Nursing News

On the Road Again (Sort of) with Virtual Nursing Meetings

Virtual meetings are likely here to stay, at least in part.

For the past 18 months, I’ve spent a lot of time attending virtual meetings. You name the app—Zoom, Facetime, Microsoft Teams—I’ve been on it. While I appreciate the advances that enable us to have visual as well as audio connections with colleagues, family, and friends, I do miss meeting the old-fashioned way: in person. The good news is that many people who might not have been able to attend meetings because of the travel costs are now able to “zoom-in” on meetings.

I’ve “attended” several virtual meetings this spring but messages from two of them stay with me:

The resurgence of the clinical nurse specialist (CNS).

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) had its virtual meeting with 900 attendees from 46 states. The theme was “The Resurgence of the CNS,” focusing on how the CNS has become the “go to” professional to lead quality initiatives. I recall the 1980s, when hospitals were in a cost-cutting mode and many cut the CNS role.

A decade later, reports from the National Academies of Medicine on medical errors (To Err is Human) and later, on safety and quality (Crossing the Quality Chasm) called for change, but there was no one to take this on. The CNS role was reborn in many institutions and charged with improving care. The incoming president, Jan Powers, noted her theme for the 2022 conference, “CNS Rise,” and challenged each member “to rise and demonstrate the CNS role through vision, visibility, voice, and value.” As a former CNS, I couldn’t agree more—we must make our work and contributions visible. You can listen to my interview with Jan here:

Listen here.

Keeping the focus on nurse voices after the pandemic.

The New Jersey Association of Nurse Leaders (NJAONL) sponsored a webinar with two noted nursing leaders—Joanne Disch and Diana Mason, both former presidents of the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Disch gave some wise advice, noting that sometimes, “Advocacy is not enough some—we need to move to activism, actively supporting change.” She emphasized that we can’t allow nurses’ voices to be dismissed after the pandemic. Our value became more apparent than ever, and nurses must continue to stress that organizations will do better if nurses play a key role.

Diana Mason reminded attendees that her replication of the Woodhull study of nurses’ voices in the media show that not much has changed—nurses are still largely invisible. She offered practical techniques (my favorite: “Grab the mic”: in other words, don’t wait to be invited to speak—make your own opportunity). She and co-researchers also surveyed journalists to find out why they didn’t include nurses more often as sources and what nurses can do to reach out to journalists.

What resonated with me from both of these meetings is that nurses MUST speak up about their contributions and the value they bring to health care. If we don’t, we will continue to remain in the shadows; when it comes time for budget cuts, we’ll be back on the chopping block. Use Nurses Month to showcase what you and your colleagues bring to the table.