Department: Editor's Memo
Nurses are always special, but celebrating Nurses' Day (May 6) brings renewed recognition to nurses in all areas of the profession. The theme for this year's celebration of nursing is, “Nurses Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care.” The International Council of Nurses (ICN) has given the 2013 celebration the title, Closing The Gap: Millennium Development Goals 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, which represents a countdown to 2015—the year when, hopefully, all the goals will be met. In the foreword to the ICN's Nurses' Day planning kit, the president and CEO state that “Nurses must engage in advocacy and lobbying. We must be involved in the development of any program introduced to improve health services, as it is nurses who have the practical knowledge of how health service delivery can be designed, coordinated, and effectively implemented.”1 With target dates for the implementation of regulations related to the Affordable Care Act fast approaching, the time is ideal for nursing to be front and center as partners with the decision makers who are creating new models of care delivery or redesigning old models that will increase access and improve patient outcomes.
Quality over quantity
A greater emphasis is on quality of care and not so much on the quantity of care. In today's healthcare world, administrators and direct care providers have been prompted to examine systems and processes for improvement–how they can improve what they do. In many instances, reimbursements are tied to the quality of care patients receive. Money is a real incentive for change. In 2006, the World Health Organization described six characteristics of quality healthcare: the care should be effective, efficient, accessible, acceptable/patient-centered, equitable, and safe.2 Healthcare organizations have departments and directors of quality improvement and patient safety to lead staff in these initiatives. Many schools of nursing have incorporated principles of quality and safety in their curricula at the undergraduate and graduate levels to ensure that graduates meet the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses' competencies developed through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Nurses must be prepared to fully participate in quality improvement efforts in the workplace that make better patient outcomes possible.
Full participation also entails a willingness to take risks, to be creative, and think outside of the box. Imagine if Dr. Loretta Ford and Dr. Henry Silver in the 1960s had not acted upon their idea that to improve the quality of care for their pediatric patients, nurses needed more responsibility and training. Little did they know at the time that their idea would give rise to a nurse practitioner movement of approximately 155,000 strong today. Imagine if nurse-managed health centers (NMHCs) led by advanced practice nurses had never come into being. NMHCs have provided access and quality healthcare to many people, especially underserved populations. Nurses have been there in the past with new ideas and are ready to share their ideas with all stakeholders, including patients.
Change presents endless opportunities, and nursing as a science profession continues to evolve. The key messages and recommendations in the Future of Nursing report provide impetus for change. Nursing represents quality and innovation, but some things remain constant. Nurses are trusted members of the public community. Nurses are always present; of all team members, they spend the most time with patients. Nurses are special, and they should be celebrated, not just on Nurses' Day in May, but throughout the year.
Jamesetta Newland, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP