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Hunter College graduate and undergraduate nursing students Jing Shin, Tina Munzu, Darren Panicali and others at the Lower East Side Girls Club Walk-a-thon

Hunter College graduate and undergraduate nursing students Jing Shin, Tina Munzu, Darren Panicali and others at the Lower East Side Girls Club Walk-a-thon

This is a guest post by Darren Panicali, an undergraduate nursing student and the President of the Hunter-Bellevue chapter of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). Darren is also the Community Health Director of the Nursing Students’ Association of New York State (NSANYS).

On Saturday, May 11, 2013, a team of undergraduate and graduate Hunter-Bellevue nursing students participated in the Lower East Side Girls Club Walk-A-Thon. The rain might have brought the walk festivities indoors, but it sure didn’t rain on anyone’s parade! A vibrant health fair speckled with pink balloons, polka-dot ribbons and the smiles of dozens of tiara-donning princesses took place instead — all in celebration of the more than $37,000 in donations received by the club. The money will go towards health and nutrition programs for girls living in the historically underserved communities of the Lower East Side. Through the efforts of students, faculty, and administrators, the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing was able to proudly contribute over $1,100 to that sum.

This is a guest post by Amanda Anderson, RN, BSN, CCRN, a native-Buffalonian-turned-New-Yorker, is celebrating her 6th Birthday as a MICU nurse this June. She’s currently shooting for two master’s degrees from Hunter Bellevue’s award-winning nursing school, writing with students and for herself, and dodging yellow cabs while speeding around the city on her little bike. Follow her musings here, via @12hourRN, and on her blog

Amanda Anderson, RN, BSN CCRN

Amanda Anderson, RN, BSN CCRN

At work, sometimes I get the opportunity to change lives. Other times, I work to change deaths.

Mrs. T was dying when I walked into her life. Imminently. A 7-week aggressive course of acute cancer treatment left her body riddled with side effects and complications from a long list of interventions that never promised to cure. Everyone on the unit knew her painful stay and her family’s tireless desire to “do everything.”

During my first night as her nurse, she breathed for herself and maintained stable vital signs. Her handsome husband and loving children calmly willed her to improve. She opened her eyes to their loving voices.

I spent the first evening talking with them congenially. I learned she was a great cook and that she held her religious beliefs close to her heart. Photos of grandchildren, stories of first dates; I felt like a 12-hour member of their family.

That night, I didn’t broach the topic that I knew would become important to discuss very soon – a reality I saw the second I laid eyes on Mrs. T – that she was dying, and that we needed to decide how to manage the progression of her dying process. I had no right to start this conversation that night; it would have only lead to broken trust. Minutes prior, I was just another New York stranger.

CHMP Co-directors, Diana Mason and Barbara Glickstein, are attending the International Council of Nurses 25th Quadrennial Congress 18-23 May 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to reporting on the proceedings they will be participating on a panel titled, The Strategic Use of Media to Shape Health Policy, where they will discuss the work of the Center for Health Media and Policy.

photo of ICN media room

We’ve arrived. It was quite a journey from NYC to LA to Melbourne. We left on Wednesday and arrived on Friday. Thursday just disappeared.  Closest thing to space travel.

The ICN Media Centre will be our base with media folks from around the world here to report on the Congress. When I asked at the media desk check-in what hashtag we should use for the Congress I was disappointed to find out that  one had not been assigned.  A few tweets using #ICN13 followed by a search on Twitter found three hashtags circulating- #ICN13, #ICN2013, #ICNAust2013.  Oh well, it’s a step forward. Four years ago in South Africa only a couple of us were on Twitter. Progress. Slow, but progress.

Student Power

ICN Student plenary The first session I attended was the Nursing Student Assembly.  Student presenters addressed issues on education, technology, access to care in rural areas and advancing the practice of nursing. I was particularly moved by the students interest in developing more clinical placements in rural areas to address the lack of access to primary care in regions locally and globally. One student reported repeated requests at her university to expand clinical placements in rural areas only to be met with resistance. Her response. She created an independent health promotion elective and forged ahead. Other students followed. The message repeated throughout this session is that student nurses are powerful  individually and collectively and are making a difference. They encouraged each other not to wait until you finish your degree and get your license but to make an impact now to address health disparities and inequity.

This is a guest post by Alicia Smith an independent writer from Blacksburg, SC. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia. She received a BA in English from Limestone College in Gaffney, SC in 2012. 

Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith

When Dr. Cheryl Gagne was a teenager, she romanticized people with mental illness as charismatic outsiders.

“My image of mental illness was largely positive,” she told a room full of healthcare journalists at a recent conference in Boston. “They were on the margin of society because of their brilliance.”

This view was shaken when she learned from news reports that Mark David Chapman, who murdered John Lennon of the Beatles, had a history of delusions, obsessions, and substance abuse. Gagne was 19 at the time, and the idea that a mentally ill person could be so violent came as a total shock.

A few weeks later, Gagne, then a graduate student in biomedical research, flunked out of school and became a patient herself after being admitted to a psychiatric hospital due to her battle with drugs and alcohol, she told members of the Association of Healthcare Journalists during the conference.

This is a guest post by Abby Lishon. She is currently a litigation associate at a large law firm in New York.  She will be starting a PhD program in Criminology this fall and will be conducting her research on sex trafficking in Amsterdam.


It was the middle of the workday on May 7th, but I couldn’t resist attending the New York City Bar’s luncheon featuring Corban Addison, the author of A Walk Across the Sun.  Mr. Addison’s background appealed to me: he left law firm life to research and write about the human trafficking epidemic.  I’m about to do the same.

The audience hung on Mr. Addison’s every word as he vividly described his inspiration, his experiences witnessing trafficking firsthand in Mumbai, and the state of the anti-trafficking movement.  After watching the film, Trade, with his wife, Mr. Addison felt compelled to take action against trafficking.  However, he was unsure of what he could do.  A short time later, his wife suggested he write a book to raise awareness about the issue.  After leaving the security of his partnership-track law firm position behind and immersing himself in the world of modern-day slavery for six months, Mr. Addison penned a novel based on the real-life tragedies of young girls trafficked for commercial sex in India.

David M. Keepnews, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN, a CHMP Senior Fellow, is an Associate Professor at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing and the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. He is Editor of Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice, a journal focusing on nursing and health policy.

Riding the subway home recently, I noticed a Spanish-language ad placed by the New York City Department of Education (DOE). The ad, part of an effort to promote the new Common Core Learning Standards and exams being given to 3rd to 8th graders, bore a headline reading (in translation) “Higher standards. Different tests. It’s a new day.”

It ended with: “Deseamos prepararlos para la unversidad y las carreras técnicas”—“We want to prepare them [students] for college and technical careers.”

A few days later, I noticed an English-language ad headlined “This Spring, we’re aiming higher.” As I read it, I saw that despite the different headline, this was the English-language version of the ad I had read before. The text was largely identical to the Spanish-language version. However, I couldn’t help but notice that the last sentence was a little different:

“We want them prepared for college and a career.” Note: Not specifically a technical career—simply a career, in general.

This seemingly small discrepancy jarred me: The ads end with two different messages to two different audiences—English-speaking and Spanish-speaking families—about the futures they can anticipate for their children.

By now, you probably know of actress Angelina Jolie’s choice to undergo preventive double mastectomy, and her must-read op-ed in Monday’s New York Times.

In her specific case, the decision was a tough, but logical one given that the benefits of the procedure dramatically reduced future risk of breast cancer. It’s never an easy decision to undergo surgery. It must have been even more difficult for someone like Jolie, whose income is partly tied to her looks.English: Angelina Jolie at the Cannes film fes...

Double mastectomy isn’t the answer for everyone. Jolie was at very high risk because she is among the small percentage of women who carry the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutation.

As Jolie points out, genetic testing is expensive, currently not covered by all insurance plans, and therefore only viable for a small segment of the population. “The cost of testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, at more than $3,000 in the United States, remains an obstacle for many women.” There are other forms of breast cancer – which may be more difficult to detect and treat.

What are the choices for those women who do not have the resources for such gene testing? Disparities along racial, education, and socioeconomic lines in both incidence and screening are well documented. Women who have other risk factors, who are without access to the top oncologists, plastic surgeons, and other care providers need to know their choices.

This is a repost from

 | PHYSICIAN | MAY 8, 2013

As of early April, you can walk into Walgreens in 18 states (plus D.C.), and along with a gallon of skim milk, a pair of photo mugs, a six-pack of toilet paper, and a flu shot, you can meet your new primary care provider, get your cholesterol checked, pick up your statin, and schedule a return visit. That primary care provider will not be a physician but a nurse practitioner (or a physician assistant, but that’s for another article). Those states, and now Walgreens, have recognized that nurse practitioners can handle a lot more than antibiotics for urinary tract infections: They can practice primary care just fine without physician oversight. And it’s a pretty smart move.Lagging behind are the other 32 states (this map lays it out), in which nurse practitioners are supervised to varying degrees by physicians, the scope of their practice restricted by laws that vary from state to state. In some states, nurse practitioners can’t enroll a patient in hospice, order a wheelchair, or prescribe certain medicines without a doctor’s signature. This is true even when it’s impractical geographically and financially, not to mention belittling. Nurse practitioners in a number of states, including Connecticut, Nevada, and West Virginia, are currently pushing forlegislation for the right to practice independently and improve access to care.

This guest post was written by Jasmin Zaman, a student at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing and the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. Last fall Jasmin took a course in narrative writing for nursing students at Hunter taught by CHMP senior fellows Joy Jacobson and Jim Stubenrauch.

11:46 PM … 12:45 AM … 3:30 AM …

Here we go again. As I toss and turn I lose my hopes of getting eight hours of sleep. It’s Tuesday night. That means tomorrow morning I have to meet my classmates at the lobby of the Hunter dorms to make it to our 7:55 AM meeting for clinicals next door. We have our psychiatric rotations at Bellevue, and I am desperate to catch up on as much sleep as I can.

I was against caffeine when I first entered college but on Tuesday morning I haul my fatigued body to the nearby caffeine watering hole—Dunkin Donuts. My mother always warned me about the evil grasp of coffee and energy drinks, as she believed they were the culprits of my unexplained heart palpitations.

Nursing student Jasmin Zaman and friend

Nursing student Jasmin Zaman and friend

Suffering from insomnia is something I have come to accept. I share this constant battle with my classmates, and it is comforting to know I am not alone. We become so consumed by the day’s activities and by tomorrow’s schedule that it is almost bizarre to just stop—and sleep. Not sleeping the day before clinical days, especially, is a recipe for disaster. An internal disaster. My body fights itself to understand the cause of this sleep deprivation. Without the stimulant effects of coffee my body shuts down. I have often caught myself dozing off on the floor. But if I move into the maintenance phase of caffeination with stimulants like Red Bull or other energy drinks, I’m contributing to my sleeplessness throughout the night.

Studies have shown that the classic theory of sleeping one-third of the day does not correlate with feeling well-rested. Factors such as age and lifestyle contribute to the quality of sleep and feeling rested. It does not matter how much sleep you get, but rather the quality of it. Quality over quantity is best. Rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep, considered one of the most crucial stages of the sleep cycle, is “the only phase of sleep during which the brain is as active as it is when we are fully conscious, and seems to offer our brains the best chance to come up with new ideas and hone recently acquired skills,” says David Randall in a an op-ed, “Rethinking Sleep.” 

Amanda Anderson, RN, BSN, CCRN, a native-Buffalonian-turned-New-Yorker, is celebrating her 6th Birthday as a MICU nurse this June. She’s currently shooting for two master’s degrees from Hunter Bellevue’s award-winning nursing school, writing with students and for herself, and dodging yellow cabs while speeding around the city on her little bike. Follow her musings here, via @12hourRN, and on her blog

Each morning, I wake up running. A million thoughts, a million tasks; I usually get distracted in the middle of making a pot of coffee. Instagram, Facebook, NYTimes, Twitter. The last thing I can do is sit with my laptop to write. The voice of my story is buried – deep within a long list of thoughts, assignments and e-mails.

But some mornings, if I push past it all and glue myself
down, my story is there, singing its way into existence. Pieces of it, lines of it, waves of text and feeling and thought. Past the distraction of the newspaper landing on my doorstep, the plants asking me for water, last night’s dishes crowding the sink.

This morning, I’m following the fleeting voice of my story like Alice, running through Wonderland in search of that crazy cat. I’ve managed to get the coffee brewing, I’ve warded off my internet addiction for a moment, and here I am.

I’m thinking about a woman I met with yesterday, a grad student and professional nurse. This woman is much older than I, has a family, and a well-established nursing career here in New York. She is studying in a graduate program at Hunter, and our paths crossed last night because, for professional experience and a small pittance, I help graduate students write papers. Despite moderately solid writing, this student’s latest paper happened to garner extra attention from her professor. For plagiarism.

This post was written by Jennifer De Jesus a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and an avid movie watcher. She is also an employee of the Health Professions Education Center, which has one of the largest collection of health films in the New York City area.

photocredit: Promoting Health in Haiti

photocredit: Promoting Health in Haiti

It has been three years and three days since the tragic 7.0 earthquake in Haiti claimed the lives of an estimated 316,000, injured 300,000 and left an overwhelming 1,000,000 homeless. The devastation only seemed to continue, as days and weeks following the earthquake only revealed an even more alarming and frightening reality.

Easily lost behind the constant coverage of the earthquake’s impact was one event that has shaped the lives of thousands of Haitians and is undermining great efforts to rebuild the country. Frontline’s “Battle for Haiti” focuses on the criminals that escaped Haiti’s National Penitentiary the night of the earthquake. The majority of these criminals were gang bosses and kidnappers, which were only jailed in the first place by an all-out military onslaught by the Haitian police and armed United Nations peacekeepers between 2004-2007. Now dispersed throughout Haiti, these criminals are once again creating an atmosphere of fear and violence in an already extremely difficult environment.