Full Practice Authority for APRNs in the U.S. Veteran’s Administration


On December 14, 2016 the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs issued a final ruling authorizing full practice authority of Certified Nurse Practitioners (CNP), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), or Certified Nurse-Midwifes (CNM) in the VA system.  This final ruling does aprn-scales_lgnot include Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), but is inviting commentary on “on whether there are access issues or other unconsidered circumstances that might warrant their inclusion in a future rulemaking.”  This is a huge victory – one that serves the interests of the patients who receive care through the V.A.  As stated in the ruling:

This rulemaking increases veterans’ access to VA health care by expanding the pool of qualified health care professionals who are authorized to provide primary health care and other related health care services to the full extent of their education, training, and certification, without the clinical supervision of physicians, and it permits VA to use its health care resources more effectively and in a manner that is consistent with the role of APRNs in the non-VA health care sector, while maintaining the patient-centered, safe, high-quality health care that veterans receive from VA. (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/14/2016-29950/advanced-practice-registered-nurses)

Various physician groups, including the American Medical Association, have registered strong opposition to this ruling, which in part is responsible for the exclusion of CRNAs (see Forbes report here).  Part of the objection from some physicians is the claim that full practice authority for APRNs (i.e. APRNs can practice without physician supervision within the scope of APRN practice) is that physician-nurse collaboration is undermined. Those of us who follow the politics of this relationship recognize the absurdity of this claim, but nonetheless, this very current situation reminds us that we still have a long road ahead in establishing nursing’s sovereignty over our own practice.  For more about the long-standing physician opposition to initiatives such as this, see the excellent 2012 report on the ‘Truth About Nursing

If you are inclined to comment on the exclusion of CRNAs from this ruling, you must do so by January 13, 2017. Here are details about how to comment:

Written comments may be submitted: Through http://www.Regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to Director, Regulations Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420; by fax to (202) 273-9026. Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AP44-Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.” Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1068, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except holidays). Call (202) 461-4902 for an appointment. (This is not a toll-free number.) In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) at http://www.Regulations.gov.

Have you ever considered being on a Board?


Here at the NurseManifest project, we have tended to emphasize grass roots, “on the street” kinds of activism to bring our deepest nursing values into everyday experience.  But manifesting nursing values needs to happen everywhere, and one of the spheres whereconference-table this is vitally important is in the Board Rooms, large and small.  Lisa Sundean, who is one of our NurseManifest bloggers, is embarking on her dissertation project to explore nurses on Boards, and in the interest of sharing her work wide and far, she has established website and blog – SundeanRN.org!  Her first blog post is now available, explaining why this is vitally important!  I highly recommend that you read her post: What do Boards Have to do with Nursing?  And if you have never considered serving in this capacity, think about it now!  We need to be manifesting nursing everywhere – at the bedside, the chairside, the curbside, and yes, the board side!

The Power of Nursing


On January 24th in the early morning hours my husband Brian woke me up because he said his left arm was hurting and he was nauseated.  After I gave him two aspirin we rushed to the ED of our regional hospital….He had a myocardial infarction in process.  The cardiac cath team was called, and an amazing interventional cardiologist performed a balloon angioplasty to open up the blocked artery.  After Brian was stabilized in the CVICU he was transferred to the CV Step Down unit to wait for surgery.  On January 29th the cardiothoracic surgeon performed a CABG x 4 and Brian was discharged on February 3rd.  It was quite an ordeal.  There are always lessons we learn when we are the recipients of health care.

As you can imagine this has been a life-altering event for both of us. During this critical time every person that we encountered and every circumstance that occurred, big and small, mattered to us.  I can honestly say that Brian and I experienced the most excellent care that I could ever imagine, and this made a significant difference in his healing and my experience as a family member.

The nursing staff at this hospital were wonderful. We know that nurses are the heart and soul of any hospital. Every single nurse that we encountered was knowledgeable, skilled, attentive and compassionate.  They were truly person and family-centered.  Every one of them asked how she/he could be helpful to us.  Watching the nurse caring for Brian immediately after surgery in the CVICU was amazing to me.  It was like watching the conductor of a symphony.  Her technological competence was incredible…she monitored everything moment by moment, while continuing to focus on Brian as a person experiencing this critical event, and on me as a wife fearful of what was happening.  When I was waiting for news of Brian’s condition during surgery, several of the staff stopped in to encourage me and to give me updates if they could.  This was so meaningful to me.  When Brian was recovering, the CVICU staff pushed and encouraged him and did anything they could to make me comfortable.  All the staff on the step-down unit exquisitely cared for Brian, supported us and made us feel “at home”.  I’m so grateful to the nursing staff for creating the healing environment where this level of care happens.

We often hear about the horrors of poor nursing care, so I wanted to share this story of hope and encouragement with everyone.  I am so proud to be a nurse because of the profound difference we make in the lives of people in the most vulnerable moments of their lives.  Yes, our cardiologist and surgeon saved Brian’s life, but the nurses were equally biogenic (life-giving) to both of us.  They preserved our dignity, prevented complications, prepared us for discharge, facilitated a smooth transition, allayed our anxieties, relieved our pain, provided comfort, lifted our spirits with laughter, gave us critical information, challenged him to do more than he thought possible, instilled hope for the future, involved us in choices, and took the time to listen to our fears and rants.

P.S. Brian is in cardiac rehab now and is recovering.

Never ever ever underestimate the power of nursing. We transform lives by healing through caring.

Celebrating recovery with Brian!

Celebrating recovery with Brian!

Call to Action for 2016 NurseManifest Study: Request for Co-Creators


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a quote from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

You are invited to comment, collaborate, and co-create a global NurseManifest research project, to be carried out later this year.

Previously in 2002 and 2003 we asked nurses what it was like to practice nursing, and what changes they envision to create the conditions for ideal practice, using emancipatory methods.

For 2016 I propose we explore the topic of excellence in nursing care, from the perspective of patients and caregivers, using Appreciative Inquiry.

With a blog readership of over 7,500 people, we now have the capacity to carry out the international study envisioned by the NurseManifest Project founders over a decade ago, and make a global impact through our collective action.

Some critical questions we might ask include:

  • What is like to be the recipient of excellent nursing care?
  • What specifically about your nursing care experience made it excellent?
  • How would healthcare be different if every nursing interaction was excellent?
  • What would it take to create a healthcare system where excellent nursing care is the norm?

Some opportunities to participate include:

  • Host a conversation group with patients and family members who have received care from a single health care organization or network of providers.
  • Host a conversation group with patients and family members who have received care related to a specific condition or life event.
  • Host a conversation with a community group, with co-workers, or even with your own family.

Some ideas for dissemination:

  • Present at national and international conferences in 2017
  • Develop a series of manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals
  • Turn the findings into a book
  • Use the findings to inform a public service campaign about nursing and policies impacting nurses

Please add your ideas in the comments section below this blog entry or write to Olga Jarrín at olga.jarrin@rutgers.edu by June 1, 2016 – in time to have a shared protocol and IRB approval in place for interviews and focus groups to begin in September, 2016.

For more information about Appreciative Inquiry see the website: Appreciative Inquiry Commons. Case Western Reserve University, Weatherhead School of Management. April 18, 2016. *Note: This repository of information Includes Appreciative Inquiry resource materials in 22 languages. https://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu

 

 

Nurses as Healers: Good Work Environments


I remember when I became a new nurse 21 years ago, and a friend asked me what I did at the hospital when I worked those long 12 hour night shifts. His thoughts were that the patients were asleep, so it was probably a job where you hung out and drank coffee, occasionally checking in on a patient. I remember walking him through what I usually did on a 12 hour 7pm- 7 am night shift, including most of the tasks and requirements of the job from receiving report at the start of the shift to giving report at the end of the shift. I made sure to include that if- when I got a break,  it was usually around 2am or 3am when I was finally “caught up enough” to take some 20-30 minutes to nourish and hydrate myself.

As I thought of this telling of what nurses do some 20 years later,  I wondered if I included what nurses are really charged with doing, which is supporting the healing of those we care for. Did I focus on all of the tasks and duties I would complete during that 12 hour shift, or did I also include the time spent rubbing backs, holding hands, saying prayers, educating, and supporting patients and their loved ones? Did I include the story about the time I had to call a deaf woman and tell her husband had passed after she left for the evening? Or the time when the family asked me to increase the morphine drip rate because “the doctor said she would be dead before the morning and we are ready for her to be gone”? What about the man with ALS being kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube who lay lonely in his bed, unable to verbally communicate, and went for weeks at a time without a single visitor?

I believe that as nurses we need to educate the public not just on all of the technical skills we do each day to support patients’ receiving good medical care, but also on the healing aspects of our unique work as nurses: on how we were likely “called” to be a nurse because we want to make a difference, the skills we have developed that support us in creating caring-healing environments for patients, and the rewards of being able to support others through their healing process. I think we should be making it clear to the public as well that we are committed to our own health and healing, knowing that we can’t support others through health challenges if we are not also dealing with these challenges ourselves. And as nurses, we need to support one another in our own healing process, role-modeling what self-care and stress management look like in action.

A recent study showed that supporting nursing and creating “good nursing environments”, with adequate nurse staffing, leads to better long term patient outcomes, with fewer deaths one-month post surgery (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0UZ2XL). It pays for hospitals to invest in having enough nurses, in treating those nurses well, and supporting nurses in what we have been called to do: create healing environments that support patients toward their greatest health potential. Healthcare facilities need to be moved to support nurses in managing their stress and enacting self-care in order to potentiate the healing of the patients these facilities serve. Good staffing is just the beginning of creating “good nursing environments”: nurses should be empowered to begin dialog with their employers regarding what a healthy and good work environment for nurses looks like in consideration of the healing work that nurses do.