Article written by Linda Friedel The Kansas City Nursing News | Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 1:22 pm
Nancy Banfield Johnson wants to leave a legacy for nurses in her book, “Catching Critical Changes: Six Essential Steps for Effective Nursing Assessment.”
The text includes six steps to gather information for effective assessments and six steps to assess 10 acute symptoms in adults and the elderly.
“In nursing, it’s the relationship you develop with people to be the best people they can be,” said Johnson, MSN, RN, ANP, of Van Etten, N.Y. “And now it’s helping nurses be the best nurse they can be. I want to leave a legacy for nurses.”
Johnson, nurse manager and minimum data set coordinator (MDS) at a continuing care residential community, said she sat down more than once to bring to life several book ideas to life. Now that she turned 60, Johnson said that sooner is better.
“I really wanted to write a book for probably 20 years,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping that any nurse, whether new or experienced, will be able to catch any type of change of a patient at the bedside. That’s what nurses do, they save lives. They’ve got to make sure they know what the abnormal and normal are.”
Ultimately, a dear friend and colleague prompted her into action. Johnson said her longtime friend continued to work while she received radiation and chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. Johnsons decided that if her friend could endure all that and continue to work, then she could complete a book.
“That’s what really got me motivated to do it,” Johnson said.
Johnson had in mind a practical book that spoke to all nurses, whether they had been practicing for one year or 30, she said. “Catching Critical Changes” is a process-driven book rather than a how-to book, Johnson said. She drew on her years as a nurse educator in hospital settings and as a faculty member in various nursing schools to develop the book, she said.
“I have been teaching nurses how to pick up changes in their patients,” Johnson said. “That just seemed like a perfect subject.”
Johnson has presented numerous workshops and continuing education courses, and instructed in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs during her 40-year career, she said. Teaching and mentoring is her passion, she said. She said she loves to share her knowledge and to get nurses thinking. Johnson sees writing as an extension of teaching, she said.
“It’s part of the teaching and educating,” Johnson said. “It’s another medium to do that. The more you do that the better you become.”
Johnson fills her chapters in “Catching Critical Changes” with real life what-if situations, posing questions on how to correctly assess for change in adults and the elderly, she said. Nurses who are new in the field have told her that what seems do-able to assess in the textbooks, presents differently with patients at the bedside. Conversely, experienced nurses have told her that sometimes they miss a critical change. Perhaps they have done something the same way for years, she said, and need to look at things differently.
“We don’t know what we don’t know,” she said.
Johnson said the Power Point presentations from her workshops served as an outline for her book. She set out to organize the presentations and from start to finish had the book completed within nine months, she said. Johnson’s book begins by posing questions about her own experience. A car accident in her college years sent her to the hospital for a six-week visit. She lay on her back, in and out of a coma with multiple broken bones. The incident not only inspired Johnson into nursing, but made her a better nurse and more empathetic to patients, she said.
“This is a very practical book,” Johnson said. “This talks about my experience. It’s not a book that I researched. It’s real hands-on. This is a what-you-need-to-do book.”
Johnson marveled at the way the nurses cared for her while she laid immobilized with a broken knee, leg and arm. She watched them heal her from laying flat on her back to a place she was once again caring for herself. The nurses at her bedside gave her encouragement and positive reinforcement, she said. Not all the nurses were good, she said, but the excellent ones shined.
“They had been doing everything for me,” Johnson said. “It was amazing to me how they slowly got me doing things for myself.”
As a former writer, Johnson wrote a monthly healthcare column called “Aging redefined” for Health Matters. She won the 2006 and 2007 Golden Lamp award from the Center for Nursing Advocacy for her editorials on nursing, published in the Ithaca Journal. She also published two nursing articles including one on migraine headaches and another on her experiences as a home health nurse. Writing a book was a bigger challenge, Johnson said. You cannot be soft-hearted with criticism, she said. Johnson asked an LPN, RN and APRN to review her text before sending it in for publication. Their feedback was positive and encouraging, she said.
“It’s a process,” Johnson said. “You just have to get it done. Don’t be too soft-hearted on criticism. It was a very fun, interesting process. Nurses who read it were all fairly new at practicing.”
Johnson says now that she has completed her first book, she is inspired to do more. She has other non-fiction books on her mind, she said. She would like to write about the African- American patients she cared for in public health, many who grew up right after the civil rights struggle. She also wants to write about her excellent mother-in-law; what it was like to raise three sons; nursing leadership; and a book on pharmacology.
“I think I’m a pretty optimistic person,” Johnson said. “I like challenges. I like to always be exited about life. I think that’s what nursing gives you.”
Colleague Leanna Weinert-Watson, BSN, RN, MSN, family nurse practitioner, has watched Johnson interact with new nurses. She said Johnson clearly enjoys mentoring nurses.
“I’ve seen her work with some of the newer nurses,” Weinert-Watson said. “She just takes them under her wing.”
Weinert-Watson has read Catching Critical Changes and sees the book as a professional tool, she said.
“I think it’s really fantastic, especially for RNS or LPNs,” she said. “I think it’s a really helpful tool. It’s a great way to break down a lot of information and take a systematic approach.”
Any nurse can lean from reading the book, Weinert-Watson said.
“It’s very diverse,” she said. “It’s a great way to catch up on skills.”