For #NursesWeek, nurses at Elsevier reflect on changes and challenges in the profession

Colleagues talk about the expanding role of nurses – and how they're expected to do more with less

The role of nurses in today's health care system is a hotly debated topic.  More and more, nurses will be relied upon to know more, to obtain more professional qualifications, to publish peer-reviewed research and to be responsible for more care coordination of their patients. At the same time, the number of nurses and nurse educators remains tight.

At Elsevier, we employ scores of different kinds of nurses, who work closely with nurses in the field and are deeply engaged in the many ways they learn and practice.  

To celebrate National Nurses Week May 6 to 12, our own Ian Evans interviewed several Elsevier nurses to get their impressions about the profession and what lies in the future.  [divider]

A page for nurses on Elsevier Connect

To celebrate National Nurses Week 2014, Elsevier Connect has created an ongoing Celebrating Nurses page. Here, you can stories for and by nurses; opportunities such as the upcoming Superheroes of Nursing contest, and special features just for Nurses Week — such as the new "Here's to Nurses" video and free access to Elsevier's top-cited nursing articles.

The role of nurses in today's health care environment has taken on greater importance and meaning than at any other time in the past.

As patients live longer with more complex and serious illnesses, nurses are expected to do more with less while providing quality care optimal patient outcomes.

Nurses work in a variety of settings, are at the core of patient care, and coordinate care with other healthcare professionals at all levels. While care coordination has recently become a priority in healthcare; nurses have traditionally coordinated care as part of their role and continue to do so to ensure that the patient receives the best possible care.

In addition to providing care and supporting patients' families and friends, nurses take on many more responsibilities, including mentoring other nurses, developing policies and procedures and ensuring that the latest research evidence is integrated into their daily practice.

Despite their many contributions, the role of nurses is often misunderstood.

Cindy Tryniszewski, RN, MSN"People don't understand how important nurses are until they themselves get sick," said Cindy Tryniszewski, RN, MSN, Executive Director of Clinical E-Learning at Elsevier and a nurse for 40 years. "I love the nursing profession, and over the years I have seen how nurses have been disrespected and demeaned in the clinical setting and in the media, including television shows and other media. This adversely affects the public's perception of nurses."

For Tryniszewski, events such as National Nurses Week, which starts today, are so important. It's an opportunity to showcase nurses and talk about how their role has grown, even as the challenges facing them have increased.

Nurses are working in environments where severe cost-cutting measures are being implemented, including staffing cuts.They're being challenged to provide the best care and adhere to all the state, federal, and regulatory body rules and standards imposed upon them and the hospital. Additionally, with the use of electronic health records, nurses are accountable to document their alignment with these rules and standards.

According to the annual Gallup survey that ranks professions according to honesty and integrity, nurses are considered the most trusted professionals in the US.

Kathy Wyngarden, MSN, RN, FNP"They're also probably the least understood in terms of what they do," said Elsevier Practice Manager Kathy Wyngarden, MSN, RN, FNP, who has also been a nurse for four decades.

"Nurses are a force for change from the bedside to the board room, as well as in global healthcare policy development to foster work cultures that support structures and processes for sustainable excellence," Wyngarden said. "Many may not be aware of the depth of knowledge, critical thinking, and evidence-based actions inherent to nurses' role."

Nurses partner with individuals and groups of people to learn their unique stories, to identify priority health goals and plans, and to teach, coach, provide care, evaluate progress and facilitate smooth transitions of care, she explained. And they require the latest evidence-based information at their fingertips to assist them in this health promotion and disease management role.

"Nurse educators are extremely busy – they work in an environment where there is constant change – not only in the field of nursing, but also in education, both within the classroom and in the administrative environment outside of it," said Julie Burchett, Director of Product Solutions Marketing for Elsevier's Nursing Education group." Nurse educators have a lot on their plates, which is why we develop products to help them be as effective as possible as they work through this spectrum of challenges."

For many of Elsevier's nurses, developing those products is an opportunity to combine other skills and interests together with their love of nursing.

Judy Siefert, RN, MSNJudy Siefert, RN, MSN, Director of Testing at Elsevier's Education group, does exactly that as she develops test questions for HESI, Elsevier's testing and remediation system.

"It brings together a lot of things I love," said Siefert, who was recently recognized as one of 20 outstanding nurses by the Texas Nursing Association. "I love people, I love nursing. I love seeing smart students at work."

Her passion for the profession was echoed by Tryniszewski, who described her role in creating online courses with key nursing associations:

I love what I do. I am able to use my extensive and varied nursing experience along with my writing skills to create successful products that educate nurses. I have always had that fire that drives you to take care of people, and I have always loved to write. After spending many years in practice, I wanted to realize my dream of working in publishing, so it's a wonderful marriage.

For whatever reason in their life, I think all nurses have that fire – that compassion to take care of people. I think that's the real challenge of nursing, keeping that fire alive.


Elsevier Connect Contributor

Ian EvansIan Evans is Communications Business Partner at Elsevier, based in Oxford. He joined Elsevier two years ago from a small trade publisher specializing in popular science and literary fiction. Prior to this he worked for several years on a leading trade magazine for the electrical retail industry, reporting on new technologies and market trends in consumer electronics. He holds a degree in English literature from the University of Wales, Cardiff, and spends his spare time reading, writing, and playing drums.

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