Archive for the ‘Nursing perspective’ Category

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Getting Patients Involved in Care Redesign: What the Research Says

July 16, 2014

By Sylvia Foley, AJN senior editor

“I think the whole thing is we’re trying to im­prove care. It’s all about [patients] anyways. So if we’re gonna make changes that impact them I think we have to get them involved.” —study participant

Although there is considerable support for increasing patient involvement in health care, it’s not clear how best to achieve this. And few researchers have specifically investigated the views of patients and providers on patient engagement. In this month’s CE–Original Research feature, “The Perceptions of Health Care Team Members About Engaging Patients in Care Redesign,” Melanie Lavoie-Tremblay and colleagues describe findings from their recent study. Here’s a brief overview.

Objective: This study sought to explore the perceptions of health care workers about engaging patients as partners on care redesign teams under a program called Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB), and to examine the facilitating factors, barriers, and effects of such engagement.
Design: This descriptive, qualitative study collected data through focus groups and individual interviews. Participants included health care providers and managers from five units at three hospitals in a university-affiliated health care center in Canada.
Methods: A total of nine focus groups and 13 individual interviews were conducted in April 2012, 18 months after the TCAB program began in September 2010. Content analysis was used to analyze the quali­tative data.
Findings: Health care providers and managers benefited from engaging patients in the decision-making process because the patients brought a new point of view. Involving the patients exposed team members to valuable information that they hadn’t previously thought about during decision making.
Conclusion: Health care teams stand to benefit from engaging patients in the change process. Patients contribute a different point of view, and this helps to ensure that the changes proposed and implemented address their needs.

Noting the importance of mindset, the authors concluded that “perhaps the most important facilitating factor in including pa­tients on care redesign teams is for all those involved to believe that their participation is crucial to im­proving the design and delivery of services.”

For more details, read the article, which is free online. What’s your take on patient engagement?

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VA Nursing Leadership Silent on Veterans’ Wait Times Scandal

July 9, 2014

By Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, AJN news director

Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio, TX / Wikimedia Commons

Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio, TX / Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been trying to arrange an interview with a nurse in a leadership role at the VA’s Office of Nursing Services (ONS) for over a month now, with little success.

Granted, an excessive wait time for an interview pales in comparison with how long many veterans have had to wait for health care. Still, this has given me a tiny taste of what it must be like to enroll with the Veterans Health Administration for services: you can contact them, but you have to wait a really long time to even schedule a first appointment.

A substantive interview with AJN might have been a golden opportunity for the ONS to get out ahead of the story that has plagued the VA since the Phoenix scandal about lengthy waiting times at the VA broke in early May. (I did finally get a response of sorts. More on that below.)

To recap: The allegations in May that the Phoenix VA system had manipulated data about appointment wait times to hide the fact that veterans were not getting timely appointments galvanized public and Congressional attention.

But such problems in the VA health care system are not new, as a May 18th interim report by the VA Office of Inspector General makes clear, noting that since 2005 it has issued 18 reports on a local and national level identifying scheduling problems leading to long wait times and negative effects on veterans’ care. In 2010, the VA even established an Office of Specialty Care Transformation in the Office of Specialty Care Services to address veterans receiving “fragmented care and services, long wait times, and unaccepted [sic] delays,” according to that agency’s Website.

To be fair, it was widely reported this past week that long wait times have become “the norm” across the American health care system. Still, thousands of veterans are likely to have suffered, even in some cases died, because of the protracted wait times at Veterans Health Administration facilities.  Read the rest of this entry ?

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As Another June Is Forgotten, Some Notes on Nurses and Normandy

July 3, 2014

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

A pause before the 4th of July: Nurses were at D-Day too.

NormandyNursesLanding

Nurses coming ashore at Normandy/AJN archive

Last month, there were a number of D-Day remembrances in the media—June 6 was the 70th anniversary of the 1944 Allied forces landing along the beaches of Normandy and what many believe to have been the single largest tactical maneuver ever launched.

I was especially interested in the D-Day events—I’ll be visiting the Normandy beaches in October. My father was a World War II army veteran and landed at Normandy, though not in the first wave. He arrived days later with Patton’s 9th Armored Division after the beaches had been secured. (His unit would go on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge and finally into Germany after securing the Bridge at Remagen, the only bridge across the Rhine River into Germany not destroyed during the German retreat.)

ItalyNursesLanding

AJN archive

One thing I was surprised to learn is that nurses landed at Normandy and other invasion beaches within only a few days of the first wave. The photos here are from the AJN archives—the above photo shows nurses landing at Normandy. And the one to the right predates Normandy and shows nurses disembarking in April, 1944, in the harbor at Naples, Italy. (According to this article from the AJN archives, which describes nurses coming under fire while treating wounded troops at the Anzio Beachhead, nurses arrived shortly after troops landed on Italy’s shores in the fall of 1943. For the best version, click the link to the PDF in the upper- right corner of the article page.) Read the rest of this entry ?

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A Child’s Story, or Why She Became a Nurse

June 30, 2014
Illustration by Anne Horst. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Anne Horst. All rights reserved.

Day in and day out, a child lives in fear. Her stomach often twists in knots of pain for hours before the pain fades away. The doctors can find no medical reason for the pain. Her mother angrily accuses her of faking it, of being more trouble than she’s worth. The child is often told how stupid she is. Though her father sometimes protects her, at times his medication doesn’t work and he transforms from a caring protective father into a crazed abusive one. Even when the child is unharmed, she stays in a constant state of panic as soon as she walks in her front door.

That’s the opening paragraph of this month’s Reflections essay. “A Child’s Story” is a tough read. It’s about child abuse, helplessness, the will to endure, about those who help and those who don’t. In the end, it’s a hopeful story, despite everything. The story is also a reminder of just how much the decision to become a nurse means to some people. Here’s a brief excerpt, but we hope you’ll read the entire short essay (click on the article title above).—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

 

 
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AJN’s July Issue: Diabetes and Puberty, Getting Patient Input, Quality Measures, Professional Boundaries, More

June 27, 2014

AJN0714.Cover.OnlineAJN’s July issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

Diabetes and puberty. On our cover this month, 17-year-old Trenton Jantzi tests his blood sugar before football practice. Trenton has type 1 diabetes and is one of a growing number of children and adolescents in the United States who have  been diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The physical and psychological changes of puberty can add to the challenges of diabetes management. Nurses are well positioned to help patients and their families understand and meet these challenges.

To learn more more about the physical and behavioral changes experienced by adolescents with diabetes, see this month’s CE feature, “Diabetes and Puberty: A Glycemic Challenge,” and earn 2.6 CE credits by taking the test that follows the article. And don’t miss a podcast interview with the author, one of her adolescent patients, and the patient’s mother (this and other podcasts are accessible via the Behind the Article page on our Web site or, if you’re in our iPad app, by tapping the icon on the first page of the article). Read the rest of this entry ?

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Providing Culturally Sensitive Care: It Takes More Than Knowledge

June 25, 2014

By Karen Roush, AJN clinical managing editor. Photos by the author.

DSC_0136One Saturday a few weeks ago I grabbed my camera and headed out to spend the afternoon taking photographs around the city. I ended up wandering around the streets of Chinatown, photographing the street life—the rows of fresh fish on piles of ice, the colorful patterns of vegetables in crates outside shops, old women in variations of plaid and flowered housedresses lined up on a bench, children scattering clusters of pigeons.

Eventually I happened upon a vigorous and highly skilled game of handball in a park. The competitors were predominately young Asian men, though there were a few Hispanic men playing too. Standing next to me, a young man was telling his friend about a clever way a mutual friend had devised to get out of paying a parking ticket. If you live in New York, or almost any big city, you will earn yourself a parking ticket or two at some point. Intrigued by this man’s idea, I asked him if it actually worked and he assured me it did. Then he rolled his eyes and said, “Oh no, I shouldn’t have said anything. Once the white people know, that’s the end of it!” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Takeaways from 2014 ANA Membership Assembly

June 23, 2014
Pamela Cipriano, incoming ANA president

Pamela Cipriano, incoming ANA president

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

So far, so good

In June, the American Nurses Association (ANA) convened its second membership assembly, which included representatives of constituent and state nurses associations, individual members groups and affiliated entities, plus the board of directors. (This is the structure that replaced the House of Delegates as the official governing body of the ANA, when ANA restructured in 2012. See our 2012 report on the restructuring.)

The assembly was preceded by ANA’s annual Lobby Day on June 12th, in which nurses visited legislators on Capitol Hill to talk up legislation important to nursing, like bills on staffing, safe patient handling, and one that would remove barriers to efficient home care services.

This membership assembly was subdued—perhaps a gift for Karen Daley, the outgoing two-term president who shepherded the organization through a turbulent period of change. There were no contentious resolutions to deal with this time—there were only three issues brought to the group through dialogue forums, to develop recommendations for the board of directors:

  • scope of practice (full practice authority for all RNs)
  • integrating palliative care into health care delivery
  • promoting interprofessional health care teams

While the scope of practice topic was ostensibly promoting full practice for ALL RNs, most of the discussion (and a video) focused only on APRNs as physician colleagues. I wonder: are we fostering a message in which only nurses who are APRNs are perceived as physician colleagues? Read the rest of this entry ?

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Still a Nurse: A Shift in Professional Identity

June 19, 2014
Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

The June Reflections, “Making It Fit,” is a frank exploration of the ways health care professionals form separate cultures within each institution. It’s told by a newly minted advanced practice nurse whose previous job had been as a staff nurse in an ED. Now she’s taken a job as a psychiatric NP and finds herself on uncertain ground:

When I walked onto the unit my first day, expecting to be embraced by the nurses, I was dumbfounded and hurt that my own profession didn’t accept me with open arms. The inpatient unit is a melting pot of professions, and I found that I didn’t necessarily fit with the doctors, the social workers, or the staff nurses.

The author finds herself alone, neither nurse nor physician but instead something in between. As she describes her process of finding a new kind of nursing identity, she is very clear that this is not a case of nurses “eating their young.” Rather, it’s about finding a new normal. The short essay is an honest, smart look at career advancement and the associated challenges we hear less about, and is well worth a read.—Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

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The Ethics of No-Smokers Hiring Policies: Examining the Assumptions

June 16, 2014
Army nurses light up in 1947. Photo courtesy of Everett Collection / Newscom.

Army nurses light up in 1947. Photo courtesy of Everett Collection / Newscom.

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

The Ethical Issues column in the June issue is called “The Ethics of Denying Smokers Employment in Health Care” (free until July 16). As in his previous columns, nurse–ethicist Doug Olsen models the thinking process of an ethicist, illuminating the fundamentals of ethical reasoning even as he tackles a specific ethical question.

Most positions we take on tough questions depend on a number of assumptions, both conscious and otherwise. In this article, Olsen does a great job identifying and then testing the assumptions that underlie such no-smokers hiring policies. Here are the main ones, as Olsen describes them:

  • Personal responsibility applies to smoking—that is, the individual is responsible for the smoking behavior.
  • There is a positive cost–benefit ratio in denying smokers employment.
  • Patient care is improved by not having smokers on staff.
  • Smokers can be reliably identified.
  • Smokers are not being singled out—people with other equally unhealthy behaviors meeting the criteria on this list are treated in the same way.
  • Refusing to employ smokers is good publicity for the hospital and therefore improves the hospital’s ability to fulfill its mission.

After considering the defensibility of each of these assumptions in turn, Olsen makes a distinction between what he calls “restrictive” and “caring” policies, and considers the potential effects of each on public perception when it comes to a hospital. Read the rest of this entry ?

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When Metrics and Testing Replace Listening and Physical Assessment

June 13, 2014

By Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, AJN news director

Emergency x 2 by Ian Muttoo, via Flickr.

by Ian Muttoo/via Flickr

I was appalled as I read the Narrative Matters column by physician Charlotte Yeh in the June issue of Health Affairs, for two reasons. Aside from the compassion I felt for her suffering at being hit by a car on a rainy Washington, D.C., evening in 2011, I was dismayed that most of her story took place in an ED, one of the settings in which I used to work. While there, she met with a series of omissions that included not just medical care omissions but also—though she never explicitly connects the dots—basic and serious nursing care omissions.

It saddens me to think that one of the things I fought so hard to implement on our unit more than 20 years ago—transforming the staff’s automatic labeling of arriving patients (an MI, an MVA, a gunshot wound) into a unique picture of who that patient really was under those traumatic circumstances—has still not come to pass. Yet that change of vision is so important to completing the picture and arriving at an accurate diagnosis. Noting that her care demanded a better balance of necessary test-based care and “an understanding of me as a person and what mattered to me,” Yeh points out how, for many providers, the clinical measures “can become more important than the patient.”

She narrates her view from the hallway stretcher as the ED team looks at cursory objective data only—some negative test results, the fact that she was not lying in the street when EMTs arrived (she had been moved by bystanders at her request, to avoid being run over by oncoming traffic), and that meds relieved her pain. But the objective signs that could have been gotten only from listening to her and from a solid nursing assessment were ignored for far too long.

I would expect a Level 1 trauma center team to know that clinical measures form only the tentative outline of a complete patient picture. Yet Yeh did not even receive a thorough history and physical from any member of the team. Yeh is a physician and understandably focuses her finger-pointing on medical care, which failed to order the tests that might have clarified the outline of what was happening with this particular “auto-ped.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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