Ann Burgess: Forensic Nursing Pioneer

Ann Wolbert Burgess, DNSc, RN, APRN-BC, FAAN. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Cunningham Photography.

Last fall, Ann Wolbert Burgess was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing. It’s a fitting honor for a nurse who has spent decades studying victims of trauma and abuse and the perpetrators of those crimes, in addition to working alongside the FBI and testifying as an expert in the courtroom. She has also written numerous articles and books and currently teaches forensics at Boston College.

Burgess earned her doctorate in psychiatric nursing from Boston University, and thought she’d ultimately be a nurse psychotherapist—but her career path took a different turn than she expected. In the early 1970s, motivated by the feminist movement, Burgess and her colleague Lynda Lytle Holmstrom started one of the first hospital-based crisis counseling programs for rape victims, at Boston City Hospital.

The program enabled nurses to provide counseling to rape victims, and allowed Burgess and Holmstrom to conduct research on rape victimology. Their research led them to write a groundbreaking paper in 1974 that introduced what they called “rape trauma syndrome,” describing its […]

February 13th, 2017|career, Nursing|2 Comments

Reluctant Heroes: When Men in Nursing Cry

Reluctant Hero / graphite, charcoal, and pastel on paper / by Julianna Paradisi 2017

I first learned the effect a man’s tears have on my emotions from the parents of my young patients when I was a pediatric intensive care nurse.

I am not unaffected by the tears of a woman, but in the PICU the tears of the mothers differed in nature from the tears of the fathers.

A mother with a hospitalized child will cry, and when overwhelmed, she will break down. But in the PICU, more often than not, she took a tissue from the box I handed her, wiped her eyes, breathed deeply, and then put on a brave face to protect her child from knowing her fear and concern over his welfare.

When the father cried, it was an admission of helplessness. His problem-solving toolbox was empty. The tears represented feelings of personal failure, powerlessness to protect his child and family from disease or trauma. His criteria for being a father, or a man, was eroded.

These displays of total soul-brokenness undid me every time. […]

January 17th, 2017|career, men in nursing, Nursing|5 Comments

Helping New Nurses Find Their Way: The Art of Saying Yes

A Preceptor’s Example

Photo by Ed Eckstein Photo by Ed Eckstein

AJN’s Transition to Practice column is designed to help new nurses in their first year at the bedside. In this month’s column, “The Art of Saying Yes,” Amanda Anderson explains how as a new nurse she learned the benefits (to herself and her patients) of going the extra mile at work. She describes the surprising personal and professional benefits that come from “the times you choose to say yes when you might just as easily have deferred.”

Anderson paints a vivid picture of her first days on the job as a nurse: The fear of making mistakes, the feeling of being a useless novice, the shame of not always being able to keep up with seasoned staff. She was fortunate, though, to have an expert mentor in those early days. Her preceptor was an experienced nurse who modeled the art of saying yes—an art that might be described as a willingness to leap in to help when not required to do so: to take on a housekeeping task, for example, or pitch in unasked to help another nurse whose day is spinning out of control.

“There is no term for this concept in the literature,” writes […]

November 18th, 2016|career, Nursing|3 Comments

Quality: The Anonymous Superhero of Nursing

“Clark Kent has his Superman cape, while I have my spreadsheets of data and the ability to set goals and track them.”

This guest post is by Tasha Poslaniec. A registered nurse for 16 years, Tasha has worked in multiple areas, including obstetrics and cardiology. She currently works as a perinatal quality review nurse. She is one of the most viewed nursing writers on Quora, and has had essays published by the Huffington Post.

sm1018-0021In the world of comics, Superman’s alter ego is the incognito Clark Kent. But in fact, that nerdy, data-oriented, and unassuming reporter, whose mission is to “bring truth to the forefront, and fight for the little guy,” could very easily be a quality review nurse.

The comparison between the two might seem a stretch at first, but there are some parallels that are worth pursuing—especially in the context of understanding who and what your quality nurse is, what quality nurses do, and how Clark Kent’s mission isn’t far from quality nurses’ own motivation for what we do.

An anonymous nursing role.

First, let me put into perspective exactly how anonymous most quality nurses are. Do you know who works in your quality department? Do you know where your quality department is? Did you even know that you have a quality department? If you said no to all three of those questions, then I can relate. […]

October 11th, 2016|career, Nursing, nursing roles, patient safety|0 Comments

Dark Water, Wild Winds: Notes of a Flight Nurse

I must see new things
And investigate them.
I want to taste dark water
And see crackling trees and wild winds.
—Egon Schiele

IMG_2650Repatriation

I’m standing on the tarmac in Manaus, Brazil, where there is indeed a wild wind; it blows debris across the runway yet does nothing to stave off the nearly intolerable heat. Sweat soaks my back and drips down the center of my chest. My limbs are heavy with lethargy. The heat index is 110 but it feels much hotter—even the Learjet fails to provide a haven from the equatorial sun.

We’d come to Brazil to repatriate an Englishman who’d been visiting family and was struck down by sudden and severe seizures. He’d spent weeks in the hospital, sustaining scans and diagnostics to pinpoint the cause, and endured the addition of one antiepileptic medication after another.

While the seizures finally ceased, he was left disquieted and uncomfortable, unsure which symptoms were due to the 7 cm brain mass that had been discovered and which were side effects of the myriad of antidotes. By the time we were dispatched for this mission, he was medically stable and ready to go home to deal with the ominous findings. Biopsies awaited and treatments would be considered. […]