1. Meyer, Britt MSN, RN, CRNI(R), VA-BC
  2. INS President, 2013-2014

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The following speech was delivered at the INS Annual Convention and Industrial Exhibition in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 23, 2013.

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Good morning. It is a distinct pleasure and honor to be here this morning, and I feel humbled to be addressing such a distinguished group of nurses. By virtue of your attendance at this meeting, you demonstrate exemplary dedication to the specialty of infusion nursing. It will be my privilege to serve as your president for the upcoming year. I hope that my theme, "Lining Up to Infuse Excellence," will inspire all of us to continue our pursuit of improved skills and increased knowledge to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.


In thinking about the changes coming our way in health care, the aging of nurses, and the likelihood of dramatically reduced financial resources for all of health care over the next few years, I feel strongly that we, as a premier nursing organization, must align ourselves correctly and promptly with the changing health care environment in order not only to survive but also to thrive as a specialty.


If you have ever tried to place a square peg in a round hole or had one of those days in which nothing seemed to progress smoothly or correctly, you know how difficult it is to fight an uphill battle. It is my firm belief that we will face an uphill battle as a specialty and as a profession unless we come to understand how the changes in health care will affect us and learn to adapt quickly and completely to those changes rather than fight or ignore them.


Infusion nurses provide care to more than 95% of hospitalized patients and an ever-increasing number of patients in ambulatory care; they collaborate with more of the health care team than just about any other specialty. With such a broad scope, we influence outcomes for a huge sector of health care consumers.


Evidence-based practice, changing reimbursement schedules, more and more conditions deemed "never events," and a renewed focus on the prevention of health care-acquired infections have positioned infusion nurses to lead efforts to improve quality and reduce costs at many levels. With the prestige and privilege of leadership comes the responsibility to understand not only clinical care but also the impact of health care finance and supply-chain management on our organizations. The rapid call for infusion nurses to step into these discussions in organizations has left us all a little breathless and grasping for new skills, knowledge, and energy.


Over the last 5 years, INS's membership has increased nearly 18%, but only 1% of that increase was noted in 2012. I believe that this decline in membership gains can be attributed at least partially to fewer resources being made available from employers, difficult economics, and increasing workloads for nurses. In light of these increasing hardships, we will need energy to learn new things, develop a greater ability to provide care efficiently, manage multiple responsibilities, take advantage of opportunities to assimilate the most current information, and raise our voices in decision making. Apart from improving these abilities, we are in danger of not being able to make a strong case for infusion nursing as a specialty over time.


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that the average age of a nurse was 44 years in 2012 and that nurses in their 50s are expected to account for more than 25% of the nursing workforce in the near future. Not coincidentally, the average age of our members is 52 and reflective of the national average. Nationally, 62% of nurses work full-time in hospitals and home care settings. In our membership, 61% report working in either acute care or home care. With this large percentage of nurses providing clinical care at the bedside full-time, there is little time to keep abreast of all the changes in clinical practice, much less participate in health care advocacy. As a result, busy bedside nurses are often unable to speak out and provide input for health care policy and decisions that drastically affect our practice.


Over the next year, I would like to offer our membership strategies that will help us to align with and adjust to the changing health care environment. Though many of the upcoming changes in policy are somewhat nebulous at this point, there are general strategies that we can adopt in order to adapt.


Information on change management in the workplace, principles of performance improvement and how to apply them to infusion-specific situations, tips for maintaining relevancy in rapidly changing financial environments, information on personal resiliency, and tools for tracking outcomes will be the foundations for my leadership this year. Each of these processes is important in building a sustainable infusion practice whether that practice is a personal one or part of a collaborative team.


Lastly, I would like to encourage us as specialty organization to unite individually and collectively to offer our perspective on nursing and to become part of a creative solution for health care in the United States. I fear we can become so caught up in our specialty work that we fail to offer our expertise to the broader arena of nursing where health care policy is concerned. We have many highly trained, thoughtful, and visionary clinicians in our membership who can articulately offer our unique perspective to national leaders. I would like to elicit interest and provide some practical suggestions for how we can engage in this process more fully over the next year.


I believe that infusion nursing as a specialty holds the key to improved vascular access and infusion practice. It has been my experience, and I know many of your experiences as well, that patients suffer when clinicians who lack specialty infusion skills insert, care for, and infuse through vascular access devices. Continued research to support our specialty clinical practice, improved business acumen, and the ability to propagate awareness of our value all lie at the heart of long-term sustainability.


Additionally, as we age, forming a succession plan is one of the biggest challenges and responsibilities of our organization for the future. As part of this plan, my dream is for standard infusion nursing curriculum in nursing schools. I have been an infusion nurse since the day I graduated from nursing school and started my first IV, and I really believe that through education and research we can make infusion nurses of every nurse who delivers care to patients. My earnest endeavor for this year is to help each of you to realize your own long-term dreams along this journey as we grow as a specialty and as individuals.