Posts Tagged ‘Nurses’

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AJN EIC Talks Priorities With Leaders of Critical Care Nurses Organization

May 26, 2015
Karen McQuillan and Teri Lynn Kiss

AACN president-elect Karen McQuillan (left) and president Teri Lynn Kiss

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

Last week at the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) annual meeting (see this post), I interviewed the association’s president, Teri Lynn Kiss, or “TK,” and the current president-elect, Karen McQuillan, who will officially take office after this month. After days of rushing from session to session (and there must be 300+ sessions to choose from) and wandering through exhibits, I always enjoy sitting down with leaders of this organization and hearing what they think is important in critical care nursing.

Teri Lynn Kiss, MS, MSSW, RN, CNML, CMSRN, director of Medical Unit-2South and case management services at Alaska-based Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, has led this growing organization of over 104,000 members for the last year. I asked her what she felt she’d accomplished. She said that one of the most valuable things the association had done in the past year was to provide clear and credible information about Ebola to its members, the health care community, and to policy makers in Washington. She also believes the association’s work on creating healthy work environments is important not just for nurses but will translate to better care for patients. Her presidency, she said, enabled her to fulfill her own personal mission of service to others—one she will continue with the association in different capacities.

Karen McQuillan, MS, RN, CNS-BC, CCRN, CNRN, FAAN, a clinical nurse specialist at R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, announced that her theme would be “Courageous Care.” As she noted in her keynote address, “For us as nurses, courageous care means doing what is necessary to provide the best possible care for our patients and their families. Period.”

But you can listen to them speak for themselves in this podcast recording of our conversation.

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Critical Care Nursing in San Diego (or was it Las Vegas?)

May 20, 2015

FullSizeRenderBy Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

I’ve written before about the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) annual meeting, the National Teaching Institute (NTI). As a former critical care and emergency nurse, I’ve attended it almost annually. And I’m always amazed at how each year they step it up with new twists. One year, it was the helicopter and full MASH unit in the exhibit hall. Then AACN went to the TED talk style of keynote presentations. Last year, they had a contest for members to apply to be the guest co-master of ceremonies. So, what might possibly be a new twist in this year’s opening session?

I was sitting with leaders of the Canadian Critical Care Nurses Association, one of whom had never been to NTI before and had been told by her colleague that it would be unlike anything she had seen before. She couldn’t have been more on target—even by NTI standards. The session opened with a DJ and loud techno-rock music, followed by a very fit and energetic dance troupe and pop singers. Then, down from the ceiling came four acrobats and a bare-chested man spinning above the stage, along with a dozen or so men and women running up and down the aisles with large, lighted balls that the audience began batting around, all to the techno music. Was I really at a nursing meeting? Everyone was certainly awake and energized!

San Diego

San Diego

Awards. Pioneering Spirit awards were given to Paul Batalden (for his work with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and at Dartmouth) and researcher Ann Rogers, and the Marguerite Rogers Kinney Award for a Distinguished Career was given to Joanne Disch (educator and former American Academy of Nursing president and AARP board chair). Some notable moments: Batalden said one piece of advice he would give is to “avoid working with jerks”; Disch received a rousing ovation when she told how she almost didn’t get into graduate school “because she partied too much as an undergraduate.”

‘Focus the flame.’ On a more serious note, AACN president Teri Lynn Kiss addressed the “growing community of exceptional nurses” (AACN membership is at a new record high of 104,000), speaking about her experiences over the past year as president, during which her theme, “Focus the Flame,” guided her work. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Good Jokes, Bad Jokes: The Ethics of Nurses’ Use of Humor

April 29, 2015

By Douglas P. Olsen, PhD, RN, associate professor, Michigan State University College of Nursing in East Lansing, associate editor of Nursing Ethics, and a contributing editor of AJN, where he regularly writes about ethical issues in nursing.

Humor has real benefits. But when does nurses’ joking about patients, each other, and the care they provide cross a line?

Photo from otisarchives4, via Flickr.

otisarchives4/Flickr

“Nurses make fun of their dying patients. That’s okay.” That was the provocative title of an op-ed by Alexandra Robbins in the Washington Post on April 16. The author’s treatment of the topic was more complex than the title suggested, but some examples of humor given in the article were troubling.

For ethical practice, nurses must consider if it is ever appropriate to discuss the clinical care of patients for humorous purposes. An easy answer would be—never. If patient care is never joked about, then no one’s feelings are ever hurt and nothing inappropriate is said as a joke. However, my experience as a nurse in psychiatric emergency and with human nature suggests two arguments against this approach:

  • Jokes will be made despite any prohibition.
  • Considerable good comes from such humor.

If jokes are going to be told anyway, it’s better to provide an ethical framework than to turn a blind eye. If joking about patient care is sometimes acceptable and sometimes not, nurses’ jokes are more likely to stay ethical if they consider in advance under what conditions it’s ethical to joke and how one distinguishes ethical from unethical humor.

According to Vaillant (1992), humor is among the most mature of the defenses. “Like hope, humor permits one to bear and yet to focus upon what is too terrible to be borne” (Vaillant, 1977). Those who have experienced the stress of intense clinical practice know the value of finding humor in life’s tragedies. In addition, patients who are able to cope with their physical and emotional pain are often those who find the humor in tragedy.

Still, some attempts to make people laugh are unkind, and it hurts to be the subject of others’ laughter. Vaillant distinguishes humor from wit, noting that humor never excludes (1977). It may help nurses to enjoy the beneficial effects of humor and avoid the effects of harmful humor if we attempt to identify some characteristics of appropriate humor. Watson (2011) offers some useful suggestions for self-examination to determine the acceptability of clinical humor:

  • Is the joke about the patient, the situation, or the clinicians themselves?
  • Does the joke reveal disdain or contempt for the patient?
  • Could the joke affect care? An example might be jokes suggesting that a patient deserves pain or disability. Wear et al. (2006) demonstrated that medical students treated patients considered responsible for their pathology as “fair game” for derogatory humor. And nurses have more difficulty empathizing with patients they consider responsible for their pathology (Olsen, 1997). Therefore, jokes enhancing this perception could erode a nurse’s relationship with that patient.
  • What is the underlying intent of the joke—is the motive to influence clinician behavior or attitude? This includes both harmful and helpful intent. Some jokes could be used to gently chide a clinician toward more empathy. Upon hearing a nurse refer to drug-seeking patients in a derogatory tone, I may retort, “Of course they’re lying about their pain. What would happen if she told the triage nurse that she has a five-bag-a-day habit and her dealer is out of town?” The comment generally gets a laugh, and my goal is to give the nurse a chance to consider the patient’s perspective and perhaps see the situation less as despicable deception and more as the desperation of unmet needs.
  • Is it true humor—that is, is it inclusive, a clever juxtaposition, insightful—or is it simply mean-spirited mockery of another’s misfortune? This distinction is subtle and is often dependent on personal intuitive reaction: Does it feel cruel, callous or uncaring? Do you feel shame at saying or hearing it? Does laughing at the joke make you uncomfortable? These reactions vary widely, as can be seen in the public debate regarding what is called “political correctness.”

Filter yourself when thinking to tell a joke and reacting to another’s humor. Pause a moment before telling the joke or reacting to another’s comment; let your intuition and values weigh in. Then, speak—or don’t.

A more difficult ethical issue is whether it is acceptable to make potentially hurtful jokes if one can reasonably ensure that the joke remains within the clinical circle. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Recent End-of-Life Care Links of Note, by Nurses and Others

April 13, 2015
nature's own tightrope/marie and alistair knock/flickr creative commons

nature’s own tightrope/marie and alistair knock/flickr creative commons

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

End-of-life care and decision making have been getting a lot of attention lately. The Institute of Medicine released a new report earlier this year, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life (available for free download as a PDF).

Nurses who write often write about end-of-life matters. A couple of recent examples:

On the Nurse Manifest Web site, a look at the realities and challenges of futile care in America. Here’s a quote:

“I am currently teaching a thanatology (study of death and dying) course for nurses that I designed . . . to support students to go deeply in their reflective process around death and dying, to explore the holistic needs of the dying, and to delve into the body of evidence around the science and politics of death and dying.”

Or read another nurse blogger’s less abstract take on the tricky emotional territory nurses face when a patient dies.

Elsewhere on the Web
Vox reporter Sarah Kliff collects five strong end-of-life essays that recently appeared in various sources.

And here’s something very practical that might catch on: according to a recent NPR story, a Honolulu hospital offers patients and their family members instructive videos on the sometimes gruesome realities of some end-of-life treatment options. Starting with the no-sugar-coating-it statement, “You’re being shown this video because you have an illness that cannot be cured,” these videos explain intubation, CPR, and the different care options available.

I really liked this piece because the physician admitted that he was ill prepared to talk to a patient running out of options who he had never met before. Then he remembered the counsel of other professionals to give patient-specific care (“What are your goals for your care?”).

And some recent coverage in AJN or on this blog
Joy Jacobson’s short end-of-life and palliative care overview from 2013. Read the rest of this entry ?

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More Than Competencies and Checklists: The Shadow Side of Nurse Orientation

March 30, 2015

‘Developing beneficial working relationships is part of a successful nursing orientation. If you’re lucky, your preceptor is explaining the nuances.’

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

Paradisi_Illustration_ShadowI led the first patient I had contact with as a nurse navigator to the hospital restrooms—this was her most pressing concern at the time. Building on this success, I now have a small number of patients to navigate through their cancer journeys, under advisement of my preceptors.

During this early stage, I’ve become aware that, running parallel to my orientation, a shadow orientation is also occurring.

This umbral orientation doesn’t come, like its more tangible counterpart, with a sheath of paperwork with competencies to perform or checklists to mark off. But it’s just as real. Awareness of shadow orientation develops on an intuitive level. While this experience is difficult to describe in words, it feels familiar.

Shadow orientations happen to everyone. Nearly 30 years and several nursing jobs since that first one, I’m acutely aware of the importance of a good first impression. Fortunately, this particular orientation of mine is going smoothly, but here are some observations based on past experiences.

Shadow orientation is present when you meet a staff member who makes it known this is her desk, her chair, her phone—maybe not in words, but with a look and a click of her tongue as she makes a great show of finding somewhere else to sit, despite your offer to give up the seat.

It’s happening when a physician won’t speak to you directly about your patient, instead giving his orders to the charge nurse, because you’re new. When you question it, she explains, “It takes him a long time to trust new nurses.” But she does nothing to facilitate an introduction between you.

Another example: There’s much discussion about working relationships between nurses and physicians, but little is said about the interactions between nurses and ancillary staff, such as respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, phlebotomists, or unit secretaries. Each play important roles in patient care, but negotiating workflow can be a source of friction, depending on the individual’s level of professionalism.

I’m only partially joking when I advise striving for a good working relationship with the unit secretary. She or he knows who to call for a vacant bed, the phone and fax numbers you need, and how to make the office machines work. Even now, I can manage a patient safely on a ventilator, but am nearly helpless when the copier machine doesn’t work.

Developing beneficial working relationships is part of a successful nursing orientation. If you’re lucky, your preceptor is explaining the nuances. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Workplace Conflict Engagement for Nurses: Consider the System

March 20, 2015

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

by Sachin Sandhu/Flickr

by Sachin Sandhu/Flickr

This month, Debra Gerardi writes about initial steps to managing workplace conflict as nurses. The quotes below are from her article in the March issue of AJN, “Conflict Engagement: A New Model for Nurses” (free until April 30, the article is one in an ongoing series on conflict).

Just as with most medical errors, there is usually not a single cause of workplace conflict—instead, a number of interrelated variables lead up to an event.

Sure, I was new to nursing, but I wasn’t new to work. My life as the child of small business owners had ingrained in me a certain sense of duty that I felt my colleague lacked. When you grow up with parents who make you pick up cigarette butts in their business parking lots, no work is below you, and there’s no time to complain. Maya wasn’t new to nursing, but she seemed, to me, new to the idea that work was to be done without a fight.

In my first months on the unit, I saw her complain much more than I saw her put her head down and plod through the tasks before her. Our unit was full of really sick patients, to be sure, and glitches like overflowing trash or equipment holdups too often set us back, forcing us to tend to jobs meant for others. But instead of voicing my frustration, I bit my lip and took on every task I came upon, judging my colleague for her unwillingness to silently do the same.

Maya and I soon clashed, probably because she picked up on the disapproval that I wore on my face. While I never told her that I interpreted her opposition to our daily workplace setbacks as laziness, our mutual frustration with each other became palpable. It never occurred to me to try to tell her how I felt; I had no desire to engage Maya in finding a solution. To me, she was the problem.

Effectively addressing conflict in complex systems requires an understanding of how systems function, and ultimately a shift in thinking toward a systems view of organizations.

One day, after a lunch room volley that publicly exposed our simmering conflict, Maya angrily pulled me into an empty patient room. My words to the group eating with us had implied that Maya was to blame for a slip-up, and although the incident hadn’t affected patient care, I’d made my feelings about her work ethic evident to all.

What Maya said to me that day shifted my narrow view of our conflict into one that encompassed our entire system, and changed my view of nursing work forever:

“It is clear we don’t like each other. We don’t need to like each other. We do, for the sake of our patients, need to respect each other. It’s dangerous to them if we don’t.” Read the rest of this entry ?

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Early Localized Prostate Cancer: Nurses Can Help Men Weigh Diagnostic, Treatment Options

March 18, 2015

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

A new diagnosis of prostate cancer can be daunting. Nurses play an increasingly important role in helping men and their partners find their way through the maze of available information and choices. One of the two March CE feature articles in AJN, “Early Localized Prostate Cancer,” gives a thorough overview of tests and treatments.

The author, Anne Katz, is a certified sexuality counselor at CancerCare Manitoba, a clinical nurse specialist at the Manitoba Prostate Centre, and a faculty member in the College of Nursing at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, and Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada. She is also the editor of Oncology Nursing Forum. Writes Katz:

. . . as many as 233,000 men in the United States are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, 60% of whom are ages 65 or older. Most diagnoses are low grade and localized . . . . Since low-grade, localized prostate cancer is slow growing and rarely lethal, even in the absence of intervention, it can be difficult for men to make treatment decisions after diagnosis—particularly if they do not understand the nuanced pathology results they receive and the potential for treatment to result in long-term adverse effects that can profoundly affect quality of life.

Pros_Cons_PSA_ScreeningThe article discusses options for intervention, potential adverse effects associated with each option, and, crucially, the nurse’s “role in helping men and their partners navigate the challenges of making treatment decisions that are appropriate in their particular circumstances.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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