1. Section Editor(s): Rust, Jo Ellen MSN, RN, Column Editor

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NAME: Susan Kathleen Blackburn Jones, MS, RN, APN, CCNS, CCRN-P

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CURRENT POSITION: Clinical Nurse Specialist/Clinical Researcher and Deputy Director


CURRENT AFFILIATION(S): INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center and Joanna Briggs Institute of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION: Pediatric critical care, pediatric surgery


PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION: PhD in Nursing (student), University of Missouri; MS, Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist Program, University of Oklahoma, 2002; BSN, University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, 1982


CERTIFICATIONS: Critical Care Registered Nurse-Pediatric, 2002 to present; Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist-Pediatric, 2006 to present; Critical Care Registered Nurse, 1986 to 1989, 1996 to 2000; Certified Emergency Nurse, 1991 to 1994; Certified Flight Registered Nurse, 1994 to 1998


Susan K.B. Jones, MS, RN, APN, CCNS, CCRN-P, is the 2007 recipient of the Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Year Award presented by the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists at the annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 2008. Miss Jones is a highly respected pediatric clinical nurse specialist (CNS) with extensive research experience. She provides leadership, vision, consultation, project management, facilitation, and education for evidence-based practice (EBP) and quality initiatives. She engages bedside clinicians in EBP projects and nursing research that positively impact quality, patient satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. As a result of her influence, EBP is now a part of the clinical culture and daily practice at Integris Baptist Medical Center. Miss Jones was nominated by April Merrill, BSN, RN, BC, Diabetes Nurse Specialist, and supported by her supervisor, Lisa Rother, BSN, MHA, RN-BC, Director, Nursing Education and Research, INTEGRIS Baptist and Southwest Medical Centers.


What first motivated you to become a CNS?

I was encouraged to return to school by my mentor, Dr Johnny Griggs, while working as a nurse clinician in the pediatric ICU. I began to investigate the variety of advanced practice roles and discovered that the role of the clinical nurse specialist was tailor made for the many things I love about nursing, helping patients, families, and staff better understand the pathology behind disease. It seemed to me the more everyone understood about the disease process, the less afraid and surprised when events unfolded during hospitalization. As I began to explore different advance practice nursing roles I gained a greater understanding of the impact of CNSs within an organization. This insight helped me to articulate the dramatic difference CNSs make in patient outcomes in the acute care environment. I knew then that this was the appropriate advanced practice role for me.


You have been described as a major force in the development of your institution's EBP culture, what strategies did you find most successful in bringing about this culture change? What advice would you give to others trying to do the same?

In my current work environment, the thing that I have found most effective in furthering evidenced-based practice was encouraging staff to work on projects about which they are passionate. Some nurses began working on projects because they were sure there had to be a better way of doing things; others were seeking to hold onto an old practice and were looking for justification for "the way we have always done it." The common denominator was an individual interest in the topic and end result has been improved patient care.


Evidence-based practice began with nurses but quickly moved to a multiprofessional effort as more and more providers realized there were very few patient care issues that solely involved nurses. Efforts moved finding evidence on selected topics and sharing information. With organizational support from INTEGRIS Health and the Joanna Briggs Institute of Oklahoma, the organization sponsored a regional research and evidenced-based practice conference that encouraged nurses throughout the region to share innovative ideas for improving patient care. Now, this conference is an annual event with participation from most area hospitals. The conference also facilitated networking that has led to several ongoing multisite studies driven by persons with similar interests.


Helping staff learn the language of quality, research and evidenced-based practice has empowered everyone to make changes that improve patient care. There is greater understanding of the importance of evidence for achieving change. Change takes time and requires a multidisciplinary team to be successful.


What do you perceive are the key issues for CNS practice today?

These issues are multifaceted. I think CNSs must be able to articulate the unique differences they make for the organization and for specialty populations. For example, one practice competency that makes CNSs so unique is the ability to impact change not only within an organization but also to extend influence into the community. CNss do this through cost avoidance, consultation, empowering staff and improving outcomes. One of my mentors told me recently that "there are two diagnoses that you can never make-the one you don't look for and the one you don't know about." CNSs help the healthcare team become aware of all of the potential diagnoses pertinent to a particular patient population and help them to know what to and how to look for those diagnoses.


Another important issue CNSs face is educating people both inside and outside healthcare realm about the CNS role and scope of CNS practice. CNSs are ambassadors for our profession. Magnet-accredited hospitals increasingly understand the importance of the CNS. Nurses and other healthcare professionals as well as consumers frequently define our role in terms of titles they are more familiar with, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. We must continue to work together to educate those we have contact with about the role of the CNS and the difference that we make for our patients, their families and the nursing profession.


It was said that you are very committed to professional "returnship" or giving back to the profession, why do you think this is important and what suggestions do you have for other CNSs to do the same?

Beyond my faith and my family, the thing that I am the most proud of in my life is being a nurse. I have been a nurse for more than 25 years, during which time I have tried to help others and become an exceptional nurse. I also believe that one of the most important roles of a CNS is teacher and mentor. The old adage "if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime" applies with developing the profession of nursing as well. The more that nurses are encouraged to question practice, the more they are equipped with the tools to find the evidence, the more accurate their decisions and the better the patient outcomes. Repeated studies have shown nurses learn their practice from the nurse next to them. By establishing an expectation that decisions are based in the best available evidence, then we can assure that the profession of nursing will continue to advance. I am fortunate to live and work in an environment that has healthy competition among facilities but not when it comes to providing high-quality care to our community.


To date, what do you perceive as your greatest accomplishments as a CNS?

My greatest accomplishment as a CNS has been working with a group of amazing advance practice nurses to promote the image of nursing and advance practice within the healthcare community of our state. Through collaboration with CNSs and advanced practice nurses (APN) in our state, enrollment in all APN programs has increased along with the number of available positions and salaries for APNS. This statewide collaboration has also formed the foundation for a network that is launching multisite research studies that reach far beyond the walls of the academic environment and has provided a resource for nurses who are considering advance practice careers to make informed decisions about the role that best matches their passion.


What do you enjoy or value most about the role of a CNS?

What I enjoy most about the CNS role is being a change agent. Although change can be difficult, it is often how we grow personally and professionally. It is exciting being a part of change and working with others to impact nursing practice and improve patient care. It is my passion, and it is what keeps me awake at night!


What advice would you give a new CNS starting out in this role?

Be active. Be active with the patients, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Be active in professional organizations-stay current on issues that impact the practice of nursing and advance practice nursing specifically. Attend professional conferences on a national and international level. Most of the challenges that we are facing in the delivery of healthcare today are similar from organization to organization. CNSs have been instrumental in solving many of these problems. CNSs have to continue to encourage each other to share our successes and failures with each other so that the quality of care delivery continues to improve. It is not always easy to find the time to submit an abstract, develop a poster, or write an article, but with limited resources and access to information, it is even more important.


What did it mean to you to receive this award?

It is an incredible honor. I was unaware that I had been nominated until I received notification that I had won. The fact that I was nominated by April Merrill, BSN, RN-a CNS student-and supported by other nurses from the hospital makes it even more special. Being a nurse and a CNS is very important to me and for them to feel that I deserved this award is special. It is heartwarming to know that doing what I love is viewed as valuable to others. I work with an amazing group of nurses. Being the National Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Year is the greatest professional honor I could hope to receive. Thank you so much for sharing this award with me.