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Latest Posts

Life in the Nurses’ Dormitory: No Men Allowed

I wonder why these nursing students are smiling. They are hanging out in their room at the nurses’ dormitory. Don’t they look sweet and demure? That’s probably because the housemother was standing in the room. I bet these ladies could tell you some intriguing stories about what it’s like to live in the dormitory, but there are some things best left unsaid. Silence is golden, especially when your housemother is within earshot.

I lived in a nursing dormitory while I attended a three year nursing school in the Midwest. I won’t tell you what state it was in because I don’t want to incriminate anyone. Every resident was expected to follow the dormitory rules. The number one rule was that no man could step foot in the inner sanctum of the dormitory.

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*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Nursing Survival Tips For Snow Days At The Hospital

These young ladies are prancing back to their nursing dormitory after a snowstorm. They look really happy to finally make their exit from the hospital. I identify with these girls because I got snowed in at my hospital for eight days last week. It was tedious, but I used my time constructively. I studied human nature.

People go through three phases when a snowstorm starts bearing down. The first phase is giddiness. I saw at lot of people become gleeful when the first snowflakes started hitting the sidewalk. They became delusional and said things like, “Look at the snow. It’s so beautiful!” People, snow is NOT beautiful. It is wet and cold. No one enjoys digging their car out from a five-foot snowdrift.

The next phase of a snowstorm involves a strange survival instinct that compels people to rush to their local grocery store and buy copious amounts of milk, toilet paper, and comfort food like corn chips. I’ve never been about to understand this phenomenon, but I’m sure that grocery store chains love it. Panic in the air indicates that people are entering into the final phase of their snowstorm response. The snowstorm is in full gear and everyone wants to leave work and go home. The walls start closing in, and those with a lesser constitution make a break for the door. I understand that some people can’t deal with their claustrophobia, but please don’t yell, “You can reach me on my Blackberry,” as you run out the door. That just makes you look pathetic. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Unintended Consequences Of Cutting Mental Health Services In Iowa

mental hospitalI took this picture a couple of years ago during a trip to Iowa. This is the old Clarinda Asylum for the Insane. The name was changed for obvious reasons a long time ago to the Clarinda Treatment Complex. I grew up in Iowa, so let me tell you a few things about my home state. Among other things, Iowans grow corn, raise hogs, and sometimes elect people to the Iowa State House who need a little schooling about mental illness and the needs of the mentally ill.

Iowa currently has four state hospitals for the mentally ill. Now that number is being cut down to three. Iowa State Legislators, who have no clue about what they’re doing, ordered the head of the Department of Human Services, Charles Krogmeier, to shut down one of the state’s mental hospitals. The Clarinda facility and three other hospitals were put on the chopping block. Krogmeier didn’t want to shut down any of the hospitals. He said that the move wouldn’t save money or improve patient care, but the politicians gave him no choice. Mr. Krogmeier suggested the elimination of the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Listen to Your Psychiatrist, Uncle Sam

uncle-sam Dear Uncle Sam:

I know it’s been a rough week. I’m sure you’re grieving the lost of life at Fort Hood just like the rest of us, but I’m compelled to write you this letter. I hope you take it in the spirit in which it is meant.

I read an article at Salon.com today that made me wonder about your judgement. Since when did you stop listening to your doctors? The article was about Dr. Kernan Manion, a psychiatrist who wanted to help troops before they went postal on military bases. Uncle Sam, Dr. Manion use to work for you at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Then he got fired. Why did you give Dr. Manion the boot for stating the obvious? He pointed out that troops at Camp Lejeune are getting bullied by superiors and dumped into an overwhelmed mental health care system when they asked for psychiatric help. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Nurse Medblogger Used To Work With Fort Hood Shooter, Dr. Hasan

amd_hasan_headshot1My iPhone started ringing just as my nursing colleagues and I were getting ready to report off to the next shift at Undisclosed Government Hospital. The frantic caller was one of our nurses. She cried, “Are you on lockdown? Don’t leave the unit!” I signaled everyone in the room to cut the chatter. Then we heard the patients in the television room gearing up. I’m not going to replay everything that happened last night. I can’t do it. Suffice to say that things got tense at the nurses station when the name of the Fort Hood triggerman was released. We knew him. He was a former psychiatrist at UGH.

People are asking me what it was like to work with Dr. Hasan. They want to know if there were any signs that he was going off the deep end. No, he didn’t come across as a Unabomber in scrubs. He was just one of the guys, and that’s what made him so dangerous. He could make me laugh. I use to banter with him about his bachelorhood. He told me it was too bad that I was already married and then he would ask me if I could line up a nurse who wanted to marry a doctor. We never talked about religion or politics on the unit. He was always polite and respectful. He was an officer and a gentleman. Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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