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If you want to contact a nurse educator, it's pretty easy to locate an e-mail address via a school Web site's faculty directory. Not only can you find the faculty member's name and contact information, but many schools post a picture, a list of grants and publications, professional memberships, and sometimes a personal Web page with detailed information and complete curriculum vitae. Posting accomplishments is a way to recruit students and faculty, thus assuring the viability of the school. That is good news; nursing faculty are easy to locate, and their work is highly visible. In contrast, try finding a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), or any nurse, who works in a hospital. If the hospital's Web site is the new front door, nursing has no welcome mat.


Recently, I was given a list with 52 names, all CNS working for a large, multi-hospital health care system. From the system's main Web page, I entered the first name on the list into the search option. No matches. No matches was the message I got for every name on the list that I entered. I studied the system's main page for options that would link me to nursing. There were links for patients, for physicians, and for visitors. It was possible to find a doctor, to request an appointment, to locate continuing medical information, to check laboratory results, to ask for clarification of a bill, to get driving directions to a hospital, and even to access the gift shop. I put "nursing administration" and "nursing" into the search option hoping to find a nursing page. No luck; nursing did not have a page, or at least nothing came up. I searched the chief nursing officer by name and found her picture and a brief biography. I located an A-Z library of health information, ways to give to the foundation, and a list of volunteer opportunities. Buried deep in links was information about nursing education, employment opportunities, and various articles in the system's newsletter citing nursing accomplishments. What I did not find was a link from the system's Web site to a neatly organized page for nursing where I could scan nursing services and click on links to find more information. For a lay person entering the system through the Web site front door, nursing had no visible Web presence in this huge health care system.


Sadly, this experience is all too common, as discovered by Boyington et al1 when they examined hospital Web sites for the presence of nursing. Among 50 sites examined, the researchers found that nursing-related content was minimally present, frequently located on pages deep within the site, and often not indexed in the search engine. The most frequently visible information was about nursing employment, recruitment, and retention. Nurse leaders or administrators were identified on only 20% of hospital Web sites; 22% of sites posted the nursing department's philosophy; and 34% of sites had links to collaborating colleges or schools although collaborative endeavors were identified on only 8% of sites. A nursing research center or department was listed on 29% of sites, but none described research programs or initiatives. Professional nursing awards were listed on 24% of sites, and educational achievements were noted on 12% of sites. In addition, while 15 hospitals in the sample had achieved Magnet designation, only one third displayed the Magnet logo on the hospital home page.


In the wee small hours of the hospital morning, when ventilators softly billow, young mothers labor, and pain is compounded by dark and strange surroundings, a nurse is always present. The billing office is locked up tight, the scheduling clerk is gone, and the gift shop is closed. Night is when the critical contributions of nurses are magnified. Patients and families trust in and are comforted by the knowledge that the nurse is there, on site, attending to all manner of human condition. No sick person would opt for a hospital stay without the presence of a nurse day and night.


It is long past time for nursing to be visible on every hospital's Web site. Boyington et al1 aptly noted that the lack of visibility contributes to the public's lack of comprehension of nurses, and omission of nursing from the Web site sends a message to the public that nurses are not valued as critical members of the health care team or as major contributors to hospital services.


Hence, CNSs, take a few minutes to check a hospital's Web site, preferably your employer's if you work for a hospital. Is nursing visible? Welcoming? Conduct your own test by asking a relative or a friend to visit the hospital site and report their impression of nursing at the hospital. Chances are some changes are needed in how the hospital portrays nursing to the public. As always, I invite letters to the editor discussing what you found and what you did about it.




1. Boyington A, Jones CB, Wilson DL. Buried alive: the presence of nursing on hospital Web sites. Nurs Res. 2006;55(2):103-109. [Context Link]