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Earth Day 2017: An Important Role for Nurses

By Barbara Polivka, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor and Shirley B. Powers Endowed Chair in Nursing Research, University of Louisville, Kentucky

“… the symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incident to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but of something quite different—of the want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness…”  -Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing: What it is and What it is Not (1859).

 

crocus shoots, early spring / Wikimedia Commons

As we celebrate the 46th Earth Day, it’s good to look back.

  • Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in on April 22nd, 1970.
  • The first Earth Day celebration helped spur the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act.
  • Earth Day became an international celebration in 1971 when the UN Secretary General talked about it at a Peace Bell Ceremony in New York City.

A time to think about how we affect the environment and are affected by the environment.

Health Care Without Harm (https://noharm.org/) is an international organization promoting environmental health and justice. If you aren’t familiar with Health Care Without Harm I urge you to go to their website to see how health care organizations are decreasing their environmental impact. Health care facilities are:

2017-04-21T08:26:16+00:00 April 21st, 2017|environmental health, Nursing, Public health|0 Comments

The Significant and the Superficial

Libby Kurz, BSN, MFA, RN, works as an OR nurse. Formerly a nurse in the U.S. Air Force, she lives in Virginia with her family. Her work has been published in several literary magazines. To read more of her writing, visit www.libbykurz.com

I often wonder why the world is the way it is. Why, above all other possibilities, do we have two eyes to see, a mouth that tastes, a body that needs food and fluid to sustain itself, but a mind that can entertain thoughts far beyond the realm of the physical world? The more I think about it, the stranger life seems.

People are odd, too. I’m always blown away by our quirks. There’s a surgeon I work with who has to eat his cereal every morning in the shower. He had a shelf built into his shower just for his cereal bowl. One of my coworkers has a pet scorpion and two snakes, but she hates spiders. An acquaintance of mine eats mayonnaise and peanut butter sandwiches.

Working as a nurse provides an environment where these ironies and oddities of life seem even more pronounced. I work in […]

2017-04-13T12:11:56+00:00 April 13th, 2017|Nursing, nursing stories|1 Comment

CDC Draws Attention to Youth Concussion Risks, Offers Training and Resources

This post was contributed to AJN‘s blog by the Traumatic  Brain Injury Team at the CDC Injury Center.

As an A-student and star soccer player, Sarah was used to hard work. However, after she sustained a concussion while playing a varsity soccer game during her freshman year in high school, she found herself challenged in ways she had never expected.

“Recovering from the concussion was harder than recovering from other injuries I’ve had,” Sarah recalls. “When I got a concussion, I expected to sit out some games, but I never realized that it would actually hurt to think. For nearly two months I needed frequent breaks to make it through the school day. I would have to go to the school clinic and rest when I was overcome by headaches from the lights and noise of the classroom.”

Sarah’s story is not unusual. In fact, children and teens have the highest rate of emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion, of all age groups. Fortunately, Sarah made a full recovery after four months and continues to be successful both in school and on the […]

2017-04-11T09:38:46+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Public health, school nurses|0 Comments

A Place for Faith: Despite Chronic Illness, a Return to Bedside Nursing

flickr creative commons/by krassy can do it

Relearning the Details of Clinical Nursing

After being away from bedside nursing for over 11 years, I recently returned to this role on the same medical-surgical floor I’d worked on 11 years earlier. The impetus behind such a drastic transition was, in part, my return to nursing education as a clinical nursing instructor. As an educator, I felt the need to update my own clinical skills as I instructed young nurses eager to enter my profession.

The other reason for returning to clinical nursing had to do with a spiritual pull I felt in my heart, a hope that I’d be able to to show patients the compassion, empathy, and patience they all deserved. I’d come to realize that I’d sometimes lacked these qualities when I was a younger bedside nurse. Now I felt that God was giving me a kind of ‘do-over’—and I had to at least try to live up to this expectation.

Within the first week of orientation, I quickly realized how different things had become in the nursing world. The last time I’d worked as a clinical nurse on this very unit in 2005, the hospital was still using paper documentation, private community physicians still rounded on their patients, and there were no ‘computers on wheels’ or in patients’ rooms to access patient information […]

2017-03-08T11:17:02+00:00 March 6th, 2017|career, Nursing, patient experience|5 Comments

Culture as a Key to Health

By Beth Toner, MJ, RN, senior communications officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

(Video caption: The Dakota are a horse tribe, and Charley, a retired reservation policeman, takes care of abandoned horses, connecting them to the tribe’s youth to help the young redefine themselves in relation to tribal history. Video used by permission; produced by Purple States LLC with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.)

I consider myself, and have been told by others that I am, an extraordinarily patient person—except behind the wheel of a car.

I commute 80 miles each way to work (that’s how much I love my job), so I spend a lot of time in the car. That, in turn, means I get annoyed—unreasonably so—by folks who are driving in such a way that forces me to spend a minute longer than I need to in that car. Now, it never leads to dangerous or aggressive driving, but it does lead to a lot of windows-up ranting while I’m on the road. One day, while I was in mid-rant, my 21-year-old daughter finally said, “Mom, you need to imagine other people complexly.”

I think of that conversation often as I listen to the polarizing dialogue that continues across our nation. What if, across the nation, we each imagined other people complexly, not just as their culture, their gender, their political party, their favorite television show? People, with all their joys and sorrows, their best qualities and their deepest flaws—uniquely themselves, yet with so much […]

2017-02-02T10:33:44+00:00 February 1st, 2017|Nursing, Public health|1 Comment