MSNCB President’s Message - December 2022
I cannot believe it is already time for 2022 to come to a close. It has been a whirlwind of activities for me in my first year as your president and I know there will be more growth and opportunities for all of us in 2023.
I was recently asked for my thoughts on some of the big issues currently happening in health care settings. Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions is “what can we do about staffing?”. I honestly wish I had a good answer for this, and yet I do not.
Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions is “what can we do about staffing?”. I honestly wish I had a good answer for this, and yet I do not.
MSNCB has done a study in the past looking at the work of the certified nurse and exploring if there are better outcomes for our patients when a certified nurse is caring for them. I am happy to report that the research did support our hypothesis that there would be better outcomes.
However, we did not look at the certified nurse and staffing. Therefore, what I will say next is purely based on my own observations, what I have heard in practice, and what I see as our current reality.
Safe staffing and staffing by acuity are paramount to better patient care which will bring forth better outcomes. But we know that experienced nurses have left the bedside and are pursuing other avenues for health care delivery.
This created a shortage of nurses in the acute care setting. These positions were filled with newly licensed nurses. That is great news, but it also created an interesting dynamic. Our experienced nurses were not there to precept and orient these new nurses.
While we did and continue to do our best to support these new nurses, we know that we did fall short with the onboarding because we did not have the experience to help these nurses in their new roles as bedside clinicians.
What we also did not take into consideration at bedside clinicals is that these newly licensed nurses came to the fold with minimal clinical experiences with real patients. I can tell you as an academician, we had no clinical rotations in 2020 and sparse clinicals in the beginning of 2021.
We must stop saying “I am just a nurse” and start saying “I am a nurse, and I am certified”. We need to start managing ourselves and our work that we do every day.
We did have a lot of simulated patient care scenarios, but we all know that simulated patient care scenarios with a computer can only replicate nursing practice so far. We did our best with what we had, but as the song says, “If that's your best, your best won't do” (Twisted Sister, “We're Not Gonna Take It", 1984).
On behalf of academia, I apologize for not doing a better job of helping to prepare newly licensed nurses in 2020 and 2021 for what was in store for them.
But we are here at the end of 2022 and getting ready to start again in 2023. Things are looking up. We have clinical sites reopening and we have faculty that are eager to get back to the clinical setting with students.
We are thrilled to be back and to provide guidance and support for the students and the nurses on the units that are so graciously accepting students. We are ready to intensify the passion for nursing in these students and to help them develop, practice, and grow their skills so that they can hit the ground running once they pass that NCLEX.
I recently spent time interviewing CMSRN certified nurses for the open board seats with MSNCB. One thing I found interesting about the interviews were the many comments regarding certification and how this is either not discussed in nursing programs and/or certification is not often discussed on nursing units.
This is another opportunity for academia and clinical practice. We all need to discuss the role of certification in nursing practice and what that means. We need to do a better job of showing our credentials and explaining the value of that certification for us personally and collectively.
We must stop saying “I am just a nurse” and start saying “I am a nurse, and I am certified”. We need to start managing ourselves and our work that we do every day. We must discuss the value and the benefits of certification. We need to reignite that spark for nursing by remembering what our spark was. We must do better to support ourselves and each other.
I will close with an ask of you...
Academia cannot do this work alone. We need the support from bedside clinicians, staff developers, and leadership to help develop our future workforce.
- Please look at what you can do for our students.
- Please welcome them to the nursing units with open arms.
- Please allow them to practice and demonstrate their skills.
- Give the students and instructors grace to ask questions and to seek clarification.
- Partner with schools of nursing and help grow these newly licensed nurses.
- Be a champion for learning and help these students see the value in life – long learning.
- Talk about what certification is and why it has meaning for you. And show these student nurses that medical-surgical nursing is not “the floor” and a negative place to be.
- Help shine a bright light on our profession and boost the role of the med-surg nurse to a place of honor as it should be.
- Remember why you come to work every day and why you strive to do your best.
We can get the staffing we need by supporting students who want to come and work along side of you. So, please, will you help support and mentor nursing students on your units?
Until next time, have a safe and wonderful holiday season and a safe and prosperous new year.