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Good morning and thank you for coming. Before I discuss my second term as President, I'd like to first thank all of you for traveling to Ft. Lauderdale to attend this year's Annual Meeting. It has been a very prosperous year for INS as an organization, and the great turnout at this meeting is a testament to the dedication of INS members and infusion nurses. Thank you for supporting your organization.

Figure. Mary Walsh, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary Walsh, MS, CRNI(R), INS President 2004-2005

Last year when I was installed as President of INS, I adopted a theme that summed up the things that I value most about infusion nursing. That theme, "C.A.R.E.: Collaborate, Advocate, Research, Educate," will carry over as my theme for my second term, with one small addition. Because safety is such a large part of infusion nursing, the theme will now be "C.A.R.E.S."-with the final "S" standing for "Safety."


Over the past year, I have written about the meaning of my theme in my Newsline column and talked how to apply it to daily practice. But if you haven't had the opportunity to read the newsletter, let me take a moment to talk about my theme, "C.A.R.E.S." I have found that when I look at my nursing practice in terms of this theme, I'm able to get back to the things that I love about being an infusion nurse, and I can find ways to be an even better nurse than I was yesterday.


"C" stands for "Collaborate." As a manager of a home infusion team, I have learned a lot about collaborating with other clinicians. Infusion nurses tend to be especially adept at collaborating, perhaps because, as specialists, we have to perform specific tasks that are part of a larger care plan. We are always working as part of a team, and we are good at contributing our knowledge and promoting best practices because we know they are in the best interests of our patients. Advocating for our patients is an art and a gift.


However, we also know that best practices are not the norm everywhere. Hand hygiene, proper flushing techniques, and catheter selection are not always clearly defined or enforced in every organization. I urge you to collaborate with pharmacists, radiologists, physicians, and other nurses to enhance safe and effective infusion practices within your organization. For some of you, you may be the only infusion clinician in your facility. But make your voice count. You have attended this meeting to learn how to become a better infusion professional. You are a valuable asset. As you return to your practice, consider how you can work within your organization to improve infusion practices and outcomes.


"Advocate," the second part of my theme, can mean different things to different nurses. Last year, I spoke about advocacy as it pertains to public policy. With a nursing shortage, battles over mandatory overtime, and a need for greater investment in nursing education, public policy advocacy is a concern for all nurses, not just for those of us working in this specialty. I am glad to know that many of you share my interest in public policy, and I encourage you to contact your local lawmakers to express your concern for the future of our profession and for those entering it.


In our daily practice as infusion nurses, "Advocate" can also mean advocating for our patients, as well as for ourselves. As nurses who have specialized knowledge about catheter-related infections and other complications, we understand that dedicated infusion teams can make a world of difference in patient outcomes. By now, you've probably seen INS' latest resource, the Infusion Therapy Team Implementation Module at the book store or in the exhibit hall. If you think that your organization could benefit from a dedicated infusion team or infusion resource nurse, this module will give you the tools to advocate for one. You will be advocating for improved efficiency, lower complication rates, lower costs, and better use of nursing time. This is the type of advocacy that benefits everyone.


Your advocacy, whether it is for public policy, an infusion team, or professional development, must be supported by research. This leads me to the third part of my theme. "Research" is the backbone of infusion nursing practice. If infusion nurses want to be heard, if we want to be recognized as experts within the nursing field, we must have the research to back it up. I just mentioned the new Infusion Therapy Team Implementation Module-this resource shows you how to collect data on infection rates, hospital lengths of stay; how to collate all of that information, organize it, and present it. These are the building blocks of any type of research. Even if your goal is not to start an infusion team, data collection and analysis will show us how to move our specialty forward. Write about your findings. There are hundreds of nurses who contact INS every year looking for just the type of data you may have. Not sure how to put your findings into an article? Contact INS' Publications department or read past issues of the Journal of Infusion Nursing. Use INS as a resource, but also give back to your specialty by sharing your work.


Sharing your research is one way to "Educate" your fellow infusion colleagues. "Educate" is the fourth tenant of my theme. Last year when I introduced this theme, I talked about educating other clinicians with whom you work by taking the time to explain infusion procedures and practices. Now I'd like you to consider how you can continue to educate yourself as an infusion specialist. Attending this meeting certainly says a lot about your desire to learn and grow within your profession. Why not take the next step and obtain your CRNI(R) credential? If you practice infusion therapy on a regular basis, certification is the best way to let your patients and colleagues know that you have achieved a high level of education in infusion therapy and that you have advanced competency that sets you apart.


Educating oneself has another purpose besides professional advancement. "Safety," the final part of my theme, is a concern that infusion nurses face every day. Why do we work so hard as infusion nurses to collaborate, to advocate, to research, and to educate? Because we understand how very serious infusion medications are. There is no recall mechanism for an infusion drug that has been delivered incorrectly. We offered a special focus track on medication safety at this meeting specifically to address this aspect of our practice. For those of you who were able to attend some part of that focus track, I hope that it offered you new ways to approach medication safety. You are the guardians of medication safety. All of the weight does not rest on your shoulders, even though it can sometimes feel that way, but you are in a unique position to offer advice, to help establish second-check protocols, to seek out systemic weaknesses that allow medication errors to happen. Patients are safer with you on the nursing team.


Let me close by saying that my first year as President has been a great pleasure. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with other nursing groups, and to serve all of you. INS membership has risen significantly over the last year, and that lets me know that you see the value in belonging to this organization. We want to continue to enrich your professional development, to guide you in your practice, and to listen to your concerns and suggestions. I urge you to maintain your ties to INS between these Annual Meetings by attending local chapter meetings, by reading INS publications, by sharing your expertise through research. You are the organization, and we want to help you make the most of it. I look forward to working with you in the coming year.


Thank you once again, and enjoy the rest of your stay here in Ft. Lauderdale.