Nurse of the Week: Tennessee Nurse Saman Perera Fights Healthcare Inequality through Doctors Without Borders

Nurse of the Week: Tennessee Nurse Saman Perera Fights Healthcare Inequality through Doctors Without Borders

Our Nurse of the Week is Saman Perera, a Tennessee-native nurse fighting healthcare inequality through Doctors Without Borders. Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Hendersonville, TN, Perera decided to join Doctors Without Borders after graduating from nursing school and is now setting an example for his community on how to get involved in global humanitarian efforts.

After attending the University of Illinois for his bachelor’s degree in nursing and Vanderbilt University for his master’s degree, Perera embarked on his first mission to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake to help with the cholera outbreak there. His missions have also taken him to work in primary care in the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the frontlines of Chad treating war-wounded victims.

However, Perera was most recently stationed on a two-month medical mission in Bentiu, South Sudan, working in a refugee camp hospital made up of 130,000 residents. The camp was created as a result of a civil war breakout in the area. Although his missions often take him to volatile, war-torn environments lacking housing and running water, Perera says the toughest aspect of his job is managing the emotions involved. Perera has found that the best way to cope with the emotions of treating victims of war is to focus on task-oriented jobs like training local nurses.

For Perera, his work with Doctors Without Borders goes beyond just nursing and medicine. He tells UTDailyBeacon.com, “I realized that medicine, for me, is a Band-Aid to something a lot bigger; we’re talking wars, huge injustices, malnutrition in countries like Congo. For me, my presence there and the presence of Doctors Without Borders is more than medicine, it’s a way of saying injustice is not okay.”

Perera recently moved to Knoxville, TN after returning from his two-month mission in South Sudan. He plans to work as a hospital nurse practitioner while he prepares for another Doctors Without Borders mission trip. In his spare time, Perera encourages other current and future healthcare workers to get involved in global aid and serve those in need.

To learn more about Perera’s time as a medical mission nurse for Doctors Without Borders, visit here.

New Jonas Philanthropies Launches to Serve Nurses and Vulnerable Populations

New Jonas Philanthropies Launches to Serve Nurses and Vulnerable Populations

Barbara and Donald Jonas, founders of The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, recently unveiled a new vision to support the country’s most vulnerable citizens through Jonas Philanthropies. Building on more than a decade of high-impact investments in nursing scholarship, leadership, and innovation, Jonas Philanthropies will begin expanding the organization’s scope to fund other scalable solutions aimed at the most vulnerable and neglected.

According to a press release from JonasPhilanthropies.com, “The organization’s new model will invest where it matters most – meeting needs of the country’s most vulnerable citizens with high-impact solutions to transform healthcare.”

The Jonases have always had a deep passion for the nursing industry and its integral role as the backbone of the American healthcare system. Their venture began over a decade ago when they decided to sell their impressive art collection to fund the basic human needs of healthcare through their first philanthropic organization, the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare.

Their impact spans the country, funding more than 1,000 doctoral nursing scholars to help care for the most vulnerable populations and improve care for veterans. They have since expanded to help support low vision and blindness and children’s environmental health.

Donald Jonas, Co-founder and President of Jonas Philanthropies, says, “Jonas Philanthropies is an evolution of our work and personal passion, but it also reflects the broader needs of the healthcare industry, which will help ensure its impact and scalability for generations to come. We are incredibly excited to celebrate this next chapter.”

Their new name, Jonas Philanthropies, represents their expansion beyond nursing and veterans care. To learn more about Jonas Philanthropies and their impact on the field of nursing, visit here.

#MeToo: The History of Sexual Assault Against Nurses and How to Report It

#MeToo: The History of Sexual Assault Against Nurses and How to Report It

As the long history of sexual harassment in Hollywood continues to come to light, many other fields are beginning to speak up as well, including the nursing profession. This female-dominated field is not immune to the nationwide issue of sexual assault.

Experts put some of the blame for sexual harassment against nurses on the sexualization of nurses by the media. Sexual harassment of nurses can vary from offensive jokes and sexual comments to unwanted patient advances and hospital physicians assaulting their employees.

Several nurse organizations have published coverage on this issue, including the American Nurses Association (ANA) Position Statement:

“ANA is deeply committed to the principles of civil rights and opposes any form of discrimination against individuals or groups of individuals based on sex, race, age, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. ANA believes that nurses and students of nursing have a right to and responsibility for a workplace free of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment has an adverse impact on the health care environment.”

A 2001 NurseWeek study revealed that 19 percent of nurses surveyed reported being sexually harassed in the previous year. However, underreporting is still a major issue. Many nurses become thick-skinned due to dealing with difficult patients, and this can cause them to make light of the seriousness of sexual harassment.

Hospital procedure usually enables direct-care workers to remove themselves from patient cases where patients have crossed the line, but nurses rarely do so. Many nurses and healthcare workers receive training on how to deal with sexual harassment, especially if they work for a hospital, but training appears to yield limited results.

Despite the issue of underreporting, it is still an employer’s job to create a work environment that prevents sexual harassment. Nurses who are sexually harassed at work often face frustration, emotional distress, and professional setbacks. Many even leave the field altogether. It’s important that nurses watch out for each other and report inappropriate behavior so that hospitals can become safer places to work.

ANA offers this advice on What to Do If You’re Harassed:

  • Confront the harasser, and make it clear the attention is unwanted.
  • Report the harassment to your supervisor or to a higher authority if your supervisor is the harasser. Go to a government agency or the courts if necessary.
  • Document the harassment promptly in writing.
  • Seek support from friends, relatives, colleagues, or your state nurses association.
A Year of Questioning Authority

A Year of Questioning Authority

Creative Nursing: A Journal of Values, Issues, Experience, and Collaboration is a peer-reviewed professional journal, with an overarching theme for each year and a related theme for each of our quarterly issues. Creative Nursing 2017 has been a year of Questioning Authority.

Questioning Authority: What Does It Mean?

Our mission for the year was to examine, evaluate, and criticize the body of knowledge that informs our care. The principles that guided our journey were:

Humanize patient care. Let the people we care for decide how they want to be cared for. The unit of experience is the intervention with the individual. Use common sense – no matter what authority says, do what is right for the patient. Think like a nurse.

Know who and what constitutes authority: Self (conscience, judgment, critical thinking); peers; patients, families, and other caregivers; nurse educators and theorists; physicians and other health care professionals; health care organizations and their policies; regulators; third party payers; national and community leaders; social conventions; the media; evidence-based practice. The list goes on.

Standardization values compliance over creativity. At specific times, standardization and compliance are paramount, but of all the actions nurses take in their professional practice, those times are very few. The rest of the time, we need creative nursing: wide eyes, open ears, open minds, and a healthy skepticism, in order to reimagine the next health care system. Topics in this issue included deferring to expertise before authority, Dorothea Orem and self-care, teaching millennials and Generation Z, and whether virtual simulation and pre-op teaching actually work.

Questioning Authority: What Does It Take?

“It is at the intersection of the self and the other that true reflective practice occurs,” says guest editor and Curry College nursing professor Susan A. LaRocco. In this issue, we talk about what it takes—the attributes (personal and system) required—to challenge assumptions.

It takes courage: Facing fears of retaliation or marginalization; finding strength in trial and error and in failing forward; having confidence in our Ways of Knowing.

How do we process what we dare? Through reflection: debriefing for meaningful learning.

What else does it take? Humility, authenticity, tolerance for disruption, leadership that creates a safe environment for questioning.

Other topics included helping teammates work together through “virtues in common;” healthier work environments for academics and certified nursing assistants; helping new nursing professors become excellent teachers; unintended consequences of some JCAHO mandates; how understanding triggers could help nurses influence health behaviors; and how the movement to establish nursing as a profession distinct from medicine succeeded in the face of paternalism and misogyny.

Questioning Authority: What Does It Look Like?

It crosses boundaries. It is interprofessional, interdisciplinary, and respectful of individuals’ unique personal resources and contributions.

It advocates courageously for patients and families.

It uses science and art to humanize care.

For this issue of Creative Nursing, we found role models, exemplars, and stories of responses to educational and societal silos, inspired uses of simulation and art to humanize care, creative ways to recruit and retain valuable individuals in the nursing profession, and the application of nursing expertise to correct a scientific and cultural wrong number. The most moving story is by Joanne Dunn, from a health care skills simulation lab at the University of Worcester in England. Her depiction of a simulation of a typical busy unit on a typical morning moves us to reject the assumption that simulation lab exercises can never truly replicate what it means to be a nurse.

Questioning Authority: What is the Impact?

In this issue of Creative Nursing we explored the impact on both process and outcomes, for both patients and those who care for them, in all arenas. We highlight a nurse theorist (Margaret Newman) who went against prevailing views of what constitutes health and illness; a biomedical scientist who questions currently accepted treatment for patients with breast carcinoma in situ; and a nurse and former Minnesota state senator who found the legislature to be a practice setting in which challenging assumptions and demanding reliable, authoritative, scientific justification for existing or new law is the major function of the role.

We invite you to experience the wisdom of our thought leaders, and to consider making your own contributions to Creative Nursing. To learn more about the journal, visit www.springerpub.com/cn.

Nurses Respond After AMA Launches ‘Turf War’ Over Direct Patient Access

Nurses Respond After AMA Launches ‘Turf War’ Over Direct Patient Access

Following opposition efforts from the American Medical Association (AMA) on new policies that allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to practice independently of physician supervision, many nursing groups have expressed upset over the ‘turf war’ between nursing and doctor groups. There are four types of APRN roles: nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, and certified nurse midwife.

According to Forbes.com, “AMA opposes ‘the continual, nationwide efforts to grant independent practice…to non-physician practitioners’ including advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).” AMA, the nation’s largest doctor group, voted at a policy meeting last week in a move designed to combat a national strategy to allow APRNs more direct access to patients.

This new national lobbying strategy from the AMA has been spurred by many states and branches of federal government moving to allow APRNs more direct access to patients without physician supervision. Just last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs granted APRNs direct access to veterans in a landmark decision.

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has accused the AMA of perpetuating “the dangerous and erroneous narrative that APRNs are trying to ‘act’ as physicians and are unqualified to provide timely, effective and efficient care,” as reported by Forbes.com.

[APRNs] practice advanced nursing, not medicine, in which they regularly consult, collaborate and refer as necessary to ensure that the patient receives appropriate diagnosis and treatment. For AMA to imply that APRNs are incapable of providing excellent care or that their care puts the patient at risk is blatantly dishonest. The future of health care calls on health care professionals to work together as a team to meet the growing demand for health care services. 

Pamela Cipriano

President, ANA

Nurse groups like ANA and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) have spoken out about the benefits of new state and federal laws that allow direct access as an effort to speed up care to patients. It is part of a larger nationwide move toward value-based care which has also been recognized by government and private insurers who emphasize getting treatment in the right place at the right time, meaning care is often given upfront in a primary care setting where nurses are on the front lines.

To learn more about this ‘turf war’ between doctor and nursing groups debating which health care providers should have direct access to patients, visit here.

Michigan State University College of Nursing Begins Program to Fight Human Trafficking

Michigan State University College of Nursing Begins Program to Fight Human Trafficking

Michigan State University’s (MSU) College of Nursing has taken a step toward increasing reporting and minimizing human trafficking by creating a training program to teach students about this serious public health issue. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 943 human trafficking cases have been reported in the state of Michigan from 2007 to 2017. The Health Law Center has announced that human trafficking has reached an alarming level in the US.

MSU Professional Program Coordinator Kathy Forrest tells StateNews.com, “Human trafficking is very prevalent in the United States. It is a form of human slavery, human bondage. It’s a public health issue for the individuals who are being trafficked. It is often an underground activity that is spread by social media and affects the vulnerable among us.”

StateNews.com cites that 138 individuals in the MSU College of Nursing have completed the online course for human trafficking which requires professionals to take the training to get or renew a new license or registration. Professionals who are required to satisfy the trainings include nurses, counselors, physicians, social workers, and massage therapists. The training includes learning the types and venues of human trafficking in the US and in Michigan, how to identify victims in health care settings, how to identify warning signs, and what resources are available for reporting.

MSU Clinical Associate Professor of Osteopathic Specialties Alan Janssen wants to increase awareness of the public health issue and educate nurses and other healthcare professionals on how to address the problem. He also hopes that increased awareness will lead to better treatment resources.

To learn more about MSU’s online course on human trafficking and steps to begin combatting this dangerous issue, visit here.


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