Betsy, a writer friend, emailed me the story she had read in our workshop since I had to miss the class. She knows I hang on every episode of her life in Ireland where her second child was born and she negotiated the daily vicissitudes of a different culture. In this episode she had left the hospital with her new baby girl. She happily accepted the offer to have a nurse visit her and the baby at home.

Her daughter is in college now but Betsy still remembers how helpful the nurse was—and knowledgeable and reassuring, which, in turn, made me remember the article I read not too long ago by David Bornstein, The Power of Nursing (NYT, May 16, 2012) about nurses who made regular home visits to at-risk pregnant women and continued these visits until their children reached the age of two. The program, Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), conducted studies that demonstrated the visits improved both child and maternal health and financial self-sufficiency and provided a five to seven point boost to the I.Q of these children. Plus many more positive results.

NFP, which has been around since the ‘70s is implemented in forty states, empirically proves what many of us already know: nurses REALLY make a difference. Training paraprofessionals to do the nurses’ job didn’t yield the same outcomes.

We nurses do make a unique contribution. No one else can fill our shoes.

By Marianna Crane

After a long career in nursing--I was one of the first certified gerontological nurse practitioners--I am now a writer. My writings center around patients I have had over the years that continue to haunt my memory unless I record their stories. In addition, I write about growing older, confronting ageism, creativity and food. My memoir, "Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers" is available where ever books are sold.


  1. I wish you had been our visiting nurse, Marianna, when the Rhode Island Hospital sent us home with our gravely ill son. An outbreak of meningitis made remaining at the hospital a dangerous choice for our boy. But our visiting nurse was alarmed at how sick Malcolm was and she made no effort to conceal how shocked she was that the doctors had let him come home.

    My wish is that she could have supported us instead of shaking her head and letting us know the dangers of our situation. Believe me, we already knew. What we needed were visitors–friends and family were not allowed because of fear of infection–nurses who could feel our pain and help us cope.


  2. So often my nursing students would say they wanted to be a nurse because of some helpful nurse during their childhood. So true, nurses make a difference.


  3. When my husband was very sick 20 plus years ago we had an Irish woman, a “practical nurse” she was called, first name Peggy. I don’t know what her credentials were but by all counts she was fantastic.

    When he came home from a 3 week stay in the hospital, Peter could not walk more than 20-30 feet without sitting down. For weeks, she walked him back to health, block by block in New York city.

    She also was a great cook and perhaps best of all, put hope back into our family’s life with her own cheery and optimistic nature.

    Thanks Marianna for reminding me of this!


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