Healthcare social media encompasses the use of many social media platforms by both patients and clinicians, including nurses, in order to share information, stories, experience, and form communities.

A New, Updated AJN Off the Charts Blog

by Saida, via Flickr by Saida, via Flickr

AJN Off the Charts has been moved and redesigned—nearly in time for the start of Nurses Week.

The address of the updated blog will remain the same as always: ajnoffthecharts.com.

Please forgive the recent blog downtime. If you encounter any technical issues, please let us know about them, via our new contact page.

As with the old blog, all blog followers and subscribers should continue to receive notifications of new posts. If you find that you are not receiving these, please let us know. […]

Ebola, One Year Later: What We Learned for the Next Big Epidemic

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

Scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles budding from an infected VERO E6 cell (35,000x magnification). Credit: NIAID Scanning electron micrograph of filamentous Ebola virus particles budding from an infected VERO E6 cell (35,000x magnification). Credit: NIAID

U.S. hospitals have not seen a case of Ebola virus disease since November 11, 2014, when Dr. Craig Spencer was discharged from Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. While the number of new infections has declined dramatically in the West African countries where the 2014–2015 epidemic began, it is virtually certain that the disease will continue to resurface.

This epidemic was by far the largest and most geographically widespread Ebola epidemic to date, with approximately 28,000 cases (suspected, probable, or confirmed) and more than 11,000 deaths in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the three hardest-hit countries. The seven other countries affected account for a combined total of 34 confirmed (and two probable) cases and 15 deaths.

According to a recent WHO report, these numbers include (through March of this year) 815 confirmed or probable cases among health care workers, more than half of whom were nurses or nurses’ aides. (Doctors and medical students made up about 12% of total health care worker cases.)

This epidemic has been, for some, a wake-up call about the ease of global disease transmission. […]

Nursing and Social Media’s Limits: Real Change Requires Moving Beyond Hashtags and Selfies

Karen Roush, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor of nursing at Lehman College in the Bronx, New York, and founder of the Scholar’s Voice, which works to strengthen the voice of nursing through writing mentorship for nurses.

by rosmary/via Flickr by rosmary/via Flickr

The recent #ShowMeYourStethoscope media campaign has been hailed as a powerful demonstration of the unified voice of nurses and what it can accomplish.

In case you’re not familiar with the incident that led to the outrage–after a Miss America contestant, Kelley Johnson (Miss Colorado), a registered nurse, delivered a monologue about her work for the talent portion of the yearly pageant while dressed in scrubs and wearing her stethoscope, hosts of the television show The View derided her, with one asking why she had on a “doctor’s stethoscope.”

There was soon a vigorous backlash across social media as nurses posted, blogged, and tweeted photos of themselves with stethoscopes, often adding moving descriptions of the situations where they use them or witty comments illustrating the absurdity of the hosts’ remarks.

I found it a heartening response to disrespect and ignorance. Nurses felt empowered and celebrated the opportunity to show the public what nursing is really about.

But has anything really changed? Yes, The View lost some sponsors and was forced to air an apology (albeit unconvincing and rather patronizing). And […]

Reflective Writing as a Crucial Counterweight to Clinical Experience

By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.

Kevin V. Pxl/Flickr Kevin V. Pxl/Flickr

When I first started working as a nurse, I didn’t write much. My shifts, twelve hours of chaos, weren’t stories to be told, just days to survive. I wrote only when, after a traumatic event surrounding a patient’s death, I felt like I didn’t know who I could talk to about it. I had always written in a journal, but I hadn’t really thought of writing as a tool for healing—I just knew that I felt better after banging on the keyboard a bit.

Other than this single instance, I didn’t make writing a regular practice during my first year of nursing—a choice I still regret. I covet all of those forgotten lessons, missed descriptors, and stories that I might use in my writing now, but mostly, I wish I had known that moving my pen on a piece of paper might’ve helped me heal from the consistent stress of my new work.

A few years ago, by then a relatively experienced ICU nurse as well as a graduate student, I took a class called, “Writing, Communication, & Healing.” Taught by a poet and health care journalist, Joy Jacobson, it came at a time when I needed to learn how to write—for me, that is. […]

Good Jokes, Bad Jokes: The Ethics of Nurses’ Use of Humor

By Douglas P. Olsen, PhD, RN, associate professor, Michigan State University College of Nursing in East Lansing, associate editor of Nursing Ethics, and a contributing editor of AJN, where he regularly writes about ethical issues in nursing.

Humor has real benefits. But when does nurses’ joking about patients, each other, and the care they provide cross a line?

Photo from otisarchives4, via Flickr. otisarchives4/Flickr

“Nurses make fun of their dying patients. That’s okay.” That was the provocative title of an op-ed by Alexandra Robbins in the Washington Post on April 16. The author’s treatment of the topic was more complex than the title suggested, but some examples of humor given in the article were troubling.

For ethical practice, nurses must consider if it is ever appropriate to discuss the clinical care of patients for humorous purposes. An easy answer would be—never. If patient care is never joked about, then no one’s feelings are ever hurt and nothing inappropriate is said as a joke. However, my experience as a nurse in psychiatric emergency and with human nature suggests two arguments against this approach:

  • Jokes will be made despite any prohibition.
  • Considerable good comes from such humor.

If jokes are going to be told anyway, it’s better to provide an ethical framework than to turn a blind eye. If joking about patient care is […]