Robot RNs to the rescue

The automation of nursing has arrived. Except, these humanlike robots aren’t meant to replace nurses; they’re meant to work with them, The Daily Beast reports. These lifelike machines, which are all the rage in Japan, look similar to people — or Teddy bears, if you prefer. They’re programmed to follow nurses throughout their hospital rounds and record specific patient data. They can make their own rounds if need be, or remind patients of upcoming appointments, or to take medicine. They can also perform the essential task of simply keeping patients company, making these robots particularly effective in nursing homes and as caretakers. While they’re still relatively new to the U.S., the National Science Foundation is earmarking $1 million to develop this technology. This is good timing for health care, as the nurse shortage is expected to hit one million unfilled nursing jobs by 2022.

Need a break?

We all know that nurses can undergo too much stress, with less-than-optimal results for patient care. One solution: Make sure nurses get their scheduled breaks. STAT reports that Harborview Medical Center in Seattle added four full-time nurses to two acute care units in a pilot program to deal with nurse burnout. The extra staff covered nurses’ meal and rest breaks, times that often become shortened when nurses need to treat their patients in a hectic environment. The results? Better nurse morale, fewer clinical errors and improved patient outcomes. It seems that the use of dedicated relief nurses for regularly scheduled breaks can give staff time to recharge their batteries and return ready for duty. 

The critical importance of nurse researchers

Medical doctors and Ph.D.s might be the individuals most associate with scientific research. But nurses play just as critical of a role in discovering new health care insights, notes Karen Grimley, chief nurse executive for UCLA Health, in an interview with the school’s newsroom. The field of evidence-based nursing research has been growing rapidly in recent years, she says, coinciding with a “groundswell of interest by communities and the government as it relates to the care of patient populations.” More RN professionals are needed in this space, but doing so will require nurses beginning to “perceive ourselves as scientists,” and nursing leadership cultivating that understanding with nurses in clinics and at the bedside.

Six decades in, still going strong

One would think that doing sixty years of just about anything would get old at some point along the way, yet for Mary Ellen DuPertuis, R.N., that apparently was never the case. “I can honestly say I never hated to come to work,” says DuPertuis, 81, of her six decades working in nursing jobs in the Merced, Calif., region, in an interview with the Merced Sun-Star. Plus, she spent the last 47 of those years working for hospitals affiliated with the current Mercy Medical Center in Merced, now part of Dignity health. Sounds like, during those 60 years, her coworkers and patients enjoyed having her around. “Mrs. D has been a charm for me,” says Shirley Brown, a coworker and friend. Regarding her patients, DuPertuis says, “You get very attached. … It was fun because you got to know them as a family and they treated you like family.”

Rapid fire

Here are a few more nurse-related items that caught our eye, in rapid fashion:

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week approved the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes the Health  Resources and Services Administration’s nursing workforce development programs through 2020 and updates programs to reflect today’s nursing roles and practices, AHA News Now reports.
  • A nurse house call pilot program in Garden Grove, Calif., is helping seniors to prolong their independence, the Orange County Register reports.
  • Bullying among nurses is incredibly common and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses is holding a series of seminars for leaders on how to address this issue, Fierce Healthcare reports.
  • One Michigan community is coming together to support a nurse who suffered a head injury on a Slip N’ Slide, Fox News in West Michigan reports.
  • And finally, if you’re thinking about attending nursing graduate school, U.S. News & World Report has five reasons why doing so might be a “solid bet.”