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CPTV documentary features UConn nurses

by Carolyn Pennington - May 1, 2006

Nurses play an irreplaceable role in any healthcare setting, yet their numbers are decreasing dramatically.

Today’s nursing shortage could become a full-blown crisis by the year 2010, when the U.S. Department of Labor predicts more than one million new nurses will be needed. Connecticut’s shortage is among the most severe.

An in-depth look at the issue is the focus of a Connecticut Public Television program called “Nursing Shortage Diagnosis Critical,” in which nurses from both the Health Center and the Storrs campus are interviewed.

“The program does a really good job of capturing the issues related to the shortage,” says Ellen Leone, director of nursing at the Health Center, “including nursing faculty compensation, and the incentives now available to those who want to enter the profession.”

The CPTV crew spent two days at the Health Center interviewing nurses and videotaping their interactions with patients.

The nurses talked about why they went into nursing, and why they stay in a profession where they are often over-worked and under-appreciated.

“I think they really got a kick out of being recognized this way,” says Leone. “They were very articulate in their interviews.”

Leone, who has been a nurse for 26 years, says one of the things she talked about in the program is nursing retention.

“It’s my mission in life to get nurses the recognition and respect they deserve. I am trying to rekindle the passion for nursing in every one of them.”

The Health Center is planning special activities in recognition of nurses and their work during the week May 8 through May 12.

Nurses’ Week both commemorates Florence Nightingale’s birthday and acknowledges the vital work nurses do year-round.

The week will include continuing education programs, “nurturing the nurse” activities, recognition events, discussion groups, and presentations by two nationally known speakers: Veda Andrus, 2004 Holistic Nurse of the Year, will present “Creating a Healing Presence;” and Sonya Hardin will talk about her book, Synergy for Clinical Excellence.

There will be sessions on creating healing dolls; drumming circles; massage; and meditation.

The CPTV program will be shown in the Health Center’s Henry Low M.D. Learning Center. The program will air on Tuesday, May 9 at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 14 at 12:30 p.m.

Leone hopes viewers will learn more about the profession.

“Where else can you do everything from coaxing a baby into the world to comforting someone in their final stages of life?” she says.   “It’s a remarkable privilege.”

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