Posts Tagged ‘Nursing’

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A Patient’s Inner Soundtrack from Better Times

September 8, 2014
Illustration by Gingermoth. All rights reserved.

Illustration by Gingermoth. All rights reserved.

She was at high risk for developing bedsores and it was important that she be turned every two hours, but when approached by staff, she would scratch, punch, and spit. Her speech consisted of expletives, which she screamed in a shrill, piercing voice.

Music can soothe, comfort, engage, bring a recognizable world into an alien one. And, crucially, it can allow a nurse or other caregiver a chance to provide badly needed care to someone with dementia or mental illness who is agitated, confused, hostile, or terrified.

In this case, the place is Detroit and the music is Motown. The short passage above is from the Reflections essay in the September issue of AJN. “Playing Her Song: The Power of Music” is not the first submission we’ve had about the ways music can reach patients when words and other measures fail.

Putting on some music would seem a simple kind of strategy, but it may be worth a try in some situations that seem otherwise hopeless. Please give the short essay a read. Reflections are free.—Jacob Molyneux, senior editor/blog editor

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The Gaza Conflict, Through the Lens of Nursing

August 13, 2014

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

In 2005, AJN published an article looking at the experiences of nurses in Israel and in the Palestinian territories (free until September 15; choose ‘full text’ or ‘PDF’ in upper-right of the article landing page). Here’s an excerpt:

“[N]urses in the region have many of the same problems American nurses have: disparate educational levels, struggles for professional recognition and workplace representation. The nurses I met came into the profession for diverse reasons and are working in a remarkable variety of settings, carrying on in the face of political, professional, economic, military, and personal difficulties. Yet I was amazed at the things these nurses have in common with each other—and with us. As I listened to them describe their motivations and aspirations and watched them work, the seemingly impenetrable barrier created by the ongoing military and political conflict melted away.”

Photos and captions from 2005 article about Palestinian and Israeli nurse. Courtesy of Constance Romilly.

Photos and captions from 2005 AJN article. Courtesy of Constance Romilly. Click to expand image.

The current conflict between Israel and those living in the Palestinian territories is another chapter in a long story. Our focus at AJN is not on the politics of the situation or the rhetoric of blame coming from supporters of both sides. Most of our readers already have opinions on the topic, and there are other, more appropriate places you can engage that argument.

The stress and suffering, deaths, injuries, and loss of infrastructure have been well documented. We see lots of images of bombed-out concrete buildings that seem always to have been ruins in some nameless place, with little evidence of the lives only recently played out there. Still, one at times stumbles upon photos of people caught in the shelling, the scarred, maimed, or dead lying in rows on stretchers. These are hard to look at or forget.

As has been noted by many international aid groups and the UN, the health care system in Gaza is under great strain and in urgent need of donations, with a number of hospitals destroyed and others without power or basic medical supplies. In shelters where many are seeking refuge from the bombing, the overcrowding and lack of adequate sanitation is giving rise to disease. A number of groups are mobilizing teams of surgeons and nurses to travel to Gaza and treat the wounded. Others are gathering medicines and medical supplies to send. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Tragic Plane Crash, Truvada Concerns, Changing Infection Rates: AIDS/HIV Issues in the News

July 21, 2014
Truvada

Truvada / via Wikimedia Commons

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

There have been a number of recent high-profile news stories as well as some notable new research related to HIV/AIDS and its treatment and prevention.

First, AJN would like to add its voice to those expressing heartfelt regret at the deaths of a number of prominent and widely respected HIV advocates and researchers in the Malaysia Airlines jet that appears to have been shot down over Ukraine last week.

The Truvada controversy. Those who who died on the plane had been heading to an international conference in Melbourne, Australia, where one of the hot topics under discussion would be the pros and cons of the continuing expansion of the use of the antiretroviral drug Truvada beyond the treatment of existing HIV infection to long-term prophylactic use by the uninfected.

The topic is particularly timely here in New York where Governor Cuomo last week announced that New York State would make Truvada a centerpiece of its HIV-prevention strategy. The drug, taken every day, is more than 90% effective in preventing infection, but, as an NPR story recently described, a number of experts have raised concerns about widespread long-term use of Truvada for HIV prevention, noting

  • serious potential side effects of Truvada.
  • the $1,300/a month cost of the drug.
  • the reduction in the use of condoms by some of those taking Truvada, which could lead to higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases.

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The Ethics of a Nurse’s Refusal to Force-Feed Guantanamo Hunger-Strikers

July 18, 2014

Douglas Olsen is an associate professor at the Michigan State University College of Nursing in East Lansing and a contributing editor of AJN, where he regularly writes about ethical issues in nursing.

Nasal tubes, gravity feeding bags, and the liquid nutrient Ensure used in Guantanamo force-feeding/ image via Wikimedia Commons

Nasal tubes, gravity feeding bags, and the liquid nutrient Ensure used in Guantanamo force-feeding/ image via Wikimedia Commons

The Miami Herald reported this week that a U.S. Navy nurse and officer refused to take part in force-feeding hunger-striking detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

There’s much we still don’t know about this story, but the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo has been a contentious issue for some time. The practice has been compared by some to torture, and ethicists in the medical literature have urged the physicians involved to refuse to participate, while the U.S. government and President Barack Obama defend the practice on humanitarian grounds of preventing the deaths of the detainees.

Whether or not one feels that nurse participation in the force-feeding is justified, this officer, whose identity has not been released, appears to deserve the profession’s praise for taking a moral stand in an extraordinarily difficult circumstance. All nurses have the right of conscientious objection, of refusing to participate in practices that they find morally objectionable—assisting in abortions is another practice that some nurses have opted out of on moral grounds—and officers in the U.S. armed services are bound to consider the legality and morality of orders they carry out.

Much is at stake for this nurse. Not only do officers risk their careers when refusing an order on moral grounds, but they must breach a sacred principle of effective military operation: obedience to the chain of command except by an officer in extraordinary circumstances.

Further, the officer deciding to refuse an order must make this determination alone and accept severe consequences if the further consideration of the higher chain of command, the courts, or history does not support her or his assessment. Read the rest of this entry ?

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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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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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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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