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

Nursing Stories: Celebrating a Family Matriarch’s Life as Death Approaches

Illustration by Gingermoth for AJN. All rights reserved.

In this month’s Reflections essay, “Helen’s Family,” a home health nurse remembers a family that was not ashamed to celebrate life around a beloved matriarch even as her death approached.

The author, Cyndy Irvine, understands the crucial and difficult role played by family caregivers, who were “often partners in caring for” her patients:

. . . Some situations were not so difficult for them, perhaps a course of IV antibiotic therapy for osteomyelitis, or a posthospital assessment of medication compliance and mobility issues; others were more daunting, such as the last stages of an incurable disease.

The timing of Helen’s illness was not convenient—the march of family responsibilities carried on in the lives of her children, yet they recognized her final weeks and days as a sacred part of her life, and of their own.

Every family has a style, an energy, a way of relating or not relating. The author finds something special in this family’s efforts to fill “Helen’s” home with laughter, beauty, and a kind of celebration. The essay is rich in sensory details, and pervaded with a poignant awareness of the gift of life, even when it’s most fragile and in question. To read this one-page essay, which will be free until February 24, click here.

 

February 10th, 2017|Nursing, Patients|0 Comments

Black History in AJN: From Booker T. Washington To Today’s Influential Voices

Black nurses at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1918.

Acknowledging Black History Month

February is the month designated for remembering the contributions of black people to our nation and our culture. It’s a good reminder that in nursing, too, we have benefited from many strong black women (and at least a few men), who often persevered in the face of discrimination in obtaining education and jobs.

The AJN archives have several articles worth revisiting.

This article from 1976, “Black Nurses : Their Service and Their Struggle” (to read, click on the pdf), describes the struggles of several of our profession’s notable black nurses, including Mary Mahoney (the first black nurse to be licensed).

In a 2010 editorial, Alicia Georges, professor and chairperson of the department of nursing at Lehman College of the City University of New York, writes, “We all stand to benefit from the active participation of black nurses in our communities and our lives.”

A 2013 commentary by Kenya Beard (an AJN editorial board member) and Kellie Voicy speaks to the need for increasing minority representation in nursing.

And a jewel: an article by Booker T. Washington, published in 1910, on nurses’ training at Tuskegee.

The above articles will be free until March 1. Please read them and become informed and inspired.

February 8th, 2017|Nursing, nursing history|0 Comments

Defending Against Moral Distress

A collaborative initiative offers recommendations to build moral resilience.

All nurses have at some point been faced with situations that challenge their values. Whether dealing with families or patients or the actions of colleagues, we may be faced with acting (or not acting) in accordance with our professional or personal values. I can easily recall several situations (which I detail in my February editorial) that involved unnecessary invasive procedures and surgery or removing life support.

Such situations take a toll on the individual and the care team and ultimately have a negative effect on patient care quality. Moral distress is not something that can be entirely eliminated—there will always be situations that provoke angst. But individuals can build moral resilience if they learn to recognize it when it occurs and if their organizations support them in finding ways to manage ethically challenging situations. […]

February 3rd, 2017|Ethics, Nursing|0 Comments

Culture as a Key to Health

By Beth Toner, MJ, RN, senior communications officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

(Video caption: The Dakota are a horse tribe, and Charley, a retired reservation policeman, takes care of abandoned horses, connecting them to the tribe’s youth to help the young redefine themselves in relation to tribal history. Video used by permission; produced by Purple States LLC with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.)

I consider myself, and have been told by others that I am, an extraordinarily patient person—except behind the wheel of a car.

I commute 80 miles each way to work (that’s how much I love my job), so I spend a lot of time in the car. That, in turn, means I get annoyed—unreasonably so—by folks who are driving in such a way that forces me to spend a minute longer than I need to in that car. Now, it never leads to dangerous or aggressive driving, but it does lead to a lot of windows-up ranting while I’m on the road. One day, while I was in mid-rant, my 21-year-old daughter finally said, “Mom, you need to imagine other people complexly.”

I think of that conversation often as I listen to the polarizing dialogue that continues across our nation. What if, across the nation, we each imagined other people complexly, not just as their culture, their gender, their political party, their favorite television show? People, with all their joys and sorrows, their best qualities and their deepest flaws—uniquely themselves, yet with so much […]

February 1st, 2017|Nursing, Public health|1 Comment