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Comment - Nurses' skills need to be continually developed

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The year 2006 was challenging for specialist nurses. Many found that they had to justify their roles in providing expertise in their chosen field - the respiratory specialty was no exception. However, as we enter into 2007, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The year 2006 was challenging for specialist nurses. Many found that they had to justify their roles in providing expertise in their chosen field - the respiratory specialty was no exception. However, as we enter into 2007, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The move of chronic-disease management from secondary into primary care and the National Service Framework for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which is due to be implemented in early 2009, are both exciting opportunities for nurses to develop and expand their respiratory skills. It is evident that nurses will continue to play an essential role in the provision of effective care for patients with respiratory illnesses in the future. The history of respiratory nursing demonstrates how the specialty has risen to the challenge and expanded in response to healthcare needs.

Throughout the year Respiratory Nursing in Nursing Times provides regular updates. This issue includes a discussion about the management of non-concordance with TB medication - a particular problem as resistant TB is now more common than it used to be (p40).

The final article in a three-part series on blood gas analysis uses case studies to illustrate how to interpret results, consolidating the previous two articles (p42). This should aid the critical thinking that is required to make a diagnosis - undoubtedly a valuable skill for any nurse in any specialty.

There are clearly training needs required for nurses working in respiratory care and Sarah Dodds outlines an initiative that has enabled nurses to take blood samples for blood gas analysis (p44). This is particularly important as nurses are becoming more involved in the assessment of patients for long-term oxygen therapy.

The Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists plays an important role in supporting nursing development and members are looking forward to its 10th-anniversary conference this year. The annual conference not only provides an ideal opportunity for nurse specialists to learn from leading experts in the field of respiratory care, but also provides an opportunity for delegates to learn from each other.

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