Thursday, April 28, 2016

Is it time for a Nurse Idol competition?

When nurses sing, they heal themselves and patients, teach, entertain and fundraise. In addition, they promote health, peace, and national unity. The following examples demonstrate the power in the voices of nurses.

Jared Axen

               Jared Axen, RN is known by his patients at the Valencia Hospital in California as the “Angel sent from Heaven”. Jared comforts his patients by using his passion for music. He sings beautiful, soothing songs, classic hymns and Frank Sinatra standards to his patients. Jared connects with his patients on a deep and personal level. On his blog, Jared writes, “…hospice is not about giving up. It is about making those final months, weeks, days, and hours, the most meaningful.”

National Health Service Choir

               In 2015, nurses joined the National Health Service Choir in the UK and sang a cover of “A Bridge Over You” (Coldplay and BOTW by Simon & Garfunkel) as a holiday message to promote the National Health Service. The cover beat Justin Bieber to capture Britain's official Christmas No. 1 song.

The Nightingales

               A group of nurses at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York have dedicated themselves to improving the hospital not only with their nursing skills but also with their voices. The “Nightingales” began in 2009 to show that the nurses’ compassion extends beyond the bedside. The group gives about three major performances a year. They also sing for patients, weddings at the hospital and in remembrance of nurses who have passed away.

The Laryngospasms

           The “Laryngospasms” are a group of certified nurse anesthetists. They have been singing medically themed parodies for over 20 years. They perform at conferences, hospital galas and fundraisers. Some of their song parodies are "Waking up Is Hard to Do", "Taking Care's Our Business", "The Glove Shack", “Mr. Gas Man” and "Restart My Heart".

Dominic Limpin

               A Filipino nurse, Dominic Limpin, was working in New York City on 9/11. He is helping himself heal from post traumatic stress disorder by traveling the US and singing to his patients while performing his duties as a dialysis nurse. He uses his voice to ease the pain and suffering of patients by singing to them. The former NYC Philharmonic choir singer says “I never encounter any patient, no matter how sick they are or grouchy, who doesn't like singing.” 

        “The Singing Nurse Health Lessons for Kids” is a book written by Dawn Ginese R.N. Music and singing help children to learn.  The Singing Nurse curriculum combines songs into the curriculum to help students learn lessons about their health.

Samuel McPhail

               Samuel McPhail, while a student nurse at Bradford University in the UK, launched a charity single to promote the “6Cs” nursing values. The single was launched to raise money for the Yorkshire Cancer Care charity. The song promotes the ‘6Cs’ of quality healthcare – care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment. The launch coincided with International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale’s birthday, a time to reflect on decades of professionalism in nursing and a renewed focus on compassion.
Barts Choir
            Barts Choir in London was started by a group of nurses at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in 1965, and was known originally as St Bartholomew’s Hospital Choral Society. All of their concerts are performed in aid of a health or medically related charity. The 2016/2017 concert series will benefit the Pancreatic Cancer UK.

Medical Musical Group

         The Medical Musical Group (MMG) is the largest medical musical group in America (and possibly the world). The group is comprised of doctors, nurses and volunteers from medical centers, schools and communities throughout the U.S. The group includes nurses who sing or play musical instruments. Their mission is to perform Music with a Message – a message of healing, hope, inspiration, national unity, patriotism, and international brotherhood and sisterhood. Concerts in the US highlight healthcare concerns of veterans.

Olivia Neufelder
Nashville nurse, Olivia Neufelder, has captured the hearts of millions by singing to a dying woman awaiting a liver transplant. Margaret Smith, 63, was hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where nurse Olivia Neufelder sang “Dancing in the Sky” by Dani and Lizzy at her bedside every day.

Nurses have so many talents...and they can sing! I say it is time for an Idol competition. What do you think?

Love to read your thoughts!


The Laryngospasms
The Singing Nurse Health Lessons for kids
National Health Service Choir
Singing nurses. South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, N.Y
Nurses in NHS choir seeking Christmas number one
The Care Makers 6Cs Song
The Barts Choir
Medical Musical Group
Vanderbilt Nurse sings to her patient

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Nursing with vision loss

Detra Bannister, RN with her service dog, Yulea 
"...Immediately after my vision loss, I was distressed and in an overwhelming quandary about what to do. How would I continue working? What questions do I need to ask? On whom do I call to get answers? Will anyone encourage me, believe in me, or support me? Where does one find help in this situation? Is there any such thing as a successfully employed nurse with vision loss??"
  "For nurses who have lost sight, first of all, let me encourage you that this is not the end of the world. Give yourself permission to grieve if you have lost a significant amount of vision. I made the mistake of not grieving because I was so occupied with all of the practical aspects of survival such as keeping my job, home, finding transportation, paying bills, etc. Years later, it caught up with me in a big way. Learn from my mistake and don’t indulge in endless grief any more than you would ignore it. Nurse your loss by getting up and getting help. Yes, I know that asking for help is a hard thing for nurses to do because that is what WE do: provide help."
Get Help from Agencies
"The best way to get this help is to get in touch with a state, local, or private rehabilitation agency for the blind or visually impaired. They are equipped to help you in all aspects of putting life back together."
"For the most part, nursing is a very visual profession but it is also very knowledge based. By virtue of this fact, once blindness compensatory skills have been mastered, we can custom design and use systems for storing knowledge, facts, and rules about the work we do. Therefore, we can still represent the world of nursing in a unique and professional manner. Furthermore, we have the added bonus of compassion and deeper insight based on our own struggles with disability."
"When representing yourself to a perspective employer, the best thing you can do is to be at ease and comfortable in your skin as a person with a disability. If you know you have the skills and ability to perform the task of a given job talk about how you would perform those tasks. You might take one or two of your high- or low-tech devices that enable you to do everyday tasks such as a lighted magnifier, braille, or voice note taker or hand-held memo recorder. You could present pictures and information about talking blood pressure machines, scales, thermometers, or computer software to put the employer’s mind at ease, and help them understand how easily and inexpensively accommodations can be made."
"The more comfortable you are with yourself and the more you understand about the accommodations you need to do your job, the better you can make a potential employer comfortable with your disability while, at the same time, helping them understand your many transferable skills, and abilities."
Career Connections
"The career education and exploration program of the American Foundation for the Blind, AFB CareerConnect®, can be a tremendous help to someone looking to go back to work in a specific field after vision loss. This program is free and has specific information for job seekers and employers. Reading the articles in these two sections and using the interactive components of this program will help you understand what employers are thinking, what they need to know, and how best to interact with them. You will also learn ways of finding work, doing successful job interviews, when to disclose your disability, getting hired, keeping your job, climbing the ladder at work, and more."
"Perhaps the most valuable ingredient that AFB CareerConnect adds to the process of re-entering the workforce is the mentoring component. Over 1,000 successfully employed individuals with varying degrees of vision loss that range from considerable useful vision to no useful vision, volunteer to mentor others in their career paths. These people work in more than 300 occupational fields in today’s labor market and, yes, there are nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, medical transcriptionists, pharmacists, and more. To engage a mentor and learn more about this program go to"

Detra Bannister, RN, has worked as a surgical, community, and school health nurse.She works as a CareerConnect Program Specialist for the American Foundation for the Blind. She can be reached at

Read more of  Detra's commentary in the book, "The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities".

Please share this post and as always I would love to read your thoughts and comments.

With thanks,


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Unlikely Gifts:Nursing with Diabetes

Siana Wood, RN
"It took me a long time to find the courage to go to nursing school. I earned a BA in liberal arts and worked for years in healthcare before I even considered becoming a nurse. What mostly held me back was concern about whether my health could withstand the stress of an unpredictable schedule, and where I’d find the money to attend school, and supplement any lost income from reducing my work hours."
"Then, when I began working in a hospital as a project manager, I had access to a wonderful nursing leadership team who..... encouraged me to pursue a nursing degree... When the hospital announced a special program to sponsor employees attending nursing school, it seemed meant to be. And so, 20 years after my diagnosis, I began the path to a nursing degree."
"I have type 1 diabetes, the more rare of the two main types. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are about shortages of insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas and necessary for life, as it helps the body convert glucose into energy....  For both types, the goal is to try to maintain blood glucose levels as close to a person without diabetes as possible, because levels that are too low or too high are harmful. Unfortunately, this is so much easier said than done."
"Every clinical instructor I worked with was understanding and flexible regarding my diabetes. It became apparent very quickly that the physical nature of bedside nursing drastically dropped my blood sugars, so I learned to run temporary, decreased basal rates on my insulin pump when I knew there was a transfer or a bed bath coming. Still, even then, I couldn’t anticipate every situation that might cause hypoglycemia, and so sometimes even with my best efforts, I’d still get hypoglycemic. I always kept glucose and snacks with me, and it was never an issue for me to sit down and regroup."
"I think what I most often brought to my student nursing—and what I try to bring to my patients now—is my undivided attention and a willingness to listen to patients talk about being sick, being hospitalized, being frightened and powerless, and vulnerable. Whether illness comes in a chronic form or an acute form, it can turn your reality and security upside down. Tending to the feelings unleashed by illness is an important a part of my nursing care—as much as the medical and technical aspects of nursing. It’s one of diabetes’ gifts, I guess. I wouldn’t have learned how crucial that therapeutic presence is unless I hadn’t been such a grateful recipient of it from the beginning, and throughout my years as a patient."
"The routine of nursing school, family, work, and diabetes had become so “normal” in its own way that once I finished nursing school and passed my boards, it took me a little while to realize that I was really, truly a registered nurse." 
"The road led to a wonderful compromise, as it turns out. I accepted a full-time weekday position as a quality management data abstractor at Women & Infants’ Hospital in Providence, RI. On the weekends, I work as a pediatric home care nurse." 
"I still yearn to work more frequently with patients, but I do think things happen for a reason. One of the biggest gifts I never saw coming is the realization that with a low-physical-impact nursing job, I can safely plan for having a baby..."
"There is something spare and simple and life affirming about finding the ability to treasure even the smallest of gifts when things are hard. It is part of how I keep going, too, when my health gets difficult—or when life in general is difficult." 
"....The willow knows what the storm does not: that the power to endure harm outlives the power to inflict it.” Life inflicts all manner of harm—disability included—but in the face of the worst of it, I can still bend, still endure. Somewhere along the way, I realized that for me, my diabetes, with its challenges and unlikely gifts, is both the willow and the storm. I don’t have to like what the storm wreaks—the pain, the limitations, the uncertainty—but I know there will be calm again—and beyond the calm, so much more."
Siana Wood, RN, lives in Rhode Island with her husband Mike and their four cats. She has worked as both a nurse abstractor and a home care nurse. Siana now works as a nurse case manager for a Patient Centered Medical Home, a primary care practice in RI.

Read more of Siana's story in the chapter she wrote in the book, "The Exceptional Nurse: Tales from the trenches of truly resilient nurses working with disabilities". 

With thanks,

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Calling all nurses: Join the Nurses Health Study 3

Nurses wanted: Largest women’s health study expanding to include men; seeking 100,000 nurses

Nurses’ Health Study recruits “next generation”


Boston, MA - From the dangers of tobacco and trans fats to the benefits of physical activity and whole grains, much of what we know about health today is thanks to the Nurses’ Health Study.
Researchers are recruiting 100,000 nurses and nursing students to join the long-running Nurses’ Health Study and expand its landmark research on health and well-being. And for the very first time, male nurses and students are being invited to join.
RNs, LPNs, and nursing students between the ages of 19 and 46 who live in the US or Canada are eligible to join the study. More than 38,000 have signed up already, and recruitment will stay open until the goal of 100,000 participants is reached.
Researchers hope to engage a highly diverse group of nurses in the “next generation” of the study. For the first time, nursing students are eligible to enroll.
In order to make participation as convenient as possible for busy nurses, participants can join online and complete the study’s surveys through a secure website,
More than 250,000 nurses have participated in the study since the 1970s. By completing confidential lifestyle surveys, they have helped advance medical knowledge about nutrition, exercise, cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions.
“Nurses were originally recruited for their expertise in accurately reporting health data,” explains Dr. Walter Willett, the study’s lead researcher and Chair of the Nutrition Department at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. “Their involvement has been invaluable, and their dedication is remarkable—an astounding 90% of them are still enrolled, decades later! The new group, NHS3, will allow us understand how today’s lifestyle and environment affect a person’s health in the future.”
Nurses enrolled in the earlier studies are encouraging their children and younger colleagues to join. “My mom started filling out surveys when the study began,” one nurse recently commented on the NHS3 Facebook page ( “I am so proud to be part of this study and see what it has done.”

Started in 1976 and expanded in 1989, the Nurses’ Health Studies have led to many important insights on health and well-being, including cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Most importantly, these studies showed that diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors can powerfully promote better health.

Contact: Michael Keating

SOURCE Nurses Health Study 3
Supported by American Nurses Association  National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses  National Black Nurses Association Institute for Nursing Healthcare Leadership  National League for Nursing  National Student Nurses Association  Society of Gastroenterology Nurses & Associates  •  American Association of Critical-Care Nurses  •  American Association of Nurse Practitioners  •   •

Friday, April 8, 2016

Is she artistic or autistic? An Autism Awareness message

Lauren Maheady

April is Autism Awareness month 

For autism awareness month, I was asked to write an article about my daughter, Lauren, who is diagnosed with autism and related disabilities. 

The article shares a positive perspective on her life and the impact she has had on so many people. It also sheds light on the path to my disability advocacy efforts for nurses with disabilities.

Please take a look at the article, make comments and share. We need all of the autism awareness we can get...this month and each and every day throughout the year!

With thanks in advance,