About Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, clinical editor

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

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.

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 […]

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. […]

Are We Hearing the Questions that Patients and Their Families Don’t Ask?

“The spoken and unspoken messages we give patients and families are powerful.”

Viewpoint author Juanita Reigle

As a ‘frequent flyer’ of late, accompanying a family member on the long trek through cancer treatment, I’m acutely aware of the ways in which doctors and nurses communicate with us. Some have never mastered the art of interacting with people in stressful conditions. Others have remarkable radar and a special ability to “read between the lines,” identifying concerns that he and I haven’t yet voiced.

In ‘She’s Fine,’ the Viewpoint essay in AJN’s October issue, Juanita Reigle reflects upon how we respond to the questions patients and family members don’t raise. Some are left unasked because people are too overwhelmed to formulate a question. Some people aren’t ready to hear the answers. And sometimes, sadly, families sense that this doctor or nurse really doesn’t want to engage with them.


Palliative Care: Often Overlooked in the ‘Acute’ Setting

Does this description of a patient sound familiar to you?

“… a 91-year-old man diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer’s disease, hypertension, and benign prostatic hypertrophy whose change in mental status has prompted hospitalization from a long-term care facility…. This is his third admission in five months with similar symptoms; each time he was given IV fluids and sent back to the long term care facility within a few days.”

Figure. Photo © Photofusion Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo.

With minor adjustments in age, gender, and the exact illnesses involved, this paragraph describes patients that I cared for on a regular basis in a large medical center. I always found such patients frustrating, and sad. I was frustrated because it seemed all we could do was “patch them up,” send them back to the nursing home, and wait for their inevitable return; and sad because there seemed so little quality of life to reach for.

In AJN’s September issue (“Palliative Care in the Acute Care Setting”), authors Jennifer L. Goldsborough and Marianne […]

2017-10-02T08:33:17+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Nursing|1 Comment