About Jacob Molyneux

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

The Nurse Who Saw Me: Easing the Strain of a Mother’s Vigil

Illustration by Barbara Hranilovich. All rights reserved.

The Nurse Who Saw Me,” the Reflections essay in the May issue of AJN, is by JR Fenn, a writer and lecturer in upstate New York. The author, who is not a nurse, describes a night of uncertainty she spent in an isolation room on a pediatric unit with her sick daughter.

This is the kind of writing that helps a reader understand the perspective of a scared parent in a disorienting and uncomfortable environment. The care is efficient, and the clinicians she encounters all seem to be doing the right things for her baby. But reassurance is not immediately forthcoming, as we see in this passage from near the beginning:

The attending looks at us over her white mask when I ask if my daughter is going to be OK. ‘There isn’t the research for babies this young,’ she says, her eyes so huge I can see my terrified face reflected in them. I can’t ask any more questions because my throat has swelled closed as I fight tears.

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2017-05-10T11:09:22+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Nursing, patient experience|0 Comments

The Essence of Nursing Care: A Powerful Tribute for Nurses Week

“Frontline nurses, as the health professionals who spend the most time with patients and their families, are central to ensuring that the patient experience is a positive and dignified one.”

Susan Hassmiller

This sentence from “The Essence of Nursing Care,” a guest editorial in the May issue of AJN, isn’t just rhetoric. It’s based on a recent and unforgettable personal experience of the power nurses have to recognize and sometimes ease a family member’s suffering at the very worst of times.

In this moving editorial, Susan Hassmiller, the senior advisor for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, writes about the nurses who helped her in the terrible days following her husband Bob’s tragic bicycle accident last fall. Writes Hassmiller:

“My life changed forever on Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 11:09 am. . . .That’s when I learned that Bob, my best friend and husband of 37 years, lay paralyzed in the trauma unit of a nearby hospital . . . .During those 10 brutal days, I learned anew the crucial role that nurses play in caregiving and compassion. Three nurses stood out in particular.”

I won’t attempt to summarize the rest of this guest editorial. It’s as eloquent a tribute as nurses are likely to get this year on Nurses Week. The article is free, so we […]

2017-05-08T10:15:48+00:00 May 8th, 2017|Nursing|1 Comment

Report Draws Attention to Nurse Burnout, Seeks to Restore Joy to Profession

AJN has been asked to share with our readers a new report on nurse burnout: “A Gold Bond to Restore Joy to Nursing: A Collaborative Exchange of Ideas to Address Burnout” (pdf). The report is the result of a November 2016 retreat of leading thinkers in health care and nursing at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread campus in Racine, Wisconsin.

Among conference participants well known to AJN were Cynda Rushton, professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and Berman Institute of Bioethics, and noted author and nurse Theresa Brown.

The post below detailing the report’s findings is by Cindy Richards of QPatient Insight, the consulting firm that organized the conference. An experienced journalist, she worked closely with conference attendees to prepare the report on the conference’s findings.

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We often hear that America faces a nursing shortage—the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics said in 2015 that we would need 1.2 million more registered nurses by 2024. In addition, surveys of nurses continue to find high levels of job dissatisfaction and high percentages of nurses who express an intention to change jobs or leave the profession in the coming years.

Why? In too many cases, because they are overwhelmed by demands that get in the way […]

2017-05-03T11:40:29+00:00 May 3rd, 2017|Nursing|5 Comments

Identifying and Addressing the Profound Mental Health Effects of Climate Change

Residents amid homes consumed by flood and fire, White Sulphur Springs, WV, June 2016. Photo © AP Photo / Steve Helber.

A new word for an era of increasing environmental instability.

A lot of attention is currently paid to the physical impacts of climate change, including extreme heat events, droughts, extreme storms, and rising sea levels. Far less attention has been paid to the psychological impacts of this change. For example, you may not be familiar with the term “solastalgia.” It’s related to the older word “nostalgia,” but was created to reflect the environmental and often related sociopolitical uncertainty of our current times—that is, of change that’s slow and incremental, and often even denied, and then sometimes rapid and catastrophic and impossible to ignore.

The term is explained in more detail in an April feature article in AJN, “Climate Change and Mental Health,” by Janna Trombley, Stephanie Chalupka, and Laura Anderko:

Solastalgia is a term coined a decade ago by philosopher Glenn Albrecht . . . It refers to the psychological distress resulting from degradation of one’s home environment.49 Solastalgia can occur as a result of events that impact climate change, including drought, wildfires, and natural disasters.49, 50 When […]

When a Family’s Faith in Healing Collides with a Busy Hospital Unit’s Pressures

Illustration by McClain Moore for AJN/all rights reserved.

What happens when a family of strong religious faith is determined to continue praying for a young father’s healing even after he dies of a terminal brain tumor in the MICU? The room is needed for other patients; a nursing student and her preceptor cared for the patient during his final hours of life and are now expected to provide postmortem care.

It’s a tricky, somewhat tense situation, and initial reactions among the nurses in the hospital vary. Melody Sumter, the author of this month’s Reflections  (“A Place for Faith: My First Experience of Cultural Competence in Nursing“), was the nursing student assigned to the patient, who left behind a young wife and 10-month-old child.

Looking back on the event, Sumter recalls her competing sympathies at the time, and the way she was gratified to learn that the nursing staff at last found a way to honor the wishes of the patient’s family and also see to their responsibilities to other patients. Writes Sumter:

Seeing this family practice their faith was encouraging for a young nursing student like myself—as was the nursing staff’s acceptance and support of a belief that most of them didn’t understand.

The author […]