Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing each of you a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Are You Ready for the Holidays?

Ready or not, we are officially headed into the holiday season this week as Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday when retailers traditionally begin the holiday sales. With the poor economy this year, retailers started early and Black Friday may not be the wild day it has come to be known for. Regardless, the holidays are upon us! And this one is going to rough for a lot of people!

For nurses, the holidays can be even more stressful than for the average person. Sick people don't get well for the holidays. The shifts have to staffed and vacation time is often restricted during this season as well. Those with seniority may have some pull, but usually only a few will be able to have sufficient time off to plan for, much less enjoy the holidays. Nurses know they have to be organized and plan ahead. Many tasks need to be delegated. Just like at work....

Here's a few tips for a low stress Thanksgiving. Relax and enjoy the season!

photo: David Lat

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Economic Effects on the Nursing Profession

The downturn in the economy has done a couple of things for the nursing profession. More nurses who have not worked as nurses for awhile have returned to active status in order to bolster their family income and to cover lost income for instance if a spouse has lost a job. This has lessened some of the nursing shortage.

On the other hand, as in any industry, cut backs are likely. Where nurses are going to be most affected by this is in areas where nurse-to-patient ratios are not set and/or enforced. Mandatory overtime will also continue to be an issue, and where it has not been, expect that it may come to be a problem.

Nurses will continue to have good job security as a general rule, but this can vary with the financial stability of the facility or company.

Working conditions have always been a huge issue for nurses, and with a recession heading more towards a depression, this is going to be an even bigger issue. What we need to do is to remain a strong collective voice and continue to advocate for better conditions and improved patient care and safety.

With all of these challenges, it will be increasingly important for nurses to work closely with their administration and to make needs and ideas known to those who can help to make them realities such as legislators. Establishing and enforcing nurse-to-patient ratios will be ever more important in the future.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Share Your Ideas with Nurses in Congress

Health care and the nursing shortage are going to be BIG on the Hot Topics list for the next administration and Congress to discuss this next term....

One of the primary points that I feel very passionate about is that nurses must advocate for themselves, their fellow nurses and their patients. We must have a strong and collective voice. That doesn't mean that we must all have the same voice.

Providing quality patient care means that we often have to be imaginative, inventive and flexible. Home health nurses know that often we have to improvise when we don't have the exact tool that we need to get a job done.

From this we learn to understand that health care is not an exact science and that nurses provide the art of caring along with this knowledge of science. We have a lot of ideas to share and ways to do things much better and more efficiently.

Nurses need to learn to share their ideas and strategies. This is not always comfortable at first, but it can be the most important part of your job. Get involved at your unit level and begin to become part of the brainstorming and planning process. Even if everyone balks at your idea, they may give you constructive criticism about it that allows you to tweak and twist your idea into something that will work.

Nurses also need to get involved in the political process. You don't have to be registered to vote or even a U.S. citizen to discuss your ideas about nursing and health care with legislators.

Many of us feel that our own local legislators are completely out of touch and yet somehow seem to get reelected every time. This can be disheartening and creates a roadblock to the exchange of new, and many times better, ideas. The beauty of the American system is that we aren't restricted to discussing our ideas just with our own representatives.

The are currently 3 nurses in the House of Representatives. (Unfortunately their are none currently in the U.S. Senate.) Two are RNs and one is an LPN. As nurses, we hope that they will be more receptive to listening to nurses. So if you have ideas to share or opinions about legislation to share and think that a fellow nurse may better understand your point of view and support it, then by all means contact one of these three women:

Rep. Lois Capps, for instance, introduced the National Nurse Act (HR 4903) legislation to the 109th Congress in 2006. Each of these three women have introduced and supported many bills in support of health care, patient safety, and the nursing profession.

Get to know your own legislators, and work with these 3 nurses to support more legislation to promote the nursing profession and patient care and safety.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hospice Pioneer Florence Wald Has Died

The American Nurses Association announced the death of Florence Wald, RN, MSN, FAAN. Wald passed away Saturday, Nov. 8, at her home in Connecticut. She was 91.

Florence Wald was a home health nurse, a professor and a dean, and a pioneer in the field of hospice nursing in the U.S. She studied hospice care in London and returned to the U.S. and developed a model for the holistic and humanistic care of the dying that continues to this day to influence hospice care in this country. She taught nurses that they had to understand the concepts and dynamics of death and dying in order to provide quality care to the patients and their families.

Wald earned several degrees in nursing and in science and was published widely. One of the many distinctions she earned was being inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame in 1996 for her distinguished career and her contributions to the nursing profession.

Our deepest sympathies are with the Wald family. May they always take comfort from the fact that this great woman was deeply loved and respected by the nursing community for all that she taught us about the art of caring and nursing, and for her contributions to hospice care.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama Invites Your Ideas

President-elect Obama has asked the nation to contribute ideas about the change we need to see come to fruition. You can add your ideas to the website.

If you need some ideas here are a few:

  • Teri Mills MS, ANP,CNE, RN would love for as many nurses as possible to visit The National Nurse site to learn more about this proposed program and then to send a personal vision note to the Obama site. This could certainly help nursing move forward.
  • If your facility has a particularly bad or good set of working conditions for nurses and the nursing profession, please be sure to send along your ideas and help to promote a new vision for nursing.
  • Do you have an idea about how to improve the nursing education process? How can we manage to educate more new nurses and turn away fewer qualified applicants each year? Contribute your vision and ideas.
Health care is a primary issue for this next administration and nurses are the backbone of the health care industry. The nursing shortage will continue to affect the quality of health care and the health care delivery process. It is vital for ALL nurses to get involved and have a voice in the future of this essential profession.

Thank you for taking the time to participate!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Clear and Decisive Election

After eight long years and three presidential elections, we have finally managed to elect a President without hanging chads, and election tampering issues abounding from every corner!! We don't have to wait for a recount and the results were clear with a wide margin. There were still issues at many polling places, but thankfully, far and above, the issues revolved more around record turnout and long lines than with irregularities.

No matter who your candidate was, the election was for a change fair and clearly evident. This was best accomplished by the huge turnout of voters who wanted to be sure their voice was heard.

Americans voted and their voices were heard in this historic election. Now it is time to come together and resolve the many issues facing this country and the world.

The nursing shortage and health care are issues which are intertwined in the many crises affecting the U.S. and the world. All eyes are going to be on Americans and how these issues are dealt with.

It is important for nurses to continue to work with the new President and Congress to address the issues affecting our profession and health care. Voicing opinions, ideas and complaints is something that nurses have to learn to do in an effective manner. Venting to family and friends is a positive way to help reduce stress, but it is important to learn to become part of the solution.

Take an active role in writing or emailing often to your legislators and to our new President. Voice your opinion on pending legislation and always encourage them to become informed about the issues facing nurses and patients.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I for one am ready for this election to be over! It has been the longest campaign, and of course has turned into one of the dirtiest ever! But then there is an awful lot at stake this time. The economy has never been as bad as it is now, and health care in this country has never been at such a low.

As nurses we are part of one of the largest industries in this nation and we have a HUGE voice. There are almost 3 million of of us and we can influence this election and the way this country addresses health care and the nursing shortage. We DO have a voice for a change, and we need to use it. Please be sure to exercise your right to vote tomorrow.

The commentators and comedians are worried that they won't have as much material if McCain and Palen aren't elected. Well that's funny for a moment, but it's not the major issue in this election! We have all enjoyed some humor, especially in the past few weeks, and we have needed that laughter!!! Thank you SNL!!!

But the seriousness of this election cannot be so easily dismissed. There are a lot of serious and critical issues on the ballots across this nation. Issues that affect human rights and the well being of our citizens.... from teen pregnancy to gay rights, to fixing our roads and protecting our elders. All of these issues affect each and everyone of us and our loved ones.

Please take some time to read carefully about the candidates and measures you're voting on and make informed choices. Look beyond the ads and the propaganda at the actual proposed measures.

And then when all is said and done, on Wednesday, we need to come together and begin to work together to make this nation great again, and to restore the world's confidence in us. We need to move forward to ensure that all Americans have health care and that this nursing shortage is taken seriously and met head on with the funding and legislation to help solve this crisis.

Get out and vote, and then do your part to help out so that all of your fellow nurses have an opportunity to vote!