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One Rx for Nursing Shortage

In March 2002, Catherine Walsh, RN, vice president of patient care services at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, wondered if Hispanic nurses living in Chicago who were already licensed in another country could become licensed in the U.S. Her question prompted the collaboration of ten organizations, and four months of discussion resulted in the groundbreaking Chicago-Mexico Nurse Initiative. The program assists Hispanic nurses whose professional skills have been unused due to language and system barriers. An informational meeting drew 262 initial applicants; twenty-two candidates now attend classes four nights a week to prepare for the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools examination, the Test of English as a Foreign Language examination, and, ultimately, the NCLEX. Graduates of the program should be working by August 2003. Walsh is now investigating expanding the program to nurses holding licenses from Asian and European countries. For more information about the program, call Gloria Dominguez at 773-843-4531.-Advance for Nurses, February 17, 2003


Morning-After Pill

Morning-after pill regimens have been considered emergency contraception, drugs taken shortly after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. But a report released by The Annals of Pharmacotherapy shows evidence that, instead of preventing ovulation, the drug may cause the death of a living embryo by blocking its attempts to attach inside the uterus, causing abortion of the newly-formed embryonic life. This raises questions about the effort to make the morning-after pill available over the counter, as well as presenting serious moral and ethical challenges to the use of these drugs in ERs and private medical practice. It is important that health care workers give patients information relevant to their beliefs and value systems.-The Annals of Pharmacology, Spring 2002


Blending Faith and Academia

From a field of 115 nominations, Eleanor McClelland, PhD, RN, a member of JCN's review panel, recently received the Faith and Learning Award from the Geneva Lecture Committee, fifteen University of Iowa faculty members. McClelland was recruited as a community health nurse, became a faculty member and spent the last seventeen years of her thirty-year tenure at the University of Iowa as an associate dean of the College of Nursing. She retired June 30, 2002. The award was a result of McClelland's lifelong association with Nurses Christian Fellowship(r) and her application of Scripture to her work. Surprised by the award, McClelland said, "When I talk to someone about their faith, I meet them where their interests are and try to be their friend."- Iowa City Press-Citizen, December 6, 2002


Stem Cells Show Promise

A researcher at the University of Minnesota has discovered what is being called the "ultimate stem cell." Stems cells found in adult bone marrow have passed every test proving that they: can form every single tissue in the body; can be grown in culture indefinitely, with no sign of aging; can be isolated from humans; and do not form cancerous masses when injected into adults.


John Kilner, president of Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity (CBHD), said, "If confirmed, we no longer need to wait until human cloning becomes reliable- something that may never happen-to pursue therapies and treatments. The genetically appropriate, flexible stem cells that patients need are right in their own bodies."


For more information, check CBHD at


Literacy Affects Health

The American Medical Association (AMA) estimates that about 90 million Americans have difficulty comprehending medical information and acting on it. That means an inability to follow instructions on pill bottles, understand health advice, complete office forms or insurance applications, or give informed consent to have an operation or office medical procedure. The results can be devastating-more visits to EDs, increased likelihood of complications, and even death. The AMA says many patients are simply too embarrassed to let health care providers know they do not understand what they are being asked or told. Bottom line: RNs must be sensitive to patients' health literacy and understand a patient's shame may be the greatest hindrance to health.-Nursing Spectrum, April 16, 2001


Pulse Beats compiled by Melodee Yohe, consulting editor


Does Religious Struggle Affect Mortality?

A study has found that certain types of negative feelings or thoughts relating to religious beliefs can increase the risk of death in ill older patients. Nearly 600 medical inpatients, 55 years or older (more than 95% Christian), completed questionnaires about their religious coping (for example, the extent to which they sought spiritual support or religious forgiveness) and religious struggle (for example, the extent to which they thought they were being punished, questioned God's powers or were discontented with religion). Three beliefs were associated with a 19-28% increase in the likelihood of dying within two years: "Wondered whether God had abandoned me," "Questioned God's love for me" and "Decided the devil made this happen." Those who survived beyond two years had reported lesser degrees of religious struggle. -AJN, November 2001


Disaster Preparedness

The honor society of nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the American Red Cross have jointly developed Disaster Preparedness and Response for Nurses, an online case study available free to all nurses at The case study has been peer-reviewed for accuracy and completeness, and leads nurses through clinical decision-making steps. It includes links to abstracts, full-text articles and research related to the topic. Nurses who complete the case study can register for two hours of free continuing education.-Advance for Nurses, February 17, 2003


Comfort Essential in Nursing?

Ann Malinowski and Lynette Stamler believe that Watson's Theory of Human Care and Leininger's Theory of Culture Care both capture the essence of what nursing is and that both incorporate comfort. In other words, comfort is fundamental in nursing practice. Malinowski and Stamler fear nursing is losing important values, including comfort, in the face of increasing technology and different management practices. They argue that comfort is one of the soft concepts that needs to be validated because "Comfort is a basic human need, and as such, it must be achieved before the person can turn his/her attention to the process of healing."-Journal of Advanced Nursing, September 2002