Nursing students, nursing schools, school nurses grounded after school closures, and retired nurses are all joining the fight against the rising pandemic.
Here are just a few
examples to be found across the United States:
Belhaven’s School of Nursing are performing community outreach and
educating the public on how to protect themselves and others from the
virus. Students are teaching infection-control techniques, discussed
sanitation practices with the college’s operations team, and have
posted instructions in campus dorms on maintaining safe hygiene.
Senior Rebecca Rylander tells Jackson’s WJTV,
“There is a desperate need for healthcare workers amidst this
pandemic, and I want to help fill that need.”
Long Island, New
At nursing and
medical programs in Long Island, students barred from immediate
contact with patients are playing an active role behind the scenes
and on the front lines. While medical students at the Renaissance
School of Medicine in Stonybrook are conducting online research and
serving patients via telehealth sessions, the Barbara H. Hagan School
of Nursing and Health Sciences tells Newsday
that they have “alumni, graduate students and faculty working in
emergency rooms and testing sites, and undergraduates are working or
volunteering as nursing assistants.”
School nurses have
volunteered at Darien High School’s COVID-19 testing station. Lisa
Grant, a school district nurse at Hindley School, said “We had been
asking our director what we can do to help so when Darien signed up
for a site, we volunteered.” Yvonne Dempsey, of Ox Ridge School was
also ready to help out. Dempsey told the Darien
Times, “As nurses, we put ourselves out there any way we can. I
figured that’s something I can do in my free time with the schools
closed.” She adds, “Testing is the key — testing and isolation
as much as possible is the only way to stop the spread.”
Massachusetts, Caldwell, New Jersey, and elsewhere
In response to calls
from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing faculty
at colleges, universities, and community colleges are rushing to
donate supplies of everything from masks to isolation gowns, to hand
sanitizer. “This is a time when we all need to come together as a
community and work cooperatively to fight this pandemic for the
health and safety of everyone,” MassBay Community College President
David Podell told the Framingham
Source. Jennifer Rhodes, DNP, a faculty member at Caldwell
University’s School of Nursing and Public Health, remarked,
“As a former emergency room nurse, I cannot imagine what they are
experiencing on the front lines right now.”
Retired nurses are
also answering individual states’ call for help. Nebraska
TV spoke to 61-year-old Mary Steiner, a former emergency response
nurse, has volunteered for the Central Nebraska Reserve Core. As she
waits to put to use her training in natural disaster and emergency
preparedness, Mary remarks, “If it’s something that becomes as
serious as what’s going on in New York City right now… They’re
wanting all hands on deck and so regardless of what my workplace
setting has been in the past I know they’re going to be able to use
years after their dispute began, Brigham
and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) have
reached an agreement and approved a new two-year
contract deal. The union representing Brigham and Women’s hospital supports
over 3,400 nurses who accused the hospital of putting profits ahead of patient
2016, nurses from Brigham threatened a historic
one-day strike. Both sides ultimately reached a contract deal to avoid the
strike the day before it was set to begin what would have been the largest
walkout of nurses in state history. Prior to the strike being called off,
Brigham had planned to lock out the striking nurses for four additional days by
hiring temporary replacements and transferring hundreds of patients to other
nurses union has continued to clash with other hospital executives since then,
carrying out a strike at Tufts Medical Center in 2017 and pushing a
controversial ballot question to regulate nurse staffing levels in hospitals in
2018, which was rejected by voters.
new agreement shows a drastic change in attitude from all sides. Contract negotiations
between Brigham and the nurses association had reached a bitter point prior to
the cancelled strike in 2016. But this time around, the talks were very
different and all sides can take part in celebrating a new agreement between the
and Women’s Hospital released the following statement
following the new contract deal: “The process of negotiations was collaborative
and respectful as the hospital and the MNA worked to achieve our mutual goal:
ensuring that nurses have a safe, supportive environment in which to provide
the best care for patients.”
new contract will take place retroactively to last October and expire in September
2020. The deal includes a 12 percent raise over two years for nurses in their
first 19 years on the job and a 4.5 percent increase for nurses at the top of
the wage scale. The contract also maintains pensions and other existing
To learn more about the new two-year
contract deal between Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Nurses
Association three years after avoiding a historic strike, visit here.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) is trying a
second time to establish patient limits in state legislation. This comes six
months after losing a ballot question in the November 2018 state election.
As reported by the Boston Business Journal, the current legislation being reviewed now would hire an independent researcher to study issues affecting nurses, such as staffing, violence, injuries, and quality of life. The data collected by the researcher will then be used by state legislators to determine healthcare staffing needs and acute care patient limits.
“If these studies determine there is a best practice limit on the number of patients a nurse should care for at one time, that should inform future policy discussions,” MNA spokesman Joe Markman told the Boston Business Journal.
The original measure from this past election was defeated
largely because of lobbying from the Massachusetts Health & Hospital
Association (MHA), who spent $25 million to defeat the ballot. This current
bill would be revisiting the same legislation, which raises points for state
consideration regarding nurse staffing measures.
“The recent ballot measure raised important issues and challenges that our nurses still face today regarding their ability to give patients the quality care they need and deserve,” Massachusetts state Senator Diana DiZoglio, a sponsor of the current legislation, shared with the Boston Business Journal in an email. “While the policy prescription on the ballot was rejected by the majority of voters, we still need to remain vigilant in identifying best practices to ensure the very best patient care is afforded to all.”
MNA has been working to get nurse-to-patient ratios at all Massachusetts
hospitals for several years, including a ballot measure in 2014 that was removed,
after Governor Deval Patrick passed a law patient limit law. Markman said this
study is necessary to convince voters, after the 2018 election.
“The hospital industry spent … million(s) misleading people about those facts and sometimes outright lying,” Markman told the Boston Business Journal. “For example, they continuously said ED wait times would increase with safe patient limits. That is just wrong and not supported by the evidence. Based on how the industry ran its campaign, it’s clear the public will benefit from additional independent studies.”
From 2014 to 2017, physician burnout increased by 5% at the Massachusetts General Hospital Physicians Organization in Boston, according to a recent analysis.
Other research indicates that nearly half of physicians nationwide are experiencing burnout symptoms, and a study published in October found burnout increases the odds of physician involvement in patient safety incidents, unprofessionalism, and lower patient satisfaction. Burnout has also been linked to negative financial effects at physician practices and other healthcare organizations.
The research published in JAMA found exhaustion and cynicism were the primary drivers of increased burnout at Mass General. The research was based on survey data collected from more than 1,700 physicians.
The survey data showed exhaustion increased from 52.9% in 2014 to 57.7% in 2017, and cynicism increased from 44.8% in 2014 to 51.1% in 2017.
The exhaustion finding was particularly troubling, the JAMA researchers wrote. “We found physicians were more vulnerable to emotional exhaustion than any of the other subscales of burnout. Physicians reporting high levels of exhaustion were more likely to reduce their clinical schedules, reduce the number of patients in their practice, leave the practice, or retire.”
The researchers noted that physician turnover has several costs including patient and clinician distress as well as the expense of replacing physicians, which can be as high as three times a doctor’s annual salary.
Primary care physicians reported higher levels of exhaustion compared to medical specialists. “These findings may be associated with the amount of time primary care physicians spend documenting on the EHR and serving as the clinicians responsible for the management of patients’ multiple complex medical and social problems,” the researchers wrote.
Burnout data points
The JAMA article has several other key data points:
- Early-career physicians who had less than a decade of practice experience since their training were more susceptible to burnout than veteran physicians.
- The higher burnout rate in 2017 may be linked to implementation of a new electronic health record system because average time devoted to administrative tasks increased from 23.7% in 2014 to 27.9% in 2017, and increased time spent on administrative tasks was linked to higher burnout.
- Several favorable working conditions were associated with lower odds of burnout: workflow satisfaction, positive relationships with colleagues, time and resources for continuing medical education, opportunities to impact decision making, and having a trusted adviser.
Addressing physician burnout
The lead author of the research, Marcela del Carmen, MD, MPH, explained that the physician group has implemented several efforts to reduce burnout.
“We have allocated funding to each of our 16 clinical departments to develop and institute initiatives to mitigate burnout in their departments. We have central efforts including sponsoring social events to enhance connectivity amongst the faculty, efforts to improve our use of the electronic health record through personal- and practice-level training, and funding to support peer-to-peer coaching programs, yoga, and meditation sessions.”
Del Carmen’s research team also suggested that burnout prevention efforts could be tailored for early-career physicians, who reported relatively high dissatisfaction with department leadership, relationships with colleagues, quality of care delivery, control over work environment, and career fit.
“These findings point to potential opportunities in this vulnerable group to mitigate burnout, such as initiatives that promote community building and networking and harnessing effective leadership,” the researchers wrote.
This story was originally posted on MedPage Today.
Jeffrey Ballard, R.N. and Army Veteran, began his medical career as an emergency medical technician (EMT). After gaining experience as a paramedic and a licensed practical nurse (LPN), he became a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at a Level 1 Trauma Center. He was deployed to Afghanistan two years later as an infantry medic, where he sustained injuries in combat. Following a year and a half of surgeries and physical therapy back home, Ballard returned to emergency nursing, but his struggle with PTSD prompted his departure within a year.
Ballard received care at the Manchester VA Medical Center, and he decided to continue his nursing career there. “I wanted other Veterans to have the same comfort I experienced,” he said.
Today, Ballard has been working with the VA for nearly five years and serves in a program that helps elderly Veterans maintain their independence. Working alongside compassionate nurses and caring for combat Veterans like himself has helped Ballard rediscover his passion and flourish in his career. With his experience, he’s been able to better understand and build trust with Veterans in a way that generates comfort and healing for both parties. Recently, Ballard won the title “Red Sox Nurse Hero of 2018” and was invited to throw a game-opening pitch at the historic Fenway Park.
VA offers Veterans not only life-changing care but also life-changing careers. Join our team and discover the unique rewards that come from serving our nation’s heroes. To get started, search for opportunities near you and apply today.
This story was originally posted on VAntage Point.