Email From Mother

15 Dec 2011

I received this in an email from my mother. I wonder if Mr. Snowman’s health insurance carrier will deny his claim based of some preexisting condition. Happy Holidays!

Go Ask Mother: Advice About Going Back To School

7 Dec 2011

This lady and I have a lot in common. We both answer a lot of correspondence. For instance, I just received an email from a reader who was really upset. I changed her name for the post to protect her identity. This is what she wrote:

Dear Mother:
My name is Sandy, I’ve been an RN for.. I don’t know, 15 years or so. I have an AD, and absolutely NO desire to obtain my BSN. (sounds like the opening line of an aa meeting, lol) I’m writing to see if you could help me find info, or send me in the right direction to find it. The hospital I currently work for has decided to implement an all BSN RN staff by 2018. The catch is, they are requiring ALL CURRENT employees, with a diploma or AD, to obtain a BSN to KEEP the jobs we already have. I’m a non benefited employee, so.. they have to pay nothing to help me obtain this degree they mandate. I’m beyond frustrated, and a little more than angry…. ANY advice, info, suggestions would be very appreciated. Thanks so much!!!

I had to give some thought before I could answer her question. I identify with her frustration. Honestly, I’m really sick and tired of the way bedside nurses are being treated by the nursing elite, AKA “Nursing Leaders.” Please insert eye roll. I can’t stand people who mandate higher education while they treat bedside nurses like the redheaded stepchildren of nursing academia, but I digress. Sandy asked a heartfelt questions and I wanted to answer it to the best of my ability. I answered her question later that evening after I bridled my emotions.

I wrote this response:

Hi Sandy. Thanks for writing. I’m really sorry about what’s happening to you and your coworkers. This is why I weep for our profession. It’s run by nursing administrators that don’t have a clue about what it takes to work as a bedside nurse.

As you know, the ANA is pushing for nurses like us go back to school. I’m sure that’s why your hospital has made this demand on its nurses. However, college is expensive and you have to ask yourself if you will be able to earn back the money you put out for tution by the time you retire. I have friends who owe over $100,000 in college loans because they felt pressured to get an advance degree and they won’t ever be able to pay off their debt before they reach retirement age. It also depends on what you want to do during your career. Some jobs require a degree. For example, you need a degree if you want to teach someday, or if you want to become a nurse practitioner.

I think your hospital is being very short sighted. The nursing market is glutted right now, but that won’t last forever. Older nurses are postponing retirement because of the economy, but we Golden Girls can’t work forever, and we won’t be coming back to the profession once we retire. The US Labor Department is predicting the mother of all nursing shortages by 2020, so let your hospital be stupid. I’m sure you will be able to find work somewhere else if they show you the door.

Well, that’s it for my advice. I hope you don’t mind if I share my answer with the rest of my readers.

Best, Mother Jones, RN

I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my advice and that’s all right. The last time I looked, we still live in a democracy, so it’s OK if you have a different opinion. But please, don’t discount the opinions of AD and diploma nurses just because we don’t have an advance degree. We know what’s going on in the trenches because we are bedside nurses. We don’t live in the Nursing Ivory Tower.

Paranormal Witness Wants Your Nursing Stories

29 Nov 2011

I believe in things that go bump in the night. I’ve been a nurse too long not to believe. Are you a nurse who has had a paranormal experience? If you are, the producers at Paranormal Witness want to hear from you.
I received an email from Helen, one of the Story Producers on the SyFy Show, Paranormal Witness after she found a post I wrote a couple of years ago about nurses and ghosts. Helen is working on finding stories for the next television season, and since I think most nurses have had some sort of experience with the unexplained, Helen called me from London, England and asked me to post a shout out for stories from the nursing community. Here’s Helen’s message:

Dear Nurses,
The successful show Paranormal Witness that goes out on the SyFy channel is looking for stories for season two. The story team behind the show are particularly keen to hear from nurses who have experienced events they can’t explain while caring for patients. Nurses are often dealing with events that lie at the very edge of human experience and it is these types of stories that we want to hear about. We feature the very best and the most credible stories that defy rational explanation. Those that nurses talk freely about but that are not out there in the public domain. We would love to tell such a story from a nurses point of view. If you have experienced something that you would like to talk about with the story team, please email your contacts and a brief description of what happened or
We are in the research stage which means we would like a chat on the phone initially, in complete confidence.
Thank You
Story Producer

I don’t have cable or satellite TV at my house (yes, I’m a throwback to another time), so I watched a couple of episodes of Paranormal Witness over the internet. The shows aren’t creepy. They tell inspiring stories that give hope and meaning to life. Contact Helen if you have a story you want to share. She’s waiting to hear from you.

Anti Gay Nurse?

28 Nov 2011

A VA nurse is being accused of an anti-gay tirade according to a news report. Esther Garatie, 28, a former Marine lance corporal, has filed complaints against the nurse practitioner, Lincy Pandithurai of Cedar Hill, with both the VA Medical Center and the Texas Board of Nursing.

I hope this really didn’t happen, but I guess anything is possible. It’s unacceptable if the nurse treated her patient in an unprofessional manner. Personally, I’ve never witnessed a nurse shoving their moral beliefs down a patient’s throat. My nursing colleagues usually act in a professional manner, even if they don’t approve of their lifestyle. I hope the Texas Board of Nursing jumps on this quickly and sorts things out. State nursing boards don’t take this stuff lightly. Here’s a link to Garatie’s statement about the alleged incident.

Black Friday Insanity

25 Nov 2011

It’s that time of year again and nothing says Christmas like a mob fighting over television sets on Black Friday. Admit it. Were you one of those people who got in line before midnight on Thanksgiving in order to get a door buster deal? I couldn’t believe the throng of humanity out on the streets when I was driving to work this morning at 5AM. And now I just heard a story on the news about a woman who kept other shoppers away from merchandise by spraying them with pepper spray. What’s going on here? I think Andy Borowitz summed it up best: “Egyptians risk their lives for new government. Americans bravely do the same for new flat screens”

Happy Thanksgiving From Nurse Ratched’s Place.

23 Nov 2011

This little gem comes from the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The caption reads: “Those who spent time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center will remember turkey legs in the mess hall. In this photo, a dietician is helping a wounded veteran eat his Thanksgiving meal.” I’ll never forget the Thanksgiving meals I shared with my patients at Walter Reed. We always had a great time. I hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

An Open Letter to the California Board of Nursing

20 Nov 2011

Photo of Kayvan Sabehgi with police. Photo Credit: SFist

Dear Sir or Madam:

It’s come to my attention through a recent news report that a California nurse allegedly acted in a negligent manner when he or she assessed an injured man who had been arrested by the Oakland Police Department during a recent Occupy Oakland protest march. According to the report, police beat Kayvan Sabehgi, a 32-year-old war veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as he attempted to leave the protest area. A video shows police officers repeatedly striking Sabehgi with their nightsticks. Sabehgi said that he was in “unbelievable pain” during his incarceration, and that he couldn’t stand after he was taken to jail, so he crawled on his hands and knees over to his cell door and called for help. Sabehgi said he was vomiting and had diarrhea, and that the nurse on duty only offered him a suppository, which he refused to take. After 18 hours someone had the good sense to call for an ambulance to take Sabehgi to a hospital. He was taken into surgery for repair of a lacerated spleen and later spent time in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

I am appalled that a professional nurse would offer a trauma patient a suppository for vomiting and diarrhea, especially given the circumstances of his injuries. Didn’t it dawn on this nurse that Sabehgi was seriously injured and could have died while in police custody? I’m asking the California Board of Nursing to look into this story and take appropriate disciplinary action if these allegations are true. Nurses with poor clinical skills and total lack of judgment endanger the public.

Sincerely, Mother Jones, RN

Nurses Support Veterans

19 Nov 2011

Our liberal nurse is reassessing her patient after administering pain medications. He told her that his pain level was a ten out of ten an hour ago. Now he’s sleeping like a baby. I doubt he would be sleeping so soundly if he knew what the Congressional Super Committee was up to. You see, this patient is a disabled veteran and Congress wants to cut his Tricare benefits.

Democrats and Republicans on the 12- member Joint Select Committee of Debt Reduction, known in my household as the Twelve Who Represent the 1%, have been given the task of cutting at least $1.2 trillion off projected budget deficits over the next decade. If they can’t meet their goals, a trigger will automatically cut $450 billion from defense programs, so members of the committee are offering up separate partisan packages that stink. The one thing that everyone on this committee seems to agree on is taking money away from people who need their benefits the most. These people are not deadbeats, bums, or socialists looking to redistribute the wealth. No, these people have made sacrifices by serving their country in the U.S. military.

John McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the DoD could save $111 billion dollars over the next decade by downgrading health care plans currently available for military retirees under the age of 65. The idea is to make these plans too expensive, or so undesirable that retirees would opt to enroll in insurance plans that are available through their current places of employment. And as we all know those plans REALLY stink, and are full of loop holes that exclude preexisting conditions. Not that Congress really gives a damn. After all, members of Congress get great health care benefits and a kick ass pension when they leave public service.

Taking care of Veterans isn’t a crazy idea. It’s the right thing to do.

Tough Angels of Mercy

16 Nov 2011

I love old nursing photographs. Some of them are works of art. This photo from 1933 is an excellent example. The ladies posing in this photo are graduates of the Providence Hospital School of Nursing, Oakland, California. This striking photo chronicles the history of the nursing profession. These women were the original Angels of Mercy of the 20th Century.

It was a time of innocents, but even then, you had to be tough to make it as a nurse. It was a dismal time for nurses, and the beginning of the nursing shortage. According to a letter written by the ANA, through its Executive Committee and sent to hospital directors around the country back in 1933, nurses faced many challenges. There was an over abundance of nurses in the early 1930s. That meant that hospitals could get away with paying meager wages and make nurses work in poor working condition. For example, a new nurse graduating in 1933 in the District of Columbia could look forward to working an average of about ninety days per year, which couldn’t provide a decent living wage. The nurse could also expect to work 16-hour shifts with the occasional potty break if she was lucky. As a way of alleviating these problems, the ANA asked hospitals to limit the number of applicants they allowed into their nursing programs.

Then, mid-decade, things started to shift. Hospitals needed more nurses because fewer people were entering the profession while hospitals were getting bigger and technologically more complex. In addition, nurses started refusing to work long, back breaking shifts in unsavory working conditions, which necessitated the need for more staff. Hospital administrators who were unaccustomed to staffing shortages ignored the problem, and blamed the nurses for the situation. Many factors, including infighting among nurses, fed into the nursing shortage, which was in full bloom by the time War Word II rolled around.

Maybe that’s why this nursing prayer was so popular back in the 1930s:

I want to let go, but I won’t let go. There are battles to fight, by day and night, for God and the right—

And I’ll never let go.

I want to let go, but I won’t let go, I’m sick, ‘tis true, worried and blue, worn through and through—

But I won’t let go.

I want to let go, but I won’t let go. I will never yield! What? Lie down on the field and surrender my shield?

No! I’ll never let go.

I want to let go, but I won’t let go. May this be my song against legions of wrong. O God, keep me strong that I may never let go.

No Keyboard For You!

14 Nov 2011

Soup Nazi was right. Some people just don’t deserve your time or attention. This is a rant. I’m on my soapbox, so move along if don’t want to listen to my thoughts about haters.

I can’t believe what I’m reading on some websites about the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Frankly, there are some people out there who should have their computer keyboards taken away from them because they aren’t mature enough to own them. Everyone has the right to their opinion, and it’s OK if you don’t believe in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but do people really have to write such ugly hate filled crap and disinformation?

I was especially horrified to read a post put up by David Burge at the Iowahawk. The offensive post is entitled “With Apologies to Allan Sherman.” I’m not doing him the courtesy of posting a link to his offensive post, but I’m sure you can Google the post if you really want to read it. In his parody of Sherman’s classic Camp Granada song, Burge proliferates ultra right wing propaganda, and disseminates a hate filled message against the protesters. Note to Mr. Burges: The protesters are not nut jobs or criminals. They are honest, hard working people who are tired of being screwed over by the One Percent. Shame on you. You mock pulmonary tuberculosis, a disease often times associated with poverty, and violence in your parody. Too bad you can’t put your comedic talents to better use.

Nurse Ratched

There has been a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about medical bloggers and HIPAA regulations so let me make this very clear: I write composite stories about many different people that I've cared for over the years.

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Amanda Trujillo, MSN, RN, DNSc-NP(s) Media & Blogger Coverage