One Take on the Top 10 Issues Facing NursingOctober 31, 2011
By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN editor-in-chief
So I’ve been in Dallas at the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) biennial meeting. The venue is the Gaylord Texan, a large, climate-controlled resort under a glass dome—as you leave your building and walk “outside,” you’re really not. Don’t believe the flowing stream or flowers or gardens (all real) along the walkways, or the Longhorn steer (fake) behind a fence that stands outside my building—you’re still inside. And to make it even more surreal, there are Christmas holiday decorations everywhere, including a gingerbread house the size of a small hotel room. It will be strange to step back in time to Halloween when I get back home.
A daunting list. There are a few thousand people here for the meeting, way too many sessions to choose from (20 different topics for each concurrent session period), plus rows of posters and exhibit booths. And of course, great networking. One lively session I attended was standing room only—and that’s after any floor space had been occupied by people sitting cross-legged. It was a discussion of the top 10 issues facing nursing, led by STTI’s publications director Renee Wilmeth (she’s not a nurse, which probably makes her less biased). The issues were compiled from responses provided by 30 nursing leaders, and were presented in question form:
- Is evidence-based practice (EBP) helpful or harmful? (Amazing how many interpretations there were of EBP, some of them—as I know from our EBP series—quite incorrect.)
- What is the long-term impact of technology on nursing?
- Can we all agree that a bachelor’s degree should be the minimum level for entry into practice? (General agreement here, despite concerns regarding the adequacy of financial support for achieving this goal.)
- DNP vs PhD: separate but equal? (Not much discussion—I think no one wanted to really get into this.)
- How do nurses get a seat at the policy table?
- How do nurses cope with the growing ethical demands of practice? (This generated the most discussion, especially around whether society should provide unlimited costly care to those whose personal choices contribute to their health problems.)
- How do we fix the workplace culture of nursing?
- What role do nurse leaders play in the profession?
- What are we doing about the widening workforce age gap?
- How do we make the profession as diverse as the population for whom it cares?