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Nurses Respond to Educate Family Nurse Practitioners in Haiti

This post was written by Jennifer De Jesus a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and an avid movie watcher. She is also an employee of the Health Professions Education Center, which has one of the largest collection of health films in the New York City area.

photocredit:Promoting Health in Haiti

photocredit:Promoting Health in Haiti

It has been three years and three days since the tragic 7.0 earthquake in Haiti claimed the lives of an estimated 316,000, injured 300,000 and left an overwhelming 1,000,000 homeless. The devastation only seemed to continue, as days and weeks following the earthquake only revealed an even more alarming and frightening reality.

Easily lost behind the constant coverage of the earthquake’s impact was one event that has shaped the lives of thousands of Haitians and is undermining great efforts to rebuild the country. Frontline’s “Battle for Haiti” focuses on the criminals that escaped Haiti’s National Penitentiary the night of the earthquake. The majority of these criminals were gang bosses and kidnappers, which were only jailed in the first place by an all-out military onslaught by the Haitian police and armed United Nations peacekeepers between 2004-2007. Now dispersed throughout Haiti, these criminals are once again creating an atmosphere of fear and violence in an already extremely difficult environment. Read more

“Must See!” Films: Public Policy Films from a Student’s Perspective “Mar Adentro” — “the Sea Inside”

This post was written by Jennifer De Jesus a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and an avid movie watcher. She is also an employee of the Health Professions Education Center, which has one of the largest collection of health films in the New York City area.

“Mar Adentro” — “the Sea Inside”

 Based on a true story, “Mar Adentro” focuses on the life of Ramón Sampedro, a Spanish quadriplegic who campaigns for 29 years for euthanasia and the right to end his life.

At the age of 25, Ramón Sampedro sustained a complete spinal cord injury because of a diving accident near his fishing village in Galicia, Spain. Immediately after the accident, Ramón knew he wanted to commit suicide, a task now physically impossible. His unwavering desire for death, for almost three decades, was Ramón’s main argument for euthanasia. “The Sea Inside” captures Ramón’s legal appeals to the lower and higher courts in Spain, as well as his appeals to the European Commission on Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Although an enormous amount of sympathy is garnered by Ramón, the film provides many moments of heated arguments, fleshing out the many conflicts and nuances within the debates surrounding assisted suicides.

One of the most heart-wrenching scenes occurs as Julia, Ramón’s lawyer, friend, and love interest, falls down steps due to a heart attack, and Ramón (who is facing the opposite way) is only able to yell her name. The panic and fear, mixed in with anger over his inability to help or even see her, is multiplied with every shout, until the scene fades into the darkness.

Another equally powerful scene, filled with quick, witty banter between Ramon and a quadriplegic priest, continued to expand on the conversation on euthanasia. Unable to actually speak face-to-face due to an issue with the stairs, the men resort to speaking through a messenger, one of the priest’s helpers. The running up-and-down the stairs adds humor to such a serious topic, without detracting the valid and strong points made on each side.

“Mar Adentro” does a great job contributing to the conversation on death and dying, In Spain, is has become part of the  public health narrative  and legislation supporting palliative care and death with dignity.

“Living is a right, not an obligation,” Ramón states moments at the dramatic end of the movie, yearning to appeal to the notion of free will within us all.

This film (as well as the BBC documentary “Right to Die”) is an important resource for the conversation about death and dying.  Viewing it, alone or with someone, provides moments of reflection and food for thought that can contribute to a  balanced discussion on euthanasia.

“Must See!” Films Public Policy Films from a Student’s Perspective reviews “NOW: Nurses Needed”

This post was written by Jennifer De Jesus a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and an avid movie watcher. She is also an employee of the Health Professions Education Center, which has one of the largest collection of health films in the New York City area.


In the path towards universal health care, an important step is revising our current health care structure, one that can hardly support the changing demographics of the American population. To truly provide better health care, more trained nurses must be incorporated into the system. The solution however, is not to simply increase the number of nurses, but to address issues that affect nursing schools, nursing faculty, burnout of nurses, and placement of nurses in needy communities.

NOW: Nurses Needed on PBS examines how the shortage of nurses is placing strains on the entire health caresystem, as well as efforts by hospitals to remedy the situation. According to a HRSA government study , by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shortage of up to one million nurses, meaning more patients per nurse, which could result in poor quality for hundreds of thousands of patients.

“If there was ever a time in the history of this country when one thought about the match between a profession and the changing needs of people in the country, this is the time,” Dr. Mary Naylor of the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Nursing explains to NOW reporter, David Brancaccio, during the program. Dr. Naylor also points out that people are not only living longer, but are also living with more chronic conditions, which significantly increases the demand for nurses.

Another contributing factor to the nursing shortage has been the shortage of faculty at nursing schools. According to the AACN’s report on 2010-2011 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, nursing schools in 2010 turned away 67,563 qualified applicants from nursing programs citing, “insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints”. Fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation’s nursing schools. Potential nurse educators are instead remaining as senior nurses or turning to pharmaceutical (companies) for employment, which pay more than becoming faculty at a nursing school.

Higher wages and better benefits would decrease the gap in pay between clinical and academic nurses, increasing the retention of nursing professors, as well as encourage potential professors. A remedy to nursing faculty salaries revolves around funding, in which a collaboration between public and private donors can be formed. This partnership would allow nursing schools to increase salaries and benefits, as well as hire more faculty.

Another solution is to encourage more nursing graduates to pursue teaching careers. After all, the gap between tenured faculty and novice faculty is significant, with the former within a decade of retirement. Such bills, as the Affordable Care Act, provide more funding for doctoral students, financially encouraging nursing students into academia.

Hospitals have reacted differently to the shortage. Touro Infirmary in Louisiana is offering monetary incentives, special pay plans, as well as recruiting foreign nurses. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore offers the benefit of paying 50 percent of any college tuition for the children of nurses. Other hospitals are participating in a national wide initiative to provide nurses with a one-year residency. The University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Nursing Residency Program provides critical guidance in the transition of new graduate nurses into the professional setting; all with the intention to strengthen their commitment to nursing.

With roughly 100 Nursing Colleges, the UHC’s and AACN’s Residency Program is a good first step towards the national collaboration needed to handle the increasing demand for nurses. Like health care, the nursing shortage is not something Americans can afford not to fix.

Jennifer De Jesus

“Must See!” Films Public Policy Films from a Student’s Perspective

This post was written by Jennifer De Jesus a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and an avid movie watcher. She is also an employee of the Health Professions Education Center, which has one of the largest collection of health films in the New York City area.


Fracking is coming to New York State—and many people think that means that we need to prepare for contaminated water, air pollution, and a myriad of health problems. All of these issues have been outcomes at various fracking sites; effects New York officials want to minimize, as the state prepare to issue permits next year. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is accepting feedback from the public until December 12th on the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, their proposed rules on regulating fracking and possible environmental consequences.

Originally invented by Halliburton—whose CEO was former Vice President Dick Cheney—fracking involves the injection of chemicals (some of them toxic) into the ground, releasing natural gas. The method is also completely unregulated; through a stipulation called the Halliburton Loophole, of the 2005 Energy Policy Act, inserted on the behalf of Dick Cheney. The Halliburton Loophole excuses the process of fracking from observing the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The sheer fact, however, that this stipulation exists is enough to question the veracity of Halliburton’s claims about its practices being safe.

What prompted New York’s cautious approach to hydraulic fracturing, however, has been the visibility of this issue in the media, largely the result of the scathing documentary “Gasland”; a film created when Josh Fox was offered $100,000 for the gas rights to his property in Pennsylvania and his search for more information about fracking. Fox travelled to 34 states, talking to property owners and environmental experts about the effects of extracting natural gas. One of the most memorable effects portrayed in the film and shared by almost all the property owners living next to a gas extraction site—was flammable water. Putting lighters next to faucets, owners disproved gas ‘safety’ claims as their water lit up within seconds.

With the rise in oil prices, energy companies are increasingly pressured to find alternative, cleaner, and sustainable fuel. It is because of this pressure that many companies, like corporation giant Exxon Mobil, are turning more of their attention to natural gas—which is affordable, 60% cleaner than coal, and readily available in the United States. However the process of extracting natural gas, has been linked to lung and brain damage, a decrease in the biodiversity of an area, the contamination of the air….the list continues. Yet the fracking industry is not solely responsible for these environmental and health issues: farmers that have been financially struggling are eager to sign away their gas rights, profiting at the cost of the land.

No better link exists between policy and health than “Gasland”, which clearly demonstrates how policies and politics (Cheney’s role in the Halliburton’s Loophole) affect the health of everyday people. This Emmy award winning documentary also emphasizes the media’s power in the discussion of health issues, giving certain issues national attention, affecting how they are addressed—as can be seen presently in New York.

Dying to Be Thin

Jennifer De Jesus is a student in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and an avid movie watcher. She is also an employee of the Health Professions Education Center, which has one of the largest collection of health films in the New York City area.

Brought to us by NOVA, this film, Dying to Be Thin,  explores the gravity of two eating disorders, bulimia and anorexia, which have reached epidemic levels in America. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, twenty-four million people suffer with an eating disorder. Through multiple personal accounts, this film emphasizes that anorexia and bulimia afflict both women and men; as well as the dire health consequences on the human body.

The first story the viewer encounters is about a sixteen year old named Randy Meyers, an athlete who died of anorexia. Randy’s story is just one out of many boys, athletes in particular, pressured to fit into certain weight classes or body types. Then there is the story of twins, Kate and Andy, which would ritualize vomiting during their college years. Lastly, there is the story of Rene, a flight attendant, who became anorexic because of the derision of her coworkers and passengers. Fortunately for Rene, she researched potential health hazards—damage to the heart, erosion of teeth and gums, kidney problems, intestinal ulcers, insomnia, memory loss—and got help.

One of the important points of this film is that anorexia or bulimia is not always related to food or body image. Some anorexics and bulimics acquire eating disorders because of a traumatic childhood: sexual and physical abuse, living with an alcoholic parent, or an excessively controlling parent. Because of this upbringing, anorexics/bulimics gain control of their lives, by starving, binging or vomiting. Then there are other bulimics/anorexics which have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a psychological disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about a perceived defect in his or her physical features.

Body Dsymorphic Disorder is constantly being reinforced by the $59.7 billion diet industry. It is this very same industry that profits every time an anorexic, like Andy, consumes 25 diet pills a day, drinks 3 to 4 hunger suppressant drinks a day, or constantly buys the latest exercise equipment. But the diet industry is not the only one to blame, after all it exists because of a high demand, the media also plays a tremendous role in shaping ideas of beauty. This can be seen throughout history, as different traits fell in and out of fashion: excessively pale skin of the Elizabethan era to the slender flapper of the 1920s to the voluptuous, (size 12) Marilyn Monroe. This “beauty pressure” not only applies to women, whom currently strive for a thin waist and a large bust, but also to men, who strive to be tall and muscular. Even worse is the fact that this pressure is spreading outside the US, and through the Western media influences other countries. Brazil, for example, was a country proud of curvier women, but recently this pride has disappeared and Brazil now consumes the most diet pills in the world.

Thankfully there is now a backlash to standard ideas of beauty in the mainstream media. In 2006, after the death of four models, underweight models were banned from the Madrid’s Fashion Week; an attempt to portray healthy images in fashion. Another popular campaign is Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. Through videos and commercials, Dove is attempting to change what people view as beautiful. Their first commercial, “Evolution”, focuses on the way Photoshop is used to create advertisement, distorting the image of real achievable beauty. Their other video “Onslaught” portrays a young girl bombarded with images of women in the media, and ends with the message “talk to your daughter, before the media does”. With a changing perception of the range beauty can be, one can only hope that a more accepting culture of beauty will decrease the pressure to be thin, leading many into bulimia and anorexia.


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