Life’s Most Persistent Question

by Nursetopia on January 16, 2012

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Dr. King & A Charge Nurse

by Nursetopia on January 17, 2011

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1954, Brown vs. the Board of Education desegregated public education in the United States, including nursing education. However, hospitals remained segregated well into the 1960’s with different entrances for “whites” and “colored” as well as different waiting rooms, care units, nursing staffs, and even separate storage in the blood bank. Oh, what a dreadful day it would be if a white man received a black man’s blood!

I cannot imagine the scene I just wrote. It is even harder for me to comprehend how this all occurred in the not-so-distant-past. I’m not a nursing historian by any stretch of the imagination, but I have spent most of today – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – contemplating Dr. King, nursing, African-American nurses, and suffrage.

I am so very thankful for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I cannot imagine my life, nor my nursing, without his influence. I became a charge nurse six months after passing the NCLEX simply because I had “BSN” behind my name. I worked night shift with an amazing group of nurses and nurse aides. I still remember my first night as their charge nurse; I was 22. Two of my team that night – a LVN and an aide – had been caring for people longer than I had been alive. I felt nauseous. I stood at the Pyxis, and I literally prayed for all 24 of the hem/onc patients on the unit. God, please don’t let anyone code tonight. No doubt they saw my fear because a few moments later, Mrs. C. – the most experienced nurse – came over and said, “It’ gonna be a great night. Let me know if you need anything. I’ve got you – anything you need – I’ve got you.” Her words were like audible lorazepam. And how true they were.

Mrs. C. was there for me on more occasions than I can count. She and the other night crew members gave me grace to grow, followed my lead, and redirected me when I lost my focus. I don’t believe those ladies will ever know the influence they had and continue to have over my nursing. Did I mention – the night shift crew was 80% African-American? The thought of us not sharing those experiences and working alongside one another simply because of the color of our skin makes me nauseous. Again.

My mind flails trying to imagine African-American women and men choosing a career of altruism via nursing or medicine during a time of such fierce hatred and inequality. Thankfully, they did, though. Thankfully, they did.

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1 in 10 Admits

by Nursetopia on December 8, 2010

Join me in a virtual blood drive this month. Donate blood, then leave a comment here indicating your donation.


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Red Ribbons

by Nursetopia on December 1, 2010

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006), over 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV/AIDS, and over 56,000 people are newly infected each year. African-Americans and Hispanics bear a disproportionate burden of the disease, accounting for 49% and 18% of the new infections while making up only 13% and 15% of the total US population.

December 1, 2010, is World AIDS Day

The US AIDS incidence and prevalence is shocking, but it pales in comparison to the global AIDS pandemic. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook (2007), there are currently 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, with African countries bearing the greatest disease burden.

Nurses across the world are no strangers to caring for patients with HIV/AIDS. For the most part, we’re also well-versed on protecting ourselves. Here’s a resource and reminder how to help our patients protect themselves. 

So what can you do today and beyond to help change the world’s HIV/AIDS burden? Educate yourself, educate your patients, dispel common myths, or join a HIV/AIDS cause such as Grassroot Soccer or World Vision and contribute your awesome nursing expertise and altruism to the people of the world. You could also even test out one of my favorite social-media campaign stories of the year – MTV’s and Foursquare’s GTY (Get Yourself Tested) Campaign, which aims to squash social stigma of HIV testing utilizing geo-location services.

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Give the Gift of Life – Virtual Blood Drive

by Nursetopia on November 30, 2010

December is all about gift-giving. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. This year I plan to give the gift of life by donating blood, and I want you to join me.

Someone needs blood every two seconds. Blood banks across the nation (and beyond) are ready to take your donation and ship it to a facility where another nurse will administer your blood to his patient and monitor her as you save her life.

As an oncology nurse, hanging blood was a daily duty. As I prepped the tubing, machine, and patient, I always thought about the donor. Who was she? Why did she donate? What is her story?

2010 marked my very first time to donate blood. I don’t know what took me so long! When was the last time you donated blood? What’s stopping you? Let’s join together throughout the month of December to give the gift of life this year. Find your local blood donation center. Don’t forget to leave a comment after you donate so we can celebrate our collective life-saving success.

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The American Cancer Society + Nurses = BFF

by Nursetopia on August 10, 2010

The American Cancer Society. Upon first thought, you may think “trustworthy.” Maybe you think “old.” Do you ever jump to “nursing” or “innovative” when you think of ACS? You should.

I’m an oncology nurse, a consumer of ACS services and products, and an ACS volunteer. I <3 the ACS for so many reasons. One of the main reasons that ACS rocks (and I think many nurses may not know) is nursing has a rich history in the ACS. The Oncology Nursing Society was birthed from the first National Cancer Research Conference in 1973, a collaborative effort of the American Nurses Association and the American Cancer Society. The ACS-published A Cancer Source Book for Nurses, now in its eighth edition, is a fabulous nursing resource for any nurse. The ACS believes in nurses and nursing research so much they even provide annual graduate and doctoral nursing scholarships. The Lane Adams Award, which is now accepting nominations, recognizes nurses and other caregivers providing exceptional care. The ACS volunteer team is abundant with nurses. We’re represented everywhere and in every ACS division, working on initiatives from pain management to obesity to passing public health legislation.

Of course, there are other reasons I think the ACS is great. Second only to the National Cancer Institute, they fund cancer research like our lives depend on it. Forty-four ACS-funded researchers have received the Nobel Prize. ACS researchers, the likes of James Watson, PhD (who, ahem, discovered the double helical DNA) and Judah Folkman, MD (the father of anti-angiogenesis), have spear-headed major discoveries leading to the widespread use of the Pap Test (George Papanicolaou, MD, PhD),  the irrefutable connection between smoking and lung cancer (Hammond & Horn), and the development of life-saving drugs such as Taxotere (David Kingston, PhD), Gleevac (Brian Druker, MD), Avastin (John D. Hainsworth, MD and others). There are too many groundbreaking research moments to list here; ACS has already done it for me.

On a side note, if you’re between the ages of 30 and 65 without a history of cancer, you may consider joining ACS’ historic Cancer Prevention Study – 3.

Still more reasons ACS and nurses are tight – ACS is the “Official Sponsor of Birthdays.” Nurses have to be the unofficial sponsors, for sure. ACS is eye-balls deep in social media.You name it, and ACS is there. Dr. Len’s blog is a great read, and the ACS Twitter presence is the real-deal. @AmericanCancer, @ACS_NHO, and @acschooseyou are only a few; there are many, including individual ACS Twitterers for different divisions, states, and countries. While his tweets and opinions are solely his own, one of my favorite ACS staffers to follow is DJ Sampson., the brainchild of all around idea-maniac David Neff, a former ACS staffer, is a combination of YouTube and a cancer support group. The annual ACS Relays for Life even occur in Second Life!

And just in case I haven’t shared enough ACS love…ACS is the recipient of mondo awards. Including an Emmy. Ahhh. Such a great BFF.

Emmy for 1988 ACS "Pack of Lies" tobacco PSA

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The Business of Nursing

by Nursetopia on July 22, 2010

Make no mistake. Business in nursing is big time.

It doesn’t matter the setting, either. Primary care, nursing education, hospice, ER – business. It’s a true dichotomy between selfishness and selflessness. Don’t get me wrong. Profits keep the doors open and the mission trucking, but even for this MSN and MBA grad, I constantly struggle with the business in nursing (extreme profits, fierce competition, stepping on colleagues to get to the “top,” vying for attention, politics). I much prefer it the other way around – more nursing in business.

Often times I am torn between decisions – my nursing and business perspectives in direct opposition to one another. I realize my personality frames my outlook, and this may not be the case with other nurses in business. It’s quite an internal dilemma, however; one I never thought would have existed since I am passionate about both nursing and business. Decisions must be made, nonetheless.

I was recently reminded again that business is business – even when it’s nursing, yet I have the choice to lead and manage with integrity, a characteristic I’m thankful is teeming within the nursing profession.

How do you manage the business of nursing?

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