Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Oversights

The “Medicine 2004” issue of the New York Times came out two weeks ago (I obviously do not participate in the 24-hour news cycle). It included two articles on health insurance and funding (including the feature article written by Hillary Clinton), one on a mysterious contagious disease (monkeypox), an article on “narrative medicine” and another on the “end” of primary health care. The articles point to a dim future: Clinton’s article starts off describing the advent of near-ubiquitous genetic testing that will make it impossible for people with red-alert DNA to be insured (I’m not sure how relevant this is but I suppose it is supposed to get people’s attention). The other article about health insurance is written by a young, highly educated and motivated couple whose entrepreneurial spirit is being curtailed by their inability to buy private health insurance. The article on monkeypox asks if, in this terrifying age of the superbug and bioterrorism, modern doctors are willing to care for us when their own health is at stake. The primary health care article bemoans the falling number of graduating students applying to primary health care internships at Yale. The “narrative medicine” article’s content can be best described as navel gazing.


Hillary’s doom and gloom article runs the gamut from our brave, new, genetic testing world to the millions of uninsured Americans to malpractice suits. Nursing shortage? Nope. Apparently not on the radar for our fearless health care advocate. The article on the end of primary health care does not mention the word “nurse” once. Dr. Sanders, that article’s author, should perhaps compare the enrollment numbers for Yale's family nurse practitioner program against those of her own failing primary health care residency program. The "end" of primary health care apparently involves its shift from doctors to nurses (said shift generally characterized as an all-round good thing). The monkeypox article notes that several nurses stood up to care for the child from Illinois infected with the disease but seems to take the nurses’ sacrifice for granted.
I know it is easy to be bitter and I hardly have a right to feel any ownership of the nursing profession (give me 5 weeks still!). However, how can a major publication which seeks to outline the ills of the US healthcare system without mentioning the problems or even presence of nurses?


One would think after reading the magazine that the nursing shortage was so severe there simply weren’t any nurses left at all.


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