Death from prescription drug overdoses currently claims the unfortunate title as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. And “doctor shopping” — when patients with substance abuse disorders go from doctor to doctor seeking controlled substances — is a large part of the problem. A Rush University Medical Center story profiles Julie Worley, a nurse researcher at Rush University’s College of Nursing who has dedicated her time to studying the problem in hopes of finding a solution. Worley immersed herself in the world of those she was studying. She attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings to connect with “shoppers” and often put herself at risk outside meetings to conduct interviews. Her work has paid off with piles of research data that has helped her pin down key strategies to help ID and stop doctor shopping. But, there’s still a ways to go in breaking down stigma against prescription drug abuse and treating substance use disorders like chronic illnesses, she says in the story.

Targeting Future Nurses When They’re Young

As the baby boomer generation continues to age and retire, it’s important there are younger generations to pick up where they left off. This is especially true in nursing, where a 2013 National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Center study found 55 percent of the RN workforce is age 50 and older. After discussing the alarming numbers, nursing staff at South Nassau Communities Hospital’s pediatric unit worked to create the Nurses 2B program, according to a press release from the Oceanside, N.Y., provider. The program consists of six 90-minute weekly seminars designed to expose high school students to the world of nursing. Nurse volunteers from various clinical practices share their experiences in hopes of getting students to consider a career in nursing. So far, 26 students have completed the first semester of the program and 21 more are enrolled for the fall semester. Upon completion, students help with a community health event and earn volunteer hours toward their diploma, all while working closely with RNs.

Insurer Expands Nurse Hotline After Early Success

A small-business insurance group called Employers has extended its nationwide Injured Employee nurse triage hotline after the hotline decreased callers’ emergency department visits by 50 percent, Claims Journal reports. The free 24/7 hotline, which enables injured workers to call and consult with a nurse before they commit to visiting the ED or take other action, has also decreased 911 calls since its inception in 2014. In addition to relieving ED visits and emergency calls, the hotline helped patients treat themselves when possible, lessening total claims costs by 35 percent. The nurses were able to advise callers how to take care of themselves in many instances where visiting a doctor wasn’t appropriate. This, in addition to fewer ED and out-of-network hospital visits, reduced Employers’ expenses.

Northeast Leads in Job Openings

Nurse job openings are more plentiful in New England states and in a handful of sparsely populated states farther west. Olivet Nazarene University took a look at nursing job postings on a website and ranked the states based on the number of job listings per 10,000 residents. Massachusetts clocked in at No. 1 with 22.9 listings per 10,000 residents, followed by Maine (21.1), North Dakota (21), New Mexico (20.9), New Hampshire (20.6) and Vermont (19.9). The lowest ranked states were: Mississippi (7.2), Hawaii (7.4), Utah (9.1) and Louisiana (9.5). Bigger states varied: California (11.6), Texas (13.8) and New York (10.4).

Rapid Fire

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

  • Quick Hitter: NBC5 has the scoop on the Providence Medford Medical Center nurse who happens to be an 11-time world champion in archery.
  • Geisinger Health System, in Danville, Pa., is switching up the dress code for its nurses based on feedback gathered from patients, according to a press release.
  • A nurse educator in Chesterfield County, Va., is spreading knowledge about the profession through the creation of a new line of dolls, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
  • And finally, oncology nurse Linda Norris penned a heartfelt apology letter to her patients after doctors recently diagnosed her with cancer, Us Weekly reports.