About Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC

Clinical editor, American Journal of Nursing (AJN), and epidemiologist

‘Micro’ and ‘Macro’ Strategies for Nursing to Thrive as a Profession

At last month’s annual convention of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN), nurse and health care economist Peter Buerhaus received the Anthony J. Jannetti Award “for extraordinary contributions to health care.” Buerhaus, a professor of nursing at Montana State University College of Nursing, is widely known across health care disciplines for his research on health care costs and value, especially in regard to nurses and nursing. In his keynote talk, Buerhaus shared some of his recent research findings and offered some “micro” and “macro” nursing strategies for thriving amid today’s health care challenges.

Nurses maintain status as highly trusted professionals.

Click to expand. Most trusted professions, Gallup 2017 poll.

He began by reminding the group of some of the reasons that nurses are respected and trusted in America. People believe that nurses ensure quality of care, protect patients and maintain safety standards, and provide advice on personal health issues.

Studies show that we maintain this trusted status even when the media reports on the mistakes of individual nurses. And after good media attention, as when Alex Wubbels protected her patient or when nurses play key roles in disaster relief efforts, our approval ratings soar.

Accomplishments of NPs have reinforced good reputation of nurses.

2017-11-17T10:20:27+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Nursing, nursing research|0 Comments

Brain Injury. Undocumented Patient. Who Decides About Treatment?

When an unauthorized immigrant suffers a brain injury, who decides when treatment is withdrawn? An ethical dilemma touches on issues of clinician autonomy and justice versus patient and family autonomy.

© Photolibrary Wales/ Albany Stock Photo.

Imagine that someone you love—a young person—suddenly collapses and is rushed to the hospital. Her heart is restarted, but it soon becomes apparent that there has been extensive anoxic brain injury. In a vegetative state, on a ventilator, no ability to follow commands, spastic extremities, an EEG showing continuous seizure activity. . . . and this person is an undocumented immigrant. And uninsured.

In this month’s AJN, Kimberly Radtke and Marianne Matzo present a fictional case (based on their real-life experience in palliative care) to illustrate the ways in which this kind of scenario might play out. The parents are overwhelmed, trying to make decisions while they are still in shock. Physicians soon express their concerns about prolonging “medically inappropriate care.” And who will pay for it?

In addition, hospitalization due to critical illness increases an unauthorized immigrant’s risk of repatriation without their consent. What must the family be feeling as they struggle to understand their daughter’s future?

The role of the ethics committee.

Radtke and Matzo discuss the many ethical dilemmas that are raised by this […]

2017-11-17T15:19:22+00:00 November 13th, 2017|Ethics, Nursing|0 Comments

Update on Preeclampsia: What Nurses Need to Know

Illustration by Sara Jarret.

Preeclampsia is the most common hypertensive disorder of pregnancy, yet there is still much we don’t know about why it develops and how to prevent it. It can present in different ways, from hard-to-ignore symptoms such as constant headache or severe right upper quadrant pain, to no symptoms at all before elevated blood pressure or urine protein is detected at a routine prenatal visit.

Did you know that:

  • despite a long list of known risk factors, most cases of preeclampsia are diagnosed in healthy nulliparous women?
  • both moms diagnosed with preeclampsia and infants exposed to it in utero are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease?

Update your knowledge by reading “Preeclampsia:  Current Approaches to Nursing Management” in the November issue of AJN. This CE article provides a helpful clinical update, including the pathogenesis of preeclampsia, diagnostic criteria, screening tests on the horizon, 2017 recommendations for pharmacologic management, optimal timing of delivery, and nursing management.

2017-11-06T09:49:41+00:00 November 6th, 2017|Nursing, patient safety|0 Comments

Tips for Nurses to Counter Workplace Negativity

“Negativity is a lot like cigarette smoke. If it’s around, you know it.”

The 26th Annual Convention of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) took place October 12-15 in Palm Springs, California. More than 1,100 nurses from across the country as well as Canada, Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas came to network, attend educational sessions, and enjoy stimulating company.

Negativity as a default response to workplace stress.

The opening address by Sharon Cox, “Staying Positive While Working with Pearl and Grumpy,” set an enthusiastically constructive tone for the four-day conference. Cox, a former staff nurse, unit manager, and medical center administrator, shared practical suggestions for managing the “stress, drama, and trauma” of today’s health care workplace.

Cox pointed out how easy it is in the current environment to turn on each other, see ourselves as victims, and create negativity that affects our personal health and working relationships—and also affects patients and their families. Said Cox, “Negativity is a lot like cigarette smoke. If it’s around, you know it.”

Good habits are intentional.

Cox emphasized the value of cultivating our ability to remain positive in the midst of daily challenges. There are options in virtually every situation—and, she emphasized with a smile, we are not talking about options to change the behavior of others and tell them […]

2017-10-25T14:39:45+00:00 October 25th, 2017|Nursing|0 Comments

The CAPABLE Program: Supporting Aging in Place

Determining what matters to homebound elders.

Sarah Szanton

This month, AJN profiles Sarah Szanton, who created a program known as CAPABLE—Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders—that helps low-income seniors to remain at home with the aid of a unique home care team.

Szanton, an NP who has provided care for homebound elders, notes that “[b]eing in someone’s home gives you the opportunity to see what matters to them.”

The “person–environment fit.”

Szanton’s keen interest in the “person–environment fit” of her frail elderly patients led her to a different perspective on managing illness—one focused less on the “medical model” and more on “function and being able to do what they would like to do.”

In 2008, after the NIH requested proposals for projects to help the newly unemployed, Szanton wondered whether people with home-building skills could be paired with elders to improve their independence and quality of life. And the idea for CAPABLE began to form.

A unique home care team: nurse, occupational therapist, handyman.

CAPABLE’s home care teams are made up of a nurse, an occupational therapist, and a handyman. The patient identifies functional goals such as “to be able to stand long enough to prepare a meal,” and the team devises a plan based on these goals. […]