Patients Change Us: A Formative Nursing Experience

From boliston, via Flickr From boliston, via Flickr

Many years ago, I was given the greatest gift by a patient who had no idea he would change my life and define my professional outlook as a nurse. While not every nurse will be fortunate enough to have such an explicit experience of the effect of the care they provide so early in their career, I believe that each patient you come in contact with is changing your life as much as you are changing theirs.

Quantity of Care vs. Quality of Care

Nursing has evolved into a highly technical profession grounded in scientific evidence, a profession that works to improve patient outcomes and shorten hospital stays. Research and technology support this work in innumerable ways.

But while nurses must be technical experts, drug experts, and efficiency experts, they must also do their best to alleviate the suffering of those in their charge. These many concurrent demands can result in high burnout rates among nurses as well as fragmented care for patients.

The quantity of care today’s nurse provides must go hand in hand with the quality of care. My own definition of quality care is focusing on patients as more than just a set of signs, symptoms, numbers, and processes in need of monitoring and adjustment. Recognizing patients as individuals and making our time at the bedside meaningful is often as important as accomplishing […]

Are the Benefits of Nutrition for Cardiovascular Health Being Undersold ?

By Betsy Todd, MPH, RN, CIC, AJN clinical editor

By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons By Eric Hunt/via Wikimedia Commons

A nutrition conference at which physicians and medical students outnumber either nurses or dietitians is a rare event. This was the case at last month’s International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine: Cardiovascular Disease in Washington, DC, cosponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and George Washington University.

The speakers, shared a wealth of data on the influence of different types of diets on weight, blood pressure, lipids, serum inflammatory markers, hemoglobin A1c levels, and diseased coronary arteries. More than one pointed out that we too often overestimate the benefits of drugs and medical procedures and discount the effectiveness of diet and lifestyle changes. Some highlights:

Does heart disease begin in utero? Children who are large for gestational age (> 95th percentile) and those born to overweight mothers are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Vascular physiologist Michael Skilton, PhD, associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia, has also identified microscopic lesions in aortic endothelium of babies born small for gestational age (< 10th percentile). He suggests that their diets include the American Heart Association’s recommendations for omega-3 fatty acid intake beginning in childhood (breast milk, flax seeds, walnuts, or child-friendly omega 3 supplements can be used in lieu of fish-derived omega 3s when mercury is a […]

September 14th, 2015|Nursing, personal health practices|1 Comment

Nurses Aren’t Just Healers, They’re Teachers Too: A Patient’s View

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

A teeny red bump had mysteriously appeared on my left index finger. It hurt when I pressed on it. I figured it was nothing. . . .

That’s the start of the June Reflections essay in AJN, “Ms. Lisa and Ms. MRSA,” a patient experience narrative by freelance writer Shannon Harris. As luck would have it, the bump on her finger, it turns out, is not nothing. It’s MRSA.

The diagnosis takes a while. Finally the situation worsens, and surgery is needed. The author takes it all in stride, at least in retrospect:

The third physician stood out to me most. He asked to take a picture of my green and black, staph-infected finger with his iPhone. “Sure. Look at it! I thought this only happened to pirates,” I told him as he snapped away. He glanced at the young, button-nosed nurse standing beside him. “Don’t you want a picture? For your records?” he asked.

She shook her head, squinting and gritting her teeth. “I know. Yuck,” I said. I later shared photos of my infection journey online, to the great wonder and disgust of my friends and family. Before that, though, came surgery.

The author’s tone is light, but the situation is a scary one for any patient. […]

Strong Nurse and Patient Voices On the Blogs This Week

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor/blog editor

Photo by mezone, via Flickr. Photo by mezone, via Flickr.

Here’s a short Friday list of recent smart, honest, informative blog posts by nurses, as well as a couple of interesting patient perspectives on prominent types of chronic illness and the ways they are talked about by the rest of us.

At Head Nurse, in “Yes…No. I’m Having Some Thoughts About BSNs,” an ADN-prepared nurse makes some familiar and some more surprising observations about the effects of the new policy of hiring mostly BSN-prepared nurses at her facility as it tries for Magnet status. For example, one of the effects she notes is “a massive drop-off in terms of the diversity of our nursing staff.” The move toward BSNs is obviously the trend in nursing, and is supported by research, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still two sides to the issue, or real unintended consequences to address as this change is gradually implemented.

At Hospice Diary, the blog of hospice nurse Amy Getter, there’s a post called “Hearts, Flowers, and Bucket Lists.” Reflecting on the imminent death of a patient, the author puts the popular notion […]

Paired Glucose Testing With Telehealth Support to Empower Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

bloodglucosetestingType 2 diabetes is challenging for those trying to meet blood glucose target ranges, often requiring one or more daily medications, increases in exercise, changes in eating habits, and self-monitoring of glucose level. Those who are willing and able to learn about factors affecting their glucose level and to make small daily efforts in one or more areas have the potential to radically improve their sense of control over their diabetes.

This month’s Diabetes Under Control column, “Better Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management Using Paired Testing and Remote Monitoring” (free until April 1), presents a successful story of patient engagement in diabetes self-management. It describes the case of a participant in a clinical trial who, with clinician support, incorporated paired glucose testing (self-testing before and after meals) and telehealth (remote patient monitoring, or RPM).

The article is easy to follow and gives a series of biweekly updates on the patient’s progress. Before the study starts, she’s not very engaged in self-management. For example, she’s only testing her own glucose level three to four times a month. To get a sense of how much more empowered she’s come to feel by week 12 of the protocol, consider this brief excerpt: […]

February 13th, 2015|digital health, Nursing, patient engagement, Patients|4 Comments