The Top Five Personality Traits

The Top Five Personality Traits

The Top Five Personality Traits

There are five personality traits that we all have in common. Even though every one of us is different, ranging from our personality to our physical appearance, psychologists and psychoanalysts have been trying to predict behaviors and thought processes. 

Body Types

Look at the friends around you. Do you share any personality traits with them? When you think about it, we are not entirely nonidentical. Even though drastically different from one another, humans do have many similarities. On the physical level, when it comes to body type, the majority, if not all, fit into three main body types:

  • Endomorph
  • Mesomorph
  • Ectomorph

Each body type has its strengths and weaknesses. In the same way, there are general body types. We all share certain personality traits, for example, agreeableness. We are all agreeable but to a certain point. Some might be very agreeable and are ready to say yes, while others are less agreeable and will need some convincing to take your side. 

Background on the Top Five Personality Traits

Initially developed in 1949, the big five personality traits is a theory established by D. W. Fiske and later expanded upon by other researchers, including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).

It’s suggested that as early as the late 19th-century, social psychologists were trying to gain a more scientific understanding of personality. However, it wasn’t until the first official study in the 1930s by Gordon Allport and Henry Odbert that personality had some scientific acknowledgment [1].

They took 18,000 words from Webster’s Dictionary to describe personality traits and found adjectives that described non-physical characteristics creating a 4500-word bank of visual behavior markers. 

There was a hiatus from the late 1960s to the 1970s; the changing zeitgeist made publishing personality research difficult. In his 1968 book Personality and Assessment, Walter Mischel asserted that personality instruments could not predict behavior with a correlation of more than 0.3.

Social psychologists like Mischel argued that attitudes and behavior were not stable but varied with the situation. Indication of behavior from personality instruments claimed to be impossible.

The Paradigm of the Five Personality Traits

The paradigm shifted back to accepting the five-factor model in the early 1980s. During a 1980 symposium in Honolulu, four prominent researchers, Lewis Goldberg, Naomi Takemoto-Chock, Andrew Comrey, and John M. Digman, reviewed the available personality instruments of the day. This event was followed by widespread acceptance of the five-factor model among personality researchers during the 1980s.

By 1983, experiments had demonstrated that the predictions of personality models correlated better with real-life behavior under stressful, emotional conditions, as opposed to typical survey administration under neutral emotional conditions. 

Emerging methodologies increasingly confirmed personality theories during the 1980s. Though generally failing to predict single instances of behavior. Researchers found that they could predict behavior patterns by aggregating large numbers of observations. As a result, correlations between personality and behavior increased substantially, and it was clear that “personality” did exist.

Personality and social psychologists now generally agree that personal and situational variables are needed to account for human behavior.

In 2007, Colin G. DeYoung, Lena C. Quilty, and Jordan B. Peterson concluded that the ten aspects of the Big Five might have distinct biological substrates.

The FFM-associated (five factors model of personality) test was used by Cambridge Analytica and was part of the “psychographic profiling” controversy during the 2016 US presidential election.

The Big Five Personality Traits

Although a person’s personality and behavior are hard to predict, there are specific tools that we can use that can provide insights into it. These tools help us understand others and ourselves better.

The five personality traits are broad, but they will give us a good general understanding of how people behave [2]. So, what are these traits? 

1. Openness

By openness, it means open to experiencing a general appreciation for art, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, curiosity, emotion, and various experiences. People who are available to new experiences are often intellectually curious, sensitive to beauty, open to feelings, and willing to try new things.

These individuals are known to be creative and aware of their emotions. They are also most likely to have unconventional beliefs. And because they are open to these new things, they are often unpredictable. They also lack the focus they need sometimes and are most likely to engage in behaviors that are against the norms. 

The Risk-taker Among Five Personality Traits

Very open people often pursue self-actualization by seeking out euphoric experiences. Conversely, those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven, maybe even close-minded and dogmatic. 

*Some disagreement remains about interpreting and contextualizing the openness factor as there is a lack of biological support for this particular trait. Openness has not shown a significant association with any brain regions as opposed to the other four attributes, which did when using brain imaging to detect changes in volume associated with each trait.*

Creativity also plays a big part in the openness trait; this leads to a more significant comfort zone in abstract and lateral thinking.

It includes the ability to “think outside of the box.”

Think of that person who’s always ordering the most exotic things on the menu, going to different places, and having interests you would never have thought of. That is someone who has a high openness trait.

People who are high in this trait tend to be more adventurous and creative. People low in this trait are often more traditional and may struggle with abstract thinking.

High

  • Very creative
  • Open to trying new things
  • Focused on tackling new challenges
  • Happy to think about abstract concepts
  • Curious
  • Imaginative
  • Unconventional
Low

  • Dislikes change
  • Does not enjoy new things
  • Resists new ideas
  • Not very imaginative
  • Dislikes abstract or theoretical concepts
  • Predictable
  • Prefer routine
  • Traditional

 

2. Conscientiousness 

Conscientiousness tends to display self-discipline, act dutifully, and strive for achievement against measures or outside expectations. It is related to how people control, regulate, and direct their impulses. 

A person with high conscientiousness is perceived to be stubborn and focused. Those who have high scores on conscientiousness are usually people who do not go without plans. They prefer a reliable method rather than spontaneous behaviors. 

The Planner Among Five Personality Traits

The best example of a person with this personality trait is when someone you know likes to plan ahead of time the next time you meet. They also keep in contact and check on your wellbeing. People with this trait often want to organize their dates and events. They are also focused on you when you do meet them in person. 

On the other hand, those with low conscientiousness are associated with flexibility and spontaneity but can also appear sloppy and lack reliability.

People low in conscientiousness tend to dislike structure and schedules, procrastinate on essential tasks and fail to complete tasks.

The average level of conscientiousness rises among young adults and then declines among older adults.

 

High

  • Spends time preparing
  • Finishes important tasks right away
  • Pays attention to detail
  • Enjoys having a set schedule
  • Competence
  • Organized
  • Dutifulness
  • Achievement striving
  • Self-disciplined
  • Deliberation
Low

  • Dislikes structure and schedules
  • Makes messes and doesn’t take care of things
  • Fails to return things or put them back where they belong
  • Procrastinates important tasks
  • Fails to complete necessary or assigned tasks
  • Incompetent
  • Disorganized
  • Careless
  • Indiscipline
  • Impulsive

 

3. Extraversion

Extraversion is a trait that many people will have come across in their own lives. It’s easily identifiable and widely recognizable as “someone who gets energized in the company of others.” The other traits of a person with extraversion include:

  • Talkativeness
  • Assertiveness
  • High levels of emotional expressiveness

All of which made them recognizable in many social interactions or settings. Have you noticed among your family members that there is always someone who is not afraid to express their feelings? They’re often loud and one who laughs the most audible among others. These people are also social butterflies and have the most friends or groups you know. 

Extraversion is characterized by breadth of activities (instead of depth), surgency from external activity/situations, and energy creation from the external environment. The trait is marked by pronounced engagement with the outer world. 

The Energetic Among Five Personality Traits

Extraverts enjoy interacting with people and are often perceived as full of energy. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility, like talking and asserting themselves. Extraverted people may appear more dominant in social settings than introverted people in this setting.

On the other hand, introverts have lower social engagement and energy levels than extroverts. They tend to seem quiet, low-key, deliberate, and less involved in the social world. However, do not mistake their social involvement as shyness or depression. They are more independent of their social world than extroverts. 

Introverts need less stimulation and more time alone than extroverts. But this does not mean that they are unfriendly or antisocial; instead, they are reserved in social situations. Generally, people are a combination of extraversion and introversion.

High

  • Enjoys being the center of attention
  • Likes to start conversations
  • Enjoys meeting new people
  • Has a wide social circle of friends and acquaintances
  • Finds it easy to make new friends
  • Feels energized when around other people
  • Say things before thinking about them
  • Sociable
  • Excitement-seeking
  • Outgoing
Low

  • Prefers solitude
  • Feels exhausted when having to socialize a lot
  • Finds it difficult to start conversations
  • Dislikes making small talk
  • Carefully thinks things through before speaking
  • Dislikes being the center of attention
  • Reflective

4. Agreeableness

Being agreeable or agreeableness refers to how people treat their relationships with others. Compared to extraversion, who like to pursue relationships, agreeable people focus on their interaction and orientation with others. 

The agreeableness trait also reflects individual differences in general concern for social harmony. Agreeable individuals value getting along with others. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with others. Agreeable people also have an optimistic view of human nature.

Disagreeable individuals place self-interest above getting along with others. They are generally unconcerned with others’ well-being and are less likely to extend themselves to others. 

Sometimes their skepticism about others’ motives causes them to be suspicious, unfriendly, and uncooperative. Low agreeable personalities are often competitive or challenging individuals who can be argumentative or untrustworthy.

Since agreeableness is a social trait, research shows that this positively correlates with the quality of relationships with their team members. Agreeableness also positively predicts transformational leadership skills. 

The Strongest Among Five Personality Traits

In a study conducted on 169 participants in leadership positions in various professions. These individuals were asked to take a personality test and have two evaluations completed by directly supervised subordinates. The results showed that leaders with high levels of agreeableness were most likely considered transformational rather than transactional. 

Although the relationship was not strong, it was the strongest of the five personality traits. However, the same study showed no predictive power of leadership effectiveness as evaluated by the leader’s direct supervisor.

Conversely, agreeableness is negatively related to transactional leadership in the military. A study of Asian military units showed leaders with high agreeableness are more likely to receive a low rating for transformational leadership skills.

Agreeable people tend to find careers in areas where they can help the most. Charity workers, medicine, mental health, and even those who volunteer in soup kitchens and dedicate time to the third sector (social studies) are high in the agreeableness chart.

High

  • Has a great deal of interest in other people
  • Cares about others
  • Feels empathy and concern for other people
  • Enjoys helping and contributing to the happiness of other people
  • Assists others who are in need of help
  • Trust (forgiving)
  • Straightforwardness
  • Altruism (enjoys helping)
  • Compliance
  • Modesty
  • Sympathetic
Low

  • Takes little interest in others
  • Doesn’t care about how other people feel
  • Has little interest in other people’s problems
  • Insults and belittles others
  • Manipulates others to get what they want
  • Skeptical
  • Demanding
  • Stubborn
  • Show-off
  • Unsympathetic

5. Neuroticism

Neuroticism is characterized by sadness, moodiness, and emotional instability. Often mistaken for anti-social behavior, or worse, a more significant psychological issue, neuroticism is a physical and emotional response to stress and perceived threats in someone’s daily life.

Individuals who exhibit high levels of neuroticism tend to experience mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. Some individuals who share sudden changes in character from a day-to-day perspective could be highly neurotic and respond to high-stress levels in their work and personal lives. 

Anxiety, which plays a large part in the makeup of neuroticism, is about an individual’s ability to cope with stress and perceived or actual risk. People who suffer from neuroticism will overthink many situations and find difficulty in relaxing even in their own space.

The Skeptic Among Five Personality Traits

These problems in emotional regulation can diminish the ability of a person scoring high on neuroticism to think, make decisions, and cope effectively with stress. Lacking contentment in one’s life achievements can correlate with high neuroticism scores and increase one’s likelihood of falling into clinical depression. 

Individuals with high neuroticism also tend to experience more negative things in life. However, this also changes in response to their positive and negative life experiences. 

Of course, those who rank lower on the neurotic level will exhibit a more stable and emotionally resilient attitude to stress and situations. Low neurotic sufferers also rarely feel sad or depressed, taking the time to focus on the present moment and not get involved in mental arithmetic on possible stress-inducing factors.

High

  • Experiences a lot of stress
  • Worries about many different things
  • Gets upset easily
  • Experiences dramatic shifts in mood
  • Feels anxious
  • Struggles to bounce back after stressful events
  • Angry hostility (irritable)
  • Self-consciousness (shy)
  • Vulnerability
Low

  • Emotionally stable
  • Deals well with stress
  • Rarely feels sad or depressed
  • Don’t worry much
  • Is very relaxed
  • Calm
  • Confident
  • Resilient

 

The Five Personalities Traits and Their Influence

From nature and nurture to age and maturation, the big five personality traits have been widely studied where we can see what influences their impact on a person’s behavior and character. 

Personality has often been hypothesized as a question of nurture or nature. One particular study looked at 123 identical twins and 127 pairs of fraternal twins. The results suggested that the heritability for each trait is:

  • 53% for extraversion
  • 41% for agreeableness
  • 44% for conscientiousness
  • 41% for neuroticism
  • 61% for openness

It has also been widely recognized that the older we get, the more our behavior traits will change. We become less neurotic, extraverted, and less open to new experiences as we age. However, our agreeableness and conscientiousness grow as we get older. 

Five Personality Traits: Men vs women

The consensus is that men and women are more alike than what normative social science would have us believe. But as the title would suggest, there are some exceptions. 

Weinsberg and DeYoung 2011 studied the big five traits and, in particular, Gender Differences in Personality across the Ten Aspects of the Big Five. They concluded that women tend to score higher on Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism than men. 

Other studies have concluded that while the differences may be present, some traits are not extensively separate. Getting older will tend to align behavior traits such as agreeableness and extraversion, where both genders tend to score lower as time moves on.

To know more about Episode 97, click here 👇:

TIMESTAMPS: 

00:00 Intro
00:46 Plugs
02:07 Episode Introduction
03:55 Background on the Big Five Personality Traits
10:04 Big Personality Traits: Openness
15:04 Big Personality Traits: Conscientiousness
18:01 Big Personality Traits: Extraversion
21:50 Big Personality Traits: Agreeableness
27:34 Big Personality Traits: Neuroticism
31:18 Big 5 and its Influence
36:19 How the 5 personality traits play role in gender
40:25 Wrapping up the episode

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil Degradation and Human Demise

Soil degradation and retrogression are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of stable soil. So we think that soil degradation and human demise are the end results if this kind of soil condition continues. 

Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession reverts the land to its natural physical state. 

  • Soil is lost due to erosion from wind and water— for example, rivers washing upland or wind blowing dirt away.

Degradation is due to the replacement of primary plant communities by secondary communities. This replacement modifies the humus composition and amount and affects the formation of the soil. 

  • It is directly related to human activity. 

What is Soil?

The definition of soil is “The unconsolidated mineral or organic material on the immediate surface of the Earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of land plants.” [1].

Soil is one of the world’s most needed resources. We think about animals and this idea of going “plant only” but don’t understand that this might not be the best thing for ourselves and our environment. 

When was the last time, if ever, we thought about soil health? It isn’t something that comes to mind as necessary, even when we think about human survival. Ask yourself what do humans need to survive? Water and food.

Water is found in natural bodies of water, but where do you get food from? Soil is required for plants, animals require plants, and as humans, we need to eat animals and plants. 

The Soil Profile

As soils develop over time, layers (or horizons) form a soil profile. Most soil profiles cover the earth as two main layers—topsoil and subsoil.

Soil horizons are the layers in the soil as you move down the soil profile. A soil profile may have soil horizons that are easy or difficult to distinguish. [2]

Most soils exhibit 3 main horizons:

  • A horizon: humus-rich topsoil where nutrient, organic matter, and biological activity are highest (i.e., most plant roots, earthworms, insects, and micro-organisms are active). The A horizon is usually darker than other horizons because of the organic materials.
  • B horizon: clay-rich subsoil that is often less fertile than the topsoil but holds more moisture. It generally has a lighter color and less biological activity than the A horizon. Texture may be heavier than the A horizon too.
  • C horizon: underlying weathered rock (from which the A and B horizons form).
  • Some soils also have an O horizon, mainly consisting of plant litter accumulated on the soil surface.

The properties of horizons are used to distinguish between soils and determine land-use potential.

What is in the soil we use?

Soil contains air, water, minerals, and plant and animal matter, both living and dead. These soil components fall into two categories. 

  • In the first category are biotic factors—all the living and once-living things in the soil, such as plants and insects. 
  • The second category consists of abiotic factors, including all nonliving things—minerals, water, and air. 

The most common minerals found in soil that support plant growth are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen gas. Other less common minerals include calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. The biotic and abiotic factors in the soil make up the soil’s composition.

Minerals

The most significant component of soil is its minerals, accounting for about 45% of its volume. The most common ones are phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. While the less common ones are magnesium, calcium, and sulfur. 

Water

Water is the second essential component of soil. It makes up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. It is vital for transporting nutrients to growing plants and soil organisms and facilitating biological and chemical decomposition. Soil water availability is the capacity of a particular soil to hold water available for plant use.

Organic Material 

Organic matter is the next primary component found in soils at levels of approximately 1% to 5%. This matter is derived from dead plants and animals and has a high capacity to hold onto and provide the essential elements and water for plant growth. An organic matter has a tall “plant available” water-holding ability and CEC, which can enhance the growth potential of soils. 

Gas

Gases and air are the following essential component of soil. They make up approximately 2% to 50% of the soil volume. Oxygen is necessary for root and microbe respiration, which helps support plant growth. 

Carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas are also crucial for belowground plant functions like nitrogen-fixing bacteria. If soils remain waterlogged (where gas is displaced by excess water), it can prevent root gas exchange, leading to plant death, a common concern after floods.

Microorganisms

Microorganisms are the final fundamental element of soils. They are present in the ground in high numbers but make up less than 1% of the soil volume. An estimate is that, one thimble full of topsoil hols more than 200,000 microbial organisms.
 
Earthworms and nematodes are the largest organisms found in soil. The smallest are algae, fungi, actinomycetes, and bacteria. Microorganisms are the primary decomposers of raw organic matter. Many decomposers eat up organic matter, water, and air. This is to recycle natural organic matter into humus, rich in plant nutrients [3].

Nutrient Depleted Soil

Nearly 99 percent of the world’s daily calorie intake can be traced back to the soil. The plants and animals we eat require soil to grow. Soil is vital for human survival, yet modern farming and agricultural practices quickly destroy it. 

Worldwide, one-third of the Earth’s soil is at least moderately degraded, and over half of the land used for agriculture has some soil degradation.

Due to intense, mismanaged farming, soil nutrients are declining. 

  • Nitrogen stores have decreased by 42 percent
  • Phosphorus by 27 percent
  • Sulfur by 33 percent. 

Plants require these nutrients for photosynthesis, enzymes, protein synthesis, and more to grow optimally.

As a result of declining soil fertility and selective breeding, the nutritional contents of some fruits, vegetables, and grains have also been compromised. 

  • In a 2004 study using USDA data, 43 garden crops were analyzed to compare nutritional content in 1950 versus 1999. Some nutrients were unchanged, but calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C were lower in 1999 compared to 1950, ranging from a 6 percent to 38 percent drop [4].

The protein content in corn declined from 30 percent to 50 percent from 1920 to 2001, while the starch content increased [5].

The magnesium content of vegetables and wheat has declined by up to 25 percent. There are trace minerals in vegetable crops. Minerals like manganese, zinc, copper, and nickel, have decreased over the last decades. Toxic minerals like aluminum, lead, and cadmium have increased [6].
 
Grains, soy, and corn are low on the nutrient density scale. Far below organ meats, meat, eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruits.

Modern Agriculture and Soil

The current agriculture methods produce higher yields but deplete and erode soils. Currently, industrial agriculture is destroying the soil. It is being destroyed at 100 to 1,000 times the rate where it is replenished. It is according to the United Nations estimates. According to their report, we only have 60 years left of harvest in many farming regions.

What contributes to soil degradation and human demise?

Monoculture

Many industrial farms grow one single crop, year after year after year. This kind of practice depletes the soil and contributes to carbon loss and soil erosion. Agricultural farms must include perennial crops, legumes, and forages in rotation. This returns the organic matter in the soil, prevents decay, and replenishes nutrients.
  • For example, legume crop residues can be converted into nitrogen by soil bacteria, reducing the need for synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers.

Additionally, monocropping can threaten food security. With a single crop species on millions of acres, one disease could potentially wipe out an entire food system.

Synthetic Fertilizers

Instead of using organic fertilizers, including crop rotations, cover crops, and manure, modern farms require massive amounts of synthetic fertilizers to grow crops continually. 

  • Nitrogen-based fertilizer production has increased by 9.5-fold since 1960. Fertilizer production consumes fossil fuels in a very energy-intensive process, with non-negligible environmental consequences. 

Not all the fertilizers applied are used up by the crops. Fifty percent or more of the nitrogen leaches into the environment. Many inorganic fertilizers destroy soil microbes that have roles in soil homeostasis.

  • Ammonia, nitrate, and other nitrogen residues make their way to groundwater, rivers, and eventually, the ocean. They reduce oxygen levels, increase algae growth, and damage or death to aquatic life. 

Tillage-Based Farming

Farms today till fields to remove crop residues, flatten the land, and generally mix up the topsoil. However, tilling reduces microbe populations in the soil, promotes soil erosion, and releases greenhouse gases. Today, 93 percent of the world’s cropland uses tilling-based methods for production.

Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides

Herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides can help increase crop yield. By keeping weeds and harmful organisms under control. The benefits come with costs. And when this problem continues soil degradation and human demise is going to be our future. 
 
Pesticides destroy the microbial populations in the soil too. It can also disrupt honeybee and butterfly populations, impacting pollination.
  • Additionally, pesticide residues make their way into water systems and food. Many health problems have been linked to pesticide exposure, including asthma, neurological issues, and even cancer. 
  • The most well-known herbicide is glyphosate, which is applied to crops for hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Glyphosate has profound environmental and health consequences, covered in this article.

Mismanaged Grazing

Cows and other ruminants have the unique ability to convert grasses and other plants that are inedible for humans into nutrient-dense, edible animal products.
 
Best practices dictate that ruminants should rotate among different fields, allowing sections of grass to rest and regrow
 
But when cows graze on the same land as in many conventional farms, it contributes to soil erosion. It lowers soil carbon reserves. Overgrazing contributed to the loss of about one-fifth of the world’s grasslands

[7].

  • Unfortunately, the importance of ruminant animals has been almost forgotten. Due to rocky terrain, hills, and climate, much of the world’s land isn’t even conducive for growing crops. 
  • In contrast, cows, sheep, and goats can often thrive on these marginal lands. Yet these areas aren’t being fully utilized to raise ruminants for food and to sequester carbon properly. Instead, we have concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO, where grazing is limited, cows are fed grain residues from an outlying farm.

Unity Between the Human Body and Soil

Our body is from soil and water. Without those 2, there is minimal to no possibility of human life. The quality of soil impacts the quality of our physical, spiritual, and mental selves. 
 
Think about evolution or spirituality – if we stem from one at one point. We were the soil or some component of it, so now we are forever bound to the ground. In that soil, there is life, and from that life, there comes bigger life. Not only does it help in a physical sense but spiritual sense too.
 
When you eat bad food, you feel sick. This sickness manifests physically, mentally, and even spiritually. If you have food poisoning, how do you move? How does it then change your thinking? How does it influence your beliefs? Soil connects to us.
 
We are treating soil like some infinite disposable thing. Now take a look at how some humans treat other humans? How toxic people in power treat people below them.
 
The word human stems from the word “humus” in Latin, which means soil. As translated to “living soil” – as in the ground needed for growth. Less and less nutrient-dense foods can lead to the shunting of human growth and function.
 

To learn more about soil degradation and human demise, watch the full Episode 96 in this video 👇

SHOW NOTES:

00:00 Intro
00:52 Plugs
02:08 Soil Degradation and Human Demise
07:25 What is soil?
09:54 The layers of soil
12:35 The essential life-building blocks in soil
16:43 Nutrient Depleted Soil
20:37 Soil Erosion: Monoculture
21:58 Soil Erosion: Synthetic Fertilizers
24:21 Soil Erosion: Tillage-Based Farming
25:19 Soil Erosion: Herbicides, Pesticides, and Fungicides
27:35 Soil Erosion: Mismanaged Grazing
30:14 Unity Between the Human Body and Soil
35:20 Wrapping up the episode

EP 157: A Nurses Perspective on The RaDonda Vaught Case

EP 157: A Nurses Perspective on The RaDonda Vaught Case

Medical Errors and the RaDonda Vaught Case

The RaDonda Vaught case is controversial because of its nature – Vaught being a nurse and how her actions led to the death of a patient. As one of the leading causes of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer, medical errors rank third. But why is this so? What are the common medical errors that can happen to a patient? Is there a future left for Vaught?

In a study done at John Hopkins in 2016, more than 250,000 people in America die of medical errors each year. Other reports indicated that the numbers are as high as 440,000. 

The RaDonda Vaught Case Overview

Miss RaDonda Vaught was a former nurse from Tennesse. She was accused of dispensing the wrong medicine, which led to the death of her patient. Her trial begins this March 2022. Because of her actions, she was charged with reckless homicide and felony abuse of an impaired adult. 

The RaDonda Vaught Case’s Timeline

To get a better view of what this case is all about, here is the timeline of events:

Dec. 24, 2017 – Charlene Murphey was a long-time resident of the Nashville suburb of Gallatin. She came to Vanderbilt with a subdural hematoma. A subdural hematoma is also known as bleeding in the brain. 

Dec. 26, 2017 – Two days later, Murphey’s condition showed improvement. She was almost ready to be discharged from Vanderbilt. She was then sent to get her final PET in the radiology department of the hospital. Murphey was supposed to be given a sedative called Versed.

Unfortunately, instead of the said sedative, she Murphey was given a dose of vecuronium. This drug is a powerful paralyzing medication. According to federal investigations report, this drug left Murphey brain dead.
 
Vaught allegedly admitted to hospital staff that she was responsible for the said medical error. She stated that she went to the Pyxis that released medications and realized that the patient’s prescription had not been sent over
 
She then overrode the system by typing “ve” and selecting the first medication that came up. The drug she chose was Vecuronium bromide, which is a paralytic. 
 
Murphey was found unresponsive after 30 minutes and required CPR and ventilation. Although she was placed on life support, she died after 12 hours. 

Dec. 27, 2017 – Murphey’s family gathers at Vanderbilt to say their goodbyes. She was then disconnected from the breathing machine, calling her time of death around 1 a.m. 

Plaintiff vs. Defendant

Assistant District Attorney Chad Jackson said there is no way to prove that Vaught could have pulled the right medicine from the machine with the way she used it
 
Vaught’s attorney, Peter Strianse, said he plans to show that the medicine-dispensing cabinet was in permanent override mode.
 
A reckless homicide case can carry a sentence of up to 12 years in jail, while impaired adult abuse carries a penalty of up to 15 years.

Updates on the Court Case:

The plaintiff asked the defense counsel not to ask any witnesses. This was about the actions done by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. And the measures are taken by VUMC after the victim’s death. 
 
It is not out of willful neglect, so why should the defense not be able to ask questions? We should look at the whole picture and details. 
 
For one, we are looking at the vacuum problem of the machine. It is like half of the situation was not taken into consideration. As nurses, we need to support her. 
 
The defense counsel couldn’t bring up the patient’s family’s settlement with Vanderbilt University.

Conclusion: Anyone can make mistakes, but medical errors aren’t the result of just one person or party. 

How does the nursing profession feel about this?

RaDonda Vaught’s case could have been a mistake that caused her career. It’s crazy that each shift as healthcare professionals could cost us our careers if we don’t pay close attention to detail.
 
Talk about stressful jobs! This case has sparked a rallying cry for nurses who worry that honest mistakes can be criminalized and they can lose their jobs.
 
This case also has a few loops that can cause future problems for the hospital. The hospital did not report the fatal medication to the state that caused the error, as required by law.
 
The two Vanderbilt doctors told the medical examiner that Murphy died a “natural” death. And that her cause of death was an intracerebral hemorrhage. The government regulators didn’t discover this error. Then they got an anonymous complaint ten months later.

Medical Errors

Medical errors have a huge cost on healthcare. They cost about $20 billion per year. This leads to more expensive interventions needed to correct or treat more issues.

Reporting Issues of Med Errors

Despite medical errors affecting so many patients, it is often unreported. In 2017, the NORC at the University of Chicago surveyed medical errors and patients’ experiences with them.
 
This survey of adults found that in 32% of cases where a patient experienced an error, the health facility informed the person of it. Sixty-seven percent said no one told them.
 
The CDC fails to classify errors on a death certificate when collecting health statistics to paint the bigger picture. This problem makes it even harder to know accurate data about how often these med errors occur.

Why Medical Errors Happen

Working in a hospital can be chaotic at times. Nurses handle all kinds of responsibilities. From taking care of patients, doctors’ orders, and working with other healthcare workers. Adding up to these are administering different types of medications and operating machines.
 
These are a few of a nurse’s responsibilities to help provide the best patient care. It can be a stressful environment and nurses are human beings. They cannot do everything with precision and medical errors cannot be avoided. But what are the most common medical mistakes?

The reason why medical errors occur in the hospital:

  • Communication problems
  • Staffing problems and workflow
  • Inadequate policies and ratios
  • Inadequate information flow
  • Patient-related issues
  • Technical failure

Think about the most recent time a medical error was made in your care of someone close to you. 

  • The mistake was made during a test, surgery, or treatment.
  • A medical problem was misdiagnosed.
  • Received a diagnosis that didn’t make sense.
  • Given the wrong instructions about follow-up care.
  • Administered the wrong medication dosage.
  • Received treatment that was not needed.
  • Were given instructions from different providers.
  • Got an infection after a hospitalization or treatment.
  • Received the wrong medication from a pharmacy. 
  • Fell down or fell out of bed.
  • Got bedsore.

Watch the full video on this episode here 👇 and learn more about RaDonda Vaught’s case:

TIMESTAMP:

00:00 Intro
00:49 Plugs
02:09 Episode Introduction
03:00 Medical Errors Happening in the United States
04:52 The RaDonda Vaught Case
06:29 How and why did the patient die?
10:50 Plaintiff vs. Defendant
13:31 Time versus the SOP
17:03 The misinformation about the drug
23:07 Reporting issues of Medical Errors
25:50 Why Do Medical Errors Occur?
29:12 The system of double verification
31:00 Common medical errors recently committed
33:47 How to Prevent Medical Errors
36:38 Wrapping up the episode

 

 

How a Healthy Work Environment Helps Nurses

How a Healthy Work Environment Helps Nurses

How a Healthy Work Environment Helps Nurses

A healthy work environment helps nurses in providing patient care. As one of the best health care providers, nurses have the right to work in a safe, healthy, and empowering work environment. A good working environment equals quality nursing care and in this post, we will tackle the elements that make that environment work.

Standards of a Healthy Working Environment

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses has identified six standards that are essential for a healthy working environment. These are: 

  • Skilled communication
  • True collaboration
  • Effective decision-making
  • Appropriate staffing
  • Meaningful recognition
  • Authentic leadership

A healthy work environment is vital in creating a suitable workspace for nurses. But for it to work, they must all share similar qualities. [1]

  • Skilled communication – this means everyone must seek well-rounded skills. Communication is just as important as clinical skills.
  • True collaboration – means that nurses should have multiple chances to share ideas and work towards a solution as a team.
  • Effective decision-making – is when nurses can say about matters that affect them. It includes their opinions about policies, care decisions, and having the opportunity to lead.
  • Appropriate staffing – is making sure that staffing is enough to meet the needs of patients and nurses.
  • Meaningful recognition – is when nurses are awarded for their contributions and acknowledge others in the same manner.
  • Authentic leadership – nurse leaders should demonstrate their best character and encourage others to promote a healthy work environment for all. 

How Can Nurses Provide a Good Working Environment?

There are times when working is all they do in a nurse’s career, and their environment won’t matter to them any longer. However, this can change, and each member of the nursing unit should do their part [2]. So, how can one provide a healthy work environment for nurses?

Utilizing individual strengths

Identifying your team’s strengths and weaknesses helps in maximizing your team’s effort. Let’s say one of your teammates can quickly help calm down a patient or upset family member. It would help if you worked with them to swiftly and effectively manage a situation. Discussing this with your team can help; this way, everyone knows what each other can do. It will be easier for the team to accomplish specific goals. 

Provide solutions to recurring issues

As a nurse, there will be times when we vent our frustrations to other nurses at work. However, if the problem still exists, what’s the point of venting? Instead of just airing your frustrations, try and think of ways as solutions to the problem. Send formal requests to management or suggest ways to solve the issues during meetings helps create a more positive work environment. 

Avoid taking things personally 

It is usual for coworkers to clash at work every once in a while. It is also essential that you don’t bring your problems at work to home and vice versa. In short, don’t take things personally. Be the bigger person and keep a calm head.

Keep in mind that you have higher priorities and patients under your care. However, do keep an open mind as well; leave your ego aside for a minute. Constructive criticism helps in improving your roles as nurses. And always remember that nurses provide quality care when they work together as a team. 

Show gratitude

Show your coworkers that you are also proud of their hard work and contribution to the team. Showing your appreciation for the accomplishments and success of your teammates also establishes respect. A simple thank you or praise can change a person’s day. It can also change the way your team works and create a healthy work environment for nurses

Be a good role model

If you want your team and other nurses to work in a positive environment, you must be a good example. By displaying effective communication, excellent nursing skills, and professionalism, you are setting a standard of practice. You are setting the tone for others to follow. It doesn’t matter if you are a new nurse or a tenured staff member. It’s never too late to be a positive influence on your colleague. 

A healthy work environment for nurses creates a place where nurses display their clinical skills, expertise, and knowledge. When the work environment is accessible and everyone cooperates, it’s also easier for nurses to provide patients quality nursing care. 

A workplace that emanates a positive atmosphere encourages nurses to stay in their jobs, reducing the chances of mass turnover. Patients are happier, staff members work smoothly, and quality care is at a hundred percent. 

Campaign for a Healthy Work Environment for Nurses 

As a nurse, you must care for patients to the best of your skills and knowledge. But what happens when the workplace is toxic?

The best way to deal with this kind of environment is to campaign for a better workplace. Make the first step in creating an environment that will make your coworkers happy and cooperative. 

Make sure to practice showing respect where respect is due. If there is any conflict among nursing staff, be sure to address the issue immediately so that both parties can agree amicably.

Come up with ideas to help your unit work as a team rather than a divided one. It will help resolve conflicts and ensure quality care is delivered correctly.

Nursing Shortages During Covid-19

Nursing Shortages During Covid-19

Nursing Shortages During Covid-19

The pandemic has affected all of us; countries closed their borders, traveling is kept to a minimum, being in contact with people is limited, lockdowns, and most of all, the ever-increasing number of deaths. While the world struggles to hold on and survive, health care professionals and frontliners are situated in front, serving all of us.

Nurses, in particular, have been called to work, assigned to different places, worked tirelessly and diligently to give their best to patients suffering from Covid-19. But like their patients, the number of nurses dying from Covid and exhaustion has also become an alarming concern to the health care world. It is also among the reasons why there are nursing shortages in hospitals

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nurses represented the most significant number of healthcare workers involved in this pandemic. The year 2020 marks the 200th year since Florence Nightingale founded nursing, and it also became the year when nurses had to face the biggest challenge of their lives as the pandemic spread across the world. 

What is Covid-19?

The World Health Organization defined Coronavirus (Covid-19) as an infectious disease where the infected people will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness. Older people and those with medical problems like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and others are more likely to develop serious infections. The transmission mode of Covid-19 is primarily through droplets of saliva or nose discharges of an infected person when they are coughing or sneezing. 

To slow down the transmission of Covid-19, protect yourself and others by frequent handwashing, using an alcohol-based rub or sanitizers, and wearing facemasks. Practicing social distancing and getting vaccinated also helps in slowing down the spread of this disease. 

9 Reasons for Nursing Shortages During Covid-19

Nursing shortages have always been an issue even before the pandemic set in. However, it’s been given more light during the pandemic. But what are the most common reasons why nurses are short-staffed these days? Here’s what we gathered [1].

1. Overworked and exhaustion

While nurses’ wages improved over the recent years, there are still nurses who struggle with lower pay. Add the long hours of work and dealing with covid cases, many nurses become burned out with work. 

2. Older nurses are about to retire

As the years go by, more and more elderly nurses are retiring. Studies showed that about one-third of the nursing force ages 50 and above would quit in a couple of years. 

3. Nurses are quitting their jobs

A study conducted in December 2020 by the NNA (National Nurses Association) showed that heavy workloads, stress, insufficient funds, and burnout are among the concerns of many nurses quitting and leaving their jobs. NNA also surveyed a 20% increase of nurses leaving their jobs because of the pandemic.

4. Nurses considering a career change

Many nurses considered working a different career besides nursing so as not to be involved with Covid patients.  Others quit because handling Covid-19 cases has become too much for them. 

5. The trauma of the pandemic

Another good reason why there are plenty of nursing shortages in hospitals these days is the trauma that the pandemic caused [2]. In January 2020, ICN (International Council of Nurses) raised their concern about the mass trauma experienced by nurses during the surge of Covid-19.

They also took note of the medium to long-term effects of this trauma on the nursing workforce. The issues and risks combined with the stress and overworked nurses threaten the already vulnerable nursing community. 

6. Burned-out nurses

As the pandemic continues, the number of nurses reaching their point of burnout increases as well. Because of this, many nurses are considering the idea of leaving their jobs. If this happens, nurses leaving their jobs because of burnout could potentially damage the health care system in the years to come. 

7. Depression and anxiety

Besides being burned out at work and working long hours handling covid patients, many nurses reported experiencing depression and anxiety. Research conducted in the Philippines shows that prolonged distress from the pandemic has developed stress among nurses.

On the other hand, Egypt and Pakistan showed that the pandemic threat has prompted that 95% of their nurses had intentions to leave their present jobs involving Covid-19 Triage Hospitals, and 25% want to leave the profession for good because of the stress, anxiety, and depression that they’re experiencing. 

8. A limited supply of new nurses

There are plenty of new nurses graduating each year, and it’s not enough to cover up for the deficit caused by those who will be retiring soon. New nurses are helpful, but not so they can fill in for those who are already experts in the field. In short, they need time and experience to become fully capable of handling difficult situations like Covid patients. 

9. Not enough pay 

Another reason nurses leave their current jobs is to search for better opportunities. Nurses who have been on the front lines working in nursing homes are not making livable wages. So if they can find another hospital that offers higher incentives and better compensation, they will leave.

How Can Hospitals Avoid a Shortage in Nurses During Pandemic?

There are millions of registered nurses in the United States, yet there are still shortages in the workforce [3]. How can this be resolved? 

Dr. Joanne Spetz, Ph.D., a professor at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and associate director for research at the Healthforce Center at the University of California, San Francisco, suggested these tips to help our nurses get back into work:

  • Offer financial incentives. Higher salaries or student loan repayment programs will encourage nurses and future nurses to serve in different areas where the pandemic hit the hardest. 
  • Create quicker ways of speeding up the license application for nurses living in other states and authorization of immediate license reactivation. 
  • To expand their scope of practice and oversight rules. The best example of this is to loosen regulations that require physicians to oversee nurse practitioners. Allow nurses to do jobs that do not necessarily require the presence of a physician. 
  • Create a law or rule that nursing students and those scheduled to graduate soon to help and provide support in hospitals during the pandemic. 
  • Provide new child care options to nurses, especially pregnant or those who have small children. 
  • Provide nurses with their personal needs like lodging. This way, they don’t put their families at risk of being exposed to the virus. Supporting their mental and emotional health are also important. Providing them with activities to de-stress can help reduce their anxieties as well. 
  • Provide nurses with adequate access to personal protective equipment, especially those working in critical areas or handling Covid-19 patients. 

How Can Hospitals Overcome Nursing Shortage?

In addition to that, hospitals can also overcome nursing shortages in hospitals by the following:

  1. Provide a flexible schedule for nurses so they can juggle their work and family life. Flexible schedules allow them to decompress between stressful and emotionally demanding shifts that can drain their energies. A flexible schedule keeps nurses happy and more positive in their working environment. 
  2. A chance to develop their careers through promotion also helps in retaining nurses. Hospitals must help their nurses to obtain the highest education possible. It will encourage nurses to stay within the organization and feel more satisfied with their accomplishments professionally. 
  3. Give your nurses a voice by listening to their concerns. Nurses who can voice their concerns to supervisors and managers are most likely to stay within the company. Implementing their suggestions and ideas also show nurses that the hospital managers are serious about their inputs and that they are also an essential part of the company. 

Nurses Will Stay 

Nurses are among the best workers globally, and they will stay working as long as they can handle the situation. However, the pandemic changed all that. 

It’s not a secret that many of our nurses are exhausted these days, and there’s no certainty as to when this pandemic will end. The only certainty we can give is to protect our nurses by supporting them, providing them with their needs, and hearing them out. 

If every nursing company provides their nurses with these, there will surely be no nursing shortages in hospitals. So support your nurses whenever you can; we still need them!