Nurses Try Out Plant-Based Diet, Report Health Benefits

            If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?

Photo from Shutterstock.

This adage, sometimes attributed to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, reminds us that the personal choices we make are important. Drugs and procedures are unlikely to ensure continuing good health, especially if we don’t first attend to the basics. And when it comes to personal choices, nothing is quite as personal as food.

Maybe this is why some nurses and physicians are so quick to dismiss decades of promising research on the effects of meatless diets. “People will never change the way they eat; it’s not worth talking about.” But as Michael Greger, a general practitioner specializing in nutrition and an advocate for plant-based diets, once said in a lecture I attended, “That attitude may be one of the true leading causes of death and disability.”

In “A Plant-Based Nutrition Program” in this month’s AJN, Joanne Evans and colleagues describe the results of a “personal experiment” in which nurses at three faculty-led community health clinics associated with George Mason University followed a plant-based diet for three weeks. Their goals were to

  • improve their nutritional expertise and understanding,
  • prepare themselves to effectively advocate for patients’ positive lifestyle changes, and
  • increase their awareness of […]
2017-03-23T07:17:38+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|Nursing, nursing research|7 Comments

Women’s History and Nursing’s History

This year’s theme of Women’s History Month, which we celebrate each March, is focused on women’s achievements in business and the labor force, but we don’t need this reason to take time out to remember the strong women who have shaped nursing. We certainly have many of them.

As I wrote in an editorial marking women’s history month in 2015:

Most people still don’t understand all that nurses have done—and continue to do—to improve health care. Most would likely recognize the name of Florence Nightingale. But I wonder if any other nurses would come to mind. I wonder how many nonnurses know that Lillian Wald developed the community health system (she founded New York City’s Henry Street Settlement), pioneered public health and school nursing, and helped establish the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; or that Florence Wald (no relation to Lillian) brought hospice care to the United States; or that it was Kathryn Barnard’s research that established the beneficial effects of rocking and heartbeat sounds on premature infants, which is why most neonatal ICUs and newborn nurseries contain rocking chairs.

Lillian Wald and other notable nurse pioneers, 1923 March 2015 cover showing Lillian Wald and others at Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service, 1923.

Despite gains in professionalism and education, nurses still are not well represented on governing boards—and we should be. Our proven record of innovation and creative problem-solving and our intimate knowledge […]

2017-03-17T10:58:04+00:00 March 16th, 2017|Nursing, nursing history|0 Comments

ANA’s Cipriano, AARP’s Reinhard Comment on ACA’s Undoing

President Obama signing the ACA in 2010/via Wikimedia Commons

Nurses and the Undoing of the ACA

Many in the nursing community supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when it was first introduced. This is understandable, given our firsthand experience of patients who didn’t seek care until they were gravely ill because they lacked health insurance. We know how disease management can change outcomes for those with chronic illness and how preventive care can make the difference between having a treatable cancer or a metastasis.

In the years since, as both supporters and detractors continued to argue over the law and its need to be improved (or scrapped, depending on your viewpoint), over 20 million people gained health insurance and access to care.

Now as Congress moves to repeal and replace the ACA with a yet-to-be-determined plan, many are concerned that major gains will be lost and once again it will be the poor and vulnerable who will suffer. (I touched on some of the concerns in my March editorial.)

To get a little more insight, I spoke with two very policy-smart nurses about what might happen and what they feel should happen.

What ANA president Pam Cipriano said:

I asked ANA president Pam Cipriano what she thought was the most critical aspect of the gains from the ACA that need to be preserved. Her answer:

“We must […]

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. […]

2017-02-06T09:15:27+00:00 February 3rd, 2017|Ethics, Nursing|0 Comments

Top Nursing, Policy, Clinical Stories of 2016

Crowd members hold candles during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Photo © Associated Press

Late last year, we asked our editorial board members and contributing editors to tell us what they thought were the most important health news stories of 2016. In our January article “The Year in Review 2016,” we take a closer look at three of their most-mentioned topics: the Affordable Care Act (ACA), opioid misuse, and Zika virus.

What other issues stood out last year in specific areas of health care? We compiled top news story roundups for several categories—here’s an overview (click the links below to read the full articles):

Health Care Policy

  • Gun violence
  • Access to care: LGBT health, migrants, mental health care, medication costs, rural health care

Nursing

  • Workplace stress: 12-hour shifts, EHRs, evidence-based practice, staffing
  • Nursing education: increased access, faculty shortage, expanded simulation, improved employment prospects
  • Care delivery barriers: care for veterans, nurses’ practice authority

Clinical News

  • Sepsis awareness
  • Maternal mortality
  • Patient engagement
  • Population health trends

Finally, see “Stories to Watch in 2017” for a discussion of a few health topics, aside from the fate of the ACA, that we expect to hear more about this year.

2017-01-23T13:27:37+00:00 January 23rd, 2017|Nursing, Public health|0 Comments