The field of nursing is vast, ever expanding, and ever changing. With this in mind, the opportunities for us to advance our profession are clear. No matter what type of setting in which you work, there are opportunities to increase your knowledge and improve patient care.
A few years ago, I was asked by the head pharmacist of the hospital if I would be a member of the Pain Management Committee, as they were looking for floor nurses to participate. At first, I was a little intimidated – there were pharmacists, departmental managers, and attending physicians on this committee. But soon, I was giving my insight and suggestions on ways in which protocols and policies could be best implemented on the units for staff nurses. It gave me a sense of pride, knowing that I played a part in how we were improving care for our patients and how nurses were helping to raise the bar of medication safety for our patients too.
You might say to yourself, “I’m one nurse,” or “I’m a new graduate nurse. How can I make an impact?” Consider the quote from Florence Nightingale, “Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses…we must be learning all our lives.” As nursing professionals, we have the ability and opportunity to positively impact the patients we serve. We have a chance to leave our profession better than we found it. It just takes one idea and one vision to make improvements in the care that we provide to patients.
Start by joining a committee or council within your organization. Bring forth your knowledge and insight; let your voice be heard. Allow others to see the opportunities that are possible! We may think back to a time in our career when patient care did not go as planned or we experienced a near-miss. I recall once pulling medications out for a patient from the Pyxis machine. As I pulled my medications, I opened the drawer in the machine, but I later discovered that I had opened the wrong drawer and pulled out the incorrect medication. In reviewing my medications before I left the medication room, I noted my error, returned the medication to the machine, and pulled out the correct medication. This near-miss stopped me in my tracks and made me thankful that I double-checked my medication list before leaving the room. Instead of looking at experiences such as this as failures, we should see an opportunity to examine evidence-based practice and develop solutions.
How can you help develop new policies and lead the way for evidence-based practice to be implemented? To take action, research a topic of interest or concern. See what research has been published and what the recommendations are currently. With your newfound knowledge and evidence, work with your councils, committees, and leaders to increase awareness of evidence-based practice and advance the care you and your colleagues provide to patients.
Remember, that you don’t have to do this alone! Find coworkers that share your same interest and passion on the topic and work together. Collaborating with others will advance the team building in your department and help you and others develop their leadership and problem-solving skills as well.
As nurses, we can continue to be at the forefront of advancing and developing the patient care that we provide. What are you waiting for? Seek out the evidence that will advance the care you provide as a nurse. Seek evidence-based recommendations that will make you the best nurse you can be! As Florence Nightingale said, “For us who nurse, our nursing is a thing, which, unless in it we are making progress every year, every month, every week, take my word for it, we are going back. The more experience we gain, the more progress we can make.” So, go out there and advance your knowledge to advance the care that you provide to your patients. You can make a lasting difference!
Nightingale, F. (1914). Florence Nightingale to Her Nurses: A Selection from Miss Nightingale's Addresses to Probationers and Nurses of the Nightingale School at St. Thomas's Hospital. London: MacMillan and Company.