DiversityNursing Blog

How RNs Can Practice Patient Advocate Nursing

Posted by Brian Engard

Fri, May 26, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

patient-advocate-nursing-CU-600x280.jpgRegistered nurses are the most frequent point of contact with patients in healthcare. They “provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They typically work as part of a team with doctors and other healthcare workers, and they provide the bulk of direct patient care.

As hands-on caregivers, nurses have the primary responsibility of ensuring quality, ethical care for their patients. To this end, patient advocacy is an integral part of practicing nursing; in fact, one provision of the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics says that “the nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.”

Nurses oversee the healthcare of many patients and can be privy to concerning practices. Hospitals are required to look after their own financial well-being, legal obligations and other factors that can sometimes cause patient care to deteriorate, and sometimes healthcare workers make mistakes. When this happens, someone who practices patient advocate nursing steps in and looks out for the patients’ well-being.

Patient Advocate Nursing in Practice

American Nurse Today (ANT) defines advocacy as “using one’s position to support, protect, or speak out for the rights and interests of another.” This practice is vital in healthcare, because errors and oversights can result in severe injury or illness, or even loss of life. According to a Johns Hopkins study, medical errors are the No. 3 cause of death in the United States, at roughly 250,000 deaths per year. A nurse patient advocate must not only catch these errors, but also argue for their correction in the future in order to promote safety and patient health.

Of all the healthcare professionals who have contact with patients, nurses are the most ideally suited for patient advocacy. Their constant contact with patients allows them many opportunities to catch errors, such as mislabeled I.V. bags or incorrect patient charts, and their familiarity with their patients can give them the ability to notice small changes in patient condition that another healthcare provider might miss.

Patient advocacy is not without its challenges, however. Being a nurse advocate for one’s patients often means correcting the mistakes of other healthcare workers and can lead to confrontations. In extreme cases, such as the below example from ANT, retaliation can even occur:

“One of the most egregious examples of retaliation for patient advocacy activities occurred recently in Winkler County, Texas, when two nurses, Vickilyn Galle and Anne Mitchell, were criminally indicted by the county attorney for reporting a physician to the Texas Medical Board because of patient-safety concerns. One week before trial, charges against Galle were dropped. A jury found Mitchell not guilty. Subsequently, the Texas Medical Board took action against the physician for witness intimidation as well as practice violations. Further, the Texas Attorney General’s office indicted the hospital administrator, Winkler County sheriff, county prosecutor, and physician for retaliation and other charges.”

The American Journal of Critical Care suggests that the best way to avoid such conflicts while practicing patient advocacy is to embrace a spirit of collaboration with other healthcare professionals, rather than taking the attitude that it is the nurse’s job to protect patients from the mistakes of others. When advocating for a patient, it’s natural to have an impulse to cast blame or render judgment of someone putting that patient at risk. While that may or may not be justified, often it’s more effective for the patient and the organization to approach patient advocacy by presenting solutions and trying to understand why problems exist in the first place, in order to better prevent them from occurring in the future.

Going from RN to BSN

Developing the right knowledge and communication skills to be an effective nurse patient advocate takes training. With an online RN to BSN degree from Campbellsville University, you can learn those skills in order to better advocate for your patients. Study in a flexible, dynamic environment with a schedule that works for your life.

Topics: registered nurse, patient advocate, Patient advocate nursing

The 2017 $5,000 Education Award Winner Is...

Posted by Pat Magrath

Tue, May 23, 2017 @ 11:49 AM

…and our 2017 DiversityNursing.com Annual $5,000 Education Award Winner is… Tom Dion.

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Tom is a Memory Care Unit Manager at Cape Heritage Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Sandwich, MA on Cape Cod. Tom was surprised and very happy when I called him to deliver the good news that he is our 2017 Winner!

Tom didn’t get into Nursing right away. His journey started at Westfield State University in MA as a student in Exercise Science to become a Physical Therapist. He graduated in 2008 and received his BS in Exercise/Movement Science. After school, he worked a variety of jobs, including moving furniture, medical equipment technician, as well as ice sculpting for weddings, the Bruins, and other functions.

He was always drawn to healthcare and when deciding on a new career path, he looked to do something that had more meaning. In his words, he “needed a spiritual change”. In 2012, he went to Nursing school at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital School of Nursing and graduated with an RN diploma. I asked him what was the draw to Nursing.

“I like the idea of helping people. Nursing provides fulfillment and meaning.”

While growing up, Tom spent a lot of time with his grandparents. He was very close to them. He was drawn to working with the geriatric community because of his understanding and love for his grandparents.

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Right out of Nursing school, Tom started working at Cape Heritage as a Staff Nurse doing sub-acute rehab. After 1 year, he was offered a position as the Wound Care Department Head and promoted to Assistant Director of Nurses.

Tom has worked there for 2.5 years and has gained valuable administrative and management experience. He’s now a Unit Manager of the Memory Care Unit, which is a restraint free facility. The memory care unit is his favorite because he’s able to “lend a voice for the patients that aren’t able to speak for themselves.”

"The residents provide the purpose that I was looking for."

He is always assessing his patient’s capabilities to ensure they are provided with everything needed to maintain their optimal level of function.

“It’s important to pay attention to your resident's behavior, because it often provides the most crucial insight you have into identifying a problem.”

He talked about a male patient of his, who requires reassurance on a continual basis. He is unable to communicate his needs at times, which may be as simple as which day of the week it is, what time it is, or using the restroom. “Working fast to address the root cause of his worry, and keeping him comfortable is a challenge I look forward to every day.”

It’s important to have a sense of humor because in the memory care unit,

“You live in their world”.

The reality of their world is abstract, a world that they can and will explain to you, in bits and pieces. “The rewarding part of my job is working with the residents to complete these thoughts and fill in the gaps.” When helping the residents, these moments create a lasting impression that leaves him with a sense of fulfillment he hasn’t gotten anywhere else in life. As a co-worker frequently reminds me, “when I leave work, Tom, my hands are clean and my heart is pure.”

Cape Heritage also provides hospice care. It’s not an easy job, but it is very much appreciated when family members thank them. Tom is often in awe of his team and the work they do. They are truly special people to work with this population.

I asked Tom about being a guy in Nursing. He said it was a big transition from working with mostly men to working with primarily women. He said “it’s been interesting in a good way” and he doesn’t feel he’s treated differently because he’s a guy. He’s treated well and enjoys his Monday – Friday 7am-3pm shift.

Like so many Nurses I talk to, Tom says the best part about Nursing is it can lead you in so many directions – hands-on Nursing, teaching, case management, etc. “There’s always something different you can be doing.” He’s enjoyed experiencing different parts of Nursing.

Tom’s future plans include getting his WOCN (Wound Ostomy & Continence Nurse) certification. He remembers one particular female patient that stands out. She came in with a wound the size of a basketball on her back and it was deep into her spine. He could actually see her spinal column. Because of the technology available, CPI (closed pulse irrigation), he was able to disrupt the bacteria and create a completely healthy environment. Many people thought it was impossible to heal and close her wound, but within 7-8 months she was completely healed!

While working full time, fishing and enjoying activities outdoors, Tom plans to pass the national boards and receive his WOCN certification by the end of this summer. Teaching is in his future as well.

Congratulations Tom Dion – we are proud of you and see great things in your future!

Registration is open at DiversityNursing.com for our 2018 $5,000 Education Award.

Topics: Nursing Education, Education award, Award Winner

Nurse Imposters Are A Real Thing

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 12:33 PM

imposter.jpg
We’ve recently heard in the news about Nurse imposters. One was hired to work as a Nurse in a hospital and was even hired as a Nurse educator! Another story is a Nurse Practitioner imposter working in a clinic.
 
These individuals got hired, taught students, and were treating patients. We wondered how they got hired. The man posing as a Nurse Practitioner had lots of Nursing credentials listed on his LinkedIn page. What’s scary about him is, as an NP, he has the ability to prescribe medication as part of the job.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 3.52.57 PM-488556-edited.pngSamantha Rivera from Missouri is being accused of identity theft of a Nurse and using that I.D to get hired at St. Alexis Hospital. Rivera lied about having Nursing experience and a degree. According to 
court documents, she worked there for three months and treated geriatric patients in the intensive care unit and psychiatric ward. 
 
This isn't the first time Samantha has lied about being a Nurse. According to investigators, in 2015, she allegedly lied about her background and landed a job teaching nursing at Brown Mackie College in New Mexico and her salary was $80,000.
 
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 3.51.09 PM-287816-edited.pngOver in California Nurse imposter, Chad Litz, also with a history of lying, has been arrested. In 2015, the California Board of Registered Nursing cited Litz for unlawful practice and being a nurse imposter. Litz was also sentenced to four years in prison for identity theft in 2011.
 
Chad Litz was working at the City Impact Clinic in San Francisco pretending to be a Nurse. The district attorney's office said Litz had been with the clinic for months, that he treated at least 28 patients and prescribed controlled substances to two of them. He's facing five felony counts, four for practicing medicine without a license and one for identity theft.
 
Besides being completely illegal, the act of impersonating a medical professional can really shake people to the core. Patients place their trust and privacy into the hands of Nurses and those Nurses have worked so hard to be in this field.
 
How does this happen? Perhaps you’ve worked with someone posing as a Nurse and it turned out, they weren’t? How can we prevent it from happening again? Please share your thoughts with us. Thank you.
 
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Topics: Nurse imposters, Impersonating A Nurse, Fake Nurse

A TED Talk Tribute To Nurses [VIDEO]

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, May 11, 2017 @ 02:33 PM

C_aCMghXsAAD-IQ.jpgThis heartwarming Ted Talk is a glimpse into a 5-year journey of over 100 interviews with Nurses across America. Carolyn Jones discusses big health issues like aging, war, poverty, and prisons.
 
She also gains insight from these interviews as to what made them become Nurses. Jones advocates for the diversity of Nurses and how their jobs are not all the same. She even mentions the future of complicated decisions Nurses will face when it comes to technology. But most importantly, she wants to praise Nurses for everything they do for their patients and their families
 
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Topics: health care, Nurses Week, thank a nurse, TED talk

Funny Parody About The Life Of A School Nurse [VIDEO]

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Wed, May 10, 2017 @ 02:40 PM

547021d7-eacc-4b41-ace0-096306e8d797-large16x9_ScreenShot20170509at5.37.11PM.jpgIt’s Nurses Week and we always want to show our thanks for everything you do. This School Nurse wanted to show her thanks, especially to other School Nurses, for taking care of our kids. 

She created this comedy sketch based on Adele’s song, Hello. We thought it was hilarious and we hope you do too!

Hello, it's me—and you should pay attention because school nurse has something to say. 

To celebrate "School Nurse Day," Kelli Petersen, who works at an elementary school, penned a beautiful rendition of Adele's "Hello," only this time it's all about the life and times of a school nurse. "Happy School Nurse day to all my fellow school nurses! May you know how truly valued you are! And to nurses everywhere, you're amazing!," Petersen wrote on YouTube.

It's a creative celebration of countless bandaids, hurt tummies and gross bathrooms that Adele would most definitely be proud of. 

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Topics: school nurse

The Wave Of Retiring Baby Boomer Nurses Is Coming Here's How To Prepare

Posted by Pat Magrath

Thu, May 04, 2017 @ 03:56 PM

ea30f5a1f5294dc91ecb08bfb6bdb02a.jpgEach generation has a nickname –Millenials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, etc. I am a baby boomer and this article is frightening to me. It discusses the tens of thousands of baby boomer Nurses that are starting to retire and will continue to retire over the next few years.
 
As baby boomers continue to age, medical needs increase. What is tough to face is the wealth of experience and knowledge the baby boomer Nurses have, which their baby boomer patients need, will be leaving the Nursing profession. This article points out 4 action items hospital leadership should be taking to deal with a new kind of nursing shortage.

Beginning in the early 1970s, career-oriented and largely female baby boomers embraced the nursing profession in unprecedented numbers following large increases in health care spending after the introduction of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. By 1990, baby-boomer registered nurses (RNs) numbered nearly one million and comprised about two-thirds of the RN workforce. As these RNs aged over the next two decades, they accumulated substantial knowledge and clinical experience. The number of boomer RNs peaked at 1.26 million in 2008, and, after a brief delay in the early part of the current decade (likely associated with the Great Recession), the baby-boomer RN cohort began retiring in large numbers. Since 2012, roughly 60,000 RNs exited the workforce each year, and by the end of the decade more than 70,000 RNs will be retiring annually. In 2020, baby-boomer RNs will number 660,000, roughly half their 2008 peak.

The retirement of one million RNs from the nursing workforce between now and 2030 will mean that their accumulated years of nursing experience leave with them. We estimate that the number of experience-years lost from the nursing workforce in 2015 was 1.7 million (multiplying the number of retiring RNs by the cumulative years of experience for each RN), double the number from 2005 (see Figure 1). This trend will continue to accelerate as the largest groups of baby-boomer RNs reach their mid to late sixties. The departure of such a large cohort of experienced RNs from the workforce means that patient care settings and other organizations that depend on RNs will face a significant loss of nursing knowledge and expertise that will be felt for many years to come.

The exit and replacement of retiring RNs will not occur uniformly because health care delivery organizations in some regions of the country will confront faster RN retirements and slower replacements of their RN workforce (especially the New England and Pacific regions) compared to other regions of the country (the Southern and Central regions). Consequently, some organizations will experience bursts in RN retirements that may result in temporary nursing shortages and disruptions in care delivery. How can health care delivery organizations overcome the loss of so much nursing knowledge, wisdom, and expertise?

Health care leaders must recognize that the retirement of the RN workforce has only recently begun, that it will intensify over the coming years, and that the loss of RNs with decades of experience creates multiple risks. Foremost, the quality of patient care could decrease as new and less experienced RNs enter the workforce and replace RNs with decades of experience. This is not to suggest that RNs with fewer years of nursing experience are less qualified to provide high-quality nursing care. Rather, it is to acknowledge that the longer an RN is in the workforce, the knowledge accumulated over many years is likely to increase a nurse’s ability to effectively manage all types of clinical and organizational challenges.

Relative to novice RNs, experienced RNs are likely to be more adept at identifying complications and unexpected changes in patient conditions sooner and respond appropriately. They are also more likely to know how to manipulate the organization’s culture to “get things done,” make clinical assignments that better match the knowledge and skills of nurses with the needs of the patient, serve as role models and mentors, and deal effectively with physicians, administrators, and others to assure the well-being of patients and their families. All of these attributes can matter greatly in providing a consistent, predictable, and safe patient environment. It is not difficult to recognize these nurses—often they are the clinical and organizational leaders who are counted on to ensure smooth operations of clinical and administrative systems.

Health care organizations must also recognize that the retirement of so many experienced RNs will occur commensurate with the aging of the country’s nearly 80 million baby boomers. Not only will growing numbers of elders increase the demand for RNs, but because three in four people older than age 65 have multiple chronic diseases, the intensity of nursing care required to manage this medically complicated population will also increase. Aging baby boomers will especially benefit from care provided by the most experienced nurses—the very nurses who are retiring from the workforce.

Four actions should be taken by hospital chief nursing executives, hospital patient care unit managers, and human resource officers to both anticipate and act to prevent the negative consequences that could ensue as RN retirement accelerates.

First, it is important to gather information on an organization’s nursing workforce to ascertain when and how many RNs are expected to retire and identify the nursing units, departments, and patient populations that will be affected. Sharing this information with physicians and other clinicians who will be affected and seeking their involvement will be critical to mitigating potential harmful consequences.

Second, hospital leadership should prioritize working with department and unit leaders to engage soon-to-be retiring RNs to learn what can be done to delay their retirement—for example, decreasing hours and number of workdays, modifying their responsibilities, improving the ergonomic environment to minimize injuries, or revising organizational policies and clinical conditions that hinder and dissatisfy nurses. Similarly, older and more experienced RNs could be offered opportunities to fill new roles in community engagement, patient navigation, or education and prevention.

Third, it is important to encourage the creation of programs that bring older and younger RNs together to identify the knowledge and skills needed by rising RNs that can be imparted by older and more experienced RNs. Fourth, review (and strengthen as needed) succession planning to assure that retiring nursing managers will be replaced by RNs who are well-prepared to assume management of clinical and administrative operations on patient care units. Future RN leaders could be identified and partnered with soon-to-be retiring RNs in management positions and participate in formal programs in management and leadership development, team building, communications, budgeting, program development, and other leadership roles.

It is imperative that health care leaders recognize that as the retirement of RNs ramps up, a different type of nursing shortage will emerge—one of knowledge, skill, experience, and judgment, all attributes that contribute to the successful clinical and administrative operations of complex health care delivery systems. Now is the time to anticipate and prepare for the retirement wave of the nation’s RN workforce.

Figure 1.  Number Of Years Of Experience Lost To The Registered Nurse Workforce, 1979-2030

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Topics: baby boomers, retirement, retiring nurse, nursing experience

7 Times Nurses Changed the World

Posted by Pat Magrath

Wed, May 03, 2017 @ 02:08 PM

With Nurses Week right around the corner, we thought it appropriate to share this article with you about Nurses throughout history who made significant changes in the Nursing field.

You most likely know about several of them and some may be new to you. They are truly remarkable individuals who saw a problem, knew the right thing to do to bring about change, and did it. They are inspirations to us all. Perhaps you see where changes can be made in the Nursing field that will impact your profession and patients in the years to come. Please share your thoughts with the DiversityNursing.com community here.

Nurses change the world every day, yet seldom do they come into the spotlight for their actions. We place scientists, celebrities, inventors, and athletes upon the pedestal for their contributions to humanity’s good—most people can name a famous figure in each of these categories. But challenge someone to name a famous nurse, and they’ll struggle.

It’s time to change that.

Nurses are the unsung heroes of the medical field—they not only provide the day-to-day care of hospitalized patients, but they also perform tasks few others are willing to do. They care for patients in every way, from handling injections to talking down irate family members to doling out baths and bedpans. Today, their skillsets are almost indistinguishable from those of doctors—they provide just as much care as any M.D.

Among this hardworking group, there have been a few nurses whose names stand above the rest—ones whose actions changed not only the personal world of a patient, but the world at large. These are the nurses we should be talking about in the same breath as famous activists and doctors and leaders, so read on to get to know 7 times nurses changed the world.

Florence Nightingale

FlorenceNightingalecreditPublicDomainwikimediaorg.jpgNo list of famous nurses would be complete without Florence Nightingale.

Without Nightingale, we would not have modern nursing. She changed the world when she opened the very first nursing school in 1860, forever raising the standards of the profession by educating future generations of nurses. Up until this point, nurses were largely untrained, learning their trade through trial-and-error.

Nightingale, however, made nursing into a true profession, and saved countless lives by making sure nurses understood medical concepts we take for granted today—she taught concepts such as infection control, patient self-care, therapeutic communication, and thorough patient assessment. These were ideas that Nightingale put into practice, herself, during her time as a nurse in the Crimean War, which the death rate at her hospital by a third. Many of the nurses that went through Nightingale’s school—the Nightingale School for Nurses—went on to found their own nurse training programs, carrying her ideas all over the globe.

So the next time you’re being expertly patched up by a well-trained nurse, think of Florence Nightingale.

Margaret Sanger

MargaretSangercreditPublicDomainwikimediaorg.jpgHave you ever made use of oral contraception, otherwise known as “the pill”? You’ve got Nurse Margaret Sanger to thank for that.

In the early 1900s, Sanger worked in some of the poorest areas of New York, helping to deliver babies and caring for mothers. Constantly faced with the hardships of unwanted pregnancy, she became intensely frustrated with laws prohibiting contraception.

Sanger funneled that frustration into action. For a year, she closely studied birth control, even traveling to Europe to study family planning.

Her eventual plan involved three stages—educating the public on birth control, changing laws, and creating an organization to help connect women with contraceptives. She was successful in all three of these endeavors, starting her own magazine, Woman Rebel, reversing the Comstock Law, which made the mailing of birth control information illegal, and establishing the organization that is, today, known as Planned Parenthood .

Sanger was jailed, harassed, and discredited for much of her career, but won out in the end, and because of her efforts, she changed the world through the introduction of easily obtainable contraceptive care for women all over the United States.

Clara Barton

ClaraBartoncreditPublicDomainwikimediaorg.jpgNurse Clara Barton changed the world when she founded an institution that we’re all familiar with today—the American Red Cross.

Born in December of 1821, Barton had her first taste of nursing when her brother fell from an unfinished barn. Caring for him for the next three years, she quickly showed an aptitude for medical care.

She later found herself tending to wounded soldiers during the American Civil War, and in 1861, founded an agency that distributed supplies to wounded soldiers.

In 1862, Barton began to travel in order to reach some of the worst battlefields of the war, and was appointed “lady in charge” of the Union hospitals. Later, while searching for the missing men of the Union Army—as appointed by President Lincoln—she came by a young soldier who gave her a list of the dead in fear that he would be killed before he could get it to authorities. She traveled to Andersonville, publishing the names, and began a nationwide campaign to identify all missing soldiers of the war.

Bringing back the idea of the Red Cross from a trip to Switzerland, she formed the American branch, becoming president of the association in 1881 and leading its first relief effort during the Great Fire of 1881 in Michigan.

When you see the symbol of the Red Cross, remember Clara Barton’s contribution to a changed and better world.

Mary Eliza Mahoney

MaryElizacreditPublicDomainwikimediaorg.jpgAs the first African-American registered nurse, Mary Eliza Mahoney changed the world through her efforts to raise the status of nurses of color in the professional workplace.

In 1879, Mahoney received her diploma from the New England Hospital Nursing School, becoming one of only four out of a class of 42 students to graduate from the rigorous program.

In 1896, she joined the newly formed Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada, an organization later known as the American Nurses Association. The organization proved reluctant to accept black members, and so Mahoney later form the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, speaking at their first convention in 1909 and addressing issues of racial inequality in the nursing field.

It was largely thanks to her efforts that the number of African-American nurses doubled from 1910 to 1930, and that these nurses were legitimized and seen as professionals.

It is because of this that Mahoney was later inducted into the Nursing Hall of Fame in 1976, and into the Nursing Hall of Fame in 1993.

Susie King Taylor 

SusieKingTaylorcreditPublicDomainwikimediaorg.jpgWhere Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American registered nurse, Susie King Taylor was the first African American nurse ever.

Born into slavery in 1848, Taylor’s family were servants at the Grest Plantation in Liberty County, Georgia. She attended a secret, illegal school for slave children run by a neighbor, learning to read and write.

When she and her family escaped across Union lines and were liberated, army officers took note of her education, and she became the first black teacher for freed African Americans in a freely operating school.

Later, she found her calling as a nurse with the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, later renamed the 33d Regiment U.S. Colored Troops. For three years, she moved with the regiment, serving as their nurse and teaching soldiers to read and write during their free time.

Later, she became president of the Women’s Relief Corps, a national association for veterans for Civil War veterans, where she worked for the rest of her life.

Taylor’s world-changing service cannot be understated—she showed the world what freed slaves were capable of—that they were every bit as human as anyone else, and were capable of great achievements, given the opportunity.

Virginia Henderson 

VirginiaHendersoncreditnursingtimesnet.jpgVirginia Henderson earned the title “Foremost nurse of the 20th century,” and for good reason. Her contributions changed the world through their far-reaching effects on the international nursing community.

Henderson is known for defining her profession: "The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge." Her theory placed emphasis on helping patients become individuals again rather than completely relying on others for care—this helps increase the chance of patients caring for themselves once they leave care.

An inspiration to nurses everywhere, she changed the world through her incredible intellect and teaching ability, reshaping and redefining the field of nursing for the modern age. Her written works are credited with shifting the focus of nursing research “from studying nurses to studying the differences nurses can make in people’s lives,” according to Angela Barron’s article, “Remembering the First Lady of Nursing.”

If you’ve ever had a nurse who you felt was particularly instrumental in helping you regain your individuality and strength, you have Henderson’s world-changing writing to thank.

Anna Caroline Maxwell

Anna-Maxwell_credit-CUMC-Archives-and-Special-Collections.jpgWhen you’re referred to the “American Florence Nightingale,” you know you’ve done something right.

Anna Caroline Maxwell was one of America’s great nurse leaders, whose activities were important to the growth of nursing as a profession in the United States. She was also a founding member of the American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses, which was a forerunner of the National Nurses Association.

During the Spanish-American War, Maxwell was sent to a field hospital in Chicmauga, Georgia, where she led a large number of nurses in improving sanitation, containing disease, and lowering the death rate—the military was so impressed with her contributions, that the United States Army Nurse Corps was established.

During World War I, Maxwell worked to prepare nurses for military service, traveling around Europe to visit hospitals in the warzones. After the war, she successfully campaigned for nurses to be given rank within the military.

Anna Caroline Maxwell changed the world by helping to integrate quality nursing into the American military, improving the working conditions and training of the nurses who would later take her place.

Nursing the World Back to Health

If you know a nurse, take the time to celebrate him or her—they belong to a tradition of men and women who have made lasting, positive impacts.

So remember these important figures. Don’t let the nurses who changed the world fade into obscurity, and don’t let the nurse in your life go without your appreciation for all they do.

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Topics: Important Nurses

Nurses Will See These 3 Medical Technologies In Their Near Future

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, May 02, 2017 @ 03:06 PM

FutureofMedicine.jpgWith technology consistently evolving, Nurses will see an influx of new advancements throughout the next couple of years. Nurses will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with robot surgery, advanced prosthetics, and virtual reality. 
 
These new medical advancements will allow for more innovative techniques to help you provide the best care. 

Nursing departments are known for their willingness to trial new medical technology. From advanced surgery techniques to virtual reality (VR) systems, nurses get to see cutting-edge technologies before most people even hear about them.

Here are three new advancements nurses will see in the near future:

1. Robot surgery

Today's robots may not look like those popularized in science fiction stories, but they have proven to be very useful. In fact, robots have already proliferated within the nursing field.

One of the most exciting robotic advancements in recent years is the da Vinci robot, a multi-limbed piece of equipment that can perform complicated procedures with fewer invasive cuts than traditional surgical methods.

A trained surgeon is still completely in control of the robot, but because the machine has delicate yet strong appendages, it can cut and stitch within highly confined spaces.

2. Advanced prosthetics

Prosthetics have come a long way since the turn of the century. Today, researchers are developing limbs that can be controlled by the patient's own neural system – exactly as they would control a real appendage.

According to MIT Technology review, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have created a prosthetic arm capable of translating thoughts into simple movements. Currently, the movements are simple, but it is a promising step forward.

Meanwhile, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, researchers are producing a line of powered prosthetic legs to help amputees walk again.

To see these futuristic biomechanical legs in action, check out the video below:

 

 

3. Virtual reality

VR headsets have already made their way into the consumer market, but there's still so much more that researchers can do with the technology. From VR-assisted physical therapy to augmented reality applications, the possibilities of VR medical technology are limitless.

MedicalFuturist explained that VR applications are helping stroke patients recover their motor skills more quickly. By making repetitive exercises more fun, the program increases patient motivation throughout the recovery process.

Nurses in rehabilitation settings are likely to see VR use become more common over the next few years as the technology becomes affordable.

Every day, technological advancements make life a little easier for patients and the professionals who treat them. The above solutions are already in use today and will only become more prevalent as time goes on.

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Topics: medical technology, medical technologies

This Artificial Womb Could Help Prematurely Born Babies

Posted by Pat Magrath

Fri, Apr 28, 2017 @ 02:40 PM

042517_TI_artificial-womb_main.jpgHave you heard the recent news story about an artificial womb to help babies born prematurely? Right now, scientists have created it and are testing it with animals. Lambs, the article states, are responding well.
 
This topic raises many ethical questions. Read this article for the details and let us know what you think. Is this a little out there, or, are you comfortable with the possibilities for the future?

Scientists have created an "artificial womb" in the hopes of someday using the device to save babies born extremely prematurely.

So far the device has only been tested on fetal lambs. A study published Tuesday involving eight animals found the device appears effective at enabling very premature fetuses to develop normally for about a month.

"We've been extremely successful in replacing the conditions in the womb in our lamb model," says Alan Flake, a fetal surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

"They've had normal growth. They've had normal lung maturation. They've had normal brain maturation. They've had normal development in every way that we can measure it," Flake says.

Flake says the group hopes to test the device on very premature human babies within three to five years.

"What we tried to do is develop a system that mimics the environment of the womb as closely as possible," Flake says. "It's basically an artificial womb."

Inside an artificial womb

The device consists of a clear plastic bag filled with synthetic amniotic fluid. A machine outside the bag is attached to the umbilical cord to function like a placenta, providing nutrition and oxygen to the blood and removing carbon dioxide.

"The whole idea is to support normal development; to re-create everything that the mother does in every way that we can to support normal fetal development and maturation," Flake says.

Other researchers praised the advance, saying it could help thousands of babies born very prematurely each year, if tests in humans were to prove successful.

Jay Greenspan, a pediatrician at Thomas Jefferson University, called the device a "technological miracle" that marks "a huge step to try to do something that we've been trying to do for many years."

The device could also help scientists learn more about normal fetal development, says Thomas Shaffer a professor of physiology and pediatrics at Temple University.

"I think this is a major breakthrough," Shaffer says.

The device in the fetal lamb experiment is kept in a dark, warm room where researchers can play the sounds of the mother's heart for the lamb fetus and monitor the fetus with ultrasounds.

Previous research has shown that lamb fetuses are good models for human fetal development.

"If you can just use this device as a bridge for the fetus then you can have a dramatic impact on the outcomes of extremely premature infants," Flake says. "This would be a huge deal."

But others say the device raises ethical issues, including many questions about whether it would ever be acceptable to test it on humans.

"There are all kinds of possibilities for stress and pain with not, at the beginning, a whole lot of likelihood for success," says Dena Davis, a bioethicist at Lehigh University.

Flake says ethical concerns need to be balanced against the risk of death and severe disabilities babies often suffer when they are born very prematurely. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. A human device would be designed for those born 23 or 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Only about half of such babies survive and, of those that do, about 90 percent suffer severe complications, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, seizures, paralysis, blindness and deafness, Flake says.

About 30,000 babies are born earlier than 26 weeks into pregnancy each year in the United States, according to the researchers.

Potential ethical concerns

Davis worries that the device is not necessarily a good solution for human fetuses.

"If it's a difference between a baby dying rather peacefully and a baby dying under conditions of great stress and discomfort then, no, I don't think it's better," Davis says.

"If it's a question of a baby dying versus a baby being born who then needs to live its entire life in an institution, then I don't think that's better. Some parents might think that's better, but many would not," she says.

And even if it works, Davis also worries about whether this could blur the line between a fetus and a baby.

"Up to now, we've been either born or not born. This would be halfway born, or something like that. Think about that in terms of our abortion politics," she says.

Some worry that others could take this technology further. Other scientists are already keeping embryos alive in their labs longer then ever before, and trying to create human sperm, eggs and even embryo-like entities out of stem cells. One group recently created an artificial version of the female reproductive system in the lab.

"I could imagine a time, you know sort of [a] 'Brave New World,' where we're growing embryos from the beginning to the end outside of our bodies. It would be a very Gattaca-like world," says Davis, referring to the 1997 science-fiction film.

There's also a danger such devices might be used coercively. States could theoretically require women getting abortions to put their fetuses into artificial wombs, says Scott Gelfand, a bioethicist at Oklahoma State University.

Employers could also require female employees to use artificial wombs to avoid maternity leave, he says. Insurers could require use of the device to avoid costly complicated pregnancies and deliveries.

"The ethical implications are just so far-reaching," Gelfand says.

Barbara Katz Rothman, a sociologist at the City University of New York, says more should be done to prevent premature births. She worries about the technological transformation of pregnancy.

"The problem is a baby raised in a machine is denied a human connection," Rothman says. "I think that's a scary, tragic thing."

Flake says his team has no interest in trying to gestate a fetus any earlier than about 23 weeks into pregnancy.

"I want to make this very clear: We have no intention and we've never had any intention with this technology of extending the limits of viability further back," Flake says. "I think when you do that you open a whole new can of worms.

Flake doubts anything like that would ever be possible.

"That's a pipe dream at this point," Flake says.

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Topics: Premature Babies, artificial womb

What To Know Before You Become A Correctional Nurse

Posted by Pat Magrath

Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 11:28 AM

corrections-nurse.jpgHave you ever considered your profession in a prison? Have you wondered what it’s like to be a Nurse in a prison? Perhaps you didn’t realize that prisons employ Nurses. It’s a necessity for the prisoners as they are patients with medical conditions that have been neglected for years.
 
If you’re interested in discovering what practicing your profession in a prison is like, read this short and to-the-point article to learn a few things.
 
Lorry Schoenly, PhD, RN, CCHP-RN, is a Nurse author and educator specializing in the field of correctional healthcare. 

I am an accidental correctional nurse. 

I never imagined I would ever spend my days behind bars in jails and prisons. After working in critical care and orthopaedic specialties as a front-line staff nurse and then as an educator, I was looking for a change.

I happened upon a posting for the New Jersey Prison System a dozen years ago. My first thought was There are nurses in prison? Thus began my unexpected adventure into this hidden specialty. 

It turns out that my experience wasn’t all that unique. In fact, I’ve found that most correctional nurses find the specialty by accident while looking for work in more traditional settings.
If you are thinking about a career behind bars, you may find some surprises. Here are five things I wish I knew before becoming a correctional nurse.

1. It is safer than you think
I am frequently asked if it is safe to work in a jail or prison. After all, the patients are criminals, right?  While this is true, the security processes in correctional facilities provide added protection for healthcare staff. There are officers assigned to protect staff in the medical unit and patients are classified as to violence potential. 

Many correctional nurses feel safer in this environment than working in traditional settings where security may be less vigilant. Still, correctional nurses need to be ever alert to guard their personal safety.

2. Most patients are so appreciative
Many prisoners have little health care prior to being incarcerated and appreciate the attention given while 'inside.' In addition, incarceration is a dehumanizing and demoralizing experience.
Nurses, by profession, are patient-focused. There is an unmistakable difference in this type of interaction. Inmates feel this difference and appreciate nursing staff.

3. I see some unusual conditions
No doubt about it, you see some interesting cases in corrections.

Many patients have been living on the streets with untreated conditions. Infections like leprosy and tuberculosis have been noted; as has botulism from drinking tainted prison hooch.
Dental conditions are common. I definitely wish there had been more about dental diseases in my nursing training!

4. I need to collaborate and negotiate like never before
Most nurses work in settings where the goals of top management are healthcare-focused. Not so in correctional facilities.

The medical unit is a support service and top management has a goal of public and personal safety. Therefore, correctional nurses sometimes need to negotiate with administration and officer peers in order to advance patient therapy.

5. Self-care is all important
All nursing can be stressful, but I didn’t realize how stressful it can be to care for prisoners. These patients are often traumatized with histories of abuse and neglect. It is easy to absorb this stress vicariously.

Compassion fatigue and general correctional stress can easily build to crippling levels, if unattended. Self-care is more important than ever as a correctional nurse.

Explore Correctional Nursing
Correctional nursing is not for everyone. But many nurses find it a fulfilling and rewarding career. I hope you consider entering the specialty.
 
Incarcerated patients are marginalized and vulnerable. They also can be ornery and impulsive. They rarely have a history of quality health care which gives nurses an opportunity to truly make a difference in their health and well-being.
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Topics: prison nursing, correctional nursing, corrections nurse

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