Editor’s Corner, November 2007
I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving.
We all complain about this and that during the rush of our daily lives, often forgetting all the many blessings that we have. Sometimes it's a good thing to stop, reflect and take a quick account of our lives.
November is that kind of a month. It's the month of falling leaves and the weather turning a bit nippy. The season for those shopping catalogs appearing one after the other in our mailboxes. Surely, this is the time to shop as well as to be jolly.
This month we are again paying our respects to some of the great nurses who have served their communities with great care for many years. We are honored to be in their presence, even if posthumously.
In addition to other short news items, we also present you our featured article about Cruise Ship Nurses. We hope you'll enjoy them all.
A reminder – you can still enter our drawing to win a fabulous CRUISE GETAWAY FOR TWO !
Click Here to register by December 31st, 2007 and participate in Jan 3, 2008 drawing.
The lucky winner will have a great all-expenses paid vacation for two in BAHAMAS or MEXICO to start the new year right. Visit our FREE GETAWAY FOR TWO page for details.
Ugur Akinci, Ph.D.
HEADLINE NURSING NEWS
11/15/2007 - Ugur Akinci, Ph.D., Nurse-Recruiter.com
Rochester, NY Maternity Nurse Honored
13WHAM TV channel of Rochester, NY has a unique tradition of inviting its viewers every month to nominate a nurse that has made a special difference in their lives. The top nominee wins the station's "Nurse of the Month" award.
This past month, the "people's choice" award went to Aileen Bowers, a labor nurse at Unity Hospital who has been delivering babies for the last 29 years.
The 13WHAM viewers stressed the selfless manner in which Bowers helped her community for almost three decades.
Diane Nau, RN, of the Unity Family Birth Center, is quoted saying, "[Bowers] is very caring of all of her patients. She takes care of the whole patient, not only just the medical part, but the whole patient."
Thanking for the honor, Bowers said "I've never wanted to do anything else. I think that it is the most phenomenal experience a woman can experience and it gives her the confidence to know that, 'if I can give birth to my baby, I can do anything!' And I think that's so important nowadays."
RN Carolyn L. Smith Remembered Fondly for Her 42-year Career
Carolyn L. Smith, 63, of Kansas City was remembered fondly after her demise in October due to metastatic lung cancer. Working for 42 years as a neonatal nurse at Menorah Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Smith served as a mentor for generations of young nurses.
People referred to Smith as their "Guardian Angel" for a good reason: Smith established close relationships with the families of the babies that she cared for so much. And the families returned the love and care. Every Christmas Smith would receive a load of cards containing the pictures of the babies that she nurtured into safety and good health.
Her colleagues held her in high esteem as well. Candy Batten, who worked with Smith side by side in the same unit since 1970, remembered Smith as follows: "When you take care of premature babies, you become a second mom to them. As a nurse, [Smith] was a very caring person. Our parents sensed that and loved her. We are devastated [for losing her]. She was our nurturer, a mentor to the younger staff. And she was more like a sister to me. She was in my wedding. Carolyn and I took karate lessons, just to do something special together."
In 2002, Smith was selected Menorah's Nurse of the Year. May she rest in peace.
McHenry County College, IL May Offer Nursing Degree
If all goes well, McHenry County College (MCC) of Illinois may start to offer an associate's degree program in nursing next fall. The program is awaiting Illinois Community College Board's green light.
Joan Flanagan, Dean of MCC's Health Career Programs and nursing administrator, commented on the information sessions held about the program: "Each session has been attended by roughly 30 or 40 individuals of all different ages and backgrounds."
Currently, the college offers a Licensed Practical Nurse certificate program through its partnership with Rock Valley College.
"Healing Touch" Therapy Going Mainstream
"Healing touch therapy" might be the next frontier of "alternative health care" for nurses and physicians alike. What once once regarded an off-beat and avant guard "new age" procedure is gaining new acceptance in hospitals around the country, according to a USA TODAY report by Phil Galewitz.
Statistical data is hard to come by but at least in the case of Susan Iliff, a retired nurse who was treated successfully by "healing touch" at the Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California between 2002 and 2005, the anecdotal evidence sounds encouraging.
The procedure involved a nurse slowly guiding her hand "along Iliff's legs and feet and then lightly touch[ing] her elbows, wrists and forehead, stopping at each point for about a minute. By the end of the 30-minute session, Iliff would fall asleep in her hospital bed."
Apparently at least 100 hospitals have been offering the "healing touch" therapy for the last 15 years, according to USA TODAY.
Healing Touch International, a non-profit Colorado-based group that certifies "healing touch" practitioners, said about 86,000 nurses offer "healing touch" therapy in hospital and home settings. However, insurance companies still do not recognize it as a legitimate medical procedure and they do not reimburse expenses. That's why hospitals that provide it do so as a free service and absorb the cost.
Even the more skeptical nurses are giving "healing touch" a second thought after their own significant encounters with the technique.
Karen Lynch, a pain management nurse at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio is one such case. Lynch started as an unbeliever and thought the whole idea of healing people by touching was "a little kooky." But when she herself developed abdominal pains shortly after, she tried "healing touch" and was amazed at the results.
"In a few minutes, the pain was completely relieved," Lynch is quoted by USA TODAY. "That's when I started wondering what was going on with this stuff and began getting trained in it."
Ethnic Minority Nurse Coalition Celebrated its 10th Anniversary
The National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA) celebrated its 10th anniversary on November 1st with the participation of the members of the Congress and Capitol Hill staffers in Washington DC.
Among the honorees present at the ceremony were Dr. Clifton Poodry, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, NIH; Ronald A. Williams, Chair and CEO, AETNA; William Lucas, V.P., PHRMA; Derrick Humphries, Esq., Humphries & Partners, PLLC; Dr. Patricia A. Grady, Director, National Institute of Nursing Research, NIH; Dr. Annette Debisette, Director, Division of Nursing ,DHHS; Dr. John Ruffin, Director, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, NIH; Craig Byrum, Oncology Nursing Society Foundation; and Steve Hauber, Publisher and CEO, GANNETT Healthcare Group.
NCEMNA is made up of the five national ethnic nurse associations: the Asian American/Pacific Islander Nurses Association (AAPINA), the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association, Inc. (NANAINA), the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), the National Black Nurses Association, Inc., (NBNA), and the Philippine Nurses Association of America, Inc., (PNAA).
Dr. Betty Smith Williams, NCEMNA President said "to the best of our knowledge, NCEMNA is the only comprehensive health related ethnic minority coalition in existence."
For more information, contact Ethan F. Allen, Communications
Texas Nurses Push to Mandate Staff-to-Patient Ratio
With the demand for more nurses at an all-time high, nurse-to-patient ratios in many hospitals have also hit an all time low. The result is more pressure on nurses to deliver more services quicker while working longer shifts.
If Texas nurses can help it, they'd like to put an end to what they characterize as an "unsafe" trend in health care by legislating mandatory minimum staff-to-patient ratios.
"We don't have time to know the patients or the time to assess them well enough," a Texan nurse is quoted by the Valley Morning Star. "And a lot of nurses have left (the hospital) because of it."
The push is spearheaded by California nursing organizations since the Golden State passed a law in 1999 requiring at least a 1-to-2 nurse-to-patient ratio in intensive care and 1-to-5 in a regular medical unit.
The existing research supports the nurses' claim that such mandatory ratios is crucial for proper care of the patients.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that hospitals with low staffing levels had higher rates of pneumonia, cardiac arrest, post-operative infections and shock.
A report published in the Journal Health Affairs in 2006 stated that 6,700 deaths and 60,000 negative outcomes could be avoided if the hospitals increased their staff numbers to match the top hospitals in the United States.
The scientific research seems to be on the side of the Texan nurses despite the fact that the bill is opposed by both Texas Hospital Association and Texas Nurses Association.
"Ratios don't look at the nurse's education, the technology available in the unit, or what other caregivers are present, for example," is how Elizabeth Sjoberg, associate general counsel for Texas Hospital Association is quoted. "The state's nurse-staffing rules provide flexibility."
Claire Jordan, executive director of Texas Nurses Association also opposes mandated ratios, and said she favored "patient-centered staffing."
"There are a lot of variables in any situation, and ratios should differ according to patients' needs as well as the nurses' skills. One ratio doesn't fit all," Jordan added.
This story is still developing.
Featured Article : Cruise Ship Nurses Have their Cake and Eat It Too
Ugur Akinci, Ph.D., Nurse-Recruiter.com
NR – Featured Article for November 2007 Newsletter
Most people work a life time so that when they retire they can travel around the world.
Registered nurses who work on cruise ships pray they don't retire so that they can continue traveling around the world. Theirs is one of the most sought after traveling nurse jobs.
What kind of qualities a cruise ship nurse is expected to bring to the job?
First of all, she (or he) has to have experience in ER and ICU settings since when emergencies occur on a ship, usually there is no time or opportunity to consult with other physicians and nurses like at a hospital. She has to have that kind of self-confidence and experience to handle all medical care needs of about 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew. A ship of that size typically carries two physicians and three nurses, as mandated by law. Smaller ships may employ just one doctor and two nurses.
Secondly, cruise ship nurses (CSN) must also have excellent cross-cultural and social skills since their job puts them int ouch with passengers and crew from dozens of different nationalities and cultures. Interpersonal skills are paramount for such nurses.
Most CSNs in the United States work for the two largest cruise lines: Carnival and Holland America.
Here is Carnival's official requirements list for a CSN:
" The Ship's Nurses are responsible to care for the nursing needs (routine and emergency needs) of the guests and crew. Registered Nurses with valid registration in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, or European Union country with a minimum of three recent years of emergency or critical care nursing experience with competency in emergency/critical care nursing care are eligible to apply. Current BLS certification is required. Current ACLS certification (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) or its equivalent, is highly recommended. Some willingness to learn simple laboratory/x-ray procedures. Must be proficient with IV cannulation and venipuncture. Must have a positive mental attitude and an ability to work with people of different nationalities in a close intense environment. Applicants must pass a medication administration exam, demonstrate adequate experience with nursing procedures on our skills check list and must pass a pre-employment physical examination and be deemed fit for duty at sea. Basic computer knowledge and proficiency is also required. Fluent in English."
Holland America recruits nurses licensed in the U.S. or Canada and with at least four years of ER, ICU or CCU experience. Most Holland America nurses actually have "10 years of experience or more in emergency," according to Sally Van Boheemen, head of Holland America's medical department.
The ability to think fast in an emergency, take initiative and work independently with good triage and assessment skills is among the chief job requirements for a ship nurse.
Susie Lilly, RN, a lead nurse for Holland America Line, summarized what it takes to be a good ship nurse well in this quote published in a press report: "Nursing on a cruise ship is kind of like frontier medicine. You don't have the ancillary personnel on a ship. We're respiratory therapists, X-ray techs, lab techs, critical care nurses and mother to about 700 crew. Anything can come through the doors-except motor vehicle collisions, which are rare. The crew work with different types of machinery and equipment, and accidents can and do happen."
Ship nurses go through security and ship evacuation training since they are expected to organize emergency medical evacuations and accompany a crew or passenger by helicopter all the way to a hospital.
Another requirement is the willingness to do one's own paperwork since ship nurses do not have the support of any clerical staff. They file in their own insurance claims and keep their own set of medical records on every crew and passenger.
Sometimes the nurses are employed as independent contractors, with one to six month contracts. There are ship nurses however who are hired as a regular employee with full benefits as well.
Cruise ship nurses are not necessarily paid better than their land-bound counterparts. But the job comes with its own unique irresistible bonuses.
For example, ship nurses typically work six months at a stretch at sea. But then they take a two months' break before sailing out again. There aren't too many jobs out there with two months paid vacation after every six months.
The scheduling is even better with Holland America lines which allows its nurses to take off for two months after every four months at sea.
Daily shifts are long. On Carnival Ecstasy for example the day nurse works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to be relieved by another nurses between 5 to 8 p.m. The day nurse returns to work at 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. Next morning. Then takes the next day off.
When the ship is at a port, the ship nurses are free to go on shore and enjoy the local scene and the beaches.
Another attractive aspect of ship nursing is the unprecedented opportunity to network and becomes friend with people of all ages, cultures, nationalities and backgrounds. There are a lot of nurses who make life-long friends during cruises and have a place to stay wherever they go around the world.
There is also the sheer beauty of traveling to gorgeous tourist attractions around the world for free, without the need to take extra vacations to see them.
It's hard work that requires the ability to work well with other people and solid ER and ICU skills to meet the challenge of medical emergencies at sea. Yet at the of the day or a long shift there is always that unforgettable sunset over Jamaica or the golden beach at a tropical paradise. And countless friendships formed with well-to-do accomplished people from dozens of countries is the icing on the cake.
Cruise ship nursing is one of those career niches that you might consider for a fantastic change of venue and a professional challenge with its own unique rewards.
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