Summertime: Time to Write

karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons karindalziel/ via Flickr Creative Commons

July 4th has come and gone and summer still stretches out before us. For many, summer is a time to relax and take things a bit slower. Working moms and dads don’t have to deal with school projects; faculty have no or at least fewer classes to teach. It’s the perfect time to write—or at least start—that article you’ve had on your “To Do” list for the last year (or two or three).

Many budding authors tell me that the hardest part about writing is getting started, so here are suggestions from a pair of editors and writers who teach writing workshops (included, along with several other writing tips, in my 2014 editorial on the topic):

  • Set a consistent time to write, even if it’s only 15 minutes a day. Make an appointment with yourself and honor it as you would an appointment with someone else. Make yourself sit down and write—and write anything to begin; you don’t need to start at the beginning or do an outline. Once you get rolling, you can always write for a longer time.
  • “Start anywhere, but start. And keep your hand moving, whether you’re using a pen or a keyboard. Whether it’s because of muscle memory or the mind–body connection, this works. Random […]

The View from the Other Side: When the Daughter is a Nurse

I knew where we were heading and it scared me. I didn’t want to have to think about decisions that would have to be made in the not so distant future. I didn’t want to be a nurse; I just wanted to be the daughter.

Flowers_in_the_field_(5832054482)I knew Marie was special the moment I met her. Her home was one where all were welcome, the coffee always hot and fresh, the house filled with family and friends, and everyone left with a full belly. She freely shared her opinion, whether or not a person sought out her advice.

I knew Marie for nearly 30 years. She was my mother-in-law. She was also my cheerleader, proud that I had come so far in my nursing career. She told everyone I was a nurse and often referred to me as her daughter rather than specifying that I was her daughter-in-law.

Fiercely loyal and loving of her large family, she always put their needs before hers. I worried about her because she smoked and rarely visited a doctor. With regard to health, she believed in the notion that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But slowly, health problems began cropping up. After a hospitalization for heart failure, she was diagnosed with COPD and hypertension.

Still, she lived […]

The Debriefing: A Forced Pause After an Unexpected Clinical Loss

Illustration by Barbara Hranilovich for AJN Illustration by Barbara Hranilovich for AJN

The Reflections essay in the July issue of AJN is about the brief required debriefing of a medical team after an all-consuming struggle to save a patient.

The Power of Paperwork” is written by Amanda Anderson, an experienced nurse who is new to a supervisory role. She remains closely attuned to the emotional experiences of nurses and physicians. Leading her former colleagues as they huddled to examine what might have been done differently with a particular patient, she tells us, she found that her “suit and heels provided no armor.”

Sometimes bad things happen for perfectly obvious reasons. If you don’t turn an incontinent patient, he will develop pressure ulcers. If you don’t always verify your patient’s medication against the order and identifiers, you will likely give the wrong drug to the wrong person at some point. The factors involved in such errors can be complex, of course, but remain fairly easy to trace.

Sometimes, though, people just die. We don’t know why, and if we find out, it’s usually not reassuring. The thoughts that follow these deaths—what if I… ?, should I have… ?, we might have…—can […]

Not a Nurse but Her Mother Was, and Now It Really Matters

June_Refl_Illustration Illustration by Lisa Dietrich for AJN

The loss of Emily Cappo’s mother, a competent and supportive parent and an accomplished nurse, leaves an enormous gap in her daughter’s life. Then her own son gets sick.

Cappo writes about these events in “I’m Not a Nurse, But My Mother Was,” the Reflections essay in the June issue of AJN.

Without her mother to turn to for help and guidance, Cappo has no idea how she’ll handle the situation. “There I was,” she writes,

the nonmedical person in my family, the person who hated blood and needles, being thrown into a situation demanding courage, stamina, and role modeling.

But we rise to the situation that presents itself, if the stakes are high enough. Cappo discovers what many nurses already know: the nurses who care for her son make all the difference in his care, and provide her with essential support as well. […]

Psychiatric Nursing: The Seemingly Unreachable Patient

By Jennifer Rodgers for AJN. Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers for AJN

In many fields, we must keep doing the same thing over and over without any apparent results. Nurses, for example, may find that their efforts to make a patient safe, to reach a patient, to ease a patient’s suffering have little visible effect. This is just part of the work, but some patients will inevitably pose a greater personal challenge than others.

Five Words,” the Reflections essay in the May issue of AJN, written by former psychiatric nurse Tania Renee Zayid, is about one of those patients and the feelings of hope and disappointment his nurse experiences in his presence. In it, she writes:  […]