs to provide care for patients and support them on their journey to recovery.

Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)

A person who has taken on the nurse-midwife (CNM) certification is someone who has earned a nursing degree and then completed a CNM program.

There are two main areas of specialization for CNMs – obstetrics and gynecology, which focuses on pregnancy, childbirth, and gynecological care, and family practice, which deals with routine patient care.

The skills needed to be an effective midwife include having excellent people skills, being compassionate, having strong communication skills, and being able to work in a team environment with other health professionals.

Midwives provide care to women during pregnancy and childbirth safely at home or in hospitals and birthing centers.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

A person who has earned a certificate in CRNA certification is someone who has completed an accredited anesthesia program and then passed the state exam.

They’ve also completed an additional training program in advanced cardiac life support, which will help them perform emergency surgeries and provide advanced cardiac life support to patients to help keep their hearts beating.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia care for patients undergoing surgery and intravenous (IV) sedation for patients who are unable to safely give consent or are unable to speak because of medical conditions.

As anesthesiologists, they’ll be responsible for monitoring a patient’s status, including observing vital signs.

Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Specialist

A person who has earned a certificate in psychiatric nurse certification is someone who has completed a master’s degree in nursing before completing the required certifications.

They’ll be responsible for helping patients with mental health challenges and also providing treatment for them.

The initial contact that a certified psychiatric mental health nurse specialist will have with a patient will provide them with an opportunity to evaluate their psychological, emotional, and physical needs as well as their responses to treatments.

After collecting enough information, they’ll develop an individualized plan for positive outcomes for patients by collaborating closely with other team members such as social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and medical staff.

How Will Nurse Roles Change in the Future?

Professional nursing today has evolved significantly in the last decade.

Today, it’s more important than ever to keep up with what’s happening and have a good understanding of the latest trends, especially in troubled economic times.

In order to preserve professionalism and confident interactions between patients, families, and staff, professionals must be able to adapt to change to meet the needs and interests of their clients.

Technology is going to be a big part of nursing in the future.

The department of health and human services has recently introduced a group called the Digital Health Inclusion Working Group that aims to find more effective ways to provide care through technology when and where it’s needed most.

The group wants to work on solutions that are cost-effective, can be implemented quickly, reduce risks, and help communities meet the needs of their citizens.

This type of collaboration is sorely needed in today’s technological-driven society, and it’s going to be vital for those pursuing professional nursing careers.

In order to stay on the cutting edge of this exciting field, make sure you keep up with the latest news and trends regarding the nursing industry.

Another aspect to consider is the focus on geriatric care.

The balance of our society is shifting as people are living longer, and there are more seniors in the country than ever before. With this new demographic will come an increased interest in the professional nursing careers of geriatric nurses.

Geriatric nurses are also needed to help patients recover from illnesses or accidents and prepare them for retirement needs such as Medicare and long-term care.

If you think you’re interested in a job that’s all about taking care of seniors, you could consider becoming a geriatric nurse.

Conclusion

Nursing has been a core career in the medical field for hundreds of years.

Though every job will require new skillsets and abilities, many nurses have a natural talent to help people and care for their chosen field.

In order to further progress in the profession, nurses must be willing to update their education and maintain their knowledge through professional certifications, continuing education courses, and working under the supervision of other professionals.

Nurses who choose this path will find that they’re happier in their positions because they’ve found careers that fit them perfectly and are passionate about helping others.

The career of a nurse is changing rapidly, and they must be willing to adapt to it.

As you look ahead to your future as a nurse, consider becoming certified in your chosen specialty areas and working in a facility where you can use your skills and knowledge to help others.

How to Break Out of a Rut in Your Nursing Career

Nursing may have been all you ever wanted to do as a child, or you may have come to it in later life. Either way, you can remember how enthusiastic you were on your first day at nursing school, how it felt to put the uniform on for the first time, and how nervous you felt the first time you had to deal with an actual patient.

If you have been working in the industry for a few years now, those happy memories may seem extremely far away. You had plans and goals when you first chose your career but once you have achieved them, what is there left to do? You have got to the point where you are feeling stuck in a rut. Although you still enjoy nursing overall you may find yourself feeling bored or restless and it can be difficult to find a way forward. If this sounds like you, here is a guide on how to break out of the rut in your nursing career and find a new sense of excitement and enjoyment.

Plan Ahead

You were probably the happiest in your career when you had been working in the job for a couple of years. You had been there long enough to be confident and not long enough to be bored. There was plenty you wanted to achieve, and you were going to great lengths to achieve your goals. However, once you have done this and enjoyed the fruits of your labor the work can get a little tedious and you may feel that you have lost direction.

You can change this by creating new plans. Think about what you would like to be doing a year, or five years from now. You may want to consider specializing or moving into management. Write yourself a plan of where you want your career to go and then work out the steps you will need to get there. You might not be able to do everything immediately but if you are working on your new goals, you will create a new sense of purpose and feel more motivated. This will help you to get out of your rut.

Learn All You Can

There may be some parts of your job that you are better at than others and this can lead you towards always doing the same jobs and leaving the things you aren’t as confident as to your colleagues who are. This means that although you feel comfortable with what you are doing, you never challenge yourself, and this can lead to boredom. Learn everything you can about your job, even the bits you are unsure of. Practice makes perfect and if you want to aim for a promotion, knowing your job inside out will certainly help you to get there.

Study

Studying can give you a new lease of life and make your job more interesting. It can also help you to achieve your goals. To advance in your career you may decide to study for one of the NP certificate programs available through Wilkes University. You can study online in your own time to gain many advanced nursing or specialist qualifications, and this will give your career a new angle and help you get out of your rut happy in the knowledge that you are working towards the future.

Volunteer for Work You Find Interesting

Make your voice heard at work by volunteering for things you are interested in. This could include a secondment or a side project that could even be linked to your studies. If you find this interesting, you will look forward to working on it and you could learn a lot of new skills. However, if you don’t speak up for yourself and let your colleagues know that you are willing to take on additional work, they won’t know to ask you.

Become a Mentor

You may still remember what it felt like to become a nurse. For the first few months, you were probably terrified of making mistakes and scared of asking questions for fear of looking silly. Imagine how good it would have been to have a senior nurse take you under their wing and mentor you. Even if you do not have a structured mentoring scheme in place at work, it doesn’t stop you from taking the newbies under your wing and helping them learn all they can about your job.

Mentoring will give your working life a new dimension as you will start seeing it through someone else’s eyes. This will make the job more interesting for you and it will be a fantastic way of gaining recognition from your seniors if you are looking for a promotion yourself.

Ask for Help

There is no shame in asking for help, no matter how long you have been in your position. Talk to a trusted colleague about how you are feeling, and they may be able to help. This can help you gain a new perspective on the rut you are in, and it could lead to you figuring a way out.

Often when someone is feeling unhappy at work it relates to something that affects everyone. However, until the first person is brave enough to speak up, everyone suffers in silence for fear that they will not be taken seriously. It may be that once you speak to a colleague about your issues, they will admit to feeling the same. This could lead to other people being brave enough to admit that they are having the same issues, and these can then be sorted out. Management does not like an unhappy workforce and if you speak out, they may want to make the necessary changes and make the job better for everyone.

Build Your Reputation

The good thing about being stuck in a rut is that it gives you time to make plans and build up your reputation. If you are always moving forwards, it can be more difficult to get noticed as you are constantly changing direction or department. You may get ahead quicker, but you will have to hustle for it.

If you have been in the same position for a while, you have had time to build up your reputation and you can continue to work on this as you go along. Become an expert in the work you are doing, and you will be noticed. Colleagues will come to you for advice and your good reputation could be a deciding factor with management when they are looking to make promotions.

Network

That time you think you are spending resting on your laurels can be put to effective use if it helps you to increase your career network. You can spend time getting to know people in other departments and districts. Don’t be afraid to let your new contacts know if you are interested in working with them more directly. This will make them likely to come to you first if an opportunity arises.

You can network outside of your place of work by volunteering to go to meetings or conferences about interesting or relevant industry events. This will help you to build up your network outside of your immediate environment which in turn increases opportunities for you. It will also keep you up to date with advances in nursing which means there is a further reason for colleagues to ask for your help and opinion in related matters.

Take a Break

Many nurses feel like they are stuck in a rut when they need to take a break. After the intensity of the Coronavirus epidemic, it is no surprise that nurses feel burnt out and this can often be mistaken for being stuck in a rut. If you love your job but feel trapped it might be time to physically get away from it all.

Now that travel is opening up again, take the opportunity to go on vacation and do what you want to do for a change. Take the time to relax and enjoy yourself and you could find that you are excited to be going back to work at the end of your vacation full of motivation and excitement about the next stage in your career. You could even write your five-year plan while you are lying on the beach.

Make Changes in Your Personal Life

If life is not going well for you outside work, then this can spill over into your working life too. It may be that the problem isn’t your job but things outside work that you are unhappy about, and it might be time to make some changes in your personal life rather than your career.

There could be a lot of things going on in your personal life. Your relationship might have gone stale, the kids are playing you up, or you are trying to move house. Consider what changes you could make outside work to make you happier and put them into practice. Once you are in a good place in your personal life you might find that your working life falls into place naturally.

Practice Self-Care

Concentrating on yourself might not come easily for you as a nurse as you are usually so busy being concerned with everyone else, but it is important to practice self-care. This will stop you from feeling burnt out and can improve the way you feel in general. Take a bubble bath, practice meditation, or go for walk-in natural surroundings whenever you can. Do something that is just for you and that can help you relax. It doesn’t need to take very long but you will be surprised how much difference just ten minutes of self-care per day can make to your emotional well-being.

Change Your Mindset

The power of positive thinking can make a world of difference to your love of life, and this is especially true of your career. You may have been doing the same thing for the past few years but getting complacent or bored with it means that you will find it even more boring. This goes round in a circle until you are feeling totally fed up and stuck in a rut. Think about the wonderful things that drove you to choose this career in the first place. They are still there but you may never consider them. Rather than thinking about how many times you have done the same tasks, think about the people you are helping, the lives you are improving and saving, and how much of a difference your actions will make to your patients and their families. Changing to a positive mindset isn’t always easy but it makes an enormous difference to your love of work.

Consider a Career Change

If you have tried all these things and are still feeling stuck in a rut, it might be time to consider whether nursing is the right career for you right now. The fantastic thing about nursing is that you can take a career break and return to it later. There will always be a need for good nurses and your qualifications and experience mean that you can walk back into nursing when the time is right.

No job is worth doing if you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning and face another day at work. It might be that you need to take a couple of years out and do something else entirely to reawaken your love of nursing and make it feel like a privilege rather than a chore.

This guide can offer you many suggestions on how to get out of a rut in your nursing career, but it can’t decide which one is best for you. Everyone feels stuck in a rut at some point in their career and often for different reasons. Consider why you feel this way and you can help yourself to get out of your rut and back to enjoying your career and feeling energized by it.

5 Things You Should do Before You Quit Nursing

Nursing is a very demanding job and it’s not uncommon for nurses to consider quitting many times during their careers. Things have been especially rough for nurses lately, and if you’ve thought about quitting, you’re not alone.

However, you have to think about all the years you’ve spent building experience in this industry and look at whether you’re truly ready for a life outside of nursing. There could also be options outside of quitting that you may have not considered. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should do before you quit nursing for good.

1. Speak to Someone

Before you make a snap decision about your career, you should think about getting support first. Maybe you can speak to someone you’re working alongside with whom you have a good rapport or find a nurse support group. There are plenty of groups around the country that are there specifically to help nurses who are feeling distressed at work. The people here may be able to give you the help you need and tell you whether getting out of the profession is the best and only choice for you.

You should also look at the resources available at your place of work. If you have a wellness program or can have access to a therapist, use them right now because times like these are specifically why these resources were set up. Also, don’t be afraid to tell people around you if you’re feeling out of it. They might not be able to help you, but they may approach you differently which could make a world of difference and maybe convince you to stick around for a little while more.

2. Change Departments or Look at Specializations

If you’re a registered nurse, you should first look at whether you could specialize before calling it quits. You should also consider asking to be moved to a different wing to see if you could benefit from a change of air and pace. It would be a good idea to look at a few specializations first and see if anything catches your eye. You could then ask to be moved to a corresponding department. This will give you an idea of what the job of nurses in that specialization really is like and if this is something you could see yourself doing for the rest of your career.

It would also be a good idea to speak with as many nurses as possible in the areas that interest you. If you want to know an easy way to get in contact with specialized nurses and ask for their opinion, LinkedIn is the place to go. You can run a search on LinkedIn for nurses in virtually any specialization and you’re likely to find one that will be willing and happy to tell you what you can expect from the position. They’ll be able to tell you some of the pros and cons of the specialization along with some of the challenges that might stand in your way.

3. Look at Leadership Roles

Another thing you could consider is moving to a leadership or administrative role. This is an especially good option if you’re an experienced nurse and you feel stuck in your current position. Sometimes, nurses get disengaged because of the monotony of the job and they start going through the motions, or they feel stifled in their responsibilities. If you have always craved having more responsibilities on the floor and are already the one keeping everyone on track, then you might be the right fit for a leadership position.

If this is something that interests you, know that you don’t have to quit to working as a nurse leader. Universities like Baylor have online nursing leadership courses that you can take from the comfort of your home. You’ll be able to get your credentials and maybe start applying some of the things you learn in your course as you go. This could allow you to move to a better position before you even complete your studies.

4. Start Working Part-Time

If you have a solid safety net and you feel like you’re making much more than you need right now, there’s nothing stopping you from working part-time. You could realize that you are simply overworked and aren’t sick of the profession per se. Another option would be to move to a three-day schedule with 12-hour shifts. You won’t find this type of schedule everywhere, but if you do, working three days only while still being able to earn a full-time income could be a life-changer. This is especially true if you have children and feel like your job is hurting your relationship with them.

5. Get Away from the Bedside

Have you thought about getting a non-beside job? Nursing is such a vast field and quitting just because you’re sick of the ER would be a horrible decision if you don’t look at alternatives first. For instance, you could move to a job as a school nurse and get much easier shifts. Not to mention that you won’t have to worry about overtime, and you’ll get three months of vacation every summer. Or you could work as a rescue nurse and provide life support to people getting airlifted. You could work on a cruise line if you want and get to travel the seven seas while assisting cruise-goers. You also have the option to move into academia or research.

Another option could be to become a nurse entrepreneur or provide services. Some nurses provide transcription services, for instance, or work as forensic nurse consultants. You could also provide specialized training for certification or work as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company or medical equipment manufacturer. There are so many opportunities out there for you when you have nursing qualifications, so see how you can capitalize on your experience before you just throw it away.

These are all things you need to look into before you think about leaving the nursing field entirely. This is a decision you might end up regretting fast, so look at all the options that are open to you and take your time.

How to Cram for a Test Without Going Crazy

Do you have a test coming up you should have been studying for weeks ago? Don’t worry; you’re not alone, and all hope is not lost. In fact, there are a ton of effective methods you can use to learn all the material you need for your test: even if you’re a little late to the game. If you’re ready to learn how to cram for a test the right way and achieve the results you need to succeed, keep reading! Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the how, why, and where to study for your next test.

Where to Cram


Woman cramming for her test at the library

Image via Pexels

If you want to learn how to cram for a test, you must start with the basics. No, we’re not talking about the material you’re learning; we’re talking about the environment you’re in. If you need to cram for a test, do it in a space that isn’t crowded or messy. If you try to study in a place that’s unorganized, it can make you lose focus and the much-needed motivation to succeed. We already know what you’re thinking; if you’re worried about spending more time cleaning than studying, that’s a sign you need to change your environment completely.

The library is a great place to cram because it’s quiet and orderly—two qualities of an ideal environment for learning and retaining information. Avoid as many distractions as you can, and if that means getting out of the house, do it! Some of our other favorite places to cram include the following:

  • Coffee shops

  • Bookstores

  • Parks

  • A friend’s house

How to Cram for a Test


Now that you know where to cram, you can finally learn how to cram for a test the right way. There are a lot of tips out there, but we’ve selected the method that actually works. Follow the steps below to ensure success on your next test or exam!

Step One: Turn Off Distractions


We already stressed the importance of an environment conducive to cramming for a test, but we didn’t talk about what you are using in that environment. If you have your phone with you, we suggest turning it on silent and putting it away. The same goes for your computer or laptop. Close any outside communication applications and remove temptations from your study site. You want to be able to completely focus on the task at hand and not waste valuable study time trying to remember where you left off after you’ve been distracted.

Step Two: Time Yourself


This step may come as a shock to you, but you should set up a timer. When studying, you shouldn’t push yourself past your limit. For most people, the limit will be around the six-hour mark. Our general rule of thumb is to give yourself a break at least once every hour. Each of your breaks should last for at least 10 minutes at a time to ensure you are refreshed and ready to get back into it. If you need some suggestions on what to do on your breaks, we recommend the following:

  • Taking a walk

  • Drinking a glass of water

  • Eating a healthy snack

  • Do some yoga

  • Sing a song or dance to one

  • Play with a pet

  • Deep breathing exercises

  • Meditation

Step Three: Focus, Rewrite, and Highlight


One of the best things you can do when learning how to cram for a test is to re-read everything and highlight the key ideas. After you’ve picked out the key details of the topic, you can focus on rewriting everything into a notebook.

It may seem like an unnecessary task considering you have the information highlighted right there in front of you; however, writing things down is one of the best ways to commit it to memory. Some people will rewrite these key details as many as seven times in a row to ensure retention of the material. Reading each of the sentences out loud as you write them can also be helpful in memorizing the material. Many people find a combination of speaking and writing the key to cramming a lot of information in a little time.

Step Four: Eat Well


You may have heard of the term “brain food.” Well, when you are learning how to cram for a test and put those actions into motion, your brain will need a lot of fuel. When you’re using your brain, your body is also working and can greatly benefit from the nutrients found in healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. It is also imperative you stay hydrated if you want to retain as much information as you can without getting a dehydration-related headache. Don’t neglect your body; it can be an essential element in helping you succeed on the day of the test.

Step Five: Rest


Regarding your physical health, another important factor is getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep is an important aspect of health, and as we learned above, your physical health can make or break your ability to succeed on the day of the test. Go to bed as early as you can and wake up with enough time to have a balanced breakfast. All you can do now is look at our additional tips below and sharpen that number-two pencil!

Additional Cramming Tips


Girl is studying and writing notes for the exam

Image via Pexels

You now have the step-by-step instructions on how to cram for a test. If you’re looking for a little more guidance to get you started, keep reading. Below, you will find a list of additional cramming tips to help you ace your test or exam.

Make Your Own Study Guide

One of the most helpful tips we received from previous graduates was to make your own study guide. Many teachers and professors will provide study guides for the test, and many students spend time on questions they already know the answers to. If you want to get the most out of your cramming session, make your own study guide and highlight the aspects you find most challenging.

If you don’t have a lot of time, you can also use this method to narrow down the topics or ideas you think will be covered on the test. Although you won’t learn all the material this way, it’s a great way to save time and double down on your efforts, especially if you have a lot of material to learn.

Make a Song

Did you know there’s a reason you can remember the lyrics to your favorite song easier than you can the elements on the periodic table? Putting things to music is a learning device that many people find surprisingly effective. If you’re a fan of music, try putting vocabulary words and ideas into your favorite song. You can also use common jingles like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star if you want to keep it easy.

Cram With a Friend

For some people, studying with a friend is the most effective method to cram in a lot of information. If you thrive on competition or the help of another when studying, phone up a friend and ask if they’ll help you cram. Studying with a friend allows you to quiz one another and makes learning that much more interactive and fun which, in the long run, helps you retain the information that much easier. It’s true; learning really can be fun in the right environments and under the right circumstances.

Set a Goal

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to learn how to cram for a test, set a goal! A ton of people thrive when they set goals for themselves, and you might too! Promise to treat yourself if you reach your goal. The reward can be something as trivial as an ice cream cone. Think of what would motivate you and use that as leverage against yourself to study for one more hour, or two, or even five. Maybe each 10-minute break means one more M&M or a quick round of cards with your roommates. Whatever keeps you going, go for it!

Make Flashcards

Flashcards are considered a traditional studying method for a reason—they work! One side either asks a question or states a vocabulary term, and the other side answers the question or defines the vocabulary term. Flashcards are highly effective and they don’t take a ton of time to make. There are a plethora of websites and apps that allow you to make your own digital flashcards for free.

Conclusion


There are few things in the world as stressful as cramming for a test, especially when it’s a test you forgot about. Luckily, there are methods and tips, like the ones we reviewed above, to ensure you still ace your test without the long-term preparation. Now that you know how to cram for a test without going crazy, you can breathe a sigh of relief. As long as you remember to take care of your body and your mind, you’ll have no trouble coming out on top of your next test or exam. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pencil and a notebook and start cramming!

Featured Image: Photo by Louis Bauer from Pexels

AP Psychology Study Resource: About Somatosensory Cortex

Have you ever stopped to think about how we all feel or experience certain things in the same way as others?

How do you know the color you perceive as being “red” is the same “red” as the person next to you?

What if their red is your green?

While we can’t answer these mind-boggling questions completely, we can explore the brain’s role in processing external stimuli, like colors, textures, sounds, and so on.

This is where your samatosensory cortex (sometimes referred to as the somatosensory cortex, instead) comes into play.

Responsible for processing external stimuli (or sensations), it plays an integral role in our day-to-day lives.

Below, we will explore this cortex in more detail, including how it works and what role it potentially plays in prosocial behavior.

The Location of the Somatosensory Cortex

Before we dive into the important role of the samatosensory cortex, it’s important to understand where it is in your brain and how it contributes toward your brain’s overall anatomy.

It goes without saying that your brain is the central hub of your body. And in order to provide so many different functions, it is a complex structure.

Made up of two sides (or lobes), your brain can be divided into the left- and right-hand side, both of which are connected by the corpus callosum. A different function is performed by each lobe.

The cerebral cortex makes up the outer layer of your brain, acting almost like the skin on a piece of fruit. Its role is to help with processing and more complex thinking skills, like interpreting the environment, language, and reasoning.

Making up part of this cerebral cortex is the somatosensory cortex, which you’ll find in the middle of your brain.

What’s the Role of the Somatosensory Cortex?

parts of the brain

The samatosensory cortex receives all of your body’s sensory input. And the cells (or nerves) that extend around your body from the brain are known as neurons.

These neurons sense many different things, including audio, visual, pain, and skin stimuli, and send this information to be processed in the somatosensory cortex. However, the location the neurons send this information to in the cortex isn’t random. Rather, each will have a specific place that’s relevant to the type of information being processed.

When these receptors detect a sensation, they send the information through to the thalamus (the part of your brain that relays receptors’ sensory impulses to the cerebral cortex) before they are passed on to the primary somatosensory cortex.

Once it arrives there, the cortex gets to work interpreting the information. Think of it like any type of data that’s sent to someone for analysis.

Furthermore, some of these neurons are incredibly important, which is why a large portion of this cortex is devoted to understanding and processing all of the information from these neurons. For example, high-level data will be analyzed in more detail and will take more time to interpret, while low-level data will go to a less-equipped analyst, requiring less time to be spent on it.

We can explore this in more detail by using Brodmann’s areas.

Brodmann’s Areas for the Somatosensory Cortex

Brodmann’s classification system

When examining the brain, Korbinian Brodmann, a German neurologist, identified 52 different regions according to how different their cellular composition was. Today, many leading scientists will still use these areas, hence why they are often referred to as “Brodmann’s areas.”

When it came to the somatosensory cortex, Brodmann divided this into four areas, 1, 2, and 3 (which is further divided into 3a and 3b).

These numbers were assigned by Brodmann based on the order he examined the area, and, therefore, are not indicative of their importance.

After all, area 3 is often seen as the primary area of this cortex.

How come?

Area 3 is responsible for receiving the bulk of the input that comes straight from the thalamus, with the information being processed initially in this area.

Area 3b is concerned specifically with the basic processing of things we touch, while 3a responds to the information that comes from our proprioceptors (these are specialized sensors that are located on the ends of your nerves that are found in joints, tendons, muscles, and the inner ear, relaying information about position or motion so you are constantly aware of how your body is moving or is positioned in a space).

Areas 1 and 2 are densely connected to 3b.

Therefore, while the primary location for any information about the things we touch is sent to 3b, it will also be sent to areas 1 and 2 for further in-depth processing.

For example, area 1 appears to be integral to how we sense the texture of something, while area 2 seems to have a role in how we perceive this object’s shape and size. Area 2 also plays a role in proprioception (this enables us to orientate our bodies in a particular environment without us having to consciously focus on where we are).

Should there be any lesions to these areas of the cortex (those that support the roles mentioned above, in particular) then we may notice some deficits in our senses. For example, if there is a lesion to area 1, we will find a shortfall in our ability to distinguish the texture of things, while a lesion to area 3b will affect our tactile sensations.

Somatotopic Arrangement 

Each of the four areas we have mentioned are arranged in such a way that a particular area will receive information from a specific part of the body. This is what is known as the somatotopic arrangement, with the entire body being represented within each of the four areas of the somatosensory cortex.

And as some parts of our bodies are more sensitive, e.g. the hands and lips, this requires more cortex and circuitry to be dedicated to processing any sensations that come from these areas. Therefore, if you look at somatotopic maps that depict the somatosensory cortex, you will notice they are distorted, with the areas of the body that are highly sensitive taking up far more space in this area.

How the Samatosensory Cortex May Contribute in Prosocial Behavior

As we now know, when someone experiences pain, this bodily sensation is processed in their brain. It will also switch on an emotional reaction in their brain, too.

However, when we see someone else in this type of pain, many of these same regions are activated in our own brains. But this differs entirely when you are dealing with a convicted criminal with psychopathic tendencies.

When they see someone else in pain, there is less activation in these specific areas of the brain. They will also show disregard and less empathy toward others.

What does this suggest?

That when these “shared activations” are lacking it can cause issues with a person’s empathy.

In fact, over the years, scientists have developed the belief that we are able to feel empathy for others who are in pain because of these shared activations – and this is why we have a desire to help them.

That said, there is still a lack of evidence which helps identify how helpful behavior is influenced by these pain-processing areas of our brain. That’s why some suggest that helpful behavior is contributed to very little by empathy-related processes.

Further Studies

To explore this further, one study looked at participants’ reactions to a video of someone being swatted on their hand by a belt while displaying different levels of pain. The participants could then indicate how much pain they felt this person was in by donating money to them – so the more pain they thought they were in, the more money they donated to try and ease this.

Throughout the study, the participants’ brains (their samatosensory cortex, in particular) were measured. And the results found that the more activated this area was, the more money they donated.

The researchers then interfered with the participants’ brain activity using various techniques that affected how they perceived the sensations in their hand. This altered their accuracy in assessing the pain of the victim, and it also caused disruption to the link between the perceived pain of the victim and the donations. The amount of money being given was no longer correlating to the pain they were witnessing.

A Role in Social Function 

These findings suggest that the area of the brain that helps us perceive pain (the somatosensory cortex) plays a role in our social function. It helps us transform the vision of bodily harm into an accurate perception of how much pain the other person is experiencing. And we need these feelings in order to adapt so we can help others.

This also adds to the current argument of what role empathy plays in helping behaviors, with it suggesting that we are indeed promoted to help by brain activity that is empathy-related. It allows us to pinpoint who needs our help.

Putting These Findings into Practice

girl in red jacket with happy face

By understanding this relationship between the activity in our brain and our helping behavior, it may help in the development of treatments for people who are suffering with antisocial behavior. Or for children with unemotional, callous traits – something that’s associated with a general disregard for other people and a lack of empathy.