A Mediaplanet Guide to Celebrating Nurses
Jennifer Stone The “Wizards of Waverly Place” star shares what motivated her to pursue a career in nursing
Meet the frontline heroes who stepped up to combat the COVID-19 pandemic A look at the DEI initiative that will make nursing more welcoming for all
MAY 2021 | EDUCATIONANDCAREERNEWS.COM
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The Roles of Ambulatory Care Nurses During the Pandemic and Beyond Ambulatory care nursing, or nursing given to individuals in an outpatient setting, has always been an essential component of medicine for children and adults alike. For example, while less than 5 percent of children are hospitalized each year, 96 percent of them see a healthcare provider in an ambulatory setting, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Our opportunity to influence health and healthy lifestyles is enormous,” said Kathleen Martinez, a registered nurse and the president of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN). The COVID-19 pandemic has strained healthcare providers across the world, and ambulatory care nurses in the United States are no exception. One unique challenge they faced involved lack of personal protective equipment, medical-grade face masks, and N95 respirators, especially at independent clinics, offices, and care centers, Martinez said. When vaccinations became available, ambulatory care nurses helped organize vaccination campaigns, too. “These are things you do not learn in nursing school,” Martinez said. The pandemic tested nurses in other ways. Martinez noted an estimated 5 percent of COVID cases required hospitalization, though final numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have yet to be determined. Through Martinez’s 30 years of experience in ambulatory care, she’s witnessed changes to the field, such as the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which she called “a game-changer.” To those already in the field, Martinez offered a message of inspiration: “It is no small thing to be invited into the home and life of another. That is our greatest privilege,” she said, “and when we respond with compassion and empathy, a sacred bond is created with our patients and families. Never doubt that your kindness can change a life.” Melinda Carter
How Critical Care Nurses Changed the World As COVID-19 cases surged, critical care nurses stepped up as leaders, providing complex and compassionate care, and demonstrating the fundamental importance of critical care nursing.
hat is not to say the past year has been easy. Healthcare professionals worked around the clock to care for what sometimes felt like a never-ending stream of patients. It was often demanding and emotionally exhausting. Yet, for many of us, 2020 and 2021 represent everything that made us love critical care nursing in the first place: delivering compassionate care to patients at their most vulnerable moments, and expanding our expertise and critical thinking skills. I hope that as we move out of this tough period, aspiring nurses, students, and current nurses will remember our impact and understand why nursing is such a rewarding profession. The time is right For those hoping to pursue a career in critical care nursing, you could not choose a bet-
Beth Wathen President-elect, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)
ter time to start. Critical care nurses can work in a variety of settings and with a spectrum of populations, such as: cardiac care, for patients experiencing diseases related to the heart; pediatrics, for treating children and adolescents; telehealth and electronic intensive care units (eICUs), for interacting with patients in a remote setting using technological tools; leadership roles, such as a nurse manager; and much more. There will always be a need for critical care nurses in these varied and exciting roles, and I am thrilled to see aspiring and current nurses taking note.
Enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs increased nearly 6 percent in 2020, to 250,856, according to preliminary results from an annual survey of 900 nursing schools by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. If these statistics and the past year are any indication, the nursing profession will continue to be a dynamic field, but one thing will always stay the same: the feeling that comes with providing compassionate care to patients when they need it most. In this Year of the Nurse, I want to thank the countless nurses who have used their expert knowledge to deliver empathetic care to complex and challenging critically ill patients during a healthcare crisis of epic proportions. Your dedication and sacrifice are revolutionizing the nursing profession and inspiring the next generation of capable, compassionate nurses. n
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How Jennifer Stone Transitioned From Disney Channel Star to the ER Jennifer Stone, who played Harper Finkle on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” shares what inspired her to pursue a career as an ER nurse.
aving performed on stage in Texas since the age of 6, Jennifer Stone made the move to Los Angeles when she was only 9. By 13, she began portraying Harper Finkle on Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” a character she played for half a decade. Shortly thereafter, she received some alarming health news. “I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which inspired me to take a break from acting for a couple of years to get my nursing degree,” Stone said. “I started work as an ER nurse in April 2020, and have been balancing acting and nursing ever since.” Taking the leap For Stone, pursuing a medical career wasn’t an overnight decision. “I didn’t have the most
positive healthcare experience during the four years it took me to get a definitive diagnosis and treatment plan,” she said. “I felt like a lot of the healthcare professionals I interacted with didn’t believe what I was saying, because I didn’t fit the typical Type 1 model. “I wanted to go into healthcare so I could better understand my body and how to take care of myself. I also wanted to make sure no one I encountered felt like they weren’t being seen and cared for when they needed it most.” Stone even discovered a connection between her two professions. “With acting, you are required to exercise empathy with every character you play,” she said. “With nursing, you are required to practice empathy with every patient you treat. Empathy is the biggest link between the two, and
acting and nursing don’t work without it.” During COVID-19 For Stone, the past year has admittedly been full of unexpected experiences. “In nursing school, you learn a certain set of skills, and then you really learn everything once you start your first job,” she said. “Add the pandemic to it and that’s something no nurse, regardless of experience, could prepare for. “I learned about human resilience and stubbornness, and how much human connection is an inevitable part of nursing that you don’t teach. No matter how much you may try to protect yourself or avoid it, there will always be patients or cases that get to you. Nursing school teaches you a skill set. Nursing in the field and during a pandemic teaches you about human beings and yourself.”
With the ongoing global pandemic, Stone believes certain precautions will always be in place, such as wearing masks. “I also think nurses will fight for safer environments, like how they’re fighting for safer nurse-to-patient ratios now, because a lot of safety concerns were compromised due to the novelty of COVID19, and trying to figure it out across the nation as it was unfolding.” Starstruck Despite spending her days in scrubs, Stone still attracts plenty of fans. “It never stops being weird for me, because I separate my nursing life and my acting life,” she said. “I’ve been in full PPE with a mask, goggles and a surgical cap, and they still recognize me by my voice. It’s always very sweet,
but definitely odd when someone says they enjoyed your work, and then you have to ask them about their last bowel movement.” Chosen for the Olay “Face Anything” campaign that encourages young women to celebrate their natural beauty while exploring interests in STEM fields, Stone has advice for the next generation of students considering a career in nursing: “Take it one class, one shift, and one test at a time,” she said. “Nursing school can be very overwhelming. Learn to expect the unexpected. I had a certain idea of what nursing would be and then COVID-19 happened. With nursing, you never know what it will bring, so it’s important to be ready for anything, and to remember why you got into it in the first place.” n Cindy Riley
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Why Now Is the Time to Inspire Nursing Education Professionals Each day, pandemic life brings another tale of heroism in nursing. Forever etched in our memories, these caring professionals paint a picture of diversity, integrity, caring, and excellence. One after another, frontline nurses have shared harrowing stories filled with overwhelming sadness and heartbreaking loss. Caring for desperately ill patients admitted alone to hospitals, fearful and suffering, nurses have stepped up to help them communicate with loved ones, largely through a computer screen and often in their final moments alive. At the same time, the world has witnessed the unabashed
joy nurses and others on healthcare teams have experienced when able to escort patients who have recovered to hospital exits and watch tearful reunions with relieved, grateful relatives. The contrasting realities of loss and recovery spotlight how during these long months, COVID-19 has put nurses at all levels of experience to the test. The demands of the pandemic aggravated a shortage of nurses that has long plagued the field, while also further constraining the sites available for hands-on, live clinical instruction. Everyone, from novices to veterans, continue, even now, to seek new and better
strategies and resources to handle unanticipated, devastating health crises. Career opportunities Nursing education — responsible for preparing the frontline nursing workforce — must take full advantage of this pandemic-triggered disruption to business-as-usual in academic institutions and healthcare systems. Amid the shifting landscape, the pandemic has highlighted the abundant career opportunities in nursing, including those in nursing education. To open the admissions pipeline for qualified applicants to nursing programs across the spectrum of higher
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education, far more master’s-prepared faculty must be recruited over the coming years. There is a pressing need for more nurses with doctorates in educational technology and areas of scholarship in nursing education to innovate and transform approaches to nursing education. It will take the collective creativity, vision, experience, and imagination of leaders in nursing education to achieve sustainable educational excellence, embodied in evidence-based best practices in classroom and clinical instruction. Looking back In this Year of the Nurse and
the Midwife, I can’t help reflecting on how nurses have always taken on leadership roles in times of crisis. Think for example about Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole during the Crimean War, and the conditions they had to face — how cholera, typhus, dysentery, and other illnesses were taking the lives of so many of the soldiers in their care. Yet they never gave up. Nursing has a rich history of leaders who stepped up to meet the unique challenges of their times. Today’s frontline nurses and the nurse educators behind the scenes stand atop their shoulders, and as those who came before us, we have not and never will give up — our patients are far too precious for us to quit. n Beverly Malone, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, President and CEO, National League for Nursing
The Factors Driving the Next Generation of Nursing Leaders The COVID-19 pandemic has put nurses on the frontlines of a global crisis, shifting the responsibilities of the field and creating demand for more young leaders to step up. We spoke to some current students pursuing nursing degrees about what’s motivated them to impact the field of nursing.
Chin-Yen Lin, RN, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Kentucky
Nawaf Alfaouri, RN, DNP-S, FNP-S Doctor of Nursing Practice Student, Seattle University
Heidi Hagan Nurse-Midwife Student, Frontier Nursing University
What motivated you to pursue a degree in nursing? Has COVID-19 changed or impacted this in any way?
authorities and tended to a young child’s wounds.I knew if I were to serve and advocate for my people, it would have to be in a more substantial and direct way.
Chin-Yen Lin: I chose nursing as a career because I like to help others and the work is not only challenging, but it is meaningful. As a nurse during the pandemic, I have never been prouder of my profession because of the service and sacrifice nurses everywhere are making to inspire hope and support wellness in their communities. Nawaf Alfaouri: As a former senior public/private diplomat in Obama’s “Call to Action” mission, I was tasked with developing healthcare infrastructures that served refugee women, children, and internally displaced populations due to the Syrian civil war. During my time in the Zaatari refugee camp, I shadowed a nurse practitioner who interfaced with government
Heidi Hagan: My goal is to develop a comprehensive perinatal hospice program that provides in-home care/birth planning, delivery support, grief support, and follow-up after birth. This cause is very near to my heart and drives everything I do as a nurse and now student nurse-midwife. What was important to you when choosing a school or degree program? CL: There are many important factors to consider before choosing a nursing school, such as courses, tuition, time investment, and campus location. However, for me, the most important factor was for the school to have a strong academic
and clinical partnership with a hospital — like the one UK’s College of Nursing has with UK HealthCare. NA: It was most important to select a school that aligned with my core values of social justice and health equity. Healthcare is a basic human right, and the socioeconomic factors that produce poor health outcomes are a public health issue. Attending a school where our education is centered around the intersections of social justice and health allowed me to expand my knowledge base. HH: I wanted to become more comfortable working with death and dying, as well as avail myself to caring for perinatal patients who may be anticipating a life-limiting diagnosis. I also wanted to gain experience working with folks in the home setting because I feel there is a huge opportunity to expand services to postpartum women.
COMMITTED TO CREATING HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES We are thankful—despite the trials of the past year—that nurses remain committed to providing the best quality care for patients, families and communities. We appreciate and are proud of the work nurses do every day. Thank you nurses.
ES THANK YOU NURS EVERY WHERE!
Delivering Meaningful Healthcare Education During a Pandemic Audrey Perry DNP, CNM, CNE, curriculum and course design coach for Frontier Nursing University, explains the programs her school developed to continue offering outstanding educational experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. What are some of the challenges you faced in trying to deliver simulations virtually?
tionally, we had software and curriculum established for a rapid increase in delivery of virtual simulations.
Frontier Nursing University (FNU) has a long history of enriched virtual education. We were well-positioned to respond to the educational crisis the COVID pandemic created. However, we were still significantly challenged by technology, the increased demands for simulations, increased demands on faculty time, and increased need for faculty training. We have a Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning at FNU, and an exceptional IT department that provided the essential support for our students and faculty to successfully shift to virtual clinical experiences. Additionally, our interdepartmental team approach minimized our challenges. Without our long history of distance education and dedication to innovation, we would have experienced many more challenges. We had an established foundation for virtual simulations to build on. Addi-
What responsibility do you think nursing degree providers have given the disparities in the healthcare industry today? I believe all nursing degree providers have a responsibility to challenge future nurses to stand up and impact the health disparities and inequities that plague our healthcare delivery systems. The first step in this process is for educators to challenge learners and themselves to reflect on their privilege, power, identity, and biases. Additionally, curricular essentials include cultivating a culture of humility, service, essential conversations, lifelong learning, and a focus on partnerships that can enhance social determinants of health. At Frontier Nursing University, our Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership informs and guides our curriculum, educational culture, and
administrative decisions to ensure we maintain our focus on decreasing health disparities and health inequities, and increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity for all members of our university community. What are the main benefits of pursuing a nursing degree? The trust that communities and individuals assign to nurses is an honor and benefit of the profession. This trust uniquely positions nurses as leaders in creating a more equitable healthcare system. Nursing often leads people down paths they never imagined in order to respond to the needs of individuals and communities. Endless opportunities to learn, serve, connect, influence, lead, and partner at an individual, community, and societal level are the main benefits of a nursing career. n This article has been paid for by Frontier Nursing University.
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Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Nursing Nurses Month is filled with recognition of nurses and the positive impact they have on healthcare. As we also celebrate the profession with the continuation of the Year of the Nurse, it is beneficial and appropriate to reflect on our history. Nurses have advanced the body of knowledge by shrugging off tradition and opting for research and the integration of evidence-based practice. Nurses, long considered as subordinate to physicians, now have increased opportunities to have a voice in the development of policy decisions and are considered partners in healthcare. These are the
positive sides of nursing, however, no profession has a perfect history. Nursing has not been immune to racism, exclusionism, divisiveness, and inequities. This is a history that some nurses may be unaware of or are reluctant to acknowledge. Now, more than any other time in nursing’s history, is the time to acknowledge, investigate, and develop a purposeful trajectory to correct these issues. Today we are called to do better, be better as professionals, and to be more inclusive as a profession. Striving for change Reflective of nursing’s history and considering the current tragedies sur-
rounding people of color, the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) has launched a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative to begin open and critical conversations surrounding issues of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, age, and culture and religion, with an intention to alter the status quo by focusing on the development of competencies around DEI through self-reflection, education, and critical conversations. AMSN is inviting nurses, professional nursing organizations, and stakeholders to join us on this journey. We don’t purport to have the answers because there is no simple fix to the
inequities and exclusivity that exist today. What we do have is the willingness to stay this course, the passion to work toward change, and commitment of the entire AMSN board of directors. Join us; the dialogue will be interesting and uncomfortable at times, but this is how we grow. The path will not be smooth because there are roadblocks that may delay our progress, but sometimes those journeys prove to be the most interesting and have the greatest impact. n Robin Hertel, Ed.S., MSN, RN, CMSRN, Immediate Past-President, Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN)
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