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

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As the new year begins, you may be setting personal and professional goals for the year ahead. Have you thought about your role as a leader? Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, has been called the "original nurse leader,"1 and her leadership can be a model for all of us today.

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

While many may think being a leader is a formal designation held by a few, in reality, each of us has the power to lead informally. Because of our role as infusion nurses, we offer a unique, expert perspective on the health care system and have a special voice in efforts to improve health.2


As infusion nurses, we have many opportunities to lead. Have you ever thought of mentoring new nurses, many of whom may have had limited exposure to infusion therapy in nursing school? Teaching infusion practice and demonstrating the integration of the Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice3 (the Standards) into clinical practice could help ease the transition from academia to practice for these nurses and increase their confidence in their new role.


Educating colleagues, supporting lifelong learning, and promoting professional development, such as membership in the Infusion Nurses Society (INS), are also aspects of leadership. You might consider leading a study group for the CRNI(R) examination-attaining the CRNI(R) credential is a recognized method of validating a nurse's experience in our specialty-or you might lead conversations to support interdisciplinary practice. As nurses, we don't work in isolation. We work together as a team to help ensure the best outcomes for our patients.


This year, you might consider becoming a force for initiating change in clinical practice based on the Standards. Infusion nurses, for example, have led the transition from the routine placement of short peripheral catheters to clinically indicated placement. Or you might become an advocate for advancing nurses' scope of practice, encouraging able colleagues to work to expand their practice to include the placement of nontunneled central vascular access devices.4


Leading research or quality improvement projects to address gaps in practice where data and evidence are limited or not available, and participating on committees in your workplace, professional associations such as INS, or civic groups such as town government or local school system committees, provide additional opportunities to build leadership skills.


Infusion nurses also have a role in addressing public health policy issues. This might include submitting public comments or testifying before government committees or agencies on issues that could affect access to care or reimbursement. But the most important role we play as leaders is advocating for our patients-ensuring that we teach them, their families, and their caregivers about the care they need, and that evidence-based practice is driving their care.


As health care continues to change at a rapid pace, "nurses must emerge as dynamic leaders that can ensure that health care organizations are guided accurately and effectively to create healing environments for patients and their families and for the health care team."5(p9) There are many opportunities to lead in our specialty: as a mentor, teacher, advocate, researcher, and more. As infusion nurses, we offer a unique, expert perspective on the health care system and can play a key role in ongoing efforts to improve public health. This year, choose to lead.


Mary Alexander




1. Florence Nightingale, the original nurse leader. HC Pro website. Posted May 12, 2016. Accessed October 17, 2018. [Context Link]


2. American Nurses Association. Health policy. Accessed October 17, 2018. [Context Link]


3. Gorski L, Hadaway L, Hagle ME, McGoldrick M, Orr M, Doellman D. Infusion therapy standards of practice. J Infus Nurs. 2016;39(suppl 1):S1-S159. [Context Link]


4. Infusion Nurses Society. The role of the registered nurse in the insertion of nontunneled central vascular access devices. Published September 14, 2017. [Context Link]


5. Nightingale F, Dossey BM, Selanders LC, Beck DM, Attewell A. Florence Nightingale Today: Healing, Leadership, Global Action. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association; 2005. [Context Link]