1. Adams, Jeanette PhD, ACNS, BC, CRNI(R)

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The following speech was delivered at the INS Annual Convention and Industrial Exhibition in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 26, 2011.

Jeanette Adams, PhD,... - Click to enlarge in new windowJeanette Adams, PhD, ACNS, BC, CRNI(R)

The health care environment is on the precipice of change, which affords us opportunities and challenges. As a specialty organization, the Infusion Nurses Society (INS) has a strong foundation on which to build, grow, and develop. As leaders in infusion nursing, we must take the helm to steer the direction for infusion nursing in health care. Emerging health care systems require an examination of role definitions and adapting to the new ways of delivering nursing care. INS itself was created by pioneers who recognized and envisioned the importance of infusion nursing practice. In its relatively short history, the infusion nursing specialty has become an integral part of the health care regime with expanded roles, the power to shape scientific and technological developments, and increased knowledge and skills. My presidential theme for 2011-2012, "Evolving Our Legacy," encourages us to honor our history by acknowledging our legacy, promote the present by living our legacy, and forge the future by fostering our legacy.



Legacy is defined as anything handed down from the past. The infusion nursing specialty owes its beginnings to forward-thinking nurses who gathered in 1973 to form a group with a common professional goal. Nursing history is rich with nurses who held the belief and passion that health care could be better, and nursing practice was the best way to reach that goal.


Ada Plumer was the first nurse given responsibility for IV therapies. She broadened this concept to form the first IV team. Infusion nursing as a specialty was created in 1966 in the interests of patient safety. Ada Plumer and Marguerite Knight took the lead in starting the professional organization known today as the Infusion Nurses Society.



Ada Plumer and Marguerite Knight's legacy grew to 7000 dedicated, committed professional infusion nurses today. INS is currently known as the premier infusion nursing organization. INS' leadership is evidenced by resources such as the Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice, the Journal of Infusion Nursing, the textbook Infusion Nursing: An Evidence-Based Approach, the INS Knowledge Center, educational programs, and a multitude of other supportive tools and publications for infusion nursing.


Infusion therapy, by definition, is fraught with untoward outcomes. Knowledge, competency, and skills are components needed to contain and reduce negative outcomes and promote positive outcomes. As infusion nurses, we must live our legacy by implementing current knowledge and skills in our daily nursing practice and comply with evidence-based practice to provide optimal patient outcomes. We have progressed far from our beginnings, and we still have issues to resolve. INS' mission and values still hold true today, and our vision guides us toward the future.



I am all that I am because of those who have gone before me. I carry all of them within me. Yes, we are progressing, but we must advance further. We are fortunate to have a rich history that solidifies our foundation to foster our legacy for the future. What contributions will we make with our legacy? How many patients will benefit from our commitment?


Reflecting upon our past sets the starting point of where we have been, where we are now, and where we want to be. Enhance the positive experiences, learn from the negative ones, and constantly look to improve. Each of us has a common legacy, but it is altered and improved from one generation to the next. Wisdom is the culmination of experience and knowledge. Dr. Patricia Benner's framework of novice to expert supports this concept.1 We are challenged to shape the future of infusion nursing. We all share common goals. Our legacy lies within you and me. Each of us has something that we can leave as a legacy for infusion nursing. Integrating the knowledge that we carry the responsibility to leave a legacy is a primary calling.


The areas for our legacy that I have chosen to highlight are strengthening the foundation through transcending our global continuum; impacting education from nursing curriculum through lifelong learning; shaping infusion nursing roles through competency, certification, and best practice; translating and providing improved patient outcomes with infusion nursing science; and influencing emerging health care systems through leadership in health care policy.


A key to longevity is the ability to adapt. Infusion nursing has transformed and morphed through decades of change. But the fundamental principles are still applicable today. Legacy is the linkage from the past to the future. It is this linkage that is crucial to the preservation and nurturing of our collective creativity and identity. When you evolve, others do, too, and it is this interdependent relationship that has the potential to initiate a transformation. We are more powerful than we know.


I challenge each of you to renew your commitment to infusion nursing and to the mission and values of the premier infusion nursing organization. It's time for us to step up to leadership roles. Leadership roles cannot be delegated: they are either exercised or abdicated. Infusion nursing needs your leadership. What does the future of nursing hold for health care? What will your legacy be? Who is the face of the infusion nurse? What does the future of nursing look like? What encompasses the role of the infusion nurse? Infusion nursing must aggressively control its own destiny.


Let us follow the footprints of a received legacy from our pioneers and evolve to the new knowing of a future that encompasses legacy transmission. I remember at my father's funeral, as I stood at the casket one last time, the minister came beside me for consolation. It was at this moment that I clearly realized the legacy of my father. Nothing in monetary or tangible possessions, but what a wealth of intangible gifts: humanity, integrity, perseverance, commitment, passion, humor, honesty, and character. This legacy was an enormous tower of strength. The embodiment of legacies allows us to expand our realm of knowledge and expertise and advance our specialty for the future. If our infusion nursing pioneers were with us today, I am confident that they would see the transference of technical expertise to clinical expertise and would be honored with our evolution.


As we reflect upon our historical perspective and acknowledge our present, it is time we forge the future boldly and courageously to continue the rich evolution of our legacy.




1. Benner P. From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley; 1984. [Context Link]