From the Summer 2012 issue ofÂ Scrubs
The Flying Nurse
In 1943, at the height of World War II, a young pilot from Tampa, Fla., was accepted into an elite program for female aviators, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. She and the other WASPs ran noncombat missions, doing test flights, ferrying planes from factories to military bases and towing targets so soldiers could practice their gunnery skills. After the war ended, that same young woman—Dorothy Ebersbach—joined another high-flying profession: She became a nurse.
Until her retirement in 1975, Ebersbach worked as a public health nurse in Hillsborough County, Fla., but she never lost her passion for flying. When she died in November, just shy of her 97th birthday, she left $2 million to establish the Dorothy Ebersbach Academic Center for Flight Nursing at her alma mater, Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. “The gift allowed her to combine her two lifelong loves: flying and nursing,” says Mary E. Kerr, PhD, RN, dean of the nursing school. “And it’s allowing us to expand our flight program from a center for basic education to one for research and further education.
Kerr met the flying nurse in 2010 after she’d been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal—the highest award Congress grants civilians—for her service as a WASP (WASPs were considered civilians and were not granted veteran status until 1977). “She donated the medal to the school, too,” says Kerr. “She was an amazing woman.”
Taking Sides: Prints vs. Solids
If you grew up wearing a uniform to school, you know the pros and cons of a standard-issue wardrobe. And now that more hospitals are instituting a color-coded scrubs policy for nurses, you may again be weighing the pluses and minuses of complete uniformity. Are wardrobe restrictions a good thing?
Color coding is based on the idea that it will help identify nurses at a glance—among patients as well as hospital staff. That makes sense…if it works (do patients even know the color codes?). But research also suggests that what nurses wear influences how competent and caring patients perceive them to be. While color coding may provide some benefits, prints do, too. In a study conducted by Washoe Health System in Reno, Nev., researchers looking at the impact of nurses’ uniforms on patient perceptions found that scrubs with small prints conveyed caring, attentiveness, cooperation, empathy and approachability.
So why ban print tops? We think nurses should have a choice of a print or solid top—and, sure, bottoms can be color-coded.
Unfortunately, no one has studied how nurses feel about having to wear the same color scrubs day after day. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests it evokes the same reactions as school uniforms. That is, some people love not having to make a choice, others have one word for the rule: boring!
School’s in for Summer
Continuing education (CE) improves your nursing practice; so does a little R&R. It’s no wonder, then, that CE cruises are proliferating. Your nursing skills get an update while you recharge your engine. Make no mistake about it: Despite the hours spent learning (there’s a floating classroom for just about every specialty, from trauma and neonatology to hospice and palliative nursing), CE cruises really are a vacation. “You only have classes while the boat is cruising, not when it’s docked,” says Lin Sherrill, BSN, MS, CRNA, a nurse anesthetist in the Nashville area and a veteran of three of the Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia’s tropical cruises. Sherrill loves the cruises because he can knock off his CE credits while spending time with his family. “They have something to do while you’re in session.”
Combining paid days off for training with vacation time is one way that nurses stretch their holidays. “Some nurses also get continuing education stipends, which can help defray the cost of the cruise,” says Amanda Dieterich, RN, a New Jersey-based nurse who works in the mental health field and is also the founder and owner of The Cruise Academy, which arranges CE sessions at sea.
CE cruises leave from various ports around the country and head for a variety of destinations, including the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Cruises generally range from seven to 10 nights. Before you sign up, make sure that the seminars are accredited and accepted by the board that licenses nurses in your state. Then kick back: It’s going to be one enjoyable ride.