Patients Change Us: A Formative Nursing Experience

From boliston, via Flickr From boliston, via Flickr

Many years ago, I was given the greatest gift by a patient who had no idea he would change my life and define my professional outlook as a nurse. While not every nurse will be fortunate enough to have such an explicit experience of the effect of the care they provide so early in their career, I believe that each patient you come in contact with is changing your life as much as you are changing theirs.

Quantity of Care vs. Quality of Care

Nursing has evolved into a highly technical profession grounded in scientific evidence, a profession that works to improve patient outcomes and shorten hospital stays. Research and technology support this work in innumerable ways.

But while nurses must be technical experts, drug experts, and efficiency experts, they must also do their best to alleviate the suffering of those in their charge. These many concurrent demands can result in high burnout rates among nurses as well as fragmented care for patients.

The quantity of care today’s nurse provides must go hand in hand with the quality of care. My own definition of quality care is focusing on patients as more than just a set of signs, symptoms, numbers, and processes in need of monitoring and adjustment. Recognizing patients as individuals and making […]

What a Nurse Really Wants

Lois Corcoran, BSN, PCCN, is pursuing a master of science in nursing degree and works on a cardiac step-down unit. Although Nurses Week recently ended, we felt that this short, honest post sums up the way a lot of nurses seem to feel.

via flickr creative commons/by you me via flickr creative commons/by you me

I have been a nurse for 18 years. I went to nursing school when I was 33 years old, a year after I’d completed treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. I was a single mom, newly divorced, trying to make my way.

Becoming a nurse felt like my calling. I was passionate about it. I had been through so much, and I knew I had a lot to give back—I wanted to be with patients, holding their hands, giving them the reassurance we so desperately want to hear when we are going through ill health. I knew that I could be that nurse. I felt that my cancer had been the portal to this realization, opening my eyes and heart to what patients need.

Eighteen years later the truth of my life as a nurse is a little more complicated. It’s not that my original soul’s calling isn’t still there, deep inside me. I still feel a close connection with my patients. I still take the time to be present […]

2017-08-04T09:53:14+00:00 May 19th, 2016|career, Nursing, nursing perspective, Patients|9 Comments

Superlatives: An Alternate List for Nurses Week

Photo from otisarchives4, via Flickr.

By Marcy Phipps, BSN, RN, CCRN. We originally published this post in 2010, but it’s so good we wanted to share it again this week. Enjoy!

During Nurses Week (May 6–12), the hospital where I work gives out endearing little trophies as awards for “nursing superlatives.” Ballots are distributed with predetermined categories, and the categories are usually fun and relatively straightforward. They include:

  • Best at Starting an IV
  • Most Likely to Crack a Raunchy Joke before Noon
  • Most Likely to Cry at Some Point during a Shift
  • Funniest Nurse
  • Most “Germ-a-Phobic” Nurse

The contests and catered meals, fun gifts, and light-hearted spirit of Nurses Week make it one of the nicest work weeks of the year, and we all come out of it feeling appreciated. But, in consideration of nursing superlatives, I’d like to propose some new categories. Although these titles won’t fit on the trophy plates, I think they’re worthy of recognition.

  • Most Likely to Notice, By the Tone of Another Nurse’s Voice, That Said Nurse Is Approaching a ‘Tilt’ Level of Stress, and Intervene Accordingly
  • Most Likely to Volunteer to Assist with Postmortem Care  (a job that nobody looks forward to, but that’s nonetheless important)
  • Most Likely to Accompanying Another Nurse on the Transport of an Unstable Patient to a Necessary Scan
  • Most Flexible; or Most Likely to […]

The Nurses Week Prizes We Really Need

Amanda Anderson, formerly a graduate intern at AJN, is now a contributing editor

Culture_of_Safety_2016My first Nurses Week as a nurse, my mother sent me a card and a small gift. When I opened it, I was surprised by its message—no one had ever given me anything for Nurses Week during nursing school. I had no idea that the holiday even existed.

As an English Literature major–turned nursing student, I was pretty clueless about the world of nursing when I launched my career. I spent most of my first year fumbling around in the dark, looking for Florence’s light.

As years passed, I learned more about nursing, claimed it as my own, and became versed in the industry secrets. I started to take pride in Nurses Week, seeing it as a venue for speaking out about nursing.

One year, for the thirty days preceding the holiday, I wrote to Google about 30 living nurse legends, in hopes that they would post a nursing-themed Google Doodle for our week. On another, I penned (and never sent) a scathing letter to a hospital president who had sent a kitschy card I took offense to.

[…]

Drawing Attention to Lax Oversight of Problem Nurses, Plus One Caution

ProPublica storyBy Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief

New York does not require applicants for nursing licenses to undergo simple background checks or submit fingerprints, tools that can identify those with criminal histories and flag subsequent legal problems. And it often takes years for New York to discipline nurses who provide inept care, steal drugs or physically abuse patients.

That’s from a recent ProPublica story on lax oversight of New York State nurses. Back in 2008, the same independent investigative journalism organization, in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, investigated lax policies of the California Board of Nursing that allowed nurses (both RNs and LPNs) with serious criminal convictions to continue to be licensed. (See our report on this and the editorial by then-editor-in-chief Diana Mason in the March 2009 issue.)

In this month’s story, ProPublica reporters Daniela Porat and colleagues turn their sights on New York State’s nurses. They detail the policy issues and systemic gaps that lead to poor oversight by the state education department’s Office of Health Professions, such as lack of background checks, relying on self-report of infractions, and no requirement for fingerprinting. Many other states have adopted more rigorous approaches. The report offers several compelling cases to drive home the point that investigations are often inadequate and disciplinary action often not taken, allowing many nurses who should not be practicing to continue […]

2017-07-12T18:22:28+00:00 April 18th, 2016|career, Nursing|3 Comments