Should States Step in to Aid Failing Hospitals?

November 30, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I just read a couple of articles about how some states are discussing how to take over floundering hospitals that are in a mass amount of debt. Hmmm… I must say that I am rather conflicted over whether this is the right thing to do: on one hand, if the management is incompetent and patients are at risk due to poor decisions, then something definitely has to change. On the other hand, our country is based on free enterprise and minimal government intervention. If the government steps in now, what will limit it from other industries? How will this impact us as taxpayers and as nurses with a BSN degree?

According to the Wall Street Journal, reporters Joseph De Avila and Jacob Gershman explain, “A New York state panel called Monday for sweeping changes that expand the state’s authority to assume control over troubled hospitals and also recommended the mergers of several troubled Brooklyn medical centers.

“The report was the culmination of a six-month effort by the state Department of Health to assess the finances of Brooklyn hospitals that have taken on staggering amounts of debt to remain open. The hospitals serve mostly the poor who use Medicaid insurance and patients who overly rely on costly emergency services for basic medical care.”

I think state intervention would be beneficial in this situation since most of the funding comes from Medicaid which is government dollars. However, I wonder if changing from a private hospital to a government run one would affect medical staff’s benefits, overtime, work schedules, etc. Also, are taxpayers going to have to foot the bill to get their local hospital out of major debt? These are already in financial strapped areas with people who don’t have extra cash to spare. Where is this additional government money going to come from?

Nina Bernstein reports in the New York Times that, “No hospital would simply be bailed out, the report said, but all would have to apply for support based on new patient-centered delivery models being promoted by the government to reduce Medicaid costs and improve outcomes. Support could include forgiveness of long-term debt, which could be controversial if private investors play a role.”

Now I know that this is happening in New York (and Arizona), but I’m guessing that every state has it’s distressed hospitals in low income neighborhoods. This may be the first state to intervene to save some hospitals, but I doubt it will be the last. RN to BSN bridge program students may have to decide if this is a viable option for employment and watch how this plays out across the nation.

To read the complete articles mentioned in this post, please visit
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203935604577066853179976904.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
and
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/nyregion/panel-urges-sharp-change-for-hospitals-in-brooklyn.html?_r=1

Retail Clinics Growing in Popularity

November 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Tomorrow I have two doctors appointments and I must confess, I am not looking forward to the waiting process. I know I’ll check in and spend at least a half hour in the waiting room and then another half hour in the exam room. (Thank God for my Kindle or else I’d be forced to read expired magazines detailing the break-ups of stars I really don’t care about.) Fortunately, many patients feel the same way I do because retail clinics are gaining in popularity. As a nurse with an online BSN degree, this might be a workplace for you.

There are many trends in the medical field and retail clinics just may be the newest one on the cusp. Less costly than an emergency room visit and less waiting time than a routine hospital doctor’s visit, many patients are turning to this alternative. In a press release sent out by the Rand Corporation, it was explained that, “Use of retail medical clinics located in pharmacies and other retail settings increased 10-fold between 2007 and 2009, according to a new RAND Corporation study… The determining factors in choosing a retail medical clinic over a physician’s office were found to be age, health status, income and proximity to the clinic. No link between availability of a primary care physician and retail clinic use was found.”

Many people were willing to visit these clinics for minor ailments such as an ear infection or the flu. The study also found that, “The strongest predictor of retail clinic use was proximity. Other key predictors are gender (females were more likely to visit clinics than males), age (retail clinic patients tended to be between the ages of 18 and 44; those over 65 were excluded from the study), higher income (those from zip codes with median incomes of more than $59,000 were more likely to use retail clinics than lower income groups), and good health (those with a chronic health complaint were less likely to use retail clinics).”

This makes me think of the convenience that many retail pharmacies are adopting in offering flu shots. No appointment. No waiting. Put getting a flu shot on your shopping list right under picking up milk and eggs.

These are exciting times to be in the medical field. The opportunities for those in an RN to BSN program continue to grow. With the right training, resume and interview skills, you can find a job that suits your personality and schedule.

To read the complete press release mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.rand.org/news/press/2011/11/22.html

Specialists Help More Patients Via Robotics

November 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm

The medical world is and will be short staffed for quite some time. I’ve read countless articles pertaining to the nursing shortage and also the lack of doctors. Specialists are also hard for patients to get a hold of due to distance and rarity in certain areas. Robotics is slowly starting to eliminate these problems and may be something that nurses with an online RN to BSN degree will see on their wards on a daily basis.

This is interesting: a few weeks ago I wrote my post about how Toyota has developed nurse robots to aid in routine patient maintenance tasks. The reality of these machines working daily in hospitals seemed years away. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case according to an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Pulse editor Laura Raines writes that stroke patients at Northside Hospital-Cherokee use a Mobile Access Consultation Services (M.A.C.S) to access the skills of a specialist without that doctor being on sight.

“When a patient with stroke symptoms enters the emergency department, physicians can call a designated number to consult the Atlanta neurology team,” explains Raine.

“Instead of taking 30 minutes or more to drive to the hospital, I can log in within one or two minutes of the call,” said Dr. Keih Sanders, with AcuteCare Telemedicine. “I’ve even been able to pull over and work from my car.”

“Using a laptop, joy stick and headset, the physician drives the robot to a nurses’ station or a patient’s room to perform a stroke evaluation,” states Raines. With stroke patients, it is obvious that time is of the upmost importance. A specialist can evaluate the patient within minutes of the patient’s arrival to the hospital, use his access to the hospital data base to pull up CAT scans and blood reports, and then contact the ER doctor with the appropriate action that must be taken.

“We had to be comfortable with it in the room so that we could make our patients comfortable with it,” said Karen Newman, RN, BSN, emergency department nurse clinician at Northside Hospital-Cherokee. “When the physician beams in, his face is the same size it would normally be, and he can talk with the patient in real time. Once they get over the mouth-hanging-open surprise and the doctor starts talking, most patients forget about the machine.”

Technology amazes me and it seems like nursing students in an accelerated RN to BSN program are in for a lot more surprises.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.ajc.com/jobs/robot-consultation-1237521.html

What 5 Challenges Nurses Can Expect in 2012

November 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Just reading that title sounds pessimistic, doesn’t it? However, every job has its challenges and nursing is certainly no different. The good thing is that when you know what battles may lay ahead, you can get better equipped to face the trials. Being in an accelerated RN to BSN program, you probably already know to count the cost to prepare to get the job done.

Rebecca Hendren of HealthLeaders Media wrote an informative article pertaining to the five challenges nurses can expect in 2012. Here are the most pressing issues that nurses will face in the upcoming year.

1. Advanced degrees are no longer optional – With the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that 80% of nurses earn their BSN degree by 2020, many nurses are looking into furthering their education. Furthermore, “BSN nurses are encouraged to be leaders in evidence-based practice and research,” explains Hendren.

2. The importance of the “patient experience” – Not only is reimbursement at stake, but patient readmissions. Hendren writes that the best nurses, “help patients understand their care, involve families in decision-making, coordinate multidisciplinary care, sit with patients to explain complex diagnoses, and even, occasionally, have time to offer a quick hug or hand to hold.”

3. Patient safety – Nurses need to be engaged, accountable and involved in the recovery process of their patients. Among these priorities, keeping infections at bay is also a huge factor towards patient wellness.

4. Cost cutting – We’ve all read the countless articles and heard the many stories about hospitals’ financial woes and pending cut backs and layoffs. However, cutting medical staff also leads to employee burnout, higher patient mortality rates, lower patient satisfaction higher readmissions and longer hospital stays. Hendren suggests that, “Organizations can get more agile with staffing and scheduling and find creative ways to reduce cost while maximizing efficiency. Embrace change and flexibility to create the mobile, agile workforce healthcare organizations need to adapt to changing economic realities and increases in patient population.”

5. Retention – “Invest in nurse residency programs that have proven results for retention and for increasing the competency of new nurses,” states Hendren. Research your place of desired employment before you accept any position. Happy nurses equal a happy working environment.

Okay, so none of these challenges are really new or unexpected. Nurses in an RN to BSN completion program have faced these issues for quite a while and will continue to do so. The good thing is that none of them are deal breakers and you can be effective in facing these situations.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit:
http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/NRS-273338/Top-5-Challenges-Facing-Nursing-in-2012##

Hospital Develops Program to Greatly Reduce Infections

November 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

We’ve had to go to the emergency room a couple of times for my daughter over the years and I always think “Are we going to be exposed to a virus worse than the condition we already have?” Honestly, ERs terrify me because of the variety of illnesses contained in one small room, the lack of sanitary precautions most patients take and the amount of people sick people constantly in one room. However, infections are not just a problem in the ER. Due to this risk factor, several hospitals in Ohio have developed a program to protect their patients from bloodstream infections which could help RN to BSN bridge program nurses throughout the country.

A press release was posted by the Ohio Hospital Association describing their new strategy for decreasing bloodstream infections by half. “By working together, 53 Ohio hospitals have drastically reduced central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in intensive care units by 48 percent over a 22-month period, saving lives and health care costs.

“Through collaboration with the Ohio Hospital Association, the 53 participating hospitals worked with 80 patient care units in Ohio on the CUSP: Stop BSI as part of a voluntary national effort to eliminate CLABSI using the Comprehensive Unit-Based Safety Program (CUSP). A central line is a catheter that ends in large vessels going into the heart so clinicians can more closely monitor patients and administer medication.”

With this new development, hospitals in Ohio and two other states were able to save more than $4,558,000, they prevented 86 bloodstream infections, saved 17 lives, and saved 688 excess hospital days. This makes me think that Benjamin Franklin was right: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Granted, I know these studies are costly and grant money is hard to come by, but these results are quite impressive. The press release stated that their bloodstream infection rate dropped by half. I’m just thinking about what studies could be done in different areas. The financial costs, lives saved, nurses wouldn’t be overextended, and an increase inpatient health and morale could be incredible outcomes.

The purpose of getting an online BSN degree is to help people get and stay well. With these new studies on the horizon, more nurses will be able to do just that!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.ohanet.org/Press-Release/Ohio_Hospitals_Reduce_Bloodstream_Infections_by_Half

2012 Election Heats Up Health Care Reform Controversy

November 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

As the candidates for the 2012 presidential election are eagerly traveling down the campaign trail, one of their stops along the way will be the Supreme Court to make their arguments for and against the pending health care reform law. I’m sure this is going to be a heated battle and one that will greatly impact students in an RN to BSN college.

The New York Times explored this story and reporter Adam Liptak writes that, “The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, setting the stage for oral arguments by March and a decision in late June as the 2012 presidential campaign enters its crucial final months… The range of issues the court agreed to address amounted to a menu of possible resolutions: the justices could uphold the law, strike down just its most controversial provision or some or all of the rest of it, or duck a definitive decision entirely as premature.”

Currently 26 states are challenging the law and federal government. Also, whoever wins the presidential seat is sure to face opposition concerning this issue. Regardless if Obama continues in a second term as president or if a Republican candidate wins the office, the Republicans are certainly going to fight to repeal the Health Care Reform law. Without a doubt, I know that the Democrats are going to push back. (Hmmm… makes me glad I’m sitting at home across the nation…)

As of right now, “the justices agreed to decide not only whether the mandate is constitutional but also, if it is not, how much of the balance of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, must fall along with it,” explains Liptak. “The justices will hear two hours of argument on whether Congress overstepped its constitutional authority, 90 minutes on whether the mandate may be severed from the balance of the law if Congress did go too far, and an hour each on the Medicaid and Anti-Injunction Act questions.”

Stay tuned, online RN to BSN program nursing students… this is going to get good.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/us/supreme-court-to-hear-case-challenging-health-law.html?_r=1

The Benefits of Being a Per Diem Nurse

November 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm

No one really graduates from a BSN degree program and says “I want to be a per diem nurse.” Usually nursing grads have a certain hospital or specialty in mind that they want to pursue. However, the per diem field of nursing has grown into a viable option for many nurses.

On NurseZone.com, contributor Melissa Wirkus explains the benefits of being a per diem nurse. “Meaning ‘per day’ or ‘for each day’ in Latin, per diem nursing has evolved into much more than an RN taking a daily hospital shift here and there. Today, nurses can make it their full-time career and work in a variety of unique specialties and clinical settings.

“’Traditionally people think a per diem nurse picks up shifts as needed or the work comes in on a day-to-day basis, but there is a broad spectrum in terms of the work we have available for per diem nurses,’ said Jeff Fox, senior area director of Nursefinders, an AMN Healthcare company specializing in nurse and health care staffing solutions, including per diem.”

Wirkus explains that, “Work for per diem nurses could come as a same-day shift for that day or evening, a block of shifts several weeks out or even a local contract for 13 weeks. The settings for per diem work have also expanded drastically in recent years.

“’It really varies on the type of work that a per diem nurse can do–it’s not limited to an acute care facility,’ Fox explained. ‘It could be a doctor’s office or clinic, correctional facility, float clinic or long-term care facility; there are a wide range of assignment types available.’”

Fox further expands that 50 – 80 percent of per diem work is in the field of traditional acute care, but critical care, ER, long-term acute care facilities, pediatrics, and telemetry are currently high-demand areas for per diem nurses.

There are several benefits to per diem nursing, too. It can help supplement your income if you need to work on a few of your off days. It can let you choose whether to work 20 or 40 hours per week. You can also test out a hospital or clinic to see if that is the area and location that you do want to work at full time.

When you have your online BSN degree, there are many options and opportunities out there!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://nursezone.com/Nursing-News-Events/more-news/Per-Diem-Nursing-Offers-Flexibility-and-Financial-Rewards_38068.aspx

Spotlight on Forensic Nurses Week

November 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

This week is Forensic Nurses Week so I thought I’d take a minute to highlight this intense and incredible nursing specialty. Each nursing specialty requires a distinct personality and the different positions available can accommodate a variety of schedules. Those in an online RN to BSN nursing program have many options to choose from when deciding on a career path to pursue.

It obviously takes a very special person to works as a forensic nurse. Quite frankly, I know that this would be beyond my emotional capabilities. Death, abuse and injuries are difficult to handle as a nurse caring for patients, but facing the uglier side of humanity on a daily basis is something that I could not face. I think that is one reason why nursing is so amazing: there seems to be a job for every type of person.

Last Friday the Sacramento Bee published an article from the International Association of Forensic Nurses which describes what these nurses do and why this occupation is so important. “Forensic Nurses are present to provide care in hospitals, clinics, jails and community settings around the world. Forensic Nurses are nurses with advanced education and training, giving them the skills to deal with the immediate health care consequences of violence.”

“The World Health Organization reports more than 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence each year and many, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. ‘WHO reminds us that violence places a huge burden on national economies, costing countries billions each year in health care, law enforcement and lost productivity,’ said Eileen Allen, president of IAFN. ‘The 3000 members of IAFN work alongside fellow nurses and other professionals in more than 25 countries worldwide to address all aspects of violence including prevention, intervention and reduction of further harm.’”

I applaud those who are forensic nurses and who are making the difference in countless lives. I can’t imagine being a patient in one of these situations, but I do know that how the nurses respond will aid in the emotional and physical healing process. Compassion, strength and the ability to separate your professional life from your personal life are probably three of the most vital skills you need to possess.

As a student in an RN to BSN college, the opportunities that you have when you graduate are vast. There is sure to be a great career out there to suit your personality and skill level.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://www.sacbee.com/2011/11/04/4029984/forensic-nurses-week.html

More Nurses are Using Mobile Devices to Help on the Job

November 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

It wasn’t that long ago when nurses had to carry a library’s worth of information in their heads. Add up hundreds of names and functions of medications, countless protocol requirements that vary by hospital, many medical procedures and individual reports for each patient and it’s a wonder that a nurse’s head didn’t explode. Fortunately technology continues to improve and those in an online RN to BSN program are taking advantage of these new devices.

Doug Drinkwater reports on TabTimes.com about how tech savvy nurses are becoming. “A new survey has found that workers in the nursing community are more open to using smartphones, tablets and e-Book readers… The study was conducted by Spring Publishing Company, a publisher of healthcare and social science titles, and polled more than one thousand nurses on their ownership and usage of mobile devices, their preference for nursing and medical apps and their social media use. The majority of those polled were nurse trainers with advanced nursing degrees.

“The report found that 74.6% own a smartphone or tablet, while almost half – 41.5% – own an e-Book reader. However, only 31.4% of these owners said that they have purchased nursing or medical eBooks for their device, compared to a rate of 53.6% for smartphone and tablet users.

“Springer Publishing found that 22% of the smartphone or tablet owners have an Apple iPad, and revealed that Epocrates is the favourite mobile medical application.””

I think the hard part about technology is getting used to the change it brings. You have to reprogram yourself to use the device until it becomes second nature. It takes time to learn the owner’s manual and what if your battery dies or the device malfunctions? However, I can see that the benefits far outweigh the hurdles with the immense amounts of information that can be carried from patient to patient.

Drinkwater quotes that, “’These findings [mentioned above] indicate the rapid growth of mobile technology use among those in the health care industry, as well as the growing demand for eBooks and mobile applications that serve the professional development and reference needs of nurses’, said Pascal Schwarzer, the vice president of digital business development at Springer Publishing Company.”

Now is a great time to get your online BSN degree. With technology ever changing, nurses can help patients in greater ways like never before!

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://tabtimes.com/news/ittech-stats-research/2011/10/31/more-nurses-are-turning-mobile-devices-says-new-report

Could Robots Replace Nurses?

November 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm

We’ve all seen TV shows and movies where robots are more human than metal. From Rosie the housekeeper on The Jetsons to Will Smith’s movie I, Robot, there has always been a fascination about getting machines to do the jobs that humans hate. (And who wouldn’t want a friend like R2D2?) Now Toyota is creating robotic nurses which will be released in 2013. Should students in a BSN degree program be worried?

On CNN.com, reporter Aaron Smith writes that, “Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled its answer to the projected shortage in human nurses — health care robots — which it plans to put on the market within two years…The Japanese automaker exhibited its new line of robot nurses Tuesday to provide services to provide humans with health care services.”

I’m not ashamed to say that I don’t get it. There is no way a machine could do what a nurse does! Of course a nurse could list a series of symptoms into a computer and come up with a diagnosis and plan of attack or directions on how to do a procedure, but I can’t imagine a robot actually bandaging a wound, changing a bedpan or inserting a catheter. (I would also hate to see it malfunction doing any one of those tasks!)

I must admit that Toyota is using the term “nurse” loosely in this situation because thus far, the duties that the robots can perform are rather limited. “Toyota (TM) said it developed the robots through its connections with Toyota Memorial Hospital and Fujita Health University in Japan ‘to support independent living for people incapacitated through sickness or injury, while also assisting in their return to health and reducing the physical burden on caregivers,’” quotes Smith.

Okay, so they didn’t actually use the word nurse, but even “health care robot” is generous. Roombas are vacuums that use sensors to clean floors and need no human direction, but I wouldn’t call that a “health care robot” when it sucks up the dirt in a patient’s home.

There is a cool device also mentioned in this article. It is a robotic prosthetic device that attaches to the limb to give the user control of that appendage. Amazing!

Okay, I may have been a tad critical, but I say “bravo” to Toyota for all of the above advancements. They’re trying to make life better for patients and really, who can criticize that? In the process they are also trying to come up with devices that help BSN nurses do a better job to help more people.

To read the complete article mentioned in this post, please visit
http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/01/technology/toyota_robot_nurse/