About Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, editor-in-chief

Editor-in-chief, AJN

Pain, an Ever-Present Concern for Patients—and Nurses

Nurses at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago manage baby boy’s postoperative pain following heart transplant. Photo courtesy of Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.

In my experience working with severely ill or injured patients, pain was what they talked about the most. They either asked about it prior to a treatment or intervention (“How much is this going to hurt?”), relived their history with it (“This pain isn’t as bad as the pain I had….”), or were consumed with fear that it would never end (“I can’t handle this—can’t they give me anything for it?”).

Post-op patients mostly had the same standard order, whether they were slightly built women or burly men: meperidine 25mg q3-4 h IM. I remember watching the time so I could administer the medication as soon as the clock would allow—and sometimes “fudging” the time a bit because the medication wasn’t “holding” the patient. It was one of the topmost issues for nurses in acute care—how to ensure patients were comfortable and pain free. As a nurse, not being able to provide pain relief for a patient left you feeling like a failure.

The evolving science of pain management.

Well, times have changed, and we’ve learned more about pain pathways and better ways of combining […]

2018-01-17T10:04:37+00:00 January 17th, 2018|Nursing|0 Comments

The Ten Most-Viewed AJN articles in 2017

What AJN Readers Read

nurse typing on keyboardIt’s always interesting (at least to me) to look back over the year and see what articles were the most popular. While we can’t be sure what people who read AJN in print actually viewed, we can get a good idea from those who read online. From those who accessed AJN articles either through the Ovid institutional subscription service or through our own website, www.ajnonline.com (but not counting those who read AJN articles on the iPad or via the company nursing portal, www.nursingcenter.com), here’s what we know readers viewed the most. Some of the content was new in 2017; some of it was not.

  1. AJN’s award-winning series “Evidence-Based Practice, Step-by-Step.– This series of 11 articles by Melnyk, Fineout-Overholt, and colleagues ran every other month from November 2009 through July 2011 and took readers through the steps of searching and appraising the literature and implementing change.
  2. Nursing’s Evolving Role in Patient Safety,” by Sonya Kowalski and Maureen Anthony (February 2017). This content analysis of AJN articles from 1900 to 2015 explored the nurse’s role in promoting patient safety. (I have to admit, as a history buff, this is one of my personal favorites.)
  3. Interprofessional Collaboration and Education,” by Mary […]
2018-01-02T14:46:41+00:00 January 2nd, 2018|Nursing|0 Comments

Who’s to Blame for Poor Health?

We hear it over and over and probably say it to our patients: to be healthy, follow a proper diet, don’t smoke, and be active. And if diagnosed with an illness, adhere to the agreed-upon plan of care. Sounds simple—and when patients return time and again with the same issues, we often blame them (secretly, of course) for not taking care of themselves.

But for how many of our patients is what we’re asking them to do less a matter of personal choice than a function of the neighborhood in which they live and the limitations imposed by their socioeconomic circumstances?

Many people don’t live within walking distance of a grocery store that offers fresh vegetables and fruit. Or if they do, they may not be able to afford the more nutritious choices, which are often more expensive. Many urban areas lack playgrounds. Air pollution and substandard housing materials can cause asthma and heart disease. Being born into poverty can result in poor nutrition, contributing to poor health, as well as limited access to health care, education, and job opportunities.

Social determinants of health, before we called them that.

Nurse and social worker Lillian Wald understood this when she and colleague Mary Brewster established the Henry Street Settlement in New York City’s Lower East Side, where she offered health care, […]

Family Caregivers: Nurses by Default

Caregiver guides family member using safe stair-climbing technique. Photo courtesy of AARP Public Policy Institute.

We all know how compressed hospital stays are. Patients are frequently admitted and discharged within a few days, even for what used to be “big” surgeries. We dutifully send them home with discharge instructions—sometimes, pages of them—and often have only a few minutes to go over them with whoever is taking the patient home. And in many cases, that person is not even the one who will be caring for the patient, so instructions for medications and treatments are given second-hand. And we wonder why there are so many readmissions within 30 days!

Forty million plus unpaid caregivers in the United States.

As I note in this month’s editorial, there are over 40 million unpaid caregivers in this country who are administering complex medical and nursing interventions such as ostomy and wound care,  tube feedings, injections, and tracheostomy care, in addition to taking on bathing, toileting, and other necessary care. Many of these caregivers do so without any real training. Aside from the real danger that they may cause harm to the patient or to themselves, they often live in fear that they are not providing what […]

Sexual Harassment in Nursing: Where Are We Today?

We have a weekly editorial meeting to review current issues and events that we feel are important to bring to nurses’ attention. Given that the headlines are replete with stories about sexual harassment and assault in various settings and workplaces and that nursing is still a profession with far more women than men, we felt this to be an issue of concern.

Before there were policies.

I’m sure many of us can recount experiences, our own or those of colleagues, that qualify as sexual harassment. Many of us may not have recognized it as such—when I began my career, there was no definition or policy that defined sexual harassment or alerted us to our rights if we were faced with inappropriate remarks or behaviors in the workplace. Now that there are requirements for such policies, nurses—men and women alike—should learn what the policies are and processes for reporting such misconduct.

First topic covered on this blog.

We looked to see how we’d covered this previously, and as it happens, the second post we published on this blog, back in February 2009—the one right after the post welcoming readers to AJN‘s new blog—was about the news that a nurse at a hospital in Queens had won a lawsuit for sexual harassment against a doctor and the hospital that […]

2017-11-21T08:11:27+00:00 November 21st, 2017|Nursing|0 Comments