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Saturday, February 24, 2018

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The New England Journal of Medicine is among the most widely read health professional publications in the U.S.

President Obama and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney know how important the support of this core constituency is to their respective campaigns. NEJM invited the candidates to appeal directly to readers through personal essays, which appear in the September 26 online edition. You can read the President’s complete essay here, and Governor Romney’s here.

Nancy Cabelus, DNP, MSN, RN, is an international forensic nurse consultant currently working with Physicians for Human Rights on a program addressing sexual violence in conflict zones in central and east Africa. She is a CHMP Senior Fellow.

Yesterday,  I attended a human trafficking conference in Pinellas County, Florida sponsored by the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and St. Petersburg College.  As a retired police officer and a proactive, forensic nurse with expertise in human trafficking and sexual violence, I recognize the importance of community involvement in the detection and prevention of human trafficking.  Coincidentally, an objective of the conference was to discuss the need for community involvement in the face of human trafficking. One limitation that was pointed out by conference presenters is the lack of media presence on the county’s human trafficking task force. The media has a key role in reporting stories on human trafficking incidents and creating public awareness—giant steps in the primary prevention of human trafficking. During the presentation, a news media clip was viewed of a local reporter covering a story of human trafficking in Florida. In reality, the reported incident was not human trafficking at all. Rather, it was a case of smuggling.

Theresa Brown, RN, is an oncology nurse and one of the very few nationally prominent nurse-writers in the areas of nursing and health care.  She on the Center’s Advisory Council and this is her first post as a HealthCetera guest blogger.

Being the “nurse who writes” means I work under a misconception. Although a number of physicians regularly opine on the work they do in books, articles in The New Yorker, and my own home base The New York Times, I’ve never heard the MD-writer combination described as odd or bewildering. However, being an RN-writer is seen as unusual, and my admittedly unusual academic background—I have a PhD in English from the University of Chicago —- contributes to the view that I’m an intellectual oddity among my nursing peers.

But I am not alone in combining nursing and writing. Many nurses will be familiar with Echo Heron’s nursing memoirs and Carol Gino’s The Nurse’s Story. Tilda Shalof, a Canadian ICU nurse, and Patsy Harman, a certified nurse midwife, are both nursing and writing right now, and Harmon’s new novel, The Midwife of Hope River was just released. Saving Lives: Why the Media’s Portrayal of Nursing Puts Us All at Risk, a polemic by Sandy Sommers, RN, MSN, MPH powerfully argues that media stereotypes of nurses dangerously undermine nursing’s professional legitimacy.

These nurses, and I, all write for the same reasons that physicians do: educating the public about how health care works, outlining ways to make health care better, exploring how hard it is to work in a job that often deals with death, or showing what nurses’ clinical work actually involves.

By writing about nursing (or medicine) we learn about the nature of our roles as caregivers and we communicate the importance of that role to readers. In a recent column entitled “Money or Your Life” I wrote for The New York Times, I argued in favor of the Affordable Care Act by telling the story of a patient who wished for a death panel because he had no health insurance and worried that the care he needed to save his life would bankrupt his family. His choice would have been for the government to kill him rather than for his family to become destitute financing his care.