Why does it take a robot?

NPR just posted an excellent blog post by nurse Kelli Dunham titled “Why Does It Take A big-hero-6_wide-81c8fe593498a408c0004836aabe11fa32e276ce-s800-c85Movie Robot To Show What Nurses Really Do?” Check it out – I think it is a wonderful example of editorial content for a wide lay audience. Kelli uses Baymax, the robot nurse in the movie Big Hero 6 to examine nursing’s media image challenges.

Add your comments in response to Kelli’s post here, and on NPR’s site!

A Book Title That Caught My Attention: Little Women of Baghlan by Susan Fox

cover-for-websiteWhile surfing the net, I came across the book Little Women of Baghlan by Susan Fox. As I read more about the book, I am not sure which story sounds more interesting….the one about three American nurses working with the Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1969 or author Susan Cox’s own story.  Both stories are a testament to the strength, courage, and tenacity of nurses. This book speaks to me because it is about women and nurses working in challenging situations…and writing their stories to enlighten us all. I have been fortunate over time to be involved with organizations that provide care to women and children in Haiti, Nicaragua, and Vietnam. While my trips have been much safer and for only for 2 weeks at a time, the reality of working in a difficult situation with motivated nurses (some trained formally, some not) and with limited access to education, equipment, and supplies resonates with me.

Little Women of Baghlan is the true account of three nurses in the Peace Corps assigned to Afghanistan in 1968. Reviews of Little Women of Baghlan suggest that readers will learn as much about 1968 Afghanistan as they will about 1968 America.

Some comments from the publisher:

Little Women of Baghlan is the true account of an ordinary young woman who answers the call to service and adventure. Her story rivals the excitement, intrigue, and suspense of any novel, unfolding against the backdrop of changing social mores, the Cold War, the Peace Corps, and a country at the crossroads of China, Russia, India, Pakistan, and Iran. When John F. Kennedy, delivers a speech in the Senate Chambers on a hot July day in 1957, a young girl named Joanne Carter listens and is inspired to join the Peace Corps.

Jo flies into Afghanistan on March 21, 1968. With co-workers Nan and Mary, Jo starts a school of nursing for Afghan girls. The students are almost non-literate. The hospital lacks equipment, trained doctors, and a reliable source of water. Babies routinely expire from poor delivery practices. Jo reflects on the paradox that is Afghanistan. The Afghans are mired in poverty, yet generous to the point of embarrassment. The men are welcoming and solicitous of the Volunteers, yet capable of turning a blind eye to the suffering of their wives, daughters, and sisters. The climate is harsh and unforgiving; the Hindu Kush starkly beautiful.

During her two-year deployment, Jo fills the pages of a small, compact diary, never dreaming her observations will eventually become a significant historical account. Nearly a half century later, her journal is a bittersweet reminder of a country that has since vanished—a country now on the brink of becoming a modern nation, moving toward the recognition of women’s rights.”


Susan Fox

Author Susan Fox has also lived a pioneering life as a nurse and writer. She lives in the greater Chicago area and has worked as a technical writer for a major consulting firm. She is a member of the Literary Writers Network and is serving as senior editorial assistant for their online publication, 10,000 Tons of Black Ink. Susan holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a nursing degree, and a certificate in technical writing from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She has been a keynote speaker at The Indiana Center for Middle East Peace and regularly travels throughout the US to talk to audiences about her book. On top of all that, she works as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee, IL.

As Susan Fox exemplifies, there are many writing arenas where nurses can make a difference. Educated formally and often practicing in environments that demand intelligence, practicality, flexibility, and creativity, nurses are uniquely positioned to write in many genres. INANE 2015 will feature a nurse who has turned her writing talents to fiction….we’ll look forward to hearing her story.

Mental Illness: My Personal Experience, Our Professional Responsibility

Ed note: Our INANE colleague, Francie Likis, wrote this editorial for the March/April issue of the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. I am grateful for her willingness to share it here.

Frances E. Likis CNM, NP, DrPH, FACNM, FAAN

cover (1)I was 17 years old the first time I was hospitalized for mental illness. After that, I spent more than a dozen years on a roller coaster of getting better and getting worse. I dropped into and out of care depending on how poorly or well I felt. I was willing to take medications or seek therapy when my symptoms interfered with my life, but I stopped them when I felt better. Finally, in my early 30s, I accepted the fact that having bipolar disorder is a chronic condition for which I will need medication for the rest of my life.

The next 10 years were more stable than the years that preceded them. I took my medication every single day. I tried to get adequate exercise and sleep, both of which help me feel better. That isn’t to say it was always smooth sailing. I had episodes that required adjusting the dosage of my primary medication and, at times, adding additional medications. But overall, my bipolar disorder was fairly well controlled.

Last spring, without warning, everything changed. I had a severe depressive episode. I had forgotten how consuming and awful depression is. I was constantly exhausted; it could take hours of napping to recover from a short period of activity. My brain felt like mud. I could not think or concentrate. I did things that I usually would enjoy, that I wanted to enjoy, but I found no pleasure in them. I cried for no reason. There are no words to adequately convey the horrific and overpowering darkness of depression.

In addition to feeling terrible, I was terrified. I had convinced myself that as long as I took my medication and went to my psychiatrist regularly, I would never be that sick again. But it happened anyway, and it was frightening. I was even more frightened that I would not recover. I relentlessly repeated a mantra in my head, “You have gotten better before, you will get better again,” as if my life depended on it. And it may well have. After a few months, with the help of new medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, I did get better. I also benefitted from a great deal of love, support, faith, and grace.

During this time, I was often so sick and tired that I didn’t have the energy to put on a good face and conceal my illness, as I had in the past. While most of my close friends knew I had bipolar disorder, I had never been completely open about it beyond my inner circle. This time, when people asked why I wasn’t myself, I told them what was wrong. While many were empathetic, others commented, “Why are you depressed when you have so much in life going for you?” or “You just need to get up and out, go exercise, think positively, etc.” I know they didn’t mean to be hurtful, but their comments reflect a lack of understanding of mental illness that is pervasive.

As I began to feel better, I felt a strong need to be more public about having bipolar disorder. I was frustrated that there are still so many misconceptions about mental illness. I was reminded, yet again, that I have been one of the fortunate ones. Frequently I see individuals who are obviously mentally ill, and I know how thin the line is between me and them, and how much of that line is simply luck. I have always had health insurance and thus the ability to access care and get treatment. I have found medications that work for me as well as wonderful physicians and therapists. I have loving and supportive family and friends.

Last June, a close friend of my sister and her husband committed suicide after a long battle with mental illness. When my sister called to tell me, I told her how sad I was that we don’t have better treatments for mental illness in this country. She told me how mad she was that mental illness is so misunderstood and uncomfortable that we are often unwilling to discuss it. One of our friends referred to mental illness as a fatal disease; indeed, one-third of individuals with bipolar disorder attempt suicide.[1] Suddenly the idea of an editorial as testimony and a call to action was no longer optional, it was imperative. I wrote my first draft last August and have spent the months since deciding whether to publish it. I have had lengthy conversations with family and friends about the implications for my personal and professional life. Throughout this time, I have had repeated signs and increasing conviction that it is the right thing to do.

Why do I feel compelled to tell my story in this public and professional forum? First, I want to fight back against the stigma and fear that surround mental illness. Believing mental illness is shameful and should be kept a secret has to stop. People are not embarrassed or reluctant to say they have diabetes or hypertension or other common health conditions. I want to acknowledge and share my story.

Second, I stand to remind you that mental illness is widespread and the faces of those who are affected are not always the faces you might expect. I have a successful career and a life filled with family and friends, and I have a serious mental illness. And my face is only one of the millions of people in the United States experiencing mental illness. One-fifth of adults in the United States have a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, and 5% of US adults suffer from a serious mental illness that substantially interferes with or limits their life activities.[2]

Finally, I want to call my fellow midwives and other health care providers to action. More than half of US adults with mental illness are not getting mental health care.[2] As clinicians, we have a duty to ensure mental illness is recognized, accurately diagnosed, and treated. When women we care for have mental health needs beyond our expertise, we must help them access the care and resources they require. We have to educate patients and their loved ones that mental illness can be severe and even life-threatening. We can help remove the fear and shame about mental illness and increase understanding that mental illness is another health condition and not a special category. Each year, May is observed as Mental Health Month in the United States. This May and beyond, I hope my personal experience will encourage all of us to consider our responsibility in identifying and helping those who are suffering from mental illness.


1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.

2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. NSDUH Series H-42. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 11–4667. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2012.

ICN welcomes New Associate Editors of International Nursing Review

ICN Welcomes New Associate Editors of International Nursing Review

Geneva, Switzerland, 3 February 2014 – The International Council of Nurses is pleased to announce that Dr Pamela Mitchell and Dr Valerie Ehlers have been named as Associate Editors of the International Nursing Review, the official journal of the International Council of Nurses.

Dr. Pamela Mitchell

Dr. Pamela Mitchell

“I am delighted to welcome Pamela and Valerie to the staff of the INR,” said Dr Sue Turale, Editor of the INR. “Coming from different backgrounds and experiences, they will bring fresh new ideas and perspective to the journal. They have significant scholarly and practice qualities, and are passionate about helping nurses and midwives to publish and share knowledge. They are a great addition to the team.”

“I am pleased and honored to be joining the editorial group for the International Nursing Review,” said Dr Mitchell. “It is a wonderful opportunity to be part of the growing global influence of nursing.”

“It is a true honour to be part of the INR staff,” added Dr Ehlers.  “And I look forward to continuing the growth and success of this well-respected journal.”

Pamela Mitchell is Professor of Bio-behavioral Nursing and Health Systems, Adjunct Professor, Department of Health Services and founding Director of the Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education and Research at the University of Washington. She received a BSN from the University of Washington, an MS with a focus on medical-surgical clinical specialisation from the University of California, San Francisco, and a Ph.D. in Health Care Systems Ecology from the University of Washington. Her research and teaching focus on hospital care delivery systems, effective management of clinical care systems, biobehavioral interventions for patients with acute and chronic cardio-cerebrovascular disease, and outcomes of interprofessional education. She was recently elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and is very well published.

Dr. Valerie Ehlers

Dr. Valerie Ehlers

Valerie Ehlers, a nurse educator and academic until her retirement from the University of South Africa in December 2013, holds the following degrees: B Soc Sc (Nursing), Honours B Soc Sc (Psychology), BA Cur, Honours BA Cur, MA Cur and D Litt et Phil. She is registered with the South African Nursing Council as a general nurse, midwife, psychiatric nurse, community health nurse. She has worked in the fields of community health, midwifery, orthopaedics and medical-surgical nursing and has presented many conference papers/posters and has been published in many national and international journals and other publications. Dr Ehlers served on the editorial boards of two national and two international journals and reviewed articles for various journals. From 2009 till 2013 she was the executive editor of the Africa Journal of Nursing & Midwifery (AJNM).  A highlight was the AJNM’s accreditation as an academic journal by South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training in 2008, based on documents compiled by her. She has received the 2012 Women’s Research Leadership Award from the University of South Africa, and the Hall of Fame for Research Excellence in Nursing from the Forum of University Nursing Deans in South Africa in 2011.  She is married and the proud mother of two daughters.

First Non-North American President for Sigma Theta Tau

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Hester Klopper, PhD, MBA, RN, RM, FANSA, of Potchefstroom, South Africa was installed last week as the first non-North American president of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) at the society’s 42nd Biennial Convention in Indianapolis, Ind.


Dr. Hester Klopper

STTI boasts a robust global network with 492 chapters throughout 90 countries; now, international leadership will provide a new perspective for the 90-year-old organization.

“Dr. Hester Klopper’s installation as president of the honor society marks an important step as we become more intentionally global,” said STTI Chief Executive Officer Patricia E. Thompson, EdD, RN, FAAN. “She will be an inspirational leader whose global vision will prove valuable now and in the future.”

The role of nurses in influencing government policy and enhancing health systems worldwide are focal points for Klopper. At her direction, STTI has taken the lead in creating the Global Advisory Panel on the Future of Nursing, which will meet for the first time in Switzerland in March 2014.

Also central to Klopper’s work is the leadership and capacity development of young scientists. In South Africa, Klopper coordinates the PLUME program, funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), to support the development of post-doctoral candidates’ research.

In her presidential call to action, Klopper detailed the four themes of her biennium of service: servant leadership, connectedness, transformation, and gratitude.

“By their very nature, nurses epitomize servant leadership,” Klopper said. “I am thrilled to see the transformational impact STTI members continue to make on a global scale. I am deeply honored to be entrusted with the leadership of this global organization.”

Klopper has extensive networks in global health, public health, policy development, nursing, and health care. She is the chief executive officer of the Forum for University Nursing Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) and a research scholar with more than 60 peer-reviewed publications.

Learn about Klopper here.

NLN Foundation Announces Spring 2014 Writing Retreats


The NLN Foundation Announces Writing Retreats for Spring 2014!

Scholarly Writing Retreats Spring 2014
March 21-23, 2014
The William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education
Chapel Hill, NC
Leader: Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

April 25-27, 2014
Embassy Suites Phoenix North
Phoenix, AZ
Leader: Leslie H. Nicoll, PhD, MBA, RN, BC

Registration Fee: $825 (Registration includes tuition, meals, and two nights’ accommodation at the host site.)

Program Description

Thanks to a generous five-year grant from Pocket Nurse Enterprises, Inc., the National League for Nursing and the NLN Foundation for Nursing Education are pleased to continue the expansion of the NLN Scholarly Writing Retreat, now in its sixth year.

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Seen in the New York Times…

GIRLS-02-popupA new campaign has been launched in New York City called the New York City Girls Project. It is designed to tell girls they are beautiful the way they are. An article in the New York Times on Monday, September 30 profiled the project which was noted to be the first campaign aimed at female body image to be carried out by a major city.

Margaret Comerford Freda, editor of MCN: The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing brought the article to my attention because of this paragraph:

City officials cited evidence in The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing and elsewhere that more than 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat, that girls’ self-esteem drops at age 12 and does not improve until 20, and that that is tied to negative body image.

Margaret told me that the research they were referring to was done by Dr. Linda Andrist and published in MCN. Her study on Media Images, Body Dissatisfaction, and Disordered Eating in Adolescent Women found that more than 80% of girls over 10 were afraid of becoming fat, and that self esteem dropped at age 12.

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In Memory of Rheba de Tornyay, EdD, RN, FAAN

rheba-tornyay-bwIt is with sadness that I report our nursing editor community has lost another visionary leader. Rheba de Tornyay, Editor of the Journal of Nursing Education  from 1983-1990, and Editor Emeritus in the years since, died in Seattle, Washington on September 27, 2013. She was 87.

Dean Emeritus at the University of Washington, Rheba is described in their memorial as:

Dean, educator, innovator, trailblazer, mentor, collaborative colleague, friend, inspirational leader…all these were facets of a career whose focal point and touchstone was the University of Washington School of Nursing, where she served as dean from 1975 to 1986 and as a faculty member until 1996.

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In Memory of Suzanne P. Smith, RN, EdD, FAAN

It was a shock this morning to open my email and learn of the death of my good friend and colleague, Suzanne P. Smith. The message header just said “Suzanne” and I had a sinking feeling as I clicked on it. My worst fears were confirmed when I read she died unexpectedly at her home in Florida yesterday. Details at the moment are scarce but I am feeling a great need to create a place where all of us can come together to share our memories, thoughts, condolences, and prayers.

photo of SS SK JB from SF smaller for blog

Suzanne Smith, Sandy Kasko, and Jenn Brogan, INANE 2011 in San Francisco

I first met Suzanne back in the 1980s, through committee work for Sigma Theta Tau. I remember being a little nervous about approaching her the first time to introduce myself–she was the Editor-in-Chief of JONA after all! But she was warm, gracious, and welcoming, which are probably three of the best words to describe her. We connected and I continued to turn to her for support and guidance. My editorship with CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing traces back to Suzanne and a column I was writing for JONA on technology. She was a good pal at my first INANE conference (London, 1995), introducing me to others and making me feel at home.

I was with Suzanne (and other members of my Lippincott “family”) on September 11, 2001. I remember crying with her as we watched in shock when the second tower collapsed on television.

When I volunteered Portland, Maine for INANE in 2014 (at the INANE conference in San Francisco in 2011), Suzanne was one of the first people I asked to be on the planning committee. She loved New England (she was originally from Worcester, Massachusetts) and was excited to welcome INANE to her home region. She was full of ideas for the conference and hardly a day would go by where I didn’t see her name in my email box. She was so sad to miss the conference in Ireland this year which made her doubly excited about next summer’s meeting. I can’t quite imagine what it will be like without her presence.

I know that Suzanne has touched many lives and shaped many careers, from students, to editors, to educators, to administrators. Her death is our loss and will be felt keenly for years to come.  Just this morning I was talking with a potential author who wants to submit a manuscript to Nurse Educator. “Let me tell you what Dr. Smith likes,” I said. “She wants useful information that educators can put into practice. She wants articles that are full of new and interesting information. She doesn’t want the same-old same-old and will let you know quickly with a very fast (but polite) rejection. But if she likes your manuscript, her acceptance can be equally fast.”

Please use this forum as a place to share your thoughts, memories, and condolences. As more information is received in the coming days, I will keep everyone updated but in the immediate moment, here’s a place to share our collective grief.

Does a project need to be complete to submit an abstract to INANE 2014?

This past week I was at the 7th International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Research. It was an intense meeting with dozens of research presentations on all aspects of peer review, ethical issues, and dilemmas confronting editors and publishers. More than once I found myself thinking–and commenting to INANE colleagues who were also at the meeting–“This would be interesting to replicate with nursing journals.”

As that thought occurred to me, I realized that many of us might be undertaking research to present at INANE 2014 next summer. That brought up the question: does a project need to be completed to submit an abstract to INANE 2014? Or, is it okay to submit an abstract for a work in progress (or planned) that will be completed by the time of the meeting next summer?

The short answer: yes, it is okay.

I realize that we are quite far ahead in our planning and call for abstracts. People may very well have ideas for projects that are ongoing or even in an early planning stage. If you anticipate that it will be complete by July 2014, please go ahead and submit your abstract now (remember, the closing date for the call is December 31, 2013). It can be written to reflect anticipated outcomes and then updated closer to the time of the conference with the actual information.

I have had many people contact me about the call, asking about topics and potential presentations. My answer is always the same: the INANE planning committee welcomes presentations and posters on just about anything, as long as it relates to dissemination of nursing knowledge through the published literature. Let your imagination be your guide–our goal is for diversity and variety in all presentations and posters.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. The Feedback Form at the INANE website is a quick and easy way to get in touch.

Leslie Nicoll, Chair

INANE 2014 Planning Committee: Peggy Chinn, Margaret Freda, Shawn Kennedy, Lisa Marshall, Jean Proehl, Suzanne Smith