How to Maintain Professional Boundaries in Nursing

It’s no secret that the nurse-patient dynamic is a unique one. Part of being a great nurse is having the ability to demonstrate empathy and compassion with patients without crossing the line of professionalism. To provide the best care, clinicians must protect the caregiver-to-patient relationship by establishing and maintaining strong professional boundaries in nursing. Here is a quick guide of these boundaries and how to respect them while interacting with patients.

Why Have Professional Boundaries in Nursing?

Professional boundaries in nursing exist in nursing for the safety of patients. While building rapport with a patient, it is very important to keep professional boundaries in mind so that both parties feel comfortable within the caregiver-patient dynamic. Healthcare workers are required to perform their duties according to the best interest of the patient at all times, and since patients meet nurses while they are in extremely vulnerable states, boundaries exist to protect them. To ensure patients’ safety, nurses are responsible for creating and upholding these professional boundaries during every encounter.

What are Professional Boundaries in Nursing?

According to the National Council of State Board of Nursing (NCSBN), “Professional boundaries are the spaces between the nurse’s power and the patient’s vulnerability.” When nurses cross professional boundaries — whether intentional or unintentional — it puts the nurses’ needs above those of the patient. Examples of crossing professional boundaries in nursing may include:

  • Sharing personal or intimate information.
  • Flirting or inappropriate touching.
  • Keeping secrets with or for patients.
  • Acting as if you are the only one who can care for or understand the patient, positioning yourself as the “super nurse.”
  • Showing favoritism by spending more time with a patient than necessary, taking sides in disagreements among family members, or performing personal favors outside of your scope of work.
  • Complaining, joking, or speaking negatively about your employer or colleagues to patients or family.
  • Meeting with patients outside of work in areas where direct patient care is not being offered.
  • Posting about a patient encounter on social media.
  • Partaking in an act of omission or commission, which refers to any instance where the nurse fails to act in a manner that benefits the patient or threatens their well-being.

Violating Professional Boundaries in Nursing

Crossing the lines of professional boundaries can create severe consequences for the patient. A patient’s outlook on their care team can change dramatically after professional boundaries are crossed. Whether the boundary crossed was physical, mental, or emotional, a patient’s care and progress can be inhibited by the actions of their nurse. They may start to view their nurse as someone beyond the scope of the nurse’s duties, such as a therapist, confidante, friend, or even lover. While many nurses have big hearts, the sentimental bonds formed with patients should not extend beyond the purview of the healthcare facility. Inappropriate patient relationships can alter the patient’s view on sentimental bonds, emotional distances, moral obligations, or personal responsibilities. These altered expectations, which are not authentic and cannot be sustained, typically result in both mental and physical stress for the patient and can interfere with their current health condition.

In addition, inappropriate nurse-patient interactions can cause potential lasting trauma to the patient. When a vulnerable patient is subjected to unlawful actions by nurses including: inappropriate touch, battery, or HIPAA violations, it can cause or exacerbate medical trauma. Medical trauma is defined as a “set of psychological and physiological responses to pain, injury, serious illness, medical procedures and frightening treatment experiences.” Many patients who experience medical trauma avoid hospitals or resist receiving care due to their past negative experiences.

The consequences of crossing professional boundaries are also serious for nurses. According to the NCSBN, “Crossing professional boundaries and violating the nurse practice act can be the cause of professional discipline and termination of employment.” Further, more severe violations of crossing professional boundaries can result in loss of licensure, criminal charges, fines, and even jail time. The repercussions for violating professional boundaries can also go beyond professional chastisement and lead to nurse burnout and turnover, compassion fatigue, and negative mental health outcomes.

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How to Uphold Professional Boundaries in Nursing

To keep professional boundaries securely intact, consider the following:

  • Treat all patients with dignity and respect and consistently put their needs first.
  • Dress, speak, and behave in a professional manner to reinforce that the nursing profession consists of specialized knowledge that is carried out within a specific scope of practice.
  • Keep all patient and family information confidential, speaking to colleagues about patients only when necessary and seeking patient information on a “need to know” basis. Additionally, steer clear from sharing even veiled references of patients or clinical care on social media.
  • Nurses who work with less supervision should take extra precautions to maintain professional boundaries, stepping back and evaluating personal behaviors more often if necessary.

Professional boundaries are supported by the values, principles, and standards of the codes of ethics for nurses. Examples of the national codes of ethics for nurses come from the American Nurses Association (ANA). Reviewing these codes can help you gain more clarity around your professional position and help you in maintaining professional boundaries in nursing.

Financial Tips for Travel Nurses

Between saving lives, squeezing in some much-needed R&R, and figuring out your next contract, managing money might seem low on the priority list for a travel nurse. However, it’s never been more important for nurses to be financially literate. If you have no idea where to start when it comes to making money moves, we’re here to help. Here are our top financial tips for travel nurses.

Set Clear and Realistic Financial Goals

Having clear goals is one of the most important financial tips for travel nurses. Whether you’d like to put some money aside for that dream vacation, pay off your nursing school loans, buy a new car, or even save up for a downpayment on a house, be super specific about your objectives. You’ll want to make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (learn more about financial SMART goals here). Write your financial goals down, and from there, articulate the steps you can take to reach them on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. This is a great way to start building a clearer roadmap that’ll guide your financial decisions toward your ultimate destination.

The Importance of Setting SMART Goals

Create a Budget

One of the first moves for becoming more financially literate is creating a budget for your life as a travel nurse. As with any other sort of budget, make a list of everything you spend money on in a given month. As a travel nurse these expenses may include: plane tickets, furnished housing, licensing fees, gas mileage, or necessities for your furry travel companion. You can even use a budget tracking app to do this and stay on track with your spending. A good budget will help you get a picture of how much money is going out versus how much is coming in and will show you areas where you can start saving.

As you’re setting up your next contract, be sure to talk to your recruiter about opportunities for travel or housing stipends. If you can manage to have all or part of those major expenses covered while being a healthcare worker, you’ll be left with a higher income surplus to allocate elsewhere in your budget.

How To Budget When You Absolutely Hate The Idea Of Budgeting | HuffPost Life

Keep an Emergency Fund

Keeping an emergency fund of a few thousand dollars is one of the best financial tips for travel nurses. It’s always a good idea to have savings put aside in case of emergencies. Let’s say your car breaks down on the way to your next contract location, your dog swallowed a thumbtack and needs surgery, or you need to fly home for a family emergency. You’re going to want to account for any and all of these unknowns in travel nursing, and an emergency fund will get you out of a bind when you need it the most.

Emergency Fund: How to Start one to Help Prevent Debt |

Take Advantage of Discount Programs to Save Extra Cash

Did you know that nurses get exclusive discounts on hundreds of top brands? A great way to save a little extra dough (especially for all the shopaholics out there) is to utilize these discounts when on your next shopping spree. Just a few of the brands that offer nurse discounts are: Samsung, Underarmour, YETI, Adidas, Hello Fresh, Ray Ban, and Verizon. Check out the full list here!

5 Best Discount Strategies + Examples (2022)

Invest Your Savings Wisely

Wondering how to optimize and grow your money as a travel nurse? Saving a portion of your income should be a top priority for you. While you’re free to save as little or as much as you’d like, experts recommend setting aside about 20% of your earnings. So, if you’re bringing home $1,500 each week, $300 should go elsewhere for safe keeping. Investing your savings is definitely among the top financial tips for travel nurses, and you should consider storing your saved earnings in places such as:

  • A high-yield savings account for emergency funds or future purchases.
  • Stocks or ETFs (exchange-traded funds).
  • A Roth IRA (individual retirement account) account.
  • A 401K account.

Each of these options allows you to make money on your investments, either through annual percentage yields from the bank, price appreciation of your stocks, or retirement savings that aren’t taxed upon distribution.

How to Invest in Stocks [Investing in Stocks for Beginners] - Mint

Looking for a shiny new travel nursing assignment? Apply with Premier!

Staying Positive as a Nurse

Nurses encounter many stressors in the workplace: long hours, rotating shifts, and pressure to achieve in an emotionally and physically challenging field. The American Nurses Association found that the effects of stress are among nurses’ top health and safety concerns. Cultivating positive emotions can help nurses become healthier, happier, and more resilient. Here are some ways to stay positive as a nurse, even when it seems difficult.

Begin the Day with Positive Self-Talk

Daily positive affirmations can have a significant impact on staying positive as a nurse. Affirmations can be very powerful, and they are also easy to use. For example, if you say “I am confident” or “I am strong” repeatedly (either in your mind or out loud), the message will become ingrained in your brain. You can make up your own set of custom affirmations that work for you. Some great affirmations for nurses are: “I am making a difference today,” “I am doing my best to help my patients,” and “I am proud of my work as a nurse.” You can also check out this article for more nurse affirmations. Beginning your day with affirmations can improve the way you react to your environment, patients, and coworkers. Making a habit of this can help increase self-esteem and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

Positive Affirmations Images – Browse 10,714 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock

Take a Social Media Hiatus

Many nurses report that their outlook skews more negative when they overuse social media and news apps. If you find yourself doomscrolling Instagram or Twitter, it may be affecting your ability to focus on the positive. According to Stephanie J. Wong PhD., doomscrolling (obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news) triggers the release of stress hormones that can affect your mental and physical health. A key to staying positive as a nurse is limiting your exposure to social media and taking time to completely disconnect. When away from work, set a time each day to turn off your cell phone, put away the laptop, and stop checking email. These pockets of time are great for spending some time outdoors, doing something physically active, or meditating.

How to Use Time Outside for Self-Care | Ledge Lounger

Get Your R&R

Practicing daily relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing, are proven to help with staying positive as a nurse. Getting into a habit of engaging in regular relaxation time can lead to improvements in overall health and happiness. When you get home from your shift, try to use some self-care techniques like meditating, reading a good book, or even taking a bubble bath. These beginner-friendly guided meditations only take five minutes a day.

In addition, getting enough sleep every day is paramount to staying positive as a nurse. An article from discusses several benefits of sleep. This includes an elevated mood, reduced feelings of stress, improved cognitive function, and better maintenance of a healthy weight. Therefore, it’s important to make time for a few calming activities to help unwind after a stressful day.

Napping Health Effects

Surround Yourself with Positive People

You may find yourself working alongside nurses who tend to dwell on the negative. When you’re stuck in a conversation with one of them, practice redirecting the discussion to a more enjoyable subject, or simply leave as soon as you are able. Negative people consume so much mental energy that it’s easy to spend time lamenting their behaviors even when they are not around. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with people who energize, support, and encourage you. By simply being around them, positive people can help you improve your mindset and mood.

5,700+ Nurses Laughing Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free ...

Shrink Your Inner Critic

We all have one: an inner voice that expresses criticism, frustration, or disapproval about our actions. It might sound like, “why didn’t you?” “what’s wrong with you?” or “why can’t you get it together?” As a nurse, the negativity these inner voices generate can affect the way you not only treat yourself, but also your patients and coworkers.

Start shrinking your inner critic with a simple exercise: speaking to yourself like you would a friend. Challenge the beliefs that the inner critic is pushing because they are not true. You are worthy, capable, and deserving of love. Diminishing the power you give to your inner critic is essential for staying positive as a nurse.

Best Advice for New Nurses

Your first couple of years provide huge growth opportunities for anyone in the healthcare field. Gearing up for your very first RN position is bound to carry a lot of excitement, but also lots of unknowns. Find out what experienced Premier clinicians wish they knew when they first started out. Embracing their advice for new nurses will help you start out on the right foot as you begin your nursing career.

Ask Questions!

The best way to build your confidence as a new nurse is to always ask questions. Premier RN Andrea C. says: “Always ask questions, look things up that you haven’t seen or heard before.” The reason why asking questions is some of the best advice for new nurses is because many fresh-faced RNs are afraid that asking for help will make them look inexperienced. Don’t be embarrassed if you encounter something you haven’t seen or heard before- real life nursing is going to be full of new experiences. Plus, your more senior nurses all remember those first few weeks on the job- your questions will make total sense.

Common Nursing Interview Questions and How to Answer Them | Aspen University

You Are Your Most Important Patient

One of the best pieces of advice for new nurses doesn’t have to do with nursing at all. That is: take care of yourself. It’s common for new nurses to experience overwhelm,  anxiety, and even burnout during their first year working, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Common self-care pitfalls for new nurses include not getting enough sleep, not eating well, and not focusing on mental health. If you are struggling to catch sleep as a new nurse on the night shift, make it a priority to figure out solutions. If you are struggling to catch sleep as a new nurse on the night shift, make it a priority to figure out solutions.

And  most importantly, give yourself grace as you adjust to your new life as a nurse. Being kind and gentle to yourself if so important.

Read all about self-care tips for nurses here.

Care Free Images | Free Photos, PNG Stickers, Wallpapers & Backgrounds - rawpixel

Find a Mentor

As you start to make acquaintances on the unit, you will inevitably meet people you “click” with right away. Try to find at least one seasoned nurse or team member who are eager to guide you. Think of them as mentors and utilize them accordingly. You’ll not only grow a strong personal and professional bond with them but, you’ll also become a much stronger nurse as you proactively seek guidance throughout the first year of your nursing career.

Benefits of a Nurse Mentorship: Why Nurse Educators Matter | Duquesne University

Always Advocate for Patients

Premier RN Jennifer N. advises: “Advocate for patients, not administration.” This is so important to remember as a new nurse because in the hustle and bustle of a hospital system and navigating a new environment, it’s easy to forget that helping patients is the reason many become RNs to begin with. Being a patient advocate is the most important hat you wear as a nurse. The sheer amount of time that you spend with your patients affords you a unique opportunity to build trusting relationships and good rapport. This is how nurses change the lives of patients and their families every day.

Nurse-Patient Interaction

Remember Why You Started

Premier RN Stephanie V.’s best advice for new nurses is: “Always remember why you decided to be a nurse. You are an inspiration to many people even on your bad days.” Remembering your “why” is key to getting through the tough times as a nurse. Nursing is stressful, but also rewarding. Thinking about who or what inspired you to become a nurse will help give you a boost when you’re struggling.

Nurse Burnout: Risks, Causes, and Precautions for Nurses

Are you looking to land your first contract RN job? Apply with Premier!

Best Travel Nursing Advice

As you begin to think about starting your first contract as a travel nurse, you are faced with a lot of unknowns: “How do I even get started? Where am I going to live while on my assignment? How am I going to make friends in my new town? How do I adjust to my new shift? What’s included in my contract?” We’re here to help answer some of these initial questions and quell some of the anxieties associated with starting your travel nursing career. We’ve rounded up some of the best travel nursing advice out there and are here to share all the nuggets of wisdom with you.

Find a recruiter you really vibe with

Before you make the leap into travel nursing, the first step is finding a recruiter. But don’t settle for just any recruiter. Jackie S., an LTC RN with Premier, gives this travel nursing advice: “Find the best recruiter, build a relationship, and trust each other.” You should feel 100% comfortable sharing your goals, concerns, and preferences with your recruiter. A recruiter is there to support you in finding your perfect travel nursing assignment, and forming a strong relationship with them is key to getting exactly what you’re looking for in a contract.

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Read the fine print

A super important piece of travel nursing advice given by Darby F., RN, is to always read the fine print of your contract: “I have always told nursing students, ‘If you didn’t chart it, you didn’t do it.’ The same principle applies to your contract.” If something isn’t written in the contract, do not expect it to be implied. Be sure the contract lists your hourly or weekly rate, any housing stipends, the length of the contract, and has a clear outline of your role and responsibilities. The contract should also include: the start and end date of the assignment, the shift you will work, number of shifts per week, contracted hours for each shift, overtime rate, and limits, pay frequency, benefits, and stipends. Make sure everything written in your contract meets your expectations, and you’ll be good to go.

Do You Need a Contract for Freelance Work? | FlexJobs

Arrive early on the first day of your new assignment

Another great bit of travel nursing advice is to arrive 15-30 minutes early on your first day. There is no feeling worse than feeling rushed, especially when it is your first day as a first-time travel nurse. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at work and get the lay of the land. You only get one time to make a first impression and arriving early will demonstrate to your coworkers and nurse manager that you’re prepared and reliable. : Nursing Clipboard Foldable, Nurse Clipboard 3 Layers, Nurse Clipboard Foldable with Medical Sticker on it, Trifold Nursing Clipboard for Medical Students, Nurses (Black) : Office Products

Be flexible

Flexibility is a virtue in travel nursing. Kristy, a NICU RN, describes: I’m a very A-type person, I’ve always needed things planned out to feel comfortable. When traveling, all of that goes out the window. There are so many unknowns. The first few assignments, you’re scared. But then you get through it, and you gain confidence in your ability to adapt. After that, you’ll know that you can get through any obstacles thrown at you.”

Nurse Running Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Get to know your fellow travelers

Many nurses worry about being lonely on the road. After all, it’s a big step to leave your friends and family at home and head out on your first travel nursing contract by yourself. But you can relax knowing you won’t be the only traveler at your facility or in your area. There will be plenty of other people in the same situation who have the same excitement and fears about their assignment and are anxious to make new friends. Not sure where to start? Ask your recruiter for leads on other travelers in the area or check out our blog post full of travel nursing advice on how to avoid loneliness while on a contract.

5,672 Nurses Laughing Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Looking to travel with Premier? Apply below!

How to Effectively Communicate with Your Nurse Manager

Behold the nurse manager: the venerable head of your unit. Nurse managers are responsible for planning and directing operations on the floor of a hospital or clinic to ensure optimal patient care. They also maintain an authoritative role over all the other nurses working on the unit. During your career as a nurse, you will more than likely work under many different nurse managers with many different leadership styles. Building a professional rapport with your nurse manager and conveying your needs to them may seem daunting, but never fear- we have the tips and tricks you need to communicate with your manager like a pro.

Maintain Professionalism

As a nurse, you are likely to establish bonds and friendships with other RNs on your unit. Nurses often maintain a casual manner with one another when chatting in the break room or catching up in the hallways. However, when communicating with a nurse manager, it’s important to remember that they are your boss. Maintaining a professional manner with your nurse manager will help you communicate effectively with them and shows respect for their position. For some helpful nurse communication tips, read our blog post here.

Sometimes, nurses treat their managers as someone to vent to about work, or even about drama with coworkers. These types of conversations should be highly discouraged. However, if you are seeking managerial support to deal with certain behaviors on the unit, that would be an appropriate time to approach your nurse manager.

71,166 Nurses Talking Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Don’t Go to Your Nurse Manager to Solve a Problem You Could Solve Yourself

Nurse managers are often busy making sure the unit is running smoothly. When encountering roadblocks on the job, it’s important to ask yourself “can I solve this myself?” before approaching your nurse manager with an issue. Try to do everything you can to solve the problem independently before asking your manager for support. Being strategic with issues you bring to your nurse manager is a very important rule of thumb in establishing a good rapport with them.

Qualities of an Effective Nurse Leader | Carlow University Online

Be Self-Aware

Before bringing up an issue with your nurse manager, make sure you take an honest look at yourself. Self-reflection is important to set the appropriate frame of mind for a conversation with your manager. Before bringing up any situation to your nurse manager, look for any bias or personal agenda and consider possible trigger points that might cause an emotional reaction. Remember, the conversation should focus on the situation at hand and not personal emotions. It is also important to hold yourself accountable and be truthful about any wrongdoing you may have caused in the situation you are bringing to the attention of your manager.

Nurse manager vs. nurse leader: What's the difference?

Don’t Complain Behind Their Back

It’s okay if your nurse manager isn’t your best friend, or even your favorite co-worker. For most people, they aren’t. That said, if you don’t get along well with your manager, don’t go around spreading rumors or sharing personal information about them that could hurt their reputation or their feelings. Regardless of if you get along well with them or not, your nurse manager has likely worked hard to be in their current position. It reflects poorly on you as a nurse to engage in gossip and complain behind your manager’s back, not to mention tarnish your rapport with them.

Nurses having a conversation in the ICU | free image by / Chanikarn Thongsupa | Women, Images of nurses, Medical

 Ask for Feedback

Constructive feedback exercises are a great way to connect with your nurse manager. Especially when starting a new role, you’ll benefit from even just a little bit of feedback, since it will help you build a good relationship with your manager. Doing so can help you understand your strengths and areas that need improvement.

The Most Important Qualities of a Successful Nurse Manager — Healthcare Staffing | WSi Healthcare Personnel


Continuing Your Nursing Education: Where to Start

Nursing is a career that involves lifelong learning. The healthcare field is constantly evolving and improving through research and advancements in technology, and continued education is vital to staying abreast to the most updated nursing techniques. Here are a few things to consider as you start to start to think about continuing your nursing education- you never know what a positive difference it can make in how you practice.

The Importance of Continued Education for Nurses

Continuing your nursing education can not only afford you the opportunity to learn and advance your techniques in patient care, but also open you up to career growth. Continued education, or CE, is the best way to absorb and apply the latest developments in nursing. Not all states require continued education for license renewal, but some employers require specific refresher courses for those returning to the field after being inactive for a while. Additionally, some employers may require specific CE or nursing specialty certifications necessary for maintaining employment or advancement. To view the CE requirements in your state, visit this page.

doctor and nurse talking

Varieties of Continued Education

In terms of continuing your nursing education, opportunities abound. No matter what type of CE sparks your specific interests, you can enroll in classes that will advance your career and grow your skills.

Skills-based education

CE courses can cover specific skills-based information, or “hard skills,” such as venipuncture, telemetry, life-saving techniques, IV management, and other critical areas of clinical knowledge.

“Soft” skills education

Growing your nursing “soft skills” is equally important to learning and applying clinical skills. CE for soft skills include lessons in communication, cultural competency, LGBTQ healthcare, patient privacy, grief and loss, and a plethora of others. In the ever-changing world of medicine, these are critically important areas in which nurses can grow their expertise, and such knowledge can translate to higher quality of patient care.

Community and societal issues

Each day, nurses deal hands-on with societal challenges that affect patient populations. These can include addiction and substance abuse, suicide, food and housing insecurity, and domestic violence. CE courses addressing these subjects lead to nurses feeling more in touch and informed when dealing with the struggles faced by the communities they work in.

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What type of continued education fits your goals?

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to continuing your nursing education, there’s a CE track that will match your specific nursing goals and lifestyle.

Master’s Degree

Masters in Nursing (MSN) programs prepare nurses for a variety of advanced roles in administration, teaching, research, and direct patient care. Nurses at this level are in high demand as clinical nurse leaders, nurse managers, educators, health policy consultants, researchers, and many other roles. Most RN-to-MSN programs take 30-36 months to finish, and you can choose between an online or in-person course of study.

Online Classes and Webinars

The most popular form of CE is online classes and webinars. Perfect for travel nurses and nurses with super-packed schedules, online classes offer so many opportunities for those who want to advance their skills and knowledge on their own time.

Live Events and Trainings

Live seminars and in-person trainings provide hands-on CE to any nurse looking to stay proficient and up to date in patient care. Many state-mandated CE courses are in-person, such as CPR re-certifications and IV skills classes. Not only are in-person events great for learning and practicing skills in real-time, but they also provide opportunities for networking with other clinicians.

Certifications and Specialty Advancement

If you are looking to advance or change your specialty, there is CE to help you get to that next step. For example, if you are a med-surg RN looking to expand into pediatrics, you can check online for a course of CE that will help you get your CPN (Certified Pediatric Nurse). There are specific requirements and trainings for each certification and specialty, so be sure to check the resources below before diving in.

Will free medical school lead to more primary care physicians? | AAMC

CE Resources

Continuing your nursing education will be a breeze with the right tools at your disposal. Check out the following sites to jumpstart your CE journey.
Free CE Activities from AACN
Continuing Education Courses from ANA

Legal Concepts Nurses Should Know

On top of mastering the hundreds of nursing terms and abbreviations, it’s equally important to learn certain legal concepts as a new RN. I know what you’re thinking: “hey, I went to nursing school not law school.” However, you’d be surprised how many legal implications there are for nurses that affect everyday care. While you may be familiar with a few of them, here’s a crash course in the legal concepts nurses should know.

Confidentiality and HIPAA

Patient confidentiality is one of the most referenced legal concepts nurses should know. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, went into effect in 1996 in an effort to standardize electronic health transactions and give patients greater control over their health information (via Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule). Throughout the course of the nurse-patient relationship, nurses become privy to vast amounts of patients’ health data. As outlined in the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses, all nurses are responsible for safeguarding this data and maintaining patient confidentiality. Sharing patient information with unauthorized individuals, whether via email, social media, or through casual conversation, violates HIPAA and can result in serious consequences for the liable party.

Negligence and Malpractice


As the name suggests, nursing negligence occurs when a patient experiences unintended harm due to a nurse’s mistake or omission in care (via This can refer to: failing to properly monitor a patient and missing a change in their vital signs, incorrect administration of medication, or not noticing a drug reaction or allergy on a patient’s chart.


Malpractice and negligence are similar terms that are often used interchangeably but have one important difference. While negligence refers to an unintentional failure to provide care, malpractice is considered intentional. Nursing malpractice occurs when a nurse knowingly and willfully does not follow the proper standard of care and the patient experiences harm as a result. For example, administering the wrong medication or wrong amount of medication, not feeding a patient, not notifying the provider about crucial patient information, or charting false information about the patient’s status.

An RN can be held liable for negligence and malpractice when their actions result in serious outcomes like injury or death of a patient, which is why it is among the most important legal concepts nurses should know about before starting their careers.

Mandatory Reporting

Nurses have the status of mandated reporters, which means that when they witness abuse or neglect, they must report it through the appropriate channels. Vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and victims of abuse are often unable to independently seek help, and count on nurses for assistance. Whether a nurse notices signs of abuse in a patient, or a patient divulges that they have been abused, the nurse is required to report it to law enforcement. To read more about mandatory reporting and to see your state’s mandatory reporting laws, check out this resource via


Although you may think of a fist fight or beating when you hear the word “battery,” its legal definition in relation to nursing is quite different. Battery is defined as “touching someone without their consent” according to  This is why nurses should always ask for consent before proceeding with any physical touching associated with patient care. Patients reserve the right to deny any physical interaction or treatment by a healthcare provider. Battery is one of the legal concepts nurses should know because if a clinician touches a patient without their proper consent, it can sometimes result in a battery allegation.

Invasion of Privacy

The legal definition of “Invasion of Privacy” is: the intrusion into the personal life of another, without just cause (via Hospitals are busy places, and in the course of routine procedure, many patients have their privacy violated. Examples of invasions of privacy may include sharing the results of a test in front of family members or other patients without permission, leaving digital health records open for non-medical personnel to access, or gossiping about a patient’s health condition on social media. It is crucial to remember invasion of privacy when talking about work with your friends who are outside the medical profession because you never know when divulging patient information, even in the most casual of conversation, can result in a lawsuit.

Consequences of Breaking the Law in Nursing

These legal concepts nurses should know are invaluable because you can face serious consequences as a result of breaking the law on the job. While the implications vary widely based on the accusations, nurses may face the following:

  • Loss of trust by patients, colleagues, and employers
  • Unpaid leave from work
  • Demotion
  • Job termination
  • Criminal charges
  • Heavy fines or penalties
  • Loss of any specialized board credentials and certifications
  • Cancellation of licensure on a temporary or permanent basis
  • Jail time

Going into your shift each day with a heightened awareness of the legal responsibilities of being a nurse is a great way to elevate your level of patient care and performance as an RN. These legal concepts are reminders of the ethical and moral weight being a nurse carries, and how much rides on following the law.

Common Nursing Terms & Abbreviations: A Guide for New Nurses

You’ve waited for this moment for years: finally getting your very first hospital job after nursing school. While many new nurses are feeling on top of their game after completing all the requirements of their certification, that first day on the job can be overwhelming, especially when all the veteran nurses are shooting around phrases and words you don’t know or don’t recall from your textbooks. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. For a refresher on common nursing terms, check out this list and be ready to tackle that assignment like you’ve been on the job for years.

Code Blue

“Code blue” is one of the most important common nursing terms that a new RN should know. When you hear “code blue” on the hospital floor, it means that a patient is experiencing an unexpected cardiac or respiratory arrest, requiring rescue and resuscitation measures. It is a hospital-wide alert, so chances are you will unfortunately hear more than a few “code blues” in your time as a nurse.


Pronounced “peeds,” this is nursing shorthand for the pediatric unit of a hospital.


Standard operating procedures.

Crash Cart

A “crash cart” is a mobile shelving unit used in hospitals for transporting and dispensing emergency medication and equipment. “Crash cart” is one of the most common nursing terms since there is no other or “official” name for it. This is extremely important for a new nurse to know because crash carts contain life-saving tools that are essential in any unit.


“Tachy” refers to tachycardia, or rapid heart rate. Tachycardia can sometimes indicate serious illness in a patient.


Nocs,” or “nocts,” (short for nocturnal) is one of the most common nursing terms you will hear as you start your career. The “noc” shift refers to the night shift, which in most hospitals is 7 PM to 7:30 AM or 6 PM to 6:30 AM. Before taking your first noc shift, check out these tips for adjusting to working nights.




Vital signs of a patient. These include body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure.


ADRs stand for adverse drug reactions. It is super important to know if your patient has any ADRs listed in their chart before treating them.


In nursing, a “hat” is not something you want to wear on your head. A hat is a device that fits into the patient’s toilet to collect samples to screen for cancers or other illnesses.


The term “sundowning” refers to a patient’s state of confusion or disorientation occurring in the late afternoon and lasting into the night. Sundowning in patients is often caused by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. If you notice a patient getting confused, anxious, or agitated at night after seeming normal all day, they may be sundowning. Sundowning can also lead to pacing or wandering.

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6 Tech Must-Haves for Nurses

While many of the classic nursing essentials (stethoscope, bandages, etc.) have been around for over a hundred years, there is a new generation of gadgets out there —and they make nurses’ lives much easier. These tech must-haves for nurses are here to assist you both on your shift and at home and can make even the most hectic days on the job that much easier.

1. Theragun Massager

A good muscle massager like the Theragun will help you recover faster after long days on your feet running around your unit. The Theragun is especially useful for nurses who exercise regularly and want to avoid being sore at work. Try the Theragun Mini, a portable version of the regular Theragun, to keep in your nursing bag or backpack so you can always have access to sweet muscle relief on the go.

tech must-haves for nurses

2. Smart Watch

Lots of clinicians swear by their smart watches, which is why they are among the top tech must-haves for nurses. Whether you want to check your heartrate, read texts, count your steps, or even schedule appointments, you can do it all from your wrist with a smart watch. This is extremely handy for nurses since smartphone access may be limited to break time, depending on your unit. Check out an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch to see what all the hype is about.

3. Amazon Blink Camera

Whether you’re concerned about home protection or just want to check to see what your pet is up to, a mini security camera is a great tool for nurses to have peace of mind while working a long shift. The Amazon Blink Mini is a budget-friendly USB camera that you can place anywhere inside or outside your house to monitor activity on your smartphone. It’s among the top tech must-haves for nurses because it is so easy to set up, and even has a two-way audio system so you can project your voice from the camera remotely (I use it to say hi to my puppy while I’m at work). This is a great feature for travel nurses with pets. See how it works with a tutorial on YouTube and see pricing on Amazon.

This is how I watch my puppy, Stanley, via the Blink Mini.

4. Coffee Mug Warmer

Many clinicians find it difficult to get through a long shift without their reliable cup of joe. However, nurses are always getting called away to deal with one thing or another, and often come back to the break room only to find that their cup of coffee has gone cold. This mug-warming coaster can help solve this age-old problem. This electric disk plugs into an outlet or USB port on a computer and emits just enough heat to keep your coffee (or tea) at the perfect temperature.


5. UV Light Smartphone Sanitizer

Even if you can’t use your phone during your shift, do you still feel like it’s bringing hospital germs back to your house? Turns out, your scrubs aren’t the only things you need to disinfect upon returning from your shift. Did you know that the average smartphone is 10 times dirtier than a public toilet seat? Simply wiping the device down with a wet cloth isn’t always going to cut it, especially since clinical settings expose your phone to a lot of germs. If you’d like to give your phone a more thorough cleaning, consider getting the PhoneSoap smartphone sanitizer, one of the most logical tech must-haves for nurses. This simple device uses ultraviolet light to clean the phone as it charges. Plus, it’s portable enough to bring anywhere you go. Your immune system will thank you!

6. Tracking Tiles

As a nurse, you have a lot of things to remember at all times and it’s easy to misplace your phone, keys, or wallet during times of stress (especially if you’re adjusting to a new sleep schedule). If you’re constantly losing essentials, you should consider getting a set of GPS tracking tiles to attach to them. These devices hook onto keys and bags and slide into wallets so that important items will never go missing again. If you can’t find something, open the related smartphone app and activate the tracker, which will cause the item to beep until you can locate it.