Digging deeper into the nurse faculty shortage

By now, we’re all well aware that there is a growing shortage of nurses within the health care profession, and part of that is fueled by a scarcity of RN educators to help train future caregivers. Nursetogether.com published an interesting post last week, exploring some of the reasons why, exactly, we’re coming up short on teachers to help turn the shortage tide. Diann Martin, R.N., who works in health care education, pinpoints three specific reasons nurses are hesitant to jump into teaching — the disparity between salaries for educational and practice settings, the politics of the academic world and a lack of support for professional development at hospitals. Martin offers a few possible solutions to address this shortage, such as utilizing advanced practice nurses in adjunct roles at universities, having universities co-manage inpatient units with hospitals, and recruiting nurses from clinical facilities to work part-time doing lectures in their specialties.

Walking in a busy ED nurse’s footsteps

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live the life of a harried emergency department nurse, Rush University Medical Center has the skinny. The Chicago-based health care institution shared a new piece last week, delving into what life on the job is like for its lead nurse in the ED at Rush Oak Park, Adam Spurlock, R.N. Everything from birth to death enters the doors of the busy suburban hospital but, most commonly, this nurse has to deal with abdominal pain, heart conditions and upper respiratory complaints. There’s very little time to sit during Spurlock’s 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, which often involves the dirtiest of hospital duties — cleaning up feces and urine and drawing blood. Emergency medicine physician David Manno, D.O., says teamwork and toughness are key to making it through each workday. "We see people at their worst, and we work in an environment where nobody's happy, because nobody makes an appointment to come to the ER,” he says. “A good ER nurse must have a thick skin to take the abuse that is laid on by patients sometimes."

10 tips for the highly sensitive nurse

Meanwhile, for those who are of the sensitive, more thin-skinned variety, RN social media site allnurses.com has a few pointers to help get you through the next shift. This caregiver, who goes by the screen name “Cry and Nurse On,” actually believes being sensitive can be a positive, but you just need to find ways to cope. For her, those mechanisms include decreasing clutter in your work area, making sure where you are working is a solid fit for your personality, planning your drive to work, and managing activities before your shift even starts. “Many people feel like nursing is a bad fit for someone who is easily overwhelmed,” she writes. “However, many of the traits of highly sensitive people are invaluable to the nursing profession. We can sense things and often know what someone needs intuitively. Managing our sensitivities, instead of ignoring them, can lead to better job satisfaction and self-awareness.” 

Bolstering your board by adding a nurse’s perspective

Any successful hospital board should incorporate a diverse range of perspectives, including that of a nurse (or doc) to help guide quality and safety initiatives and build partnerships in the community. And yet, nurses fill trustee slots on only about 5 percent of hospital boards, or 20 percent when it comes to doctors. Kimberly McNally, R.N., a board member for both the American Hospital Association and UW Medicine, makes the convincing case for why hospitals need to improve those numbers in a piece she wrote for the summer 2016 Great Boards newsletter. Without the “nursing lens” that RNs bring to decision-making at the board table, she writes, efforts to improve clinical care run “the risk of being hampered at best and misguided at worst.” McNally offers data detailing how severely nurses are underrepresented on boards, along with specific efforts being undertaken at both the state and national levels to turn more nurses into trustees. The newsletter also offers interviews with four nurses in governance on the importance of this issue.

Rapid fire

Here are a few more nurse-related tidbits that caught our eye over the past week:

  • Burnout and subsequent depression are a pressing concern in the nursing profession, but attending church may help to reduce the risk of suicide, according to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry.
  • With a deadline looming, nurses and doctors are pushing for changes to the new MACRA rule, MedPage Today reports.
  • For nurses who are grappling with addiction to drugs and alcohol, often the best antidote is support from their peers, according to MinnPost.
  • Speaking of addiction in the profession, a Houston RN was recently sent to prison for bilking Medicaid and illegally taking controlled substances from three different patients.
  • SSM Health system, St. Louis, recently announced a new leadership development program for nurses that it is rolling out in partnership with the American Organization of Nurse Executives.
  • WorldWideLearn.com just released a list of the 25 most valuable health majors, and registered nursing came in at No. 2 on the list behind dental hygiene.