Comforting Our Patients: The Importance of Well-Chosen Words

‘What I Said,’ ink and crayon on paper, Julianna Paradisi 2018

Nurses and writers understand the importance of well-chosen words. Precision of language is important for both. But nurses learn the emotional impact of words, wisely or poorly chosen, on the job, directly from our patients. There’s seldom an opportunity to edit or revise on the floor of a nursing unit. Words cannot be unsaid.

As an oncology nurse navigator, my nursing practice is almost entirely based on words. My stethoscope, which rarely left my body when I was a PICU nurse, now rests coiled like a snake in a basket, nestled among the art supplies I used to illustrate this post.

Since patients rate my nursing skills by my words, the ability to pass the ‘bs test’ is more important than ever before in my career. As a navigator, I have impressed a patient or two (and helped them get proper care) by recognizing over the phone that the symptoms they described were cardiac related and not the side effects of cancer treatment. But for the most part, words are the tool I rely on to prove my value.

It’s the nature of nurses to want to comfort our patients. We understand their emotions run high when they are faced with a […]

Tallying Losses and Gains of Being a Nurse, and Finding Profit

I was talking with a dear friend who was telling me how she went through a period when she had wondered whether nursing was destroying her. I can’t say what she actually meant by this for her own self, but the comment stood out to me. I found myself chewing on this notion that we can feel slowly worn down by the overall experience of nursing to a point where we feel the losses are not being offset by the gains quickly enough.

A certain loss of innocence.

Given all of the random tragedy, self-sabotage, and violence that nurses may witness in their patients’ stories, nurses can experience the loss of a more innocent, optimistic perspective about people and the world. Nurses often say there are things you cannot “un-see” in this line of work. Those experiences can darken the lens through which we see the world. The loss of faith in the assured wellness in the world can feel disheartening. It can be difficult to know how to process this in a way that does not simply leave us more fearful or cynical people.

The energy drain.

On a less philosophical level, it is no […]

The Ten Most-Viewed AJN articles in 2017

What AJN Readers Read

nurse typing on keyboardIt’s always interesting (at least to me) to look back over the year and see what articles were the most popular. While we can’t be sure what people who read AJN in print actually viewed, we can get a good idea from those who read online. From those who accessed AJN articles either through the Ovid institutional subscription service or through our own website, (but not counting those who read AJN articles on the iPad or via the company nursing portal,, here’s what we know readers viewed the most. Some of the content was new in 2017; some of it was not.

  1. AJN’s award-winning series “Evidence-Based Practice, Step-by-Step.– This series of 11 articles by Melnyk, Fineout-Overholt, and colleagues ran every other month from November 2009 through July 2011 and took readers through the steps of searching and appraising the literature and implementing change.
  2. Nursing’s Evolving Role in Patient Safety,” by Sonya Kowalski and Maureen Anthony (February 2017). This content analysis of AJN articles from 1900 to 2015 explored the nurse’s role in promoting patient safety. (I have to admit, as a history buff, this is one of my personal favorites.)
  3. Interprofessional Collaboration and Education,” by Mary […]
2018-01-02T14:46:41+00:00 January 2nd, 2018|Nursing|0 Comments

January Issue: Managing Post-Op Pain, Head and Neck Cancer Symptom Management, Predatory Journals, More

The January issue of AJN is now live. Here are some of the articles we’re pleased to have a chance to publish this month.

CE: Oral Care for Head and Neck Cancer Symptom Management

The authors describe an evidence-based practice change at a radiation oncology center designed to reduce the severity of oral mucositis in adults receiving radiation treatment for head and neck cancer.

CE: Managing Postoperative Pain

This article reviews the recommendations of the American Pain Society’s postoperative pain management guideline and discusses its historical context and the current events that may affect its implementation in clinical practice.

Original Research: Increasing the Connectivity and Autonomy of RNs with Low-Risk Obstetric Patients

A qualitative study explores the perspectives of patients, RNs, certified nurse midwives, and other providers regarding a new prenatal connected care model aimed at reducing in-office visits and creating virtual patient–RN connections.

Predatory Journals: Alerting Nurses to Potentially Unreliable Content

Nurse authors and readers need to know about the harmful online phenomenon of predatory journals and understand how to identify and avoid the unreliable content published in these journals. […]

2017-12-29T11:18:42+00:00 December 29th, 2017|Nursing|0 Comments

Who’s to Blame for Poor Health?

We hear it over and over and probably say it to our patients: to be healthy, follow a proper diet, don’t smoke, and be active. And if diagnosed with an illness, adhere to the agreed-upon plan of care. Sounds simple—and when patients return time and again with the same issues, we often blame them (secretly, of course) for not taking care of themselves.

But for how many of our patients is what we’re asking them to do less a matter of personal choice than a function of the neighborhood in which they live and the limitations imposed by their socioeconomic circumstances?

Many people don’t live within walking distance of a grocery store that offers fresh vegetables and fruit. Or if they do, they may not be able to afford the more nutritious choices, which are often more expensive. Many urban areas lack playgrounds. Air pollution and substandard housing materials can cause asthma and heart disease. Being born into poverty can result in poor nutrition, contributing to poor health, as well as limited access to health care, education, and job opportunities.

Social determinants of health, before we called them that.

Nurse and social worker Lillian Wald understood this when she and colleague Mary Brewster established the Henry Street Settlement in New York City’s Lower East Side, where she offered health care, […]