About Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN

Editor-in-chief, AJN

Safety vs. Independence: When Is a Person Too Old to Drive?

I’d venture that many of us have had family discussions about whether it’s safe for a grandparent or elderly aunt or uncle to be driving. Driving is often the last vestige of independence and one that is fiercely held onto.

I had an aunt and uncle who worked out a unique and very shaky scheme so they could still get around independently: he couldn’t drive because of severely diminished eyesight, but he would direct his wife, my aunt, who had early Alzheimer’s, as she drove. Between the two of them, they could get to grocery stores, church, medical appointments, and bingo.

And one colleague, to prevent her father from driving after multiple accidents, told him she needed the car to get to work; in reality, she just drove it a few blocks from the house and parked it.

While author Loren Staplin and his colleagues note in ”Can Your Older Patients Drive Safely?” that “decline in driving abilities is related to functional status, not chronological age,” they also observe that the “greater risk associated with driving at age 75 and older is . . . evident in these drivers’ greater level of involvement in fatal motor vehicle accidents relative to their representation in the licensed driver population.” […]

2017-09-13T09:26:54+00:00 September 13th, 2017|Public health|1 Comment

Designing Nurses: Make Your Ideas Reality

“At one hospital I worked, nurses used masking tape to outline a box on the floor around the resuscitation stretcher…”

Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article, “Design Thinking for Doctors and Nurses.” In it, the author describes a simple solution designed by a nurse to identify who was in charge of a resuscitation team: whoever was wearing the orange vest was the leader.

As a former ED nurse who participated in many codes and trauma emergencies, I could easily picture the chaotic scene that led to this innovative solution. In a large urban teaching hospital, cardiac arrests and trauma calls draw many physicians and medical students, respiratory therapists, and of course, at least two to three nurses. It wasn’t unusual to have conflicting orders shouted out by physicians, residents chiming in with questions and suggestions, and the medication nurse making the decision as to which order she/he would process. At one hospital I worked, nurses used masking tape to outline a box on the floor around the resuscitation stretcher—only the physician in charge and resuscitation team were allowed inside the box. All other onlookers (mostly medical students and residents) had to stay outside the box and be silent. It did wonders for instilling a quiet, organized atmosphere into a highly charged event.

Left out […]

2017-08-16T09:22:11+00:00 August 16th, 2017|Nursing, nursing perspective|0 Comments

The Reality of Depression Following Stroke

Photo by David A. Grossman.

This month’s CE article, “Early Intervention in Patients with Poststroke Depression,” hit home for me. It brought back memories of my Aunt Rita’s decline from a once-vibrant and independent career woman. As authors Gwendolyn Hamid and Meredith MacKenzie note, poststroke depression “often goes unrecognized and untreated because the physical and cognitive repercussions of stroke make it difficult to identify.”

Aunt Rita lived alone in an old Victorian house in Massachusetts. She was fun-loving and lively and enjoyed going to the theater and dinner in Manhattan, shopping, and sipping a beer and rooting for the Red Sox and Boston Bruins—especially when she was with her New York nieces and nephews. When she had cardiac bypass surgery in her 70s, however, things changed drastically. She didn’t bounce back from surgery. Aunt Rita was slow and tentative in moving about and became quiet and withdrawn. A niece came to live with her as a caregiver, but Aunt Rita didn’t seem to want to eat, drink, or even bathe. Her physician diagnosed organic brain disease secondary to the effects of a stroke.

About three months later, I drove up from New York to visit her along with my mother (Rita’s younger […]

2017-07-10T09:31:27+00:00 July 10th, 2017|Nursing|0 Comments

Talking Nursing in Many Languages: Reporting on the International Council of Nurses

Shawn Kennedy and Amanda Anderson

AJN’s editor in chief Shawn Kennedy and editorial board member and contributing editor Amanda Anderson recently attended the ICN Council of Nurse Representatives and Congress in Barcelona and present the highlights here, along with podcast conversations with two nurse leaders. A full report will be available in the August issue of AJN.

The 300 or so members of the Council of Nurse Representatives (CNR, ICN’s governing body) meets just prior to the ICN Congress, the educational conference and exhibition, which drew 8,000 registrants to Barcelona, a beautiful city on the Mediterranean. It’s a wonderful meeting and collegiality is emphasized—everyone wears a name tag with name and country, no credentials or fancy titles: we’re all just nurses. Chance meetings in elevators and at break times lead to meeting for coffee and lunch, exchanging ideas and business cards. […]

2017-06-09T10:58:35+00:00 June 9th, 2017|Conference reports, Nursing|0 Comments

Establishing the Evidence for Clinical Ladder Programs

Nursing Advancement Before the Clinical Ladder

When I took my first job as a hospital staff nurse, pretty much the only path to advancement in the clinical setting was moving into an administrative position. Nurses moved up by becoming nurse managers, then supervisors, and eventually nursing directors. It was considered unusual for someone to stay at the bedside for many years.

Benner’s Novice-to-Expert Model

Then along came the clinical ladder—a way for nurses to advance clinically. Patricia Benner’s landmark work on identifying the hallmarks of novice-to-expert practice laid the foundation for identifying the different stages of acquisition of skills (see her article on the topic published in AJN in 1982; free until May 22).

Evolving Competencies Require New Paths to Advancement

But while the competencies nurses need to practice effectively are vastly different today, many hospitals haven’t updated their clinical advancement programs to reflect the knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) that nurses need to practice effectively in today’s complex health systems. Moreover, there’s been little research to provide the evidence for identifying the various competencies and the associated KSAs. Our original research article in the May issue provides that evidence.

Creating an Evidence-Based Progression

The authors of “Creating an Evidence-Based Progression for Clinical Advancement Programs” used the […]

2017-05-12T10:50:46+00:00 May 12th, 2017|Nursing, nursing career|0 Comments