DiversityNursing Blog

Q&A with Sylvia Terry: 'The Peer Advisor Program Has Been My Passion'

Posted by Wilson Nunnari

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 @ 03:02 PM



The Peer Advisor Program, which pairs upper-class students with first-year students to help them get acclimated to and thrive at U.Va., became her extended family. Students in the program came to rely on her like a mother away from home.

On the occasion of her retirement, Terry sat down for an interview with UVa Today's Anne Bromley and talked about the philosophy behind the Peer Advisor Program and her roles at the University.



UVa Today: Did you feel like you were creating something new here at U.Va., changing its history?

Terry: I didn’t think of it so consciously at that time. I thought of it more as exposing more people, more children, more students about possibilities about college. 

The great thing about those sessions is that not only were we talking with high school juniors and seniors, but the families were there. I remember creating a series of leaflets for children. We called it "Steps to College." In it we were suggesting things for them to think about for that particular year. 

It makes me feel very proud, being in the Office of Admission for almost 10 years, from 1980 to 1989, and seeing the numbers of black students increase. When I look at the alumni who come back, many of them were students in high school when I met them. That makes me feel older, but it also makes me feel proud because of the things that they are doing. 

Those days at admissions laid the foundation in terms of this work for the Peer Advisor Program. 

I often tell the story of my second year in admissions when the vice president for student affairs, Ernie Ern, invited me and others to a meeting he was holding of black students. The thing that touched me the most was a young man, and I remember his words: "U.Va. has done everything to get me here, but now that I’m here, nobody seems to care." I never forgot that, because here was a student who had been recruited and who had come, but who was experiencing what I’ll call disappointment, experiencing isolation.

When I left that meeting, I went back to my office and I sat down and I looked at the black student admissions committee that I had organized. One of the things I immediately thought is, I'm going to add a subcommittee to check on students we had had contact with. I assigned members of the committee to the different residence halls, and they picked up where we left off – after two or three weeks, we were gone – but the students were there to check on the welfare of other students, and that was one of the forerunners of the Peer Advisor Program.

I found, probably about a year or two ago, a note that I had written Jean Rayburn, who at the time was dean of admission. She had sent out a note to the staff to ask if any of us had any ideas about ways of retaining students. I actually wrote – and I have it hand-written because we didn't have the computers then – several things, and one of them was what I called a "Big Brother, Big Sister program." I smiled when I read it because number one, I had forgotten about it; number two, when I read it, it was exactly the kinds of things I have done with the Peer Advisor Program. 

UVa Today: How did you come over to the Office of African-American Affairs?

Terry: I applied for the position because I wanted to have more time with my children. Did that happen? No. Looking at this office and that it had developed this program that I'd actually proposed, this was something I was excited about. It was the program that attracted me. 

Everybody makes sacrifices, and when I look at U.Va. and some of the sacrifices, it's not just been me, it's been my family. 

Shawna, when she was real little, she thought every person who was a teenager or a young adult was a peer adviser. I remember being in church one Sunday and U.Va. students talking to me. Shawna got antsy because she'd been good, she had sat through service, and she beckoned me and said, "Mommy, Mommy, can't we go home? Can't you stop talking to all these peer advisers?" 

I think in our household, it almost has been that I have three children as opposed to two – the Peer Advisor Program is actually the same age as my son, 24. So they have grown up around peer advisers. I'd have peer advisers over for dinner, we would do things together, so it's just been that other presence in our house.

UVa Today: Have people asked you, "Shouldn't every first-year student have this kind of program?" Are there things that are specific issues or challenges to black students, or has that changed over time?

Terry: The latter part hasn't changed. I have peer advisers do mid-year interviews. We have questions about the disappointments you have experienced, the joys you've had; what is the best academic experience you've had, what is the worst? I do find that students still talk about, sadly, some racial insensitivity. If one asks, "Is this program still needed?", it is still needed, though this program is not about separating, it's about providing support. 

Should every student have a peer adviser? I think every student should. The way I have always seen it is every student has a peer adviser through the role of residence life. I think the difference is peer advisers don't have to manage an environment within a dorm setting, so I know peer advisers don't have to enforce rules. With [resident advisers], there are certain rules they have to enforce. RAs are on call 24 hours; so, too, are peer advisers. 

Where I see the difference is, if there is some racial insensitivity – it's not to say that an RA cannot address that at all, an RA can – I have additional support here. If I have experienced something, then I can be of more assistance, perhaps, than someone who may not have experienced it. 

 

— By Anne Bromley

Topics: Articles, diversity, nurse, black nurse, diverse, nurses, women, black, diverse african-american, inclusion, nursing, education, cultural

Diversity Statement by Universities & Colleges

Posted by Wilson Nunnari

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 @ 03:17 PM

The following is a Diversity Statement written and signed by numerous colleges and universities and taken from the University of Virginia's website for their Office of African American Affairs. It provides good insight into the value that diversity adds in higher education, which almost always applies to professions, like nursing, as well.

 

On the Importance of Diversity in Higher Education

America's colleges and universities differ in many ways. Some are public, others are independent; some are large urban universities, some are two-year community colleges, others small rural campuses. Some offer graduate and professional programs, others focus primarily on undergraduate education. Each of our more than 3,000 colleges and universities has its own specific and distinct mission. This collective diversity among institutions is one of the great strengths of America's higher education system, and has helped make it the best in the world. Preserving that diversity is essential if we hope to serve the needs of our democratic society.

Similarly, many colleges and universities share a common belief, born of experience, that diversity in their student bodies, faculties, and staff is important for them to fulfill their primary mission: providing a quality education. The public is entitled to know why these institutions believe so strongly that racial and ethnic diversity should be one factor among the many considered in admissions and hiring. The reasons include:

Diversity enriches the educational experience. We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.

It promotes personal growth and a healthy society. Diversity challenges stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking; and it helps students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds. 
It strengthens communities and the workplace. Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions. 
It enhances America's economic competitiveness. Sustaining the nation's prosperity in the 21st century will require us to make effective use of the talents and abilities of all our citizens, in work settings that bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

American colleges and universities traditionally have enjoyed significant latitude in fulfilling their missions. Americans have understood that there is no single model of a good college, and that no single standard can predict with certainty the lifetime contribution of a teacher or a student. Yet the freedom to determine who shall teach and be taught has been restricted in a number of places, and come under attack in others. As a result, some schools have experienced precipitous declines in the enrolment of African-American and Hispanic students, reversing decades of progress in the effort to assure that all groups in American society have an equal opportunity for access to higher education.

Achieving diversity on college campuses does not require quotas. Nor does diversity warrant admission of unqualified applicants. However, the diversity we seek, and the future of the nation, do require that colleges and universities continue to be able to reach out and make a conscious effort to build healthy and diverse learning environments appropriate for their missions. The success of higher education and the strength of our democracy depend on it.

 

Topics: Articles, diversity, nurse, ethnic, diverse, nurses, Workforce, employment, scholarship, inclusion, nursing, education, cultural

Impact on Differences

Posted by Wilson Nunnari

Wed, Dec 07, 2011 @ 11:10 AM

Meg Beturne MSN, RN, CPAN, CAPA
Denise Colon, RN
Baystate Health System, Springfield, MA

This article was submitted by Meg Beturne RN, MSN, CPAN, CAPA,  Assistant Nurse Manager @ Baystate Orthopedic Surgery Center in Springfield, MA.  Meg became a mentor and participated in "Baystate Health’s Diversity Leadership Initiative, Mentoring Across Differences" Program. A Dimensions of Diversity Exercise (copyrighted in 2011 by Washington Orange Wheeler Consulting firm http://wow4results.com) was offered as part of the Program.

The exercise is a puzzle that shows the complexity of mentoring across differences. Understanding how these differences have impacted us and others helps to create a container for meaningful dialogue. Consider how various differences could impact your mentoring relationship. To participate in this exercise, you identify a few  dimensions of diversity that have had an important role in impacting who you are, how others see you, and how you see the world. You then figure out how the dimensions shaped who you are personally and professionally. Finally, how might these dimensions impact your mentoring relationship? 

Meg, a Caucasian Catholic, mentored Denise who has a Latina background with strong family ties and a culture that is filled with traditions that are vital to her life and that of her family and extended family. Denise is Roman Catholic and she works to maintain a healthy balance between work and home as she has a young family. Here is their mentoring story…

 

Impact on Differences 

As I began the mentoring relationship with Denise, I realized the importance of recognizing and understanding the differences and similarities that existed between us. Equipped with this knowledge, I felt that we could tackle the complexities of mentoring across differences. The Dimensions in Diversity exercise offered the perfect opportunity to explore key, diverse components that have made us the women and nurses that we are today. To that end, we made this a priority and discussed it at our very first meeting and then confirmed our thoughts and feelings at our next time together.

It was interesting to realize that both of us equally valued traditions and observances, but from a different perspective. We both enjoy sharing the particulars of the holiday traditions through the years and reminisced on who was present, the activities that took place, the photos that were taken and the memories that were made and cherished by future generations. Denise however was vocal that many persons that she has interacted with over time do not have a real understanding of the ethnic backgrounds that are celebrated in the various holidays. That being said, there is a lack of appreciation from culture to culture on the meaning and purpose of observances involving family and relatives. I had to admit that since I had grown up in a small mill town in Connecticut that was homogenous with regard to ethnicity and religion (Caucasian Catholics), I was not exposed to comments, conversations or messages that demonstrated anything but allegiance to the existing cultural observances and inclusion of the small numbers of diverse ethnic and religious populations that resided close by.

Denise chose accent and dialect as another dimension of her diversity. She relayed the fact that many individuals and groups do not make an attempt to understand or accept anyone who speaks in a certain way. This scenario creates feelings of self-doubt. In addition, it allows feelings of rejection to creep in that ultimately results in further retreat into one’s own ethnicity which is considered supportive and safe. As a registered nurse, Denise has encountered many patients and caregivers from all corners of the globe. Working with a team of professionals, Denise has gained acceptance and recognition as a caring and compassionate care giver and over time, interactions and conversations have focused on quality care rather than on accent or dialect.

I then shared that communication was a vital personal and professional dimension that affects my life in so many ways. Even though my communication style is open, friendly and positive, I have learned that being a good listener is actually a more important skill. I found myself connecting with Denise’s story and promised myself to be even more in tune with people I meet on a daily basis who might sound different than me. In my own way, I will seek to eliminate self-doubt by encouraging others to use their native voices to raise questions, contribute ideas and feel reassured that they will be understood.

As I reflect on this meeting with Denise, I am amazed at the information that was willingly shared and the conversation which was free-flowing and enjoyable.  Most importantly, after completion of this exercise, I feel more prepared then ever to be the type of mentor that will enable Denise to move forward in both her professional career and her personal life!

A special thank you to Denise Colon, RN for her participation.

Topics: Articles, diversity, nurse, hispanic nurse, diverse, nurses, hispanic, Workforce, nursing, education, Latina

One Take on the Top 10 Issues Facing Nursing

Posted by Pat Magrath

Tue, Nov 08, 2011 @ 09:19 AM

Excerpts of this article are from Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, Editor-in-Chief for the American Journal of Nursing

At the most recent Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) biennial meeting in Gaylord Texas, there was a seminar and discussion of the top 10 issues facing nursing, led by STTI’s publications director Renee Wilmeth. The issues were compiled from responses provided by 30 nursing leaders, and were presented in question form:

1) Is evidence-based practice (EBP) helpful or harmful? (Amazing how many interpretations there were of EBP, some of them—as I know from our EBP series—quite incorrect.)
2) What is the long-term impact of technology on nursing?
3) Can we all agree that a bachelor’s degree should be the minimum level for entry into practice? (General agreement here, despite concerns regarding the adequacy of financial support for achieving this goal.)
4) DNP vs PhD: separate but equal? (Not much discussion—I think no one wanted to really get into this.)
5) How do nurses get a seat at the policy table?
6) How do nurses cope with the growing ethical demands of practice? (This generated the most discussion, especially around whether society should provide unlimited costly care to those whose personal choices contribute to their health problems.)
7) How do we fix the workplace culture of nursing?
8) What role do nurse leaders play in the profession?
9) What are we doing about the widening workforce age gap?
10) How do we make the profession as diverse as the population for whom it cares?

What do you think? Would you agree that these are the ‘top 10’ issues? What’s missing? What’s here that shouldn’t be? We would love to hear your opinions, please share them here.

Topics: Articles, diversity, nurse, diverse, nurses, Workforce, employment, nursing

What CEOs Think About Diversity

Posted by Pat Magrath

Mon, Oct 31, 2011 @ 11:13 AM

by Pamela Babcock - Freelance Witer
for shrm.org


NEW YORK—Getting diversity and inclusion (D&I) “right” requires strong CEO commitment. But an all-white panel of CEOs who recently won diversity leadership awards said the seeds for their passion were planted long before they entered the corporate ranks.

George Borst, president and CEO of Toyota Financial Services, grew up playing stickball in Hollis, Queens, N.Y., while Michael I. Roth, chairman and CEO of Interpublic Group, was raised in nearby Brooklyn. Michael Howard, COO of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, lived on military bases because his father was in the Air Force.

Meanwhile, John Edwardson, chairman and CEO of CDW, was raised in a small southern Illinois town that had just one African-American couple but later lived in Hyde Park, a diverse area on Chicago’s South Side. And John B. Veihmeyer, chairman and CEO of KPMG, who has five sisters and two daughters, said he has seen first-hand the career challenges the women in his family have faced.

Personal experiences frame you, Veihmeyer told attendees June 8, 2011, at the CEO Diversity Leadership Awards and CEO Forum, held at Columbia University here. “You’re actually in a position now to try to make a difference about something that has probably been important to you your whole life.”

The 2011 CEO Diversity Leadership Awards were presented by Diversity Best Practices, a New York-based membership group for diversity and inclusion practitioners. In addition, the group recognized diversity officers with its annual Diversity Officers Leadership Award (DOLA).

2011 DOLA winners included Herbertina “Tina” Johnson, senior director of diversity for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service; Melissa Donaldson, director of inclusion practices at CDW; Heide Gardner, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Interpublic Group; Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, national managing partner of diversity and corporate responsibility at KPMG and Joe Husman, corporate manager of corporate social responsibility for Toyota Financial Services.

Carol Evans, CEO of Diversity Best Practices and president of Working Mother Media, said the awards recognize CEOs who are “leading the culture” and diversity officers “who not only have the strategy on their shoulders, but also have to make sure that everything gets implemented.”

The Business Case

During the event, several CEOs explained why diversity is a strategic imperative:

Borst said diversity is key to helping mirror the market his company competes in and said Toyota Financial Services makes more loans to African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans and women than does any other captive finance company in North America. “By having an organization and a structure that is diverse, we’re better able to understand this market,” he said.

Toyota supports underserved and underprivileged communities, “which unfortunately are dominated, in a lot of cases, by diversity,” Borst noted. This has had a spillover effect with employees: In the most recent annual associate opinion survey, 96 percent said that they thought that Toyota Financial Services was socially responsible, he added.

Instead of what he called “checkbook charity,” Borst said, the company participates in events at Boys & Girls Clubs of East Los Angeles, where associates “can dig in and volunteer and build relationships both with the community and with one another.”

As a professional services firm, KPMG requires intellectual capital that is as diverse as the clients it serves. Veihmeyer said it’s easy to get passionate about diversity because “it’s the right thing to do, for all the right reasons.”

But if that’s all you view it as, you’re not going to succeed, he said.

“We can’t have our diversity initiatives kind of tucked over to the side as some fifth leg to a stool,” he said. “What we have tried to do is to bake diversity into each of those four strategic priorities: quality growth, professionalism and integrity, being an employer of choice, and maintaining a global mind-set,” Veihmeyer explained.

The company can’t afford to fail to attract or retain a single high performer because it doesn’t believe KPMG is “supportive, committed to and totally focused on their success, irrespective of what their background or other needs may be,” Veihmeyer added. That’s why, among other things, the company has a key accounts rotation program that targets ethnically diverse associates to ensure that, early in their careers, they receive the client exposure and broad range of experience needed to succeed.

Roth of Interpublic, an advertising and marketing giant with 41,000 employees in 130 countries, noted that the advertising industry has “historically been terrible when it comes to diversity and inclusion,” pointing to the television show “Mad Men” as an example. His firm’s diversity initiatives are a differentiator in the marketplace because “If we’re not communicating the message correctly for our clients, we lose our clients.”

Edwardson of CDW, an IT products and services provider, said that shortly after he joined the company, he asked about the company’s target market and was told by its advertising agency that it was “white males between the ages of 26 and 42.” A couple of weeks later, he viewed focus group videos and realized quickly that this wasn’t the case. Changes were made and revenue grew. Diversity is “clearly the right thing to do, but it has been darn good business for CDW as well,” he said.

Bringing the Mission to Life

Borst said recent drama—a global recession, product recalls and a tsunami and earthquake in Japan—could have pushed diversity onto the sidelines at Toyota. However, “What we have tried to do is to make sure it stays as one of the important priorities,” he said. “I try to make sure the behavior I’m trying to model is modeled by the rest of the people on the management committee, and it all cascades down,” he said.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which provide goods and services for the Army and Air Force, has about 43,000 employees in 30 countries. Howard said he likes “helping develop the future.” He spends a couple of hours each week with different diverse groups and asks high performers “what can we do to help you?” Howard said they usually have the hard skills—they know how to do the jobs—but they often lack networking or social skills. “They are very eager to learn,” Howard reflected. “I say ‘well I’ve got half an hour,’ and two hours later we’re still talking.”

At CDW, it’s critical to build the pipeline at all levels of the organization, according to Edwardson. “I spent a lot of time with recruiting to make sure that for every single opening that we have that comes up that we have a diverse list of candidates,” he said.

Roth noted just how influential some diversity groups can be. Interpublic’s Women’s Leadership Network, which has about 10,000 participants globally, sponsored an event in June 2011, titled “Beyond Mad Men: Toward Gender Diversity in Creative Roles,” during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Roth will host the event, which will be moderated by CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien and feature a panel that includes Martha Stewart. It will focus on the dearth of women in the most senior creative roles and what can be learned from women who have made inroads in advertising, marketing and media.

In the end, organizers emphasized, it’s important to have a partnership between the chief executive and chief diversity officer. Andrés Tapia, president of Diversity Best Practices, said that without an effective diversity leader, “a CEO’s commitment cannot be turned into the strategies, programs, processes and action plans that bring the mission to life.”

In closing, Gardner of Interpublic offered this thought: “What I am learning is: Inclusion is pretty much the same everywhere,” she said. “It’s not just about making diversity counts but about making diversity count. And that holds true wherever you are.”

Pamela Babcock is a freelance writer based in the New York City area.

Topics: Articles, diversity, Workforce, employment, scholarship, inclusion, ceo

With diversity, everyone is relevant

Posted by Pat Magrath

Tue, Oct 11, 2011 @ 08:46 AM

By MICHELLE T. JOHNSON
http://michelletjohnson.com

Special writer to The Kansas City Star

Through the end of the year I will be looking a little more deeply into the definition of common terms that come up when discussing workplace diversity. Let’s start with “diversity” itself.

Although I’ve written about it in this column for several years and directly and indirectly defined it, people still seem confused. Or rather, my definition goes against the common, comfortable, self-centered way that people are used to thinking about diversity.

Most people think of diversity as a synonym for “race relations.” If they are particularly cynical or hate the very idea of it, then they think of diversity as another way of saying “affirmative action,” which really makes a negative in their minds.

My definition of diversity that I train with is layered and involved, and provides a great starting point for discussions in my workshops and longer writings.

But in a nutshell, it’s about difference — the difference between two people that can or does affect how they approach their jobs. Everything from the small difference of a person who has an assigned parking space to the person who has to circle the lot to find a decent space.

Diversity is also about the differences that are large and societal, such as race or sex. Recently I visited the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, N.C., and trust me, there is nothing small in seeing film footage and photos of the horrific things that Americans have done to Americans in the name of racial superiority.

Though the remnants of that legacy still leave their mark and have mutated into new dynamics of discrimination, it’s not just the big differences that count.

One of the difficulties of dealing with diversity is that it requires one to look at comparisons. That’s why the common definition of diversity is often self-centered.

People have a tendency to look at it through the lens that either supports who they are or potentially harms them.

But when diversity serves to simply determine difference as a measure of bringing several viewpoints or frames of reference into a working situation, it can be seen as a positive and not a threat.

Or to paraphrase something I recently read, if two people think exactly the same when trying to solve a problem or address a challenge, one of those people is completely irrelevant.

Diversity is about making everyone relevant.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/09/19/3153953/with-diversity-everyone-is-relevant.html

Topics: Articles, Employment & Residency, diversity, black nurse, diverse, hispanic, black, Workforce, employment

Federal projections for job openings through 2016. Registered Nurses lead the way.

Posted by Pat Magrath

Fri, Aug 26, 2011 @ 08:25 AM

The U.S. workforce is expected to become more diverse by 2018. Among racial groups, Whites are expected to make up a decreasing share of the labor force, while Blacks, Asians, and all other groups will increase their share (Chart 2). Among ethnic groups, persons of Hispanic origin are projected to increase their share of the labor force from 14.3 percent to 17.6 percent, reflecting 33.1 percent growth.

overview chart 02 small resized 600

July - August 2011. Largest Listings Out of 5,400,000 American Jobs Listed Across the Internet

• Physical Therapists
• Occupational Therapists
• Assistant Managers
• Registered Nurses - Licensed RNs
• Crew Positions - Casual Dining and Fast Food
• Salespeople
• Shift Supervisors - Food and Other Industries
• Cashiers/Sales Clerks
• Customer Service Jobs
• Pharmacy Technicians
• Merchandisers
• Event Specialists
• General Managers
• Photo Lab Supervisors
• Project Managers - IT

Federal Projections for "Most Job Openings" Expected through 2016

• Registered Nurses (RNs)
• Retail Salespersons
• Customer Service Representatives
• All Food Preparation & Service
• Office Clerks
• Personal & Home Care Aides
• Home Health Aides (HHAs)
• Postsecondary Teachers
• Janitors and Cleaners, except Housekeepers
• Nursing Aides & Orderlies
• Bookkeeping, Accounting, And Auditing Clerks
• Waitstaff
• Child Care Workers
• Executive Secretaries & Administrative Assistants
• Computer Software Applications Engineers

Topics: Articles, diversity, nurse, diverse, nurses, Workforce, employment

A Day in the Life of A Patient

Posted by Pat Magrath

Wed, Aug 10, 2011 @ 09:43 AM

​A Day in the Life of A Patient

By Stephanie Wilborne, APRN FNP
Contributing author to DiversityNursing.com

            John takes five pills every day.  He does not know the names of all his medications, but he recognizes each pill by its shape and color. Taking medications every day is a struggle for John.  Sometimes he forgets to take his pills.  Frequently, he has problems paying for his prescriptions. John missed two appointments to see the eye doctor.  He forgot about the first appointment and was so late for the second, they refused to see him.    He's been told in the past that people with diabetes have a "higher risk" of eye problems.  John still does not understand why he needs to see an eye doctor.

            John is your patient today.  His blood pressure reading is high again.  And unfortunately, his hemoglobin A1c readings are still too high.  His diabetes and hypertension are poorly controlled.    You ask what pills he takes.  He can’t remember.  Reading in his chart, you see at his last visit he was given a list of all his medications.  Trying to figure out why his high blood pressure and diabetes are uncontrolled, you ask tons of questions. "Are you taking your medication every day?  Why did you miss the second eye appointment,” you ask him?  Frustration sets in.

            The term health literacy refers to a set of skills people need to effectively manage their health.   More than two decades of research has associated poorer health literacy skills with less frequent screening for diseases such as cancer, higher rates of disease, mortality and worse health outcomes.  It is important for health care providers to understand that patients with poorer health literacy skills may struggle at times with health related tasks.

Taking Medications: May have difficulty reading prescription bottles and understanding when, how and how often to properly take medications.

Disease Self Management Skills:  May have less knowledge concerning their disease or condition resulting in poorer disease and self management skills.  For example, diabetic patients with poorer math skills are more likely to have problems interpreting glucometer readings and therefore miss that blood sugars are too high, low or normal.

Risk:  May have difficulty understanding the concept of risk and how it may impact their health.

Navigation:  Patients with poorer reading skills may have difficulty reading a bus schedule, following directions and other hospital or healthcare signage.

Communication:  Patients with poorer health literacy skills are more likely to report problems understanding and following conversations and verbal instructions of health care providers.

  In 2003 the National Assessment of Adult Literacy for the first time measured the health literacy level of more than 26, 000 American adults.  Only 12% of Americans were found to have proficient health literacy skills.  Based on this data, the majority of adults may have problems functioning in our current healthcare system at different times of their life.  Unfortunately, health information that patient's receive from health care professionals is often too complex for them to understand.  The United States government, American Medical Association, Joint Commission and many other agencies are advocating that all health care professionals incorporate clear communication techniques and strategies into clinical practice with ALL patients.

John’s nurse turned her frustration into action.   How many times a day he needs to take his medication was reduced to once a day.  His prescriptions are now written for a 90 day supply.  To help John manage his diabetes and hypertension better, John sees a nurse or clinician more often.    His health care team has completed training on utilizing clear communication techniques and strategies into clinical practice.   John now receives verbal and print instruction that incorporates plain language principles with less medical jargon. Teach back is used to confirm understanding.  Brief conversations with John revealed he didn’t know that much at all about diabetes or hypertension.  His clinician and nurse devised a plan to provide short bursts of education for future appointments.  They are also trying to coax John into attending diabetes self management classes   And yes, John finally had an eye appointment.  His nurse arranged for a family member to take him to his appointment.

All of the interventions mentioned above are based on more than two decades of research on how to improve the health care delivery and health outcomes for patients with poorer health literacy skills.  How health care providers communicate and deliver care can improve the ability of patients with poorer health literacy skills to manage their own health.  Nurses, we have the power to transform our healthcare system.  Learn more about health literacy and incorporate clear communication into your clinical practice.

Stephanie Wilborne, APRN FNP

www.health-lit.com/

Topics: Articles, diversity, nurse, ethnic, diverse, health, nurses, women, literacy, hispanic, black

As a nurse, how do you use Social Media?

Posted by Pat Magrath

Mon, Apr 18, 2011 @ 03:56 PM

from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a discussion was started that bears more dialogue. We want to hear from you. What do you think? Is it an age thing? A gender thing? An ethnic thing? If you are a nurse, how do you use Social Media?

From blogs to Twitter, social media can give nurses a greater voice.

Engaging Nursing Students in Social Media

While SBU has been offering a nursing informatics course for seven years, in the last two years, it has been expanded to include social media. In fact, the course has been transformed. Schmitt requires all her students to do all their work for the class online, attend at least one live chat and create their own Twitter accounts and blogs. The final group projects for the course are put up on SlideShare. “It’s essential for nurses to understand and be familiar with social media,” Schmitt says. “The majority of people get their advice from the internet and as nurses, we need to know what is and isn’t a valid source of information. What’s more, it’s important to realize that, today, informatics is more than emergency medical records and HIPAA violations.”

Schmitt also believes strongly in encouraging nurses to use social media to share information and their ideas. “Nurses are the largest group of health care professionals and the largest group of health care educators. I had all these students doing wonderful work, but they were writing for an audience of one. By blogging they can showcase their work. I want to encourage more nurses to blog because the internet is where people go for health care information.”

Learning to use new technology, especially technology that is widely used by clients and patients is, to Schmitt, an important part of training to be a nurse. But she does see some resistance. “I like to say that social media is like White Castle,” she says. “You either love it or hate it, but in the end, you’ll develop an appreciation for it.” Schmitt also finds that her students are reaping unexpected rewards from their online experiences, “when they get comments on their blogs or their tweets get retweeted, it’s a testament to their depth of knowledge and recognition of work well done.”

Like Baumann and Kelley, Schmitt sees great potential for social media in nursing. She believes that to some extent, the technology may well still be in its infancy. “Social media gives us a place to discuss things openly,” she says. “It can be a place to design research studies and find solutions. It can give nurses a greater voice. This is where nurses can speak up about policy and health care practice and make change.”

Topics: Articles

Hospital refuses to hire smokers

Posted by Pat Magrath

Thu, Mar 31, 2011 @ 04:01 PM

From Boston.com
By Deborah Kotz

(What do you think? Is this a good idea? Do employers have the right to do this?)

A Michigan hospital says it refuses to hire smokers, going so far as to test applicants for nicotine before allowing them to work there. Two workers were already recently turned down for employment at Crittenton Hospital in Rochester after testing positive for nicotine. They’re following the lead of Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, which implemented the policy last December.Certainly, it makes sense that hospitals and other workplace establishments have no-smoking policies. And university campuses in Massachusetts are required by law to be smoke-free. But not hiring workers who smoke takes this a step further.

Mass. police and fire departments won’t hire smokers. And the Massachusetts Hospital Association raised eyebrows last November when it announced that it was refusing to hire smokers, but it relies on the honor system — not nicotine screening — for enforcement.

Crittenton CEO Lynn Orfgen told CNN that the move saves the hospital in health care costs, “and it’s setting a good example for the community, and I just think it’s the quote-unquote ‘Right thing to do.” Doctors and other Crittenton employees who already smoke can keep their jobs.

Orfgen adds that the hospital is working on helping promote healthy lifestyle choices like weight management programs for overweight employees like herself. I’m wondering whether the hospital eventually plans to bar prospective employees based on their weight since that, too, causes a spike in health care costs.

What do you think? Should workplaces be able to bar workers for smoking like they do for those who use illegal drugs? Or do you think it’s discrimination?

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