What does 2022 hold for Nursing?

The nursing profession has been riding a roller coaster these past two years as we lived with the pandemic.

In the beginning:

  • The World Health Organization designated 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife spotlighting the profession internationally
  • Nurses were applauded by New Yorkers who stood on their balconies or hung out the windows of their high-rise apartments every evening at 7 pm to show appreciation for the care nurses gave the growing numbers of COVID patients
  • News coverage centered on the plight of the bedside nurse dealing with daily death and inadequate supplies along with the chronic nursing shortage
  • Stories surfaced in the media not only about nurses but written by nurses
  • Nurses were getting the attention they had long lacked and their contribution to the health of our population was being recognized

When the 7 pm applause from New York City residents faded, nurses still held the attention of the public into 2021. Media coverage showing nurses treating their acutely ill patients led many to seek nursing degrees.

It’s really quite reassuring, and one of the silver linings of this pandemic, that we have a new generation truly inspired to enter health care for altruistic reasons, (Dr. Neha Vapiwala) ‘Silver lining’ of 2020: Medical and nursing schools see increase in applicants, Today, December 22, 2020.

However, nursing schools continue to lack qualified instructors. Faculty is aging without replacements and classes are reduced. While there is an increase in applicants, many are turned away.

Last year, enrollment in baccalaureate and higher-level nursing degree programs increased, but colleges and universities (not including community college nursing programs) still turned away more than 80,000 qualified applicants due to shortages of faculty, clinical sites and other resources, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Yuki Noguchi, The US needs more nurses, but nursing schools don’t have enough slots. NPR Health, Inc., October 25, 2021.

We continue to see nurses leave the profession due to burnout, a persistent problem exacerbated by challenging working conditions. The industry standard of 12-hour work schedules may be more efficient for the hospitals than the nurses.

What we found was that any time after 12 hours, the medical errors that nurses were involved in started to escalate dramatically. And the reason that this was important is we found in our study that most nurses that were scheduled to work 12 hours really were there 13 or 14 hours. Linda Aiken, Conditions that are causing burnout among nurses were a problem before the pandemic, NPR, January 7, 2022.

 An additional problem for nurses is that they are pulled away from the bedside to do non-nursing tasks, such as patient status documentation. Sandy Summers, The Truth About Nursing, has suggested that nurses need secretaries or assistants to do this burdensome chore. To this, I can only add Amen.

Going forward into 2022 I am cautiously optimistic, given that the pandemic has demonstrated that nursing does make a positive difference in the health care of individuals and communities, we will begin to see corrections to the problems stated above.

I hope I’m right.

E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes

E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes by James Pattersong and Matt Eversmann, Little, Brown & Company, 2021l

I bought E.R. Nurses: True Stories from America’s Greatest Unsung Heroes at my local independent bookstore. The book isn’t an easy read. I wanted to skip over the tales that involved babies and children. But I didn’t. I honor each author’s experience because he/she is willing to share these stories with me and expose their vulnerabilities. 

Real nurses write real stories about what they do on “routine” days. The stories are mostly short, from two to seven pages. Most of them twist my gut and bring me close to tears. The stories are a testimony to what nurses must overcome to help their patients. 

E.R Nurses. is a bare bones book. No preface, foreword, introduction or prologue. Just chapter after chapter of unforgettable nursing stories written by unforgettable nurses. 

That’s all that is needed. 

****************************************

James Patterson has been criticized for co-authoring many of his books and for being more of a brand that focuses on making money than an artist who focuses on his craft.

He has had more than 114 New York Times bestselling novels and holds The New York Times record for most #1 New York Times bestsellers by a single author, a total of 67, which is also a Guinness World Record. 

His books have sold approximately 305 million copies worldwide. (Wikipedia)

****************************************

I’m happy that James Patterson has authored E.R. Nurses. His reputation as a best-selling author all but guarantees that a wide audience will learn what nurses really do. 

Book review: Rewarding, heartbreaking stories of E.R. nurses

Mims Cushing

For the Jacksonville Florida Times-Union USA TODAY NETWORK

October 24, 2021

We clapped for them, we cheered for them, we banged pots and pans for them, we cried happy tears and sad. And now we can read about them. They were the first responders during COVID-19. But much of this book does not deal with the nurses who dealt with that. It’s about the nurses who go about their job as emergency nurses. They too deserve clapping. And the authors have dealt with, perhaps 100, day shift, night shift and flight nurses.

James Patterson and Matt Eversmann have come up with a book about the lives of hard-working men and women who work in emergency rooms in the United States. The authors have captured the essence and drama of their stories.

The nurses’ stories are sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes frightening, but all offer a close-up view as to what it takes to be a nurse. The night shifts are particularly difficult, even hard to read about.

Of course the outcomes are often painful, especially when children have to see their father or mother slowly ebb away. The nurses take solace in the fact that sometimes something wonderful happens as when a father takes off his rosary and places it around his son’s neck before being wheeled off to surgery. A nurse suggested that he do that. A few days later, the father dies, but his son will always remember that gesture.

It’s particularly frustrating when a patient is being particularly difficult when a nurse has just seen something tragic. A 7-year-old had fallen out of treehouse and was in cardiac arrest and the nurses worked on him for 54 minutes — as someone else made a petty request. During one night shift, a nurse is nearly strangled, with a choke hold by a severely mentally ill man.

No two days are the same. “Sometimes [one of the teaching nurses tells new nurses], “you get to be a part of a miracle. Other times no matter how well you do your job, it just doesn’t work out. People are going to live, and people are going to die. You have no control. You just do your job.”

One of the nurses wishes that people impatiently waiting for help in an ER would realize that, if they are not being treated, it means someone else is in worse condition than they are: “If we don’t get to you right away, it means you’re stable. If you’re waiting, that’s a good thing. It’s when we all rush in and jump on you that you should worry.”

Give this book to someone who is thinking of being a nurse or is one already. Read it yourself and bang pots and pans all over again, in your heart.

Mims Cushing lives in Ponte Vedra Beach and has written three books. 

Heroic Symbol: A Nurse

I first saw the picture of nurse Grace Cindric a month ago in our local newspaper, the News & Observer.

In the photo, there’s a swagger in Cindric’s stride, a steely resolve in her sunglasses and respirator mask. In a sleeve of tattoos, there’s a friendly-looking panda staring out from her arm.

The Pandemic is bringing nurses into the spotlight, showing what they do. The media is finally taking notice.

There are some positive outcomes of this virus.

‘YOU’RE A MEME NOW’

UNC nurse becomes heroic face of coronavirus fight

Drew Jackson, News & Observer, Sunday May 24 2020

One of the memes circulating on the social media platform Reddit created from a photo of UNC Hospital emergency room nurse Grace Cindric taken by News & Observer photojournalist Robert Willett earlier this week.

Reddit

After News & Observer photojournalist Robert Willett took a photo of Grace Cindric, a UNC Hospital emergency room nurse, memes like this one circulated on social media.

In blue scrubs and a floral fanny pack, UNC nurse Grace Cindric has become the hero we need right now.

In late March, News & Observer photographer Robert Willett snapped a photo of Cindric screening visitors heading into the UNC Medical Center Emergency Department, separating those complaining of coronavirus-related symptoms and everyone else.

In the photo, there’s a swagger in Cindric’s stride, a steely resolve in her sunglasses and respirator mask. In a sleeve of tattoos, there’s a friendly-looking panda staring out from her arm.

“I woke up the next morning, and it was everywhere,” Cindric said. “I first heard from my friend who posted it on Reddit; they said, ‘Fair warning, this got bigger than I expected. … You’re a meme now.’”

Since it was published, the photo has made the rounds on Reddit and Twitter, inspiring dozens of Photoshopped images depicting Cindric in heroic poses. In one a red cape billows behind her, in another she appears on the cover of a fictional video game called COVID-19.

“It was very strange at first. I was like ‘This is too much attention,’” Cindric said. “But I’ve accepted it, and I’m just rolling with it.”

A SYMBOL FOR OUR TIMES

She is the Badass Nurse. A meme, yes, but also a symbol, a face of the nurses and doctors fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. As coronavirus cases mount in North Carolina and across the nation, as citizens panic-buy groceries and avoid their neighbors, Cindric wears scrubs like body armor, with a walkie-talkie on her belt.

To many commenting on the photo online, Cindric represents the heroism of medical professionals putting themselves between the public and the pandemic.

“I think it represents something bigger,” Cindric said. “It’s good that people are starting to see doctors and nurses out here in the middle of everything, doing this work. It’s a fun picture, it’s not terribly serious, but it represents what we’re doing. We’re all putting ourselves in harm’s way to stop this.”

Battling a pandemic is not exactly what Cindric imagined nursing would be like. The UNC-Greensboro grad has been a nurse for four years, the last two spent in UNC’s emergency room. She said she got into nursing to help the community and jumped in the emergency room for its variety.

“As an emergency room nurse, you’ve signed up to do anything,” Cindric said. “The task changes all the time, you never know what you’re walking into. … It’s a little bit of everything, and you have to kind of be a jack of all trades.”

‘COMMUNITY RALLYING BEHIND US’

Cindric said the coronavirus outbreak has escalated everything, that guidelines and roles are constantly changing, that the job she thought she knew feels like it changes by the hour. But she said she feels the community supporting their work, that people send meals and well wishes.

With the photo, Cindric said she’s feeling love and support flowing in from around the world.

“We feel the community rallying behind us,” Cindric said. “We knew the work we’re doing was important before, but we feel the respect from the community. They bring us food and send us messages. The outpouring really makes you appreciate the work you’re doing.”

JACKSON: 919-829-4707, @JDREWJACKSON

%d bloggers like this: