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

Article Content

In the healthcare world, infusion therapy is ubiquitous; it is administered and delivered to patients worldwide. In the past 10 years, I have had the honor and privilege of representing INS in visits to several countries outside the United States to teach nurses and other healthcare professionals about the specialty practice of infusion nursing. I have returned repeatedly to some countries, including China, Japan, Mexico, and most recently, Brazil, where my hosts were always eager to learn the latest techniques and practices.

Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Mary Alexander, MA, RN, CRNI(R), CAE, FAAN

As was the case in the United States several decades ago, many countries do not recognize infusion nursing as a distinct and separate specialty, unlike specialties such as critical care, perioperative, and psychiatric nursing.


In countries outside the United States, it has been common practice to have physicians insert vascular access devices (VADs); increasingly, however, nurses are assuming that responsibility. Nurses have always been involved with care, maintenance, and monitoring of VADs.



In the diverse countries I've visited, I have found that nurses have a number of interests in common. Nurses are most concerned with applying standards to clinical practice and in INS' Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice. Understanding how standards of practice are relevant to clinical patient care is important, as is providing rationales for practice issues supported by evidence and research so nurses can understand why a particular procedure is performed. As we work with these nurses, however, we need to be knowledgeable about their healthcare systems and reimbursement practices and sensitive to the ways in which healthcare is delivered in each country.


Other issues these nurses share include recognizing infusion nursing as a specialty; valuing infusion teams, developing infusion nursing certification programs, and ensuring patient safety. But first and foremost, we need to provide basic information about infusion nursing. As in nursing schools in the United States, there is little or no infusion therapy education in the curricula.


Over the years that I've been presenting at international conferences, I have noticed positive changes in practice. For example, there has been improvement in dressing practices (no longer applying unsterile tape over venipuncture sites); routinely rotating sites rather than leaving VADs in place until a complication occurs; an increased use of catheters over steel needles for indwelling devices; and above all, the increased interest in infusion therapy education.



INS' international membership has increased rapidly over the years; currently, there are more than 200 members in 28 countries. In response to the growing global interest in infusion nursing, in March the INS Board of Directors introduced the International Affiliates Program, an information- and idea-sharing platform between INS and nursing groups outside the United States with an interest in the specialty practice of infusion nursing. Each group must meet the following criteria:


* The mission and purpose must be congruent with INS'.


* Bylaws created and maintained must be modeled after INS'.


* Composition of the International Affiliate must be primarily nurses interested in the practice of infusion nursing.



For a nominal fee, the International Affiliate is entitled to:


* 1 complimentary subscription to the Journal of Infusion Nursing;


* 1 complimentary copy of the Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice;


* Access to the International Affiliate section of the INS Web site;


* Special recognition at INS Annual Meetings;


* A special plaque recognizing the group's affiliate status with INS.



Although our cultures and languages differ, as nurses we all have one common goal-to provide the best and safest care to our patients. I'm delighted by the interest our foreign nurse colleagues have shown in creating a stronger connection with INS. Together we can make "a world of difference" in our patients' lives!!


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

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

INS Chief Executive Officer Editor, Journal of Infusion Nursing