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

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This year's celebration of National Nurses Week (May 6-12) brings together the many organizational affiliates of the American Nurses Association in our (now traditional) joint editorial for the month of May. We have chosen to highlight the leadership shown by the nursing profession, day in and day out, year after year.

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We should all be proud to be nurses. Those of us who have been in the profession for more than a few years know how much has changed in the last 30 years or so. Respect for our profession has grown, and, of course, the specialty of infusion therapy has gained recognition, and our knowledge and expertise are sought after more than ever.


We are at a turning point for health care delivery in this country. A number of factors have converged to spotlight the importance of maximizing nurses' contributions to quality, patient-centered care. The enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, followed by the release of the Institute of Medicine's report on the future of nursing in October of that year, underscored nurses' unique contributions and untapped capacity to transform the quality of care.1,2


As respect for our profession has grown, so has the public's trust in our work on their behalf. In 2011, for the 12th time, the Gallup survey ranked nurses as the most trusted profession in America.3 Eighty-one percent of respondents said that nurses' honesty and ethical standards are either "high" or "very high." With that kind of support, we can continue to raise the bar for our patients and provide the best care possible.


What we do as nurses today will influence how our health care system looks in 10 years. We have been at the table with the president while the details of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were hammered out, and we've been outspoken advocates for increased nursing education funding and setting standards for better patient care. Of course, we have to keep up with all the changes that we inspire, and academic and continuing nursing education and certification are the building blocks for advancement.


Nurse leaders must also recognize another, sometimes neglected but critically important step for the future of nursing-planning for succession of leadership. The nursing shortage has put this topic on the front burner for many health care organizations. As nurses retire, there remains an urgent need to retain organizational knowledge and maintain continuity of care. This is not a quick or easy process; it takes years of work and foresight as well as the ability to judge the potential of younger personnel and a willingness to mentor a pool of potential leaders to steer the organization in the future. While sharing our expertise and contributing to the next generation of nurses, we need to groom our successors so they can improve on the foundation we have established.


To sustain INS' leadership in the future, I encourage you to become involved in guiding the Society's efforts to further develop the infusion specialty. Take advantage of INS' opportunities for leadership and networking. Choosing to run for a seat on the INS Board of Directors or seeking appointment to INCC's RN Examination Council can instill confidence and knowledge while enhancing your leadership skills.


Regardless of the generation we represent or the setting in which we practice, our proud profession will benefit from our desire, passion, and leadership. Happy Nurses Week!


The author of this article has no conflicts of interest to disclose.


Mary Alexander




1. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Published May 2010. Accessed March 16, 2012. [Context Link]


2. Institute of Medicine. The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Published October 2010. Accessed March 16, 2012. [Context Link]


3. Gallup poll: nurses top honesty and ethics list for 12th year. About a Nurse Web site. Published December 20, 2011. Accessed March 16, 2012. [Context Link]