Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Support the National Nurse Act of 2011

Nearly 50% of adults (over 16) in the US are considered to be health care illiterate. That doesn't simply mean they can't read. In fact, many can read quite well. It means that they don't understand enough about their own health status and about the health care systems to be able to even ask the right questions to find out the answers they need.

The Costs of Health Care Illiteracy
  • Handing Joe a pamphlet to read about his newly diagnosed type II diabetes won't help him to understand what diabetes is (it's not an allergy to table sugar?), how he needs to adjust his diet and exercise, nor how to take his blood sugars and his medications. Joe can read at an 8th grade level, but he has no idea where this diabetes came from, what he needs to do, and why it isn't going to go away if he takes a pill for 10 days.
  • Suzanne found out today that she has MRSA in her incision. She had an emergency appendectomy 10 days ago and the incision opened up. She doesn't know what MRSA is. She doesn't know that she can spread it to her young children and her husband simply by not washing her hands after she changes the dressing, And she doesn't know that she needs to make an appointment to see an infection control doctor.
  • James has hypertension but he feels OK so he stopped taking his anti-hypertensive medication. Today started out with a terrible headache and by 3 PM he was unable to speak and hie whole R side was paralyzed from a stroke. They gave him something to read when he was diagnosed, and the doctor takes his blood pressure every four months, but he never told the doctor he stopped taking his medication.

Physicians Don't Have Time to Educate Patients
In the average 15 minute appointment with your physician, you won't learn all about your new diagnosis and what to look for. You won't learn how to make an appointment with a specialist (especially if you have an HMO and need prior authorization first.) You won't always learn that a medication needs to be taken the rest of your life whether you feel better or not. The doctor doesn't have time to educate patients.

This is a task which falls to nurses, but many doctors don't have nurses working in their offices anymore because they can't afford it.

So it's going to fall to the public health system to develop plans to help educate the public which will help to reduce the high cost of health care.

Avoiding the H1N1 Catastrophe
Take for instance the scare we had a couple of years ago about the H1N1 (swine) flu. It was expected to be a pandemic that could have cause major havoc in the health care arena. But good education about simple techniques of handwashing, coughing/sneezing into your elbow, and staying home if you are sick, helped to prevent what could have been chaos at a time when most Americans could little afford to get sick.

If we organize task forces of nurses to help educate the public by spreading the word about other public health care issues, we can help to save many more lives, prevent complications from chronic diseases and cut health care costs significantly.

A National Nurse for Public Health is Needed Now
An Office of the National Nurse for Health Care can do just that. The National Nurse would work side by side with the Surgeon General to promote health and prevent disease, while working to improve health literacy.

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) the first RN in Congress
To quote The National Nurse Campaign, "Nurses recognize that the American healthcare system remains in crisis as evidenced by soaring costs and rising epidemics of preventable diseases. Many are calling for change to mobilize nurses in a nationwide effort. They propose that leadership provided by a National Nurse for Public Health would strengthen efforts by nurses in every community to help focus the nation on health promotion and disease prevention."

On December 15, 2011, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)  the first RN in Congress, and Peter King (R-NY) introduced HR 3679 The National Nurse Act of 2011. This COST NEUTRAL bill already has eighteen original co-sponsors.  Please help support this bill by calling your Congressional representative and asking him/her to help sponsor or vote for this bill. Learn how to do this online.

Follow The National Nurse Campaign on Facebook. Make a Donation. Visit the Cafe Press Store. Help spread the word.

Thank you for your support!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Five Biggest Myths About Online Nursing Degrees

From UT Arlington College of Nursing:

1. Sitting in a classroom is the only way to really learn.
The nurses participating in an RN to BSN program all have plenty of clinical experience and the program is designed specifically to teach critical thinking, leadership/management strategies, community health advocacy and research skills. These are all areas that have proven well-suited for the online context and the method has produced thousands of successful holistic health care providers.

2. My degree will say "Online Nursing Graduate."
A BSN from a State University’s online program is the equivalent of a campus BSN. And the degree will not indicate that the student has completed his or her education online. Keep in mind that both the online and campus programs are run fully by University faculty and feature the University’s curriculum.

3. Only tech experts need apply.
Most online nursing courses are very easy to navigate. Thousands of nurses with basic computer skills have successfully completed their RN to BSN programs online.

4. There isn’t any interaction with teachers and I won’t get personalized attention.
There are many opportunities for students to connect with their professors and fellow classmates in online programs. In our experience, we find that teachers and students engage in substantive conversations online that help build productive relationships and lead to a deeper understanding of the material. The level of engagement, we have found, is even higher than in traditional classrooms, in which some students may never participate.

5. I won’t have time.
It’s not easy, but it can be done, especially since the courses are paced in 5 and 8 week modules which nurses take one at a time, rather than the usual 3-4 courses at a time in the traditional 15 week semester that most people are used to. The majority of our students are full-time nurses and working adults who may be holding down a full-time job, running a family and assuming additional responsibilities. Student enrollment across the board has increased significantly this past year, in part because students have the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Evenings, weekends, lunch breaks, early morning, you name it. You can build a schedule to meet your lifestyle. Moreover, many nurses can use tuition reimbursement from hospitals to cover online RN to BSN education.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Uniforms Harbor Bacteria

I work in an office setting now reviewing charts, but I am still acutely aware of the germs and bacteria the paper can harbor. I'm not a germaphobe by any means, but I wash my hands frequently.

Years ago, when I worked in the field in home health, we didn't wear uniforms and scrubs were not allowed. But the clothing I wore became my uniform as I designated specific pieces and shoes for work use only. Some days I couldn't wait to get home and shower, and then wash my clothes in the hottest water!!!!

I read something the other day about nurses coming home and picking up their babies or small children before they changed their clothes. I guess I did this too because I would pick my children up on my way home. But if I had had a particularly disgusting day I would go home and shower and change first.

Here's some food for thought.... the APIC (American Professionals for Infection Control and Epidemiology) published the results of a recent study that shows nurse's and doctor's clothing harbors a LOT of bacteria from hospital work.

Be safe, and protect your loved ones from the things you're exposed to in your job.

APIC press release

photo: Ecoli by Cielo (from