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'Can nurses' frustrations be better used to improve the profession?'

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This week I was in a meeting where people were discussing the importance of emphasising the breadth of nursing practice to both the profession and the public.

Nursing is a diverse profession, I agree. But I think you can categorise nurses into two groups. Not managers and staff, or community and hospital, or even academics and practice. But nurses who share ideas and support each other and those that don’t.

Now in my fourth year as editor of Nursing Times, I am delighted to find nurses who want to strengthen their profession, give something back, collaborate on their strategies and develop a more successful nursing profession together.

But I am equally saddened by those who would rather criticise than praise their colleagues. We talk a lot about the nurse bashing in the media, but some nurses are just as good at talking down the profession – I’ve seen nurses reminiscing about their training, claiming graduate entry is unnecessary or lambasting those who do a nursing job that isn’t what they consider “real nursing”.

It’s a shame.

“I am equally saddened by those who would rather criticise than praise their colleagues”

It’s time to recognise that if nurses are lamenting that the government, the media, other healthcare professions and the public don’t understand the role and importance of nurses, then nurses should be the ones correcting them. Nurses who do a sharp intake of breath when they see the student they are mentoring do something they don’t agree with, or those who write vitriolic comments about the chief nursing officer for England on our website, should take a moment to reflect before they do so. Are their actions really improving the profession? Yes, it helps to vent and let off steam, and yes, sometimes people emerging through the ranks and those at the top can do things you don’t approve of. But can that frustration be better used to improve the profession?

I believe that nursing is better when it’s a community that shapes improvement and thinks about what’s best for patients. We see this time and time again in entries to the Nursing Times Awards.

And it’s why we’ve decided to create an event that allows senior nurses to share and collaborate.

Deputy chief nurses and assistant directors of nursing play a vital role in their organisations. They are frequently the link between the executive board and frontline nursing staff. This means they can give their executive a comprehensive view of the issues challenging nursing staff and standards of care, and can also feed back to the nurses what is driving the decisions being taken by the board.

But the deputy’s role can be an invidious position – sandwiched between often conflicting interests many deputies have neither the comfort and security of the board’s support nor the trust of nursing staff. That is why we’ve created a brand new congress especially for nurses in this role. It’s designed to support them in managing their current role and to help them get ready for the next one, supporting them as they craft their careers in nursing.

The event will give delegates a chance to share thoughts and ideas with others in their position, while exposing them to some of the strategies being deployed by their peers. It will also equip them to handle not only their existing role but upskill them to face some of the new challenges that come with the territory of being a chief nurse or nursing director.

The event takes place in central London on October 16. See for details and to sign up for your place.

Jenni Middleton
Editor, Nursing Times

Follow me on twitter: @nursingtimesed

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Well said Jenny!! This profession will never move forward unless we all pull together and make it work!!

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