Friday, November 29, 2013

Louisa May Alcott

One of my all time favorite books is "Little Women" written by Louisa May Alcott and while she's long dead, today is the anniversary of her birth.

Louisa May Alcott was also a nurse and served on the Union side during the Civil War.  She was active in fighting for the woman's right to vote (a fight that nursing was decidedly NOT generally involved in) and in the temperance movement (we'll have to forgive her that).

Louisa May Alcott (it's hard to say her name without saying the whole thing) published a book of her diary during the Civil War.

While I admit that I do have the book, it is challenging to read and not terribly interesting...Sorry Louisa (Louisa May?)

Happy Birthday Louisa May!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

This Thanksgiving

I am thankful for all of the nurses working last night, today, and tonight because I know that their holiday is not so great and I know that there are patients and families who are SO appreciative of their presence.

Southlake Village

Specifically, I'm grateful for the staff at Southlake Village in Lincoln, Nebraska because my mom is a patient there right now.  And, I'm grateful for the nursing staff at the Nebraska Heart Hospital; I miss them very much.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Code Happy

Do you remember the scene in Legally Blonde 2:  Red, White, and Blonde (yes, I know, not even close to as good as the original Legally Blonde, but don't tell me you didn't go see it) near the end of the movie where Elle makes the call and activates her sorority girl network on their equivalent of the bat phone?

Nurses can do that, too:

It's the Code Happy app! Our own little nursing support network.  You can get or give instant support with a tap on your phone.  My favorite happygram?  "I'm sending you garlic and a cross!"  I think we've all been there...

If you're a Code Happy nurse, look me up.  I'm Nurse Turpel and I'll send you a happygram - or garlic and a cross, whatever.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't I Know You?

I grew up in small towns; I lived in small towns through my high school graduation.  Everybody knows everybody in small towns.  Above is a street corner in one of my "home towns".  I lived there when that mural was first painted.

After nursing school, I moved to Southern California and started my nursing career.  From Los Angeles to Miami, I only worked as a nurse in big cities - nobody knows anybody in big cites. 

So...I never had patients that I knew before they needed nursing care.  All my patients started out as strangers to me.

A few years ago I relocated to rural Nebraska and worked in a small community hospital.  Same small town I graduated high school in.  The nurses I worked with took it for granted that their patients would be people they'd known before, maybe even for their whole lives.  They were used to it.  I wasn't.

Having to get one of my former teachers off the commode, putting a foley in my one of my parents' friends, talking to former classmates about their personal health issues, it bothered me. 

I know that for some of the patients it was embarrassing.  I know this because they would tell me.  For others, it seemed comforting to have a nurse they knew before.  I never really got used to it. 

Now I'm back in the city and one perk is that my patients probably won't be my neighbors. 

Do you like taking care of your neighbors and friends?  Am I the only one who doesn't?

Here's my new neighborhood - nice, huh?

Monday, November 25, 2013

JFK's ED Nurses

All of the stories on the news about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy and his pronouncement of death has made me think about the nurses who might have been present in the ED at Parkland Hospital that day in Dallas.

Presumably, there aren't many of them still alive.  Here's a link to a you-tube video of one of them:

And an article:


Are these truthful?  I guess there's no way of knowing.

We do know one thing.  When it came time to clean up, everyone was gone but the nurses.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Seeking a Cap

That's me on the left.  That's Lori on the right - I'm totally putting this picture here without her permission.  She looks great; why would she mind?

Sorry about the picture quality - it's a photo of a photo that was likely taken with a 110 camera (and the photo has been sitting in a box for a "few" years).  Remember those?  I have no idea why the shadow over me...can't get rid of it though. 

I graduated from nursing school in a cap.  Yes, we still called it nursing school and yes, I had a cap.  I believe we were "capped" after our first year clinical experience and then we had to wear our caps for every clinical rotation except for the ICU rotation.  Does anyone remember why that was - why we didn't wear them for our ICU rotation?

Anyway, I can't find my cap.  It's been missing for years.  I REALLY wish I still had it.  I've checked ebay and etsy repeatedly but no caps from Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing (believe it was College of Nursing) by the time I graduated, but no luck.

So...if anyone out there has a cap from Bishop Clarkson School of Nursing in Omaha, Nebraska and wants to sell it, I'm interested! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do You Know Flo?

What do you know about Florence Nightingale?  She went to the Crimean War, she invented nursing, she had a lamp, it was all too much for her and she returned from the war and fell into her bed from exhaustion and then died.  Right?

Would you believe that all of her work was such an embarrassment to her family that they destroyed many of her personal documents and had a biographer write a fake biography about her? 

I'm sure many of our families would like to have this option!

The first biography of Florence showed her as heroine from the Crimean War who was so consumed by this passion that she came home from the war and took too her bed, suffering from something called "neurasthenia".  Neurasthenia was a disease that occurred only in women in Victorian times and was caused by trying to work too hard  (I knew there was a reason not to work so hard!). 

You can kind of see why her parents did this.  Florence first upset her parents by asking to learn, at the age of 20, about mathematics!  Gasp!  Of all things.  She was 20 years old and had no prospects of marriage so they figured she was a waste anyway, she might as well go ahead and learn some math.  Then, she had the audacity to tell her mother, repeatedly, that what she really wanted to do with her life was run a hospital.  Every time she told her mother this,  her mother got the vapors and collapsed in shock.*  Apparently in the 1800's, running a hospital was the equivalent of getting a nose ring. 

Actually, Florence came back to England at the age of 36 from the Crimean War and worked until her death at age 90 to improve health through sanitary conditions.  She was quite the activist, though not without controversy. 

More to come...

*From Hugh Small's book, Florence Nightingale, Avenging Angel, 2nd ed., Knowledge Leak, London.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Calling All Nurse Dorks

Those of you who know me, know I'm a dork.  I get called a dork at least once a day.  Mostly by my husband, but also by my other family members and by friends.  ALL of the nurses I have ever worked with have thought or said "what a dork" about me at one time or another. 

Most of my dorkiness comes from my odd interest in the culture of nursing.  The language, the gestures, the understanding, and the rituals are fascinating to me. 

I recently discovered Zane Robinson Wolf and her books.  The one above is, I believe, no longer being printed, but I found a used copy.  It's from 1988 - doesn't seem that long ago to me, but I guess it is.  This book is based on her doctoral dissertation and is an observation of one nursing unit over time.  It reads a little like a soap opera.  I was starting my first hospital job as an RN around the time the observations were made, so I could totally relate to it.

Zane contends that nursing within hospitals is a "quasi-religion" and identifies rituals sacred to nursing but which occur in the most profane manner.  Que harp music and angels singing - I found the mother ship! 

One of the rituals Zane discusses is that of post-mortem care.  In the book, she shares this photo:

It's from an old shroud kit and I totally remember these.  We used to have to tie the hands and feet together and put a chin strap on the body before closing the shroud.  Why did we do that?  Does anyone still do that?  The last hospital I worked at didn't even have shrouds (I don't think, I never saw any). 

Fascinating book.  Mandatory reading for nurse dorks.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thinking of Our Filipino Friends

One of my first RN jobs was working nights at a children's hospital in Los Angeles.  I was the only non-Filipino nurse on the night shift.  I frequently tell people I was raised by Filipino nurses.  They taught me so much and fed me so well!  I was new to Los Angeles from small-town Nebraska so my knowledge of other cultures was limited and they put up with a lot while they educated me.

There are so many nurses from the Philippines working in the United States.  Recently, a classmate of mine from the Philippines told me that it is also not uncommon for Filipino physicians to come to the US and take the RN boards because being a nurse here is so much better than being a doctor there. 

We feel horrible when we see the devastation that disasters bring to ANY area.  However, among nurses there are so many of our friends and colleagues from the Philippines that it is extra hard to watch what is happening in their country. 

The American Nurses Association has a foundation that provides disaster relief and they are accepting donations to assist in the Philippines.  If you are so inclined, you can find them here.  Money isn't everything.  We can also send our prayers and our positive thoughts and, as always, a kind word to our Filipino nurse friends.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Worked to Death reported a story a couple of days ago about a man suing the hospital where is wife, a nurse, worked prior to her death.  She was killed driving home after a 12-hour shift; you can see the whole store here.  I'm very much against unions for nurses and against mandated staffing ratios and don't think that the article should have been used as an opportunity to push that agenda.  Mandated ratios wouldn't have prevented this nurse's death.

However, could her death have been prevented by someone taking her stress and complaints seriously?  Should the hospital or her co-workers have said wait - you can't work anymore?  It makes me wonder how many times I have seen nurse colleagues working tons of hours and I can see how it's taking it's toll and we just keep letting them come into work.

The real issue is not how many patients we take care of, the issue is how many hours we can safely work.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Nothing to Talk About?

I love Jessie Knadler's blog "Rurally Screwed"; I read it every day.  This week she posted on 7 Things Never to Talk About.  You can read it here.  As I was reading the post, I thought "well then what the hell would nurses talk to each other about?"  Maybe we shouldn't talk to other people about how we slept, our aches and pains, or our periods, but we NEED to talk to each other about that stuff.

Why else go to work?

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Love the Nursing Shortage

I hope the nursing shortage never goes away.  This is not a popular opinion, I know.  When I talk about this with my students or with my classmates, it sparks quite a bit of discussion - most of it in direct opposition of this controversial opinion. 

I like being a commodity, I think it's great that we're in high demand. 

Are there bad things about the nursing shortage?  Sure. 

One of my classmates says I'm nuts because if there aren't enough nurses, unlicensed assistive personnel will take over our jobs.  To that I have to say that I think we get caught up in doing too many tasks that we could delegate to others anyway.  We should focus on educating patients, assessing patients, managing their care across a continuum.  We definitely need to get better at delegating, though.

One of my students says I'm nuts because she where she works the staffing is horrendous and it will only get better if the nursing shortage ends.  To that I have to say that we do have a nursing shortage and that many places have great staffing.  She works in a place that doesn't value nursing and won't staff well no matter how many nurses there are. 

In the meantime, since I'm looking for a job (I'm going to, I really am) I'm happy there's a nursing shortage and I hope there always will be.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Spoiled by Great Nursing

Because of my move, I'm looking for a new job.  I teach online part time and I enjoy that, but it's an adjunct faculty position with no benefits or guaranteed classes so I'm looking for a new position.

Yesterday, a company that conducts post-employment interviews for the organization I just left called me and I had a chance to reflect upon my experience there. 

The hospital I just left practices the Universal Bed Model and while I was not familiar with the concept until I started working there, I'm a total convert now.  The patient-centered care approach that the Universal Bed Model provides is really good for patients.  Having care come to the patient instead of the patient going to various places for care is a great concept. 

When I talked to one potential employer about this concept, she asked "why don't we all do it like that?"

While I'm sure I'll find a great place to work where the nurses take pride in providing the highest quality care, I'm a bit spoiled now by the way my former employer provided care.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Other Family

"Ten minutes after you're out the door, they forget all about you anyway."

This is what I've been known to tell my friends and colleagues who are letting work get the best of them and who are sacrificing their personal lives for the job. 

Having just left a job, I really hope they wait more than ten minutes to forget about me. 

It's hard to say good bye to our work family.  They really are a family.  I wonder if those in other professions really get as close to their colleagues as nurses do.  I think part of the reason that we get so close so fast is that we work in close proximity to each other and we have to create teamwork quickly and in very high-stress situations.  How many nurses have you bonded with over a code?  I bet there's a few. 

At least we have social media now.  I'll get to see photos of the babies born, houses built, and engagement/weddings of the nurses I just left.  It's not the same, though.  I like the day-to-day, hearing about their weekend, what their kids did, how their last day of work went. 

I'm moving across country from my actual family and that's been hard.  Leaving my other family, my work family, is hard, too.  I miss you guys already.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Shiny Scrubs

Several years ago, I made a comment to a co-worker that it might be time for a new pair of scrub pants as hers were so worn that they were basically transparent.  "I know," she said, "but I LOVE these pants. They're my favorite pair.  I just can't get rid of them." 

Well-worn scrubs takes on that shiny look, don't they?  They lose the cottony stiffness and get soft and pliable.  Comfortable. 

I've never let my scrubs get to that point, but I know a lot of you do.

We have our favorite "under scrubs" shirts, too.  This is obviously one of them:

If you ask him about getting a new shirt to wear under his scrubs, he says "hey!  this is just getting broken in!"

Another nurse I know has stapled the worn elbow holes of her scrub jacket closed.

Comfortable..or are we just cheap?