We all know that nurses need to be caring, compassionate, well educated and highly skilled. We know what it takes to be able to treat a patient's complex condition at the same time as we understand and minimise their fears. None of us came into the nursing profession because it was easy.
In recent years, this simple fact has often been overlooked, and sometimes the public can only see the pressures and the politics of nursing. Our reputation is strong in many quarters, but there is no point denying that in others it is often under attack. This is why the RCN is starting a new initiative, called This is nursing, to show the public what we all know: that it takes a remarkable person to be a nurse.
UK-wide advertising campaign
Over the next few weeks, the RCN will be launching a dedicated website and undertaking a UK-wide bus advertising campaign as a way of promoting the unique contribution of the nursing profession.
The public will have the opportunity via our This is nursing website to see for themselves the remarkable work you do. One feature, called 24 hours of nursing, gives an insight into the diversity of roles within nursing. From a neo-natal specialist to a healthcare assistant (HCA) in a care home, and the frontline in Afghanistan to the frontline of A&E, we show the incalculable difference nursing makes and which can't be taken for granted.
There will be many ways that you can get involved. This is nursing has seven areas, representing some of the most important challenges facing the profession, which include nurse leadership, how we support our nursing students, and how we inspire the profession's future leaders. We will also examine professional attitudes and behaviours, tackling head-on how we can ensure patients receive a consistently good attitude from nursing staff.
We will look at nurse education by investigating best practice. I know from my role in nurse education that there is brilliant, innovative work which anticipates the realities future nurses will need to deal with. However, we must tackle the issues that prevent some students from getting the best standard of preparation.
This work includes the independent Willis Commission on Nursing Education which will publish its report later this year. It is time we showed and proved what we can do as a profession to meet the considerable demands of the future.
It isn't just nurses and patients we can help with this work; our healthcare assistants require support and training too. Some employers support them very well, but others expect HCAs to care for the sick with practically no training at all. We will also explore the burden of unnecessary paperwork, seeking to find a way to stop this coming between a nurse and the patients they want to care for. We will drive forward the principles of nursing practice, which the RCN believe inform the public and patients about what they can expect from nursing.
Above all, the programme addresses one of the issues we come across week after week; inadequate staffing levels and a diluted skill mix. Too often, nursing staff are being forced to work without the right level of support.
This can often mean patients do not receive the care they deserve, particularly during busy meal times and visiting hours. It is a problem we are committed to resolving and This is nursing will make the case for safe staffing levels in every setting.
All health workers and members of the public will soon have opportunities to get involved with us in delivering this project. So please go to the new website, explore the seven areas and find out more about this nursing initiative.
Kath McCourt CBE FRCN is chair of RCN Council
The RCN's campaign covers seven areas:
- Staffing levels
- Attitudes and behaviours
- Principles of nursing practice
- Paperwork and administration
- Healthcare assistants: training and regulation