New AHA Guidelines • More Men in Nursing • Undiagnosed Diseases

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New AHA Guidelines • More Men in Nursing • Undiagnosed Diseases

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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This will grab you or it won’t. For as long as I can remember, CPR renewal class filled me with dread, more dread than resuscitating a real person. Something had always changed, and each variation in sequence or timing presented difficulty for me. I longed for the days when we started with a big whack on the chest. That I could do.   

So it was with no small satisfaction that I read the newest guideline from the American Heart Association, “Hands Only Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.” It turns out that others have problems with this psychomotor skill, too. In fact, so many people lack training or confidence that the prevalence of bystander CPR in most cities remains low, at about 27- 33 percent. Now the AHA says something, namely, nonstop chest compressions beat nothing.

There are cautions and limitations. The advisory doesn’t include drowning and overdose victims, or children. Recommendations apply only to bystanders who witness out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest. That’s it.

Nurses and healthcare workers still must administer standard CPR, though studies suggest that even trained rescuers show deterioration in performance over time and often take much longer than recommended to initiate efforts. The AHA admits more research remains to determine if current standards for professional rescuers are optimal.

I rest easier knowing that someone finally admits that perfect CPR is hard and maybe small deficiencies are not going to, in themselves, kill the poor victim.


Men in NursingThe statistics are getting better, but they’re still not great.  At least that is what the latest release from the National League for Nursing shows. Published March 3, 2008 but reflecting the numbers for the 2005-2006 school year, the report shows that there’s a marked increase in the percentage of racial and ethnic minority groups. This is especially important as more evidence becomes available that health disparities can reflect a lack of cultural competence in providers.

Men are joining the profession in greater numbers—representing, in the new study, 12.1 percent of nursing graduates. Not quite the 50 percent they are in the general population, but it’s an encouraging improvement.

Most new nurses in the United States graduate from two-year associate degree programs, and 38 percent of them come from baccalaureate programs. Diploma programs (not common on the west coast) account for only eight percent of graduate nurses.

The lingering bad news is that not everyone who wants to become a nurse can get into nursing school. Out of n estimated 88,000 qualified candidates, one in three, were rejected, and overall applicants were down by more than eight percent. The continuing lack of nurse educators is largely to blame.

The next NLN survey is underway, and it will study the 2006-2007 terms. Statistics should increasingly reflect the 150 new pre-licensure degree programs at colleges and universities throughout the country.            

NIH SEEKS ANSWERS TO UNDIAGNOSED DISEASES—A patient with mystery symptoms?

Dr HouseThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) are up to something interesting again, and it involves nurses. NIH is launching a new clinical research program that aims to provide answers for patients plagued by mysterious symptoms. The program began accepting patients in July, and two nurse practitioners will oversee patient recruitment, which will include 50–100 patients per year. Only patients whose conditions have eluded diagnosis will be considered.

Patients will need a physician referral, or in the case of clinic clients, a nurse practitioner referral, and must provide all records and test results. They must be at least six months old and able to travel. A visit to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for further evaluations is necessary, and they may take as long as a week. Travel, meals and lodging may be covered. Although some clients will participate in ongoing research studies, long-term care is not part of the program.

Several sections of NIH are involved, including the Office of Rare Diseases and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). William A. Gahl, M.D., an expert in rare genetic diseases, will direct the efforts of more than 25 specialists in areas as diverse as immunology, oncology, dermatology, cardiology and dentistry.

Physicians and patients with questions about the Undiagnosed Diseases Program can call the NIH Clinical Center for information at 1 (866) 444-8806, http:/  

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