About Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN

Editor-in-chief, AJN

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 Aunt Rita was slow and tentative in moving about and became quiet and withdrawn.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

Nurses, What’s Your ‘Elevator Speech’?

“We need to value ourselves—what we do, all that we know, how we change lives. If we don’t own and value our worth, no one else will.”

It’s always nice to write about some good things happening, and this week there are two that gave me a lift.

First, an award: The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (ASHPE) recently named this blog the winner of the 2017 gold ASHPE award for best blog. I’m pleased that the hard work by blog editor Jacob Molyneux and the AJN editors and authors who contribute to the blog was recognized. AJN also received a gold award for best cover illustration for our October 2016 political cartoon cover, a silver award for best peer-reviewed journal, and a bronze award for best news coverage. I’m thankful every day that I work with such talented people. They’re committed to upholding AJN’s reputation and mission:

to promote excellence in nursing and health care through the dissemination of evidence-based, peer-reviewed clinical information and original research, discussion of relevant and controversial professional issues, adherence to the standards of journalistic integrity and excellence, and promotion of nursing perspectives to the health care community and the public.

Second, it’s time for Nurses Week: This Saturday begins Nurses Week (May 6-12), the last day of which always marks the anniversary of […]

2017-05-05T10:13:36+00:00 May 5th, 2017|Nursing|2 Comments

Nurses vs. Computers: Predicting Risk of Patient Harm

Not All Signs of Potential Harm Are Quantifiable

From chego101, via Flickr

Hospital nurses have many, many responsibilities and tasks, but one of the most important is to ensure patient safety by assessing patients for changes that can signal worsening of a condition or a new potential harm. Creating special units like ICUs, recovery rooms, and step-down units; flags on charts; various alarmed monitors; and safety huddles are a few of the ways hospitals have tried to identify potential problems. Now we have computerized tools to do this—or do we?

The complaint I have heard most from nurses about the electronic health record (EHR) is its inability to capture all the nuances of patient care or various patient problems, especially those that don’t involve easily quantifiable measures like heart rate or lab values. (For more detail, read our November 2016 report on nurses’ concerns with EHRs.)

One cannot accurately use a check mark to convey certain patient behavioral parameters or the “can’t put my finger on it but something’s going on with this patient” assessment that experienced nurses often make. In the April issue of AJN, we published an important study that investigates just this issue: “Identifying Hospitalized Patients at Risk for Harm: A Comparison of Nurse Perceptions vs. Electronic Risk Assessment Tool Scores

Deciding Whether to Implement an Electronic Risk Tool

Researchers […]