Panama City News-Herald from Panama City, Florida on June 30, 1974 · Page 73
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Panama City News-Herald from Panama City, Florida · Page 73

Panama City, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 30, 1974
Page 73
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By Fraak G. Slaughter Especially for FAMILY WCCKLY Dilemma of die American Patfenl: Can a Nurse Be Angel and "Robot"Both at Once? "You than begin to hope, even believe, that you're going to live. But theft when you etart plummeting into the hell of anxiety over Just what life it going to be like.... All too often, that'e when Robot, RN, fails you. Then it's the old-fashioned licensed practical nurse to whom you have to look for reassurance." T here's a new breed of nurse today —one who can do many things as well as any doctor can. If you're gravely ill and require intensive care-as with a severe heart attack-it's a tremendous comfort to you ;ind your family to know that the Intensive Care Unit registered nurse can read an electrocardiogram better than the average doctor. She can also take immediate and decisive action to save your life if your heart should stop before a cardiopulmonary team can reach the scene on a Code Five call. Watching the monitors from the nursing station of the Intensive Care Unit, with one alarm to warn her if a patient's heart strays from its desired rhythm and ^nother to warn her if any of a half- dozen other things go wrong (temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen and the like), an ICU nurse may look and act very much like a robot. Yet you thank God for her being there just the same. But in a few hours, if you're lucky, or at most a few days, the immediate pain largely ceases and your shaky pulse begins to stabilize. You then begin to hope, even believe, that you're jgping to live. But that's when you start plummeting into the hell of anxiety, over just what life is going to be like. And that's when the mental-trauma state frequently turns out to be worse than the initial heart attack itself. All too often, too. that's when Robot. RN, fails you. Then it's the old-fashioned licensed practical nurse (LPN), or even the cheerful patient care attendant (PCA), neither of whom is usually allowed to give even hypodermic medication, to whom you have to look for reassurance. To anyone who is seriously ill, a sudden fall in self-esteem can be more dangerous than a sharp drop in blood pressure. And the danger is never more acute than when a heart patient starts to worry about whether he has lost his livelihood—and even more damaging, his manhood. (Women, of course, don't have heart attacks nearly as often as men until after the menopause.) Suppose you are the victim of a coronary thrombosis. You have just suffered a severe trauma to your heart muscle. The blood supply to a portion of it has been shut off, usually by a fixed clot, or thrombus, producing muscle death—an infarct. At best, you're in for troubled times. You not only need a capable nurse, but a sympathetic per­ son who knows what you are suffering. Does the busy charge nurse of a modern cardiac-care ward have time for this kind of psychotherapy, while riding herd on 20 or 30 patients, plus a cohort of LPN's, PCA's, housekeeping workers, and such? And all that after distributing the medications, every dose of which has to be punched into the hospital-wide computer so the proper charge can be made on each patient's bill? Can today's nurse be an angel of. mercy for the patient's sake, while still performing the duties of Robot, RN, who watches patients' hearts and keeps the hospital administration, particularly the business office, happy? Probably not —unless she's Supernurse. And anyone who's been in a hospital lately for a serious illness can testify that Super- nurses are about as scarce in the medical world as Superpeople are in any world. What's the answer? Interestingly enough, one major clue to future hospital care may lie in the preference of people unfortunate enough to experience a second heart attack or serious illness. More often than not, they would much prefer to be in an ordinary hospital room with a special nurse of their own instead of in the Intensive Sense Facts Ahaat The Dramatic Chaage la How a Narse Is Eaacateel... Of 680,000 RN's In 1969, 12,000 had college degrees — usually a BS — but 17,000 had a junior-college Associate In Arts. The total for 1970 was 700,000, a gain of only 20,000, but most of these additional nurses, It can be presumed, were college trained. Licensed practical nurses (LPN's), with roughly two years of training or less, numbered 313,900 In 1969 and are gaining In number far more rapidly than RN's; In fact, they now do most of the bedside nursing In the average large medical-center hospital. All of which represents a dramatic change in nursing education. Nowhere Is this better Illustrated than In the announced plan to close the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, for half a century the most famous such school In America and the producer of more starched-front superintendents of nurses than any other. Such schools are simply no longer profitable. Also, they are less attractive, since would-be nurses can now study two years at state expense In a junior college affiliated with a community hospital. For the full four years at a private college, the cost may run as high as $10,000 or more, but the nurse with BS-RN starts out making more than the average teacher, architect or marketing major. And, yes, It's still true: If there's a medical school nearby, she's exposed to the most eligible group of bachelors In the land- medical students and young doctors. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: With 53 published books, most of them novels, whose world sales total more than 60 million copies In all editions, Dr. Frank Q. Slaughter Is one of the most prolific authors of our time. Publication in 20 languages also makes' him one of the most widely known doctors In the world. He Is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Slaughter's most recent medical best seller is "Women in White," published by Doubleday. Recent paperback editions are "Convention, M.D.," "Code Five," "Surgeon's Choice" and "Doctors' Wives." Dr. Slaughter no longer practices surgery, devoting all his time to writing in his studio on the banks of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Fla. Dr. Slaughter 4 • FAMILY WEEKLY. June 30.1974 Continual on pane X

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