Friday, May 28, 2010

Change of Shift at "The Makings of a Nurse"

The latest edition of Change of Shift is now up at blog called "The Makings of Nurse". After a hiatus, I actually managed to submit a blog post for this edition, and I look forward to hosting Change of Shift myself at the end of June.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Nurses on the Run

Recently, I was honored to have two chapters published in Nurses on the Run: Why They Come, Why They Stay, a new collection of nurses' stories edited and compiled by Karen Buley, RN, BSN and published by Dog Ear Books. Nurses on the Run is available on Amazon, and is also now listed on Google Books. If you happen to purchase a copy, please consider posting a review on Google Books.

My thanks again to Karen for including me in this exciting project, and please consider ordering a copy or asking your local library to do so!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New York City Is Now a Home Birth Backwater

After the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City on April 3oth, the thirteen midwives who have provided home births to women choosing this option in this city of 8 million people can no longer do so legally. New York law requires that midwives have an obstetrician or hospital as backup when providing home birth services, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stridently opposed home midwifery and home births for years, discouraging their members from supporting or providing medical coverage for midwives.

With one third of all pregnancies in the United States now ending in Caesarean Section, many midwives and supporters of natural childbirth feel that birth has become yet another cash cow for the American medical industry, with home birth becoming more rare (and less legal) as the decades pass. Some American cities and towns have even made public breastfeeding a crime, adding further insult to injury for women who choose natural childbirth and breastfeeding as a lifestyle choice in the interest of the health and well-being of their baby.

Despite the fact that home birth and midwifery are quite popular in other industrialized nations with advanced medical infrastructures (30% of babies in the Netherlands are born at home), the United States medical establishment still vilifies home birth as foolish and dangerous. In fact, the US has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the industrialized world (16.7 per 100,000 live births) as compared to The Netherlands' maternal mortality rate of 7.6% or Italy's rate of 3.9%. Amnesty International has even called the United States' childbirth track record "a human rights crisis".

With the current situation in New York City, home births are now illegal and midwives providing maternal care in the home do so at their own risk and without legal or medical support. As one of the most famous and progressive cities on earth, New York City has now become a home birth backwater, creating a crisis for the midwives and families who choose this natural alternative to the American medical industry's industrialization of childbirth.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everyone's Going to Nursing School

Just today I learned that one of my cousins is getting ready to enter nursing school. With three aunts who were nurses (one of whom served with General Patton during World War II), there is certainly a precedent in our family for some of us to pursue a career in nursing, and a laudable precedent at that. My cousin is yet another person realizing the potential economic benefits of being a nurse at a time when many Americans are searching for a new recession-proof career.

As older nurses continue to retire and the Baby Boomers enter their golden years, the demand for nurses certainly seems to continue unabated. Recent reports, however, indicate that a strained economy is forcing many nurses who used to enjoy part-time or per diem work back into full-time positions, making competition for jobs more challenging for new nurses entering the field. And with nursing schools overwhelmed with applicants and short on professors to teach those fledgling nurses, many would-be nursing students may turn to other allied health professions like Occupational, Physical, or Speech Therapy.

A recent article published in the South Florida Business Journal cites a new study by The Florida Center for Nursing which concludes that attrition from the nursing profession is far greater than the influx of new nurses. For example, in the last two years, the number of nurses in Florida increased by 27,000, however more than 50% of that gain was offset by nurses leaving the field, making the net gain of nurses around 11,000.

With more than 3 million registered nurses in the United States at this time, it's clear that the profession is still holding its own as one of the backbones of the health care industry. Still, with a shortage of qualified professors due to a large wave of retirements and few willing to replace them due to better salaries for clinical positions, all signs indicate that the overall shortage of nurses will continue to plague the United States---and most of the world---for some time to come.

In my view, geriatrics and long term care are sure bets for future nursing job opportunities, and those who are willing to pursue an advanced degree as Nurse Practitioners specializing in geriatrics will likely be readily employable in most regions of the country, especially those areas most popular with retirees.

I am thrilled that my cousin is pursuing the family legacy of a nursing career, and I pray that she will be accepted to the school of her choice and be readily employed upon her graduation. Still, one must be realistic that the calculus of the nursing shortage and the opportunities for employment have indeed changed since the days when new grads waltzed into jobs demanding any salary they pleased. Despite the shortage, competition for jobs is stiff, and the competition to get into nursing school equally as difficult.

For myself, having taken almost a year off for travel and writing, I am readying myself to look for a job in the Santa Fe area where my wife and I plan to spend the summer, if not the next year. While I may be fluent in Spanish and have a relatively impressive resume (home health, community health, hospice, and public health), I have never worked in a hospital and thus am somewhat limited in the type of nursing jobs I can pursue. I do not anticipate finding work to be overly challenging, but in the current climate, I realize that it may not be as simple as it once may have been. And with new grads flooding the market and willing to work for less than seasoned nurses accustomed to higher wages, perhaps finding the perfect part-time nursing job may be more challenging than I originally anticipated.

There's no question that nurses are highly trusted professionals who are sorely needed by an aging population. But in the current economic climate, can enough well-paying jobs be created for the seasoned nurses and new grads who are more than willing to don their scrubs and get to work? Only time---and economic forces---will tell.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Some Notes During Nurses Week

With Nurses Week happening this week, there is a great deal being written and said about nurses in the media. We are indeed one of the backbones of the medical establishment, and while Nurses Week is often glossed over with trinkets, flowers, Hallmark cards and other ephemera, it is indeed helpful to be appreciated and acknowledged from time to time.


During Nurses Week, Dr. Dean over at The Millionaire Nurse Blog is running a 100% anonymous survey with the goal of gathering data on nurses' salaries, investment habits and savings habits in order to help him develop products and services to benefit nurses financially. You can take the survey by clicking here. Everyone who completes the survey will be entered in a drawing for several prizes, so why not give it a try?


Also, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's death, Black Dog Publishing is releasing Nurse: Past, Present and Future---The Making of Modern Nursing, edited by Kate Trant and Susan Usher. This new book examines the evolution of nursing internationally, and readers of Digital Doorway have been offered 40% off the purchase price. If you would like to take advantage of the offer, please email and mention Digital Doorway, or simply email me directly.

Here is a description of the book from their website:

Nurse: Past, Present and Future: The Making of Modern Nursing examines the culture of nursing on all levels, from its historical development to its status today. The book highlights the power and value of nurses worldwide, and traces the evolution of nursing as a career.

Nurse: Past, Present and Future discusses the importance of nursing to economics across the world, the impact of nurse migration patterns. The book traces the evolution of the nurse’s social standing, appearance, education and skill set, and examines some of the key debates now underway. These are put into context with a look at how nursing has progressed through the twentieth century in response to changes in medicine and society.

Includes essays from key figures in nursing and first hand accounts from nurses working today. Thoroughly illustrated, comprehensive and global in scope, Nurse is the first book of its kind, dedicated to the past, present and future of the culture of nursing.


Happy Nurses Week to all, and remember that every patient deserves a nurse!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

101 Blost Posts Every Nurse Should Read

On the blog known as "Online Nurse Practitioner Schools", a new post entitled "101 Blog Posts Every Nurse Should Read" is now published and available. I am humbled that my post, "The Nurse As Sisyphus", is included as #4 on the list. My gratitude to the publishers for this honor.