By Shawn Kennedy, AJN interim editor-in-chief
As a lover of history, especially nursing history, I’ve been following Sue Hassmiller’s posts retracing the steps of Florence Nightingale with great interest and a bit of envy.
Well I went on a trip, too—to Sigma Theta Tau International’s 21st International Nursing Research Congress in Orlando. I was astounded by the truly international aspect of the meeting—many meetings say they are international if there’s a few hardy travelers from abroad, but there were many presenters, poster presenters and attendees from outside the United States.
What AHRQ does. Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), was the good choice for keynote. She shared some interesting data—like the fact that AHRQ is the leading funder of patient safety research in hospital and ambulatory care, or that the U.S leads the world in rates of hysterectomy. (While our rates are comparable with other countries for hysterectomy for endometrial cancer, they are “all over the map” for hysterectomy for noncancer diagnoses.) She also spoke about the agency’s research priorities—patient safety and quality of care, comparative effectiveness research, and reducing disparities in access to care for minorities and women (she acknowledged that “lack of health insurance is the biggest barrier”).
If there was a catchphrase from this conference, it was “evidence-based practice”—how to do it, teach it, evaluate it, and use it to transform practice, education, leadership style, and workplaces.
Using technology—virtual technology, simulation, social media, and Web technology—was another major theme, and presenters focused on how to integrate technology into current practice and educational settings. Sessions focusing on these topics seemed to be the best attended.
Creating community online. One that seemed especially crowded was a session presented by Kathleen Williamson (pictured on the right, with Karyn H. Morin, president of Sigma Theta Tau International) and Susan Stillwell from Arizona State University School of Nursing on how to create a sense of connection and community among students in predominantly online programs. They conducted a “speed-meeting circle” exercise to illustrate one way they get students to interact and come together and, judging by the audience response, there will be many classes repeating that exercise come September.
The value of connections. But like many national and international meetings, often the most valuable “takeaway” is the connections you make and the ideas that germinate from the various sessions and the posters (which I think are the harbingers of the future – not only research on issues that have not hit prime time, but researchers who are just getting started ). I met several outstanding poster presenters and I hope they will make good on their intentions to submit papers to AJN.
What are nurses researching? What was also impressive, I thought, was the nature of the research nurses are doing. Yes, there was a lot focused on how we teach and the processes of care, but there were also presentations on solid clinical topics, like women and stroke, using technology to support breastfeeding mothers, complementary health initiatives, heart health research, postsurgery care, pain management. No matter where you practice or teach, nurse researchers are doing work that you need to know about.