Archive for April, 2012

Registered Nurses won’t make newspaper headlines, but your local sports pro will

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With Ontario’s Nursing Week approaching, May 7 – 13, posters for the Ontario Nurse’s Association (ONA, our union) campaign on supporting nurses the same way pro-athletes are have been put up around Acme Regional.

The conversation often arises among my colleagues about how a baseball player can make over 20 million dollars a year where 3 or 4 nurses’ lifetime salaries combined will never compare to that. I often feel bitter when I think of those in the business world who receive all sorts of financial and personal incentives for their work. People who go on all expense paid trips because they have sold the most insurance (selling you safety nets in case you fall, but you likely won’t, however you have to have it…) for example that year, meanwhile in that same year I may have resuscitated a child, held the hand of a dying man during his last breath and treated a father of 4 for a heart attack among caring for other incredible people. I received my same pay as always and more importantly, do not expect an incentive. I don’t feel bitter that I’m not getting a trip, I feel bitter that in this society, a pro-athlete or businessman is more supported than nurses. On the other side of the coin, it makes me wonder what sort of nursing culture would be bred if nurses were provided incentives for life saving measures or actions/treatment/education. And what treatments or care would be deemed “more important” than others, garnering a higher incentive? In the emergency department health teaching is imperative; to prevent illness and disease so one could argue that is as important as treating the patient having a stroke. If incentives in nursing existed would the wrong sort of people be attracted to the nursing profession? Some say it’s a calling, the art of the practice; only certain people can and will do the job and do it well have you. It would be worrisome to think that an individual would only want to save a life or teach parents about how to appropriately treat fevers if it meant they would get a financial bonus.

And yet, despite all of this, I still struggle with the fact that people who sell the most cars, buy the most stock in a company, etc… are seemingly more valued and appreciated then those that save lives, give people more time on earth and genuinely (most of us at least) care about humanity. I have a hard time finding the balance in it all. Emergency nursing is in the “business of life saving” is it not? With more and more facilities receiving incentives for improved and rapid physician to patient initial assessment times, where does appreciation for the nurses fall in to all of this?

(See also ONA’s website here and RNAO’s website for nursing week.)

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Nurses Grieve Too

An underexplored or ignored aspect of nursing professional life: how nurses working in a Labour and Delivery unit grieve over the loss of their patients, and how this grief affects care and support of survivors. What is really striking about the film is the culture of mutual support and respect among the nurses working in this unit — I hope it’s real and not just the product of the filmmaker’s eye, but the cynical side of me wants to think it’s idealized.

Though the film’s focus is in L & D, it makes me think of how nurses deal with loss in the Emergency department. The prevailing culture and mores of most EDs does not encourage touchy-feely moments, at least in not many of them. The expectation, frankly, is to suck it up and tough it out. The Emergency department is not for the weak of heart. Shrinking violets need not apply. Et cetera. But the question is whether we as nurses are able to provide good care to our patients without acknowledging and reflecting on how grief affects us. Or whether unacknowledged and unvalidated grief leads to higher burnout — and also some unintended psychological effects like PSTD.

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Favourite Poems LVIII: And You as Well Must Die, Belovèd Dust | Edna St. Vincent Millay

You sometimes forget about authors. They sort of fall out of your head. Expect more Millay in the future.

And You as Well Must Die, Belovèd Dust

And you as well must die, belovèd dust,
And all your beauty stand you in no stead;
This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead
Than the first leaf that fell,this wonder fled,
Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.
Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.
In spite of all my love, you will arise
Upon that day and wander down the air
Obscurely as the unattended flower,
It mattering not how beautiful you were,
Or how belovèd above all else that dies.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Friday Night Flicks: Follow the Sun

A little freaky, a little insane, this creepy short (according to the press kit) “concerns a couple of hot dogs, a bag of potato chips, and other assorted snack items as they are besieged by the end times.”

[Couch mode here.]


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Top 10 Lists Nurses Probably Should NOT Publish on their Blogs

The Top Ten:

1. Top 10 Reasons I Should Be Reported to My Professional Regulatory Agency

2. Top 10 Medications Errors I Have Made (and How to Avoid Them)

3. Top 10 Funny Things to Call Patients

4. Top 10 Narcotics and Their Side Effects: Using Personal Experience to Enhance Your Practice

5. Top 10 Reasons Why My Criminal Record Should Be Expunged

6. Top 10 Sick Call Excuses to Give Your Manager

7. Top 10 Ways to Frighten Children on in an Emergency Situation 

8. Top 10 Buttons to Push on a Defibrillator

9. Top 10 Ways to Fake Arrhythmia Analysis

10. Top 10 Things to Talk about During a Code Blue

My own personal list. Feel free to add.


How Nurses View Themselves

A selection of “What I Actually Do” meme posters” related to nursing, which have been making the rounds on the Interwebs. Some of them, I guess, are funny and clever, and they’re meant (I suppose) to educate the public at large about the realities of nursing. But what I think is interesting is the way they reflect nurses’ perceptions of themselves, and how nurses perceive how others view them. Some common themes: nurse as lazy (by managers), nurse as bimbo, nurse as angel, nurse as waitress/bellhop, nurse as money-grubbing, nurse as menial. What do you guys think of them? Do they actually represent how nurses view themselves?












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Jean, RN

I’d like to start off by saying how truly flattered I was and am to be asked to write with this blog.  I’ve admired the diversity in content and the nursing/healthcare related issues this blog has brought to my attention that I wouldn’t likely be aware of otherwise. I never mentioned to J Doe that I knew about the blog as I wanted to respect the desire to remain anonymous as had been written about and I didn’t want to skew or change the material if J knew someone knew. I also liked trying to figure out who the nurses behaving badly were! I’ve worked with the J Doe since I was a pre-grad nursing student. The early years where I once called a code blue for a patient peacefully sleeping with a lengthy run of reperfusion V-Tach post thrombolytic, and I neglected to actually check the patient and shouted (I mean shouted) CODE BLUE, as the patient woke up and looked at me, then I yelled, pleading after to “CANCEL CODE BLUE, I DIDN’T MEAN IT” as it sounded overhead through the hospital. I must have come a long way!

I’m nervous in many ways but excited to finally put “pen to paper” or fingers to keys, the thoughts, feelings, and sometimes discontent you could say, that can surround Emergency Nursing and discuss issues that I’m sure transcend all of our careers no matter where we practice.  I often just let those ideas float away into the depths of my brain never to be shared or only to discuss them with my spouse and close nursing friends. The idea of sharing them with the internet blogging world is pretty amazing and equally terrifying.

A few things about myself:

I grew up in Suburbia and went into Nursing directly out of high school, starting at 17.  I still look 17.

I did my Bachelor of Health Science Degree in Nursing in an Ontario University and thought most of it was a waste of time, not focusing on the core courses and skills we would truly need. I once petitioned for more clinical time each week (2-3 days/week instead of 1 in our 2nd year) and was informed I needed to stop being a trouble maker. I think I was labelled from then on.

I’ve been working at Acme Regional in the ED since I graduated. I had an exceptional preceptor and mentor and feel thankful for learning from someone who truly enjoys teaching. I truly admire those who can be great teachers and hope to teach at the bedside myself one day once I feel that I won’t create a monster.

I look forward to meeting new and interesting individuals within the nursing blogosphere with various backgrounds, views and opinions. You are all an inspiration.


What I Have Learned from Nursing

The world of nursing on a couple of dozen flash cards. From The Nursing Channel on YouTube. While I don’t agree necessarily with every card — some of them, I think, play into some old stereotypes on how nurses behave —  it’s still  a fresh perspective on nursing. What do you think?

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In Which TorontoEmerg is So Busted, or, Welcome, Jean Hill

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a colleague, whom I will call Jean Hill, and by-the-by the conversation fell to nurse bloggers. Several prominent ones were mentioned, like Crass-Pollination and Emergiblog and Nerdy Nurse.

“Oh,” said Jean Hill innocently. “I wish I could write like these guys.”

At which point your humble blogger’s eyes began to sparkle rather a cat’s contemplating a mouse. Come in my parlour, said the spider to the fly, I thought. You see, dear readers, I have been contemplating the addition of a co-blogger for some time. *

Nurse Jean Hill. (Dramatic reconstruction. Not intended to be an actual image.)

But how to lure the prey?

I told Jean Hill to meet me in the ambulance bay after shift. I told her portentously I had something I needed to ask her.

So later, in the ambulance bay, I told Jean Hill about this blog, my anonymity and whether or not she would like to come aboard the Good Ship Those Emergency Blues as a co-blogger.

She would, she said. She would be pleased. She had, she said, been reading the blog for a long time.

“So you knew about Those Emergency Blues?” I asked, secretly very pleased that someone from Acme Regional was reading it.

“Oh yes,” she replied. “And, you know, I knew it was you all the time.”

Oh crap. “Really?”

“Well, you sometimes talk like the blog, so I figured it out.”

By which, I suppose, she means I speak in a pedantic, self-important, pompous manner, but was too kind to say so. At any rate, I am very pleased Jean Hill has come to write here. I think she will be writing once or twice a week (hopefully more!) beginning in a few days on topics which interest her. Since this is her first time publicly writing a few small words of encouragement will be welcome.


*For mostly selfish reasons, i.e. to ensure there is more content consistently posted, to free up time so I can write better for this blog, to work on some other writing projects, etc.

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Friday Night Flicks: Undercity

A very cool, slightly edgy exporation of New York City’s underbelly, guided by guerilla historian Steve Duncan. Duncan’s website can be found here. Worth watching for the exploration of the abandoned subway station alone.

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