Queensland COVID-19 Data Compared with Similar-Sized Populations (an amateur pre-border opening baseline)

This is a December 2021 update to data presented in an August 2020 presentation and blog post called Liaison in the Time of #COVID19. It is worth doing it now, I reckon, because the borders will open in a couple of weeks, and Queensland will become one of those rare places who have had the luxury of successfully suppressing the pandemic long enough to allow the population to be vaccinated. Well, those who trust and follow the science, that is.

As noted on previous blog posts [here & here], Queensland’s population is much bigger than Australia’s smaller states/territories (which are all well-under 3 million), but falls a long way short of Australia’s two largest states (which are both well-over 6 million).

So, on population alone (ie: with cavalier disregard to geography, housing density, culture or climate) it is better to compare the 5 million-ish Queensland population to the 5 million-ish populations of Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Singapore.

Please interrogate the comparative data collated in the table below.

IrelandNew ZealandQueenslandNorwaySingapore
Population 5 011 5005 126 3005 236 1725 415 1665 450 000
Total COVID-19 Cases573 90511 7232 130269 433266 049
Active COVID-19 Cases*6 00816*12 255
COVID-19 Cases in Hospital5786114246993
COVID-19 Cases in ICU117*06962
COVID-19 Deaths5 6522271 092726
% 1st Dose COVID-19 Vaccine91.319486.578.796
% 2nd Dose COVID-19 Vaccine89.778776.471.196
Data as @ 01/12/21
* = number not reported online [][][][][] vaccine % of eligible people (ie: 12yo +)

I do not take my good fortune of living and working in Queensland for the last two years for granted.

It is important to reinforce the obvious: this data comparison is not some sort of macabre competition. The death stats alone remind us that COVID-19 is not a game – as of 01/12/21 WHO report 262,178,403 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5,215,745 deaths. On a brighter note, WHO report that as of 28 November 2021 a total of 7,772,799,316 vaccine doses have been administered.

Think Global. Act Local.

Now, let’s look at how we have been faring in FNQ.

As of 01/12/21 Cairns and Hinterland has had 75 COVID-19 cases (none currently), and no deaths . We have been incredibly fortunate.

As of 01/12/21 over 177 000 vaccine doses have been administered in Cairns and Hinterland [source], but there is a bit of variation between the local government areas – as below [source]:

% 1st Dose COVID-19 Vaccine% 2nd Dose COVID-19 Vaccine
Cairns87.9 76.0
Cassowary Coast (Innisfail)85.371.0
Douglas85.575.3
Mareeba75.663.0
Tablelands (Atherton)84.572.5
Yarrabah63.243.5
FNQ vaccination rates of people aged 15+ as @ 28/11/21

Shaded part of map = these LGAs: Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Douglas, Mareeba, Tablelands, Yarrabah.

So What?

I don’t have the qualifications to tell you what all this data means. I certainly don’t have the skills or qualifications to use it to predict future data.

However, I do have the skills to collate and report data from reliable sources.

I intend to revisit this data before I shut down the meta4RN blog in September 2022, and compare how we fare after the borders open compared to the December 2021 baseline data collated above.

Data Sources 

FNQ Data
COVID-19 vaccination – Geographic vaccination rates – LGA https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/covid-19-vaccination-geographic-vaccination-rates-lga

Queensland
Population https://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/statistics/theme/population/population-estimates/state-territories/qld-population-counter
COVID Cases & Vaccines https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/urgent-covid-19-update

New Zealand
Population https://www.stats.govt.nz/topics/population 
COVID Cases https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-data-and-statistics/covid-19-current-cases
COVID Vaccines https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-data-and-statistics/covid-19-vaccine-data 

Ireland 
Population https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-pme/populationandmigrationestimatesapril2021/ 
COVID Cases https://covid19ireland-geohive.hub.arcgis.com 
COVID Vaccines https://covid19ireland-geohive.hub.arcgis.com/pages/vaccinations 

Norway
Population https://www.ssb.no/en/
COVID Cases https://www.vg.no/spesial/corona/
COVID Vaccines https://www.vg.no/spesial/corona/vaksinering/norge/ 

Singapore 
Population https://www.singstat.gov.sg/modules/infographics/population
COVID Cases https://covidsitrep.moh.gov.sg
COVID Vaccines https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/vaccination 

End

As always, feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 2 December 2021

Short URL: meta4RN/baseline

Addit

A Health Professional’s Guide to Twitter

(an entirely tweetable guide to Twitter for health professionals)

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “Twitter doesn’t interest me – I don’t care what Justin Bieber had for breakfast”? Those people speak that way because they don’t understand the difference between PERSONAL, OFFICIAL and PROFESSIONAL use of social media media.

Personal Use.

Personal use of social media is where you share photos of your holidays with family and friends on services like Facebook or Instagram. If you happen to be interested in what Justin Bieber had for breakfast, sus-out his Insta or Twitter feed. We won’t judge you 🙂

Official Use.

Official use of social media is where an entity like company or organisation presents their brand and shares information online. @IJMHN = the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing on Twitter, for instance.

Professional Use.

Professional use of social media is based on your area of expertise and interests. This use of social media allows you to share information with and interact with other individuals and organisations that have the same interests.

Health professional use of social media a legitimate thing to do. In fact, it is encouraged! Don’t believe me? Put “National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework” into your favourite search engine and see for yourself.

National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework includes section 1.3 Digital Identity: “Nurses and midwives use digital tools to develop and maintain their online identity and reputation.”
There are four subheadings to this section (see below)

Digital Identity 1.3.1: Maintains a professional development record demonstrating innovation, reflecting upon skills and experience to help monitor professional identity.

Digital Identity 1.3.2: Understands the benefits and risks of different ways of presenting oneself online, both professionally and personally while adhering to the NMBA social media policy.

Digital Identity 1.3.3: Understands that online posts can stay in the public domain and contribute to an individual’s digital footprint.

So, let’s be clear here. Unless your governing body (for me it’s Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, aka @AHPRA on Twitter) says otherwise, it is fine to represent yourself as a health professional online. Just be professional 🙂

Twitter: What’s in it for Health Professionals?

“Twitter is not a technology. It’s a conversation. And it’s happening with or without you.” Charlene Li (aka @charleneli), 2009, Foreword, in S. Israel (Ed). Twitter Ville: How businesses can thrive in the new global neighborhoods. New York: Portfolio.

Is there any need for health professionals to participate in conversations with each other and/or the general public about what we do, our work and values, who we are?

To borrow, and slightly mangle, a quote from Jane Caro (aka @JaneCaro), social media allows nurses and midwives unmediated access to public conversations for the first time in history. Empowering stuff, right?

Twitter puts you within reach of over 300 million people who are active each month. There are now over 500 million tweets sent every day. There are a lot of conversations going on out there!

Obviously you’re not going to read every tweet or follow ever person, but amongst this traffic you are bound to find people who share your special interest, whether it’s clinical, educational or research. eg: interested in the history of nursing? follow the #histnurse hashtag

There isn’t much in the way of hierarchies on Twitter. You can find yourself answering a question from a student nurse in Perth one minute, and the next minute sharing information with a professor of nursing in London.

When you interact with health professionals on Twitter, it usually has a tone that’s not unlike the banter you hear at nurses stations: it’s work-related, and nearly always respectful and friendly.

If the style of interaction is not respectful and friendly, perhaps the person is not a health professional, and/or perhaps you should stop interacting with them. #toxic

Twitter @ Events.

Twitter is fantastic for taking the content of conferences beyond the walls of a conference. Nearly all health care conferences have their own Twitter hashtag for this very reason.

You can find out more about conference tweeting by searching for an @IJMHN article called “Mental health nurses’ use of Twitter for professional purposes during conference participation using #acmhn2016”

Or, if you are comfortable with a blog (no paywalls!), use the search function on meta4RN.com – I have quite a few posts about conference tweeting there.

As with conference Tweeting, if you have an education session you want to spread beyond the walls of the workshop, Twitter can allow information to be shared and amplified.

I once conducted a workshop with four people in attendance; the workshop resources (web links, mostly) shared via Twitter had an audience that was in the thousands. Twitter costs nothing, yet it gives you/your info access to an audience MUCH larger than most of us would ever have face-to-face.

I use social media knowing full well that it is my loudest voice.

Engage in a Scheduled Twitter Discussion.

There are planned Twitter discussions, that is discussions with a designated time and topic, that are known as “Twitter Chats”. The chats are a fast-faced, fun way to learn and contribute to the contest of ideas in subjects of interest.

My recommendation for a sneak-peak at what a Twitter Chat looks like is to visit/follow @WeNurses (the Twitter handle) and/or #WeNurses (the hashtag). If anyone else does health-related Twitter Chats with more consistency or passion, I haven’t come across them yet.

Twitter is a microblogging platform that restricts each Tweet to 280 characters or less. This means that scanning through each Tweet is a quick and lively way to gather and share information. Perfect for the time-poor (that’s pretty-much all of us, isn’t it?).

It’s Academic.

Twitter is not the antithesis of academia. Twitter is academia’s friend.

You’ve done the research, you’ve written the paper, you’ve jumped through the flaming hoops of peer review, and – FINALLY – your paper has been published. Now you want people to read it, right? Twitter can help with that. A lot!

You can use Twitter to share journal articles. Here is an example prepared earlier:
https://twitter.com/IJMHN/status/1156489908284002304?s=20

Even busy and important academics might be able to find two minute and thirty second to watch this https://youtu.be/57Dj1XJPgjA video that explains why social media tools like Twitter and reporting tools like @altmetric are of interest.

Share or perish: Social media and the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12600 (McNamara and Usher, 2019)

Getting Started on Twitter.

Make a choice: will you have an official, personal or professional Twitter account? Don’t mix it up. Health professionals know about boundaries, right?

On your professional Twitter account you’re not representing an organisation, but are primarily talking about work-related stuff.

Choose a short name (aka “handle”) eg: instead of @AngelaCateMaryHelenNormandy maybe you should try @ACMHN (well, if the handle is not already taken by someone else, that is 🙂)

Bad news for people without exotic names: @JohnSmith @JSmith + @SmithJ are all taken 🙄

Short names and concise tweets are good. Twitter = Brevity Central

Struggling to decide on a name? Get creative, e.g. a nerdy mental health nurse might be @MHnerse.

If you are a Registered Nurse you will almost certainly be able to use “RN” in combination with all/part of your name to make a short, snappy handle. Same would be true for OTs, GPs, SWs, SPs, PTs, ENs, etc etc

Don’t use your workplace name/initials unless you’re 100% sure you’re representing your employer rather than your professional self.

That’s why I’m @meta4RN rather than @QueenslandHealthRN – there’s a BIG difference in implications/expectations. 😬

One last thing about the Twitter handle thing: Do NOT keep the ridiculous name and number combination that Twitter might throw-up as a suggestion. Something like @JohnSmi274983615 will not be easy to remember and it will repel followers. True.

Think about how you’ll describe yourself in your Twitter bio. Do you need to name your employer? It might be easier if you don’t.

Twitter bios accommodate a bit of personality along with a description of you/your interests.

Re bio: maybe better not to say “lost virginity to a rockstar”, but “enthusiastically supporting musicians” would be OK 🙂

Professional doesn’t have to be boring.

Still nervous re the name/bio thing? You’ll get away with being anonymous, but why? On the run? Witness protection program?

And a pic. You’ll need a pic. The Twitter default avatar repels followers. #truefact

Your pic doesn’t have to be a photo. There are avatars available online PRN.

JUST DON’T BE A WEIRD GREY LITTLE SILHOUETTE OF A MAN! #scaramouchscaramouchwillyoudothefandango

#scaramouchscaramouchwillyoudothefandango

Now. When you’re ready, announce your arrival to the Twitterverse. No pressure: channel Neil Armstrong.

Next up you’ll want to start following some people, otherwise your Twitter feed will be bare, and you will feel sad, lonely and bored. 😕

Who to follow? It depends on your interests. Use the Twitter search function to search for your areas of interest.

Other ideas on who to follow: your professional college, the health journal(s) you read most, your union, your local health services, your colleagues, your heroes.

Twitter is not like Facebook. It is perfectly acceptable, not at all stalker-ish, to follow a complete stranger.

Twitter is not like Facebook. It is perfectly acceptable, not at all rude to unfollow somebody (eg: if their tweets don’t interest you)

The Mighty Hashtag

Now, about hashtags… don’t be intimidated. You can use Twitter happily with never using one, BUT…

Hashtags pull disparate conversations and people together. If you haven’t seen this in action previously, check out these hashtags on Twitter: #COVID19 #wenurses #medtwitter #wespeechies or a conference hashtag like #ACMHN2019

As an example of the power of hashtag: even if you had the most incisive political tweet ever created, @QandA viewers would not ever know about it without the #QandA hashtag.

Create your own hashtags, BUT learn from the Susan Boyle album launch hashtag: #susanalbumparty can be read 2 ways 🙂

So, what to Tweet about? Anything that you think is relevant to people who may share all or some of your interests.

Remember: the conventions of professional communication are long-established: letters, email etc. Why change it on Twitter?

Now, pause for a moment and check-out your employer’s and registering body’s social media guidelines.

Any surprises for you there? Probably the only thing that routinely surprises people is being extra careful about testimonials/advertising. Most of us find the rest of it pretty sensible and intuitive.

Twitter Tips.

The easiest way to learn Twitter is to follow people who have already learned Twitter. Then get started with your Tweets/Retweets and replies. Stick with it – it’ll click in.

Definitely download a Twitter app onto your mobile. I’m happy enough with the default app by @Twitter, but also like @HootSuite and @TweetDeck. As a newby, don’t rush for a paid app – the free ones are fine.

Be careful mixing personal and professional. Boundaries are important.

You already know about confidentiality; if you’re doing confidentiality wrong online it will definitely get spotted.

Naturally, you would NEVER give individual or detailed clinical advice on Twitter.

Generalised info is fine, e.g.: Getting great feedback from consumers about the @beyondblue app called “Beyond Now” (it’s free and evidence-based)

Try not to act like a dickhead. Also, don’t use words like “dickhead” – it’s unprofessional.

Apologise if you do/say something stupid. BTW sorry for saying “dickhead” before.

Twitter spam is especially good at playing on the insecurities of newbies, so be vigilant + don’t click dodgy links.

Spam example 1: This person is saying horrible things about you http://www.dodgylink.com DON’T CLICK!

Spam example 2: This photo of you! LOL http://www.dodgylink.com DON’T CLICK!

Mostly you won’t Tweet from/about your workplace… you’ll have your work to do.

There may be an occasional exception to the workplace rule, e.g.: How cool are these paeds ward Christmas decorations?

Would your patients or boss be offended by that Tweet or photo? Yes = Delete. No = Tweet.

Connect. Be generous. Have fun.

End Notes.

This is a reworking of a 2014 web page I wrote for Ausmed called “A Nurses Guide To Twitter”. 2014 is so old in internet terms it has been consigned to the Internet Archive (aka Wayback Machine). That webpage was, in turn, a reworking of a 2013 workshop and blog page called “A Twitter Workshop in Tweets“. Self-plagiarism? Such an ugly word! Let’s call it a funky new remix of a favourite old song.

I was keen to republish it as an alternative to doing a series of inservices and workshops. It’s more expedient for me to do stuff like this in my own time, and leave work time to do the stuff related directly to my paid role.

Also, it’s fun to make the whole thing in tweetable chunks. Please feel free to tweet/share your favourite bits.

As always, you are welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 10 November 2021

Short URL: meta4RN.com/twitter

Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Australia

The @CairnsHelp swing tag QR code (brochures are so last century)

In the grand old tradition of “see one, do one, teach one”, here is a two-and-a-half minute video which hopes to spark some ideas on how we share information.

The video above tells the story. No need to read below unless you’re especially curious.

Background/Elaboration

Back in 2012 I picked-up a Health Roundtable  Innovation Award in the “Improving Quality of Patient Care” stream for Deploying complex information via a QR Code. However, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic kicked-in and, in keeping with public health advice, every cafe, bar, restaurant and retail outlet required customers to check-in that QR code use became as endemic as a virus.

In April 2021 I stumbled across linktree, and thought it was a cool way to collate all my social media stuff in one place (here: linktr.ee/meta4RN).

Soon afterwards, I thought it would be a cool way to collate a list of Cairns organisations that I refer to and/or recommend when at work. The first incarnation was intentionally short, but at the recommendation of Anton Saylor – an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Hospital Liaison Officer – we added a lot of agencies to the list. Anton said something like, “Brother, some of my mob have complex lives. Let’s make sure they have access to the services they need.” That’s how linktr.ee/CairnsHelp got started.

I used QR Monkey to make the QR code because it’s free, and allows a logo/text box to be inserted into the code as a label. Tina Jenkins – an Executive Support Officer – kindly made 16 laminated swing tags featuring the QR code above. With our “home made” swing tags we conducted a small trial amongst colleagues, and surveyed them after a couple of weeks [results]. With the modest survey results in hand, the idea was pitched to the executive to print swing tags so other staff and the people they support would have easy access to the CairnsHelp list. These things take a while, of course, but it was approved that we print a couple of hundred swing tags (we used lotsa printing) for a broader trial of the QR Code.

We are not limited to using the QR code/CairnsHelp link on swing tags. Richard Oldham – a Clinical Nurse Consultant with Mental Health – has suggested a trial of wall posters in waiting rooms and the like. There have been other ideas too. For instance, it’s really handy to include the https://linktr.ee/CairnsHelp link when sending an SMS or email.

I’m planning to form a small representative committee to review the CairnsHelp content before Christmas, and every 6 months thereafter, to keep the content up to date.

That’s where we’re at in October 2021. I’m still in the process of distributing the swing cards and getting the idea out there. There’s been a fair bit of interest. As much as I’d love to chat about it with people all day, my paid job is to provide clinical support and education. It’s more time efficient and sensible if I just plonk the info here on the interwebs, and pass-on the link to let people find out about it when and if it suits them. See one. Do one. Teach one.

Share & Repurpose PRN

Maybe there will be people in other services who will find the idea handy to borrow and repurpose for their area. That’s cool with me. You are free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and remix, transform, and build upon the material. I would appreciate attribution, and a similar approach to free sharing.

This info by Paul McNamara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://meta4RN.com/brochures.

Kicking Myself/A Suggestion For You

I really wished I thought of this BEFORE printing the swing tags. Frustratingly, some older/cheaper phones still struggle with QR codes, so it would be sensible to print the URL below the QR Code to quickly and easily overcome that [example].

Of Course I’m Not Representing The Organisation That Employs Me

There is a brief glimpse of my work name tag on the video. Does that mean I am representing the organisation that employs me? No. Of course not. It’s a ridiculous question to ask. It’s like asking whether I represent the views of the Pope and the Catholic church just because I used to be an altar boy. (source: McNamara, 2012, Number 13)

I am not ashamed of where I work, and I am grateful that the organisation allowed me to progress the idea. That encouragement deserves a respectful nod, which is why I left the glimpse of my work ID tag in the video.

However, I am very careful not to conflate my amateur little Saturday-morning YouTube/TikTok videos and blog post as anything to do with “official business”. You should not conflate the two either.

End

That’s it.

If you have any suggestions or feedback, please add them to the comments section below.

Thanks for watching/reading.

Paul McNamara, 23 October 2021

Short URL: meta4RN.com/brochures

Self Compassion and Post Traumatic Growth amongst Nurses in the Pandemic (Hooray for Grey Hairs!)

You may have seen that COVID-19 related content from the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing has been collated on one page, and is free to read. If not, sus it out here: IJMHN COVID-19

There’s an interesting recent addition to that list of articles by a group of nurses working at Southern Cross University and in the Northern New South Wales Local Health District. The paper reports on the stress risk and protective factors amongst 767 Australian nurses working in acute-care settings during the COVID19 pandemic.

The findings that jumped-out at me from the paper were that more experienced* nurses reported more self-compassion. Greater self-compassion resulted in:
– a reduction in pandemic-related stress
– less symptoms of depression and/or anxiety
– greater post-traumatic growth.

That’s great, right?

The findings from the Australian survey are similar to a large-scale China survey in that post-traumatic stress for nurses during COVID-19 is offset by post-traumatic growth. Understandably, the numbers in the Australian study are less pronounced than they were in the Chinese study, reflecting the difference in the two country’s experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chen, R., Sun, C., Chen, J.‐J., Jen, H.‐J., Kang, X.L., Kao, C.‐C. & Chou, K.‐R. (2020), A Large‐Scale Survey on Trauma, Burnout, and Posttraumatic Growth among Nurses during the COVID‐19 Pandemic. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.

So What?

If, like me, you’re an experienced * nurse, celebrate and share your self-compassion super-power and with other nurses. This, together with the possibility that the pandemic may cause professional/personal growth to offset the stress, is very encouraging.

If you’re new-ish to nursing, be very deliberate about building-in self-compassion to your work.

People who are attracted to nursing are usually empathetic towards the needs of others. That’s great, of course, but the downside for empaths is that sometimes we put the needs of others before our needs.

That’s the pathway to burnout, my friend.

It is sensible to be intentional about self-compassion, ie: the art of being kind to yourself, and finding a workable, realistic balance between your life experiences, thoughts and feelings. Self-compassion will not dilute your empathy. It will allow you to continue in your empathetic work better for longer.

How do you go about self-compassion?
Maybe finding yourself the right mentor(s).
Maybe just everyday stress management stuff.
Maybe getting some clinical supervision.
Maybe phoning Nurse & Midwife Support.
Maybe you should stop reading dumb nursing blogs, and go outside and do something fun instead. 🙂
Maybe a bit of each of the above.

NB*

*“experienced” is probably code word for “those with grey hairs”

References

Aggar, C., Samios, C., Penman, O., Whiteing, N., Massey, D., Rafferty, R., Bowen, K. & Stephens, A. (2021), The impact of COVID-19 pandemic-related stress experienced by Australian nurses. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing,
https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12938

Chen, R., Sun, C., Chen, J.‐J., Jen, H.‐J., Kang, X.L., Kao, C.‐C. & Chou, K.‐R. (2020), A Large‐Scale Survey on Trauma, Burnout, and Posttraumatic Growth among Nurses during the COVID‐19 Pandemic. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
doi.org/10.1111/inm.12796

Declaration of Interests

In the interests of transparency, there are three declarations to be made re this blog post:
1. I am the Social Media Editor of the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
2. I have a bias towards promoting nurse mental wellbeing, including my own.
3. What little hair I have left is very very grey.

End

That’s it. If you haven’t gone out to do something fun already, maybe stay where you are and sus-out the the Aggar et al article here, and have a browse through the other IJMHN COVID-19 papers here.

Thanks for reading. As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 16 October 2021

Short URL meta4RN.com/grey

Never Iron Again

You’re too busy, sensible and in need of downtime to iron.

So don’t ever iron again. It’s easy:

  1. Select the slow spin speed on your washing machine
  2. Use thick clothes hangers (those spindly wire ones will not do the trick)
  3. Take the clothes straight from the washing machine onto the hanger
  4. Button-up and tidy-up the shirt so it looks neat on the hanger
  5. Leave overnight
  6. Voilà! It’s ready to wear or hang in the wardrobe.
@meta4rn

Never Iron Again. (1) Slow Spin Speed (2) Thick Hangers [not wire] (3) Straight From Machine To Hanger ✅🙂 #iron #noiron #ironic #isntitironic #freedom

♬ Rockin – Chris Alan Lee

That’s it. That’s all you need to do.

If you hear yourself saying, “Yeah, but…” you’re sabotaging yourself. Stop it. You deserve better.

If you hear yourself saying “Yeah, duh…” you’re on my side. I’ve doing the washing, and NOT doing any ironing, this way for all my adult life. You and I are allies. It amazes me that there are others who don’t know.

If you hear yourself saying, “Yeah, isn’t it great that a middle-aged white man is telling everyone what to do…” you’re right. It’s a bad habit us middle-aged white men have. In my defence, I’d just like to point out that as a nurse I’ve been educated, trained, mentored and inspired by smart women. I’m not assuming superiority here, I’m just sharing a life hack from the trenches.

Never iron again. Slow spin speed, thick hangers, and straight from the washing machine to the hanger will do the trick.

Oh my giddy aunt! I will never iron again!

End

That’s it. At first blush it may seem that this blog post is WAY off track for a nursing blog, but I reckon it belongs here. Why? Because nurses using and passing-on self care tips is in keeping with the rest of the blog. Also, mental health week is coming-up – what better way to walk the mental health talk than stop being a slave to ironing?

As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Naturally, if you know someone who irons it is you solemn duty to pass-on this info. 🙂

Paul McNamara, 5 October 2021

Beginning of the End

Yesterday I confirmed what I’ve been mulling-over for a while: I’ll retire the meta4RN blog in September 2022.

#ihatemytwittertypos

That will make a nice even ten years of nurse-blogging. I’m only a few years away from retirement, and need to start the transition. It’s time for me to use my non-work time doing more non-work stuff.

When I started the meta4RN thing I thought I’ll aim to be the most visible Australian mental health nurse on social media. I’m not sure, but I think I’ve probably achieved that. Even if I haven’t, it’s a remarkably unambitious target.

I’m amazed how many nurses – mental health nurses, in particular – self-censor themselves into silence on social media. I started the meta4RN blog in response to the prevailing “stop it or you’ll go blind” approach to social media by senior health and university people at the time. It’s incredible that nurses are the most trusted profession in Australia [source & source], are employed to go behind the curtains and help people who are having one of the worst days of their lives, but are not considered by some within our ranks not to be mature enough to go online. FFS.

I’m getting bored and tired pushing against the bricks. I’ll use the platform for the next 12 months, and then put meta4RN.com to bed. I haven’t really decided to do with the rest of the meta4RN social media portfolio yet, but I’ll work that out over the next year.

For the uninitiated, and so (hopefully) it with be swept-up by the Wayback Machine and Trove/National Library of Australia bots, below is a list of the other arms of the meta4RN social media portfolio.

Twitter @meta4RN

Facebook facebook.com/meta4RN

YouTube youtube.com/meta4RN

Instagram instagram.com/meta4RN

TikTok tiktok.com/@meta4RN

Prezi prezi.com

Wakelet wakelet.com/@metaRN

SlideShare slideshare.net/paulmcnamara

Reddit reddit.com/user/meta4RN

Tumblr meta4RN.tumblr.com

ResearchGate www.researchgate.net

Orcid orcid.org

LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/in/paulmc

LinkTree linktr.ee/meta4RN

It’s an unnecessarily over-the-top list. I’ve probably overdone the effort to demonstrate that there is an avenue for nurses to promote their profession and voice, should they – like me – get exasperated at being routinely forgotten or sidelined in the public conversation.

End of ‘Beginning of the End’

That’s it.

Just putting it out there so when I pull up stumps next year it comes as no surprise.

If you know of someone who might be interested in the not-so-lofty title of ‘most visible Australian mental health nurse on social media’ let them know that now is a good chance to pounce. 🙂

Paul McNamara, 25 September 2021

Short URL meta4RN.com/end

Share or Perish: Social media motivation for busy and important academics

You’ve done the research, you’ve written the paper, you’ve jumped through the flaming hoops of peer review, and – FINALLY – your paper has been published.

Now you want people to read it, right?

This short video aims to motivate academics to play an active part in employing social media as a tool to promote their published work, and – for those not already familiar with it – introduces Altmetric: a tool that measures and reports on the attention that academic work is attracting online.

YouTube version.

Share or Perish: Social media motivation for busy and important academics

@meta4rn

Share or Perish: Social media motivation for busy and important academics #academia #academic #socialmedia #busy #important https://meta4RN.com/busy

♬ original sound – Paul McNamara
TiTok version. Is there anything quite as sad as a middle aged man on TikTok? No. There is not.

Reference

McNamara, P. & Usher, K. (2019), Share or perish: Social media and the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28(4): 960-970. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12600

End

If there’s an academic (or anyone else, for that matter) in your life who may think they’re too busy and important for social media, please feel free to send them a link to the video/this page. 🙂

As always, feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 14 September 2021

Short URL meta4RN.com/busy

Q: RUOK? A: Not really. I’m a nurse.

09/09/21 = RUOK Day. More about that here: www.ruok.org.au

Ask a nurse how they are and they’ll probably give a positive answer: “good thanks”, “ticketyboo” and “living the dream” are favourite reflex answers in the hospital where I work.

Scratch beneath the surface though, and the overwhelming answer to the question “Are you OK?” amongst health professionals – especially nurses – in September 2021 would be: “No. Not really.”

Nurses know we’ve been lucky to have secure employment at a time when many others have not. However – as a profession – we are tired and anxious. This is evidenced by articles in the mainstream press, posts on social media, and research published in academic, peer-reviewed, journals.

Source: https://pbfcomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/PBF-Youll_Be_OK.png

There is some stuff we can do by ourselves.

There is some stuff to manage stress that we can do by ourselves. Simple things like mindfully washing our hands, for instance. I first read about this idea via Ian Miller (aka @impactednurse and @thenursepath) in 2013. When Ian withdrew from the online space, I reprised the idea in a 2016 blog post:

Then refreshed the idea in March 2020 when the pandemic hit Australia:

And made a short video version to accompany the blog post:

The mindful handwashing idea for nurses, as I saw for myself for the first time yesterday, has now been published in a text book:

Being published in a text book makes an idea legit, right? 🙂

Anyway – if you haven’t already – try building-in something like mindful handwashing into everyday practice. Something that you can do for yourself, by yourself, while you’re at work.

On behalf of your boss, I can assure you that she/he/they does not want you to burnout – nurses have never been more valued than they are in September 2021. She/he/they needs you. If taking a couple of extra seconds to wash your hands helps you take care of yourself, your boss will be happy that you’re using that time productively.

There is some stuff that we need to do with others.

Nursing is a team sport. So is self-care.

Those familiar with meta4RN would know already that I’m likely to bang-on about clinical supervision. So as not to disappoint, here you go:

And the other thing that I want to remind readers about is Nurse & Midwife Support – a 24/7 national support service for Australian nurses and midwives providing access to confidential advice and referral.

I was chatting with one of the NMSupport staff members recently, and her only suggestion was to encourage colleagues to NOT leave it until they’re feeling overwhelmed before phoning. It seems as if many of us have the bad habit of not asking for support until we’re in crisis. Now that I think about it, phoning a week or two BEFORE the crisis is probably a better idea. 🙂

Phone NMSupport on 1800 667 877, and/or visit their website (www.nmsupport.org.au), Facebook (www.facebook.com/NMSupportAU), Insta or Twitter:

One last thing (an overt plug for a friend’s book chapter).

In case you missed the subtle plug above, please let me be more explicit about promoting the chapter by a Consultation Liaison Nurse peer and friend, Julie Sharrock. The chapter title and book title say it all:

Sharrock, J. (2021). Professional self-care. In Foster, K., Marks, P., O’Brien, A. & Raeburn, T. (Eds.). Mental health in nursing: Theory and practice for clinical settings (5th ed.). (pp. 86-105). Elsevier Australia. www.elsevierhealth.com.au/mental-health-in-nursing-9780729

I really like that this chapter in a text book by nurses for nurses acknowledges that we need to care for ourselves to care for others. Although it flies in the face of that ridiculous hero narrative, it is legitimate for nurses to seek a long-lasting, satisfying and meaningful career. Julie’s chapter speaks to that, and provides explicit information on strategies for nurses to use.

I recommend that you have a read of the evidence-based ideas for sustaining yourself and your career that the chapter contains. Perhaps your local hospital/university already has a copy of the book.

End.

That’s it. I just wanted to make a point that not all of us are OK. Unlike the caravaner below, not all of us can “Just deal with it Trish.” Well, not ALL the time, anyway.

@meta4rn

“Just deal with it Trish.” #JustDealWithItTrish Trish and Rex: stranded Victorians interviewed in an Albury caravan park, 09/09/21 #RUOKday #RUOK

♬ original sound – Paul McNamara

As always, you are very welcome to leave feedback in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 9 September 2021

Short URL: meta4RN.com/RUOK

Voluntary DOES Mean Voluntary; Scaremongering Means Scaremongering

Just a quick blog post to reassure those alarmed by the dodgy “voluntary should mean voluntary” scaremongering campaign. Please see the corrected version below.

Of course neither patients or health professionals will be pressured into voluntary assisted dying under the proposed Queensland voluntary assisted dying legislation. The word “voluntary” in “voluntary assisted dying” makes it pretty clear, but don’t just take my word for it.

Let’s look at some key sections from “A Legal Framework for Voluntary Assisted Dying”, published by the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) in May 2021 [PDF]. This is the document Queensland politicians will be reviewing next week, prior to casting a conscious vote.

“Voluntary assisted dying is an active and voluntary practice… It is a voluntary practice in that it is undertaken at the person’s request. More than one request is required. The decision to access the process must be made freely and without coercion.” (QLRC, May 2021, section 1.48, page 7)

“In summary, we recommend that the right to refuse to participate in voluntary assisted dying on the grounds of conscientious objection should apply to registered health practitioners (such as doctors and nurses) and to speech pathologists.” (QLRC, May 2021, section 14.96, page 437)

The proposed Queensland voluntary assisted dying law is similar to the existing legal framework for termination of pregnancy, in that neither patients or clinicians are forced into dong something they object to. The proposed Queensland voluntary assisted dying law has additional safeguards.

For example, a patient safeguard includes: “The process of request and assessment involves three separate requests that are clear and documented. The process has a waiting period of at least 9 days between the first and final request.” (QLRC, May 2021, section 8.477, page 248)

An example of a safeguard for health practitioners includes provision for “conscientious objection” (QLRC, May 2021, section 8.103, page 200) and, “The practitioner must have completed the approved training before they accept a transfer of the role of administering practitioner.” (QLRC, May 2021, section 13.187, page 412) To my way of thinking, this is a generous safeguard in that it allows health professionals who are unsure or ambivalent to simply not-get-around-to completing the training. This also safeguards the patient from enduring a clinician who is unsure of their own beliefs, or passively resistant to the patient’s wishes.

There is strong support for voluntary assisted dying (VAD) legislation in Queensland:
~77% of the public support VAD
~87% of nurses support VAD

Source: Queensland Nurses & Midwives Union (QNMU), June 2021, Submission into the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 [PDF]

It is interesting to reflect on why nurses have a higher rate of support for voluntary assisted dying than the general public… What do nurses see and know that others don’t see and know?

It is also important to reassure the 13% of Queensland nurses and midwives who did not support voluntary assisted dying in the QNMU February 2021 survey [PDF], that they will not be pressured or compelled to participate. Just as is the case with pregnancy termination, only a very small percentage of the nursing workforce are in roles where they will be directly exposed voluntary assisted dying. Not only is there no pressure to become involved if you do not want to, you can not be involved unless you choose to complete specific voluntary assisted dying training.

Voluntary does mean voluntary. Scaremongering means scaremongering.

End

Obviously, I’m part of the 87% of Queensland nurses who support voluntary assisted dying legislation. I’ve written about it previously in July [here], and wasn’t intending to write about it again. However, the scaremongering campaign can not go unaddressed. I’m realistic. I know the Catholic church has a much bigger audience and budget than me. All I have to counter their scaremongering is integrity and social media (it’s my loudest voice).

Thanks for visiting my blog. As always, your feedback is welcome via the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 7 September 2021

Short URL: meta4RN.com/Voluntary

Addit on 08/09/21

This makes the same argument as me, but in a more articulate manner:

Vax Facts for Nurses by Nurses

Let’s start with a quote from this ANMF zoom page:

The fast moving pace of COVID-19 science both from disease progression and treatments has been hard to keep up with. As nurses and midwives, we are well-positioned to advocate for science and safety. In this webinar, Dr Jessica Stokes-Parish (RN, PhD) and IPN Romy Blacklaw will present the safety processes, research, surveillance of adverse events (including data on safety so far) and difference between COVID-19 vaccines.

The “Vaccine Science in the Context of COVID-19” webinar was on Thursday 26 August.

ICYMI (like I did), a recording of the webinar is available for free to Australian Nursing Midwifery Federation members, including the QNMU and NSWNMA branches, until 10 September 2021.

Have a sneak peek of the content here:

Want to see more? If so, login to the ANMF continuing professional education portal 👉 catalogue.anmf.cliniciansmatrix.com 👈  by 10 September and search on the word “vaccine”. Despite missing the live event, you’ll still get a certificate in recognition of continuing profession education on completion (see example below).

What’s with the blog post? 

I have three reasons for promoting the webinar.

  1. I think the content of the webinar is worthwhile sharing. I really enjoyed learning about the COVID-19 vaccines in more depth than the info I had picked-up from work, online and in the mainstream media.
  2. Free, quality and easily accessible CPD/CPE for nurses and midwives deserves a shout-out, right? 🙂
  3. I reckon there’s a future for nurses delivering short, sharp and evidence-based information via video online. Not convinced? Have a look at the less-than-two-minute-long video clip above and see if you find it interesting/useful. I do.

Acknowledgement

Sincere thanks to the webinar presenters Jess Stokes-Parish and Romy Blacklaw, and the webinar host Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, for permission to use the video excerpt above, and for providing engaging and interesting CPE.

I was distracted for 15 seconds when a Harley loudly blurted past my house, and another 30 seconds by the dog chewing my thongs, so when claiming CPD hours for AHPRA will detract 0.0125 hours from the total. #fulldisclosure

End

That’s it.

You have less than 10 days to:

  1. hit this 👉 catalogue.anmf.cliniciansmatrix.com 👈 website
  2. login using your ANMF/QNMU/NSWNM membership info
  3. search the word “vaccine”
  4. and complete the free “Vaccine Science in the Context of COVID-19” CPD

Quick sticks! Don’t dilly-dally! Get a wriggle-on! 🙂

As always, your feedback is welcome in the comments section below.

Paul McNamara, 1 September 2021

Short URL: meta4RN.com/VaxFacts 

Addit (to encourage Kiwis and Aussies)