Impressive List of Nurse Experts

This post highlights what The Truth about Nursing does to increase the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the contribution nurses make to our country’s health care system. 

When Sandy and Harry Summers noticed that nurses were not represented on the Biden-Harris Covid Advisory Panel, they did the following:

  1. Requested that nurses take part in a letter writing campaign to the Advisory Panel expressing why nurses should be included on the panel. 
  2. Sought names of nurses along with their bio that would be appropriated to sit on this panel. 
  3. Sally sent the letter below to the Covid Advisory Panel along with a diverse list of highly qualified nurses to be considered for membership. 

I am so impressed with the caliber of the candidates that I included the total list. 

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The Truth About Nursing’s letter to the Biden-Harris Covid-19 advisory panel

by Sandy and Harry Summers

November 22, 2020

Thank you for your openness to representation of nurses on the Biden-Harris coronavirus advisory panel. Nurses deliver most skilled health care and have valuable insight into what patients and the healthcare system need. So plans for national solutions will be more effective with their input. Below we propose nurses for your consideration, in sub-categories that address particular needs, based on recommendations from the many nurses we have consulted as well as my own experience providing ICU care to Covid patients.

As a preliminary note, while I understand that there are many physicians on the task force, they can’t represent nursing because it is a distinct, autonomous profession with a different scope of practice. In general, physicians focus on the disease process, while nurses focus on how humans react to disease, including patient education. And of course, the U.S. has struggled with Covid-19 relative to many other nations not so much because of the disease itself but because of how humans have reacted to it. 

I understand that some have described the inclusion of different types of physicians on the panel as taking an interdisciplinary approach. However, we believe a truly effective interdisciplinary approach includes other types of health professionals, such as respiratory therapists, social workers, occupational and physical therapists, pharmacists, and of course nurses.

Below we introduce nurses for your consideration who are from different fields and would provide unique perspectives to the Covid advisory panel.

1. Experts in infection control

Although there is no shortage of infection control professionals on the current advisory panel, infection control nurses could give a more on-the-ground perspective to better address how people can live more safely with Covid.

Jason Farley, RN, PhD, MSN, MPH, is a John Hopkins University (JHU) professor who mobilized resources to help coordinate the response to Covid-19 in the Baltimore community, including JHU schools and hospitals, while continuing to play a leadership role in international scientific endeavors. His work has encompassed testing, addressing the needs of the vulnerable (e.g., getting pulse oximeters into people’s homes), and the stigma of infectious diseases in the community.

Jason Farley

Ann Kurth, RN, PhD, CNM, MPH, is Dean of Yale University School of Nursing, an epidemiologist and nurse-midwife. She chairs the National Academy of Medicine Board on Global Health, and her research focuses on HIV, reproductive health, and strengthening the global health system. Dean Kurth’s work has been funded by NIH, Gates Foundation, UNAIDS, CDC, and HRSA. She chaired the 190+ member Consortium of Universities for Global Health and has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers. 

Ann Kurth

George Allen, RN, PhD, is the Director of Infection Prevention at New York Methodist Hospital, and author of Infection Control: A Practical Guide for Health Care Facilities, and Infection Prevention in the Perioperative Setting: Zero Tolerance for Infections, an Issue of Perioperative Nursing Clinics. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor at SUNY and a force for improving policies to address infection control in hospitals.

George Allen

Sharon Vanairsdale, RN, DNP, is the Program Director for the Serious Communicable Diseases Unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. She manages unit readiness and hospital preparedness for patients with Ebola, Lassa fever, and other special pathogens. She coordinates clinical operations, staff safety, and patient outcomes. She is also the Director for Education within the National Ebola Training and Education Center, a federally funded collaborative between Emory, Nebraska Medicine, and New York Health and Hospital-Bellevue.

Sharon Vanairodale

2. Experts in health care disparities

Considerable data shows that Covid has had a particularly severe impact on communities of color. Many nurses focus on health disparities, including how to deliver care to underserved populations.

Norma Graciela Cuellar, RN, PhD, is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transcultural Nursing, Professor of Nursing at the University of Alabama and immediate past-president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. She has also researched Complementary and Alternative Health Care, which many members of the public embrace and it would be helpful to have these therapies addressed in regard to Covid.

Norma Graciela Cuellar

Sheldon D. Fields, RN, PhD, NP, researches health care disparities, focusing on preventing HIV/AIDS in men of color. He also advised Senator Barbara Mikulski during the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He is Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion at Pennsylvania State University.

Sheldon D. Fields

Vickie Mays, PhD, MSPH, is a UCLA professor and clinical psychologist with a public health degree (and in fact, she is the one person on our list who is not a nurse). She directs the 60-person NIH-funded BRITE Center for Science, Research & Policy, working to eliminate physical and mental health disparities and reducing vaccine hesitancy in racial/ethnic minority populations. Dr. Mays has been working with members of Congress on a bill that would require better data on the race and ethnicity of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also conducting research on creating better models to predict the spread of COVID-19, in order to reduce the number of infections and deaths in Black communities. 

Vickie Mays

3. Experts in managing and improving clinical nursing environments

It is common for nurses to be excluded from decision-making panels, even though they are the ones delivering most of the skilled care. An overwhelming number of people who wrote us urged that the panel include direct care nurses and their advocates so they will have a voice in national policy. 

Bonnie Castillo, RN, is Executive Director of National Nurses United, where she is also director of the Registered Nurse Response Network, a disaster relief program that has engaged in recovery efforts after various natural disasters. In 2020, Castillo was named to the TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2020. She would bring the perspective of direct-care nurses

Bonnie Castillo

Mary O’Neil Mundinger, RN, DrPH, Dean Emerita, Columbia University School of Nursing, has been a pioneer in the development of nurse practitioner practice and she is one of its strongest representatives.

Mary Mundinger

Hilda Ortiz-Morales, RN, PhD, NP, is a direct care nurse practitioner at an infectious disease clinic at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Ninety percent of her patients are from diverse backgrounds, and this is a common feature of nurse practitioners’ practice.

Hilda Ortiz-Morales

Dave Hanson, RN, MSN, is a clinical nurse specialist who works to protect patients by fostering quality care environments where nurses can focus on the care only they can deliver—bringing in ancillary staff to do the rest. He is a dynamic leader with a reputation for team building, a collaborator and an extraordinary role model for nurses who strive to advance the profession and quality of patient care.

Dave Hanson

4. Expert in occupational health and protecting the workforce

So far roughly 2,000 health workers in the US have died from Covid, including many nurses, and a colleague of mine just last week. We need a strong occupational health focus to protect our health professionals and our healthcare system.

Bonnie Rogers, RN, DrPH, is an occupational health researcher and Chairperson of the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda Liaison Committee. She has served on numerous Institute of Medicine (IOM) committees, including Vice Chairperson for the Protection for Healthcare Workers in the Workplace Against Novel H1N1 Influenza A. She is currently a member of the first IOM standing committee on Personal Protective Equipment for Workplace Safety and Health. She completed several terms as an appointed member of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health and was recently elected Vice President of the International Commission on Occupational Health.

Bonnie Rogers

5. Experts in rural health

Many of the communities with critically high rates of Covid infection are now rural ones. Many nurses focus on care for underserved rural populations.

Tania Strout, RN, PhD, MS, is a Native American who has spearheaded numerous community-based studies with high-risk and disenfranchised groups. She is the site director of the NIH Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma in Outpatients (C3PO). She is an active clinician who would bring a generalist perspective to the panel, to help shape meaningful policy for clinicians, educators, and community leaders who are directly working with the public. (Please scroll down 85% of the way for her bio https://www.mitemmc.org/mite-academy/fellows/)

Tania Strout

Mary Wakefield, RN, PhD, served as Health Resources and Services Administration in the Obama administration, supporting community health clinics. In her final two years she was Acting Deputy Secretary of HHS. She now directs the Center for Rural Health (CRH) at the University of North Dakota, strengthening the healthcare workforce, increasing health equity, and providing care services to patients who are geographically isolated, or economically or medically vulnerable. 

Mary Wakefield

6. Expert in mental health support for the public

Mental health care is critical in addressing Covid, not only because of the virus’s significant neurological effects, but also because the public at large has struggled with the challenges of staying home, lack of contact with family and friends, and overseeing children’s education.

Ukamaka Oruche, RN, PhD developed six innovative educational products for children with behavioral challenges during the Covid crisis, as well as self-care guides for parents, frontline nurses, and underserved communities. The videos can be seen at Be Well Indiana. Dr. Oruche can help guide public mental health wellness in the time of Covid.

Ukamaka Oruche

7. Expert in palliative care

It’s not clear what was happening in this pit in El Paso, except that the patients surely needed far less CPR and far more palliative care. Hospitals and patients need more help putting a palliative care plan into action when death from Covid is the only realistic outcome. 

Betty Ferrell, RN, PhD is expert in how to provide compassionate care to dying patients and their caregivers. She developed and leads the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium, which has trainers in 99 countries and all 50 states. She will be able to offer the Covid advisory panel guidance on how to improve palliative care and make it more widely available.

Betty Farrell

8. Experts in school nursing

School nurses are among the public health nurses who are most vital to controlling Covid, including through work in infection control and vaccine rollout. Many now work long hours contact tracing for the families at their schools, and there are plans for some to play a key role in Covid testing. Basically, they have taken on the work of the public health department, but without adequate staffing or support. Nursing takes time, resources, education, expertise and perseverance. Nurses who can bring the school nurse perspective to the advisory panel include:

Cathy Riccio, RN, MSN, MS, who had so many enthusiastic letters of recommendation submitted on her behalf. She is a school nurse with a degree in Environment Science who guided principals, teachers and staff in Newburyport, MA, on how to re-open schools safely—from health procedures and building operations to the emotional health of students, parents and faculty. She designed professional development materials in language simple enough for everyone to understand. She does contact tracing, delivers food, and acts as an air quality expert and guidance counselor. So far there has been no traceable spread of Covid within the schools she oversees. 

Cathy Ricco

Robin Cogan, RN, MEd, is a New York school nurse and frequent media contributor. She is a strong advocate for school children and will be able to give practical, realistic advice on how the nation’s schools can administer testing and roll out vaccines.

Robin Cogan

9. Experts in vaccine hesitancy, public education and health literacy

A large part of nursing care is aimed at developing strategies to educate patients about the disease process and paths to wellness. Because nurses are widely considered to be trustworthy, members of the public might be more likely to listen to health advice from them. And some nurses have focused on working to persuade reluctant members of the public to follow public health guidance. 

Eileen Fry-Bowers, RN, PhD, MSN excels in health literacy and addressing vaccine hesitancy (countering anti-vaccination disinformation).  

Eileen Fry-Bowers

Blima Marcus, RN, PhD, is a nurse practitioner and assistant adjunct professor at Hunter College. She is also an excellent advocate and educator on vaccine hesitancy, especially in the Orthodox Jewish community. 

Blima Marcus

10. Expert in pain management

Pain management is critical for Covid patients. Nearly every ICU patient on a ventilator is on a fentanyl (opioid) IV because being that sick and coping with all those tubes and procedures is painful. After patients recover, many continue to have pain because of the myriad long-term problems Covid causes.  

Sheria G. Robinson-Lane RN, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, focuses on pain management, especially in older people—who are hardest hit by Covid and can guide the way forward. 

Sheria G. Robinson-Lane

11. Expert in the ethical issues of how to allocate the nation’s health care resources

The panel would benefit from a nursing perspective in considering how limited resources are allocated, including how to balance support for public health measures and clinical care. In particular, as my own recent work providing ICU care to Covid patients has underlined, the current system is struggling to provide effective care with available resources. Vast sums are devoted to ICU care, but there are still insufficient ICU nurses and equipment to provide effective care to all Covid patients. For example, the survival rates for patients once they go on a ventilator is very low, unless they go on ECMO machines, in which case the survival rate is quite high. But we don’t have many ECMO machines. Should the Defense Production Act be invoked to make more? Would we save more lives if we re-directed some efforts to preventive public health work, such as educating society about protective measures and quarantine practice, contact tracing, coordinating vaccination and promising potential therapies, such as vitamin D supplementation? Nurses think about the lived experience of patients and help them plan how to cope with their new realities. 

Connie Ulrich, RN, PhD, Professor of Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania, provided testimony to the Presidential Bioethics Commission on the importance of ethics education for nursing and how ethics education influences the moral action of nurses with their patients.

Connie Ulrich

12. After the Inauguration—please consider current government employees

Rear Admiral Aisha K. Mix, RN, DNP, MPH is the Chief Nursing Officer of the US Public Health Service. There is no one more fitting to be on the panel than she is.

Aisha K. Mix

Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, RN, PhD, served as Acting Surgeon General in 2017, and focuses on preventative health.

Sylvia Trent-Adams

Christine Grady, RN, PhD, MSN, is Chief of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, and Head of the Section on Human Subjects Research.

Christine Grady

Members of Congress

There are three nurses in the House of Representatives who could provide valuable input. They are:

Eddie Bernice Johnson, 30th Congressional District of Texas. 

Eddie Bernice Johnson

Lauren Underwood, RN, MSN, MPH, 14th Congressional District Illinois. She has put a coronavirus resource guide on her House webpages.

Lauren Underwood

Cori Bush, from Missouri’s 1st Congressional District was just elected.

Cori Bush

Final Note – Please consider using the Defense Production Act to protect health workers and the public

Nurses and other health workers cannot get enough N95s to work safely. In addition, if every member of the public had an N95, we could better prevent community transmission. An N95 protects the wearer, not just those around them. At my last hospital, I wore one N95 for 8 weeks straight. Other nurses have cared for patients with only a surgical mask—offering themselves up to the disease. Nobody should be sacrificed to Covid. If we invoked the Defense Production Act to fully address these shortages, we could better protect health workers and the community, and get the virus under control. On the other hand, I urge you not to encourage the manufacture of masks with valves. They only protect the wearer and we have to count on each other to protect us.  Any mask mandate should make it clear that valve masks do not meet the requirements.

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Thank you for considering our recommendations for how the Biden-Harris coronavirus advisory panel can better address the needs of the US healthcare system and the residents of our country.
Please let me know if I can assist you in any way.

Best regards,

Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Founder and Executive Director
The Truth About Nursing 
Co-author: Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk
203 Churchwardens Rd.
Baltimore, Maryland 21212-2937  USA  
phone 1-410-323-1100cell 1-443-253-3738
ssummers@truthaboutnursing.org
www.truthaboutnursing.org  

The Truth About Nursing is an international 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to challenge stereotypes. We show that nurses are autonomous, college-educated science professionals who save and improve lives. Each year, the undervaluation and underfunding of nursing leads to millions of needless deaths across the globe. Better understanding of the profession will allow nurses to save all the lives they are capable of saving.

Crazy-Good Change

This essay speaks to change, which is something I have always welcomed in my life. In this time of the pandemic when we may long for the familiar and routine, Chris Hilicki challenges us to seek out what it is that we need, not just to get by, but to live “with an authenticity that creates meaning and satisfaction.”

WHAT IF A “LITTLE CRAZY” IS JUST WHAT YOU NEED?

BY CHRIS HILICKI  •  SEPTEMBER 5, 2020  •  MINDSET

The season of fall stirs up our love-hate relationship with change. After this particular topsy-turvy summer, we’d love to return to some familiar and comfortable routines. But as the days are shorter and the nights are longer, fall reminds us that change is good, if not beautiful and exciting.

Crazy-Good Change

Whether it’s in our body, mind, or spirit our lives keep changing. If we’re growing (and hopefully we are) we may experience some growing pains. So we look for role models, discipline, prayer, and even magic wands to help us through our transitions in life.

But transitions can make us crazy. I have stopped wondering why people are crazy and instead wonder why they’re not! Sometimes a little “crazy” is just what we need if it means losing our minds long enough to let our hearts and “Soul” lead us toward the best transitions of our lives.

Get ready to change the way you see change:

Positive Change Demands Truth

The best way we can support ongoing healthy change is to be straight with ourselves and each other. We’re at a stage in life where we can cut through empty small talk.

Healthy transitions demand integrity as the key component for accepting change and expecting good things from it. If we want to keep growing, remember: no denials, no rationalizations, and no deceptions.

Honesty doesn’t have to be painful. Helpful honesty merges truth with kindness and compassion within all your relationships, especially the one with yourself. So don’t “fake it until you make it.”

Truly, life is about more than just getting by and barely making it, isn’t it? This is our time to transition with an authenticity that creates meaning and satisfaction.

Change Happens

Remember that even when nothing seems to be happening, something always is. This is difficult for most of us to accept, especially for those who so eagerly worshiped at the altar of productivity and so easily mistook busyness for progress.

Slowing down is not the same thing as winding down. Change moves at different heartbeats but the heart must keep beating. So listen to your heart. What is it telling you?

Change Should Revive Us, Not Deprive Us

I’ve been criticized for going down a lot of rabbit holes in my life. I’ve been asked if I lost my focus or if I couldn’t be satisfied and content with what I had.

The truth is, my life is about “trying it all.” I’ve gone down about a million professional and personal roads in life and many of them haven’t looked successful in typical ways. But my satisfaction and success were, and still are, defined by trying new experiences that make me feel fully alive.

I’ve never given up on my endeavors as much as I’ve added on to them. And as much as I like comfortable routines, they can suck the life out of me, too. Transitions don’t always mean giving things up. Go ahead, live it up!

Transitions Make You Feel Alive

Sometimes the seemingly un-survivable moments in our lives create a white-water current that sweeps us toward who we are meant to be. The transitions we still need as we age aren’t those that chase some version of settling down. They are the ones that make us feel most alive.

Don’t settle for less. Find your signature move for this time of your life that represents the YOU that you were created to be and haven’t given up on.

Transitions don’t have to feel like a life or death battle. This year stop fighting the battles you’ve already won. You know the ones I’m talking about: the wars you wage to earn love and approval from yourself and others.

The life you need to strive for is the one that stares down mediocrity and believes your personal best is yet to come. This is YOUR best, not someone else’s best.

Transitions Are Brave

I’ve lost, found, and lost again my health and many of my homes, jobs, and friends. Life isn’t always comfortable or easy. The easy part should be using our experiences to lighten the hardships and heartaches of others.

We don’t always get the fairy tale. But we get the “happily ever after” when we see each stage of our life with the potential to be brave. As T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who risk going too far can find out how far one can go.”

Be brave. Be your best. And when you’re “old” (or just a little older) you’ll savor the life that hasn’t disappointed you. You deserve this kind of life. You know I’m right. Transition from today to the kind of tomorrow you want.

As this season’s days are growing shorter and cooler, embrace the transitions that make you feel a little more alive. The leaves keep changing, and so can you. Be brave. Be true. Be you.

 Chris Hilicki

As a Doctor of Psychology and Clinical Counseling, Chris combines science and spirituality to draw attention to our incredible worth through life’s difficulties. She’s a passionate stargazer and trailblazer, surviving cancer and chronic illness. Her stories and experiences are shared in nationally distributed books, publications, video blogs, and speaking events. Connect with Chris at www.chrishilicki.com

Media In-Depth Look at Nurses

Sandy and Harry Summers review in their June 2020 The Truth About Nursing Blog a story that appeared in the Washington Post. I am always happy to see another example of the media covering nurses and nursing issues. And this time the authors talk about “what nurses actually do!”

However, it’s sad that it has taken a pandemic to call attention to the nursing profession.

The Summers, as usual, have done an exceptional job in their textual criticism of the essay. 

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Saving us from ourselves

by Sandy and Harry Summers

Washington Post report on nursing in Covid era offers unusually deep look at profession

A long April 2020 piece in the Post had information from a diverse group of nurses. Of course, they were able to explain how it feels to be a nurse in the Covid-19 era—a common press theme now. But they also described the nature of the profession, what nurses actually do for patients, and nurses’ protests about inadequate PPE.

April 28, 2020 – Today the Washington Post had a good story by Dan Zak and Monica Hesse headlined “Nurses are trying to save us from the virus, and from ourselves.” That last part signals that this won’t be just a standard “nurse-hero” piece about how difficult it is to care for Covid-19 patients. Instead, the article manages to provide a surprisingly in-depth look at the nursing profession, from its historical roots to its key roles in patient surveillance and advocacy, including why many nurses are now protesting about shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). One highlight of the piece is a capsule description of what direct care nurses do by Laurie Combe, the president of the National Association of School Nurses. Combe talks about the subtle but critical assessments and the vital psychosocial care nurses provide. The piece also discusses some of Florence Nightingale’s work to revolutionize care settings and improve survival rates in the 19th Century. And it describes nurses’ protest activities during the current pandemic, particularly efforts by members of National Nurses United to push for the federal government and hospitals to ensure that nurses have adequate PPE. One nurse protester mocks the “hero” narrative nurses often hear now as just “gaslighting” when it’s accompanied by a failure to provide them with PPE. These elements point to nurses’ key patient advocacy role, although the article does not make that link specifically. And the report is not perfect, as a few elements tend to support the incorrect notion that nurses are virtuous adjuncts of physicians, rather than autonomous professionals whose focus is serving patients. But overall the piece gives a vivid sense of what nursing is about and the situation of nurses trying to care for Covid-19 patients now. We thank those responsible.

Strong and smart

The Post report does start by discussing the demands of Covid care. It explains how hard it is to provide expert and empathetic care for 12 or more hours while wearing burdensome PPE in an under-resourced setting while “confronting the most frightening pandemic in 100 years.”  

But then the piece backs up and asks what nurses really do. Apparently they are “the glue” and the “link between patient and doctor,” and their profession is consistently rated the “most honest and ethical” in Gallup surveys. Those descriptions are all somewhat problematic—the familiar polling point because it often masks a lack of true respect for nurses’ skills, and the earlier descriptions because they present nurses as adjuncts to physicians, which they are not. Nursing is an autonomous profession that exists to serve patients, not physicians. The reporters do say that nurses don’t want to be called heroes, but for the public to stay home and stay alive. And then they turn it over to a nurse expert, who picks up on the standard “most trusted” message the piece has just presented.

“But I don’t think that means people really understand what nurses do,” says Laurie Combe, president of the National Association of School Nurses. It’s a complex job, requiring knowledge of both biochemistry and psychology, in myriad environments. Nurses are helping your fourth-grader learn to track her insulin levels at school, and they are putting pressure on a gunshot wound at 2 a.m. while noting that the victim has no pulse. They are monitoring both your heart rate and your spirit. When they touch your arm, in what would appear to be a simple gesture of friendliness, they are also testing if you’re hot, swollen, dehydrated, tremoring. “I can observe what is on your bedside table that you’re reading — if I can talk with you about that, I can strengthen our connection to build trust,” says Combe, who has been a nurse in the Houston area for 45 years. “I can see who’s in your room visiting, what the interaction looks like, and see whether that’s a trusted person or not, so I know what I can talk about during that visit.”

This is one of the best capsule descriptions of nursing that we have seen in almost two decades of doing this work. Ten stars for Laurie Combe! She identifies the problem with the angel narrative, and then she addresses it, with a short, compelling description of how nurses help people in ways few even realize are happening. 

The piece moves on to note that the coronavirus has changed what nurses do, as they may be working in unfamiliar units under extreme conditions without adequate PPE, “facilitating virtual goodbyes with dying family members” and “organizing protests against hospitals and the White House.” Some are running Covid testing sites, and the article profiles Brenda Lagares, who had been a “night nurse” in New York City before being recruiting to be a “sampling nurse” at a drive-through testing site in Bear Mountain, NY. She tests motorists after having “been given 15 minutes of training to potentially save their lives.” These descriptions do not convey a very full picture of nursing education or expertise. Fortunately, Lagares gets to explain what she does for patients even in the fast-paced and limited drive-through setting. She describes how, even encumbered by PPE, she can read patients’ emotional state (by examining their eyes) and provide reassurance (with explanation, encouragement, a wave and a thumbs up). The article also talks to another nurse at a test site, in Orlando, FL. Sasha DeCesare went to nursing school in Venezuela. DeCesare believes it’s great to be a nurse in the U.S. because (in the report’s words) “it’s a female-dominated profession, filled with strong and smart women.” But now she has worked 22 days straight, and sleeps in a hotel to protect her family from infection.

The piece has some history. This starts with Nightingale’s work for soldiers in the 1850s Crimean War, which the article explains in some detail. It involved better hygiene, ventilation, nutrition, and fundraising. As the piece explains, “the death rate for admitted patients fell by more than half. [Nightingale] wasn’t only a caretaker. She was a revolutionary.” And she wrote Notes on Nursing, which “became a bible for modern care.” The piece quotes Barbra Mann Wall, director of the Eleanor Crowder Bjoring Center for Nursing Historical Inquiry at the University of Virginia, on the diversity of early nurses in the United States. (The piece might have noted that Mann Wall is herself a prominent UVA nursing professor with a PhD.) Apparently relying on Mann Wall, the piece describes the growth of nursing during and after the Civil War, as well as the development of nursing education from a two-year apprenticeship based mostly on skills — wound care, bedsores prevention — to a four-year program equally based on science. … Eventually, nursing would encompass a range of specialties and career paths; a nurse anesthetist might make $175,000 a year, while a nursing assistant might make $14 an hour.

Not surprisingly, the piece pauses at the 1918 flu pandemic. Apparently relying again on Mann Wall, it notes that the best treatment available then was “rest, hydration, hygiene — the pillars on which Nightingale had built her practice.” And it quotes then-health commissioner of Philadelphia Wilmer Krusen on what was needed in that epidemic, given that beds and physicians were in sufficient supply: “Nurses, more nurses and yet more nurses.” That is a timely comment today, when much of the early media on Covid-19 focused on beds and ventilators, ignoring the nurses who would be needed to care for the patients using that equipment. 

Gaslighting

And the article has a substantial amount of material on the protests, i.e., the patient advocacy. The reporters explain:

People keep saying that nurses are on the front lines, but they are actually behind enemylines, surrounded on all sides. They are trying to save us, and save us from ourselves. Nurses are protesting protesters, standing in their scrubs and masks to glare at “freedom-loving” citizens who spew insults as they rally for the economy to reopen. Nurses are taking to social media to convey the extremity of their situations: They talk about war zones, about titrating a dozen IV drips while troubleshooting fluky ventilators, all without reliable stockpiles of supplies.

The piece relies fairly heavily on Elizabeth Lalasz, a Chicago union steward for National Nurses United (NNU). Lalasz herself was out of the clinical setting for 18 days with Covid-19, which she says she got because of inadequate PPE; she calls the nurses “cannon fodder.” The report explains that Lalasz became a nurse in her 40s, after watching an oncology nurse caring for her dying father advocate successfully for him “against a phalanx of male superiors” to go home to die, 35 years ago. Presumably that means a group of physicians; of course, they were not “superiors,” but surely they had far more power, so that sounds like some impressive advocacy. 

And Lalasz does some advocacy too, pointing to the dysfunctional U.S. health care system, which even before Covid-19 “left front-line workers feeling burned out, with high rates of attrition and suicide.” The reporters also talk to nurses at the California hospital that suspended 10 nurses for refusing to care for Covid-19 patients without an N95 mask. One of the suspended nurses, Jack Cline, explains why the surgical masks are inadequate, regardless of CDC guidelines saying otherwise. The piece also describes the recent White House protest by NNU members seeking more PPE for health workers—over 230,000 of whom have been infected with the virus, and 600 nurses have died from it. One protesting nurse was Charles Dalrymple, who spends hours caring for Covid-19 patients in negative-pressure rooms, in some cases helping them say goodbye to family through virtual means. He held a sign saying “20 SECONDS WON’T SCRUB THE BLOOD OFF YOUR HANDS,” with “HERO” in quotes. Why the quotes? Dalrymple said:

I feel that it’s being used to placate us — gaslighting this entire situation. A ‘we signed up for this’ kind of thing. But we didn’t. We didn’t sign up to go into a room without proper gear. . . . They can’t be throwing this word around just to make it seem like, ‘Oh, it’s okay that they’re dying. It’s because they’re heroes.’

Right. Nurses have always faced the virtuous-angel narrative, in which they get lip service but are expected to endure abuse and resource shortages without complaint. But now, the “hero” narrative seems to be functioning in a somewhat similar way for everyone on the Covid-19 front lines. If we call them heroes enough, and have the Blue Angels fly overhead to say thanks, then apparently it’s OK that we are still not giving them the PPE, tests, and other supplies they need. 

On the whole, because of the detail about what nurses actually do, the material about the history of nursing, and the reporting on nursing advocacy—particularly the PPE protests—the piece is an unusually valuable one in the Covid-19 category. We thank those responsible.

See the article by Dan Zak and Monica Hesse “Nurses are trying to save us from the virus, and from ourselves,” posted on April 28, 2020 on the Washington Post website.

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

Nurses are nuts or do they just need “secretaries?”

 

Nurses Are Nuts by Anthony Langley, RN

 

 

 

 

Anthony Langley contacted me to ask if he could send me a copy of his book to review and possibly discuss on my Blog. I am always happy to support a fellow nurse who takes the plunge and writes a book about nursing, so I said sure.

 

 

 

About the Author

Anthony Langley has been a registered nurse for twenty-nine years. He also has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. His interest in nursing started after getting a job as a security officer in the emergency room of a hospital. A male nurse who worked in the emergency room showed him the things that nurses did, which got him interested in nursing.

Anthony Langley

He got his bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1990. At his first job, he started on a medical-surgical unit. He has worked in many areas of the hospital, which include surgical stepdown unit, surgical intensive care, same-day surgery, and the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) recovery room.

 

 

Continue reading “Nurses are nuts or do they just need “secretaries?””

She Writes University Classes–Free Until May 31

I am happy to pass along a gift from my publisher, She Writes Press, plus SparkPress. Together they are offering free She Writes University classes. Timely since we, writers/authors, are sequestered in our homes because of COVID-19. I, for one, will be happy to learn something new while taking a break from thinning out my files, learning how to digitalize hundreds of old photos and chaining myself to my desk to work on book #2, and last but not least, snacking most of the day.

Thanks Crystal, Brooke and the digital team.

I hope you enjoy the following classes.

 

Dear Authors,

Last week we notified you that we’d be offering several She Writes University classes at zero cost. A dozen of these classes are now up and available—for you and to share with your friends and networks.

These classes will be free for 60 days, until May 31. They can be viewed by entering your email address, and you can browse the offerings here:  http://shewritesuniversity.com/free

We hope you’re all staying healthy and strong. We’re thinking about all of you every day.

—Crystal, Brooke, and our amazing digital team who put this offer together.

Webinar Series

FREE UNTIL MAY 31

Usually $197, these courses span hours of materials that breakdown how to edit, prep and publish your book like a pro.

These She Writes University classes are coming out of the vault and are available only until May 31, 2020.

Watch for more classes releasing each week!