1. Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

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As we did last year, the Organizational Affiliates of the American Nurses Association agreed as a group to dedicate our spring editorials or membership letters to a single topic-"The Power of Nursing." During this year's National Nurses Week (May 6-12), we showed a lot of muscle. We recognized the power of nurses-the power to lead and create change within the nursing profession and in the health care system.

Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

Nurses have always taken the lead in redefining the health care system, although our contributions have not always been acknowledged. We've adapted to increasingly complex new technologies and taken on more and more responsibilities in the face of staffing shortages and budget cuts. We work in a number of different practice settings and continually learn new skills and absorb new information. And now that we're confident in our strength and professionalism, we're making it known to other health care professionals, the media, and the public.


Nurses are stepping up to a new level of leadership that encourages collaboration with other health care professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, and administrators. Because nurses are on the front lines of patient care, we can do more to direct the health care team toward the most effective ways to manage care and achieve positive outcomes. Our opinions matter; they must be weighed along with the opinions of other members of the health care team.


To help infusion nurses take over a new kind of leadership role, INS is encouraging our members to seek new knowledge about best practices and evidence-based care. We have been working with institutions such as Wayne State University College of Nursing (see the article on page 176) to guide the direction for research, focus the use of limited financial resources toward the most needed research, and use research to develop and support best practices for the infusion nursing specialty.


Nurses can also lead the way toward a healthier work environment. You can strengthen your unit first by respecting your colleagues' differences. Each nurse brings a unique skill set and work ethic, the result of educational, generational, and cultural differences. By encouraging experimentation and speaking out, acknowledging mistakes, and supporting course corrections, you can build a trusting work atmosphere that reduces stress and creates a better setting for patient care.


To help the nursing profession grow and thrive, nurses must inspire others to join the profession and develop within it. Nurse faculty, mentors, and preceptors can help shape future nurses by instilling in them the value of consensus building, partnership, and collaboration, as well as the importance of respect. We have noticed on our INS Facebook page that infusion nurses are declaring their pride and satisfaction with their profession, undoubtedly influencing new nurses who may be curious about joining the infusion nursing specialty. This platform also encourages sharing clinical expertise and information about chapter events.


The complexity of patient care and the fiscal constraints faced by health care organizations make nursing more challenging than ever. Even the best nurses may feel as if they are being managed by the system, rather than managing the system. Nurses are skilled at seeing needs, finding solutions, and cutting through red tape. To bring out the best in innovative thinking and bold action, however, nurses need the assistance of their nurse colleagues in all practice settings and roles. That kind of support for staff engagement builds confidence and leadership skills, which develop into greater power to manage the system.


It should come as no surprise that, once again, the public believes that nurses have the highest professional ethical standards. In a 2009 Gallup Poll that asked respondents to rate the honesty and ethical standards of various professions, 83% of Americans rated nurses "very high" or "high."1 We have worked hard to earn that place in the public's trust, and by continuing to set the standard for excellence in health care, we will remain highly trusted by the public.


In the negotiations on health care reform, nurses have demonstrated their knowledge and strength. Meeting with Congress as well as with President Obama, representatives of nursing organizations have been influential in this marathon process. Their contributions on quality improvement, workplace standards, and financing have been incorporated into the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The president himself spoke of his trust in and admiration for nurses (his younger daughter was in the hospital for some time as an infant).


Nurses have a history of fulfilling leadership roles within their workplaces, professional organizations, and communities and in legislative arenas and government agencies. Now is the time for every nurse to be more engaged at every level. The more nurses speak with one voice, the more influence nursing and its values will have on health care in the future.


There is power in nursing; let's use it as we move ahead in addressing our patients' needs in this complex health care system.


Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN


INS Chief Executive Officer Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing




1. Honesty and ethics poll finds Congress' image tarnished. Accessed March 2, 2010. [Context Link]