Robin's Nest - AMSN President's Message, July 2019
I recently attended the International Council of Nurses Congress Conference, held in Singapore this month. It was a gathering of more than 5,000 nurses from over 120 countries. Discussions and poster presentations over four days involved many of the issues nurses face on a daily basis, including safe staffing, workplace safety, quality, and the healthcare model.
The central theme of the conference centered on moving beyond the focus on disease to one that is more focused on maintaining health. A key role for nurses in primary health care involves assisting patients to remain in the home as long as possible according to Elizabeth Iro, the Chief Nurse of the World Health Organization. This requires medical-surgical nurses to expand their areas of expertise to include disease prevention and the health of the community; of taking stock of where we are individually as nurses both professionally and personally; identifying our knowledge gaps and then taking action to address them.
Investing resources in the power of nursing leadership was another focus. Even though nursing makes up 70% of the healthcare workforce, only 25% of leadership roles in healthcare are held by nurses. Yet nurses are the experts in the care needs of our patients, of the quality and safety gaps that exist in the practice environment and in staffing needs. Nurses have the power to hold the politicians and the health care system accountable for investing in the leadership potential of nurses if we collectively voice our concerns and support this with data and potential solutions. As a part of the health care team, nurses and administrative staff can work collaboratively to address the issues nurses face daily such as safe staffing and protection of the nurses and support staff from acts of violence. Having a seat at the table and actively engaging in discussions and policy development allows nurses the opportunity to change the health of our communities, our nation, and our world. Having a seat at the table is vital if the nursing profession is ever to realize a positive and collaborative health care environment in which we practice to the full extent of our licensure and do so safely.
These are big issues and ones that AMSN is helping the medical-surgical nurse to address. The major focuses of AMSN’s strategic plan include providing tools to nurses to develop and maintain a healthy and safe practice environment, assisting in the professional development of medical-surgical nurses by providing education in the areas where knowledge gaps may exist and promoting the status and profile of nursing through certification as well as legislative advocacy.
Nurses, both individually and collaboratively as a profession, can truly have a positive impact because we are experts at delivering patient-centered care while maintaining quality. We have opportunities to become more involved in the areas of policy development and turning these policies into practice while keeping patient safety at the forefront. Next year has been designated the Year of the Nurse. What will you do to move your practice and the profession forward?