Now Viewing: Nurses

If It’s Broken, They Fix It

Jul 30, 2014, 3:25 PM, Posted by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

 A nurse fills a syringe, while another nurse watches

By “broken,” we mean medical equipment or processes that could use a little improvement—and sometimes a lot of improvement. And by “they,” we mean nurses who harness the power of their own creativity, often using whatever material they have on hand—and sometimes taking inventiveness to a whole new level.

They call them MakerNurses, eager participants in the emerging “maker” movement. One MakerNurse, Roxana Reyna, RN, of Corpus Christi, was honored at the recent White House Maker Faire for her innovative wound-care techniques in caring for infants born with their organs outside of their bellies, sparing them immediate surgery.

RWJF supports such nurse-inventors through the Little Devices @ MIT initiative’s MakerNurse program, because they hold the potential to make health care more effective and affordable.

It’s a sound investment with even larger possibilities, said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, writing in the professional social networking site LinkedIn.

“The “maker” movement has the potential to empower all kinds of people to devise the solutions that make possible a Culture of Health—not just nurses, but caregivers, patients, and family members, all creating and sharing devices and ideas that improve health.”

Read Lavizzo-Mourey’s blog post on LinkedIn

Here's to the Nurses

May 8, 2014, 10:55 AM, Posted by Brent Thompson

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One evening several years ago, as my grandmother suffered through a painful end to her long life, our family gathered around her bedside at a hospital in South Jersey. She had been unconscious most of the day, but various family members, including my grandfather—her husband of six decades—had kept vigil at her bedside because they wanted to be with her in her last moments.

I was the last to arrive.

Shortly after I joined my family in the room, her physician showed up, checked her charts, and pronounced her “pretty much fine under the circumstances.” Then the doctor hurried off to complete his rounds.

My weary family, girding for the possibility of another long night at the hospital, decided to go downstairs for a bite to eat and some coffee. Because I had just arrived, I wanted some time alone with my grandmother, so I stayed behind in the room.

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The Future of Nursing: A Look Back at the Landmark IOM Report

Oct 4, 2013, 2:00 AM, Posted by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey

100213 amfdp 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MPH

By Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Institute of Medicine, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This commentary originally appeared on the Institute of Medicine website.

Three years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, made possible by the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). In light of the tremendous need for nurses in health care today and in the future—due to the growing numbers of people with chronic diseases, an aging population, and the need for care coordination—the report provided a blueprint for how to transform the nursing profession.

Recommendations put forth by the report committee included removing barriers to practice and care, expanding opportunities for nurses to serve as leaders, and increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree to 80 percent by 2020.

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Diversity Is a Window: It Lets Light In and Out

Aug 15, 2013, 5:17 PM, Posted by Culture of Health Blog Team

A nurse gives a patient a TB test.

When patients carry racist attitudes into the health care setting along with their illnesses and injuries, how should nurses and other providers of color respond?

While some patient attitudes can be insulting, to say the very least, Angela Amar, PhD, RN, FAAN, says such a patient encounter can also provide a learning opportunity.

In a post on RWJF's Human Capital blog, Amar recalls a particularly challenging incident when she was a new nurse. "I had just entered a patient’s room when he called out from the bathroom to ask his wife who was there," Amar writes. "She replied, 'it’s a lil’ colored girl to see you.'”

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What Would Melanie Do?

Jun 25, 2013, 11:20 AM, Posted by Beth Toner

 A critical response medical team walking in a hospital corridor.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has long been committed to the improvement of nursing education—and to supporting academic progression in nursing. While nursing shortages may wax and wane, it’s clear that the baby boomers will need high-quality nursing care as they move into later life. Meanwhile, nursing schools turn away more than 75,000 qualified applicants each year.

In short, really good nurse educators have never been more necessary, yet they are increasingly in short supply. Last week, we lost one of the best I’ve ever known.

I heard about Melanie’s death, sadly, the way we sometimes do when we’ve lost touch with people—via a community college classmate on social media. Melanie had learned she had pancreatic cancer in January—and given a grim prognosis; in the end, she lived less than five months after diagnosis, dying far too young—at the age of 58. In the first awful moment, I felt a crush of regret that I’d learned of her death this way. And then I found myself smiling, thinking of when I’d first met Melanie on a warm August night in 2008—squeezed into a stuffy and cramped classroom with 31 other people in a room better suited for 15.

We were, all of us, first-year nursing students on our very first day of nursing school. We were, in many respects, a motley crew—ranging in age from our early 20s to our early 60s (I was somewhere in the middle). Stay-at-home moms rejoining the paid workforce, retired Army medics, and second-career students (like me) all shared one emotion that evening: fear. How would we manage full-time day jobs and evening/weekend classes and clinicals? From studying material that was completely foreign to me—with what felt (at the time) like a worthless master’s degree in journalism—to learning tasks that seemed incredibly complicated (how could I stick a needle in another human being?), I didn’t feel up to the task ahead. What the heck had I been thinking? Me? A nurse?

Melanie gave us an overview of the semester ahead. She calmly answered each agonized question we asked her. As she wrapped up her remarks, she smiled at her nervous charges and said, “I know you feel overwhelmed right now, and you feel like there’s so much to do. I’ll just remind you that you can do this the same way you’d eat an elephant: one piece at a time.”

It was exactly the right thing to say at exactly the right time. Melanie would repeat those words to me—often just saying “one piece at a time”—when she saw me in the hallway, agonizing over a clinical skill I hadn’t mastered or a lab value I couldn’t remember, more times than I can remember. I would often come to class exhausted and near tears from a grim day in corporate America, but Melanie would, with her real-life stories of patients to illustrate that night’s lecture, remind me why I had decided to become a nurse in the first place. We knew her for her pithy summary of the most obvious fact (“smoking is baaaaaaaaaaaaad!” she would say in a near-hiss), but also for her fierce love of, and advocacy for, each and every patient.

I made it through nursing school, passed the NCLEX, and thought of Melanie as I worked weekends in long-term care. If my patient had been Melanie’s mom, what would she have wanted me to do for her? When I felt as if I couldn’t make it through my first night shift alone, I remembered Melanie’s words of advice on that first day.

I thought of her again last week, and realized what a loss the world of nursing education suffered with her passing. It’s not only important to support our nurse educators—and to encourage others to join their ranks—but to thank them for sharing their love of nursing and their patients with us. I never got to say a proper “thanks” to Melanie. But you can bet that I’ll remind each nursing student I see that she (or he) can get there, one piece at a time.

Here in the States or Down Under in Australia, It's "All One Red Cross"

Jun 14, 2013, 2:54 PM, Posted by Culture of Health Blog Team

Australia Red Cross

Flooding, bush fires, and "a few cyclones from time to time."

If you volunteer or work for the Red Cross in Australia, those are the kinds of disasters you can expect to encounter. And it's not like all of that is a walk in the park, but Red Cross workers here in the United States seem to tackle a broader range of emergencies, including tornadoes, hurricanes and fires.

Those are the observations of Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior adviser for nursing with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and board chair of the American Red Cross of Central New Jersey. Hassmiller recently traveled to Australia and, as she usually does when she travels, she dropped in on local chapters.

Writing for the American Red Cross North Jersey Region blog, Hassmiller acknowledges there might be other differences between the Red Cross down under and up here, but there are also many similarities, including the Aussies' well-organized system of health and safety classes, and blood distribution network.

If you ever get the chance to check out the Australian Red Cross, Hassmiller says it's well worth it: "You will truly see that we are all ONE RED CROSS, which is really so reassuring to know that no matter where we go, the services of this wonderful organization are always available."

Read Sue Hassmiller's blog post

A New Nurse's Naivety

Jun 11, 2013, 10:25 AM, Posted by Susan Mende

 A nurse updates information on a white board in a hospital patient's room.

After getting my nursing degree in 1980, I got my first nursing  job at Presbyterian Medical Center in San Francisco. At the time, many of the experienced nurses had been hospital trained and  lacked bachelors degrees. So where did they put me? In charge, of course! I worked the night shift. It was notoriously understaffed, and ripe for crises. I can remember the terror I felt when I realized that I did not have the experience or judgment to lead the team. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was way in over my head. I didn’t sleep for a month.

In a new book, True Stories of Becoming a Nurse, a series of essays about new nurses, one author recounts the transformation of the nursing workforce from “the old guard, the hospital-trained, diploma-prepared nurses” to nurses like me who had a bachelor’s in nursing (BSN). I had my degree, but I still had so much to learn.

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Standing on the Shoulders of Angels

Jun 10, 2013, 9:37 AM, Posted by Beth Toner

nurse veterans 4

Sixty-nine years ago, on June 6, 1944, a 25-year-old Army captain from New Hampshire parachuted into the Normandy countryside outside the small French village of Sainte-Mère-Église as part of the Allied invasion known as D-Day. A member of the fledgling 82nd Airborne Division, he would count himself lucky to survive that jump,  three other World War II combat jumps, and the Battle of the Bulge. A self-described “career Army man,” he would go on to fight in both the Korean and Vietnam wars—and marry my mother in 1988. I was already living on my own when they married, so I had only occasional opportunities to get to know him.

While he could be curmudgeonly and opinionated, Colonel Robert M. Piper (I called him “The Colonel” throughout his life) was also brilliant and generous. My biggest regret is that I didn’t learn enough about the history in which he so actively participated until it was too late. The last time he set foot in that small village was in 2004, the 60th anniversary of the invasion. He passed away in 2007, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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