I became a nurse at the age of 23. I was pregnant with my first son and dove into nursing headfirst, accepting a job in the pediatric ICU of the hospital where I worked. I still remember the call when I received the job offer. I hung up and jumped up and down, screaming in excitement. I couldn’t believe that I got my dream job, the job that wove my ...

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I started my medical career late. Really late. By that time, I’d lived a few lives. I’d earned a boatload of initials. I’d changed husbands, languages, and continents. I’d written a useless novel, and I’d been a Mary Kay lady. One day over lunch as I was looking for something to do with myself, my husband suggested medicine. I spent the next nine years immersed in my medical training, feeling guilty ...

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Florence Nightingale was among the first nurses who started wearing a nurse’s cap. The cap was derived by nuns and represented those caring for the sick. Hair was neatly tightened into a bun and covered by the cap. Back then becoming a nurse was typically seen as a female profession, but men were allowed to become nurses too. In 1930, only one percent of RNs nationwide were male. Growing up in the 1950s ...

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I have been a neonatologist for 30-plus years. Throughout my career, nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) have guided me, assisted me and comforted me through difficult patient care issues that arose. Even more importantly, they allowed me to leave the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) without worrying about how my patients were being taken care of. I am writing this because our profession (MDs and DOs) continue to devalue these ...

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One time, I applied for an emergency department (ED) nurse manager position. I thought I had the job locked up until I was asked during the interview how I would “enforce metrics.” “Enforce.” My holistic, qualitative research-based response to this authoritarian-style question was: “I’ll find more organic ways to achieve your metrics without shoving numbers down their throats.” I didn’t get the job. Someone told me I wasn’t “MBA enough.” Yet, I stand by ...

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I know what you’re thinking: She’s cold-hearted, cruel, and unkind. But am I? Or are you? Grandma Lilly is 87-years-old and in the ICU. She’s on a ventilator with her wrists restrained to the side of the bed. Grandma can barely see because her eyes are puffy: scleral edema. And her heart races: 140 beats per minute. Her blood pressure is low and Levophed and vasopressin drips are ordered. Her family can’t talk ...

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This article is sponsored by Careers by KevinMD.com. To err is human, and in the health care arena, avoiding errors is crucial. Efforts to address communication-related or “soft skill” failures have been ongoing since about 20 years ago when the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published reports titled To Err Is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm. When we rely on ...

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Corporate health care mentality set up nurses up to be inhuman while holding us to superhuman expectations. We’re told to be caring — but not allowed to do it. It’s time to demand that we stop being abandoned and dismissed by dysfunctional leadership. Early in my nursing career, I was assigned to the pediatric area for one shift in a busy emergency department (ED). Our team received notification of an incoming ...

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On November 6th voters in Massachusetts are facing a very important health care-related question. In addition to voting for political parties in the midterms, they also face three ballot questions. The first of these is whether there should be mandatory state enforced nurse-to-patient ratios. For a general medical or surgical floor, this will be no more than four patients for every registered nurse. For other types of adult floors and the ...

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I remember when I started nursing school about a decade ago, that there was a near militant attitude describing the nursing shortage. School administrators, politicians, and journalists hopped on this easy bandwagon and talking point. Research and polls of dubious quality rode the tidal wave of popular opinion. Unsurprisingly, their genesis in an echo chamber yielded predictably confirmatory responses. As graduation time was fast approaching, the class began to job ...

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This is based on a true story. The name and some details of the events have been changed.  She was the smarter nurse who floated to ICU, to CVRU, to CCU. She could handle any crisis: balloon pumps, CRRT, open-heart patients, respiratory distress, code blues — anything. Sandy was quiet. She didn’t really have any nurse friends. She was a loner. But we could depend on her to take the most difficult assignments. She ...

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Leaving the nursing profession is bittersweet. My heart left nursing a while ago when I came to the realization that nursing left me first. It never was a two-way relationship. The profession left me without acknowledgment of work-related stress, specifically post-traumatic stress (PTS). First responders and emergency workers often hear the phrase, "It's just part of the job.” So we all just deal with it — or not. I've heard this ...

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The nurse grabs me. "You have to check my patient now! She is screaming and bearing down." Without letting go of my hand, she leads me into the labor room. I don’t even consider saying no, I know not to question this nurse. She has been a labor and delivery nurse nearly as long as I have been alive -- she knows much more than I about everything. The room is dark, but ...

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Shortly after the publication of "Independent practice: Both nurse practitioners and physicians should be outraged," the nurse practitioner (NP) leadership responded with a press release, denouncing the concerns that were cited, calling them “rhetoric.” But in contrast to this criticism from the political end of the NP spectrum, I was inundated by emails from working NPs across the country in support ...

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In my travels up and down the East Coast, I have been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic nurses. From what I hear, there was much more of an authoritarian relationship between doctors and nurses a few decades ago -- preceding the time I entered the medical profession. This has now morphed into much more of a collegial teamwork approach, as we battle to get our patients better at ...

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“Nurse practitioner (NP) education is seriously underfunded. The profession is attempting to saddle private physicians with this cost.” That is how “Dr. X” replied to my email asking whether he would be willing to precept a nurse practitioner student for her clinical rotation. I read through his clearly disgruntled letter and wanted to explain to him why NPs have to train “on the backs” of physicians and why funding for nursing ...

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Patsy loved playing bingo every Wednesday night. Her boyfriend of three years loved watching her daughter Jenna who was a tiny and pretty six-year-old her momma called "princess." Even though they weren't related, Jenna called Patsy's boyfriend "Uncle Billy" at her mother's behest. And Uncle Billy made Jenna shyer and quieter than she usually was. He'd walk in on those Wednesday nights and demand a big hug and kiss on the cheek ...

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The hospital I work in used to have posters hanging up, describing patients’ rights. The right to have their medical care explained to them, the right to refuse treatment, the right to be treated courteously and the right emergency care regardless of the circumstances. These posters are no longer displayed, but the concept hasn’t gone away. The health care team I work with makes every effort to treat people fairly and ...

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During a 15-minute recess, the elementary school students trooped from the playground toward nurse Catherin Crofton’s office — one with a bloody nose, a second with a scraped knee and a third with a headache. Kids quickly filled a row of chairs. Staffers brought paper towels for the bleeders and tried to comfort the crying. “We’re here for first aid, emergency, counseling,” said Crofton of the Mount Diablo Unified School District. “There ...

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First I noticed it all over my social media feed -- the story of Alex Wubbels, a burn unit nurse at a university hospital in Utah who was arrested and manhandled by police for not allowing them to take a sample of blood from an unconscious patient without a warrant. Then came a slew of texts, emails, and calls from people wanting to discuss the incident, asking me ...

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