When a Family’s Faith in Healing Collides with a Busy Hospital Unit’s Pressures

Illustration by McClain Moore for AJN/all rights reserved.

What happens when a family of strong religious faith is determined to continue praying for a young father’s healing even after he dies of a terminal brain tumor in the MICU? The room is needed for other patients; a nursing student and her preceptor cared for the patient during his final hours of life and are now expected to provide postmortem care.

It’s a tricky, somewhat tense situation, and initial reactions among the nurses in the hospital vary. Melody Sumter, the author of this month’s Reflections  (“A Place for Faith: My First Experience of Cultural Competence in Nursing“), was the nursing student assigned to the patient, who left behind a young wife and 10-month-old child.

Looking back on the event, Sumter recalls her competing sympathies at the time, and the way she was gratified to learn that the nursing staff at last found a way to honor the wishes of the patient’s family and also see to their responsibilities to other patients. Writes Sumter:

Seeing this family practice their faith was encouraging for a young nursing student like myself—as was the nursing staff’s acceptance and support of a belief that most of them didn’t understand.

The author […]

Nursing Ethics: Helping Out on the Unit vs. Teaching Nursing Students Crucial Skills

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

scalesJust as no two hospital units are exactly alike, rarely are two ethical conflicts exactly alike. There are too many variables, too many human and situational differences. This month’s Ethical Issues column, “Teaching Crucial Knowledge vs. Helping Out on the Unit,” explores potential ethical and practical issues faced by a clinical instructor who must balance the duty to teach essential skills to nursing students against the staff’s need for help in meeting patient care needs.

Will there be an easy, cut-and-dried answer? Probably not. In the course of their analysis of a hypothetical scenario, the authors make the following point:

Because new situations arise all the time, and every situation varies in its ethically relevant aspects, rigid rules often cannot guide ethical action. Instead, analytic skills and transparent negotiation are crucial for resolving conflicts between values as they arise in day-to-day interaction—and for supporting the solutions we choose.

While people skills may be as important as abstract ethical analysis in dealing with real world situations, determining which ethical principles or priorities are coming into conflict may provide us with a certain measure of clarity in our approach. The authors frame the conflict described in the article in the following way:

[…]

Seeing Potential: The Joys of Teaching Nursing

By Ruth Smillie, MSN, RN, associate professor of nursing at Saint Josephs College, Standish, Maine.

"Buck Up," by zenera / via Flickr. by zenera / via Flickr.

The day I come to class pregnant is one of my favorites. I really hate to be pregnant; I’m 55, grey haired, and way too old to be pregnant. My students are obviously surprised when I waddle in swaybacked with my sudden eight-month pregnancy. They snicker and smile, and then the magic begins.

As each one brings up the “change” they were assigned, I acquire the mask of pregnancy: larger breasts (made from paper bowls), kidney stones and gallstones (collected from outside), more blood volume (once, in a soda bottle), varicose veins (pipe cleaners or string), and so on—all carefully attached to me by duct tape.

I look and feel ridiculous and we all laugh a lot, but that’s not the point. The point is that they remember the changes of pregnancy. Embarrassing as it is, I would do it every day if it helped them learn. I love to teach nursing and it has been an amazing experience.

Students have no idea how incredible they are. Most of mine are just out of high school, young and unaware of their potential. But they have it, and I can see and feel it. I love watching students help change […]

AJN’s Spring Break with the Student Nurses in Phoenix: Sunnier Job Outlook for New Graduates?

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief

PhoenixSkylineAfter a long winter in the Northeast, it was wonderful to visit Phoenix last week for the 63rd annual convention of the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA).

Like other meetings, this one was packed from morning to late evening with educational sessions, exhibits, resume-writing consultation, and for some, deliberating over 60 resolutions at the House of Delegates. Keynotes addressed:

  • health care reform (Gerri Lamb).
  • progress on implementing recommendations from the Future of Nursing report (Susan Hassmiller).
  • clinical ethics and moral distress (Veronica Feeg and Cynda Rushton).
  • and, the closing speech, a charge to continue nursing’s legacy into the future (yours truly).

Concurrent sessions, most of them well attended by Starbucks-fueled students, covered nursing specialties, exam help, licensure and legal/ethical issues, and clinical topics. (Betsy Todd, AJN‘s clinical editor, who is also an epidemiologist, led a session called “Is It Safe: Protecting Ourselves and Our Patients from Infectious Diseases.”)

Changing job climate? Several students I spoke with who were graduating at the end of the semester didn’t seem to have the anxiety of previous years’ students over securing a job. Maybe this is because things are looking up in the job market for new graduate nurses, at least according to recent figures in NSNA’s annual survey of graduates.

Reporting in the January issue of Dean’s Notes, researcher Veronica Feeg, associate dean of Molloy School of Nursing, and […]

Essentials for New Clinical Nursing Instructors, Especially Adjuncts

There are many things it’s helpful to know when you start work as a clinical instructor—and you might not get a lot of orientation first.

By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

“So you’ve accepted the contract for your first part-time clinical teaching assignment and you’re wondering where to start in preparing for this new role. Perhaps you’ve been working in an administrative role, away from direct caregiving. Maybe you’ve been active in bedside nursing but have no formal preparation in clinical teaching. If you take the time to prepare for your teaching assignment, you can confidently lead your students through a meaningful clinical experience.”