RSSArchive for December, 2011

Nurses are still America’s most trusted professionals

Americans trust nurses more than any other professionals. Nurses have topped Gallup’s list every year since they were first included in 1999—except for 2001 when they were briefly replaced by fire fighters.

Members of Congress were the least trusted professionals. Sixty-four percent of Americans rated politicians as having low or very low honesty and ethical standards, tying the record for lowest any profession has ever measured.

The honesty and ethical standards of nurses, pharmacists, and medical doctors were listed as the top three on Gallup’s poll.

“The public’s continued trust in nurses is well-placed, and reflects an appreciation for the many ways nurses provide expert care and advocacy,” said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN in a statement. “Major national policy initiatives also show trust in nurses. The Affordable Care Act and the Future of Nursing recommendations call on nurses to take more leadership roles and collaborate fully with other professionals in providing essential healthcare to a growing number of people who will have greater access to services.”

Tip: Assess patient suicide risk

Many patients who kill themselves in general hospital inpatient units don’t have a psychiatric history or a history of suicide attempts, says Sharon Chaput, RN, C, CSHA, director of standards and quality management at Brattleboro Retreat, in Brattleboro, VT.

Furthermore, most medical-surgical units and EDs are not designed to care for suicidal patients and they don’t routinely assess every patient, says Chaput.

Screening for suicide risk in the ED should include ordering a psychiatric consultation to assess the immediate risk of individuals admitted for medical treatment following a suicide attempt, communicating suicide risk screening results at handoff, and interventions to prevent suicide in those patients at increased risk, she says.

This includes the following measures:

  • Checking patients for contraband that could be used to commit suicide
  • Involving patients in care planning and decision-making
  • Ensuring that patient care considers age and cultural considerations
  • Providing opportunities for visits by family members or volunteers who can alert staff members about warning signs that may indicate imminent action
  • Involving patients at risk and their families in the discharge process and aftercare recommendations

Editor’s Note: This tip is adapted from an article in the November issue of Patient Safety Monitor Journal.

Choosing the winners of the 2011 Nursing Image Awards

I helped pick the winners of the 2011 HCPro Nursing Image Awards, which marks the third year that I’ve had the privilege of being allowed to read through all the hundreds of entries. Click here to read about the winners. The runners up will be profiled next week.

The awards require nominators to submit a 500-word essay about their nominee and describe what makes the person or team of nurses special and how they embody a positive image of nursing. It’s no small task to pen a 500-word essay and include pertinent facts as well as capture the essence of what makes someone stand out, so I am endlessly amazed at the number of people who take the time to craft well-thought out essays.

These essays are both heartwarming and inspiring and often tell me as much about the nominator as they do about the nominee. In some instances, groups of people come together to write a nomination essay. In most, one person crafts his or her personal story about an outstanding nurse.

All of these essays paint a picture of nursing in America that is often lost in the headlines about nursing shortages and picket lines. They provide a look into the heart of the profession and the individual men and women who dedicate themselves every day to their patients. These nurses refuse to accept mediocrity and push themselves and their organizations to continually improve. Whether returning to school for higher education or launching performance improvement initiatives, these nurses embody professionalism, intelligence, and compassion. They are a true representation of the image of nursing.