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A Nurse Shadow Program

How do we grow the next generation of nurses? Edward Hospital in Naperville, IL, offers a way for high school students and others exploring career options in health care to shadow nurses so they can see nursing firsthand. Cautions considered: 1) continuing quality nursing care, protecting patient privacy and confidentiality, 2) limiting additional demands on already-busy RNs, 3) insuring that participants receive consistent orientation and training. Essential to the program is the involvement of the volunteer office in processing requests, working out the schedule, handling orientation and evaluation. The student chooses the area (off limits at this time: cardiac cath lab, labor & delivery, the OR) and the preferred two-hour block. A one-hour orientation emphasizes that the experience is observational, that there is a dress code, and the student's immunizations must be current. In the first four months of the program, eight students, between 17 and 41, have shadowed a nurse. They have reported that the staff has been welcoming and indicated that the experience helped them decide on a career in nursing. Nurses who have been shadowed also report satisfaction with the program.-Patti Ludwig-Beymer, Nursing Spectrum, February 9, 2004


Power Behind the Deed

"Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in your name."- Blaise Pascal, quoted in If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat!! John Ortberg


Ask Me 3

Health literacy is a public health issue that affects all ages, race and income levels. People are often embarrassed to admit they have difficulty understanding health information and instructions, which leads to non-compliance with prescribed treatment and self-care regimens. Florida's Miami-Dade County Health Department hopes to address the issue by the recent launch of its Ask Me 3 program throughout the county's network of health centers. The new patient education program, provided by The Partnership for Clear Health Communication, is designed to promote communications between health care providers and patients to improve health outcomes. Ask Me 3 encourages patients to understand the answers to three questions: 1) What is my main problem? 2) What do I need to do? 3) Why is it important for me to do this? For more information, on Ask Me 3, call the Miami-Dade County Health Department, Office of Public Health Information at 786/845-0200.


Life Saving Gadget

In 1955, a baby was born who suffered from hydrocephalus. His father, John Holter, a hydraulics technician, set out to save his son. He designed a little valve that was placed inside his son's head, allowing liquid to drain away from the brain. It gave the boy, Casey, five years of life. Although in the 1950s entire institutions existed where babies with hydrocephalus were sent to die, today it is nearly impossible to find in the Western world a baby with an enlarged head. The Holter shunt has allowed countless others to live. Holter recently died at the age of 87.-New York Times, January 21, 2004, as cited in The Orere Source, January /February 2004


Cherry Ames Revisited

Harriet Forman, owner/manager of Omni Management Consultants, was inspired to become a nurse because of the adventurous, fictional, 21-book Cherry Ames series, published in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Forman is now spearheading an effort to republish Helen Wells s Cherry Ames series, as well as launching Serita Stevens's children's book series, introducing a fictional nurse, Charlie (for Charlotte) London. The multicultural, multiethnic series shows nursing in its contemporary form. Stevens, a legal nurse consultant who grew up on Cherry Ames, has written 29 books. Financial backing is from Palm Healthcare Foundation; profits from the books will go to nursing scholarships offered by the foundation. The first republished Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, was released in April. To order: go to Hilton, Nursing Spectrum, April 5, 2004


Got Sore Feet?

Safety Seven Manufacturing has released Ergo Mates, a lightweight, washable, reusable, reasonably-priced aid to combat the negative effects of working, walking and standing on hard surfaces. ErgoMates strap on to nurses' shoes. The product's cushioning system effectively allows the muscles of the back, legs and feet to contract naturally as they adjust to the flexibility and give-and-take of the cushioning material. This can improve the nurse's circulation, reducing fatigue by as much as 50 percent. ErgoMates sell for $36/pair and come in four sizes for men and women. For more information contact Shelly at 866/849-4747 or e-mail


Patient Safety/Med Errors

Most medication errors do not harm patients, according to a U.S. Pharmacopeia report. 405 hospitals and 77 outpatient and other facilities participated in the 2002 database. The majority (98.3%) of the 192,477 errors reported voluntarily through the organization's MEDMARX database did no harm, compared with 97.6 percent in 2001-49 percent did not "reach" the patient. Most common were errors of omission (25.6%), when the patient did not receive the prescribed medication; dosage or quantity (25.5%); and prescription (18.5%), when the medication was incorrectly prescribed. The types of errors most likely to harm involved wrong administration (inappropriately crushing tablets); wrong route (IV instead of IM); or administration of an unauthorized drug. Insulin, morphine and Heparin were the drugs most often involved in errors causing harm.-Nurse News, Nursing Spectrum, December 15, 2003


Health Care Made Easy

Too much information makes finding your way through the health care system overwhelming. Richard Saul Wurman has come up with an illustrated guidebook called Understanding Healthcare, which tackles even the most complex details of the insurance system, genetic counseling and new developments in neuroscience. Wurman anticipates the questions patients ask, covering the body's evolution from birth through death with lavish, annotated charts and graphics. He explains how to find the best doctors, hospitals and other caregivers and explains changes in the health care system.-Barbara Kantrowitz, Newsweek, April 5, 2004