Building a Community

Welcome to Nurses' Notes. I'm thrilled to be the blogger for Nurses' Notes and I hope to make it a fun place to visit.

Welcome to Nurses’ Notes. I’m thrilled to be the blogger for Nurses’ Notes and I hope to make it a fun place to visit. I’ve been so incredibly lucky to be able to combine my nursing background with my skill and love of writing to enjoy a career as a health writer and editor. I hope you enjoy our journey together and if you have any comments or suggestions, please be sure to leave them.

This is how we build a community and an online community of nurses can be a fun place to be. Years ago, who would have thought that a nurse could make a living using a computer in her home? The computer and the Internet have changed the lives of so many people, including nurses and the image and role of nurses. The Internet also offers a lot of support because nurses from all over the world, literally, can communicate and discuss important issues that affect us all. We no longer work in our own little communities; we can have an impact, worldwide.

When I began studying nursing in 1978, the only form of instant communication was through the telephone and research was done in libraries or—if you were lucky enough–floor copies of medical or nursing books. Now, if you have any questions about treatments, medications, or diagnosis, the answer is often just moments away through Internet access. How has this changed nursing though? For one thing, it changed our patients–and that changed us. It used to be that patients generally took doctors and nurses at their word, especially doctors. If they were told to do something, they did it with few questions.

Now, the pendulum has swung so much the other way, it’s not even funny. Patients and their families and friends research everything. In fact, sometimes, they even have done a self-diagnosis, for right or for wrong—this interesting article, Cyberchondriacs, discusses this issue. This can be very challenging for healthcare providers because we either have to:

A) tell them their information is wrong,

B) work with them even if they don’t seem to agree with what we are doing,

C) convince them that yes, we do know what we are doing and yes, we would be doing this even if they hadn’t told us about it, or

D) any of the above or none of the above. In my mind, neither end of the spectrum is good.

It’s not good for patients to blindly follow doctors’ or nurses’ orders, but it’s not good for patients to find information that might be wrong or contraindicated for their particular problem. We have to find a happy medium. Part of that is having a list of good, recommended sites where patients can go to get information. One site I like is MedLinePlus, part of the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

We need to be educators in the traditional nursing/patient education sense, for a very nontraditional medium. We need to be able to help patients learn how to tell good information from bad.

What are some of your favorite sites?