Living and Working as a Nurse in Boston

One of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston is home to some of the best hospitals in the country. Some of the best nursing jobs in Boston can be found at Massachusetts General, Brigham & Women’s, Beth Israel Deaconess, the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, New England Baptist Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which are all well-rated by US News and World Report, and all are ranked #1 in the United States in at least one specialty by… Continue reading

How to Successfully Interview for a Nursing Position

Whether you are a new grad interviewing for your first position or a seasoned nurse with years of experience, interviewing for a new job can be a nerve-racking experience. When there is a lot of hope riding on the outcome of an interview, we are often emotionally invested in the interview process.  It is natural to experience some anticipatory anxiety. And when it comes to anxiety, the best offense is a best defense. By putting forth time and effort to… Continue reading

What is a Magnet Hospital?

You may have heard of Magnet hospitals; you may even be fortunate enough to work in one. For those of you who may not be familiar with Magnet designation, here is why the distinction matters. What is the Magnet Recognition Program? The Magnet Recognition Program was created by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to distinguish nursing excellence, innovation and quality patient care. Organizations applying for this coveted status must undergo rigorous examination before being awarded this prestigious designation. What… Continue reading

Addicted to Helping People


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A new book focusing on American nurses is nominally a book of portraits, intended for coffee tables. But a doctor writing in the New York Times, Abigal Zuker, found the the narrative to be the most affecting part, hitting her “in the solar plexus.”

For example, she appreciated the observation of a hospice nurse named Jason Short in rural Kentucky who has had a number of jobs, including auto mechanic and commercial trucker. He turned to nursing when the economy went under. This pragmatic decision turned into something more, and Mr. Short says he’s a nurse for good. “Once you get a taste for helping people, it’s kind of addictive,” he says in the book, called “The American Nurse.”

The book tells the stories of 75 nurses. Some of them wanted to be nurses from when they were very young, while others took Mr. Short’s more pragmatic approach. All of the nurses profiled exhibit the same “surprised gratitude,” according to Dr. Zuker.

The nurses profiled come from many different health care settings from many different places in America, ranging from large academic institutions like Johns Hopkins to very small places like the Villa Loretto Nursing Home in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin. There are administrators, home health care workers, emergency room nurses, military nurses, and much more.

All describe unique professional paths in short first-person essays culled from video interviews conducted by the photographer Carolyn Jones. Their faces beam out from the book in Ms. Jones’s black-and-white headshots, a few posing with a favorite patient or with their work tools — a medevac helicopter, a stack of prosthetic limbs or a couple of goats.

But even the best photographs are too static to capture people who never stop moving once they get to work. For a real idea of what goes on in their lives, you have to listen to them talk.

Here is Mary Helen Barletti, an intensive care nurse in the Bronx: “My whole life I’ve marched to a the beat of a different drummer. I used to have purple hair, which I’d blow-dry straight up. I wore tight jeans, high heels and — God forgive me — fur (now I am an animal rights activist). My patients loved it. They said I was like sunshine coming into their room.”

Says Judy Ramsay, a pediatric nurse in Chicago: “For twelve years I took care of children who would never get better. People ask how I could do it, but it was the most fulfilling job of my life. We couldn’t cure these kids, but we could give them a better hour or even a better minute of life. All we wanted to do was make their day a little brighter.”

Says Brad Henderson, a nursing student in Wyoming: “I decided to be a nurse because taking care of patients interested me. Once I started, nursing just grabbed me and made me grow up.”

Says Amanda Owen, a wound care nurse at Johns Hopkins: “My nickname here is ‘Pus Princess.’ I don’t talk about my work at cocktail parties.”

John Barbe, a hospice nurse in Florida, sums it up: “When I am out in the community and get asked what I do for a living, I say that I work at Tidewell Hospice, and there’s complete silence. You can hear the crickets chirping. It doesn’t matter because I love what I do; I can’t stay away from this place.”

Creating a Culture of Health

  Nurses, like everyone else, are subject to health problems. In fact, they may be more prone to health problems, given their long hours, shift work, odd eating patterns and high stress levels. According to an article from, many healthcare institutions are searching for ways to improve the health of their employees, not just because they care about the well-being of their staff members, but also because it makes financial sense to do so. It has been estimated that… Continue reading

Staffing Levels and Patient Risk

  Higher nurse workloads due to inadequate staffing have a direct impact on patient outcomes after surgery, a new study has found. The large-scale study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing showed that higher nurse workloads negatively impacted all patients, but interestingly, older black patients were three times more likely than older white patients to suffer poorer outcomes after surgery, including death. Over a 5:1 patient-to-nurse ration, the odds of patient death increased by 3 percent per additional… Continue reading