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Ferguson, Liley, Miller 1

Sabrina Ferguson, Catherine Liley, David Miller

Nancy Roche
Writing 1010-018
24 November 2014
Effects of Literacies on Nursing Students
Through research and observation we have concluded that the practices taught in the
school of nursing should be questioned despite their social prominence. Information taught by
the University of Utah Nursing Program is not necessarily wrong, it is merely our conclusion that
all practices should be questioned in order for society to progress. There are numerous instances
in the history of the prominent scientific community being proven wrong despite years of social
acceptance. The practice of blind acceptance is crippling to any society, and the nursing literacy
is no exception.
In our history there is no shortage in examples of human error. Over and over again we
prove ourselves wrong and still believe that our newest theory is without flaw. The nursing
community is no exception to this trend. Practices taught to nurses have not always been
appropriate for the patients needs, and sometimes are even harmful to the patient. In the early
twentieth century nurses were taught to apply antacid to pressure ulcers in order to dry them
out, though we now know wounds heal best under moist conditions. In the 1800s neurologist
Silas Weir Mitchell pioneered the rest cure. The principles behind the cure are best illustrated in
Charlotte Gilmans short story Yellow Wallpaper, in which a woman suffering from manic
depression is forced to a completely inactive lifestyle as her treatment. She is forbidden from
physical activity or creative expression, especially writing. Her mental deterioration in the story
was classic of women who received similar treatments. This goes to show that practices taught to

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nurses have historically been riddled with errors and inaccuracies. The treatments being taught to
nursing students are not necessarily harmful to patients, but constant questioning is prudent
The practices taught in nursing school may not be the best way to help those with medical
needs. In many documented cases, universities and colleges have graduated many nurses who
did not posses the necessary skills to provide proper health care to patients. Everyone is different
and learns at a different pace, but when an "unsafe student" is let into the stressful environment
that nursing entails, it puts patients at risk. "...the term "unsafe student" is used to describe
students whose level of clinical practice is questionable with regard to competence, whose
knowledge and psychomotor skills are lacking, or whose motivation or interpersonal skills are
less than adequate..."(Luhanga, 257) These unsafe students are quickly overwhelmed by the
stressors of the environment, triggering them into making potentially life-threatening mistakes.
The fault does not rest solely on the students, but also on the textbooks used.
Nursing is a practice that is learned through a two-step program: text based or classroom
based learning and experience learning. Text or classroom-based learning is where the majority
of learning is done, or should be done. This is the time where a student learns all about the
human body, general nursing duties, patient care etc. Without an adequate amount of
information, students are put in situations where they aren't prepared resulting in unhappy or hurt
patients. "Only 2% of the overall content and 1.4% of chapters in nursing texts were related to
EOL care. Based on the analysis, many deficiencies were identified in the texts, including
inaccurate information and a lack of information regarding critical EOL topics." (Ferrell B)
When EOL care, or end of life care is not taught in full, students are forced to learn through

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experience and mistakes. When thrown into the stressful environment and forced to quickly
adapt, students often feel emotional repercussions.
Practices of the college of nursing could result in emotional damage to students. When a
student is ready to make the transition from classroom to work environment, they are sent
unprepared for all of the stressors that the occupation encounters. In the nursing environment,
there are many factors that can cause a student to become drained. "...three sources of stress: (a)
from the physical environment, (b) from the psychological environment, and (c) from the social
environment."(Storduer, 535) This article goes on further to say that these stressors include: the
workload (physical), death and dying (psychological), and conflict with patients and others
employees (social). The effects of these factors can greatly decrease productivity, attention,
reliability, and overall patient care.
Every nursing job includes the daily struggles of physical, emotional and social stresses,
but for some psychological stress is added. When students have preexisting mental disorders,
symptoms often worsened during college and post-graduate education. "Studies report a general
increase in the severity of and extent of mental health problems among college/university
students." (Chernomas M) When that is added to the other stressors involved in nursing, a
student can become complete burned out. A complete burn out has only negative effects toward
the students studies, patient care and personal life.
Practices taught in the medical field may not be ideal to help/connect with patients
emotionally. It is important for Nurses to connect with patients because it makes them feel more
comfortable and trustworthy. Nurses learn to go from one task to another quick and efficient but
sometimes thats not the best way, One participant wrote in to complain about what he called
chart Nazis, nurses who spend more time making sure charts have been properly updated than

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worrying about patient care. The nurses spend more time sitting around talking, drinking coffee
and charting than taking care of patients.(Johnson,9). This would be an example of a practice
that doesnt benefit the patients. Nurses have a lot to take care of and can become so distracted
with other work on their hands that they forget about their patient. Nurses should know how to
manage their time and balance it out between work and patients to keep the patient content.
Practices may give a warped view of reality to nurses. When nurses are learning all the
medical literacies they need to know, sometimes they aren't working with real live patients or
they aren't in real situations. When a new nurse is put in a severe health situation they dont
know how to act but eventually they have to adjust in order to keep the patient calm and act
professional. Nurses have to have some extraordinary traits such as, patience, friendly nature,
compassion, love for others and the ability to feel the pain of others(Psychology and counseling
career center) but in order for the nurse to possess those traits they need to practice. When a
student is first becoming a nurse its hard to understand what emotions unless they work on an
actual patient and get used to seeing severe trauma. This can be a setback for some nurses or a
wake up call because they might not be able to handle the disturbance of a patient or seeing a
patient die. The medical field needs to emphasize how important it is to stay calm and adjust
emotions to the patients comfort.
When a literacy becomes more prominent in a culture its practices start to
permeate across social boundaries. If a certain domain becomes prominent enough it can have
almost total control over a society's beliefs. The medical community as a whole is a perfect
example of this; most views adopted by it are adopted by society. This is usually not a bad thing.
As a scientific community the college of nursing bases its practices on educated reasoning and
study, so practices are almost always accurate until theyre not. In the 1940s Doctors across

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the country endorsed tobacco not only as noncarcinogenic but to treat a variety of ailments.
Cigarettes in particular were prescribed to stimulate digestion, prevent tooth decay, and even
encourage physical development. This notion was accepted and taught in all medical
communities and became popular belief across the entire country. Sometimes a community will
become too dependent on a literacy for information and turn a blind eye to logic.
All nurses have made a commitment to help and aid anyone who needs medical
assistance. In order to do this to the best of their abilities an education current and accurate is
necessary. For a nurse to complete their job they must look at the information they are being
given with an analytical eye. To ensure they can give the best care possible, this analytical eye
must always be kept open. Nursing is a very challenging and demanding field to be in and it
requires a large amount of dedication and emotional strength. All nurses are required to
experience a large array of stressors on a daily basis and are vital assets to the medical
community. A student should always search for the best and most accurate information in order
to succeed and fulfill their commitment to help those in need.

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Works Cited
B, Ferrell, Virani R, and Grant M. Analysis of End-of-Life Content in Nursing Textbooks.
Oncology Nursing Forum 26.5 (1999): 869-76. Europe PubMed Central. Web. 24 Nov.
Blowing Smoke: Vintage Ads of Doctors Endorsing Tobacco. CBS News. CBS Interactive,
n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Ieradi, Janet A. Back in the Day: What We Can Learn from Outdated Nursing Practices.
Nursing 40.4 (2010): 32-33. Lippinoctt Nursing Center.com. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Johnson, Carrie. Bad Blood: Doctor-Nurse Behavior Problems Impact Patient Care. American
College of Healthcare Executives Nov.-Dec. 2009: 6-11. American College of Healthcare
Executives. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Luhanga, Florence, Olive Yonge, and Florence Myrick. Hallmarks of Unsafe Practice: What
Preceptors Know. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development 24.6 (2008): 257-64.
Lippincott Nursing Center. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
M, Chernomas W., and Shapiro C. Stress, Depression, and Anxiety among Undergraduate
Nursing Students. PubMed. N.p.: n.p., 2013. US National Library of Medicine National
Institutes of Health. Web. 24 Nov. 2014
Psychology in the Nursing Field. Psychology and Counseling Career Center. N.p., 23 Apr.
2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.
Stiles, Anne. The Rest Cure, 1873-1925. BRANCH: Britain, Representation and
Nineteenth-Century History. Ed.

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Stordeur, Sabine, William DHoore, and Christian Vandenburghe. Leadership, Organizational

Stress, and Emotional Exhaustion among Hospital Nursing Staff. Journal of Advanced
Nursing 35.4 (2001): 533-42. Wiley Online Library. Web. 24 Nov. 2014.