Shot of a young medical practitioner using a digital tablet in a hospital

How to Stay Healthy If You Work in the Hospital

nurse holding patient's hand

You’ve just been hired for a new job in healthcare. Your new position involves working in a hospital in your area. It doesn’t matter whether you are working as a doctor, as a nurse, as a therapist, as a medical coder, or as a receptionist in patient scheduling or patient registration. If you work in a hospital, and you interact with patients at any level throughout the day, you have to take steps to keep yourself healthy, not only for the sake of your patients, but for the sake of yourself, your friends, and your family members as well. Staying healthy means walking a fine line between balancing your responsibilities in terms of caring for other people’s health with taking care of your own health. The unfortunate truth is that you have a lot working against you. Since the vast majority of patients are sick people, since they are coming to the hospital, this means exposing yourself to numerous communicable diseases and conditions, especially if you interact with patients, as well as other staff members.

Here are some things you can do to try to minimize your risk of getting sick in the hospital (and consequently becoming a patient yourself):

Hospital Work Can Be Stressful

If you are new to working in a hospital, it means not only opening yourself up to potential physical illnesses but also opening yourself up to potential mental issues as well, in the form of stress. Although for some positions, a stressful job with long work hours typically “goes with the territory,” so to speak, some jobs are more stressful than others, especially in the hospital setting.

Work stress is associated with a number of physical and medical issues, including:

  • Weight gain, possibly leading to obesity.
  • Stomach problems.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Headaches or migraines, depending on your stress level.
  • Fatigue or insomnia.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Worsening health conditions that may already exist, apart from working in the hospital setting.

Stress on the job is also associated with mental health issues such as:

  • Inability to focus.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Isolationism.
  • Drug and alcohol use.

If you work in a hospital, you may be more susceptible to the effects of stressful situations, especially if your work involves caring for patients in life-or-death situations.

Maintaining healthy exercise and eating habits can help you minimize the effects of physical illness and work-related stress, especially if your stress involves making decisions on behalf of patients in crucial situations where time is of the essence. Maintaining a healthy personal life outside of work can also help you operate at maximum efficiency when you’re on the job. Starting a new job in a new hospital means a fresh opportunity to start off right. 

woman doing meditation at park during sunrise

Also consider doing deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques to stay balanced, focused, stress-free (to the greatest extent possible), and most of all, on track, even if you do not work directly with patients.

Maintain a healthy social life outside of your job, that doesn’t conflict with your work schedule. Take a vacation by yourself if you choose to, without family members or friends at the beach or on a faraway resort, just to unwind, regroup, regather, and refocus.

For more informative articles on healthcare, visit the Avidity Medical Design blog.

To enroll in an online course in healthcare, visit Avidity Medical Design Academy.

Self-Care for Healthcare Professionals

woman doing meditation at park during sunrise

If you work in the healthcare field, you know that some positions, such as nursing, require long hours and stressful working conditions that can leave you drained. You know that you have to take care of yourself to avoid burnout, but the challenge is, how do you find the time? Self-care for healthcare workers isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity — so here are a few tips for a self-care routine that you can fit into your schedule and fit into your budget.

Try Yoga and Meditation

You can enjoy the benefits of practicing yoga without joining an expensive gym or squeezing into a crowded studio class. With free instructional videos readily available online, you can fit a quick yoga or meditation routine into your schedule. Even just 15 minutes before or after your shift can leave you feeling more relaxed, mindful, and focused.

Eat Healthier

Self-care is not just relaxing and taking it easy. It requires self discipline. The good news is that eating healthy won’t add any extra time to your busy schedule. You can make small nutrition changes over time, and you can keep track of what feels good with a food journal. Making healthy changes can leave you with more energy and more mental clarity to tackle the day, especially if your position involves working directly with patients.

Practice Saying “No”

While you can’t say “no” to everything, chances are that you can find a few ways to reduce stress in your life by setting healthy boundaries, especially after a long and stressful day on the job. Maybe you can stop checking your emails before bed. If you check your emails, maybe you can postpone responding to your emails until you get back to work. Maybe you can choose to stay home instead of going to a social event when you really don’t have the energy to socialize and you have an even more stressful week ahead. This doesn’t mean withdrawing from friends or not fulfilling obligations. It just means thinking critically about whether going to a particular event, whether it is for business or with family, is going to drain your energy.

Making time for self-care can help you perform better at work, and feel better, too, even if you are not working in the healthcare field. For more help with navigating your healthcare career, visit the Avidity Medical Design blog.

How to Ask for a Raise If You Are a Healthcare Employee (and Even If You’re Not One!) :-)

Not many people would turn down extra money. Asking for a raise can be hard, but it never hurts to let your employer know you want a little more money.  The worst they can say is no.  If you’re thinking of asking for a raise, here are a few things to think about:

In an atmosphere of tight budgets and low unemployment, the thought of asking your manager for a raise can make you feel worried and stressed out. You might wonder what the response might be, and if the response is no, you might wonder what the reason might be. Although you might feel stressed about asking for a salary increase and the reaction you might receive, the high cost of onboarding new hires coupled with a limited available workforce helps motivate companies to reward employees who know how to ask for what they want. Before you ask for a raise, however, there are a few steps you should take to prepare yourself, to increase the likelihood that the answer might be a “Yes” instead of a “No.”

Here are five steps to help you prepare to ask for a raise:

Step 1: Do your homework first.

Step 2: Know how much you are worth in terms of salary.

Step 3: Come prepared with facts and figures.

Step 4: Find the right person to ask.

Step 5: Put your request in writing and include documents that support giving you a salary increase.

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Step 1: Do Your Homework

Whether you work in the healthcare setting or not, some things are consistent in terms of an employer’s mindset. Every employer wants to keep employees who are skilled and who do their job well. Most employers do not want to deal with high employee turnover and constantly having to train new employees because the employees who are already trained and working up to speed choose to leave the company due to low pay. Companies realize that employees expect annual raises, regardless of the type of work they do and the area of the company, or the healthcare setting, that they work in. So the first step is to do your homework. Know what your employer’s policies are in terms of how and when they choose to give raises. The company may have a clearly defined merit system that they use to determine your rate of pay, based on your job, length of employment, and your level of responsibility, especially if you work in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. So the first step is to know your employer’s policy in terms of pay increases if the policies are not spelled out in the employee handbook.

Also, do some research online to determine the average rate of pay for other employees who work in the same area, who have the same position, and who have the same level of responsibility that you have. Join online discussion boards that pertain to your area of healthcare, or pertain to the area that you work in if it is outside of healthcare. Post questions about the average salary for your field on the discussion boards. Remember that geography is also factor in terms of your salary. For example, if you work as a certified nursing assistant in Louisville, Kentucky, for example, you may be paid more, or less, than a certified nursing assistant who works in Los Angeles, California, and who performs the same duties that you have. It all depends on the facility, patient population, and the number of skilled workers available. A registered nurse will be paid more for higher patient acuity positions, professional certifications, and for his or her length of experience, than a new nursing school graduate.

Step 2: Know How Much You Are Worth in Terms of Salary

There’s a lot of information available on how to evaluate your pay. Check out different websites to come up with a number to ask for.  Meeting metrics and getting extra training makes you more valuable, so factor that in as well. A good rule of thumb is to ask for 10% to 20% more than what you currently make. Above all else, keep in mind that your worth in terms of your salary does not reflect your worth as in individual. You are always worth more as an individual than you are in terms of your salary, past, present, or future, so don’t confuse the individual worth with salary worth when you are trying to calculate your worth in terms of compensation.

Step 3: Come Prepared with Facts and Figures

Highlight Your Training. When you start to negotiate your raise, come prepared with facts and figures. Start by highlighting your training. If necessary, get more training in certain areas of healthcare, or in the field that you work in if it is not related to healthcare. Remember that you can make a stronger case to support the argument that you need more money when you can say that you have specialized training in a particular area, especially if it is important to be able to do your job well. Extra courses or certifications make you a more valuable employee and spotlight your accomplishments.  Make sure your employer knows about everything you’ve accomplished, both in the workplace and in terms of your training. Be prepared to discuss your current skills and commitment to long-term professional development. Stay realistic about your job potential and your job performance, but don’t undervalue yourself in the process.

Highlight your workplace achievements. You probably already know what metrics your company is measuring you on.  For nurses, it may be seeing patients in a given time frame.  If you’re a medical coder, you normally must code a certain number of charts per day, while maintaining a certain quality standard, usually 95% or above. Regardless of what the metrics are, you’ll want to highlight positive stats and excellent quality during your negotiation.  If you’re constantly meeting or exceeding goals, you’ve proven that you’re a valuable employee.  That gives you a good case for a salary increase. Cite your most recent positive evaluation, audit scores, and letters of commendation, as well as thank you notes from patients, families, and peers. Be ready to discuss any previously challenging areas of your job where you have improved, and show how you take criticism as a constructive way to raise your customer service abilities and to better your peer relationships. 

Highlight your flexibility. When you negotiate your salary, remember to include issues that don’t appear to be related to salary at first glance, such as the schedule are dyou are willing to work and your level of flexibility. If you are willing to work a shift that no one else wants, if you are willing to perform a task that no one else wants to perform, if you are willing to make personal accommodations in your own life to make sure that the job gets done on time, then mention these things during your salary negotiations. This underscores the fact that you deserve a raise.

Highlight what you’ve done in terms of dollars and cents. If your contributions to the company, or the healthcare organization that you work for, resulted in increased revenue for the organization and improved their bottom line because you met or exceeded the job expectation, especially in terms of exceeding a certain quota, remember to mention this during your discussions about your salary increase.

Step 4: Find the Right Person to Ask

Your direct manager may not have the power to increase your salary, even if they feel you deserve it.  Since different companies have different policies and procedures, it can be hard to find the right person to talk to when it comes to asking for your salary increase. Other circumstances may also intervene; you might know the right person to ask, but they may be unavailable. The person may be on vacation, or they may be in meetings off and on during the day, or when you call to schedule some time to talk about getting a raise, you may get their voice mail or they may not respond to your email right away. As a result, it may take some time to reach the person you need to speak to. Don’t let this hold you back. Be persistent. Try another route if necessary. Speak to another person in the chain of command who can contact the person you need to speak to more quickly, and who they normally respond to more quickly. Don’t give up. If all else fails, discuss how to go about getting a raise with your supervisor or HR team, and see if they have any suggestions on an alternate route you can take, and go from there.

When you ask for your raise, be professional, just like you were during your interview. If your immediate supervisor is the person who has the power to give you a raise, then speak with them. Remember that even if you have a friendly relationship with your supervisor, you don’t want to have a casual laid back attitude when it comes to asking for your raise. Before you reach out to your supervisor for a face-to-face meeting to discuss your raise, you’ll want to gather your supporting information, consider your job skills, your past evaluations, leadership style, and peer relationships. If you are a healthcare employee, your professional approach won’t just be appreciated, it will be valued, respected, and, most of all, expected. 

Step 5: Put Your Request in Writing and Include Supporting Documents

When you sit down to negotiate salary, bring a letter of request for a salary increase with you to your meeting, and be sure to include supporting documentation. Or you can send it by email if you are not speaking with your manager face to face. Your letter of request should be as specific and as detailed as possible, and should not be an emotional or personal plea for a pay increase. Your letter should echo any statements that you make in terms of why you feel you deserve a raise. This is important because your letter will become a permanent part of your employee record, and it will substantiate your verbal request to everyone involved in making the decision about whether to give you a raise. Supporting documents should include emails from satisfied clients and any other written acknowledgements of the value of the work that you do for the company, or the healthcare organization that you work with.

If you’re not getting any traction when you ask for an increase, and you work in the healthcare setting, you might want to sharpen your skillset through training.  Take a look at some Avidity courses here that might help make you a more valuable employee.

Conclusion

In conclusion, remember that it’s never easy to ask for a raise, whether you work in healthcare or outside of the field of healthcare. But with a little time, planning, forethought, self-promotion, and flexibility you can negotiate with confidence and increase the likelihood that you will get the raise you want.

For more informative articles, visit the Avidity Medical Design blog.

Interested in learning how to become a professional in healthcare? Visit the Avidity Medical Design Academy website now and sign up for this course:

health insurance forms

Three Things Healthcare Employees Should Know About Health Insurance

health insurance forms

Health insurance can be a complicated and frustrating thing to deal with. Too often, there seems to be a gap in understanding between healthcare employees who work in different areas of healthcare. For example, a pharmacy technician might be savvier on a particular aspect of healthcare insurance than a nurse, or vice-versa. This gap in understanding healthcare insurance can make it harder for different healthcare professionals to communicate with one another. This might cause delays and potential errors in patient documentation. Three of the most important areas of healthcare insurance that healthcare professionals may misunderstand are: deductibles, prior authorizations, and HSA cards.

Deductibles

deductible is the amount of money a patient, or the insured, will pay before their insurance begins to pick up the cost. The amount varies among plans. Some patients will have a separate deductible for their prescription drugs. Insurance plans with a lower monthly premium typically have a higher deductible that will need to be met. Family plans will often have both individual and family deductibles. The important thing to remember is that all insurance plans are not alike. With so many variables in place, always have your patients contact their insurance company so that they understand what their insurance will cover, especially if they need to undergo a major procedure, such as a surgery for example, or a procedure that involves a hospital stay.

Prior Authorizations

Occasionally, an insurance company will require prior authorization before they agree to pay for a specific prescription, surgical procedure, radiology scan, or lab test, for example. There are several reasons why. If it is a medical procedure, they may view the procedure as not being medically necessary or repetitive. If it is a prescription, there may be a less expensive generic alternative drug that the doctor could prescribe, and the insurance company may choose to cover the generic alternative rather than the brand name of the same medication. If a patient is having multiple scans or tests done, an authorization might be required to ensure that the tests are not duplicates, and the facility is not billing for tests that have already been performed at a previous visit. Most pharmacies and facilities send a prior authorization request to the doctor automatically. Because of this, the patient needs to have a clear understanding of how the doctor’s office handles administrative procedures pertaining to prior authorizations.

HSA Cards

These days, many insurance policies come with an HSA (Health Savings Account). Such accounts come with a pool of money that can be used for medical expenses such as appointment copays, prescriptions, and procedures. They are a great resource, especially when the patient needs to pay an unexpected medical bill. This can also help the patient offset the costs incurred with a high deductible. Depending on the insurance plan, the HSA funds may expire or roll over. They also offer a number of tax benefits, making them an attractive alternative that many patients might consider when signing up for an insurance plan.

To work effectively in the field of healthcare, you must understand how insurance works, and the role that insurance plays in the care of your patients. This will give you an advantage when helping your patients, and it will make the billing and payment process easier for both yourself and your patients. Patient care is one of the most important aspects of healthcare and a little extra knowledge, especially about insurance processes and procedures, can go a long way.

For more information and insights on different healthcare topics, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog, or consider enrolling in one of the many courses offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy.