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Washington Post: "Nurses brace for SARS"

June 10, 2003 -- A very good article by Kirstin Downey in today's Washington Post describes nurses' place on the front lines of the global SARS battle, not only as primary care givers but as a critical part of the health system's efforts to track and control the disease.

Placing nurses' SARS work in the larger context of their front line responses to other crises such as terrorism and AIDS, Downey describes reports indicating that nurses are more likely to get SARS than physicians are, possibly because they work much more closely and for longer periods with SARS patients.

The piece includes quotes from several nursing leaders, including a hospital trade association executive, a large nursing union leader, and a chief nurse executive, more than one stressing that nurses are willing to take risks and make sacrifices to care for patients with dangerous conditions like SARS. At the same time, the piece highlights the stress nurses face in doing so at a time when they are also experiencing understaffing and inadequate support.

Unlike many articles, this one draws a portrait of nursing as an autonomous, if troubled, profession with authoritative leaders, and it does not suggest that nurses are somehow secondary to physicians in confronting major health care crises.

See Nurses Brace for SARS: Front Lines Plan, Train . . . and Worry in the Washington Post.