American Journal of Nursing: What I'm Reading

Most nurses probably don't know enough about the economics of health care and health care policymaking in this country. The idea that the provision of health care occurs within a complex political and economic system barely comes up in nursing schools—even though health care costs make up roughly one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and the public–private system under which health care is financed and provided drives many policy decisions.

Posted on December 12, 2017 and filed under AJN.

Breast Cancer is Serious. Pink Is Not.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I have breast cancer. The country is fully pinked out in support of breast cancer screening and research, and though I know all the pink is meant to make me feel good, to tell me that the entire country has my back, I actually find it profoundly alienating. Pink is not a serious color, though cancer is a very serious disease. Pink is about femininity; cancer is about staying alive.

Posted on October 30, 2017 and filed under New York Times.

American Journal of Nursing: What I'm Reading

“The conversation between doctor and patient… should be viewed as the single most important tool of medical care,” Danielle Ofri says at the end of her new book, What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear (Beacon Press, 2017). I find her conclusion gratifying, since nurses are trained in the importance of talking with and listening to patients (full disclosure: Ofri quotes me on this topic). In contrast, physicians are trained more in a “chief complaint–solution” model, so conversations often turn into physician monologues. While this is understandable, Ofri says, for the sake of high-quality patient care, it must change.

Posted on August 24, 2017 and filed under AJN.

The Real Problem With the Health Care Bill

With the American Health Care Act headed to the Senate — and possibly President Trump’s desk — it’s important to step back from the debate over the bill’s details and recognize two essential truths about American health care.

Posted on May 10, 2017 and filed under New York Times.

Lightening Nurses' Loads

The best way to appreciate nurses during Nurses Week is to support legislation that would help them better care for their patients.

Posted on May 10, 2016 and filed under Slate.com.

When Hospital Paperwork Crowds Out Hospital Care

A FRIEND was recently hospitalized after a bicycle accident. At one point a nursing student, together with a more senior nurse, rolled a computer on wheels into the room and asked my friend to rate her pain on a scale of 1 to 10.

She mumbled, “4 to 5.” The student put 5 into the computer — and then they left, without further inquiring about, or relieving, my friend’s pain.

Posted on December 20, 2015 and filed under New York Times.

American Journal of Nursing - What I'm Reading: Unforgettable: At the End of Life, Knowing What's Vital

Scott Simon, the NPR journalist and commentator, made news in the world of social media when he tweeted the details of his charming, theatrical mother's final days, which were spent in a Chicago ICU. His latest book, Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime (Flatiron Books, 2015), expands on those tweets, and it's a pleasure to get the full story, especially since Simon is a big fan of nurses. His mother, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman Gelbin, was a gem of a human being, and her larger presence in the book makes their story, well, unforgettable.

Posted on November 10, 2015 and filed under AJN.