May you find the opportunity in every challenge.

The internet erupted on Saturday about something that Senator Walsh in Washington State said in a hearing about nurses. Her tone and underlying assumptions about our ability to play cards while at work were very disrespectful to the 4 million of us in the United States.

This is the second time in a few years where someone in the public eye made an uninformed statement about the most trusted profession in the United States for 17 years in a row.

I’ve learned over the years, through my own entrepreneurial endeavors, that assuming statements are often due to a lack of knowledge.

If we had to put a care plan together and form a nursing diagnosis for this situation, we’d likely use something similar to: “Knowledge deficit related to the reality of being a nurse.

 

Let me share some of my realities about being a nurse:

  • I never played cards while caring for patients. (I’ve never played cards in any of my nursing roles over the last 19 years).

Some things that I always did while caring for patients include:

  • I always felt as though despite all that I had done for my patients, there was more I could have done to care for them as I left each day over and above what was necessary. (Try carrying that around at the end of every shift and having it add up over time).
  • I always dreaded night shift because that first hour was the most anxiety provoking for me. Parents wanted to put their children to bed to get their rest (understandably so). I would be getting out of report around 7:30pm not even having prepared any of the 8 o’clock meds for my 4-5 patients all due at the same time.

 As nurses, we know we have to prioritize those patients that are in need first but try telling one parent that his or her child needs to wait while you care for another. That is REALLY hard to do. I often wouldn’t finish that first 8 o’clock med round until 11 o’clock at night.

(OF NOTE: Why do we expect nurses to deliver all of their patients’ meds in the same hour right after starting their shift and not having assessed any of them yet? Can someone find a new innovative solution to this system level problem?)

  • I always worried about whether or not one of my assigned patients would code on me during my shift. I often had palpitations before work each morning because of this concern.
  • I always wanted my patients to have a new clean bed or crib and bathed (if an infant) or have an opportunity to shower if possible. This wasn’t required but it was something I felt was important to do.
  • I always prioritized my patients and their families over my own personal needs for nourishment over 12 hours. Sometimes I wouldn’t eat anything until 8 or 9 hours into my 12-hour shift.

 

I say this about myself, but I know that I am not alone. Perhaps I had palpitations more than other nurses, but the other statements are likely transferable to most if not all other nurses.

Today, I spent a lot of time on my computer catching up on some things.  While working at my desk, I would occasionally open Twitter in seek of a distraction.  I could not open Twitter without a flurry of reactions to Senator Walsh’s remarks today.

Throughout the day, I continued to think of the Woodhull Report. In the most recent report, the results demonstrated that nurses are only cited in 2% of journalists’ stories.

If we are only in 2% of stories, how can we assume that the public knows the extent of our work? Well, one thing we can safely say going forward is that everyone will know we don’t play cards. :) 

Yet, this just scratches the surface. How do we use this unfortunate incident that set Twitter ablaze today as an indication that we can do more as a profession to educate others on what we do?

How do we proactively educate a nation on why we are the most trusted profession year after year at a level that abominates the possibility of such comments from happening in the future?

Honestly, it starts with us, the nursing professionals. If we each share our knowledgeable voices on a proactive and consistent basis in a consumable way, we can begin to make the positive change necessary to dispel misconceptions and assumptions.

Think about how you might be able to share something you know with others that might not know it.

We’re trained for this! We educate our patients every day about things they do not know but need to know for their own health and wellbeing.

How can you educate others through your spoken or written words in a way that can influence their perspective? How can you present the information in a way that opens the door for the reader or listener to want to know more and ask more questions?

If I can educate someone not in healthcare about the role of nurses in informatics, interoperability, and innovation, you can find your niche and do the same.

 

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Nurses, We want to Know Your Voice!

Our Know Your Voice contest is being launched to help support each of you, as nurses, you work to provide patients with the best possible care! If you are a nurse, please consider entering this contest. If you know a nurse, please consider telling him or her about this contest. What are we looking for? Well, let me share a few stories with you.

This week, I was speaking with a nurse about Know My PatientTM. We were talking about what life is like as a nurse on the floor. I mentioned how painful it can be to watch nurses struggle to access and use the electronic health record (EHR) while their primary focus is on delivering patient care at the bedside.

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5 Reasons Why Nurses Need Apps

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“Why do Nurses Need Apps?“

Last week someone asked me, ‘Why do nurses need apps?’ His question made me realize that the need for nurses to have apps to do their day-to-day work taking care of patients may not be obvious to the general public. I often tell nurses that it is our responsibility to inform others of our role and responsibilities, impact on patient care and overall value we bring to the health care industry. We are the subject matter experts and the champions for our profession. So, in the spirit of the message I often send to other nurses, I’d like to offer 5 reasons why nurses need apps to help support their delivery of high quality patient care.

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The problem is big enough that it deserves a solution.

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“How did you know that your idea was good enough to start a business?”

 

I was asked this question in reference to my idea to create Know My Patient TM and then a business around it, Nightingale Apps LLC. It was a question I hadn’t been asked before. My response at that time was that I never questioned it, rather I just knew it was good enough.

 

For those who are not familiar, I created Know My Patient TM, Nightingale Apps’ patent-pending mobile workflow nursing solution, in an effort to address the daily challenges faced by nurses each day to access, enter and use information for the purpose of providing their patients with the best care.

Know My Patient

 

In a world where we, as consumers, rely on our phones to support our own personal information needs, answer our own questions, and allow for quick entry of information to communicate with others, we must bring that to our nurses. After all, our nurses are saving lives each day. Their focal point is the patient and whatever the patient needs, where he/she needs it.

 

When I came up with this idea several years ago, I could not accept that nurses would continue to rely on workaround solutions with scraps of paper, be bogged down with moving heavy ‘mobile’ carts (as their mobile solution), stay late (most if not all shifts) to catch up on charting, and feel as though they have turned into ‘glorified data entry specialists’. If we continue to make it challenging for nurses to do their work, we will likely end up driving nurses away from the profession. The statistics show we cannot afford to do that and take care of the population.

 

There are over 3 million nurses in the United States. Nurses become nurses to provide care to patients. Nurses do not go through nursing school, to become nurses,  and subsequently struggle with finding and entering information into electronic charting systems, often referred to as Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Nurses currently struggle to have the information they need about their patients at their fingertips. Yes, EHRs are the way to go in the sense that we need electronic record of information in order to apply more advanced algorithms and analytical reports on the data to improve population health outcomes. I do support the need for EHRs and even wrote a textbook for nurses and health care professionals about EHRs (http://bit.ly/1mFxItF) to drive quality patient care.

Electronic Health Records for Quality Nursing and Health Care

I have worked in this field of informatics for the last 12 years and enjoy the work but I see how hard it is on nurses providing direct care and it takes a toll on their experience and overall job satisfaction. Thus we need a solution that interacts with the EHR. The solution is to provide nurses with tools that support how they work that improve their ability to be efficient. We’ve created that solution with Know My Patient TM and it has been met with remarkable praise from nurses.

 

So, what I didn’t say to that person who asked me the question: How did you know that your idea was good enough to start a business?” was that the problem is big enough that it deserves a solution. Additionally, the solution should be developed in such a way that addresses the needs of nurses to alleviate the challenges faced each day (look for my next blog post: 5 reasons why nurses need apps for more specific information).

“You are taking my vitals on a post-it note!?”

“You are taking my vitals on a post-it note!?”

I said these words a few weeks ago during a doctor’s visit. When it was my turn to be seen, I was brought back to a very small room and the nurse said, “I need to take your vitals”. She sat me down and started with my blood pressure. I turned my head to my left to look at what she was doing and that was when I saw it:

the yellow post-it note.

yellow-post-it-note

I reacted with: “Oh my, you are taking my vitals on a post-it note!?” The nurse responded, “ Well yes, I have to put them (e.g., my vital signs) in the computer.”

 

My mind started to race… ‘My vital patient information that can potentially be used over time, to assess my physical health status while under the care of this practice, is being written down on a post-it note.‘

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Nurses need to be cared for too.

I envision a day in the near future where we can support nurses with tools that allow them to spend more time with their patients and less time searching for information needed to provide safe, efficient care.

Nurses struggle to efficiently answer basic questions about their patients, often not just for themselves but also for the patient’s families and the larger health care team.

What basic questions you might ask? Below is a list of a small subset of the many questions nurses get asked each day while providing patient care:

  • Have my (the patient’s) labs/exams/test results come back yet?
  • When is the patient due for meds?
  • Does the patient have any allergies?
  • When can I (the patient) go home?

In each of the above questions, nurses need to provide an answer. How do they find that answer? Well, maybe they know from their memory, but if not, nurses have this trusted tool in their pocket: a piece of paper. 

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