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Respiratory nurse blog: All the fun of the ARNS conference

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Respiratory nurse and Janellle Yorke on why the ARNS conference is crucial

Well, I had been waiting for an inspiration to write this blog, and it came at the ARNS (Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists) – annual conference last week.

Firstly, it is always rewarding to be surrounded by nurses who are passionate about respiratory nursing. I would encourage anyone who has not been on the ARNs website to see for yourself all the excellent work that your respiratory colleagues are doing.

If you haven’t been to an ARNS conference yet, then keep a lookout in 2010 for the next one. They provide an excellent source of education and latest developments in respiratory care, and offer a great opportunity to network.

No, this is blog is not a plug for ARNS. But it is important that nursing associations exist, whatever the speciality.

But such organisations can only survive if they are supported by people like you and me; by nurses in general. Too often we get caught up in the day-to-day business of our work and it is easy to forget about the bigger picture.

Belonging to an association and attending conferences helps to keep us fresh and full of ideas and enthusiasm. Being part of the nursing profession brings with it certain expectations, not least from our patients, of keeping up to date and being the best we can be.

Further growth of our specialist nursing associations will help in providing a stronger and more influential voice among our many colleagues, whether they are clinical, academic, political or from charities and research funding bodies.

We were very honoured at the ARNS conference to have a presentation by Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation (BLF).

She spoke of the huge developments with the placement of many BLF nurses across the UK. The British Heart Foundation has had such nurses in practice for many years, so it was a welcomed advancement for BLF nurses to be supported in practice.

Dame Helena Shovelton then sat on a Nurse Expert Panel. The most striking aspect of the panel for me was when a question regarding research priorities was posed.

As we know the BLF are big sponsors of respiratory research, so when Helena rated the needs and care of the informal carer at the top, alongside pulmonary rehabilitation, the research light inside my brain switched on. The needs of informal carers, as highlighted a few blogs ago, are often overlooked.

Very little research has been conducted in this area, so we don’t really know what their specific needs are or how we can best assist them. This is so pertinent to nursing and nurses should be leading the research in this area.

It always frustrates me when I see ‘others’ conducting research in areas that are at the heart of nursing or areas of nursing practice that are not based on evidence. So where are all the nurse researchers – nurses that are researching nursing issues? I know we are not alone here, physiotherapist also lack a sound evidence base for many of the therapies they provide.

Our medical colleagues also provide care that is not always based on fact but they are better than us at seeking answers to questions. It is often through medical associations and related conferences that many research alliances are made; they know that it is collaboration that will bring in the money, and of course the knowledge base.

It is notoriously difficult to get funding for nursing research. But when the British Lung Foundation Chief Executive notes two priorities for future respiratory research that are intrinsically linked to nursing, it just goes to show the potential role for nursing in research agendas. Associations like ARNS and the BTS Nurse Advisory Group provide the perfect springboard for collaborative nursing research. So let’s hope that nurses across the UK will lead the way in providing answers to the many questions about our practice that remain.

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