Applying a Grand-Aide

Texas health policy experts are contemplating giving nurses expanded powers in the Lone Star State, according to Houston Public Media. With a shortage of doctors in Texas expected to worsen, an executive from the Texas Medical Center organized a conference designed to come up with some solutions, and nurses may play a big role in that. The conference leaders suggested that — as in many other states — nurse practitioners be allowed to do things like diagnose illnesses or prescribe medicines, says Tim Garson, M.D., director of health policy at Texas Medical Center. “There are a bunch of things a doctor doesn’t have to do [that] a nurse could do, such as a physical for camp,” he said in the article. Another solution: Specially trained nurse aides who take on the dual roles of a wise grandparent and a nurse's aide, to visit patients at home to help with decisions as to whether a person is sick enough for the hospital or not. “Having the grand-aide being the eyes and ears at the home gives us that insight into how they live daily,” says Craig Thomas, who heads the grand-aides program at the University of Virginia Health System, according to the article.

Geisinger on the hunt for 1,500 new staff members 

Geisinger Health System is on the hunt for new staff: to the tune of 1,500 physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses and support staff. This is on top of the 444 new positions the health system has filled since July. Geisinger is already 30,000 employees strong, but needs to expand because of high patient demand. Its team currently cares for approximately 3 million patients each year, says a representative for the health system. The 1,500 positions — which comprise new and replacement openings — are for spots throughout the entire health system in Harrisburg, the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre area, the State College region, Lewistown, Shamokin, Bloomsburg and Danville. The jobs span administration, clerical, environmental services, food services, laboratory services, information technology, marketing, occupational therapy, pharmacy and research. For more information about career opportunities at Geisinger, visit and click on Job Opportunities.

The power of chatting up nurses helps smokers quit

Over time, smoking likely will cause many to check into the hospital, but it turns out the hospital setting may be the perfect place to quit. A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that self-reported quit rates among hospital patients more than doubled when nurses and other staff received training to help them quit smoking and sent them home with everything they needed to break the habit. Nurses are in a great position to explain how smoking harms a patient’s individual health condition and patients are more motivated to quit in the hospital, Sonia Duffy, lead author of the study, says in a release.

School nurses’ role in rooting out mental health issues in schools

Millions of students in schools are quietly suffering from mental health issues, and school nurses could play a critical role in sleuthing them out, nprEd reports. For as much as 80 percent of children, school functions as their mental health system, and nurses in those institutions should serve as “detectives” to seek out those troubled individuals. But, of course, there are barriers to using this approach that must be addressed first. Those include ensuring that every school actually has its own nurse, and training caregivers in how to treat mental health disorders, nprEd reports.

Rapid fire

Here are a few more nurse-related items that caught our eyes this week:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, in conjunction with the American Nurses Association, which will explore how hospitals can empower nurses to recognize and address the early signs of sepsis. 
  • The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is also putting on a free webinar Thursday, focused on what comes next for the health care field in the realm of electronic health records.
  • A new book by experts out of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation details the top 10 priorities in the field of nursing.
  • has an interesting piece detailing the money and logistics behind replacing striking nurses.
  • To address a primary care shortage in one New York City neighborhood, the Columbia University School of Nursing is opening a medical practice led by nurse practitioners, reports.
  • And finally, a turf war between doctors and nurses is brewing in Tennessee over what types of treatment advanced-practice nurses can provide, and what level of oversight is required of them, The Tennessean reports