June 4, 2021

Coffee: Is it really a nurse's BFF?

Many people wear lack of sleep like a badge of courage, confident in the power of caffeine to keep them going (we see you, nurses). While caffeine can certainly keep you awake for most of the day following a night of poor—or no—sleep, it can't guarantee adequate or sustained performance, especially when it comes to more difficult tasks — for example, in nursing, where difficult tasks are par for the course! Kimberly Fenn, associate professor of cognition and cognitive neuroscience at Michigan State University's Sleep and Learning Lab, says, "Caffeine will likely improve your mood and alertness and may help you to attend to simple tasks, however, it will do little to improve more complex tasks." Fenn and colleagues recently performed a study gauging how well people performed a variety of tasks after a sleepless night, with and without caffeine. While caffeine allowed participants to complete the simpler tasks, it did not make the difficult tasks any easier for the caffeinated group. So, while it's perfectly acceptable to rely on a hot cup of coffee to help keep you alert and in a good mood, it's no replacement for quality sleep if you're looking to perform at your best. Read more

The top states to retire in for the best healthcare —

Most folks look toward sunshine and warm weather for retirement. Unfortunately, the best healthcare doesn't always follow. Continued and ample healthcare is a major focus (and challenge) as we age. In fact, annual healthcare costs for those over 65 years of age are over twice the cost of healthcare for those in their prime working years. Healthcare costs for the average male senior citizen are at least $18,000 per year, while the average female senior citizen spends over $20,000 per year. While some of these costs are covered by Medicare, many are not. To help you better scope out the best states for retirement, Medicare Guide put together a list of the best states to retire in if you want to ensure you're well taken care of. Read more

Fat-shaming is a global health problem —

Recent surveys have made clear just how prevalent fat-shaming is around the globe as well as how detrimental shaming from medical professionals, family, and classmates can be. More than 50% of surveyed overweight adults in countries ranging from Australia to the United States stated that they have experienced serious fat-shaming from their doctors, family, classmates, and coworkers. This shaming led to strong feelings of self-blame and avoidance of the healthcare system. The levels of avoidance among overweight individuals who may need medical attention for a variety of reasons is so apparent that it has become a matter of "social injustice and a significant public health issue," said Rebecca Puhl, the lead author on the highlighted survey. Puhl went on to say, "Weight stigma is a legitimate public health issue, and we need to legitimize it." This is particularly important since the causes of obesity are complex and very often outside of the individual's personal control. In addition to changing attitudes about obesity, some of its major causes, and both state and federal legislation around fat-shaming, schools must also play a role in ensuring that weight is part of teachings in diversity. Read more

The gap between lung health in America —

A recent of 200,000+ Americans over a six-decade period found that one's lung health may have a lot to do with the size of one's bank account. The study focused on the risk of lung disease among various individuals around the country. In general, it found that poorer Americans tended to have worse lung health than their wealthier peers. The study's lead author, Dr. Adam Gaffney, said, "Differences in lung health between rich and poor Americans have persisted over the last six decades, and, in some instances, actually gotten bigger." One of the suspected leading culprits is tobacco usage. The growing divide in the use of tobacco in the country, particularly in the form of cigarettes, has grown since the 1980s. The smoking rate of the wealthiest Americans decreased to just 34% by 2018, while it remained around 57% for the bottom fifth of the income bracket. In terms of addressing this gap, Dr. Sarath Raju, an assistant professor of medicine in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins, noted that making tobacco prevention and cessation resources more accessible and affordable would be one way to begin addressing the problem, but that we also need to better understand the racial, environmental, and institutional factors involved. Read more

Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 "long-haulers" are presenting the same little-known illnesses —

Research performed since the start of COVID-19 has found some long-term symptoms to be quite consistent. A study by the University of Washington found that 27% of COVID-19 survivors ages 18–39 reported persistent symptoms up to nine months after testing negative for COVID-19. For patients ages 65 and higher, this number increased to 43%. The most common complaint among all age demographics? Persistent fatigue. More than 80% of "long-haulers" complain of consistent fatigue and brain fog. A condition being seen more commonly now is POTS, or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which controls involuntary functions (i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, etc.). POTS can also overlap with various autoimmune issues as well, which only exacerbate symptoms. Dr. Peter Rowe from Johns Hopkins, a prominent researcher who has treated POTS and CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) for over two decades, said that every long-hauler patient he's seen with CFS has also presented signs of POTS. As time passes, the hope is that with further study will come further understanding and healing. Read more

Despite the vaccine, some nursing homes are still struggling —

Despite the more prevalent circulation of COVID-19 vaccines today, nursing homes still remain hotspots for infection. According to federal data, 472 nursing home deaths across the nation were attributed to COVID-19 during the first two weeks of May. While this is a steep decline from the more than 10,000 during the first two weeks of January, the numbers are still not as low as health experts want them to be. These more recent outbreaks are blamed upon unvaccinated staff members in skilled nursing facilities. Unfortunately, the resulting outbreaks and shutdowns have stymied in-person meetings with family members once again, although to a lesser extent. In March, a nursing home in Kentucky saw 46 positive cases, with 26 residents and 20 staff members becoming infected. These numbers include 18 residents and four staff members who were fully vaccinated 14 days before the outbreak. While these so-called "breakthrough" infections are at a smaller scale than those seen previously, thanks to the vaccines, the supposed cause is the few staff members who have yet to be vaccinated. If we want to see the positive case numbers drop to lower levels, more comprehensive vaccination among medical staff needs to continue. Read more

Upcoming Events

6/9, 3pm PDT: Nursing in the Wild, Snakebites —

Emergencies happen outdoors all the time, but nurses are not always equipped with the education to confidently navigate them. Join us and the Wilderness Medical Society as two of the world’s leading snakebite experts break down common snakebite myths and what nurses need to know to care for them. Jordan Benjamin, NRP, FAWM, and Dr. Ben Abo, DO ENT-P, FAWM, of the Asclepius Snakebite Foundation will cover how to adequately assess, diagnose, and treat patients who have been bitten by venomous snakes. Ssssseeeee you there! 🐍 All nurses are invited to this event, just make sure you RSVP!

Clockin' Out 🌈

"#PrideMonth has always brought an array of intense, joyful, complex, melancholic, and grateful emotions. As a Black, queer-identified person I’m incredibly grateful for the work done by so many Black/POC LGBTQ+ folks before me that allows me to live openly in my truth today." - Dr. James Q. Simmons, NP (@askthenp)