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

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The following message was delivered at the INS Annual Convention and Industrial Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 23, 2011.

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

Good morning, and welcome to Louisville and the 2011 INS Annual Convention and Industrial Exhibition.


When I began to prepare this message and thought about all of the exciting initiatives that INS enjoyed in 2010, I thought about the many people who have helped to make this possible. As you might expect, the list begins quite appropriately with you-our dedicated, talented, and knowledgeable membership. Your value to the INS team cannot be overstated.


Business writer Patrick Lencioni has said, "Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare."1 The INS membership is a shining example of that teamwork and that rare power. Your dedication to your patients, to your specialty, to INS, and to your desire to be the absolute best is what sets you apart. It is what also drives INS to continue our work developing the resources you need, expect, and deserve. It is also what enables INS to maintain its long-standing role as the Voice for Infusion Nursing.


In the book The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, famed author and business-management guru Peter Drucker wrote that there are 5 essential questions that must be addressed in order to improve an organization's performance. The first question is, "What is our mission?"2


It is important to note that INS' mission is much more than a statement. It is what drives us, it is what defines us, and it is what makes us who we are. Since our inception in 1973, we have continued to raise our profile serving as the "voice" of infusion therapy. This comes with a tremendous amount of responsibility. Because infusion therapy takes place in so many different practice settings with so many different types of procedures, our opinion matters to a great many organizations in the health care field. We are held in high esteem and are viewed as "thought leaders." As such, we are sought out to participate on a wide variety of expert panels, to speak at conferences, and to critique guidelines, reports, books, and articles. This was certainly the case in 2010. We reached nurses all over the world and increased our influence within the entire health care community, all while remaining true to our mission of setting the standard of excellence for infusion nursing.


The second question is, "Who is our customer?"


I would like to rephrase this question to "Who are our customers?" The plural form of Mr. Drucker's question is a better reflection of INS' world. Without a doubt, our customer list begins with our dedicated members and includes a wide array of health care professionals and organizations, as well as patients and their caregivers. Not surprisingly, our customer list is an expansive one.


So the question then becomes, "How do we reach our customers, and what is it that they are looking for?" We reach them through the resources we create and, more importantly, through the reputation we have earned.


Prime examples of that are our recently updated versions of the highly successful Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice and Policies and Procedures for Infusion Nursing. The overwhelmingly positive response to these publications has been extremely gratifying and serves as a prime example of our commitment to the infusion community and their patients.


It is important to note that our customer base is not limited to the United States. Our nurse colleagues around the globe are more interested than ever in our programs and resources. Many of them travel great distances each year to attend the Annual Convention, and this year is no exception. We welcome their participation and their commitment.


The growing international interest in our specialty is also reflected in the invitations I receive to speak at international conferences. In 2010, I had the privilege of presenting programs on patient safety; innovative approaches to infusion therapy; applying standards to clinical practice; and the benefits of infusion teams to audiences in New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Russia, Japan, and Taiwan. It is always gratifying to see how well received the presentations are and how much interest there is in the infusion specialty.


The changes in policy that have come about as a result of our influence support our position as the "global authority" in infusion nursing. Japan and Taiwan now have infusion teams in some hospitals; many hospitals in China are now applying standards to practice (such as site care, dressing changes, and site assessments); and infusion nurses in New Zealand are using our Standards of Practice as the model for the development of their own standards.


Mr. Drucker's third question is, "What does the customer value?"


He regards this question as the most important, yet it is the one least often asked. Many nonprofit organizations tend to answer this question themselves. Often the answer is the wrong one. Mr. Drucker stated that "instead of asking, 'Does it deliver value to our customers?' organizations ask 'Does it fit our rules?'" At INS, we believe that the best way to answer this question is to ask our most important customer-our membership. By asking and listening, we are able to put together the pieces that are critical to growing our organization. The feedback you provide is of extreme value to us. It provides us with direction and gives purpose to what we do.


The fourth question is, "What are our results?"


This question requires organizations to reflect on what they do and how well they do it. Looking at short-term accomplishments and long-term change, as Mr. Drucker suggests, is critical to success and growth. It is also part of INS' continuing self-assessment process and a major component of what has helped us deliver meaningful results.


To give you some perspective on INS' growth and success, I would like to take you back 15 years. At that time, INS had only 2 nursing resources available: the Standards of Practice and Intravenous Therapy: Clinical Principles and Practice-the original "red textbook." We operated in a computer world that did not include the Internet and, although we had databases for different membership needs, their operations were not integrated-that is, they didn't speak to one another.


Fast-forward to 2010, and INS has increased its product line 8-fold; increased nondues revenue streams; developed business models for sponsorship opportunities; and increased operational efficiency by integrating technology. We continue to provide value to our members through relevant and meaningful programs, products, and services. We've expanded educational opportunities and the number of platforms for content delivery and made use of current and emerging technology that aids us in supporting our mission. Through collaborative strategic alliances, the INS brand has been expanded, as we reach farther around the globe.


None of this would have been possible if we hadn't taken the time to ask the important questions that centered on our mission, our customers, and our values. By doing so, we have strengthened your organization and enjoyed some very meaningful results.


I would be remiss if I didn't recognize INS' sister organization, the Infusion Nurses Certification Corporation (INCC), for its role in providing the only accredited infusion nursing certification program. As a testament to the value and success of the CRNI(R) designation, INCC celebrated the 25th anniversary of the CRNI(R) exam last year. Keeping in mind that the foundation of any certification program is patient/public protection, INCC holds the CRNI(R) credential as the gold standard.


The final question that Mr. Drucker asks is, "What is our plan?" And what a question that is!


The continuous self-assessment process that INS engages in is critical. It is this process that leads to our future direction. It is said that goals should be few but overarching. They should be straightforward but impactful. Most of all, they should be meaningful to the greatest number of constituents.


For INS, our short-term goals are what ultimately lead us to our long-term successes. All of our goals emanate from our mission, our values, and our membership. They help to clarify what we need to do, where we need to go, and how we go about accomplishing the work that needs to be done. Our membership is, as always, our most important focus. Everything we do is geared toward creating resources and educational opportunities that will help you succeed.


At INS, the vision, mission, and values stated on our Web site and in our publications are not just words. They are integral to everything we do. And everything we do comes down to providing resources and services that enable you to deliver the best patient care possible. As a fiscally healthy, engaged, competent, and efficient organization, INS is positioned to lead the way as new approaches to patient care appear on the health care horizon. Your participation in this organization and the infusion nursing community, as well as your dedication to your patients, demonstrates a commitment to excellence that is fully deserving of the public's trust. I give you my heartfelt thanks for all that you do for your patients and colleagues and, of course, for setting the standard for infusion care.




1. Lencioni P. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2002:vii. [Context Link]


2. Drucker PF, Collins J, Kotler P, et al. The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2008:xii. [Context Link]