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Best and worst nursing portrayals of 2010

The Truth About Nursing, a non-profit organization in Baltimore that seeks to increase public understanding of the role nurses play in today’s healthcare, has announced its eighth annual list of the top 10 best and worst media portrayals of nursing in 2010.

At the top of the “best” list is Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, which the organization applauded for the lead character’s virtuosity in using creative and effective ways to improve patient outcomes, despite her own ethical and personal issues.

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Who’s making the most money?

According to the recently released 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, a nurse’s salary is most highly correlated with his or her level of education. Typically, nurses in an advanced practice specialty or higher-level management position are the ones with the highest earnings.

Survey results show the top 10 nursing salaries as follows:

1.      Nurse anesthetist: $154,221
2.      Management/administration: senior management: $96,735
3.      Nurse practitioner: $85,025
4.      Nurse midwife: $82,111
5.      Management/administration: $78,356
6.      Consultant: $76,473
7.      Informatics nurse: $75,242
8.      Management/administration: middle management: $74,799
9.      Clinical nurse specialist: $72,856
10.   Management/administration: first-line management: $72,006

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Who is running the care of the patient?

A friend of mine went into labor with her first child a few months ago and accounted that while she was receiving her epidural, the administering doctor and nurse were arguing over the proper way to insert it, and who was most fit for the job.  She described it as an “ego battle,” full of frustrated sighs, snide remarks, a few eye rolls, and what appeared to be a complete lack of attention to the fact that the patient was in the room, let alone on the receiving end of their needle.

Like any relationship, the one between physicians and nurses isn’t always smooth, but it’s definitely one that shapes many aspects of the healthcare environment.  Perhaps the most important one in this scenario: patient care.

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Online breathing technique program helps reduce stress in nurses and patients

Nurses are well aware of the stress that comes with the job. Taking care of numerous patients at varying levels of sickness, and dealing with many competing priorities, is enough to make anyone stressed out. Now, with the help of the BREATHE technique, nurses and patients can lower their blood pressure, heart rate, and experience a decrease in stress.

The BREATHE technique was developed by John M. Kennedy, medical director of preventative cardiology at Marina del Rey Hospital in California. It’s a 15-minute computer program that helps ease the stress of nurses and patients by combining deep breathing with guided imagery.

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Four basic rules for engaging direct-care nurses in quality improvement

To engage direct-care nurses, nurse leaders need to follow four basic rules:

1. Be transparent with your staff at all times

2. Make accountability for improvement at the unit and staff nurse levels

3. Give your staff the tools to succeed

4. Continually reward and recognize improvement

Here is a more in-depth look at each of the four basic rules. [more]

RWJF senior advisor for nursing honors 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s death

Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior advisor for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is spending her summer vacation doing something extraordinary. She is not spending her days soaking up the sun, or taking a cruise to Alaska. Instead she is traveling in Europe, learning about the life and work of Florence Nightingale.

Throughout Hassmiller’s journey across Europe, she is blogging about her experience. Her trips marks the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s death. [more]

Preserve the Image of Nursing: New TV series jeopardizes nursing image

For years, nurses have been battling how the nursing profession and nurses are portrayed in the media. Having to go against the nursing stereotypes on display in programs such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House, M.D.” makes the job that much harder, as patients and families are familiar with the popular television shows.

Now, nurses will have to add another television show to the list that puts their image in jeopardy. MysticArt Pictures has issued a casting call for the new “sexy docu-series” called “Cali Nurse.” According to the casting call, the show is looking for “gorgeous” young females (ages 21-30 only) who will experience “comedy, romance, and fun” and are all about “big hearts” and “dates with McDreamy.” [more]

Charge Nurse Exemplary Roles: The Icing on the Cake

Charge nurse is a term that has been around since the early 1980s and has often been used interchangeably with other terms, such as unit supervisor or shift supervisor. Charge nurses are accountable to the organization, direct care providers, and patients. They must be sufficiently trained in regulatory requirements such as The Joint Commission’s standards, and they must be adequately familiar with and trained in organizational policies and procedures so that the delivery and coordination of patient care meet organizational expectations.

Aside from the traditional roles charge nurses hold, here is a list of a few of the exemplary roles they also take on:

Educators: The educator role is more than just acting as a resource for the patient care staff. Charge nurses who develop skills as an educator can help bring the patient care team to another level by assisting with staff orientation, equipment, and procedural in-services, updating team members about new clinical practice changes, and helping plan for new education programs based on needs assessments. [more]

President Obama thanks nurses for their commitment

On June 16, President Obama spoke in front of more than 1,000 cheering nurse delegates and RNs at the biennial American Nurses Association (ANA) House of Delegates to thank ANA and nurses for all their hard work and commitment in the journey to passing healthcare reform.

“Nurses are the beating heart of our healthcare system,” said President Obama in a press release from ANA. “Because you know our healthcare system so well, that is why you have become such fierce advocates for reform.” [more]

Seven strategies to prevent nurse burnout

In a recent post, I discussed the issue of nurses being double at risk for a heart attack. This statistic comes from a study conducted by Danish researchers (the full study can be found here) and was conducted over a 15-year period. In addition to this finding, a British study tracked 6,000 workers for 11 years and found those regularly working more than 10 hours per day had a 60% higher risk for heart disease than those who only worked seven hours daily.

A recent column on HealthLeaders Media discussed seven strategies to reduce nurse burnout that I want to share here.

The strategies come from a study conducted by Milliken, Clements, and Tillman in a 2007 study called Nursing Economic$ (free login required). The study says to prevent burnout, organizations need to employ a nurse-centered stress management program AND an executive support system. Too often, stress reduction programs fail because they aren’t relevant for bedside nurses or because bedside nurses do not receive support for such programs from leadership.

The following strategies were found by this study and others to be effective:

1. Stress reduction classes: Offer live classes and computer-based sessions about self-care stress reduction techniques. Be sure to tailor the sessions so they make sense for busy staff nurses. For example, a session filled only with strategies that aren’t applicable to the nurse environment won’t be as helpful as one that includes easy-to-implement techniques such as deep breathing that can be performed during a quick meal break. Encourage nurses to participate by raffling off gift certificates for massages.

2. Create a space for relaxation: Social support has been shown to reduce the effects of stress, and senior leadership can help foster opportunities for nurses to interact by providing a place for them to meet. The break room can be more than a place to scarf a quick sandwich and managers should encourage staff to take breaks together when possible to build a sense of community.

3. Mentor and buddy programs: Having someone to vent to and engage in joint problem-solving can mitigate the effects of stress. Encouraging mentor and buddy programs also boosts nurse engagement and helps in long-term retention and professional development. [more]