What’s in a Name? A lot!

RN name badgeFor years I have been a broken record about nurses not using their last names when delivering patient care, dealing with physicians, etc. I have written lots on this topic starting with an article in the American Journal of Nursing entitled, What’s in a Name? that I co-wrote with a nursing educator Elizabeth Grady. In a book I co-wrote with fellow journalist and non-nurse Bernice Buresh, From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public, we consider this topic in depth. I remain impressed and depressed by how committed nurses are to maintaining their anonymity when dealing with patients.

Just how devoted they are to this practice was recently conveyed to me when I talked with a Canadian nursing union leader about efforts throughout Canada that nurses are undertaking to reaffirm their identity as a registered nurse. In many provinces including Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and others RNs are very deliberately telling patients that they are RNs and even changing their come as you are uniforms to a standard uniform that is reserved for RNs exclusively (say in Newfoundland and Labrador) or in … Continue reading

More on Introductions and Acknowledgment

handshakesindexThe other day, while I was on a vacation in Newfoundland, I took a walk around a beautiful pond in the heart of St. Johns. As I walked briskly down the path, I passed a lot of Newfies taking their daily constitutionals. Each and every one of them nodded or smiled to me as I passed by, said hello, and offered up a quick “how are you?” This happens pretty much everywhere I go. I am out of town, or even in my home town, take a walk and some passersby look up, say hello and ask how I am. I usually do the same. These are people I don’t know, who don’t know me, whom I will probably never see again. Yet, we all manage to acknowledge one another’s presence in some quick way. Obviously this is not true of situations in large cities where one is bumping into way to many people to make eye or voice contact with, but it is true in less crowded settings like the ones I describe.

As I have written about before on this blog, (and as Bernice Buresh and I have discussed … Continue reading

We Need to Counter the Anti-VA Narrative

imagesRecent Congressional discussions of the shortfall of $2.6 billion at that the Veterans Health Care Administration has resurrected the anti-VA narrative that the Republicans have been promoting so that they can justify further privatization of the nation’s largest and most effective integrated publicly funded healthcare system.  Over the past year, I have previewed some of the themes of a book I am writing about the VHA and the care it provides veterans on this blog.  In a Congressional hearing on the VHA shortfall last week, Jeff Miller, R, Florida and Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, fulminated that the VA demonstrates “ a startling lack of transparency and accountability.”  While Speaker of the House John Boehner, R, Ohio opined that, “The VA’s problem isn’t funding — it’s outright failure. Absolute failure to take care of our veterans,” No injection of funds, he opined can fix the VA because it is just “ a mess.”

All of this is an orchestrated effort to convince people that the VHA is an inefficient, ineffective system that just can’t get it right.  Republicans hope that this will lead to greater privatization and eventually, … Continue reading

What Matters to Patients?


The other day I was talking with a friend about the kind of welcome patients get when they enter a medical setting or interact with caregivers ( I am struggling here with language because I don’t want to use the term “providers” and so am going to go for caregivers, to refer to anyone who gives care to patients). How welcoming are the spaces patients enter? How are they greeted by people who are often their first contact with a system – say a receptionist or nurse, or dental hygienist, or well anyone? My friend and I were talking about the arrangement of office space – do you want, for example, some sort of glassed in setting or semi-walled off space where the office staff are perched and where they greet patients from behind a kind of medical office moat? Does space matter? I think it does and it doesn’t.

Yes, having some chest high wall between you and the office staff can suggest distance. But what is much more important is the affect of the staff who greet the patient. Space plays a factor here but I think what is … Continue reading