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Another professional conference has come and gone. A few remaining attendees are in the lobby waiting for the airport shuttle. Small talk fills the void. Then, a comment gets my attention: "Clinical nurse specialists (CNS) deal with that problem all the time, a CNS should have made a presentation." "Are you a CNS?" I ask. "Yes'" she replies. "Did you present?" I ask. "No" is the response. "Did you a send in an abstract for consideration?" I further inquire. "No, but someone should," she replies.


Indeed, someone should. Someone should submit abstracts for presentation at national nursing and healthcare meetings describing CNS practice outcomes. Someone should take responsibility for dissemination. Who is that someone?


Dissemination is a CNS core competency identified by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. In the patient-client sphere, dissemination means sharing outcomes related to innovative nursing interventions; in the nursing-nurses sphere, dissemination means sharing outcomes of changes in nursing practice standards; and in the systems sphere, dissemination means sharing outcomes of systemwide initiatives.


We CNSs need to build, sustain, and reward competencies around dissemination of practice outcomes. Here are some suggestions. Educators: Include abstract preparation skills in course work. Discuss the purposes of abstracts, the jury process for selection, and differences between poster and podium presentations. Require students to prepare abstracts about clinical projects and develop posters for class presentation. Facilitate students submitting abstracts describing outcomes of graduate work. Affiliates: support members in submitting abstracts. Help members refine their skills by reviewing drafts and providing feedback. Track abstract submissions to and presentations at professional meetings. Member presentations give the affiliate an identity in the professional community. Know and manage the message that is going out from your affiliate. Administrators: Demand evidence of dissemination during evaluation and reward CNSs for disseminating practice outcomes. Employers also develop an identity in the professional community based on the visibility and messages from CNSs. CNSs: Take responsibility for becoming proficient in dissemination. Circle an abstract submission due date on your calendar. Identify the steps needed to prepare the abstract and make a plan. Schedule time on your calendar for dissemination activities and protect that time.


A call for abstracts usually identifies the kind of information to be included, which can serve as a beginning outline. Be sure to address all the required elements. Research abstracts follow a fairly standardized format of purpose, theory, design, setting, sample, methods, findings, and conclusions. Nonresearch abstracts use the same general framework. Here is a framework I suggest for CNSs to use when disseminating outcomes of nonresearch clinical initiatives. Purpose: state the purpose(s) and objectives of the clinical project. Background/Rationale: describe the reason for the initiative using literature and other sources of evidence. Description: describe the clinical project in detail sufficient enough for readers to understand the project. Outcome: describe the clinical and fiscal outcomes of the project. Conclusion: state conclusions consistent with the purpose and as supported by the outcomes. Implications for Practice: state an informed opinion about using the outcomes to guide nursing practice.


So, ask yourself, "Who should disseminate the outcomes of CNS practice?" Now, answer yourself[horizontal ellipsis]me.