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.

Finding the Meaning of Death in a Concert Hall

“Death and Transfiguration,” a 25-minute tone poem by Richard Strauss, is the type of entertainment I’ve tried to avoid since becoming a hospice nurse. I worry it will make me feel the job too deeply in my time off. But this performance was by the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, in which my son plays first violin, so we went.

Posted on October 3, 2015 and filed under New York Times.

Not "Just a Nurse"

The View’s Joy Behar made a surprisingly ignorant comment about nurses this week during a discussion of the Miss America pageant. Miss Colorado (Kelley Johnson), dressed in scrubs and wearing a stethoscope around her neck, gave a heartfelt monologue about her work as a registered nurse. Behar was incredulous, asking why the nurse was “wearing a doctor’s stethoscope.” Behar apologized the next day, but not before the #NursesUnite hashtag had caught fire on Twitter and the American Nurses Association had issued a sharp rebuke; advertisers Johnson & Johnson and Eggland’s Best have also pulled advertising from The View.

Posted on September 18, 2015 and filed under Slate.com.

Miss Colorado Started a Needed Conversation about Nurses

For the talent portion of the Miss America contest this year, Kelley Johnson performed a monologue about her work as a nurse and her relationship with an Alzheimer’s patient. The next day, the hosts of The View criticized Miss Colorado’s performance. Host Joy Behar’s asked, “Why does she have a doctor’s stethoscope on?”

Posted on September 18, 2015 and filed under Time.

Choosing How We Die

IN 1975 Shirley Dinnerstein, a 64-year-old Massachusetts woman, learned she had Alzheimer’s disease. Three years later she was in an “essentially vegetative state,” according to her case records, and a court was deciding whether to honor her previously expressed wish not to be resuscitated if she died. The court ruled in her favor, establishing, for the first time, that patients’ care choices at the end of life could be officially documented in the medical record without being validated in court.

Posted on July 24, 2015 and filed under New York Times.

THE END - Love, Death and Spaghetti

“Theresa, you gonna sit, you gonna eat.” My orientation for hospice nursing didn’t cover this — an Italian grandmother who was clearly not going to talk to me about her dying husband unless I sat at the dinner table with her family and ate. Well, when in Rome, I decided, and obediently pulled up a chair.

Posted on April 13, 2015 and filed under New York Times.