COVID Insouciance Frustrates Frontline Nurses: “People Aren’t Listening to Us”

COVID Insouciance Frustrates Frontline Nurses: “People Aren’t Listening to Us”

As hospitalizations and deaths mount, nurses are losing patience with COVID-19 conspiracy theories and distorted libertarian mores that depict masking mandates as an infringement of personal liberty.

As Covid surges, nurses are becoming frustrated by anti-maskers and conspiracy theorists.

For frontline nurses tending to Covid patients who shunned masks or insisted on attending crowded gatherings, the situation is fraught with tragedy. South Dakota ED nurse Jodi Doering recently told CNN, “I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and a magic answer and they do not want to believe Covid is real. Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real.’” In North Dakota, Governor Doug Burgum pleaded, “You don’t have to believe in Covid, you don’t have to believe in a certain political party or not, you don’t have to believe whether masks work or not. You can just do it because you know that one thing is very real. And that’s that 100 percent of our capacity is now being used.”

“I want you to listen to health care providers and [what] your officials are telling you. I don’t want praise and I certainly don’t want to be your martyr.”

Tiffany M. Montgomery, PA Frontline Nurse

Nebraska ICU nurse Laci Gooch spoke out in a Twitter video: “We’re tired. We’re understaffed. We’re taking care of very, very sick patients and our patient load just keeps going up. We’re exhausted and frustrated that people aren’t listening to us.” Driving home after one night shift, Gooch passed a car festival packed with attendees blithely ignoring masking and social distancing, and “I was just shocked and it was infuriating. It just kind of feels like a slap in the face to all the hard work that we’re doing.”

Kentucky nurses, too, are “tired and frustrated” by the neglect of social distancing rules. Delanor Manson, of the Kentucky Nurses Association, told WLKY, “Some of the things that make it especially hard for [frontline nurses] is that they can’t get the vision of people dying out of their heads when they’re sleeping at night and when they’re at home with their families.”

There is irony as well. Despite being acclaimed as “healthcare heroes” around the globe, nurses feel doubly vulnerable when they go home to communities that frown on masking. “Wearing a mask won’t hurt you, but there’s the potential if you don’t wear a mask you may hurt someone else,” said Dr. Ruth Carrico, an infectious disease nurse and researcher with University of Louisville Health in Kentucky. In Pennsylvania, Tiffany M. Montgomery, a Drexel University postdoctoral research fellow who also works as a labor and delivery nurse, told the Morning Call, “I had no idea we would be doing it for this long and I’m just tired. I don’t want to be your superhero. I want to be safe. I don’t want to have to deal with this anymore. I want you to listen to health care providers and [what] your officials are telling you. I don’t want praise and I certainly don’t want to be your martyr.”

Specialist in Pain, Addiction to be Inducted into Intl Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Specialist in Pain, Addiction to be Inducted into Intl Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Peggy Compton, Ph.D., RN, FAAN has been selected as one of the US nurses to be inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame, which will recognize 19 new members at the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) 31st International Nursing Research Congress on July 25.

Compton’s research—grounded in her practice as a neuropsychiatric nurse in different public treatment settings—specializes in the study of pain and opioid addiction, with a particular focus on the effects of addiction on the functioning of human pain systems. Her award from STTI recognizes her valuable contributions in the field, including the development of key tools such as family/personal histories of addiction and the consideration of psychiatric disorders and opioid use patterns to assess the presence of and potential for substance use disorders, as well as her study of opioid-induced hyperalgesia in patients on chronic opioid therapy. According to Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel, “Dr. Compton is one of the few nurses working in the area of pain, opioids, and addiction and how they intersect. She has built a significant program of research that includes one of the most widely used tools available to physicians and nurse practitioners to evaluate risk for misuse of prescription opioids in chronic pain patients.”

Compton is currently on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Psychiatric Mental Health NP program. She received her BSN from the University of Rochester before earning an MS from Syracuse University, a PhD from New York University, and completing a post-doctoral fellowship in substance use disorders at the University of California at Los Angeles. Of her award, she says, “I am honored to receive this most prestigious award, which represents a pinnacle in the career of a nurse scientist. Not only does it reflect the importance of nursing research in addressing critical public health issues, but also the profession’s commitment to meeting the needs of vulnerable, underserved and sometimes stigmatized patient populations, such as those with addiction and pain.”

For a full listing of the 2020 inductees into the International Nurse Researchers Hall of Fame, see the announcement at the Sigma Nursing site.

Nurse of the Week: After Gaining Her LPN From a Homeless Shelter, Felicia Shaner Joins the Frontlines

Nurse of the Week: After Gaining Her LPN From a Homeless Shelter, Felicia Shaner Joins the Frontlines

As a single mother with a four-year-old daughter and another baby on the way, Felicia Shaner was already in a difficult position, but even after becoming homeless, this Nurse of the Week doggedly pursued her nursing studies.

Now 26 years old, Felicia began her healthcare career as a housekeeper on the staff of Easton Hospital in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, but the experience quickly fired her ambition to become a nurse. After becoming a CNA, she was determined to make nursing her career: “I was a CNA for five years, and I was seeing the nurses and thought, I don’t want to be a CNA, I want to be a nurse.”

Felicia found herself homeless just as she was preparing to take the next step and study for an LPN. Pregnant with her second child, she and her toddler moved into a shelter, then stayed at a transitional housing program for residents taking part in educational or vocational programs while she studied for her degree. Now a mother of two children, for the next 18 months Felicia combined day shifts as a CNA with night classes at the Penn State Lehigh Valley LPN program, ferrying her young ones from daycare to evening care in between.

It was hard, but she had powerful reasons for driving on: “My motivation was my kids and how much better we were going to live after this. I cried so many times during school, but the only thing I could think of was the outcome.” She adds, “I want them to know that even when you’re down, there’s always a way up. Education is crucial.”

Now living in Section 8 housing with her little family, Felicia is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as she works in an assisted-living facility as a nursing supervisor. Having attained her LPN, she’s set her sights on her next goal: in 2021, she will begin studies for an RN degree. For those struggling with similar situations, Felicia offers encouragement and advice: “If you want to [go back to school] but you’re thinking about how hard it’s going to be, you can do it. There is a way. It’s going to be stressful, but the outcome will be worth it.”

For more details on Felicia Shaner, see her story on Lehigh Valley Live.

Penn Nursing Receives Top Spot for Research Funding from the National Institutes of Health

Penn Nursing Receives Top Spot for Research Funding from the National Institutes of Health

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) has received the top spot for research funding for the 2019 fiscal year, with $11.3 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This marks the third consecutive year that Penn Nursing has ranked in the top spot. 

Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel tells, “Although rankings are not the only measure of our research success, they are a national reflection of our commitment to our mission and progress in advancing the health and wellbeing of the public. They also contribute to the extraordinarily high standing and reputation of our school around the world. We achieved this designation through the hard work of our incredible and innovative faculty, and the dedicated staff who support them. This success would not be possible without the individual and collective contributions of each one of these professionals.”

Newly funded research at Penn Nursing includes Improving Self-Care of Informal Caregivers of Adults with Heart Failure; Palliative Care Consultations for Persons in the Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility Setting; Novel Neuroendocrine Mechanisms Underlying Nicotine Seeking and Withdrawal-Induced Hyperphagia; Effect of Opioid Taper on Pain Responses in Patients with Chronic Pain; Multicomponent Behavioral Sleep Intervention for Insomnia in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment; The Role of Opioid Adherence Profiles in Cancer Pain Self-Management and Outcomes; and more. 

According to, Therese Richmond, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, stated in a press release: “This sample of our new research grants at Penn Nursing demonstrates the breadth and depth of our science. Penn Nursing is committed to tackling challenging health and social problems to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. We conduct rigorous research that focuses on the most vulnerable among us and are committed to testing novel interventions that solve important problems.”

To learn more about the groundbreaking research being conducted at Penn Nursing thanks to the university’s ranking in the top spot for research funding from the National Institutes of Health, visit here. 

Penn Nursing Hosts Student-Run Conference on Need for Mental Health Awareness in Health Care

Penn Nursing Hosts Student-Run Conference on Need for Mental Health Awareness in Health Care

Two nursing students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program organized and hosted a student-run conference that drew nearly 200 students and community members to discuss incorporating mental health awareness into health care.

Paige Martin and Jessie Axsom came up with the idea for the conference after realizing that harm reduction and trauma-informed care were almost never discussed in their nursing school curriculum. “Harm reduction” refers to the practice of medical professionals accepting that patients may engage in risky behaviors, working to meet patients where they are rather than judging them. “Trauma-informed care” means that health care providers assume that a patient has experienced some type of trauma and act accordingly.

Their conference, titled “Reimagining Mental Health,” featured speakers from across Philadelphia and Penn communities to discuss harm reductionist and trauma-informed approaches to health care. The duo hoped their conference would help increase awareness among health system workers and community members about these issues. They also hoped to provide attendees with tangible strategies to provide these methods in their everyday lives and future careers.

Axsom tells, “Trauma-informed care was actually identified as a critical need of the West Philadelphia community, and Philadelphia has been forced to become a leader in harm reduction in their response to the opioid crisis, but both of these topics have been completely left out of our nursing education in any meaningful way. Our frustration and our anger drove us to organize an event that would at least start to address those needs.”

To learn more about the Reimagining Mental Health student-run conference hosted at Penn Nursing, visit here.

Penn State Donors Establish $10 Million Nursing Scholarship

Penn State Donors Establish $10 Million Nursing Scholarship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An anonymous Penn State donor couple has made a gift of $5 million to endow a scholarship for students with financial need in the College of Nursing. This is the largest single gift the college has received in its six-year history. In addition, the University is matching the gift 1:1, bringing the scholarship endowment total to $10 million. Students from western Pennsylvania and rural regions of the commonwealth will be given first preference for the awards.

“The College of Nursing’s potential for impact on the health of communities across the commonwealth is vast, and these donors have recognized that potential through this remarkable gift,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “Their support will help to address the commonwealth’s pressing need for health care professionals and allow recipients to forge meaningful careers in nursing, transforming their own lives. We’re very grateful for this generous gift.”

College of Nursing undergraduates who must meet the cost of a Penn State degree with loans graduate, on average, with an educational debt of more than $42,500. Recipients of the scholarship, however, will receive annual awards of up to $10,000. This will significantly reduce their debt and allow them more latitude to choose jobs in high-need but lower-paid geographic areas and medical fields that present the most urgent need for nurses.

“The extraordinary couple who made this gift have been impressed by the excellence of Penn State’s nursing programs,” said Laurie Badzek, dean and professor of the College of Nursing. “In particular, they appreciate our work to prepare a generation of nurses with a solid grounding in geriatrics and community health.”

“Nursing is a discipline that touches everyone’s life at some point, and these generous donors are helping to ensure better care across the commonwealth,” said Susan Kukic, director of development and alumni relations for the college. “While they have chosen to remain anonymous, they are important role models whose vision for the future of our students and our college will, I hope, inspire others to consider how they can support excellence in nursing and nursing education.”  

For information on this scholarship and the nursing program at Penn State, visit here.

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