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Nurses speak out: 'What I wish I'd known before entering the profession'

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Nurses speak out: 'What I wish I'd known before entering the profession'

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FIRST ON FOX: With nearly two-thirds of nurses in the United States experiencing burnout — including 69% of those under 25 years of age, according to the American Nurses Association — many in the industry are calling for change.

A recent survey by AMN Healthcare, a health care workforce solutions company based in Texas, found that most nurses aren’t optimistic about improvements, with 80% saying they think the year 2024 will be either “no better or worse” than last year and 38% of nurses expecting it to be worse.

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“The concerns that many nurses have about their profession were not created by COVID-19 and have not gone away now that the crisis has passed,” Robin Johnson, group president of nursing solutions at AMN Healthcare, who administered the survey, told Fox News Digital.

NURSES CALL FOR CHANGE AS MANY REVEAL THEY’RE ‘EXTREMELY LIKELY’ TO LEAVE PROFESSION: ‘EMOTIONAL, STRESSFUL’ 

“Many nurses still feel overworked and undercompensated,” she said. 

“What they want to see is a change in their daily working conditions — better hours, fair compensation and more time with their patients.”

Left to right, Karie Ryan, Michele Acito, Katelynn Blackburn and Lisbeth Votruba shared insights into the nursing profession with Fox News Digital. Two other nurses shared thoughts as well.  (iStock/Karie Ryan/Michele Acito/Katelynn Blackburn/Lisbeth Votruba)

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Amid the ongoing challenges faced by today’s nurses, six people in the profession shared what they wish they’d known before they decided to enter the field and what advice they’d give to newcomers.

Lisbeth Votruba: ‘Nurses don’t have enough influence’

Lisbeth Votruba, a third-generation registered nurse in Belmont, Michigan, is also the chief clinical officer of AvaSure, a virtual health care platform. 

“When I first entered the profession in the 1990s, I was surprised to learn that although nurses are held to high ethical and legal standards, they do not have the influence to match that level of accountability,” said Votruba. 

“I see trends to show this is changing, and I am doing what I can as a member of the senior leadership team of a technology company to make sure the voice of nurses is heard as health care technology is being designed,” she said. 

Lisbeth Votruba

Lisbeth Votruba, a third-generation registered nurse in Belmont, Michigan, is also the chief clinical officer of AvaSure, a virtual health care platform. (Lisbeth Votruba)

“Nurses must be at the table for every discussion about technology that impacts the patient,” she said. 

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Mat Wellnitz: ‘Wish I’d known the stress involved’

Mat Wellnitz, a registered nurse in Big Rapids, Michigan, recently retired from a rural hospital after more than 34 years, most of them spent in critical care.

“I wish I’d known the amount of stress that’s involved in nursing,” said Wellnitz. 

“I would have taken more time off for myself. It wasn’t until about a week after I retired that I realized how much stress I was blinded to.” 

AMERICANS TRUST NURSES THE MOST OUT OF 23 MAJOR PROFESSIONS, NEW POLL FINDS: ‘AT THE FOREFRONT’

He added, “I used to lie down and instantly could feel my heart pounding, always thinking about work. But not anymore — and I sleep better.”

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Larry Williams: ‘Your work impacts your overall health’

Larry Williams worked as a registered nurse at California’s Stanford Hospital in the intensive care unit before retiring in 2021.

“I went into nursing with my eyes wide open … There were no surprises because I worked in two different hospitals while going to school,” said Williams. 

“My advice to anyone considering nursing and health care in general is to find a way to actually work in a hospital prior to graduating. Pay attention to your strengths and weaknesses and choose an area that fits you as a person.”

“It is not the career for everyone, but it was for me.”

He also told Fox News Digital, “While you are working, pay attention to how your work is impacting your overall health. Not everyone is cut out to work in the ICU. I still have occasional work dreams, and I remember the names and faces of people I cared for who did not survive.”

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Said Williams, “That is balanced by the happy memories of my peers as well as lives that I have touched … It is not the career for everyone, but it was for me.”

Karie Ryan: ‘Bedside nursing is not the only option’

Karie Ryan, currently the chief nursing officer at health tech firm Artisight, spent 27 years as a nurse in Florida, with a specialty in medical/surgical/orthopedics.

Karie Ryan

Karie Ryan, currently the chief nursing officer at the health tech firm Artisight, told Fox News Digital, “There are so many specialty opportunities, including nursing informatics.” (Karie Ryan)

“I wish I had known that bedside nursing is not the only option available in order to make an impact,” she told Fox News Digital. 

“There are so many specialty opportunities, including nursing informatics.”

She added, “If nursing schools offered exploration in nursing informatics and other subspecialties, it would open a new world of possibilities not only to those entering the field, but as a consideration for nurses later in their career who may want to transition but remain in the profession.”

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Katelynn Blackburn: ‘Constant pressure took a toll’

Katelynn Blackburn, a former nurse who is now an entrepreneur, worked 12-hour night shifts for parent access care in Chico, California, for over two years before leaving the field.

Katelynn Blackburn

Katelynn Blackburn worked 12-hour night shifts for parent access care in Chico, California, for over two years before leaving the field.  (Katelynn Blackburn)

“I wish I would have known more about how my personality would affect my profession in the medical field,” said Katelynn Blackburn. 

“I am empathetic and caring; however, the field itself comes with a lot of pain and anxiety for patients and their families,” she said. 

“The constant exposure to hardships, on top of the pressure of providing comfort and support to patients and their families, definitely took its toll on me.”

NATIONAL NURSES WEEK 2024: HOW TO CELEBRATE AND SHOW APPRECIATION TO THE NURSES IN YOUR LIFE

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She added, “I wish I had thought less about the income and salary and more about what the actual job entails. You must find something you are passionate about and ensure that it will secure your family financially.”

Noted Blackburn, “I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and a personality driven to achieve more — so I decided to leave to pursue something I felt more aligned with.”

Michele Acito: ‘Emotional bond is deep’

Michele Acito is executive vice president and chief nursing officer at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey. She joined Holy Name in 1989 as a telemetry nurse, working in the cardiovascular and intensive care units before she was promoted. Earlier in her career, she worked as a staff nurse in orthopedics at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center.

“I wish I’d known about the emotional commitment I was making,” said Acito.  

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“We know we will be committed to providing the best care … but the emotional bond and commitment you make to patients and families as they navigate through life-changing events is deep. As a nurse, you quickly learn how to comfort, celebrate, support and educate patients and families through the good and the difficult times.”

She added, “Today, nearly 40 years into my career, I am able to reflect on how my training as a nurse helped me to help patients and families during their most vulnerable moments. It is what makes me proud to be a nurse.”

Michele Acito

Michele Acito is executive vice president and chief nursing officer at Holy Name Medical Center in New Jersey. She originally joined Holy Name in 1989 as a telemetry nurse, working in the cardiovascular and intensive care units. (Michele Acito)

“Another thing I wish I had known before entering the profession,” said Acito, “was how complex it would be to blend a career, a young family and a household.”

“Nursing was the perfect career for someone striving to manage it all.”

But “what I realized was that nursing was the perfect career for someone striving to manage it all and find fulfillment and purpose on a personal and professional level. It requires thoughtful prioritization, planning and support.”

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Other insights: ‘A nurse is a career learner’

Acito also shared the importance of ongoing education to set up nurses for success.

“Having graduated from a BSN program, I thought I was educationally set for my entire career,” she said. “I quickly realized that was not true.”

She noted, “A nurse is a career learner. Obtaining degrees is very important to remain current with theory — but learning through continuing education is paramount to staying current in practice.”

“Technologically, nothing remains the same in health care,” said Acito. “It’s an ever-evolving field. Pursuing a nursing career in hospitals and health systems that are committed to investing in innovation and technological advancements is critically important.”

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Acito also pointed out, “What I did not know then, but I know today, is that I made the best career choice when I decided to be a nurse. The hours are difficult, the stress intense, the emotional commitment deep — but the rewards are innumerable.”

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Experimental Alzheimer’s drug gets FDA advisory panel's thumbs-up: ‘Progress is happening’

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Experimental Alzheimer’s drug gets FDA advisory panel's thumbs-up: ‘Progress is happening’

An experimental Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, was endorsed by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on Monday.

Donanemab is designed to treat symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease, including mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s dementia.

At the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee hearing, which was held in Maryland on Monday, the advisers unanimously agreed that the drug’s benefits outweigh any potential risks.

CAN WE REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? EXPERTS SUGGEST ‘NEW PARADIGM’ FOR COMBATING DEMENTIA

While this isn’t a guarantee the FDA will approve the drug, the agency does typically follow the panel’s recommendations, per reports.

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“The FDA held the advisory committee meeting to hear the viewpoints and assessments of the experts on both the benefits and the risks of donanemab,” the agency told Fox News Digital in an emailed statement. 

“As with all applications the FDA receives, we will thoroughly review and consider the input from the committee.”

An experimental Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, was endorsed by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Monday. (iStock)

Officials at Eli Lilly, the Indiana pharmaceutical company that makes donanemab, were also in attendance, fielding questions from the committee about potential side effects.

At the Monday hearing, Eli Lilly officials presented clinical trial results that showed the drug slowed cognitive and functional decline for people with mild cognitive impairment due to early stages of Alzheimer’s.

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The study was also published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE FOUND TO BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH MEDICAL PROCEDURES DECADES AGO, STUDY FINDS

In phase 3 trials published in May 2023, donanemab was shown to “significantly slow cognitive and functional decline in people with early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease,” according to a press release on Eli Lilly’s website.

If donanemab is approved, it would become only the second available medication designed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Man taking medicine

Donanemab is designed to treat symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease, including mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s dementia. (iStock)

Leqembi, the first new Alzheimer’s treatment in 20 years, was given full FDA approval in July 2023.

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Donanemab works by clearing built-up amyloid from the brain. It was shown to cause side effects such as “brain swelling and tiny bleeds,” researchers found.

FDA FULLY APPROVES ‘NOVEL’ ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE DRUG LEQEMBI, WILL BE COVERED BY MEDICARE

The Alzheimer’s Association, based in Chicago, released a statement welcoming the FDA’s finding that donanemab is effective for the treatment of early Alzheimer’s disease.

“A future with more approved Alzheimer’s treatments is a tremendous advancement for people eligible for these drugs,” said Joanne Pike, DrPH, Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO, in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. 

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly officials presented clinical trial results showing that the drug, donanemab, slowed cognitive and functional decline for people with mild cognitive impairment due to early stages of Alzheimer’s. (iStock)

“Progress with treatment is happening. Now we need more types of treatments, targeting a variety of aspects of the disease, with greater efficacy and safety,” she continued.

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“A rich and robust life without the threat of memory loss, confusion or cognitive decline — this is what we envision.”

The next step toward approval of donanemab is FDA review.

Dr. Marc Siegel

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, noted that donanemab is very similar to Leqembi, the current drug on the market that blocks amyloid formation.  (Dr. Marc Siegel)

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, who was not involved in the drug trials, noted that donanemab is very similar to Leqembi, the current drug on the market that blocks amyloid formation. 

“A rich and robust life without the threat of memory loss, confusion or cognitive decline — this is what we envision.”

— Joanne Pike, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association

“The problem with … denonemab is similar — it can cause brain swelling and bleeding,” Siegel told Fox News Digital.

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“It is also expensive, as it’s once a month versus once every two weeks for Leqembi.” 

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Denonemab is “somewhat more effective,” Siegel noted, as it slows progression of Alzheimer’s by about 35% versus 27% for Leqembi.

“It may be better at removing plaques,” he said.

man with alzheimers supported by wife

“A future with more approved Alzheimer’s treatments is a tremendous advancement for people eligible for these drugs,” the Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO said in a statement. (iStock)

There may be limitations associated with these types of drugs, however, according to the doctor.

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“Many experts have told me that the obsession with amyloid formation may not be the holy grail it was once thought to be,” Siegel told Fox News Digital. 

“The study didn’t pay enough attention to tau proteins, which are also a key player here.” 

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Tau proteins, which cause “tangles” in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, are not the primary targets of these drugs, Siegel said. 

                             

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“There is also the issue of neuroinflammation and neuronal transmission abnormalities, which precede the buildup of the plaque proteins and are important targets for research.”              

In response, Eli Lilly provided the below statement.

“Lilly is pursuing multiple approaches to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Our pipeline of molecules in human testing includes ones aimed at amyloid (donanemab, remternetug), tau (OGA inhibitor), as well as lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia.”

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Does sunscreen cause skin cancer? Doctors debunk claims gone wild on social media

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Does sunscreen cause skin cancer? Doctors debunk claims gone wild on social media

Some claims on social media about sun safety have grown into a major misconception that sunscreen could cause skin cancer.

Hundreds of creators, many on TikTok, have posted videos arguing that the sun isn’t the culprit in causing cancer, but rather that harmful chemicals found in sunscreens are to blame.

This stems from a 2021 recall of Neutrogena spray sunscreens and one Aveeno product (Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen) due to the presence of benzene, a known carcinogen.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON RECALLS SEVERAL SUNSCREENS: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRODUCT

Johnson & Johnson officials confirmed that benzene is not a sunscreen ingredient, according to a Harvard Medical School advisory in Oct. 2021.

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Additional testing reportedly found such low levels of benzene in these products that it would not be expected to cause health problems.

Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena Beach Defense bottles are seen on display on a table. The Neutrogena Beach Defense is one of the sunscreens that was recalled due to containing benzene. (Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Experts advised choosing a different sunscreen brand as a solution.

But a national survey by the Orlando Health Cancer Institute in Florida found that one in seven adults under 35 years old believe sunscreen is more harmful to the skin than direct sun exposure.

SKIN CANCER CHECKS AND SUNSCREEN: WHY THESE (STILL) MATTER VERY MUCH FOR GOOD HEALTH

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Another 23% believe that drinking water and staying hydrated can prevent sunburns.

“This phenomenon taps into the public’s growing distrust of companies due to the proliferation of harmful chemicals in consumer products.”

Many Americans (32%) also believe that a tan makes people look better and healthier, the survey found.

Rajesh Nair, M.D., an oncology surgeon at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute, commented in a press release that there is “no such thing as a healthy tan.”

woman using sunscreen on a beach

Thirty-two percent of Americans believe that a tan makes people look better and healthier, according to the Orlando Health Cancer Institute study. (iStock)

“It’s really just a visual manifestation of damage to the skin,” he said. “But we’re fighting against a perceived positive image and health benefits of something that actually has a totally opposite reality, which is that suntanned skin represents an increased risk of a deadly disease.”

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“Age, gender and phenotype play a role, too.” 

Krista Rubin, a nurse practitioner and member of Mass General Cancer Center’s Melanoma Team, told Fox News Digital that there is “little evidence supporting the claim that sunscreens are carcinogenic.” 

SUNBURN SOS: 7 TIPS TO SOOTHE YOUR SUN-DAMAGED SKIN, ACCORDING TO A WELLNESS EXPERT

“There is clear-cut evidence of the link between UV radiation exposure and skin cancer,” she wrote in an email. “However, the risk of developing skin cancer isn’t limited to UV radiation exposure – age, gender and phenotype play a role, too.” 

Males are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, Rubin said, as are people with blonde or red hair, light skin or light eyes. 

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man applies sunscreen on his shoulder at the beach

Sunburns are caused by damage from the sun’s UV rays, according to experts. (iStock)

Other risk factors include having a suppressed immune system, being a solid organ transplant recipient or taking certain medications.

Rubin reiterated that sunburns are caused by the sun’s UV rays damaging the skin. So, while drinking water in hot weather will help prevent dehydration and keep the body cool, it will not prevent sunburn.

HOW TO WEAR SUNSCREEN THE RIGHT WAY: YOUR GUIDE TO SPF

“A tan is visible evidence of skin injury,” the expert said. “Whether from the sun or from a tanning bed, tanning exposes the skin to high levels of UVA radiation, which we know is not healthy and is linked to both skin cancer and accelerated aging.”

Social media expert Eric Dahan, founder of Mighty Joy, said she believes social media has become “rife with misinformation about sunscreen.”

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Peeling skin on the shoulder after sunburn

“A tan is visible evidence of skin injury,” one expert said. (iStock)

“It’s often spread by well-meaning but overall uninformed, self-appointed health and wellness experts and select dermatologists,” said Dahan, who is based in California. 

“A lot of the misinformation is due to actual science being less engaging and more nuanced than bold (false) statements.” 

The spread of false information regarding sunscreen reflects a “general public sentiment” about what the products contain, Dahan said. 

WHAT SPF SHOULD YOUR SUNSCREEN HAVE? FIND OUT HOW IT MAY HELP PREMATURE AGING AND SKIN CANCER

“This phenomenon taps into the public’s growing distrust of companies due to the proliferation of harmful chemicals in consumer products,” he said. 

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“Over the years, we have discovered that materials that were deemed as ‘safe’ are highly harmful – from lead, BPA, PFaS and now plastics.”

woman and man spraying sunscreen in a kayak

A rise in cancer rates among young people could be driving a “distrust of companies,” one expert noted. (iStock)

There has also been a rise in cancer rates among young people, Dahan mentioned, which further drives a “healthy distrust of companies and government regulators.”

“When it comes to sunscreen, it seems a lot of the misinformation was driven by an old chemical used decades ago that has since been prohibited, after a contamination event led to a recall,” he said.

Among consumers of social media, Dahan suggested that it is “very difficult to determine what is true if you’re not an expert.” 

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“There are conflicting studies, conflicting opinions from seemingly credible individuals, flat-out false information, and an overall lack of confidence in the private companies making these products and in government regulators,” he said.

Some experts — including Dr. Nicky Gazy, a board-certified dermatologist in Florida — have responded on social media with the recommendation to use sunscreen alternatives that do not contain benzene.

a little girl has sunscreen applied to her face

One dermatologist recommended using zinc-based mineral sunscreen. (iStock)

“When it comes to skin cancer and skin health, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen,” Gazy said in a TikTok video posted in July 2023.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health

To decrease cumulative exposure to “chemical sunscreens,” Gazy recommended wearing a zinc-based mineral sunscreen. 

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“It’s actually what I recommend to my patients, especially my pregnant patients,” he said.

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment.

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