public health

NursetopiaMashupCroppedI’m forever saving articles, hoarding items in my RSS feed, favoring tweets, and emailing myself with items to look up. I’m never short of reading material, and many times I am overloaded with information that is just collecting electronic dust. This week I cleaned out my inbox and other online warehouses. Here’s some of the eclectic information I reviewed recently:

Am I the only one that does this? Surely not. What great reading is lurking in the electronic piles you keep?


What ‘Community’ Looks Like in Health Care

by Nursetopia on April 17, 2014

Each hospital has its own culture – a mixture of the city, the people, artistic and political movements, and area businesses. Even hospitals within the same city have different cultures thanks to the leaders within those organizations and their backgrounds and viewpoints. Academic hospitals feel different than community hospitals. Organizational behavior is fascinating, especially in health care.

There are around 400 major teaching hospitals in the U.S. So, with 5,723 total hospitals nationwide, that means most people are likely to receive care in a community hospital rather than an academic center. Yet, “community hospital” often has a negative connotation among many, as if there is some teaching-hospital snobbery that only those facilities are worthy to provide care. Sure, major teaching hospitals are centers of massive research and up-to-date science. However, community hospitals deliver exceptional care throughout the nation and are doing some wildly innovative things that large teaching institutions could never do as a result of their bureaucratic red tape and flaming hoops of often unnecessary-and-frustrating process.

Don’t get me wrong; I love major teaching centers. They are brilliant beacons of light in our national healthcare system. All-in-all, though, community hospitals have my heart. The community sometimes get lost, but when community culture meets community health care, amazing things happen.

You see, community  is something we assess in healthcare all the time. Nurses continuously document mothers’ bonding with their newborns and family members and friends at patients’ bedsides. We notice eye contact or lack thereof and chart about affect and social assessment questions to protect patients from themselves or others. We have entire teams of professionals to help patients when they feel all alone, so we can help them belong and be productive members of society. Relationships are part of health and well-being; there’s no way around that. Community is relationship. Community hospitals aren’t made up of strangers. No, the great ones are filled with relationships; and I’m not just talking about doctor-nurse or supervisor-subordinate relationships. I’m talking about our-kids-play-basketball-together relationships and yeah-my-doctor-is-my-neighbor relationships and I-knew-that-physical-therapist-when-she-was-yea-high relationships and that-small-business-owner-helped-build-our-new-clinic relationships. It’s an incredible sense of belonging that promotes health care. 

What a concept.

Have we lost too much of the community - the relationship-building and maintaining – that’s possibly assisting in the erosion of health care?

"Relationships" by Nic Price via “Relationships” by Nic Price via


MashupMy reading list is filling back up again, and I’m absolutely loving it. I’m squeezing in chapters here and there, and you better believe free moments in between meetings and snippets of downtime have their fair share of bit-sized information and education. Here’s a little of what’s been passing through my brain lately:

What are you reading these days?


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Never heard of a Certified Cancer (or Tumor) Registrar? You’re not alone. Even people within the oncology world often do not know about these amazing team members. The reason? They work behind the scenes and do so much background work that they make the Invisible Woman look like Captain Obvious.

Ever wondered how we get our cancer statistics like incidence, prevalence, mortality, and survival rates? That’s all because Tumor Registrars abstract data from individual patient charts over the course of a cancer patient’s lifetime. Curious how providers know whether or not specific treatment regimens make a difference in patient outcomes over time? Yep, that’s a Tumor Registrar’s work, too. Inquired whether there are certain clusters of cancers in specific locations that may be tied to environment, diet, etc. Oh, yes…thank a Tumor Registrar for those nuggets of info, also.

Cancer Registries are incredible sources of data; they are absolutely vital to our patient care, our healthcare system, and to public health. If I need data as an oncology administrator, the Cancer Registry (my local, state, and national ones) are the very first places I look to for help. These professionals are that amazing.

On top of all of that work, Cancer Registries are often the departments that help coordinate tumor boards as well as American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accreditation pieces.

Do you know your Certified Cancer Registrars and Cancer Registry team? If not, you need to meet them. Today. And thank them while you’re at it.

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Here’s some of what I’ve been putting into my brain this week:

So what has caught your attention this week?



by Nursetopia on September 11, 2013

I remember.           I remember.

09.11.2001.             09.11.2001

Four planes.          Four planes.

2,977 victims.       2,977 victims.

I remember.          I remember.


MashupHere are some of the highlights of my reading (and viewing) this week:

What are you reading?


An August 2013 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll revealed “more than four-in-ten Americans think the new health care law has been repealed, overturned in court or are just unsure whether it remains the law.” The same amount of people surveyed stated they trust “a lot” the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, information their doctors or nurses give them – the highest among even federal and state agencies and well above insurance companies. Oddly, though, most Americans are not receiving information about the ACA, including exchange marketplace information, from healthcare professionals but rather news media and family and friends, both of which rank lower on survey participants’ trust scales for the information. A full 65% admit they have not sought information on the ACA, and about half of those surveyed reported experience comparing health insurance plans in the past.

ACAexchangeMarketplaceThe Kaiser Family Foundation poll includes additional, enlightening information, including data pertinent to specific demographic groups. Healthcare professionals are trusted sources of ACA information, but clearly we are not having these discussions with patients or the public. Perhaps it’s because even the experts are still novices on the ACA and we lack the education and confidence to share this dialogue with others? If you find yourself in this predicament, here’s a synopsis of helpful, easy-to-understand resources:

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1, 2013, which is right around the corner. It will last until March 31, 2014, and coverage begins January 1, 2014. Everyone can access the Marketplace at or, and you can prepare for the Marketplace before October 1st via numerous ways.

Have you sought information about the ACA and how it will impact you as well as your patients? Are you having these conversations with your patients to ensure they’re informed about the ACA and how it will (or already has) impact their care?


Kaiser Family Foundation. (August 28, 2013). Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: August 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2013, from



I’m pretty keen on statistics. Writing, speaking, and leading – I can drop some numbers on you in no time. The statistics shared through the Thunder Road film, though, stopped me in my tracks.

My dad is a veteran. Several of my uncles are veterans. My brother is a veteran. I have family and friends serving at home and abroad right now. There are more than 22 in my quick calculations. I cannot imagine any of them taking their own lives. Perhaps they have thought of it, though, based on their experiences and enduring post-traumatic stress disorders, or PTSD.

I can’t share the Thunder Road information as good as the film writers, so please take a moment to view the video below, providing more information about PTSD in veterans as well as the film itself.

Consider supporting the Thunder Road film creation; there are some pretty cool incentives for contributing. Share this information with your colleagues. Change your practice to provide appropriate care for PTSD among veterans.

They’ve fought for us and others. It’s time we fight for them.


With all the “latest and greatest” in health care today, the industry stands to learn a lot from other areas of business. Here’s what the Institute of Medicine recommends.