VA Nursing Leadership Silent on Veterans’ Wait Times Scandal

By Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, AJN news director

Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio, TX / Wikimedia Commons Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital in San Antonio, TX / Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been trying to arrange an interview with a nurse in a leadership role at the VA’s Office of Nursing Services (ONS) for over a month now, with little success.

Granted, an excessive wait time for an interview pales in comparison with how long many veterans have had to wait for health care. Still, this has given me a tiny taste of what it must be like to enroll with the Veterans Health Administration for services: you can contact them, but you have to wait a really long time to even schedule a first appointment.

A substantive interview with AJN might have been a golden opportunity for the ONS to get out ahead of the story that has plagued the VA since the Phoenix scandal about lengthy waiting times at the VA broke in early May. (I did finally get a response of sorts. More on that below.)

To recap: The allegations in May that the Phoenix VA system had manipulated data about appointment wait times to hide the fact that veterans were not getting timely appointments galvanized public and Congressional attention.

But such problems in the VA health care system are not new, as a […]

Still a Nurse: A Shift in Professional Identity

Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved. Illustration by Jennifer Rodgers. All rights reserved.

The June Reflections, “Making It Fit,” is a frank exploration of the ways health care professionals form separate cultures within each institution. It’s told by a newly minted advanced practice nurse whose previous job had been as a staff nurse in an ED. Now she’s taken a job as a psychiatric NP and finds herself on uncertain ground:

When I walked onto the unit my first day, expecting to be embraced by the nurses, I was dumbfounded and hurt that my own profession didn’t accept me with open arms. The inpatient unit is a melting pot of professions, and I found that I didn’t necessarily fit with the doctors, the social workers, or the staff nurses.

The author finds herself alone, neither nurse nor physician but instead something in between. As she describes her process of finding a new kind of nursing identity, she is very clear that this is not a case of nurses “eating their young.” Rather, it’s about finding a new normal. The short essay is an honest, smart look at career advancement and the associated challenges we hear less about, and is well worth a read.—Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor

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When Lawmakers and Physicians Hold Nurses Back

Editor’s Note: Toni Inglis, MSN, RN, CNS, FAAN, writes opinion for the Austin (TX) American-Statesman. She works at the Seton Healthcare Family in Austin as a neonatal ICU staff nurse and also writes a nursing blog for Seton and edits its monthly NursingNews. This article is a reprint of an April 22nd commentary in the Statesman. Toni was inspired to write the column after a particularly disappointing legislative session, in which Texas advanced practice nurses made fewer gains than in past sessions—despite Texas ranking last in access to health care and having the most restrictive laws in the country regarding APRN scope of practice and prescriptive authority. She believes the poor access and barriers to practice are related.

AJN finds the article particularly relevant as legislatures across the country deliberate on APRN barriers to practice. You can read her commentaries at

Here’s an idea that wouldn’t cost Texas a dime but would save millions of dollars every year: Remove all barriers restraining nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education and training.

No state needs primary care providers more than Texas, which has a severe shortage. Texas ranks last in access to health care and in the percentage of residents without health insurance. Of Texas’ 254 counties, 188 are designated by the […]

2016-11-21T13:10:43+00:00 February 13th, 2012|health care policy, nursing perspective|0 Comments

CMS Proposing New Hospital Regulations—How Will the Changes Affect Your Delivery of Care?

The below information on proposed changes has been shared with AJN by Jeannie Miller, MPH, RN, Deputy Director, Clinical Standards Group, Office of Clinical Standards and Quality (CSG/OCSQ) of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed revisions to the hospital Conditions of Participation, the criteria hospitals must meet to be reimbursed for services by Medicare/Medicaid. The changes are needed to remove unnecessary and burdensome regulations that create barriers in care delivery. The changes, if adopted, include:

  • Broadening the concept of “medical staff” to include other practitioners, including APRNs, PAs, and pharmacists, practicing within their scope of practice and in accordance with state law.
  • Changes in nursing care planning to allow for a stand-alone plan or an integrated plan with other disciplines.
  • Allowing medication orders by practitioners other than physicians where the law and hospital policy allows.
  • Allowing a program for patient or “support person” to administer some medications.
  • Calling for standing orders and protocols to be based on nationally recognized and evidence-based guidelines.

There is a 60-day comment period. The CMS would like your comments. The proposed regulation can be found in full via a link on […]

2016-11-21T13:11:42+00:00 October 18th, 2011|career|6 Comments