1. Section Editor(s): Alexander, Mary MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

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Right now, you're developing professionally. You're reading a scholarly journal that will enhance your infusion nursing skills and provide you with the latest in research developments and improvements in technology. Well done!! But there's so much more you can do to advance professionally.

Mary Alexander, MA, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN INS Chief Executive Officer

As we know, the science of health care continues to transform rapidly, and sometimes it's hard to keep up with educational requirements. But if we want to provide the best in patient care, we have no choice. What is easier now than even a few years ago is the access to a variety of educational resources and platforms that are convenient even for busy nurses. Print publications, online classes and Webinars, and meetings on the local and national level are readily available, sometimes at little or no charge.


Your professional development begins with an assessment of your own level of skills and competencies, both self-identified and as evaluated by others. Speak with a mentor or colleague about possibilities for education in your own facility. Consider working toward certification; the benefits of certification accrue to your organization, your patients, and yourself, both in validation of your increased skill level and in compensation.1 Explore the many educational offerings provided by INS-after all, one of the pillars of INS' mission is to provide professional development opportunities.


A visit to INS' Web site ( will take you to the brand-new Knowledge Center, where you can browse through a number of educational resources, most of them available to INS members at little or no charge. On-demand educational programs, such as videotaped and streamed programs from previous INS meetings, will be available for viewing. You can attend Webinars at your convenience, or read up on the latest in health care and infusion news. Archived copies of the Journal of Infusion Nursing, as well as INS newsletters, are yours to learn from and enjoy. A searchable database of clinical practice questions, along with an opportunity for INS members to pose clinical questions online to our volunteer nursing network, is also a key component of the Knowledge Center. And INS national meetings in the spring and fall of each year provide top-notch education geared toward the infusion therapy professional.


Of course, it's essential for nurses to keep abreast of developments in their specialty; but in today's complex health care environment, it's also necessary to learn more about leadership, systems improvement, research, evidence-based practice, and health policy. In 2008, the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation collaborated on a project to make recommendations on transforming the nursing profession. Education and professional development were at the heart of their proposals, which were published recently as The Future of Nursing, Leading Change, Advancing Health. One of the core principles of the document was that nurses should attain higher levels of education and training but that the educational system should offer programs that allow nurses to move smoothly and swiftly up the higher-education ladder.2 While calling on academia to do more, the authors also encouraged nurses to seek out opportunities for professional growth.


Provisions in the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also demand an increasing level of nursing education and responsibilities; at the same time, they offer opportunity for expanded educational funding and clinical training. I encourage you to take advantage of the grants and loans available to nurses pursuing advanced degrees and training. You can find information on the Department of Health and Human Services Web site (


The opportunities and resources are many. It's up to you to create a plan that meets your learning needs and satisfies your professional development goals. Not only do your patients deserve the best-educated and competent nurse, but also you owe it to yourself to grow professionally!!


Mary Alexander




1. Mee CL. Nursing 2006 salary survey. Nursing. 2006;36:46-51. [Context Link]


2. Institute of Medicine; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Published October 2010. Accessed February 17, 2011. [Context Link]