Category Archives: Voices from the Field
Kim D’Abreu is Senior Vice President for Access, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Policy Center at the American Dental Education Association. D’Abreu was previously the deputy director for the Pipeline Profession and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.
The words we use matter. That’s why the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is shifting the conversation away from the “deficit model” for recruiting students from underserved backgrounds. ADEA is specifically avoiding language that suggests “the numbers just aren’t there” or “the pool is not qualified.” When we describe underserved students as low-income or less prepared educationally, it suggests that the problem lies with them. It undervalues the students and ignores the wealth that they bring to the table in terms of cultural competence, initiative, and willingness to provide care to communities that need it most. But far worse, the deficit model allows the real institutional obstacles that these students face to remain in place.
Olga Yakusheva, PhD, is an associate professor of economics at Marquette University. Richard C. Lindrooth, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Both are grantees of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative.
Technological innovation is rapidly transforming patient care. A new generation of innovations will potentially change the most fundamental aspect of the patient experience – patients’ interactions with physicians and nurses. The FDA recently approved the first autonomous telemedicine robot for use in acute care hospitals. Even more advanced technologies, some capable of processing up to tens of millions of pages of plain medical text per second, are being tested and may soon be used to diagnose conditions and recommend treatment, with limited input from clinicians.
"We suggest that nurses should embrace rather than fear these innovations."
This new technology has the potential to perform several tasks more efficiently than clinicians, albeit with some limitations. It can quickly and effectively sift through large amounts of information and, based on a complex set of guidelines, create a probability-weighted list of diagnoses and recommendations. The result will be purely evidence-based and free of human cognitive decision-making biases. The technology can drastically speed diffusion of new research and guidelines through electronic dissemination, similar to automatic software updates, and make most novel treatment regimens instantly available to patients.
Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH, MA, MPA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science & Health Education at St. Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections grantee, his research focuses on the social and economic conditions structuring disparities in the health of African American males. His work seeks to identify sources of individual, cultural, and organizational social capital to promote health behaviors, and health care access and utilization, to advance and improve the health and well-being of African American males. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.
I became a public health professional because I recognized a need to find opportunities and strategies to prevent the chronic diseases I saw silently killing African Americans in the community where I grew up. I vividly recall as a child the whispers surrounding the deaths of community members about cancer, diabetes (or sugar-diabetes, as it is commonly referred to in many communities still today), heart attacks, and strokes. I knew there was stigma and fear, but never heard of programs, interventions, or opportunities to stop these trends.
My interest in addressing these problems led me to pursue summer programs and internships during high school that allowed me to witness amputations of uncontrolled diabetic patients who had a range of clinical and social co-morbid conditions. Many of these amputees were living in poverty, they had Medicare or Medicaid, and the majority happened to be African American. This experience raised the question about prevention: How could I prevent African American men and women from having amputations? I never heard this conversation around prevention in my community. Many people seemed to accept the reality of developing these chronic conditions as a fate that could not be controlled.
I knew there had to be another way.
Gary H. Gibbons, MD, is director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. He is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.
Growing up in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Philadelphia, high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks were common. When I got to medical school, I asked one of my professors why the African American community tended to have a higher prevalence of these medical conditions. He introduced me to biomedical science for the first time and challenged me to pursue that question on my own. I've continued to look for the answer to that provocative question ever since.
Similar to that early experience, mentorship has been a determining factor in my career trajectory. I might not have pursued a research career at all if it hadn't been for Harvard Medical School professor A. Clifford Barger who inspired me to ask and answer difficult research questions. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Harold Amos Program pushed me further with their emphasis on mentorship, which gave me a sense of community with the many scholars interested in the same research problems. It was my experience with a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant when I was starting out as an investigator that inspired me to give back to a younger set of minority researchers by becoming a K Award mentor and leading a T32 program at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Ann Marie P. Mauro, PhD, RN, CNL, CNE, is a clinical associate professor, fellow with the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, and the program liaison and project director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Careers in Nursing scholarship program at the New York University (NYU) College of Nursing, which has made extensive use of simulation. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.
For students in the health professions, the beauty of simulation is the ability to apply their critical thinking and assessment skills in a safe environment where they can learn without fear of harming a patient. Sometimes I think people learn much better from their mistakes. While simulation does not completely replace traditional clinical experiences, it is a great teaching strategy to help standardize students’ learning experiences, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
You can achieve targeted learning outcomes for students who have the opportunity to work with patients with specific health concerns. When we take students into a traditional clinical setting, we do not have control over which patients might be available and what students might be able to do. It is getting particularly challenging not only to find clinical sites, because of competition among schools, but to deal with health care organizations that have transitioned to electronic health records and electronic medication administration records, which are difficult for faculty and students to access. Furthermore, it is time-consuming and costly for faculty to be trained on different systems.
Ying Xue, DNSc, RN, is an associate professor at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.
For the past two decades, supplemental nurses have been about 4 percent of the nursing workforce. These are nurses hired from staffing agencies to temporarily fill vacant nursing positions. The business of supplemental nurse staffing began in the 1970s as a symptom and a response to the nursing shortage. A central concern over the decades has been whether quality of patient care provided by supplemental nurses is the same as that provided by permanent nurses.
On the one hand, some argue that the temporary nature of the position (which varies from per-diem to a few months) might have an adverse effect on patient outcomes due to supplemental nurses’ lack of familiarity with unit policies and health care providers, and disruption in continuity of care. Others contend that supplemental nurses might have a positive effect on patient outcomes because they alleviate deficiencies in nurse staffing.
What’s the answer to this decades’ old question? Surprisingly, relatively little research has been conducted to provide a definitive answer, but several recent studies not only are shedding light on the issue, but helping to reframe the question by challenging some old myths.
Lynne M. Dunphy, PhD, FNP, is the founding nurse co-lead of the Rhode Island Action Coalition and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows program. She is a professor and associate dean of external affairs at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Nursing, where she also holds the Routhier Chair of Practice. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.
At the University of Rhode Island, I teach a graduate course in health care policy. Rhode Island Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts recently spoke to my class about health reform, and I showed her around our college of nursing. As we walked through rooms with high-tech simulation equipment and other labs that imitate real-life practice, she raised a question that resonated with me: Are your students getting out into the community? This is where our health care needs of the future will be.
So many of our nursing students want to go into acute care, and I am concerned that they have not had enough exposure to the entire health care system. The following questions keep coming to mind:
- Do they learn enough about all the settings they could work in?
- Do they understand what their responsibilities and day-to-day activities would be in various settings, such as in a community health center or long-term care facility?
- Do they understand how to implement population-based care?
- Are they ready for the challenging work of visiting patients in home care settings?
- Are they truly prepared?
In the more than two years since the launch of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, state-based coalitions around the country have been working to strengthen the nursing profession to improve health and health care. These Action Coalitions have identified priorities and strategies specific to their states, and forged diverse partnerships to help reach their goals.
A new series of videos on RWJF.org features leaders from some of those Action Coalitions discussing their work and successes, and some of the unique challenges and opportunities they’ve faced.
Carolyn Hayes, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, is associate chief nurse for Adult Inpatient and Integrative Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, MA. She is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow (2012). Here, Hayes reflects on how nurses provided quality care to patients and others traumatized by the bombing at the Boston Marathon. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.
I remember a brief report on television, just after the Newtown shootings, when an emergency department (ED) physician in Connecticut said his emotional pain started with his realization that his ED was not getting any victims. It clearly overwhelmed him not to be able to help. At the time I felt for him but on Monday, April 15, after the Boston Marathon bombing, I truly understood him. I, along with other highly-skilled members of the health care and support teams at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, had the privilege of making a difference for the victims of that tragic event.
That Monday, I was the operations section chief—the role designed to ensure staff, materials, supplies, and systems are in place to address whatever is occurring. On Friday the 19th, the day that Boston and surrounding towns were instructed to “shelter in place,” I was incident commander.
We saved lives and limbs in our ED that day. But we also tended to the anxiety, fear, and confusion created by an attack on our city. We addressed with patients, their families, family members of unidentified marathon victims, and ourselves, the existential gap created by the “why” of it all. We lived out what we had trained for, yet couldn’t comprehend. And we did it all as a community.
Nancy Ryan-Wenger, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN, is the director of nursing research and an investigator at the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. As a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI), she was a lead investigator of the first-ever study to systematically elicit the views of hospitalized children and adolescents on the quality of their nursing care, and also the first to evaluate children’s perceptions of nurses’ behavior for evidence of any disparities across demographic groups. This is part of a series of posts for National Nurses Week, highlighting how nurses are driving quality and innovation in patient care.
Have we asked the children?
That became a pressing question for me when I retired from academia after 30 years and joined the staff of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I became aware of things that are highly important to hospitals, such as opinions of the quality of care. Yet when I saw the patient surveys at Nationwide, they were almost always completed by parents, and 80 percent of the questions were geared toward parents: Were they kept informed of their child’s condition? Did they have a comfortable place to sleep? Was their child treated kindly by staff member?
Those are important questions, certainly, but if you’re doing a patient survey, don’t you want to know what the patient thinks?
Have we asked the children?