About Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC

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

Nurses Try Out Plant-Based Diet, Report Health Benefits

            If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?

Photo from Shutterstock.

This adage, sometimes attributed to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, reminds us that the personal choices we make are important. Drugs and procedures are unlikely to ensure continuing good health, especially if we don’t first attend to the basics. And when it comes to personal choices, nothing is quite as personal as food.

Maybe this is why some nurses and physicians are so quick to dismiss decades of promising research on the effects of meatless diets. “People will never change the way they eat; it’s not worth talking about.” But as Michael Greger, a general practitioner specializing in nutrition and an advocate for plant-based diets, once said in a lecture I attended, “That attitude may be one of the true leading causes of death and disability.”

In “A Plant-Based Nutrition Program” in this month’s AJN, Joanne Evans and colleagues describe the results of a “personal experiment” in which nurses at three faculty-led community health clinics associated with George Mason University followed a plant-based diet for three weeks. Their goals were to

  • improve their nutritional expertise and understanding,
  • prepare themselves to effectively advocate for patients’ positive lifestyle changes, and
  • increase their awareness of […]
2017-03-23T07:17:38+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Nursing, nursing research|10 Comments

Worked at Home During the Blizzard? Not Nurses

Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann/via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve come through another blizzard here in New York. Many people worked from home that day (we did, at AJN, since the office was closed), or enjoyed the luxury of spending the day safe at home with family. But most nurses had to find a way to get to work.

Long Slog to the Bronx

Many years ago, I worked the evening shift at a hospital for the terminally ill. I was assigned to work on the day of a blizzard. I love my work and had no one to worry about at home, so I was determined to get to the hospital. I usually took a bus across the Bronx to work, but the buses weren’t running. My only option was to take the subway south to Times Square in Manhattan, then shuttle underground across town and switch to another subway line to go back north, to the east side of the Bronx. With luck I could […]

2017-03-20T09:40:52+00:00 March 17th, 2017|Nursing, nursing stories|3 Comments

How to Create a Poster that Attracts an Audience: New Research Yields Clues

Have you ever designed a poster to present at a nursing conference?

If so, how did you know what to do?

Today, digital design and printing capabilities present many options for professional-looking posters. But how can you increase the chances that nurses at a conference will actually read what you’ve gone to so much trouble to share?

In this month’s AJN, Sandra Siedlecki, PhD, RN, CNS, senior nurse scientist at the Cleveland Clinic, discusses the attributes of a good poster in an original research article: “How to Create a Poster That Attracts an Audience.”

Past articles in the nursing literature have described how to create a “winning poster,” but Siedlecki could find no actual evidence-based recommendations about poster design. So she set out to learn what attracts nurses to specific posters by surveying attendees at a nursing conference.

What captures the attention of conference attendees?

In addition to asking nurses to rate the importance of various poster design elements on a scale of zero to 10, Siedlecki also asked attendees these open-ended questions:

  • When walking through a poster session, how do you select the posters you will take a closer look at? What is most important to you?
  • How do you select the posters to read completely? What is […]
2017-03-13T10:13:59+00:00 March 10th, 2017|Nursing, nursing research|0 Comments

The Role of Prevention and Standardized Care in Improving CKD Outcomes

Slowing Chronic Kidney Disease Progression

Most nurses have worked with patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Their condition may have been related to diabetes, high blood pressure, an acute infection, or other assaults on the kidney. I’ve tended to see a diagnosis of CKD as the beginning of an inevitable decline. Certainly, “prevention” didn’t seem a relevant concept at this point; my role was to assess and monitor, teach and support, and hope for the best.

Fig. 1. The Nephron. Blood flows into the nephron through the glomerulus. Filtrate from the glomerulus flows into Bowman’s capsule, then through the proximal tubule, the loop of Henle, and the distal tubule, a series of tubules that modifies the filtrate primarily by reabsorbing water and needed electrolytes into the bloodstream. The modified filtrate (urine) then flows into the collecting duct and eventually drains into the renal pelvis. Courtesy of National Kidney Disease Education Program and the NIDDK.

However, the authors of the February CE feature, “Improving Outcomes for Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease,” make it clear that many of us (nurses as well as physicians) aren’t up to date about what we can do to slow the progression of CKD. As authors Norton et al. note:

“The greatest opportunities to reduce the impact of CKD […]

2017-03-14T12:02:17+00:00 February 15th, 2017|Nursing, Public health|0 Comments

School Recess as a Matter of Public Health

A friend who teaches first grade finds her principal’s recess policy maddening. The children are allowed almost no recess, and some teachers have resorted to “sneaking” their classes outside when the principal is off-site. “The children have no rights,” my friend says. She adds that when they haven’t been able to run and play, “teaching is a waste” because the kids can’t focus.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity for children and adolescents, and the American Academy of Pediatrics describes recess as “crucial.” Yet many schools continue to prioritize academics over physical health. In this month’s AJN Reports, author Carol Potera explores the connection between the decline in physical activity in schools and the increase in childhood obesity and describes the ways in which some schools are trying to reverse these trends. […]

2017-01-24T15:55:08+00:00 January 25th, 2017|Nursing, Public health|2 Comments