Last week we hosted our first ever Directors’ of Nursing Congress. This exclusive event aimed to give chief nurses a platform to discuss topical nursing issues, to identify where changes could be made and learn from each other to improve healthcare for both staff and patients.
Many of the conversations that came out of the congress weren’t on the programme. The open floor style discussions meant that delegates were able to share their own opinions and ask questions, rather than simply listen and be told what they should be doing.
One of the more heated discussions came about when a speaker asked “What is nursing?” Delegates didn’t debate the question, but why it is still being asked.
One responder argued that other disciplines don’t feel the need to debate what their profession is, and that this debate prevents us from moving forward as a profession. We’re stuck in this circle of justifying the role of nurses.
However, while it’s fair to assume that those inside the profession know exactly what it is, what about understanding outside the profession, whether that’s other health professionals or the general public?
An upcoming clinical article (due in 11 November 2015 issue) discusses how the “traditional” role of nurses has evolved to incorporate what the author describes as “organisational work”.
The article describes the findings from a large-scale study that found 70% of nursing time is spent on this type of work. It argues that other people often see this as a distraction from patient care, but that this assumption comes from a misunderstanding of what nurses really do.
Nurses don’t just provide direct patient care, they are the glue that holds the system together, ensuring everyone involved in a patient’s care knows their role and what the patient needs.
The profession doesn’t need to define its role. However, maybe it does need to find a way of articulating it so that when nurses are sitting at a computer at the nurses’ station, people don’t automatically assume they aren’t doing their job.