Archive for the ‘Social media’ Category


Nursing and Social Media’s Limits: Real Change Requires Moving Beyond Hashtags and Selfies

October 2, 2015

Karen Roush, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor of nursing at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, and founder of the Scholar’s Voice, which works to strengthen the voice of nursing through writing mentorship for nurses.

by rosmary/via Flickr

by rosmary/via Flickr

The recent #ShowMeYourStethoscope media campaign has been hailed as a powerful demonstration of the unified voice of nurses and what it can accomplish.

In case you’re not familiar with the incident that led to the outrage–after a Miss America contestant, Kelley Johnson (Miss Colorado), a registered nurse, delivered a monologue about her work for the talent portion of the yearly pageant while dressed in scrubs and wearing her stethoscope, hosts of the television show The View derided her, with one asking why she had on a “doctor’s stethoscope.”

There was soon a vigorous backlash across social media as nurses posted, blogged, and tweeted photos of themselves with stethoscopes, often adding moving descriptions of the situations where they use them or witty comments illustrating the absurdity of the hosts’ remarks.

I found it a heartening response to disrespect and ignorance. Nurses felt empowered and celebrated the opportunity to show the public what nursing is really about.

But has anything really changed? Yes, The View lost some sponsors and was forced to air an apology (albeit unconvincing and rather patronizing). And perhaps there was a brief uptick in nurses’ public image and visibility.

But does the public really now have any better idea of the complexity of nurses’ work and the richness of their contribution to health care? Will such a campaign have any impact on the issues facing the nursing profession, such as safe staffing ratios, barriers to independent advanced practice that hamper our ability to fulfill our role in primary care, or the lack of nurses in upper leadership roles in health-related organizations?

Preaching to the choir? Those of us who pay attention to social media outlets can easily get a skewed picture of the attention these viral campaigns generate. Though the incident and subsequent outrage were widely reported, particularly in entertainment and business media (because of the loss of advertisers), this alone is unlikely to create an impetus for systemic changes in health care on such issues as safe staffing ratios. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Afterlife of Trauma, Near and Far

September 28, 2015

Julianna Paradisi, RN, OCN, is an oncology nurse navigator and writes a monthly post for this blog.

Mixed media illustration by Julianna Paradisi

Mixed media illustration by Julianna Paradisi

The alarm clock rang noisily. I wasn’t ready to surrender the cozy cocoon of my bed and venture into the emotional turbulence of this particular day: The 14th anniversary of 9/11.

The week leading up to it was rough. My stepfather had quadruple coronary bypass surgery in another city. Although it was successful, and his children were there to help and support my mother, I’ve felt guilty for not being there myself, because I’m the nurse in the family, and I feel responsible for every medical problem that arises for the ones I love—even if I’m not really needed.

Besides this, at work we’re in one of those cycles where every patient gets bad news: The cancer has invaded the borders of another organ, or the patient is incredibly young for the diagnosis that’s been received. Six months into my career as an oncology nurse navigator, I realize the emotional toll from secondary trauma is often more related to a previous job as a pediatric intensive care nurse than that of my more recent position as an oncology infusion nurse.

Because of all this, I decided to minimize my media exposure to the trauma of 9/11 this year. I stayed off of Facebook, and instead of watching the morning news I listened to Lyle Lovett croon the delightfully absurd lyric, “Penguins are so sensitive to my needs.”

It almost worked, but I share an office with a colleague who lived in the New York area at the time of the attacks. When she brought up 9/11, I asked her about it; she told me her experience, and my heart broke open. Then I told her how in 2001, here in Portland, Oregon, we watched the horror on TV with the rest of the world. But I also worked in an office at a hospital, where a colleague started a flurry of emails, explaining that her friends’ son worked in Two World Trade Center and was missing. His father had seen the first tower attacked on TV. He called his son, who answered the phone from his work cubicle, unaware of the disaster outside.

“Get out of the building, it’s not safe,” his father ordered. “Get out now!” He hung up, and that was the last he’d heard from his son. My colleague’s emails asked for prayers and positive energy for her friends and their son.

Late in the afternoon, we learned that her friends’ son had called. He’d escaped before the second tower was attacked. Because of his father’s warning, he had persuaded the other people in his department to flee with him. All of them were safe.

In telling the story, the emotion from 14 years ago flooded forward, as fresh and raw as it was back then.

My colleague and I talked some more, until our words were spent. Then we went to work contacting cancer patients, helping them through their personal crises.

At the end of the day, I felt weary, empty.

On my way home, I saw a tall, thin man, more hippie than hipster, walking down the street. His stork-like gait and mid-back-length ponytail caught my eye, but it was the bouquet of flowers he carried that held my imagination. He was bringing someone flowers: a visual expression of love on this day of sorrow.

It was only a small gesture, but it reminded me why I’m a nurse.

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Reflective Writing as a Crucial Counterweight to Clinical Experience

September 25, 2015

By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.

Kevin V. Pxl/Flickr

Kevin V. Pxl/Flickr

When I first started working as a nurse, I didn’t write much. My shifts, twelve hours of chaos, weren’t stories to be told, just days to survive. I wrote only when, after a traumatic event surrounding a patient’s death, I felt like I didn’t know who I could talk to about it. I had always written in a journal, but I hadn’t really thought of writing as a tool for healing—I just knew that I felt better after banging on the keyboard a bit.

Other than this single instance, I didn’t make writing a regular practice during my first year of nursing—a choice I still regret. I covet all of those forgotten lessons, missed descriptors, and stories that I might use in my writing now, but mostly, I wish I had known that moving my pen on a piece of paper might’ve helped me heal from the consistent stress of my new work.

A few years ago, by then a relatively experienced ICU nurse as well as a graduate student, I took a class called, “Writing, Communication, & Healing.” Taught by a poet and health care journalist, Joy Jacobson, it came at a time when I needed to learn how to write—for me, that is. I wrote for professors and for blogs; I even scribbled in a journal before sleeping each night. But during that semester I learned—in both practical and theoretical terms—the benefits of writing for my own healing through a technique called reflective, or expressive, writing. Read the rest of this entry ?


Some Notes on Miss Colorado’s ‘I’m Just a Nurse’ Speech

September 15, 2015

By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.

I’m a sucker for beauty pageants. There’s something about the old-fashioned simplicity that fascinates me. While Miss America is, at its roots, a generous scholarship program, it’d be hard for me to say that I tune in for anything other than the sparkle and style.

With that said, I still love a Miss Congeniality angle, which this year’s Miss Colorado seemed to proffer in a much-praised speech. Similar to Sandra Bullock’s character, Gracie Lou Freebush, Kelley Johnson’s nurse-specific monologue was both engaging and educational. But her talent struck a little closer to home—she used the phrase “I’m just a nurse.”

Her two-minute speech won her a second-runner-up prize, as well as millions of hits online. But what did it get us nurses?

Sure, all PR for our profession is great, but the age-old, ubiquitous slur that served as the tagline for much of Ms. Johnson’s monologue makes a lot of us uneasy. Although Ms. Johnson very skillfully ended her monologue by refuting her initial proclamation, the public expression of it deserves a second look.

“Just a nurse” is not a new phrase to our profession; a brief scroll through Tumblr will do more than update the casual viewer. However, most of us steer away from association with the phrase; it discredits, it’s a conversation killer, and it has long been seen as a sarcastic way to circumvent responsibility. Shawn Kennedy, editor-in-chief of AJN, wrote back in May 2010 that nurses—regular ones—make our health care work. The phrase infuriates her, simply because it discredits the profound work we do on a day-to-day basis.

But after listening to Ms. Johnson’s speech, I wonder if we’ve been missing the opportunity behind the phrase all along. Instead of telling Joe, the patient she talks to in her monologue, “No, I’m just a nurse,” when he asked her if she could alter his medications, perhaps Nurse Johnson might have said, “You know, Joe, I can’t change your medications, because I’m a nurse. This is not a nurse’s responsibility—it’s a physician’s. But I can tell you why each one of them has been ordered, which ones might cause side effects, and how you should take them when you go home.”

In the actual speech, Kelley Johnson goes on to say, “Because I couldn’t do those things [change treatments and medications] for Joe, we connected on other levels,” and then tells of personal stories they shared. While this is a beautiful account of a nurse speaking with a patient in a human way, Johnson downplays the profound impact of her intervention—she held her patient’s hand—one that is nursing specific and should be credited with measurable improvements to both her patient’s clinical status and her hospital’s financial and performance outcomes. Read the rest of this entry ?


Remembering Nurses Who Served the Wounded and Dying and Those Who Died Themselves

May 22, 2015

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Normandy American Cemetery, France. Photo by Karen Roush

Normandy American Cemetery, France. Photo by Karen Roush

So many of us look forward to Memorial Day weekend as a welcome long weekend and official start of summer. But there are many for whom Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) is a reminder of loved ones who died in military service—and that includes a significant number of military nurses who cared for the wounded in various wars.

We’d like to take this occasion to remind us all of the real meaning of this day and to honor the sacrifices of our colleagues. While it’s hard to find specific numbers of nurses who died in wars, one can extrapolate from what’s known about women who died, since most women who served in combat areas from the start of the 20th century through the Vietnam War were nurses.* Read the rest of this entry ?


A Found Poem For Nurses Week

May 11, 2015
Badruddeen, via Flickr

Badruddeen, via Flickr

The poem below, originally published in our May 2005 issue, is by Veneta Masson, MA, RN. It’s a “found poem,” a form of poetry in which the poet assembles phrases selected from a source or sources. The lines here come “from actual posts to an Internet bulletin board,” but they could as easily be comments on AJN‘s Facebook page! The author is a nurse and writer living in Washington, DC (more about her work can be found here).—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

Nurses Week—What Did You Get?
Hi, everyone! Just curious to see what you received for Nurses Week.

Denim shirts with the company logo

Swiss Army–type knives with fourteen blades

Carnations in dollar-shop vases

One wilted rose

Soap on a rope

I think I’m worth more than this

A live band at the Holiday Inn

A potato bar luncheon

If you weren’t there, you got nada


Not a thing

A PA announcement thanking the nurses

We dug out our caps & wore them all day
our VP of Nursing came to the unit and stayed for an hour
we sat with her & shared our stories of why we went into nursing

We got pizza one day (if you were there) and ice cream one day (if you were there)

Rolos, Skittles and M&Ms—give me the tools to do my job
instead of tote bags and candy

A drawing for some pretty cool prizes—movies, massages, a month off call

A bonus

We got to work overtime!

I presented my findings to the Executive Team and found out Tuesday
that they had approved another nurse . . . the best thing I   could have gotten

One of my patients agreed to an interview with a local paper
and our story made the front page

Read the rest of this entry ?


Nurses Week: An Annual Occasion for Mixed Feelings and a Little Reflection

May 4, 2015

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

by rosmary/via Flickr

by rosmary/via Flickr

It’s here again, that week set aside to remember the accomplishments of Florence Nightingale and the good work all nurses do. Many nurses I speak with don’t like this annual event and feel it represents a patriarchal tradition that diminishes our professionalism. One nurse recently said to me, “Do they have a Neuroscientists Week, or an Attorneys Day?” (Actually, a Google search reveals there’s a “Be Kind to Lawyers Day”! But you get the point.)

Others say that Nurses Week provides an opportunity to promote our profession and gain recognition for what we do, even if only for a week—and that’s better than nothing. Organizations do seem to have evolved from the “Love a nurse prn” shoelaces to more substantial recognition, like a lunch with a noted speaker, or better yet, recognizing the achievements of their own staff.

On the other hand, I was surprised last year when I asked on AJN‘s Facebook page what nurses’ workplaces were doing for Nurses Week and many nurses replied, “nothing.” That word was often followed by some derogatory remarks about the facility.

I have mixed feelings, but I guess I fall more into the camp of using Nurses Week to remind everyone—including ourselves, colleagues, employers, and the public—of the complex and vital work nurses do. Without nurses, there is no health care system. Nurses Week is an opportunity to honor those among us who have achieved excellence and gone “above and beyond” in their work. Still, as a blog post from a few years back (“Superlatives: An Alternate List for Nurses Week”) gently suggests, honoring needs to be appropriate to the seriousness of the work we do and not be trivialized with meaningless trinkets and goodie bags. Read the rest of this entry ?


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