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  1. Interview With a Psychiatric NurseThis interview with Morgan L., an inpatient psychiatric unit nurse, started before the onset of the novel coronavirus. During the time of the interviews for this article, she volunteered to work with any patients infected with the virus. At this writing, the patients suspected of having COVID-19 are being sent to a nearby hospital for observation. She remains on standby to work in that capacity if needed. 1. I understand that you volunteered to work with COVID psych patients. Why?I volunteered to work with COVID psych patients because our administration said that if they didn’t have any volunteers, they would pick staff members from each unit, but certain staff members would be excluded if they had young children or were caring for someone elderly/immunocompromised. I knew I would be picked if I didn’t volunteer, and I didn’t want my administration to essentially say that my life is less valuable because I’m not actively caring for a child or elderly family member. Right now we don’t have a COVID unit, we are screening patients and watching for symptoms. If they have symptoms, we isolate them, send them for testing, and they usually get admitted to the hospital if they’re positive to be monitored for decompensation. We will only open a COVID unit if we see a significant surge in psychiatric patients with the diagnosis. 2. How has it been so far?COVID has been stressful on our unit - we’ve seen a lot more admissions for suicide attempts, anxiety, and drug relapses because patients can’t handle the stress of being out in the world right now. We’ve restricted a lot of our previous activities to limit patients’ exposure, so we no longer go to the cafeteria, have visitation, or go to activities groups. This causes the patients to be on the unit a lot more, cooped up with one another, and we’ve had a lot more disagreements and codes because of it. Needless to say, we’re all ready for this to be over. 3. Where are you from? What interested you in nursing?I was born and raised in Maryville, Tennessee. I initially became interested in healthcare when I was diagnosed with aortic valve regurgitation at the age of 12 after frequently experiencing shortness of breath and fainting spells. The nurses who cared for me throughout the numerous tests did everything they could to make me feel comfortable, even when they were going out of their way. I realized then that I wanted to do something with my life in which I could help people feel safe and loved when they’re scared. 4. Where did you go to school?I went to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for undergrad. I was delayed in school for a year and took three years to finish nursing school due to an arm injury that left me unable to move my arm. My current credentials are BSN, RN. 5. Where have you worked in the past?Throughout my undergrad I worked as a pharmacy technician at a chain pharmacy. The job was very stressful but I learned a lot, especially with medications. I also was a healthcare coordinator at a Summer camp in Occidental, California, for two summers, where I ran the first aid center and managed nurses and camp staff. I did my practicum during my senior year at Peninsula Behavioral Health and continued to work there as a behavioral health technician until I graduated and until I started work as an RN. 6. What interested you about psych nursing?Originally, I was interested in pediatric nursing due to my previous positive experiences. In a leadership program in college, I was paired with a child psychiatrist and spent many hours shadowing her as she worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I came to realize that while I love kids, I do not love the nursing aspect of caring for kids (LOL). I was very interested in the psychiatric side of things, and loved my clinicals in psyche nursing that followed. 7. What do you like about psych nursing?I love being a psychiatric nurse because I feel as if I can care for people who are not only suffering mentally, but are also fighting against the stigma of mental illness that exists in the world. I feel like patients who have mental illness are not only fighting their depression/bipolar/schizophrenia, etc, but are also fighting to inform others that their illness is real. A lot of patients have never had anyone listen to them before, so it is good to be this person for them. 8. What do you dislike about psych nursing?The hardest part about psychiatric nursing is balancing both mental illness and behavioral problems. A lot of patients have never had anyone listen to them before, so they have learned to make their presence known by acting inappropriately. Behavioral modification is necessary for these patients, and it can be exhausting. 9. Can you think of a particular case that stayed with you? That impacted your practice in a positive way?The case that comes to my mind is a patient from about four months ago who tried to commit suicide by driving her car off a cliff. She was severely injured and came to us after spending 2 weeks in the ICU She had a broken leg, a broken wrist, and over 50 stitches in her face. She was in a wheelchair because of a femoral cast, leaving her unable to walk. When I came on as her nurse the first day, I noted that her hair was matted. She told me she hadn’t had a shower since before her suicide attempt - 2 weeks in the ICU and no one had bathed her! (Except for a sponge bath in bed). Later that day, a tech and I took her to the walk-in shower and helped her shower, and I spent over an hour combing the glass, dirt, sticks, and blood out of her matted hair. She told me all about her family and how she had three children at home. She was a single mom, and two of her kids had disabilities, and her husband died unexpectedly the month before. She had become overwhelmed. It became very apparent to me how quickly certain life circumstances can change someone who previously had never been depressed and how mental illness truly does affect all of us. She became a new person after that shower, and had a more positive outlook solely because someone took the time to listen to her. This is why I love psych! 10. What advice would you give other nurses that might want to pursue psych nursing?I think if a nurse wants to pursue psych nursing, they need to make sure that they can aim to be non-judgmental with patients. A lot of our patients are judged in every other area of life, and they need a place to be where they won’t be looked down upon because of their choices. Also, have boundaries! Patients (especially those with addiction disorders) can be manipulative and will try to push you. It’s important to have boundaries with patients and stick to them.
  2. The second section are the tough ones - the behavior based questions - they require a story or example to answer. Same idea - write outlines and practice. Good luck! Interview Questions 1. Tell me about yourself. 2. What is your greatest strength? 3. What can you offer us that no one else can? 4. What are your three most important career accomplishments? 5. How would you describe yourself? 6. Why should I hire you? 7. Describe the biggest crisis in your life (career). 8. What is unique about you? 9. How would your supervisor describe you? 10. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10. 11. Tell me a story. 12. How have you benefited from disappointment? 13. What is your greatest weakness? 14. Have you ever been fired or asked to resign? 15. Why have you changed jobs so frequently? 16. Why have you been out of work so long? What have you been doing? 17. What is the biggest mistake you ever made? 18. What are your career goals? 19. What do you want to do in life? 20. How long have you been out of work? 21. What personal, non-job related gals have you set for yourself? 22. Are you willing to relocate? 23. Are you willing to travel overnight? 24. How do you feel about overtime? 25. What have you learned from your past mistakes? What are some of them? 26. What do you think determines a person's progress with a goof company? 27. Who has exercised the greatest influence on you? How? 28. What public figure do you admire most and why? 29. What are your primary activities outside of work? 30. Would you have any concern if we did a full background check on you? What would we find? 31. What qualities do you most admire in people? 32. What have you done to increase your personal development? 33. What type of books and magazines do you read? 34. What was the last book you read (movie you saw) and how did it affect you? 35. How do you feel about your career progress? 36. Can you work well under stress? 37. Do you prefer to work as an individually or as a part of a team? 38. Are you a team player? 39. Tell me about the last incident that made you angry. How did you handle it? 40. What are the things that motivate you? 41. How do you handle people that you really don't get along with? 42. What have you done that shows initiative? 43. What personal qualities are important for success in this field? 44. Sell me this pen. 45. Are you willing to take calculated risks? 46. Describe your perfect job? 47. What is most important to you in a job? 48. Why do you want to change careers? 49. Why do you want to get into this field? 50. Why did you leave your last job? 51. How long will it take before you make a positive contribution to our organization? 52. What do you like least about this position? Most? 53. Tell me about your duties at your present job? 54. What is the most important aspect of your job? 55. Describe a time when you were criticized for your job. 56. What is the most difficult situation you have ever faced? 57. What frustrates you about your job? 58. What jobs have you enjoyed most? Least? Why? 59. What duties have you enjoyed most? Least? Why? 60. What is the worst thing your have ever heard about this organization? 61. What position do you expect to hold in five years? (similar to, Where do you expect to be in 5 years?) 62. Why would you like to work for us? 63. What is opinion of your present (or past) employer? 64. How long would you stay if we offered you this position? 65. What do you know about our company? 66. Why do you want to leave your present employer? 67. Starting with your first job out of college, tell me why you left each organization. 68. What kinds of recommendations will you get from previous employers? 69. Describe your relationship with your last three supervisors. 70. What are your supervisor's strengths and weaknesses? 71. What kind of supervisors do you like most? Least? Why? 72. How has your supervisor helped you grow? 73. What did your supervisor rate you highest on during your last review? Lowest? 74. What kind of supervisor gets the best results out of you? 75. What is your boss like? 76. What actions would you take if you came on board? 77. Can you supervise people? 78. Describe your management philosophy and management style. 79. How many people have you hired? How do you go about it? How successful have the people been? 80. How many people have you fired? 81. How would your subordinates describe you as a supervisor? 82. Some managers watch their employees closely while others use a loose rein. How do you manage? 83. How have you improved as a supervisor over the years? 84. Why did you pick your major? 85. What kind of grades did you have? 86. What course did you like the most? Least? Why? 87. How has your schooling prepared you for this job? 88. Do you feel you did the best work at school that you were capable of doing? 89. How did your summer jobs benefit you? Some Behavior Based Questions Tell me about a time when you: 1. Achieved a great deal in a short amount of time. 2. Were disappointed in your performance. 3. Made a major sacrifice to achieve a work goal. 4. Were unwilling or unable to make the necessary sacrifice to achieve a goal. 5. Worked effectively under a great deal of pressure. 6. Didn't handle a stressful situation very well. 7. Really got angry over a situation at work. 8. Felt under a great deal of pressure from an internal or external customer. 9. Were really bothered by the actions of a coworker. 10. Were especially creative in solving a problem. 11. Were not as creative as usual. 12. Organized and planned an event that was successful. 13. Planned and coordinated a project that was very successful. 14. Were unable to complete a project on schedule despite your best efforts. 15. Really had to remain flexible. 16. Had to deal with a personality conflict with a boss or coworker. 17. Were unable to sell your idea to a key person. 18. Felt really good about a decision you made and the process you went through. 19. Were very effective in your problem-solving ability. 20. Used facts and reason to persuade someone to accept your recommendation. 21. Utilized your leadership ability to gain support for what initially had been strong opposition. 22. Were able to build team spirit during a time of low morale. 23. Were able to gain commitment from others to really work as a team. 24. Used your political savvy to push through a program you believed in. 25. Were particularly perceptive regarding a person's or group's feelings and needs. 26. Were able to predict someone's behavior or response based on your assessment of him or her. 27. Were particularly supportive and reassuring to a person who needed a friend. 28. Built rapport quickly with someone under difficult conditions. 29. Wrote a report which was well received by others. 30. Were particularly effective at prioritizing tasks and completing a project on schedule. 31. Identified potential problems and resolved the situation before the problems became serious. 32. Were highly motivated and your example inspired others. 33. Found it necessary to tactfully but forcefully say things others did not want to hear. 34. Were particularly effective in a talk you gave or a seminar you taught. 35. Had to make an important decision quickly even though you did not have all the information you wanted. 36. Had to make a decision you knew would be unpopular. Were in a situation when events and circumstances changed rapidly.
  3. Nurse Beth

    How to Choose My First Nursing Job

    So far, the majority of nurses I have asked said they chose their job because it was the only offer they had at the time, however, that is not my situation. I currently have four offers (2 different med surg floors, a neuro floor, and a cardiac floor) and still have a few more interviews left. The med surg, neuro, and cardiac offers are at a bigger hospital about an hour away from me and the other med surg offer is at a small hospital (59 beds total) about 30 minutes away from me. I have had clinicals in both of these hospitals and shadowed on all the potential floors and truly enjoyed them all. I'm struggling with deciding how to pick which one would be the "right fit" because I honestly feel like I could see myself in all of the positions. I could really use some advice about how to go about picking my very first position and things to be mindful of when choosing the hospital. Any advice would be SUPER HELPFUL! Dear New Grad, Congratulations on having 4 job offers! It's a buyer's market in your area, and everyone wants you:). You have a lot of choices, and it's important to pick the best one for you. Clinically, they all offer a wonderful opportunity. Neuro is more of a specialty, and if you adhere to the broad before narrow way of thinking, med-surg and cardiac offer a broader foundation for practice. Large vs Small Hospitals Larger hospitals typically have more resources than smaller hospitals. Generally, the smaller hospital's training and onboarding will not be as developed or structured. Are either of the hospitals part of a larger system? A benefit of working in a large system is that you can transfer within the system down the road, retaining benefits. A benefit of working a small hospital is that you become a generalist, with a broad skill set. The culture in a small hospital will be different than the culture in a large hospital. Think about your life until now and whether you are more comfortable in larger groups (previous communities, schools, churches) or smaller groups. Healthy Practice Environment Within hospitals, not all units are the same as far as practice environments. In a large hospital with multiple ICUs, each ICU will have its own unique culture, and within any given ICU, day and night shift staff have their own micro-cultures. Ask about unit turnover as an indicator of the health of the practice environment. High turnover and short staffing can be (usually is) a sign of staff dissatisfaction. During your interviews, ask what the unit's attitude towards new grads is. Are they welcomed and supported? In what ways? Ask if they ever had a new grad who struggled, and how it was addressed. Find out if they have shared governance, and if so, if the unit based council is active. What projects are they working on? Support Ask about the length of orientation. An orientation that fully supports your transition to practice is invaluable. What specialized classes are provided? (ACLS, Basic Arrhythmia). You can also ask how long is it before new nurses have to float, and what training is provided for floating to another unit. Is there an educator for your unit? If you need help clinically, is there a dedicated charge nurse, well trained RRT, and a clear chain of command? Standards Ask what nursing uses for clinical guidelines. The answer you want to hear is that they follow evidence-based practice, whether it's by using Lippincott, or corporate based policies and procedures. How are patient care assignments made? The best answer is that the nurse's skills are matched to the patient's needs. As an example, you should not be assigned to a patient with a continuous bladder irrigation (CBI) until you have demonstrated competency with CBI. In a stroke certified hospital, you should have your NIH stroke certificate before managing a stroke patient. Benefits What shift do you want to work, and is it available? Does the hospital offer tuition reimbursement, and is that important to you? Does the hospital have a clinical ladder program, and in what ways is professional development encouraged? These are just a few questions you can ask to help determine a good fit for you and a safe practice environment. I really hope this helps you, and good luck! Best wishes, Nurse Beth Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
  4. FrootLoop

    PICU interview help

    I apologize if this should be in the career advice forum, but I wanted PICU specific input. I have an interview the first week of October for the PICU at our hospital. I've already had a chance to visit with the nurse manager and a few of the nurses who work in the PICU to get a tour, ask some questions, etc. Our institution does behavioral interviews, and I'm comfortable with that aspect since I've done the same for other jobs I"ve held within this hospital, but there are also usually a few critical thinking/prioritizing questions pertinent to the specific unit. Anyone have any advice for what questions I may want to prepare for specifically for the PICU? How about what kind of questions I should ask them about the unit that I might not otherwise think of? I've already covered the basics about training, types of patients, nurse to patient ratio, scheduling- I'm wondering what else I might want to know before getting into it? Thanks!
  5. medicrnohio

    What are your weaknesses?

    This is the question everyone dreads at an interview...at least I do. I don't want to tell them something that will turn them off from hiring me entirely. I have 4 interviews this week and I need some ideas on how to answer this question in a positive way. So tell me...what are your weaknesses and how would you describe them to an interviewer? Thanks in advance for your help.
  6. I am interviewing in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit next week... Besides the typical interview questions (strenghts/weaknesses/difficult patient situation/why nursing/ect) what questions should I be prepared to answer for this specific unit? Secondly, What are some "Must Know's" going into pediatric critical care?

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