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4. Crossword helper (3 letters)

February 27, 2007 - Yesterday, The New York Times Crossword Puzzle included the following as the fourth of its "Down" clues: "I.C.U. helpers." We thought: "Hmm. That's not an accurate or sensitive way to describe the skilled physicians who work with the elite nurses who play the central role in keeping critical patients alive. This is the premiere crossword puzzle in the world!" Imagine our shock when we discovered (and today's published solution confirmed) that the "correct" answer was in fact "RNS." OK, we're joking. Of course we knew instantly that the answer involved nurses, and that the Times puzzle's place in the cultural landscape was irrelevant, since ignorance of nursing's true value is endemic in all segments of global society. The puzzle was created by Peter A. Collins, and edited by puzzle superstar Will Shortz. Incidentally, the answer to the clue heading this analysis is "NYT." more...


Self defense

September 15, 2006 -- Recent media items have highlighted the high level of abuse nurses face, which affects patient care and the global shortage. One of the most striking pieces was the story of Portland (OR) emergency nurse Susan Kuhnhausen, who arrived home one day to find an armed intruder in her house. As a September 9 Associated Press piece reports, Kuhnhausen managed to disarm the man, and strangled him to death. The police viewed this as self-defense--and they later charged Kuhnhausen's estranged husband with having hired the intruder to kill her, as a followup AP piece reported today. This case seems unrelated to nursing, though Kuhnhausen appeared to present a model of a nurse strongly defending herself from a serious threat. But the media coverage still drew attention to issues of workplace violence against nurses. In part that's because Kuhnhausen (right) has herself been a leader in advocating for legislative measures to protect nurses from such violence, as a good article by Robin Moody in the March 11, 2005 Portland Business Journal showed. In addition, the AP's September 9 story led Portland FNP Tracy Klein to write a letter to the Oregonian noting that, contrary to implications in the story, nurses like Kuhnhausen "are not immune to the impact of such violence just because they may see it in the workplace." Klein noted that one study had found that 20% of ED nurses sampled met symptom criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, nurses experience abuse in clinical settings across geographic and subspecialty boundaries. A good September 7, 2006 piece by Alison Ribbon in the Mercury (Australia) reported that two thirds of Tasmanian nurses surveyed had been physically or verbally abused in the preceding month. The abuse affected patient care, and more than 10% of the nurses had "left a post because of aggression." Like the Portland Business Journal article, the Mercury piece pointed to a reluctance to address the abuse, which may relate to the "virtue script" nurses are still expected to follow. We thank the news entities above for their attention to these issues. more...


Fast-track fixes sought

October 4, 2006 -- Today USA Today ran a generally good article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald about the faculty shortage at U.S. nursing schools. The piece is "Nursing schools short on teachers: With care in demand, fast-track fixes sought." Relying on expert comment from several nurses, the article explains some basic aspects of the faculty shortage, including its role in the overall nursing shortage. It also describes some measures being pursued to address the lack of faculty, though it paints too rosy a picture of the likely effects of those measures. The piece also could have provided more context to show why the shortages exist. On the whole, though, the piece gives readers a basic sense of the problem, and we thank those responsible. more...


Nursing Diaries Part I now available for your nurse recruitment needs!

Get your DVD copies of "Lifeline: The Nursing Diaries--The Rookies" (Part I) by filmmaker Richard Kahn. When we reviewed Part I of the documentary in Dec. 2004, we gave it 4 out of 4 stars for its nursing portrayal. From our review: "Part I gives an unusually good sense of the value of highly skilled nursing. It shows nurses working in three intensive care units at Mass. General: the cardiac surgical intensive care unit (CSICU), the neonatal ICU (NICU), and the surgical ICU (SICU). The episode shows nurses doing so many critical health tasks that the media commonly has physicians doing that it almost seems like it must have been a conscious goal of the filmmakers. However, it may simply be the natural result of taking a comprehensive look at what nurses really do. We see nurses autonomously managing patient care, detecting critical problems, formulating key interventions, explaining things to patients, families, and the viewer, and generally managing recoveries with little physician involvement." Read the full review here. Order a copy of Nursing Diaries Part I for US $10, which includes shipping. We are selling these at cost in order to get the widest possible distribution of this video. To order, please make a $10 payment here ($15 non-members).

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Help Us!

Because of the lack of overall understanding worldwide, nurses must sustain a collective effort to shape media portrayals of their work. We must educate society in order to obtain more social, political and financial support. As Florence Nightingale once said:

In our imperfect state of conscience and enlightenment, publicity and the collision resulting from publicity are the best guardians of the interest of the sick.

The Center's global media monitoring, analysis and advocacy is a huge challenge. It takes extensive research, writing, communication, and Internet efforts. We must pay for office equipment, supplies, transportation, Internet products, insurance, postage and telephone costs. Our office is donated by our staff. And our staff can undertake only a small part of the work that needs to be done to improve nursing's image.

So we urge you to make a donation to help us continue and expand our work. Just click here to learn about the great gifts you can receive for joining or renewing your Center membership, including our cool t-shirts and the Archie McPhee nurse action figure! It's quick and easy! And because the Center is a 501(c)(3) charity, your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Thank you for all of your support over the past year. You are the reason we've had a real impact on public understanding of nursing worldwide. Together, we can strengthen nursing, and give patients the kind of health care they deserve in 2007 and beyond!

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA 21212-2937
office 1-410-323-1100
fax 1-410-510-1790


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