Authors

  1. Freda, Margaret Comerford EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN

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Periodically we should all take a broad look at our profession in order to better understand what's happening in nursing as a whole. It's so easy to get all caught up in the nursing world in our own institutions, thereby forgetting that there's a whole world of nursing going on out there in the universe, filled with nurses who are making an incredible difference for patients, doing things we've never even heard about.

 

Today I want to tell you about some of the most innovative initiatives in nursing I know about. The American Academy of Nursing has started these programs. In case you're not sure what that is, the academy is one part of the American Nurses Association. Members of the academy are admitted solely by virtue of their "visionary leadership," and so it follows that the academy's initiatives (such as the Magnet Program) are worth following. According to the academy Web site: "The Academy serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. Every day across America, the Academy and its members create and execute knowledge-driven and policy-related initiatives to drive reform of America's health care system" (http://www.aannet.org). Two of their recent initiatives are Raise the Voice and Edge Runners.

 

The goal of Raise the Voice is to transform America's healthcare system through nursing solutions. Talk about visionary leadership!! Through Raise the Voice, the academy plans to mobilize its 1500 members and others to "ensure that Americans hear and understand the exciting possibilities that hold great promise for transforming the health care system, and to see that nurses are leading the way." One of the strategies being used to fulfill this goal involves the naming of "Edge Runners," nurses who have done transformative work to change the healthcare system. There are quite a few currently designated Edge Runners, and I'd like to tell you about some of them.

 

Susan Hassmiller's program "Transforming Care at the Bedside" is a nationwide program (currently in 70 hospitals) aimed at improving patient safety, retaining nurses, and improving the quality of care for patients on medical-surgical units. This is done by empowering staff nurses in teams to identify, develop, and evaluate new systems for improved patient care. Overall, this program has resulted in reduced falls for patients, increased retention of nurses, and increased time for nurses spent in direct care of their patients. Marcia Stanhope developed The Good Samaritan Nursing Center to provide nursing management of care for uninsured persons. Through this multisite nursing center, comprehensive care is offered to low-income families and children, while graduate nurse interns learn in a community setting. Services have now expanded into elementary schools, homeless shelters, and drug rehabilitation programs. Ruth Lubic, the only nurse I know of who has been given a so-called "Genius Grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, is another Edge Runner. Perhaps you've heard of her. Ruth established the Family Health and Birth Center for Low Income Women in Washington, DC (the only such center in the nation's capital), despite the fact that her critics said the women in that population would never participate in such a center. In Ruth's center (also featured in the New York Times several times), nurse midwives care for pregnant women and have a stellar record of outcomes, including low preterm birth rates and low cesarean birth rates. Because of these positive health outcomes, this center saved Washington, DC's healthcare system $1.15 million in 2005 alone!!

 

What is the academy asking its members and others to do in the Raise the Voice campaign? Easy. They want nurses to raise their voices!! They are asking nurses to let the public (especially politicians) know about the great work being done by nurses. They are encouraging nurses to do some specific things to showcase the stories of "edge runners" and other innovators who lead the way with nursing solutions: (1) Write editorials in local and national newspapers, (2)appear on local and, if possible, national talk shows, both radio and television, and (3) create opportunities to tell nursing's story, including speaking in their communities.

 

For the next several months, until the national presidential election in November, healthcare is likely to be on people's minds. You can help your profession during this time by getting active, speaking, and writing. See the AAN Web site to learn more about Edge Runners (http://www.aannet.org), and make sure to get out there and publicize what nursing is doing where you live. No one will tell our story unless we do!!

 

Margaret Comerford Freda, EdD, RN, CHES, FAAN, EDITOR

 

margaretfreda@yahoo.com