FROM THE EDITOR - Professionalism
I came across another used bookstore find recently – Cherry Ames Visiting Nurse. Depending on your age, you may remember this series of books for girls. There were 27 books in all, written between 1943 and 1968 by Helen Wells (books 1-7) and Julie Campbell Tatham (books 8-16). The original intent was to bolster the war effort by encouraging girls and young women to become nurses. Cherry (short for Charity) is the central figure in each volume. The first two volumes highlight Cherry’s years at Spencer Hospital School of Nursing. After graduation Cherry takes on the world! She’s an army nurse, flight nurse, cruise nurse, jungle nurse – you name it. Each book revolves around Cherry’s nursing role and a mystery that unfolds (which of course, she solves). Cherry Ames Visiting Nurse was published in 1947, after World War II had ended. Cherry, now free of her commitment to the war effort, applied to and was accepted by the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She packed her bags and moved to Greenwich Village. Dressed in her neat blue uniform and cap, Cherry was the essence of professionalism. At orientation, a visiting nurse was described to Cherry and her coworkers:
She’s the girl in blue you’ll meet hurrying over a country road in her little car to care for a sick farm child. Or you’ll find her down at the waterfront nursing a stricken barge captain. She’s the girl who’s welcomed with a sigh of relief by a sick mother and her five, small bewildered children (Wells, 1947, p. 37.).
Cherry Ames settled into her assigned district. With her smart blue uniform, she was instantly recognized and respected by the community she served. Living with several other visiting nurses allowed Cherry and her friends to share lessons learned, exchange tips, and review their instructions on topics such as care of the newborn and family budgeting. Ever tactful and intuitive, she solved the mystery lurking in the old Victorian mansion.
I can’t help but think how similar Cherry’s situation in late 1940’s New York is to that of the nurse midwives in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s wildly popular show Call the Midwife. Set in 1950’s London, the midwives live together in a convent with an order of nursing nuns. They provide care to poor families living in London’s impoverished east end. The series is based on true stories from the diary of Nurse Jenny Lee, whose character narrates the episodes. The nurse midwives in this show, like Cherry Ames and colleagues, are dressed in smart blue tailored uniforms with matching hats. They bike to the east end, delivering babies, providing care and education, and consoling the bereaved. They always seem to know what to do in difficult situations, saying just the right thing, whether it be a stillborn, a sick child, marital troubles, or a difficult pregnancy. They are clinically adept, earning the admiration and confidence of the local physician and the community.
What a welcome relief from other television series that depict healthcare workers in a more negative light. Nurse Jackie for example. Jackie has a substance abuse problem, fueled by the hospital pharmacist who hands it to her like candy. Surrounded by enablers, the emergency department supervisor looks the other way, even discarding Jackie’s urine specimen, while the emergency department physicians write her more prescriptions.
What has been your experience with professionalism in your agency and your discipline? Is there a respectable, professional dress code? Is it followed and enforced? Do your co-workers embrace ongoing education in their discipline, or do they complain about having to attend mandatory in-service education? Do they insist on high work standards for themselves and others? Do they have a career orientation or a job orientation? Is their work based on ethics and integrity? Tell us how things are with your discipline. What can we do to promote professionalism in home healthcare? Email me at: HHNEDitor@gmail.com.
This issue is packed with fantastic articles. Managing transitions of care across the healthcare continuum is such an important topic in terms of quality of care and patient safety. Two articles this month focus on this important topic. Authors Volland and Blockberger highlight the important concepts of patient engagement and patient activation in their article Closing the Transition Gaps: The Changing Context of Healthcare Coordination. Jennifer Fels and colleagues relate how their medical center in Vermont developed Clinical Nurse Specialists as experts in transitional care in their article The Journey of the Clinical Nurse Specialist to Transitional Care. Author and editorial board member Mary McGoldrick brings us the latest guideline for management of the individual in the home suspected of having exposure to the Ebola virus. Dr. Colleen Galambos and colleagues conducted a qualitative study to explore staff perceptions of social work students in independent living facilities, and new author Victoria Villapando reminds us to care for the caregiver in this month’s CE feature. These and all the usual columns bringing you the latest in home healthcare and hospice practice.
Maureen Anthony, PhD, RN