President's Column: The Unstoppable Prescription

Aug 01, 2019

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Being unstoppable transcends our nursing lives into many other areas of life. Let me give you a personal example.

Refilling an epi-pen prescription seemed like a simple tthing — keeping my son safe from an adverse reaction to peanuts by giving the school nurses what they need at the start of the year. After all, August brings school supply lists checked off, and students armed with everything they need for a successful school year.

But I was baffled after countless phone calls that not a single pharmacy within 100 miles of us could fill the prescription because of a national shortage. This is a lifesaving medication! Epinephrine is a medication that has been around for ages; we use it all the time in the ICU, just in a different form. Plus, I have dealt with drug shortages at the bedside many times, but typically I have other options.

The only choice was to advocate for my son and all the other children with severe allergies. Being unstoppable stretched into my personal life.

It seemed clear to me that I needed to act quickly to raise awareness. I emailed the local news channel, and within 30 minutes I received a phone call: They wanted to interview our family for the evening news. Over the course of the week, we were interviewed by multiple media outlets highlighting the seriousness of the national shortage, including "World News Tonight" on ABC. The local school district was responsive and adjusted its policy, ensuring that each school is supplied with a minimum of two epi-pens prior to the start of the school year. Also, the school district communicated to parents unable to fill any other medications to keep school nurses informed so a plan could be developed until the medication was available.

Luckily, with the help of a private pharmacy, my son was able to get his medication before school started. And within a month of the public outcry, the severe shortage of epi-pens caused the FDA to approve a generic made by another manufacturer to relieve the financial burden on families and increase the supply rapidly within the next three to six months.

If you think about it, there are plenty of examples of obstacles and challenges where we use nursing skills to advocate within and beyond our professional world. In this case, I was propelled to action by a need for my son. What propels you to act?

Unstoppable means jumping in and putting energy into action when you recognize the need is there. It is understanding where your strength is needed in a situation and encouraging others to do their part in a collective movement for change. When you have a chance to put your values, thoughts and concerns into action, it leads to building those characteristics that make us successful. Unstoppable people don't wait!

Let me know how you have been Unstoppable at