Archive for the ‘professional identity’ Category

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If You Want to Write, Do It (and Skip the ‘Weaseling Qualifiers’)

September 26, 2014
Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Are you one of those people—nurse or otherwise—who daydreams about writing (a personal essay about a formative experience, an article about a quality improvement project you took part in, a blog post about some aspect of nursing) but can’t seem to find the proper way to get started?

Since the weekend is coming and the October issue of AJN is now live on our Web site, it seems a good time to draw attention to “On Writing: Just Do It,” the editorial by Shawn Kennedy, AJN‘s editor-in-chief. Kennedy points out the one idea common to most writing advice: you have to start somewhere. You have to do it, and learn from doing it, and then keep doing it. Or, as she puts it:

One key to becoming a good writer—or a good anything—is persistence.

But the editorial also gives a range of other excellent tips from Kennedy and several experts in the field, and quotes writing advice found in AJN issues through the decades. My favorite bit is from a 1977 editorial by former AJN editor Thelma Schorr:

“[the writer] will use the active voice and not shirk his [or her] responsibility by introducing a statement with such weaseling qualifiers as ‘It is considered that…’ or ‘It is generally believed that…’”

What a great word: “weaseling.” It’s about as far as you can get from the jargon that afflicts so much academic writing. So if you’ve got some free time this weekend, take 15 minutes and see what happens. Netflix will wait.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

 

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What Our Readers Had to Say About RN Staffing in Nursing Homes

September 24, 2014

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

nursing homeEarlier this month, AJN’s managing editor Amy Collins wrote a post about nursing homes, basing her discussion on a New York Times article by Paula Span at the paper’s New Old Age blog that examined efforts to address the inadequate number of registered nurses (RNs) in nursing homes. While federal regulations for agencies that receive Medicare or Medicaid require 24-hour nursing services, they only require an RN to be on site for eight hours daily. According to Span, 11.4% of nursing homes did not meet this requirement.

Collins found confirmation of this information in her own experiences visiting her grandmother in nursing homes:

“There always seems to be a lack of staff—and with so many residents these days suffering from varying levels of dementia and memory problems, staff are needed more than ever.”

We linked to the blog post on our Facebook page and received a tremendous number of comments on both sites. While both Span and Collins emphasized that increases in all levels of nursing personnel are needed, some LPNs responded to our post to assert that they too have valuable skills, as well as extensive experience, in this setting—and that a broader underlying problem is inadequate staffing tied to corporate cost-cutting.

Few people would argue with these assertions. Most LPNs do the best work they can despite impossible patient ratios. Most LPNs are assigned too many patients. Even so, there’s also a real need to increase the number of RNs in nursing homes. We know from research (and you can find links to some of the studies in Span’s article) that there are fewer adverse events when RNs are managing care. Many comments on Facebook and this blog drive the message home. Here’s a sampling:

“Having two large medication passes in one shift gives any nurse with 15 to 25 patients no opportunity to do what RNs do: assess, diagnose, plan, intervene, and evaluate. I don’t’ care how good you are…”

“Insurers are not recognizing that the ‘usual’ patient is different from years ago and requires a much higher level of care.”

“’Skilled nursing’ is a euphemism for ‘med-surg floor.’”

“The problem isn’t that RNs don’t want to work in LTC it’s that the LTC industry as a whole is an inhospitable environment for anyone to work in, nurse or otherwise…The industry is already so rootbound with rules and regulations that it is virtually impossible to function reasonably in this setting.”

“Nursing homes are no longer ‘rest homes’ but individual, sub-acute hospitals. Post-op orthopedic, cardiac, stroke care, along with rehab and wound care, bring with them outlandish amounts of regulations and paperwork. Add to that corporate financial officers who dictate the number of nurses and aides that can work each shift, no matter the acuity of care needed, and you have the recipe for what you find in nursing homes today…. A previous nurse mentioned 46 patients and one nurse on night shift. Of those 46, how many had orders for medications that required ‘30 minutes before (or after) meals,’ multiple insulins (long and short acting), multiple eye drops (administer individually with a wait between), multiple inhalers (also with waits)? Medicating ONE individual might mean 5–6 personal contacts! All of these must be recorded on the medication record and many must be documented on the patient’s chart.”

“Another unspoken issue is that nursing homes are not seen as a desirable workplace by young nurses or by high quality administrators. Lower pay and little room for advancement does not attract the best and brightest. Administrators walk a financial tight rope to keep the place profitable by keeping staffing at a minimum, which also does not lead to innovation or satisfied workers.”

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The Underlying Connection Is Nursing

September 22, 2014
Angel sculpture on grave marker

photo by author

Marcy Phipps, BSN, RN, CCRN, ATCN, TNCC, an ICU nurse who recently took up flight nursing, is an occasional contributor to this blog.

I recently experienced a series of events that seemed interconnected and orchestrated.

It started with my usual morning run. I was jogging out of my neighborhood, already sweating in the summer heat and absorbed—coincidentally—in an audio podcast about trauma care, when I came upon a man sprawled in the middle of a usually very busy thoroughfare. His motorcycle, badly damaged, was lying on its side next to a car with a crumpled door panel. The accident had clearly just occurred—traffic hadn’t yet backed up and no sirens could be heard heralding imminent assistance.

I had the weird sensation that I’d been running to the accident all along. I held his C-spine and monitored his neuro status while an off-duty paramedic managed the scene. Unexpectedly, a cardiologist I sometimes work with emerged from a nearby café and held his fingers to the man’s radial pulse, and then several more off-duty paramedics arrived.

It seemed fortuitous to me at the time—not the accident, of course, but the proximity of medical personnel who were so quickly available. And I had the impression that, despite not having worn a helmet, the motorcycle rider would be okay. He was talking to me, after all, and I didn’t see any obvious deformities or signs of severe injury.

About a week later, with the motorcyclist (and a shred of doubt) in the back of my mind, I glanced through the obituary section of the local paper. I should say that I almost never read the newspaper. When I do, I don’t look at the obituaries. And yet, on this rare occasion, I saw that not only had the motorcyclist succumbed to his injuries several days after his accident, but also that a patient with whom I’d developed a friendship several years ago had died, and that his memorial service was the following day. Read the rest of this entry ?

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End-of-Life Discussions and the Uneasy Role of Nurses

September 11, 2014

Amanda Anderson, BSN, RN, CCRN, is a critical care nurse in New York City and enrolled in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing/Baruch College of Public Affairs dual master’s degree program in nursing administration and public administration. She is currently doing a graduate placement at AJN two days a week, working on a variety of projects. Her personal blog is called This Nurse Wonders.

Evelyn Simak/ via Wikimedia Commons

Evelyn Simak/ via Wikimedia Commons

Nurse and writer Theresa Brown wrote a piece for this past Sunday’s New York Times on the dilemmas physicians face when their patients want to stop aggressive treatment (the latest installment of Brown’s quarterly column, What I’m Reading, is in the September issue of AJN [paywall]).

Brown’s Times column talks about physicians who have trouble letting patients go and instead push for more unnecessary and often unwanted treatment. She describes a case in which—after palliative care has been decided upon by the patient’s family members, the palliative care team, and even the heartbroken oncologist—the patient’s primary care physician intervenes and pushes for still more futile treatment. (Much of the article delves into the broader issue of palliative care and the benefits it has for patients in many stages of chronic illness.)

Have you ever disagreed with a physician’s choice to continue treatments in a situation where you thought these treatments were against a patient’s real desires or best interests? Have you felt cornered in your care? What conversations did you start—or want to start but maybe felt you couldn’t?

Many times, we nurses at the bedside are afraid to speak openly with our patients about end of life, especially when physicians have different views on what should be the patient’s treatment goals. The situation feels thorny, fraught. Moral distress—when you know the right thing to do for your patient but don’t feel you have the ability to do it—can lead to burnout, high turnover rates, and many emotional stressors among nurses. Often, we simply can’t say what we want to say, despite a duty to our patients to accurately educate them on their care and conditions. Read the rest of this entry ?

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AJN’s September Issue: Anaphylaxis at School, Central Line Care, EBP, More

August 29, 2014

SeptemberAJN’s September issue is now available on our Web site. Here’s a selection of what not to miss.

It’s back-to-school time, and on our cover this month is a photo of Head Start nursing supervisor Travia Williams weighing a student in the program’s classroom at Cocoa High School in Brevard County, Florida. The program provides enrolled children with screening, physicals, and other health care services.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, a third of all school districts in the United States have reduced nursing staff and a quarter don’t have any nurses at all. Yet there is the potential for more emergencies in school now than ever, with school nurses treating increasingly complex medical conditions and chronic illnesses. For more on the important role school nurses play in handling these health emergencies, see the In Our Community article, “Emergency Anaphylaxis at School.” And don’t miss a podcast interview with the author (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).

Applying EBP to Practice. Despite the recognized importance of evidence-based practice (EBP), there continues to be a gap between the emergence of research findings and their application to practice. In this month’s original research article, “Staff Nurses’ Use of Research to Facilitate Evidence-Based Practice,” the authors used an online survey to determine to what extent RNs in an acute care multihospital system used research findings in their practice. Several barriers to such use were revealed, including lack of time and resources. This CE feature offers 3 CE credits to those who take the test that follows the article. Read the rest of this entry ?

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How Do You Define Nursing?

August 27, 2014

Virginia Henderson

Virginia Henderson

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Fifty years ago this month, in the August issue of AJN, Virginia A. Henderson, one of nursing’s giants, explained how she came to her definition of nursing: “The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge.” (We’ve made the article, “The Nature of Nursing,” free until September 30. Click through to the PDF under “Article Tools.”)

Many (older) nurses may remember Henderson as one of the authors of Harmer and Henderson’s The Principles and Practices of Nursing, a mainstay textbook for nursing schools, or for her internationally published book, Basic Principles of Nursing Care, which was translated widely. She also taught nursing at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and then later at Yale University, where she developed a comprehensive index of nursing research. But her accomplishments went far beyond that. Her writings helped change how nursing was being regarded—from an occupation that existed only to provide physicians with helpmates to a scholarly, independent profession.

I had the good fortune to meet Henderson in the early 1990s, when she came to AJN’s offices to meet with Fred Pattison, AJN’s librarian at the time, who was also the editor of the International Nursing Index. She was warm, engaging, down-to-earth, and had a wonderful sense of humor—not what I expected from a legend! Her personality shines through in this video, shot in 1978 for a series on nursing leaders produced by Sigma Theta Tau International.

Her biography from her 1996 induction into the American Nurses Association’s Hall of Fame notes: “A modern legend in nursing, Virginia A. Henderson has earned the title ‘foremost nurse of the 20th century.’ Her contributions are compared to those of Florence Nightingale because of their far-reaching effects on the national and international nursing communities.”

(Subscribers to AJN have full access to AJN’s complete archives, chronicling 114 years of nursing—very worthwhile browsing!)

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Coincidental Violence Against a Nurse: More Prepared Than You Think?

August 25, 2014

Julianna Paradisi, RN, OCN, writes a monthly post for this blog and works as an infusion nurse in outpatient oncology.

The Myth of Closure/ oil stick and charcoal on paper 2014/ Julianna Paradisi

The Myth of Closure/ oil stick and charcoal on paper 2014/ Julianna Paradisi

Recently I was attacked by a stranger while running in the bright, mid-morning sunlight of summer through a populated urban setting.

My attacker did not know I am a nurse, so it’s only coincidental that it was violence against a nurse. However, I believe my nurse’s training contributed to choices I made in response.

How It Began: As I was running towards home through a busy recreational area along the river, a disheveled man on a bicycle turned a corner from the opposite direction and I swerved left to avoid collision. I thought nothing of it, and continued on.

First Contact: A few yards later, the same man rode closely up alongside of me so suddenly that I was startled when he angrily yelled something in gibberish. My nurse’s education and experience had schooled me not to react, not to make eye contact, and to get out of his personal space. At this point, the sidewalk forked. The stranger continued towards the left. I went right, on the greenway along the river. I kept running to put distance between us.

Second Contact: I felt him coming after me on his bicycle. I knew he was going to run me down. The nurse’s ability to critically think after a rapid assessment came to my aid. To the right was the river embankment lined with rocks. It wasn’t a long fall, but the loose rocks and the river held potential for further harm if he pursued. Instead, I chose to cross left, and then make my way up and through the landscaping of the riverfront condominiums. I didn’t succeed: he hit me from behind with his bike, yelling “Run faster!”

I knew it was important to stay on my feet, and throwing my weight backwards to stop the momentum, I did—grateful for an exercise class I’d started several weeks ago, strengthening my core. Read the rest of this entry ?

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