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

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As we celebrate National Nurses Week for 2009 (May 6-12), I'd like to thank all of you for the life-saving work you do. We nurses as individuals tend not to promote ourselves and our skills, but it's useful on occasion to assess and highlight our strengths as professionals and to reflect on the value of nursing.

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Although INS' primary purpose is to address matters regarding the specialty practice of infusion nursing, it is important that infusion nurses keep abreast of all issues that affect the nursing profession as a whole. Last year, INS became an Organizational Affiliate of the American Nurses Association (ANA), enabling INS to be an active participant in ANA. With a stronger voice among nursing organizations, INS is poised to be a more effective partner in the healthcare community and to have greater influence on the issues of importance to all nurses.


Nurses are assuming an increasing number of professional responsibilities, and ANA wants the public to know just how vital nurses are to the healthcare delivery system. Last November, I attended a meeting of the 23 Organizational Affiliates of ANA, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of the decisions reached was an agreement that each of the 23 affiliates would observe National Nurses Week by celebrating the value of nursing in their organizational publications.


We know that nurses have the public's trust. Every year, the "Honesty and Ethics of Professions" Gallup survey shows nurses ranked as the most trustworthy profession. In 2008 the poll showed that 84% of Americans called their honesty and ethical standards either "high" or "very high."1 Yet misperceptions persist about the role of nurses in the healthcare field, furthered by inaccurate media portrayal and cultural stereotypes largely based on gender.


Television shows still depict nurses as handmaidens of physicians in a world where the physicians perform all the heroics (and even insert IV catheters!!). In real life, as we know, it is nurses who are there for patients 24/7, provide continuity of care, respond to patients' needs, talk to patients' families, educate the patient about follow-up care, and often help patients navigate the complex and sometimes confusing healthcare system.


Nurses are well educated, highly skilled, technically savvy, autonomous professionals who follow strict codes of ethics and standards of practice and care. And increasingly, nurses are taking on more prominent leadership roles in the healthcare system. Just last February, President Obama appointed a nurse, Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN, as head of the Health Resources and Services Administration. She will lead the agency in improving access to healthcare services for those without health insurance or who are isolated or medically vulnerable.


Nurses are also in the forefront of the healthcare reform effort. ANA President Rebecca Patton joined lawmakers (including Rep. Lois Capps, RN, of California), other healthcare professionals, and stakeholders at White House Health Care Summit, which took place on March 5.2 Around the country, nurses are testifying before legislative committees, heading up task forces, forging multidisciplinary alliances, and directing evidence-based research projects.


Our leadership is needed more than ever in these difficult economic times. The expertise of infusion nurses prevents catheter-related infections, saving hospitals money, since they will no longer be reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for infections that patients acquire after admission. All nurses are highly resourceful, able to help in an emergency, and provide high-quality care while keeping costs down.


While cost savings can be measured, other qualities cannot. Nursing combines knowledge of a number of disciplines and technical expertise with the compassion and caring that define our profession. Our mission is to keep patients safe and provide them with the best care.


Take time and reflect on your accomplishments as a nurse. Recognize and applaud your colleagues on their dedication to our profession. Promote the value of nursing to everyone, including patients, administrators, and other healthcare professionals.


Celebrate being a nurse!! Happy Nurses Week!!


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




1. The Gallup Organization. Nurses shine, bankers slump in ethics ratings. Published November 24, 2008. Accessed March 3, 2009. [Context Link]


2. American Nurses Association. ANA participates in White House Healthcare Summit. [press release]. March 6, 2009. [Context Link]