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katkonk BSN, RN

Occupational health, Corrections, PACU

Have been exclusively in Occ Health for the past five years, and at this point I don't forsee going back to any type of nursing other than Occ Health. Never say never...but..

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katkonk has 25 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Occupational health, Corrections, PACU.

Love Occupational Health.  It is the only field of nursing where I didn't feel like I was just passing through.  I know I've saved a few lives along the way in Occ Health, and that always feels good.  Not like in acute care, where all that matters is "right now", but knowing that you are helping people both in the moment, the immediate future and for the rest of their lives.  Teach, teach and teach some more.

katkonk's Latest Activity

  1. katkonk

    Occ Health Director

    I'm curious. Did you end up getting that job, and if so, what salary did you agree to?
  2. katkonk

    PACU Traveler?

    I worked for about 2.5 years doing PACU local agency stuff and one travel gig that I had planned to be 4 months, and it turned into 10 months. It depends on where you are, as to how busy you can stay via agency if you are doing local assignments. There were busy times and slower times, the main problem being last minute cancellations. One agency I worked for canceled me at the last minute all the time, after I had turned down work with other agencies. Grrrrrrr. So, I quit working for them. Traveling was a great experience over all. I went to Florida to travel, and the first hospital I had the pleasure of working in was fantastic. I was shocked that such a small city had such a top-notch anesthesia staff. They were as good as any at the 5 star hospitals where I live. Some of the best docs I have ever worked with. After they didn't need me any more (Florida "season" was over) after 7.5 months, I took a 3 month contract just down the road in another small city about 20 minutes away, so I was able to stay in the apartment I had rented for the first job. The second hospital I worked in was one of the worst hospital experiences that I have ever had. Their staffing was nuts, one of the surgeons there had serious RAGE problems, and I guess he brought them a lot of money, because they put up with it. He didn't care who you were...staff, director, nurse manager....he raged at everyone. Terrible. But it was a job, and I had a contract, so I fulfilled it. The other docs were okay, but the staffing was abysmal. You don't ever have to worry about being floated to other floors. Just be flexible. Be ready to stay over for add-on surgeries (we ALWAYS had lots of add-ons at the first hospital), and go home early if they had a slow day. But typically you got all your hours. I picked up a lot of call and overtime while I was there. When you get a PACU contract, I feel certain you can count on only working PACU or Pre-op. I didn't do Pre-op at all, only PACU. I hope this helps. Oh, and I contracted directly with the first hospital in Florida that I went to, no agency. Just a contract rate. I made a bit more money, but I had health insurance via COBRA that I paid, and so I didn't need that benefit. It was worth it to me. If you need the insurance benefit, then agency might be better. There is a huge amount of opportunity out there. If you have a certain specialty that you want experience in, you should choose your hospitals accordingly.
  3. katkonk

    ABOHN CSAT now $50 and two volumes?

    I would have to agree with you. Put the fifty dollars toward a good review course! I cannot even fathom paying that much for, as you said, a pdf. nope, nope, nope.
  4. katkonk

    ABOHN CSAT now $50 and two volumes?

    You say that you took a review course and it didn't help. I am a long time COHN-S, so my questions are just out of curiosity. Which review course did you take? If you have been working and have your CAOHC and NIOSH certifications and have experience with Respirator Fit testing, that will help immensely. I did not have those courses and only limited exposure to the knowledge base involved with those when I took the test. But I went to two review courses, and by far the best was the one given by Bonnie Roger's group out of North Carolina. If you are nervous about passing at all, I highly recommend the North Carolina group that is affiliated with Dr. Rogers. Good luck on the test!
  5. katkonk

    Random Drug Screens

    I just saw your post, as I haven't been on here for a long while. I completely disagree with Rbeck911. If you follow a strict chain of custody procedure with a COC form, with the urine sealed in the bag and the Lab COC copy in the proper place in the bag, and the seals over the top of the urine specimen container when you sealed the specimen with the employee's initials, then you are good. The employee is ALWAYS separated from the specimen once it is sealed! That is procedure. You do not have to send to an outside provider, who will then only send it out to a lab for confirmation. If you use an instant test, it is easiest to have the type that the urine remains in the same container, it offers a good seal against leaks, you seal/initial with the employee, put it in the bag, and send the whole thing off. If the seals across the top of the container are broken, the lab will not process it. The employee would have no case, as the protocol is foolproof if followed exactly. Only if there is an error in documentation or sealing would it be disputable. If you have an instant test, you can also always pour into a split specimen Labcorp or other lab tubes, and do the same seal, initial, etc. and send out as a split. I see no advantage at all to sending to an occ health provider that will only charge you more. And yes, the urine will keep overnight with no problems. I've done drug testing for quite a few years.
  6. katkonk

    Come on OHN's!!!

    I think you have to do whatever keeps the light burning in you. I love Occ Health nursing, but I have enjoyed meandering a bit during my nursing career the last few years. I always come back to Occ Health. It is my home and my comfort zone, and I (mostly) love it. I did Correctional work for a couple of years, and that was new, a change of pace, and definitely enlightening. I sharpened some skills that had been a bit rusty. Do you travel? If you do, how about Occ Health in a different setting, different place? And.....NOPE, wouldn't have done the deal they offered you either. I think I may be faced with that at the end of my current contract gig. Another year to go, and I'll deal with the decision then. Just trying to make the overtime now. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
  7. katkonk

    Got a job offer as a Safety Technician at a cannery

    If you want to work lots of hours over the summer and make overtime to build up funds for school, that is great. Is 32 hours a week while in school too much?...I would say yes, most likely. When I was working on my Bachelor's degree, I worked 30 hours a week over half of the nursing school program. But I was very committed to making the best grades, and as nursing school went on, I found that was too much. I ended up splitting up one semester of school, and graduating one semester later. A good move on my part because I was exhausted. Every semester demands more and more study time and time for papers and projects and clinical hours. The safety technician job will give you an excellent background if you want to someday be an occupational health nurse. If they won't work with you during the semester on limiting the number of hours, you always have the option of quitting. Personally, I went to classes year round, taking some things in summer school to lighten the load during the regular semester. I also found out what books I would be needing during the next semester's classes and began reading them on the breaks between semesters, just to get a jump on things. It helped. Safety technicians, in whatever capacity, usually stay verrrry busy. I've never worked in a cannery, but I am guessing it is no different there. Good luck, and just leave plenty of time for study, reading and homework after clinical assignments.
  8. katkonk

    Dwindling faith in this profession

    Just an observation, here. No judgement. If you are feeling that you cannot care for your patients that depend on you, that would signal to me that you are simply "burned out". Caregiver burn out is real and documented. If you need a break, take one. Go to your EAP program and get some counseling. Take a couple of months away. And/or search for a new place to work. There are places out there that are rewarding to work, and different areas of nursing that you may not have explored. Or maybe after a short break, you won't feel the same way about the same place. People get afraid to change things up a bit. Sometimes a switch to another type of nursing is a leap of faith, but many good things come from leaps of faith. Rejuvenation can happen, or possibly a nostalgic longing for what you left, and perhaps realize that you really were happy there after all...you just needed a temporary change of scenery. GET OUT there and explore other avenues of nursing.
  9. katkonk

    UTA NURS 5327

    Just adding my two cents here. I had been in an Adult NP program at one time. I was a Summa Cum Laude 4.0 BSN grad from a major university nursing school in Texas. I took advanced patho - easy A. I love pathophys and it is logical, gotta love Biology. I took Advanced Health Promotion and education (or something like that, cannot remember the exact title of the course). A-again. It was tedious, but okay, and it was interesting and useful. I got to the Theory course and although I am very good with "theoretical" concepts and courses (I have 45 hours of psych and another 12 hours of Sociology from my BS days), I thought the Theory course and the demands, AND the instruction were ridiculous. While PA students go to school with the med students and get to do Gross Anatomy cadaver dissection and in-depth radiology courses with the baby-docs-to-be, NP programs whose goal is to churn out outstanding clinicians absolutely weight us down with their theory babble and research bullsh**. We are mired in it. Look how much effort and time and stress you have put forth...for what? To pass a theory course? I understand the need for academics to promote the profession, and for those who choose that route, that is fine. But if we want to become proficient clinicians and providers of care, we should stand up for ourselves and create a movement to get the NLN to change the curriculum to lessen the demand of these courses that drain our energy and time, and RE-Focus on the clinical care courses, the hard-core, nitty gritty diagnostics and A&P that we need to know. I was trying to work and go to NP school, and the Theory course simply made it unbearable. I was not going to stress myself out that much over that kind of course. If the NLN wants to say they need better NP graduates that are top notch providers of care, then they need to reassess how PA's get their training. Instead, the NLN has tried to pass the rule that now NP's must have a doctorate. WRONG path to the goal of better clinicians. I hope that when you get out, or as you go through, you will help start a movement to get rid of needless academic time on courses like this. I was too old to pursue a PA degree, so I am okay with just having my BSN. I would have been a very good NP, but in my mind, not worth the grief of getting through bull**** courses like theory and research. I've done enough in my undergrad time. I wish you all the best of luck in your programs. I hope for better for the future MS students.
  10. katkonk

    Online BSN degrees being accepted by hospitals?

    I believe that what you heard is false. I have never heard that. Whoever said that may have heard of a particular unaccredited school that was not accepted by some place, but it would be highly unlikely an employer would reject a fully accredited school's diploma.
  11. katkonk

    NURS 4510 Fall 14

    Congratulations !
  12. katkonk

    EHR in Occ Med?

    I see this post dates back to August, but I thought I would add my 2 cents anyway. I agree with Rbeck911. OHM is great, but I understand it is expensive to purchase. The only thing I didn't like about OHM when I used it, was that when you scanned in documents, you had to pull up each document to see what it was when you were looking in the file history. There didn't seem to be a way to label or have any kind of index under which the scanned documents could be filed, to shorten a search. Therefore, time consuming. One of the nicest EMR systems that I used in Occ Health was an SAP program in which they had custom built an EMR for the nurses to use, and they built it to interface with safety so that safety could only see safety information that they were entitled to see. The nurses notes and functions were restricted to only medical, so that took care of any HIPAA issues. It took a great deal of time for the IT specialists to "build" it, but it worked fine and was simply an outgrowth of the SAP system they already had use of. You might check and see if they have SAP. With a Medical Director that is not tech-savvy...ugh...that can be the worst. One of the most frustrating positions I had (back in 2000), was in a very busy Occ Health clinic where I was having to teach this new doctor (old doctor-new to this clinic) how to do the most basic of computer operations on his lap top. He had NEVER used one before....arrrrrghghghgh.... There are several other systems out there.... I HATE MEDGATE...the WORST of the worst. They must have a heck of a sales department because so many big businesses use it, but it is AWFUL. Redundant, cumbersome, not user friendly, complicated....BBBLLLLLEEEEECHCHCHCH! Good luck with your project. Just pick a user friendly one, and OHM is the most user friendly I have come across.
  13. katkonk

    Who do you report to?

    That all happened prior to my coming on board....so it was past history. We still had the same doctor. No, he didn't work for a local Occ Health clinic. He has a partnership with a couple of other people and he serves as medical director for several multi-BILLION dollar corporations. His connections are to the executive boards, the CEO's and such. No manager of anything stand a chance. Let's just say he makes a VERY nice income.
  14. katkonk

    Salary for Southeast region and interview question

    GOOD decision! Some companies want everything for nothing pay-wise. They view nurses as just part of the hired help, and if they offer a very low salary, then they normally do not treat you as the professional employee that you are. Steer clear of those industries. If you are truly interested in Occupational Health in the future and want to pursue that, then monitor the job boards but ALSO get some certifications that you will need to do that job. It is pay out of your pocket, but it can be deducted as continuing education. Certification in DOT drug screening and Breath Alcohol Technician is one, CAOHC and NIOSH respirator fit testing and pulmonary function testing are others. That way when there is an opening you can walk in with credentials. Good luck in the future.
  15. katkonk

    Salary for Southeast region and interview question

    EXACTLY.....and that is usually what they end up getting....
  16. Shhhhhhhh......I like to think of our specialty as one of the best kept nursing secrets around :) So much of our work is primary care and administrative (case management, FMLA, etc.), and even though we do some emergency response, it is definitely not the norm. Lots of rehab/ primary care type interventions in the Cumulative trauma/ Repetitive motion area, and I don't think that is "sexy" enough for most nurses to be interested in. Most nurses that I try to recruit are fairly clueless in the primary care end of the work. It has to be that special nurse that has a love for all the teaching in basics from how to take care of yourself with a URI, to recognizing staph infections to babying tendonitis until it calms down to the big emergency response issues. And respirators and hearing loss don't get many people excited. If you want to read about Occ Health issues, the best resource is joining AAOHN and becoming ABOHN certified.
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