Nurses Week 2013: Saluting Innovation in Practice and Quality of Care


Nurses Week 2013: Saluting Innovation in Practice and Quality of Care

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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Most national observances involving more than 3 million people attract substantial media attention, but National Nurses Week (always observed from May 6–12, in honor of Florence Nightingale’s birthday) is usually noted only by nurses and hospital administrators. It’s an unfortunate sign of the lack of public understanding of what nurses do, how they are educated and the enormous responsibilities they assume. Even though nurses have been voted the most trusted of all professionals for 13 of the past 14 years, recognition usually comes from within the profession itself.

There is much to recognize. This year’s observance salutes delivery of quality and innovation in patient care, and there is no shortage of examples, both nationally and throughout Southern California. With multiple nursing schools and world-class medical centers, opportunities for innovative and quality patient care abound. Local nurse researchers are also doing work that will contribute to effective, quality nursing care at the bedside, in the clinic and in public policy. Let’s meet a few.

Thomas Sweeney, DNP, ARNP-BC, CDE
Loma Linda Medical Center

Thomas Sweeney [pictured above, left] is an innovative diabetes educator whose research has shown that educating in-hospital nurses about insulin pump use and technology better equips them to help patients maintain the pumps through inpatient episodes. This step enhances the quality of patient care, helps to preserve the autonomy of individual patients and maintains the continuity of care so vital to controlling chronic disease.

“Patients today have a wealth of knowledge and can advocate more for themselves,” says Sweeney. “It is challenging, but helps ensure the best possible care.”

Sweeney’s co-researcher, Deborah Kenny, RN, Ph.D., Ed.M., of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and Christiane Schubert, Ph.D., of Loma Linda University, have written an article entitled “Inpatient Insulin Pump Therapy: Assessing the Effectiveness of an Educational Program,” which will be published this month in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development. The authors’ research demonstrates some of the ways nursing research is contributing to the improvement of clinical nursing care.

Bonnie Freeman, RN, MSN, ANP-BC, CHPN
City of Hope, Duarte

Bonnie Freeman [pictured above, left], a nurse practitioner in pain and palliative care at City of Hope, is similarly focused on changing clinical practice for nurses. She points out that “nursing has always been about caring for the whole person and truly advocating on behalf of the patient for the best in care.” It is harder now, she says, because technology can often overtake people and situations. She believes that nurses need to bridge that gap and allow patients to determine their own quality of life. Nurses are in a unique position to not only relieve pain and manage symptoms within the nurse’s scope of practice, but also to advocate for needed treatments on the patient’s behalf.

As part of her doctoral studies, Freeman has developed a tool called CARES, which is designed to help nurses address patient needs without neglecting their own emotional health. She describes the tool in an article entitled “CARES: An Acronym-Organized Tool for the Care of the Dying,” which will be published in the May issue of the Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing.

Freeman’s work is another example of how nurses continue to care for patients in a holistic way while constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance the quality of that care.

Linda Sarna, RN, Ph.D. Faan, AOCN
UCLA School of Nursing, Los Angeles

In a report recently released by the World Health Organization, Prof. Linda Sarna [pictured above, right] and her nurse collaborators describe the potential impact nurses around the world can have on four noncommunicable diseases that cost the lives of millions: diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease and cardiovascular illness.

Sarna and her fellow authors hope that nurse researchers and leaders will use this information to change nursing practice, policy positions and, most of all, “the expectation of what a good nurse does.” The report emphasizes the importance of prevention and highlights evidence-based interventions that reduce risk factors like diet, smoking, activity levels and alcohol dependency.

 The report also calls for changes in nursing school curricula, increased funding of nursing research and greater nurse representation at the highest levels of health policy deliberation. Just as importantly, the report illustrates the concrete actions that the 19 million current nurses and midwives can take today.

You can read the complete report, entitled “Enhancing Nursing and Midwifery Capacity to Contribute to the Prevention, Treatment and Management of Noncommunicable Diseases,” here.

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